Cakes on a Plane!!! (And at the wedding…finally!)

If you read my most recent post Wedding Week…Love is Sweet! , you know that we had a wedding last weekend.  Yep.  Last Saturday, 7/20/13, our son Kyle and the lovely Calla Mapel got hitched!  It was just beyond amazing.  Love-filled, casual, comfortable, beautiful, personal, vintage-y, sweet…I could go on and on.  Couldn’t have been more perfect.

You may also recall that I made the wedding cake (well, wedding cakes as there were five of them).  I baked them ahead of time and froze them and transported them, via Alaska Airlines, from San Diego to Sonoma.

Thought I’d share a photo timeline of the journey…

1st step...made it through the TSA x-ray!

1st step…made it through the TSA x-ray!

And, yes, CAKES ON A PLANE!

CAKES ON A PLANE!

Getting ready to frost the cakes in our super gorgeous gourmet kitchen at the house we rented

Getting ready to frost the cakes in our super gorgeous gourmet kitchen at the house we rented. That is my Kitchenaid that we schlepped!

One down...four to go!

One down…four to go!

All five cakes in the fridge!

All five cakes in the fridge!

Getting transported to the White Barn (wedding venue)

Getting transported to the White Barn (wedding venue)

Ally (aka florist) decorating with flowers from Oak Hill

Ally (aka floristita) decorating with flowers from Oak Hill

All decorated and in the fridge at the White Barn (the morning of the wedding)

All decorated and in the fridge at the White Barn (the morning of the wedding)

And voila!  FINALLY!!!

And voila! FINALLY!!!

And, yes, it was delicious.

And, yes, it was delicious.

Wedding Week…Love is Sweet!

Love is Sweet

Hey all! I’m not going to be posting “live” for a couple of weeks. We are heading to Sonoma tomorrow for Kyle and Calla’s wedding Saturday!! Kyle and Calla’s wedding. THIS Saturday! I can hardly stand it. I’m so excited. We just adore Calla (and her entire family). Honestly, we couldn’t ask for a better life partner for our son. The fact that she comes with a wonderful family is just icing on the cake.

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Kyle and Calla

And speaking of icing on the cake (Lol…I just thought of that…what a perfect segue)…lest you think there’s no cooking or baking involved for the wedding…I am making the WEDDING CAKE!

Well, technically, it’s cakes (there are five of them) and technically I’ve already baked them. They’re frozen now. Tony and I will be transporting them, frozen, as our carry-on luggage, in insulated bags, on our flight from San Diego to Santa Rosa tomorrow. Don’t even ask how many different ideas I’ve had to transport these cakes…should Ally drive them? No. They’re hiking for three days prior. Should I ship them? Ha ha. Trust someone else with this precious cargo? Should I pack them with dry ice and check them on the plane? Even bigger ha ha ha. Will I need dry ice or frozen gel packs to keep them frozen if I carry them on? TSA says only 4.4 lbs of dry ice(and a whole list of other rules) per passenger for carry-on and frozen gel packs must be 100% solid or they will consider it liquid and you have to follow the whole 3-1-1 rule…just sayin’. But the very nice and extremely helpful ladies at Do it With Icing assure me the cakes will be perfectly fine with no ice or anything for the short one-hour flight. And guess what? Then we will have CAKES ON A PLANE! Ah…hahahahhaha!

We’ve rented a house through VRBO, so I’ll have a full kitchen once we’re there. Ally (and her boyfriend Jackson) have my KitchenAid stand mixer (and a lot of other wedding-related paraphernalia) in the back of my car that is at this moment in Big Sur, being driven to Sonoma. So I’ll be making the frosting and decorate the cakes there.

What kind of cake you ask? Well, we’re not doing a traditional tiered cake. We’re calling it a “deconstructed” cake. It will be five separate 2-layer cakes on five lovely vintage cake pedestals that I’ve collected. And they will be decorated with fresh flowers from the wildflower farm on site at the wedding venue (The White Barn at Oak Hil Farm).

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Cake pedestal collection

The cakes are all the same flavor – a Sour Cream Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Cream Cheese Frosting. It is amazingly delicious. And it only took three “experimental” cake recipes to get it right (my coworkers thoroughly enjoyed the “experiments”, btw.) Thank you to my expert baker friend Dale Brent for discovering the recipe and helping to zest and segment all the lemons!!!! Cake recipe here. The frosting is from a Bon Appétit recipe that I actually used once almost 20 years ago when Tony and I renewed our vows (for our 10th anniversary) and I made a cake for the occasion. It is so good that honestly, I could spread it on a pair of sneakers and it would make it taste good. Frosting recipe follows.

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Officially a wedding cake baker

Just one of the practice cakes

Just one of the practice cakes

I’m so anxious to see how the cakes will actually look, all decorated and on the pretty plates inside the Barn! I know for sure they will taste delicious!!! This has indeed been a labor of love.

Oh, and we’re also having a “Baked Goods Bar”…Calla and Kyle have asked friends and family to contribute goodies. I made my all-time favorite Margarita Cookies and Mexican Wedding Cookies (called Cashew Butter Balls on the blog…just substituted pecans for cashews). We’ll be carrying those on too. (Sure hope I don’t exceed TSA’s “baked goods allowance” Ha ha! Well, I’m not above stooping to bribery…cookies anyone?)

Margarita Cookies and Mexican Wedding Cookies...ready to go!

Margarita Cookies and Mexican Wedding Cookies…ready to go!

So that’s if for now folks. Absolutely there will be photos to follow the big day. I couldn’t be happier…I’ve been wearing a permanent ear-to-ear grin for about five days now and I’m sure it will last for a long time to come.

Love is indeed sweet.

Lemon Curd Cream Cheese Frosting

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces (1-1/2 sticks) cream cheese, softened

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1-1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup lemon curd (I used Trader Joe’s lemon curd)

DIRECTIONS

Make sure butter and cream cheese are at room temp – butter takes longer!

Cream butter for 2 minutes until fluffy. Add cream cheese. Beat until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Gradually add cream, beating just until blended. Add lemon curd and beat just until combined. Cover and chill until very cold and spreadable, at least 8 hours or up to one day.

Wake-Up Casserole

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It’s rare that both of our kids are in San Diego at the same time.  Kyle is 26 and lives in Portland, OR and Ally, 24, lives in New Orleans.  But a couple of weeks ago, they were.  And, really, there’s nothing that makes me happier.

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My three favorite people…Kyle, Tony and Ally

Kyle’s visit was really brief…basically stopping here on his way to and back from La Fonda (in Baja, Mexico) for his bachelor party weekend.  (Oh yeah, did I mention?  Kyle and Calla are getting married!  In TEN days!!! 10 days!!  In Sonoma.  At the White Barn at Oak Hill.  OMG!  So excited!!!)

Kyle and Calla

Calla and Kyle

Ally is here, off and on, for a longer stretch before the wedding.  I picked her up at the airport after she had been in Mexico City for two weeks and she and I drove to LA for Calla’s shower/camping/hiking/fair maiden weekend.  Then we came back.  Then Kyle was here.  Then Kyle went to Mexico, then back to Portland.

Then Ally left for a week to teach drumming to 7 to 9 year old girls at the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp (how cool is that?)  And now she’s back.  And her boyfriend Jackson will be here.  And then we’ll all leave for Sonoma for the wedding.  Kyle and Calla’s wedding!!!!  In 10 days!!

Okay, I was going somewhere food-related with this.  Right.  Wake-Up Casserole.  One of our favorite weekend breakfast dishes when they were younger and still living at home was Wake-Up Casserole.  It’s got everything you want for breakfast – eggs, potatoes, cheese and bacon (or ham) all in one dish.  It’s super easy and super delicious.  The recipe was in the Food section of the Union-Tribune many years ago.  I’ve since lost the original recipe, but, really, its so easy, I could basically make it just from memory.  Though I did look it up online, just so I could get a more accurate idea of the quantities so I could share.  I found it at allrecipes.com  (And you know what?  I really did do a pretty good job of memorizing it.)

So they were both here on the Friday morning before Kyle left for La Fonda.  I made Wake-Up Casserole.  Everyone was happy.  Especially me (and it didn’t have anything to do with the casserole)!

Wake-Up Casserole

(adapted from the U-T via my memory and allrecipes.com)

 INGREDIENTS

8 frozen hash brown patties

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

10 slices cooked bacon, crumbled, from one of those 2.1 oz packages of fully cooked bacon (or you can use fully cooked ham, diced, if you prefer)

8 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 13×9″ baking dish.  Place hash brown patties in a single layer on bottom of dish.  Sprinkle with cheese and bacon (or ham).

In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and mustard.  Pour over cheese and  bacon (or ham).

Cover dish with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer until edges are golden brown, eggs are set and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

An explosion of recipes for the Fourth!

Get it…explosion?  Fireworks…Fourth of July?!?!?  Ha ha.

So I had a completely different post ready to go for today, but then thought I might just re-post some of my blog favorites…a few easy appetizers, side dishes and desserts that would make excellent addition(s) to your July Fourth burgers & dogs.

OMG.  They are all sooooo good!

Here goes…

Slow Roasted Tomato & Herb Goat Cheese Appetizer

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Avocado-Cilantro Hummus

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Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

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Broccoli Slaw

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Gramma Lulu’s Potato Salad

Gramma Lulu's potato salad

Double Chocolate Brownies

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Lemon Bars
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Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

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Cheryl’s Chinois Chicken Salad

Leftovers at my desk!  Yum.

Leftovers at my desk! Yum.

Chinese Chicken Salad.  It’s pretty much a staple on just about every restaurant menu and has been since, what, like the mid-1980’s?  And it’s still a favorite.  Wolfgang Puck makes one that he calls Chinois Chicken Salad.  Fancy.  And it’s served at all of his restaurants, from the most high-end like Jai in La Jolla (in fact, I just had one there in December, when Tony and I went to the La Jolla Playhouse to see “Yoshini Battles the Pink Robots” for my birthday) to the Wolfgang Puck Expresses you find at airports.

A co-worker gave me a signed copy of Wolfgang’s Live, Love, Eat cookbook several years ago for a holiday gift exchange and I’ve made the Chinois salad (well, a somewhat revised version) many, many times.  I hadn’t made it for quite a while and was craving one the other night. I pulled the cookbook off the shelf, turned to the page (which is just about falling out of the book, btw, and saw that I had printed out a Chinese Chicken Salad recipe from a 2006 Gourmet magazine and stuck it in there, with lots of notes, combining the best of both recipes.)

It was a delicious, light dinner and the leftovers made for the best yummy lunch at my desk the next day at work.

With all the revisions I’ve made, it’s not so much Wolfgang’s original recipe anymore.  We’ll just call it Cheryl’s Chinois Salad and thank him for the inspiration!

Cheryl’s Chinois Salad

INGREDIENTS

Salad:

6 cups shredded Romaine lettuce (about one 1-lb head)

2 cups shredded Napa cabbage (one smallish head)

1/2 pound snow peas, cut into 1/4″ julienne strips

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1 cup won ton strips (You can buy won ton strips in most grocery store produce sections, like where the croutons are.  I’ve also on occasion stopped in at our local Chinese restaurant and bought them.  You can make your own, too, either deep frying or baking, though I never have.  Shame on me.  Wolfgang doesn’t even include them in his salad!)

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (black or white, I like a combination of both.  You can find already toasted sesame seeds in the Asian section of most supermarkets, and sometimes black sesame seeds too.)

 Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon dry Chinese or English mustard

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil (also found in the Asian section of most supermarkets)

1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil

salt & pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Salad:  Gently toss lettuce, cabbage, snow peas, green onion, radish and cilantro in large bowl. Add chicken.  Toss with vinaigrette.  Just before serving, add won ton strips, almonds and sesame seeds and toss again.

Vinaigrette:  Whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and mustard in small bowl, then add sesame oil and vegetable (or peanut) oil in a slow stream, whisking until sugar is dissolved and dressing is well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Tequila Fettucine

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“Sammy’s answers pasta plea.  By Caroline Dipping.”  That was the title of this article in the San Diego Union-Tribune “Readers Ask” column in January 2005. I’m not sure why it made me laugh, but it did.  Was it the corny title?  Or was it that the food editor’s last name is Dipping?

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At any rate, the reader was asking for the recipe for Chicken Tequila Fettucine from Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, a favorite San Diego restaurant.  Tony and I really like the food at Sammy’s (though I’ve actually never ordered this pasta).  We always order the Grilled Chicken Balsamic Salad (creatures of habit) and a pizza (we do mix up the pizzas a bit…love the Thai Chicken and New York Style).

Okay, so Caroline Dipping made me laugh and the recipe sounded yummy and I know the food at Sammy’s is good, so I tried it and have made it countless times since.  It’s delicious…the sauce is flavorful and creamy, with a touch of tequila and a little kick from a jalapeño pepper.

And I still chuckle every time I pull out the recipe.

Chicken Tequila Fettuccine

(adapted slightly from Sammy’s via the U-T...the original recipe calls for a couple tablespoons of soy sauce, but I don’t think it needs it.)

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 tablespoons butter

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium red onion, quartered, sliced

1/2 jalapeño chile, seeded, minced

2 tablespoons tequila

3/4 cup chicken broth

2 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons cilantro leaves (divided use)

Juice from 1 lime

12 ounces cooked spinach fettuccine

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, mix diced chicken with olive oil and minced garlic. Set aside.

Heat a large, heavy saute pan. Add butter and melt. Add the diced garlic chicken, stirring occasionally until well-browned on all sides. Add bell pepper, onion and jalapeño. Continue cooking until vegetables soften.

Add tequila and chicken broth. Cook, reducing the mixture until there is just a little liquid left. Add the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and the lime juice. Cook until sauce thickens.

Add the cooked and well-drained spinach fettuccine to the cream mixture. Toss until pasta is hot and well-coated. Divide pasta into 2 large bowls and top with remaining cilantro. Serve hot.

Lime Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate and Almonds

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The other night our friend Christine invited us to dinner.  Christine is originally from Paris, France and is a wonderful cook (and a lovely person!)  We got to know her through her daughter Elisa, who was a high school friend of our son Kyle.  Elisa, btw, is no slouch in the kitchen either. She has actually studied with Alice Waters (yes, THAT Alice Waters!) and did research for a couple of Michael Pollan (yes, THAT Michael Pollan!) books, including his newly released Cooked (which, btw, I highly recommend.  Such an important message.)  He even thanked her, by name, in his Acknowledgments!  So impressed.

Okay, where was I?  Right. Christine invited us for dinner.  I asked what I could bring.  She said (in her lovely French accent), “I have been dreaming about your white chocolate lime cookies.”  Wow.  Dreaming about them.  Okay then…how could I possibly say no? Decision made.  The cookies are delicious…a light, buttery shortbread with a nice zesty lime flavor, a tiny bit of sweetness from the white chocolate and a crunchy almond topping.

The cookies were a lovely ending to Christine’s exceptional meal which included classic French dishes Salade Lyonnaise and Blanquette de Veau.  Très magnifique!

I’m sharing the recipe for the cookies.  If you want recipes for Salade Lyonnaise and Blanquette de Veau, you’ll have to ask Christine.

Lime Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate and Almonds

(adapted slightly from Bon Appétit April 2009)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons finely grated lime peel (3-4 limes), divided
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 3.5-ounce bar high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan.

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter, 2 tablespoons lime peel, and lime juice; process just until blended and dough forms clumps.

Press dough evenly into prepared baking pan. Pierce dough all over with fork. Using sharp knife, cut dough into 12 squares, cutting through dough completely, then cut each square in half on diagonal, forming 24 triangles total.

Bake shortbread until golden brown, crisp around edges, and firm to touch, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven. Using sharp knife, immediately recut shortbread, gently separating triangles. Cool shortbread in pan on rack.

Place white chocolate in small metal bowl. Set bowl over small saucepan of gently simmering water and stir just until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Using fork, drizzle melted chocolate in zigzag pattern over shortbread. Sprinkle evenly with almonds and remaining 1 tablespoon lime peel. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 1 hour.  Gently separate into triangles.

(Leftover) Steak Salad with Arugula, Blue Cheese and Steakhouse Mustard Vinaigrette

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We don’t eat a lot of steak, but every once in a while either Tony or I have a craving.  (Tony more often than me.)  And there’s a very good meat market (not that kind of meat market, an actual meat market, with real butchers behind the counter) near us and it is so worth it when you do get the hankering for a steak to splurge and buy from the guys at Iowa Meat Farms.  So the other day we’re having our usual “what do you feel like for dinner” conversation (actually more like texting back and forth while I’m at work) and Tony suggests “how about steak sliders…I could grill one of those Tri-Tips from Iowa Meat Farms.  On a good crusty roll, with horseradish mayo and some of your pickled red onions?”  Sold.  Sometimes the boy does come up with some good ideas.

Which leads me to the Leftover Steak Salad.  We did have some steak left over (weird, right?) and I really wanted to use it in some sort of salad.  I thought about doing a Cobb Salad, but we had just had Cobb Salad (which, btw, will be a post soon), so I searched my favorite weblog (yes, Smitten Kitchen) and there it was.  Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Blue Cheese with a “steak house vinaigrette” made with Dijon mustard, Worcestershire and red wine vinegar.  Oh yeah.

Really simple (especially if you already have the leftover steak) and really delicious.  And, yes, it’s even worth going to the trouble to grill a steak just to make this salad!

Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Blue Cheese

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat if necessary, halved crosswise, at room temperature (or whatever leftover steak you have)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 pound baby arugula
Vinaigrette (below)
3 tablespoons minced chives, 2 thinly sliced scallions or 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Pat steak dry and season on both sides 1/2 teaspoon salt and many grinds of black pepper.

In a cast-iron skillet: Heat skillet on medium-high to high and add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, place steak in skillet and do not move it for 5 minutes. Turn it once, and cook for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. You may need to cook your steak halves separately, depending on the size of your pan.

On a grill: Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal or high heat for gas. Oil grill rack, then grill steak, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes total for medium-rare.

Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for five minutes. Arrange arugula on a large platter. Thinly slice steak on the diagonal, across the grain. Arrange over arugula, then toss halved cherry tomatoes and blue cheese over platter. Add vinaigrette to taste, then sprinkle with chives, scallions or red onion. Serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.

Steakhouse Mustard Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and adjust ingredients to taste.

Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic and Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette

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My new favorite appetizer.  Artichokes grilled and then tossed with some fresh chopped Italian parsley and garlic and served with a creamy champagne vinaigrette for dipping.

We had these at a friend’s house about a month ago (thank you Margo!) and I couldn’t stop eating them.  Like literally could not stop eating them.  They were really delicious. (The rest of the dinner was delicious too…Margo is an amazing cook.  But these artichokes! Mmmm…mmm…mmm!)

Of course, I had to ask where she got the recipe and she said from Food Network’s Giada de Laurentiis.  And then, of course, as soon as I got home, had to Google “Giada grilled artichokes”.  There were actually two recipes that were pretty similar; one called Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic and the other Grilled Artichokes with Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette.  Aha!  I believe Margo used the one with parsley and then made the vinaigrette dipping sauce.

So that’s exactly what we did when we made these last week. Again, I couldn’t stop eating them. I could make a meal of just these artichokes.  (And I just might!)   I’ll be serving them a LOT this summer!

Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic and Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette

adapted slightly from two Giada de Laurentiis recipes

INGREDIENTS

6 fresh artichokes

2 lemons halved, plus 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Trim the stem from each artichoke to 1-inch long.  Using kitchen scissors, remove the thorns from the tips of the artichoke leaves. Cut top inch of artichokes with serrated knife. Quarter each artichoke. Using a small, sharp knife, cut out the choke and remove the purple, prickly tipped leaves from the center of each wedge.

Place finished artichokes in a large bowl of cold water and squeeze 2 lemons into the water and stir. Continue with remaining artichokes.  Once finished, drain the artichokes and place into boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes.

Drain the cooked artichokes and place onto preheated grill. Cook until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, add remaining lemon juice (1/3 cup) parsley, garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually drizzle in olive oil.

Toss the grilled artichokes with the garlic/parsley mixture.  Arrange the artichokes on a platter and serve with champagne vinaigrette alongside for dipping!

Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup crème fraiche

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk together the crème fraiche, olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper until smooth.

Summer Berry Crisp

Summer Berry Crisp.  And look how beautiful it is sitting on Sandy's adorable Memorial Day "tablescape"!!!

Summer Berry Crisp. And look how beautiful it is sitting on Sandy’s adorable Memorial Day “tablescape”!!!

Juicy berries beneath a crispy, crumbly crust of oats, cinnamon and brown sugar.  Summer Berry Crisp.  Crisps are hands down one of the easiest desserts to make. You can even make this one with frozen (gasp!) berries to simplify even further.  But with the abundance of fresh berries in the market right now, you’ll want to use fresh.  And the colors of the red (strawberries and raspberries), white (vanilla ice cream) and blue (blueberries) make this Summer Berry Crisp the perfect dessert for your Memorial Day or Fourth of July cookout.  (In fact, I made it just yesterday to bring to our friends Sandy and Joel’s BBQ!  Great time, great food and Sandy always does the best job of decorating!!)

OR you can use this recipe as a guide and play with any combination of fruits and/or berries you like…mix it up!  Peach/Blueberry…Strawberry/Rhubarb…Nectarine/Blackberry…what’s your favorite?

SUMMER BERRY CRISP

(adapted slightly from Sheila Lukins in PARADE, via Epicurious)

INGREDIENTS

Berry filling:

2 cups each strawberries (cut in half or thirds if large), blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (or, two 12-oz. bags of frozen berries; no need to thaw!)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Crisp Topping:

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°.  Butter a 9×13″ baking dish.

Gently combine the berries with the sugar, flour and lemon juice.

Prepare the topping:  Combine the oats, flour, both sugars, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.  Use a pastry blender or two knives to work the butter until topping resembles coarse meal. (Fold in pecans if using.)  Sprinkle evenly over the berries.

Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove the crisp to a rack to cool slightly.  Serve in dessert bowls, warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or whipped cream.