mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

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quick butterscotch cookies. . .

I made these very quick butterscotch cookies because it’s a rainy afternoon, and why not? Recipe calls for 1 stick unsalted butter (melted); 3/4 cup of sugar (I used white, lite brown and turbinado in equal parts); 1 egg: whisked together with a flat hand whisk. Added 1 1/8 cup flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/3 bag of butterscotch bits. Blend together well by hand and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 12 min. at 365 degrees. Makes about 2 dozen.

a lemon ricotta pound cake! . . .

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Wow, does this batter look good! I just followed this online recipe – and it’s baking in the oven now. Here are a few notes on what I used. Instead of lemon extract, I microplaned zest from two small lemons and juiced one of them to add to the batter. I started by beating the wet ingredients together: soft butter with sugar; then added eggs, one at a time, then the lemon zest and juice – which made the batter look slightly curdly, then I added the whole milk ricotta and beat until the batter looked very creamy.

To the mixture, I added the flour, baking powder and salt – kept beating at a medium speed until everything was well blended. Licked the beaters and poured the rest of the batter into a buttered loaf pan.  Into the preheated 350 degree oven, I slid the cake in and set the timer on 50 minutes.

Plan to serve slices of this with some ripe nectarine/blueberry fruit compote that’s already in the fridge for dessert tonight. This recipe looks a keeper already and I haven’t even tasted the baked pound cake as yet! Yum!

Recipe notes: FYI, it turns out my loaf pan wasn’t large enough for the batter and it ran over while it baked into the cookie sheet underneath. It also stayed jiggly for quite awhile and I bkaed it for almost 20 more minutes than called for before a toothpick came out clean.  I’m not sure what actually accounted for this but wanted to include it in the post so that others might take precaution against it. It still looks pretty good though, doesn’t it?

 

a summer tomato, spinach ricotta tart. . .

IMG_1427It’s Sunday and I wanted to use the farm fresh spinach I bought last week which I cleaned and stemmed this morning. Instead of combining with ricotta cheese to stuff in giant pasta shells, I thought I’d make a tart with puff pastry crust, spinach, ricotta and sliced tomatoes on top. I was inspired by this recipe from Food52.

First, I minced two cloves of garlic, chopped up a shallot and scraped them into some melting unsalted butter. To the skillet, I added a few handfuls of fresh spinach and cooked it down, sprinkling a little nutmeg at the end. After it cooled, I chopped it more finely and mixed the drained spinach with fresh ricotta.

In the meantime, I had prepared the puff pastry by spraying a pan with Pam, pressing down the defrosted puff pastry and pricking it with a fork so that it would brown in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

When the tart was cool, I spread it with the spinach ricotta mixture and sliced a large tomato into crescents instead of round slices. I decorated the top of the spinach with the tomatoes, sprinkled the top with coarse pepper.

We had a couple of servings after the tart was baked and cooled a bit. It was tasty and a good first try with this recipe.

P.S.  This tart was SO tasty when eaten cold for lunch the next day! Much better than the night before when the ricotta was too soft from the heat.

 

 

 

 

 

cream of cucumber soup recipe. . .

IMG_1392IMG_1386One our favorite soups, summer and winter, is cream of cucumber soup. I’ve been experimenting with the recipe for the easiest preparation and which tastes the best.

My traditional way to prepare the soup was to buy 4-5 large regular cucumbers, peel them and seed them all before slicing them up to make the soup. This process was a lot of work, especially seeding the cucumbers, yielding less than a desired amount of cucumber pulp.

Last week, I used 9 Persian cucumbers that I had picked up (buy 1 pack get 1 free) and made the soup without peeling them. Cooked with shallots and chicken broth, adding cream at the end, the soup was tasty, but even after I ran it through a food mill, there were still specks of green peel in the soup.

Today, I bought two of the largest ENGLISH cucumbers I could find, peeled them in a jiffy, and sliced them up for the soup. They’re cooking now in a pot with a large chopped shallot, 3 Tb. unsalted butter and a stock made with water to cover the cucumbers and a Knorr chicken gelatin broth packet. They cook for about a half an hour until soft and then cool.

Once cooled, I use an immersion blender (so handy!) to puree the soup. I taste for seasoning and usually don’t add any salt because the chicken broth provides enough in the stock. Right before serving, I pour in some cream – light or heavy, depending on the thickness of the soup base.

Hope this will be the best version for the recipe – not too much prep, no skins in the soup, and a delicious quick soup for any time of the year!

lemon cream cheese refrigerator pie!

IMG_1339IMG_1341If you like the taste of cream cheese, you’ll love this old classic, lemon cream cheese refrigerator pie. Before serving, I plan to place fresh fruit on top of the pieces I’m going to cut: tonight it’s going to be raspberries, and tomorrow, it will be white nectarines!

I baked the store-bought graham cracker crust for about 10 min. at 375 degrees after removing the plastic protector. In the meantime, I let two 8 ounce packages of cream cheese to come to room temp and opened a can of Eagle condensed milk. Also squeezed fresh lemons to yield 1/2 cup of juice.

When I first began beating the filling mixture with a portable mixer, the cream cheese turned into tiny lumps – so I switched over to an immersion blender and with a few swigs of it, the filling became velvety smooth.

When the crust had cooled, I transferred the filling into it and smoothed it out to the edges of the crust. And behold!, I discovered that I could re-use the plastic crust protector into a lid to crimp around the pie and set in the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours before serving it. Looking forward to having this light, refreshing pie to add fresh fruit to – for a few nights this week!

cool as a cucumber soup. . .

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Inspired by Melissa Clark’s recipes,I’ve begun making cold soups in the blender. I’ve made a cream of cucumber soup that required cooking the cucumbers before blending, but this recipe just purees the soup from scratch.

I did peel the cucumbers and seed them before adding to the blender. Also added an avocado, red onion, half a clove of chopped garlic, small container of plain yogurt, a splash of buttermilk and juice of one lime. Four large ice cubes added at the end and whirred around to cool the soup. Luscious and refreshing!

 

15 minute gazpacho soup for lunch today! . . .

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15 minute Gazpacho soup for lunch today – along with tuna sandwiches.

In a blender, I combined 2 cans of diced petite tomatoes, 2 chopped celery stalks, a third of a green pepper, red onion, half a minced garlic, worcestershire sauce, cumin (1/2 tsp) salt, pepper and juice of a fresh lime. Whizzed it together, tasted it for seasoning, then added 6 large ice cubes and ran the blender again. Stored in the fridge until ready to serve with a sprig of fresh cilantro from the herb garden.

 

homemade margherita pizza for lunch!

Quick pizza dough: 2 tsp. dry yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t, sugar, 1 T. olive oil, 1 cup+ flour- stir, knead gently, let rise for 1 hr. – pizza sauce, lots of mozzarella, grated parmesan, fresh basil. Preheat oven to 425 and cook for 20 min.+/-. IMG_1239IMG_1243

compound herb butter! . . .

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Just finished making Melissa Clark’s recipe for an herb butter (compound) now in the freezer to slice for future use. I microplaned one large clove of garlic – was going to use two but one resulted in a lot of very fine garlic. Spread it over room temp butter and mixed it together along with some shakes of truffle salt. Chopped up fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley leaves. Mixed the green herbs with the garlic butter, put it all on a piece of plastic wrap and formed it into a medium sized roll. Placed the wrapped log of herb butter into the freezer. Voila!

“hot honey shrimp” . . .

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It’s the end of May and the weather has turned muggy and hot. So, tonight I thought we’d have a light meal of shrimp and asparagus rice pilaf. For the shrimp, I followed a recipe from the NYTimes by Melissa Clark. After shelling and cleaning the shrimp, I grated a large clove of garlic on the microplane, ditto, some fresh ginger root and zest from a lime. Squeezed half of a lime and added a tablespoon of honey with a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. The recipe called for cayenne pepper but I couldn’t find it. I spooned the marinade over the 8 extra large shrimp that I had prepared. In a bowl, the marinated shrimp rested in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When ready to cook, instead of heating up the oven to 500 degrees which would take about 20 minutes to heat up, I’m going to dot the shrimp with cold butter as noted in the recipe and run them under the broiler for a few minutes until cooked.

In the meantime, I have taken the tough stems off a handful of asparagus – and rinsed them in cold water. I’ll cut them in two inch lengths and saute them in butter with a chopped shallot until fragrant. To this pot, I’ll add about 3/4 cup of raw jasmine rice and stir in the buttery asparagus. To it, I’ll add about 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and simmer with the lid on until the rice is tender. At the very end, I grated about 1/3 cup of fresh parmesan cheese and stirred it in. This may take about 20 minutes and I’ll wait for it to be ready to serve before I broil the shrimp.

Since I have cilantro growing in the herb planter by the kitchen window, I’ll squeeze the other half of the lime on the cooked shrimp and sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top. With it, I’ll make some mayonnaise dip – Hellman’s mayo whisked with fresh lemon juice. Yum!

P.S.  We just enjoyed this dinner and it was very tasty and a great combination! Grating the garlic on a microplane really brought out the taste in the shrimp – and the honey was sweet but not too much – and the crushed red pepper was invisible but also noticeable in a good way! This is definitely a keeper! Plus the asparagus pilaf was a great accompaniment.