Berry Breeze

Mr. BrookCook searched for the perfect Mother’s Day cocktail and this was it. ūüôā Springy, tasty, and, in the vein of a Moscow Mule, topped with a splash of ginger beer. I loved it!

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Camille Austin of Hakkasan in New York City, via Town and Country magazine. It would also be perfect for the upcoming holiday weekend- and all summer long.

Yield: 1 drink

  • 2 oz lemon vodka
  • 4-5 blackberries
  • .25 oz fresh lime juice
  • ginger beer, to taste
  1. Muddle blackberries in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add vodka and lime juice; shake over ice.
  3. Strain into ice filled double old-fashioned glass or copper mug.
  4. Top with ginger beer, to taste.
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel, a lime wedge, and/or blackberries. Serve.

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Baked Risotto with Peas, Asparagus, & Pancetta

In case you were worried that I wasn’t embracing early spring vegetables… I have another asparagus and pea recipe to share! ūüėČ

I almost exclusively use my pressure cooker just to make risotto. It converts an otherwise time-consuming dish into a lovely weeknight meal. Well, baking risotto performs similar magic. Fabulous!

This recipe was adapted from TheKitchn.com, contributed by Nealey Dozier. This risotto could also be par-baked in advance, the night before, and reheated on the stovetop with one or two cups of additional stock prior to serving. Perfect when entertaining guests.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 ounces finely chopped pancetta (or olive oil for vegetarian version)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 large shallots (4 cloves), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 pound pencil-thin asparagus stalks, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, or to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven 400¬įF, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon butter and shallots to the pancetta drippings and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and sauté until every grain is coated with butter, about 1 minute.
  4. Increase heat to high. Pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid evaporates. Add stock and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the liquid is almost cooked out and the risotto is creamy, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and place over moderate heat. Stir in peas and asparagus and cook until the vegetables are bright green and warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with additional Parmesan and reserved pancetta.

To Make in Advance: Bake the risotto for 15 – 20 minutes. Cool and transfer to the refrigerator. When ready to serve, add 1 1/2 cups hot stock and vegetables and cook over medium heat until warm. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Season to taste.

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Pasta Primavera with Asparagus, Peas, & Cr√®me Fra√ģche

This quick and fresh dinner was truly springtime on a plate. It uses a combination of early spring vegetables- asparagus, peas, and scallions- which, as the author describes, makes it a “true celebration of the season.”

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the proportions and omitted the tarragon. I also used reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce. Loved it!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed
  • 3/4¬†pound asparagus, ends snapped
  • 3¬†tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1¬†cup fresh English peas
  • 1/3¬†cup (5 large) thinly sliced spring onion, white part only (or use shallot)
  • 5¬†garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¬†coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 16¬†ounces pappardelle, fettuccine or tagliatelle, preferably fresh
  • 1¬†cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, at room temperature
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup)¬†cr√®me fra√ģche or whole milk Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup¬†finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice snap peas in half and asparagus stems into 1/4-inch-thick pieces; leave asparagus tips whole.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add snap peas, asparagus, English peas and onion. Cook until vegetables are barely tender (but not too soft or mushy), 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  5. Drop pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente (1 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta, more for dried pasta). Drain well, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  6. Transfer pasta to the skillet of prepared vegetables or to a large bowl.
  7. Immediately toss pasta with vegetables, Parmigiano-Reggiano, cr√®me fra√ģche and herbs.
  8. Thin sauce to desired consistency with reserved pasta water.
  9. Season generously with salt and pepper, if needed, to taste. Serve.

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Warm Strawberry Crumb Cake

IMG_4627Our special springtime family tradition is to go strawberry picking. We love it. ūüôā This year, our favorite berry picking farm limited the quantity each person could pick because a cold snap in the early spring damaged a lot of their plants. I had to go pick on two separate occasions!

There is always a lot of pressure to put our pickings to good use. Along with my mandatory strawberry jam and pancakes, I also made strawberry muffins and this amazing dessert –¬†my new addition this year. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Gerard Craft. I made half of the recipe and modified the baking time accordingly. We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream. It could also be a very special breakfast. Fabulous!!

I’m joining Angie’s party with this one over at Fiesta Friday #125 co-hosted by my friends Quinn @ Dad What’s 4¬†Dinner and Elaine @ Foodbod. Check out their wonderful blogs & the fiesta!

Yield: Serves 6

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved (4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4¬†tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/4¬†tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

For the Cake:

  • 1¬†cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons, unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 large eggs (It’s a little tricky!)
  • 3/4¬†teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For Serving:

  • vanilla ice cream, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350¬į, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch slurry and vanilla seeds and let stand until the berries release some of their juices, about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the fruit filling into a 8×8-inch pan (9-by-13-inch if doubling the recipe) glass or ceramic baking dish set on a sturdy baking sheet.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix all of the Crumb Topping ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingers until a coarse meal forms; press into small clumps. (I set this mixture aside in the refrigerator.)
  5. To Make the Cake Batter: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  6. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
  8. Beat in the vanilla extract and scrape down the bowl.
  9. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
  10. Spoon the batter over the fruit filling, spreading it to the edge. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
  11. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling, the crumb topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (I baked it for 45 minutes for the proportions in the recipe and with the recipe doubled and baked in an enameled cast iron baking dish.)
  12. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly. Serve the crumb cake warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead: The crumb cake can be refrigerated overnight. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: The fruit filling can also be made with a combination of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

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If you like this you may also like:

Buckwheat Crepes with Asparagus, Gruy√®re, & Prosciutto

This is another yummy dish that I made while visiting my mom over spring break. It¬†was a special recipe to try¬†during our visit because my dad made amazing breakfast crepes every Sunday morning during my childhood and also because my grandfather was from Brittany; this is a classic dish from that region. I also absolutely love using my dad’s perfectly seasoned crepe pans! ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. Due to technical difficulties, I substituted whole wheat flour for buckwheat flour in the crepes- they were still delicious! (I would make them with buckwheat flour, if possible, next time though.) I also substituted prosciutto for ham in the filling.

According to Tanis, these crepes are traditionally served with a glass of sparkling cider. We gobbled them up with red wine and green salad. Spring-time asparagus heaven.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 cup/120 grams buckwheat flour
  • ¬Ĺ cup/60 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¬Ĺ cups buttermilk
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ¬Ĺ pounds medium asparagus, trimmed and bottom parts peeled, if desired
  • 12 slices (about 5-6 oz) prosciutto¬†or 6 cooked ham slices
  • 2 cups grated Gruy√®re or Comt√© cheese
  • canola or other vegetable oil, for the pan, as needed
  1. Make the batter: Whisk together flours, eggs, buttermilk and salt until well combined. Put the batter in the fridge for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. Check the consistency after the batter has rested. If necessary, thin batter with a little more buttermilk or water, to the consistency of heavy cream prior to cooking.
  2. Heat a crepe pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet, about 8 inches in diameter, over medium-high heat. (I used 2 pans.)
  3. Using a pastry brush, apply a light coating of vegetable oil to the pan(s), then quickly ladle in about 1/4 cup of batter. Swirl the pan to spread the batter all the way to the perimeter. Let crepe brown on one side for a minute or so, until crisp. Flip it over with a spatula (or carefully with your fingers) and cook one minute more. Don’t worry about browning the second side. Adjust heat if crepe browns too quickly; the pan needn’t be scorching hot. Remove from heat if crepe is cooking too quickly.
  4. Remove the crepe from the pan and set it aside while you continue to cook the remaining batter. Stack crepes on top of each other as they are finished. (Crepes may be made in advance.)
  5. Bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the asparagus for 1-2 minutes, or just until it is firm-tender, then drain and spread on a clean kitchen towel to cool.
  6. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. On parchment-lined baking sheets, fill the crepes by laying each one top-side down (the prettier side), place a slice of prosciutto on top, sprinkle generously with cheese, and lay 3-5 asparagus spears on top, off to one side. Fold over to make a half-moon.
  8. Drizzle the folded crepes with a little melted butter, then bake until they are crisp and the cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Linguine with Asparagus & Egg

Oh my. It has been a long time since I’ve devoted time to blogging. Spring yard work and cleaning always consumes my schedule this time of year. (and I am so exhausted from doing all of it… I can’t muster up any energy in my spare time¬†to do anything else. :/ ) I have been cooking though! TONS of tasty and quick dishes… I plan to start sharing some of them with you! ūüôā

I love the combination of asparagus and eggs. It screams springtime to me. This vegetarian main dish is simple and delicious. The recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I doubled the asparagus and used Parmigiano Reggiano and linguine fini noodles. We ate the leftovers with sliced and diced hardboiled eggs over the top. Great.

Yield: Serves 4, generously

  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound linguine fini (I used Barilla), linguine, fettuccine
  • 2 1/4 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
  • 3 T¬†unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated¬†Parmigiano Reggiano (1/2 ounce), plus more for serving
  • 4 large eggs
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding the asparagus in the last two minutes of cooking (if large) and last minute of cooking (if thin).
  2. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta and asparagus and return to pot along with butter and Parmesan. Toss until butter is melted, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta.
  3. While pasta is cooking, in a large straight-sided skillet, heat 2 inches water over medium until a few bubbles rise to the top.
  4. Crack each egg into a small bowl and gently pour into skillet. Partially cover, and cook until whites are set and yolks are runny, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
  5. To serve, divide pasta among 4 bowls, top each serving with an egg, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with additional cheese, as desired.

IMG_3816

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Basil Baked Salmon with Tomato Salad

It’s the last official weekend of the summer. ūüė¶ As much as I love autumn, I know that the change of season¬†also means we are getting closer to cold weather… which I absolutely dread. Ugh.

This meal bridges the summer and fall seasons. It was as torn as I am to leave summer behind and embrace the cooler weather! :/ The salmon is smothered with summery fresh¬†pesto accompanied by¬†autumn-esque roasted sunshine squash and potatoes, as well as fabulous saut√©ed CSA chard on the side. The tomato salad was literally the icing on the cake (salmon)! ūüôā It was great to make with late summer tomatoes, backyard basil and fresh CSA vegetables.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ian Knauer. I increased the proportion of sauce to salmon and used grape instead of cherry tomatoes. I am always a little bit nervous when cooking fish… I cooked the salmon for the 15 minutes as specified in the recipe, but next time would start checking the fish at 10 or 12 minutes. Such a healthy and fresh meal. ūüôā

Yield: Serves 2

  • 2 (8 ounce) wild salmon filets
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup basil leaves, plus 2 to 4 more leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, separated
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350¬įF. ( I used the convection setting.)
  2. In a food processor with the motor running, drop the garlic clove into the feed tube and run the motor until it is finely chopped.
  3. Add the 1 cup of basil, pine nuts, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, then pulse until finely chopped.
  4. With the motor running, pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil until combined.
  5. Place the salmon on an oiled baking sheet, then divide the basil mixture between the salmon, then top each filet with 2 small or one large basil leaf.
  6. Bake the salmon until just cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. While the salmon bakes, in a bowl, stir together the tomatoes, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
  8. Top the salmon with the tomato salad and serve.

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