Boston Brown Bread & Berries

Ingredients

1- 16 oz. can B&M Brown Bread

1-8oz. package cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons milk, or heavy cream

8 nice strawberries

Directions

1. Remove the bread from the can and slice it into 8 evenly cut pieces.

2. Place the cream cheese, sugar, and milk in a bowl.  Beat the mixture until it is smooth, adding more milk  if  necessary.  Spread cream cheese mixture on each slice of brown bread.

3. Slice each strawberry about 4 to 5 times, leaving the berry connected at the top and leaving the green top intact.  Fan out the strawberry and place it gently on top of the cream cheese layer.

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

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Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque

It is nearly the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and that always reminds me of the time we lived in Alaska. On 21 Jun, it will be daylight here until after 9 p.m.  In Alaska they will probably have about 2 hours of darkness total on that day, and I’m talking dark like dusk.  We arrived in Anchorage late in the summer of 2004 and thought it was the coolest thing ever to be able to walk the dogs at 2 a.m., and have to wear sunglasses (it was like the Vegas strip, but family style).  We couldn’t make ourselves go to sleep at first, it was just too fascinating to be up and doing stuff outside that we wouldn’t normally be able to do.

Mark went on a fishing trip one year during the solstice; he had to throw on the sunglasses at 1 a.m. , by 3:30 a.m. it was gray outside and they sat around the campfire until 5 a.m. when he and his buddies all started fishing again in full daylight.  All this sunlight makes for a short, but rapid growing season.  The Saturday Market, which was held in downtown Anchorage, was my favorite place to buy fruits and veggies right from the farmers.

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One such trip to the Saturday Market I bought the last 4 crates of raspberries from a farmer.  By the time it was all said and done, we ended up with about 3 crates of good berries, and by crates I mean about 6 pints per crate.  Quite a lot of the berries were quick frozen and stored for later use ( a wedding cake), and then I discovered plain yogurt and Splenda.  I fiddled around with a combination of different fruits (strawberries, bananas, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, and raspberries) and amounts of Splenda until I came up with this recipe.

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If you have an ice cream maker, you can pour the mixture in it and the machine will make the frozen yogurt while you are enjoying dinner.  However, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, just mix up the recipe and put it in the freezer overnight.  It won’t be as creamy, but it will taste just as good.  Also, don’t sweat it if you play around too long and can’t find fresh raspberries, frozen fruit works just as well.  Hmmm…I seem to be craving a big piece of grilled salmon right about now.  Enjoy!

 

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Ingredients

32 oz. container plain yogurt (not vanilla flavored)

fruit (lots of choices) I used 3 cups of raspberries

Granular Splenda (my favorite is the Nectress, naturally flavored with monk fruit)

fresh-squeezed lemon juice, about 2 Tablespoons

 

Directions

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1. Prepare the fruit.  Chop your fruit into chunks (if you are using an ice cream maker, the constant movement of the mixture will crush small pieces like blueberries and raspberries for you).  Use an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor to puree the fruit, you can leave it a little chunky if you want your frozen yogurt to have more texture.

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2. In a bowl, add the plain yogurt, lemon juice and Splenda.  This is a personal taste kind of situation, however be aware that it should taste sweeter than you would normally like it because the Splenda loses some of it’s sweetness when you freeze it.  The fruit you choose will also determine how much Splenda you put in the recipe.  For instance, I used a little over 2 cups of granular Splenda making this frozen yogurt.

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3. Add the blended fruit to the yogurt mixture, stir it in well and re-taste.  Add any additional Splenda.

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4. At this point you can pour about half of this mixture into your ice cream maker and in 20-30 minutes you will be eating soft-serve frozen yogurt. Or, at this point you can pour the mixture into freezer containers and freeze for several hours (for soft-serve) or overnight for really frozen yogurt.

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Blueberry Sorbet

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recipe courtesy Martha Stewart Living Magazine, July/August 2000 issue

It’s blueberry time!  This is a nice light tasting sorbet, perfect for a hot summer day.  I used fresh blueberries, but you can probably use frozen (thawed) blueberries, too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/3 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

4 cups blueberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

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Directions

1. In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar.  Over a medium heat stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.

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2. Using a food processor, puree the blueberries.  Pour the pureed blueberries through a fine mesh sieve to remove the skins.

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3. To the sugar syrup, add the lemon juice and strained blueberry juice.  Stir to combine and pour into ice cream maker.  After the mixture is frozen, transfer to container and freeze overnight.

Unbaked Blueberry Pie

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Blueberry Pie recipe adapted from “Aunt Molly’s Unbaked Blueberry Pie” by Diana Travisono, named for Amalia Femino

courtesy of The Providence Journal, Gail Ciampa Food Editor/ Providence, Rhode Island

Pastry Crust recipe adapted from Kitchenaid Food Processor Cookbook

I never really cared for blueberry pie before because it was always sticky, gooey and gummy, without the beautiful taste of the fresh berry.  Then I made this pie…what a difference, we look forward to blueberry season just to eat this pie.  The berries taste so fresh and the pie is not overly sweet.  This pie is very quick to put together, you don’t even have to bake a crust if you really don’t want to, just use a graham cracker crust (the author of this recipe does say that a baked crust holds up better, though).

However, when the weather is stifling hot, turning on the oven can be a deal breaker.  The pie will still taste just as yummy with an unbaked ( graham cracker) crust, it just may not look as pretty when you slice it.  I’m including my pie crust recipe if you prefer a classic baked crust;  it is the recipe that came with my Kitchenaid food processor and it’s great.  The most difficult thing about making this pie is waiting for it to set.  You will be tempted to sneak a bite or two, but hold off and allow it to set up properly, it is worth the wait.  Enjoy!

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Blueberry Pie Ingredients

1 deep dish pie crust, baked and cooled (recipe follows)

6 cups blueberries

3/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 cup sugar

 

Blueberry Pie Directions

1. Bake pie crust and allow to cool.

2. Remove 1 cup of the blueberries, set aside.

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3. Mix the flour and water together in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add sugar and the 1 cup of blueberries.  Bring to a boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer.  Cook over low heat for 7-10 minutes.  Stir constantly at first and be careful that it does not stick or burn as it thickens and deepens in color.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

5. Add the rest of the blueberries;  gently mix the fresh berries with the cooked berry mixture.  Pour into prepared pie crust, using a rubber spatula to smooth the pile of berries.

6. Allow pie to sit until completely cooled.  This could take hours, but it is very important for you to allow it to cool before cutting it or it may not set up correctly.

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7. After the pie has completely cooled, refrigerate.  Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Pie Crust Ingredients

This makes 2 crusts, plus a little extra for cutting out shapes

3 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cold shortening

4 1/2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut up

7 1/2-10 tablespoons ice water

Pie Crust Directions

1. Put flour and salt in food processor bowl fitted with the multi-purpose blade.  Process until mixed, about 3 seconds.

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2. Add the shortening and butter, pulse 3 or 4 times, about 3 seconds each.  The mixture should be crumbly.

3. Sprinkle about 5 Tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture.  Pulse about 3 times, for 3 seconds each time, or until mixture pulls away from the sides in the bowl.  Everything should be moistened, add more water as necessary.

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4. Shape dough into 2 balls.  Flatten one ball of dough into a thick disc, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in a zip bag and freeze it for future use.

5. Place the other ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a circle that is larger than your pie plate.

6. Loosen the dough from the surface and gently fold in half and then half again.  Lay dough in pie plate and gently unfold.  Press the dough into the pie plate, correcting any tears as you go.

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7. At this point you can either pinch the dough all around the edge of the pie plate, or slice it off even at the top and use cut-out dough as a decorative touch.  I’ve always been lousy at crimping pie dough, it never looked nice enough for me.  So years ago I gave up trying and just started using cut-out pie dough in various shapes to decorate the edge of the pie pan.

8. Attach the cut-out pieces to the pastry in the pie pan with a bit of water.  Using a fork, pierce the crust on the sides and bottom (so that the crust does not puff up).  Using a pastry brush (mine is a paint brush), lightly brush the cut-outs with water and immediately sprinkle with sugar.

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9. Bake empty shell at 425 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, or until light and golden.  Place on a cooling rack until ready to use.

Chocolate Spice Sorbet with Chocolate Sauce

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Recipes courtesy of Crazy About Chocolate by Krystina Castella

Chocolate Spice Sorbet is a light and refreshing alternative to ice cream.  If you do not like cardamom ( or do not want to spend a lot of money on a spice that you will never use again), Krystina Castella recommends some flavor variations; you can replace the cinnamon and cardamom with mint, ginger, lavender, raspberry, or orange.  Sorbet does not freeze as hard as ice cream, so plan on placing the sorbet in the freezer overnight before serving.

The Chocolate Sauce is rich, velvety, and full of fat.  It is a great contrast to the sorbet, and would be delicious served with cakes or breads (gingerbread or banana bread would be awesome), or bottled and given as a gift with an ice cream scoop.  I dipped walnuts in the sauce and drizzled some sauce on the sorbet.  This book would also be a terrific gift for the chocolate lover on your list. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Spice Sorbet Ingredients
3 cups water
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70 % cacao), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

 

Chocolate Spice Sorbet Directions

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1. Combine the water, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and sugar in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to about 2 1/4 cups ( the syrup will become thicker and will boil slightly, but don’t allow it to become a full rolling boil).  Remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean.

 

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2. Return the pan to the stove top and add the cocoa powder and salt.  Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.  Once it starts boiling, whisk constantly for an additional 30 seconds.

 

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3. Remove from the heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate and cardamom.  Stir until the chocolate has melted.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until thick but still pourable ( I transferred the mixture to a heat-proof bowl before placing it in the fridge).

 

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4. Freeze the sorbet in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.  The sorbet will be soft-frozen, so scoop into serving dishes immediately before serving. * Even after 30 minutes in the ice cream maker, my sorbet was too soft to hold its shape.  I put it in the freezer overnight before trying to dip it.

 

 Chocolate Sauce Directions

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1. Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water.

 

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2. Stir in the sugar and cream and lower the heat.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until thick.

Lemon Granita

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Recipe courtesy of Allen & Petersen, in Anchorage, Alaska

Sweet Italian Desserts Cooking Class

 

A Granita is an Italian ice that is served as a light dessert (perfect for summer), and/or as a palate cleanser in-between courses. It is light, tart and just a bit sweet.  It looks especially pretty served in a champagne glass or ice cream dish with a sprig of mint.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3 lemons

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup water

 

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Directions

1. Zest the lemons using a zester or grater, a Microplane works great for this.

2.Place the zest in a saucepan with the sugar and water and bring to a simmer until all the sugar is dissolved.

3. Strain the liquid into a shallow pan that is freezer proof.  Cool to room temperature.

 

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4. Juice all 3 lemons and strain the juice to remove seeds and excess pulp.  Stir the mixture together and freeze.

 

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5. Every 20-30 minutes, scrape and stir the mixture, breaking apart any lumps that may be forming.

6. Repeat until it’s almost frozen.  This step creates the Granita’s signature texture.  Serve it slightly slushy.

7. To make ahead of time; Do steps 1-6, freeze.  About an hour before serving, remove from freezer and allow to sit on the counter until it becomes slushy. Stir and put back in freezer a couple of times, then serve.

 

Mini Easter Cheesecakes

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Recipe courtesy of Chicago Metallic

 

Cheesecake Ingredients

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, slightly softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients

recipe courtesy Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crumbs

(this will make enough for 2 batches of cheesecakes)

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

5 Tablespoons butter, melted

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using the mini cheesecake pan, place a disc in each cup.  Spray each cup lightly with Pam.

 

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2.Mix crust ingredients together with a rubber spatula. Place approximately 2 teaspoons of crust mix into each cheesecake cup. Press crumbs into cup.  I have a little tool called a tamper that I use for this.

 

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3. Using a mixer, blend cream cheese with egg, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar.  Fill cups evenly with cheese mixture.  Bake about 14 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and place on rack to cool for about 20 minutes.  The tops will fall as they cool.

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4. Lightly loosen the cheesecakes around the edges.  Carefully remove the cheesecakes by pushing the handle of a wooden spoon through the hole at the bottom of each cup.  When cool, remove discs from bottom.  Refrigerate until firm and then garnish as desired.

As you can tell from the first picture, I made these for Easter.  To garnish them like I did, grate some chocolate ( a soft Hershey© bar works great for chocolate shavings and curls) and whip some cream (or use Redi-Whip©).  Remove the mini cheesecakes from the refrigerator, pipe some whipped cream on top, place a chocolate egg on top of the whipped cream, and sprinkle the cheesecake with chocolate shavings.  Serve immediately.  I used canned cherry pie filling on one little guy, and whipped cream and caramel sauce on the other one.  Enjoy!