Summer Berry Crostata

I love using frozen puff pastry but had always stayed away from pie dough. Last week I made Apple Pot Pies with one crust of a two crust package of pie dough. I froze the remaining dough for future use.

The future is now!

I’ve been thinking about using some of the delicious summer fruit that is available for a reasonable price. Husband bought blueberries and strawberries last week, and I had an idea to use them in a Summer Berry Crostata.

Today we had an early breakfast and did errands, including grocery shopping. Items to round out the crostata were on the list and I got busy getting the berries together with their new friend, frozen raspberries. I like using fresh raspberries but thought the frozen ones would be good in this dish.

Summer Berry Crostata

Combine the following in a covered container and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours:

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries

1 pkg frozen raspberries

Zest of 1 orange

Zest and juice of 1 lemon (collect juice in a separate bowl, use only 1 1/2 t and saving the rest for another use)

1 1/2 t lemon juice

1 t vanilla

1 T vanilla sugar

1/2 t kosher salt (if using table salt use 1/4 t)

Two or more hours later, put 2 1/2 cups of the fruit mixture in a bowl and add:

1 T all purpose flour

1 t ground cinnamon

Stir to combine and set aside while you prepare the crust.

1 frozen pie crust, defrosted

1 egg, beaten with 1 t water

1 t vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, and lay pie crust on the parchment paper. Spoon fruit onto center of pie crust, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border. Carefully bring the edges of the crust up over the fruit, folding the dough in soft pleats.

Brush the crust with egg wash. Sprinkle vanilla sugar over the top of the crostata, including the dough and filling. Put into oven and turn down to 400 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven and put on cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. I dusted the top with confectioner’s sugar, but ice cream would be delicious as well.

Apple Pot Pies

Have you ever seen something online or on Pinterest and thought it looked tasty? Today I was on Flipboard and saw a recipe for an apple pot pie.

I had never thought about making a sweet pot pie! I had an apple in the fridge, and needed to go grocery shopping. I like to take a recipe and make it my own, and thought adding the bit of fig jam I had left would go well with the apple.

The technique can be used with any combination of berries, stone fruit, apples…maybe not bananas 🙂

If you bake pies, use your favorite recipe and put the filling in a ramekin, top with a crust, and bake. Easy-peasy! Dessert is done in a flash.

Apple Pot Pies

2 Granny Smith apples, cut into bite size dice

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 T fig jam

2 T all purpose flour

1 T vanilla sugar

1/4 t kosher salt (or 1/8 t table salt)

1 t cinnamon

Pie crust cut to fit ramekins, cut with decorative pattern (I used Publix ready-made crusts, and used one and froze the other for another time)

1 egg, beaten with water for egg wash

Optional: 1 T vanilla sugar to sprinkle on top of the pot pies

Preheat oven to 390 degrees.

Combine the diced apple, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the apples with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix the fig jam with the apples, and then add the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.

Fill the ramekins until level with the top. Dip a finger in water and run it around the top of the ramekin; place the pierced pie crust on top of the ramekin and press to seal. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Place ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet and put into oven. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes, until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

May be served hot, warm, or room temperature. To serve a la mode, top with the ice cream flavor of your choice. I also dusted mine with confectioners sugar.

Celebration Cocktail

Have you ever wanted a refreshing cocktail and realized that you forgot to pick up your favorite frozen drink at the grocery story? Fear not! With a few simple ingredients, you can make your own cocktail and celebrate whatever you like.

Most of us have things lurking on pantry shelves and in the freezer that can be put to good use. Any concentrate, any alcohol, any soda; the combinations are endless. Some are more natural slush buddies than others, but don’t be afraid to try a new pairing – you might surprise yourself.

In my case, a long-forgotten can of lemonade concentrate. The last bit of rum at the bottom of the bottle. A smidge more of vodka. A small can of ginger ale. Ice.

A blender to make an alcoholic slushy.

Gather the ingredients, put them in the blender in proportions that please you, and alternate between puree and blend.

The lemonade concentrate was too tart, which was when I added ginger ale to it. The fizz and flavor went well with the lemonade and took the tart edge off.

Celebration Cocktail

Makes 1 blender-full (3 drinks)

Fill blender half full of ice

Add lemonade concentrate to taste (I used 2/3 of large can)

Add 1 part rum

Add 3 parts vodka

Blend above ingredients, alternating between puree and blend until mixture is slushy.

Add ginger ale, and blend to incorporate.

Pour into 3 glasses, and garnish with a lemon quarter.

It occurred to me after the drinks were already in the glass that a sugared rim would have been tasty also. Next time 🙂


Three Compound Butters – One Sweet, Two Savory

I love the ease and convenience of compound butters. Honey butter is probably the first one I ever had, and I love the way it melts into warm bread or rolls.

When I went to college at Rutgers University, I sometimes went to a restaurant that served steaks with savory compound butter. A round of herby butter would be placed on top of the hot meat just before serving, and by the time it came to the table the melted butter oozed over the sides onto the plate. That was over 30 years ago, and I still remember how delicious it was!

I mixed up three compound butters: Honey Butter; Lemon Garlic Parsley Butter; and Ginger Parsley Sesame Butter.

Sweet Honey Butter is wonderful on rolls, bread, toast, and sweet potatoes.

Lemon Garlic Parsley Butter is tasty on pasta, and makes a fast dinner special with no more effort than putting a dab or two of this compound butter on hot pasta, or spread on a baguette to make garlic bread.

Ginger Parsley Sesame Butter is one I made to put on grilled salmon. We grill salmon wrapped in foil, and I thought this would be a terrific alternative to the usual olive oil and sesame seeds we usually season the salmon with. Put some of the compound butter on the fish, wrap to seal, and grill or cook as usual. The butter will melt over the fish, and the ginger, parsley, and sesame seeds will coat the top and sides.

Compound Butter is as easy as mixing tasty ingredients into room temperature butter. I add a pinch of salt to my unsalted butter, even to sweet honey butter.

Honey Butter (Bottom – Photo)

3 T unsalted butter, room temperature

1 T honey, or to taste

Pinch of salt

Lemon Garlic Parsley Butter (Center – Photo)

3 T unsalted butter, room temperature

Zest of one lemon

1 t chopped garlic, (or a pea-sized squeeze of Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic)

1 t chopped parsley

Pinch of salt

Ginger Parsley Sesame Butter (Top – Photo)

3 T unsalted butter, room temperature

1 t grated ginger

1 t chopped parsley

1 T sesame seeds

Pinch of salt

For each compound butter: Combine ingredients, roll in wax paper or put into a ramekin, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze or chill in refrigerator.