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Archive for June, 2008

Summer Dessert: Fruit Pizza

At a recent gathering of friends and writers’, our host – Thom – prepared a “make-your-own-pizza” bar for dinner. It was a very fun meal for 7 people. Something I recommend, provided you have a big oven and several cookie sheets.

Everybody got a rolled piece of fresh pizza dough and could dress it with an assortment of toppings: sausage, ham, olives, fresh basil, peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, tomatoes, and even carmelized onions.

I offered to bring a dessert that would fit the theme. And what better than a fruit pizza! The crust is basically a giant pecan sandie cookie, topped with a cream cheese-based vanilla frosting and fresh strawberries and blueberries.

Fruit Pizza

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened

2 ½ cups powdered sugar, ½ cup set aside

1 pint (5 cups) fresh strawberries, sliced and drained

1 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons lemon juice

(1) Preheat oven to 350. Mix butter, flour, sugar and pecans.

(2) Press into a 12-inch pizza pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. Then cool.

(3) In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar and vanilla. Blend well and spread onto cooled crust.

(4) Mix sliced strawberries and a handful of blueberries with the remaining powdered sugar and lemon juice.

(5) Spoon onto cream cheese layer and chill.

(6) Cut into triangular slices and serve.

*One 12-inch fruit pizza yields 15-20 servings.

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Growing up, I was spoiled by a mother who loves to bake and was exceptionally good at it, too. On weekends, one could expect a fresh loaf of banana bread, warm butterscotch cookies, rhubarb coffee cake, or chocolate-caramel oatmeal bars. And sometimes, if a special brunch was in order, mom would make blueberry white chocolate chip scones. These were some of my all-time favorites.

Although I’ve never quite been able to replicate mom’s recipe exactly, I’ve come close on a couple occasions over the past few years. Today was definitely one of those times – but instead of blueberries, I decided to try raspberries. They were delicious!

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking power

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup butter, chilled and sliced

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (or blueberries)

½ cup white chocolate chips

¾ cup half-and-half cream (today I used 2% milk instead)

1 egg

(1)  Preheat oven to 375.

(2)  Cut butter into mixture of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add berries and toss to mix.

(3)  In a separate bowl, beat together cream/milk and egg, and slowly pour into dry ingredients, stirring with rubber spatula until dough forms. Knead just until it comes together, 3 or 4 times. Don’t overhandle or the berries start to get mushy.

(4)  Spoon dough onto un ungreased sheet and bake about 20 minutes.

– Devin

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One of the first “gourmet” entrees my mom taught me how to make is chicken piccata. I remember her extolling the ease of preparation and suitability for a one-person meal, and how right she was! I have fond memories of making it several times when I was living alone in London and cooking for myself regularly for the first time. Makes great leftovers.

The flavors are very light and tasty – a good summer meal. And one of the things I love most about this dish is the tangy lemon-caper sauce.

Start by tenderizing two or three chicken breasts by pounding them out to a quarter-inch thickness between two sheets of wax paper. Then, season with salt and pepper before dredging in flour and shaking off the excess. Lightly fry the cutlets in one tablespoon of oil over medium high heat, about three minutes per side.

Then the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan and add half a cup of chicken stock, fourth a cup of white wine, fourth a cup of lemon juice and a fourth cup of drained capers. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce by half. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen brown bits from the chicken for extra flavor. I also season with salt and pepper to taste.

After about two or three minutes, remove sauce from the heat. Plate the chicken and pour sauce on top, garnishing with fresh chopped Italian parsley.

-Devin

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