"More people will come if they think we have punch and pie!"
~ Eric Theodore Cartman
Twenty-one years ago, four crudely animated foul-mouthed boys began their seemingly endless journey through grade school in the quaint, cozy mountain town of South Park. Through alien abductions, soul-singing chefs, cannabis-drenched towels, and commentary covering all possible levels of political incorrectness, one thing has been perpetually certain: Eric Cartman loves pie. Loves all desserts, actually.
Growing up, my siblings and I would ask my Mom, "Can we have dessert?" Her reply would often be, "Yes, you can have a piece of fruit." As if channeling Cartman, we would all bellow in unison, "But Mom, fruit is not a dessert."
Honestly, in this form, it really is.
Whenever I bake a pie, especially a blackberry pie, I recall the mother of my best childhood friend (Mrs. C). A master pie maker. She taught me how to make a pie from scratch.
We picked wild blackberries from her daughter's back yard. The berries were so plump, we filled the huge plastic bucket within 15 minutes. Of all the priceless baking tips Mrs. C gave, I'm most thankful for her method of thickening a pie filling with tapioca flour (a.k.a. tapioca starch) instead of cornstarch or all-purpose flour. Tapioca flour makes the filling bright and clear, whereas cornstarch or A.P. flour can give the filling a cloudy look and chalky taste.
This recipe is adapted from Julia Frey's blog Vikalinka. Besides some general streamlining, my changes include adding a bit of cinnamon to the filling, upping the amount of blackberries, and subbing tapioca flour in place of A.P. flour. I love her idea of topping the pie with honeyed creme fraiche (a favorite that really complements the blackberries well).
One note, if you're lucky enough to have wild blackberries in your backyard, use them (and I'm envious). If not, store bought will do just fine. If you're short on time, you can also use your favorite store-bought pie crust. Just don't forget the honeyed creme fraiche. More people will come if they think you have honeyed creme fraiche.
Adapted from: Vikalinka
Number of servings; 8
Today we're going to get saucy. [Ed. note: OH YEAH.] Not that kind of saucy. Simmer down, BF.
What is coulis? A coulis is a sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits. I personally prefer a very smooth sauce, so I strain it after blending. You don't need to do this. Notice the top photo with scallops, I strained that sauce. The bottom photo with halibut I did not. Notice the difference in texture. It's delicious either way.
Around this time of year many of my friends have an abundance of bell peppers in their gardens. So much so, they're giving them away as fast as they can.
This Moveable-Feast-original yellow bell pepper coulis is one of my favorite dishes to make because it's easy to prepare, healthy (fat free) and very versatile. I can make a big batch at the beginning of the week (it keeps well in the fridge for days) and use it for three or four different meals, throughout. The sauce works well as a base for chicken, shrimp, scallops, halibut, any fish, pork, black bean cakes, mushroom meatballs, crispy tofu, anything. You can even serve it as soup.
Made the halibut meal (below) for the BF and he loved it. Made the scallop meal (above) as a special dinner for a friend celebrating her recent Life Coach certification, and her mother. Whether the meal was for two (former) or four (latter), the process was simple.
The zucchini roses might seem a bit labor intensive, but honestly they're not, and they add a distinctive flair to the dish. Enjoy this one while the bell peppers are still in season!
Number of servings: 4
Yellow Bell Pepper Coulis
Yellow Bell Pepper Coulis
NOTE: I have cooked a batch of Trader Joe's frozen scallops (defrosted), and fresh scallops from my favorite excellent local fish monger, and everyone liked Trader Joe's the best.
"Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake."
Today is mamala's birthday, and as with my BF-mom's birthday, we gather here today to celebrate their collective sweet tooth.
Mamala passionately loved root beer floats and "black cows" (made with Coke instead of root beer), quintessential summer treats. Are they as nostalgic for you as they are for me? If so, what was your first memory of them? (Feel free to comment below!)
Even though I was lucky enough to grow up with an A&W in my hometown (it's still there), growing up we didn't frequent it too often. Mamala made her own floats at home, and oh how I loved watching her make them. One scoop of vanilla ice cream in a frosted glass. Root beer poured just so. The carbonation would foam up instantly, but never overflowed. She had the touch. I also remember she used a long, slender soda spoon to give it a slight stir.
I made it home for almost all of her birthdays, but one year it wasn't possible and the BF and I Fed Exed these root beer float cupcakes (frosting in a separate container, ice cream not included) to my sister and mom. They were delighted, and a little surprised, to discover what was in the box.
My first attempt at this was as a full-sized bundt cake, as was originally written in one of my favorite cookbooks, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Polafito. When I spied the cupcake version on the Smitten Kitchen blog, knew I had to make it for mamala. I added the root beer fudge frosting.
If you don't have time to make individual cupcakes, make it into a bundt, frost it and serve ice cream on the side. Either way, you won't be sorry.
Adapted from: Matt Lewis and Renato Polafito, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and Smitten Kitchen (cupcakes)
Number of servings: 22 cupcakes or one (10-inch) bundt cake
PS: One year ago...
“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”
- Yogi Berra
August 3 is the MIL/BF-mother's birthday (passed in 2016), and last year we got into some trouble with butterscotch (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/butterscotch-cookie-ice-cream-sandwiches), a favorite of hers.
She also loved anything with lemon or lime [Ed. note: Marie Callender's should have gone out of business, such was our love of their sour-cream varietals.], so this year I'm honoring her with a killer key lime pie adapted from Joe's Stone Crab restaurant in Miami. The BF definitely inherited the "tart" gene, and vociferously approves.
Creamy, tart filling with a raft of whipped cream on top, utterly addicting. It's also very easy to make, as in under an hour to assemble. Why don't I make this more often? [Ed. note: Because my primary care physician will send you a personal note, "Please stop."]
A perfect summer dessert, especially for those who possess the "tart" gene.
Adapted from: Joe's Stone Crab
Number of servings: 8
Graham Cracker Crust
Graham Cracker Crust
PS: One year ago...
BF's mom Kathy (far left) with friends, and Count Basie, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, 1961.
"New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin."
- Mark Twain
During the last week of June I flew to Chicago to sit shiva with my bereaved cousin Lenny, whose mother (my Auntie) recently passed away (see beautiful photo at bottom). My brother flew from Boston to meet me. We visited my beloved Uncle Jack, adored cousins Anita and Brad, and even had the chance to FaceTime with my younger cousin Emily. Have said it before, saying it again, I love my people.
One afternoon, my cousins invited us to their new home, where they indulged us with a lovely lunch of a wide variety of delicious cold salads, pretzel rolls (a favorite), onion rolls, and the best pickles. A refreshing treat, as the weather that week was an impressive 99 ºF, 100% humidity, and the weather report stated it felt like 107. (I won't argue.) The visit itself was under sad circumstances, but seeing my Chicago family again was wonderful. Only regret was the BF could not join me, as he was holding down the fort at home.
Upon returning, I craved cold salad meals. While we don't have the humidity at our northern California home, we do get some heat, and as the temperatures rose into the mid-90s I found myself craving a favorite summer dinner from Susan Spicer, owner/chef of Bayona and Mondo restaurants in New Orleans. This particular recipe isn't a restaurant staple; it's from her cookbook Crescent City Cooking, and is a meal she makes for family at home.
Everything about the salad is a winner, but the show's star is the delicious dressing. Easy to make, and it's great on everything, i.e., works as a veggie dip, or drizzled over falafels or steak. All the toppings can be served cold including the chicken and corn. I made a few substitutions and add-ons for the salad toppings, but the dressing is perfect as is. Didn't change a thing.
Adapted from: Susan Spicer with Paula Disbrowe, Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes From Susan Spicer's New Orleans
Number of servings: 4
Directions - Roasting Poblano
NOTES: Feel free to add other ingredients like red bell peppers, celery, cotija or feta cheese, or pickled jalapenos. For a more substantial meal, serve some corn bread or jalapeno corn bread.
PS: One year ago...
Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Abe on their wedding day.
Marionberries have a short season. July to be precise. The plump, Oregon-borne morsels are the cabernet of blackberries, with a tart-yet-sweet flavor that's somewhere between raspberries and blackberries.
NPR states, "The marionberry, a cross between Chehalem and Olallie blackberries, was bred at Oregon State University as part of a berry-developing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that dates back to the early 1900s. It's named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, where most of the field trials took place."
[Ed. note: To be clear, this has nothing to do with the late-D.C.-Mayor Marion S. Barry, who in 1990 was caught in an FBI sting smoking crack. Man, this blog suddenly got dark, didn't it? All apologies, we now return you to your regular programming.]
The original recipe calls for raspberries, but I chose marionberries as an homage to my home state. Feel free to use raspberries, blackberries or even boysenberries. I have been lucky enough to find fresh marionberries, but have used frozen too and it's delicious.
An incredibly moist, unassuming everyday cake that is perfect for breakfast, tea or a light dessert. Works well with ice cream or softly whipped cream, but it needs no accoutrement Well, maybe a cup of coffee!
Adapted from: Bon Appetit, March 2015 and Orangette
Number of servings: 8
"Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti."
- Sophia Loren
The BF and I don't have pasta very often. When we do it's usually a celebration of some kind. [Ed. note: Why oh why can't it be a day ending in "y?"] Last time I made this dish was for my dear honorary niece and her BF, who were moving out of the state for a job opportunity.
Don't know about you, but every time I eat spaghetti I think of Louis Prima singing "Angelina" or "Just a Gigolo," or that scene from Lady and the Tramp wafts across my brain. Not sure what the BF is seeing when he looks across at me eating my bowl of spaghetti [Ed. note: It's not David Lee Roth's version of "Just A Gigolo," I'll tell you what"], but my noggin is loudly vibrating with various songs and images.
This pesto is not your traditional pesto. It's made with smoked almonds and arugula. Smoked almonds, folks. They bring this pesto to a whole other level.
Bonus: make this a vegan option and simply don't add the cheese.
Summer in your mouth.
PS: in case you missed them, one year ago:
Adapted from: Feasting at Home
Number of servings: 4
NOTE: The pesto will taste salty and slightly bitter on its own, but don’t worry. Once it mixes with the bucatini, the pasta will soak up some of the salt and it will all balance out.
"Chocolate doesn't ask silly questions, chocolate understands."
You don't see too many chocolate desserts in the summer. Usually it's all about summer fruit pies, tarts, crostatas, cobblers, crisps, ice cream, sorbets. Nothing against them, all delicious, but my soul still craves chocolate. So this is an attempt at the best of both worlds. Even the BF loves it and he's not exactly fond of mixing fruit with cake. [Ed. note: As The Offspring once eloquently opined, gotta keep 'em separated. (I'm just kidding, this is really good.)]
The best part of this dessert is that it's the best hack of the summer.
I make every single meal for my clients and family from scratch. Every day. But once in awhile, especially in the summer heat, it's nice to make things a little easier for the BF and me. Here you can be versatile, feel free to use your favorite boxed brownie mix (Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies "Extra Thick and Fudgy" was used here) or a time-tested from-scratch recipe. You can make homemade whipped cream or Cool Whip, I won't tell. Like another berry better than strawberries? Go for it.
For years, I had prepared this dessert with homemade brownies and fresh whipped cream. Then one night a friend came over for an impromptu dinner. I was short on time, knew the guest couldn't eat dairy, and hates coconut milk. So out came the boxed brownie mix (no butter) and Cool Whip (no cream), and it was awesome. She loved it.
It also held up better in the warm weather than homemade and did not wilt or weep in the fridge. The BF and I had leftovers for a few days and there wasn't a single crumb left.
Hope you enjoy this one over a very Happy Fourth of July! Not only is it our nation's birthday, but it's also our rescue lab Marlowe's fifth. [Ed. note: She doesn't look a day over four.]
And as a final note, it is also a year since I started this blog, the one-year blogaversary, and I want to sincerely thank you for reading. Feel free to reach out to me here, or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (links above).
Flashback to blog #1: www.moveablefeast.me/blog/crispy-salmon-with-strawberry-salsa
Number of Servings: 4-6
Born on the Fourth of July. Happy Fifth Birthday Marlowe!
"I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June."
- L.M. Montgomery
Although well past high school and bright college days, still have that feeling in June that I'm playing hooky, and am compelled to commemorate the begining of September with "school shopping."
I was 11 years old when Alice Cooper's "Schools Out" was released. My older teenage brother played it loudly and incessently. [Ed. note: Is there any other way?] He also had an enormous Alice poster above his bed, the infamous one with Vince Furnier wrapped in a boa. Later. he would con my Momala into allowing him to go to a concert by taking my then eight-year-old sister, basically convincing her that Cooper was a folk singer. [Ed. note: GENIUS.] Never fails, June comes around and I can't get the "School's Out" lyrics out of my head.
My BF and I live across the street from a 4th-8th grade school, in the house he grew up in. [Ed. note: La Entrada, class of '83, represent.] Many of the neighborhood kids are graduating and will be in high school come September. Bittersweet, for me. Time is going by at warp speed and summer will be over before we know it.
These salmon kebabs, I make them every summer. It's beyond me that I never thought about threading meat or fish with two skewers instead of one (see picture). A game changer. The kebabs will not flip and spin every time you turn them. Bonus, most of you will probably already have all the necessary spices in your pantry.
We try to eat salmon as often as possible, and these kebabs are exceptionally flavorful and easy to make. Clients love them, and they're fast to prepare from start to finish (great for weeknight dinners). If you use your oven broiler, like me, we're talking five minutes.
Adapted from: Bon Appetit, June 2013
Number of servings; 4
Well, we got no class
And we got no principals
We ain't got no intelligence
We can't even think of a word that rhymes
~ Alice Cooper
Okay. So, I can be a tad stubborn in my dessert likes and dislikes. The BF can attest.
[Ed. note: Want to answer this honestly, but I've been falling asleep before her and value my own life.]
My existence has revolved around the dictum: if it is not chocolate, it is not dessert. Would think to myself, "What's the point?" It was never a problem to pass up fruit pies, tarts, parfaits, jams, jellies, or other such confections.
Then several years ago this tart changed my mind. Discovered it from Donna Hay's Seasons and it became a real show stopper for clients. Tart, tangy, colorful, not too sweet, and light. It's also one of the easiest desserts I have ever made.
It's not chocolate, but it works as a terrific distinctive summer dessert to end the meal with.
Adapted from: Donna Hay, Seasons
Number of servings: 4-6
Tart and Topping
Tart and Topping
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.