A stunning way to use summer berries


Summer is a great time to find new ways to use the abundance of berries available in stores. One of my favorite things I’ve made with blueberries is this pie. The combination of citrus, cinnamon, and fresh fruit made the flavor spot-on, and the lattice crust made for a stunning finished product.

If you haven’t attempted to make a lattice crust before, don’t fret. Roll the dough into a circle large enough to cover the top of the pie, then cut it into strips using a knife. Overlap them on the filled bottom crust before popping it into the oven. I recommend checking on the crust about halfway through baking to make sure it’s not burning. If it’s getting brown sooner than you want it to, you can brush it with eggwash.

It’s a beautiful dessert to share.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or shortening + 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
6 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ice water

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Combine the flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut half of the butter into the mixture, working it in with the tips of your fingers until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Cut the rest of the butter into the dough and work in until the dough turns into pea-sized balls. Sprinkle the dough with 6 tablespoons of ice water.

Using a fork, blend the water into the dough. If needed to hold the ingredients together, add the remaining water.

Line a 9-inch pan with half the dough. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Combine in a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes:

5 cups blueberries, picked over
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour the mixture into the bottom crust and dot with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. Shape the remaining dough into a top crust or cut into strips and form a lattice crust. Place on top of pie.

Bake for one hour. Cool completely on a rack.

Fluffy pancakes to kick off the weekend


During the week, I rarely have the time to make the kind of breakfast I want. So, on the weekends, I usually take advantage of the time I have to whip up whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes it’s a frittata, sometimes it’s an omelet, but it’s often pancakes. I really enjoy pancakes with fruit, and my go-to is nearly always blueberries. This recipe from The Joy of Cooking produces the perfect fluffy pancakes that other recipes I’ve tried just can’t produce. I like to top mine with marionberry syrup.

Next weekend I’ll be heading to Curtis Stone’s restaurant, Maude, in Beverly Hills for my birthday dinner. Though it will be a couple days before my birthday, I am so excited and have been looking forward to this for months. I’ll report back when I return!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup coconut

Combing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl. Quickly mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix in blueberries and coconut.

Melt a pat of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Put two tablespoons of batter in the pan for each pancake. Cook until the bubbles at the top of the pancakes have popped, then flip over and cook for a few more minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Serve hot, topped with syrup.

Perfect blueberry muffins


I know, I know, this is my third recipe that uses blueberries. But they’re still in season, and who couldn’t use a good recipe for blueberry muffins?

The truth is that I used to dislike blueberries — not as much as I hate raspberries, but they definitely weren’t something I’d choose. I’d avoid them, instead using strawberries and blackberries in recipes. Clearly, I’ve since learned to love them and what their flavor can do for baked goods.

This recipe doesn’t take much time or effort. It’s another recipe from “The Joy of Cooking,” but the original offered too many options — butter or oil, milk or cream, sugar or brown sugar. After trying a few different mixtures, this became the winning combination for me.

The whole process takes about a half hour and uses ingredients readily available in most kitchens. Small things won’t make or break this recipe, either. If you don’t have nutmeg, leave it out. If you want to add a dash of cinnamon, go for it. If you only have cream or soy milk, use those instead. If you want to use more blueberries than the recipe calls for, have at it. If you have an aversion to blueberries, replace them with blackberries or cherries.

Every once in a while it’s nice to have something other than cereal, yogurt or eggs for breakfast. Freshly baked muffins can stand in for toast with your morning cup of coffee, and are a nice treat to bring to the office. Your coworkers will appreciate it.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (reduce by 1/2 teaspoon if at high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed
Brown sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a 12-muffin pan or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix. The batter should not be smooth. Add the blueberries and stir until just incorporated.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in 1 or 2 of the muffins comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the pan. If not serving hot, let cool on a rack. Serve as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours of baking.

Dessert for breakfast?

Sometimes I crave something sweet for breakfast; something other than jam on toast or orange juice or a muffin. When I have berries in the fridge and a bit of time to cook, I’ll whip up a clafouti (pronounced klä-fü-ˈtē). “The Joy of Cooking” has a Cherry Clafouti, described as a simple French country dessert, in its “pies and pastries” chapter. It’s like a baked custard. But, once in a while, it can also serve as a treat for breakfast.

I like to use fresh fruit in this recipe. I’ve made the clafouti with both cherries and blueberries, but usually use blueberries because I don’t have a cherry pitter. I find the process of cutting and pitting the cherries makes the process take much longer than I want it to.

It’s nice to have options for breakfast. Give it a shot.

4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon Cognac or rum
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 pound of sweet cherries or blueberries (frozen fruit, thawed and patted dry, or canned fruit, drained and dried, can be used)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter a 10-inch, deep-dish pie pan. Beat the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl until frothy, about two minutes.

Add the milk, Cognac and vanilla and beat the mixture until smooth.

Stir in the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit into the bottom of the pan.

Pour the batter over the fruit and place the pie pan on a baking sheet. Bake the clafouti for 10
minutes. Reduce the over temperature to 350 F and bake until the top has puffed (it will sink on cooling) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes before serving.