Ollalie Berry Basil Crisp from My Pantry ShelfOne of the things I love most about summer are the fresh berries and one of the things I like most to do with fresh berries is to bake them into sweet bubbly fruity crisps.  Thankfully my kids disappeared into my parents berry patch the other night and came back with buckets of beautiful Ollalie berries.  After devouring them by the handful and scattering them over waffles, there was still enough for a Father’s Day crisp.  The perfect dessert to cap off a perfect summer adventure day in the canoe and swimming in the lagoon.

Berry Crisp ala mode from My Pantry ShelfOllalie Berry Basil Crisp is one of the simplest yet satisfying desserts that summer can afford.  Ollalie berries are similar to boysenberries, so you can use those or blackberries, or even blueberries if that is what you have on hand.  The basil, an unexpected ingredient, blends beautifully with the sweet berries adding just a hint of herb.  The crunchy top is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet saucy berries and of course the dollop of ice cream.  This dessert was a super hit with my family.  EVERYONE had seconds.

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Flourless Almond Orange Cake from My Pantry Shelf

I love a cake that is not pretentious.  One that does not demand some sort of special event such as a birthday, nor hours spent frosting and decorating.  Just a simple, yet elegant treat to bake for almost any occasion.  This Flourless Orange and Almond Cake is exactly that cake.  Oranges, cooked and pureed, mix with almond meal, eggs, and sugar to create an incredibly moist and fragrant dessert.  The toasted almonds give the caramelized top just a bit of crunch.  The cake is great even a day later, so do not be afraid to make it in advance.

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Butterscotch Walnut Cookie Bars from My Pantry ShelfThough it pains me to acknowledge, there are not one, but two members of my family that are not die hard lovers of chocolate.  Being that cooking desserts without chocolate is somewhat foreign to me, I have taken it upon myself to find recipes for treats that not only please my family, but that I deem worthy of the calories they impart.  Anything caramel is usually a hit with  us- we love Caramel Sauce on Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel Apple Tarts, or fruity desserts such as Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes.  Most recently I was searching for a recipe that would pack well for a family picnic and I came across this gem of a recipe in a cookbook I recently picked up, Maida Heatter’s Cookies.

Add nuts to butterscotch mixtureButterscotch Walnut Cookie Bars are crunchy, nutty, butter goodness.  The brown sugar sweetened bottom layer holds the chewy, crunchy walnut topping.  Delicious on their own, these bars are absolutely incredible with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. Kept in an air tight container, these bars keep for a week, but only if you have more self-control than we do.  Enjoy.

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Satsuma GranitaThere is sense and order to the world.  Need proof?  The ripening of winter citrus.  It is the darkest days of the year that bring us the brightly colored, terrifically acidic oranges and lemons, limes and grapefruit, or at my house…  buckets upon buckets of satsuma mandarins.  Not familiar with satsumas?  They are a small orange with a sweet tart bite.  They are similar to the other easy-peel small citrus, such as clementines, that are sold in boxes at all the grocery stores right now.  In fact, this recipe could easily be used with those little cuties or even a standard orange variety.Satsumas cut in halfSatsuma Granita is the ultimate anti-winter.  Fresh-squeezed satsuma juice is mixed with a touch of lemon juice and bit of ginger-infused simple syrup.  The mixture is frozen and fluffed, then gently packed back into the peels of the satsumas.  Fun to look at, even more fun to eat, these balls of cool orangey ice will make you forget it is the middle of winter.  As my kids said, “They are like snow cones, only BETTER!”  They are also remarkably easy to make.  If you happen to have young children underfoot that have run out of engaging indoor activities, by all means put them to work!  My daughter happily monkeyed up the tree to pick the fruit before juicing the lug of fruit.  What delicious fun!

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Thanksgiving Menu Guide

November 15, 2012

With Halloween behind us, we are officially hurtling towards the Thanksgiving.  For me that means it is time to get serious about meal planning.  While Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy time-honored dishes, each year I like to try something new as well.  Here a a collection of special occasion-worthy recipes from My Pantry Shelf that my family loves.  What is your favorite dish to make for Thanksgiving?  Tell us in the comments below.  Feel free to add a link to your recipes.

appetizers

Fuyu Persimmon Chutney

Fresh Herb Chevre

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese Dip @ My Pantry Shelf

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese Yogurt Dip

sides and salads

Acorn Squash Rings with Apple Glaze

Brussels Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Chipotle Black Bean and Butternut Squash Salad

Forbidden Rice and Green Onion Hearth Bread

Orange Quinoa with Almonds, Olives, and Feta

Roasted Beet and Hazelnut Salad with Feta

Shaved Brussels Sprout Slaw

Sweet Potato and Bacon Gratin

Stuffed Winter Squash with Rice and Sausage

dessert

Pumpkin Coconut Pudding

Satsuma Granita

Satsuma Granita

drinks

Cranberry Daiquiris

brunch

Bacon Breakfast Strata

Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

Easy Cranberry Bread

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Strawberry Shortcakes

July 11, 2012

Could there be a more classic summer dessert than a strawberry shortcake?  Probably not.  So when I finally got my hands on a lug of gorgeously fragrant, deep red strawberries from a local farm, all I could think of was making this simple dessert to showcase these berries.

Since there are only three simple components to a strawberry shortcake, it is essential that all three elements can sing on their own. Most recipes call for a cream scone, but I prefer a buttermilk biscuit not only because it reduces the overall fat in the recipe, but also for the lovely tang that the buttermilk provides.  This recipe makes buttery, flaky, beautifully browned biscuits.  Split them open and dollop  them with cream which has been whipped into a soft, velvety mixture.  (Do not pour in cream, turn on your mixer to whisk and then leave the room to mediate a sibling squabble,  oh no, do not.  You will make butter. Trust me.)

Last are the strawberries.  This dish is best with fresh sweet summer berries.  Pick ones that are small and red to the core, preferably from your local farmers market and not shipped to the supermarket in plastic boxes.  There is a huge difference.  Depending on the size of the strawberries, halve or quarter them and dust with a bit of sugar.  As the strawberries sit they will gently weep and make a beautiful pink syrup.  Scoop the berries and their syrup onto the pillow of whipped cream and top with the other half of the biscuit.  Simple and delightful.

The last time we made these was the 4th of July, so we tossed in some blueberries as well to go with the red, white, and blue theme.  My son insisted that the dessert would benefit from the option of Chocolate Pudding as well.  He was right.  We went with the self serve model, allowing each person to create their own shortcake dessert from bowls of whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries, and chocolate pudding.  For a more formal approach, serve the assembled shortcakes.

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I am not known for overt patriotism, but I am also not one to pass up an opportunity to celebrate.  And isn’t it a happy coincidence that our nation’s birthday falls smack dab in the middle of berry season?  We are surrounded by luscious reds and blues hanging from the bushes and trees throughout our neighborhoods and farms.  To pass these by is a shame and perhaps even unpatriotic.

My kids and I went on a west county adventure yesterday, and came home with a bag full of blueberries from Sonoma Swamp Blues (great spot to pick up super tasty local blueberries!).  Most of them are destined for shortcakes with strawberries and cream, but I could not resist tossing a few handfuls into the blender to make these popsicles. Believe it our not, my kiddos will happily gobble up a popsicle every day of summer!

Red, White and Blueberry Popsicles are a tasty treat to cool you off while savoring the sweet tastes of July.   Also they only take about 10 minutes to prepare (and freeze overnight), so you have more time to sit around sipping on lemonade (or an ice cold margarita).  You can test your luck and pull them out of the mold after 4 hours or so.  We did.  Waiting until the actual 4th of July was more than our patience could take.  Use caution though, if they are not fully frozen they are more likely to break off or for the stick to come loose from the popsicle.

*Don’t have a popsicle mold?  Check out this one.

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