watermelon ice

Watermelon Ice

This was supposed to be called frozen watermelon slice, not ice.

I had this brilliant idea of making frozen watermelon slices. I would scoop out the flesh, purée it, and freeze the juice in its shell. When slightly thawed, I would cut into slices. We would eat them like popsicles and my kids would think I was the coolest ever.

This is a Yellow Crimson watermelon by the way…

Yellow Watermelon

Too bad it didn’t work…

First of all, do not attempt to cut anything frozen. Terrible idea. When I began to saw cut the watermelon, the ice started to chip off into a million pieces. It looked like an avalanche. No ‘slices’ for me. Second of all, have you ever latched onto something frozen? Like a frozen watermelon? Your hands stick to it. You have to peel them off. And it kind of burns. Yeah, no good.

Plan A = scratched. Plan B = make watermelon ice.

Working with what I had, I let everything melt and re-froze the liquid in a shallow baking tray. Frozen ice or ‘granitas’ are usually sweetened but since yellow watermelons are a little sweeter than regular ones, I skipped the sugar. In fact, I added a little lime juice to brighten it up.

Once frozen, I raked it with a fork to break up the ice crystals.

Like so…

Frozen Watermelon Ice

And then you get this…

Watermelon Ice

The verdict? Icy, crunchy, cold and refreshing. Serve your watermelon ice in tall glasses or family style in a hollowed out, frozen watermelon shell.

What’s your latest cooking disaster?

watermelon ice
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 small watermelon (soccer ball size)
  • 2 limes
Instructions
  1. Cut open your watermelon and scoop out the flesh. Discard the seeds.
  2. If you want to serve your ice in the watermelon, nestle the hollowed out shell onto a napkin or paper towel lined plate (so it doesn't stick) and freeze.
  3. Puree the flesh in a food processor or blender. Add the lime juice and blitz to mix.
  4. Pour into a shallow baking tray.
  5. Freeze until solid, about 4-6 hours.
  6. Rake with a fork to break up the ice crystals. The more you rake the fluffier your ice will become.
  7. Serve in tall glasses or in your frozen watermelon shell.
Notes
*This recipe is based on a watermelon yielding 4 cups of juice. If your watermelon is larger, adjust with more lime juice if necessary. *If you'd like it sweeter, you can add agave syrup or honey 1 tsp. at a time. Add this to your puree before freezing.

chickpea panzanella

chickpea panzanella

Have you ever had a kitchen sink salad?

This line up includes chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, bread chunks, feta, lemon zest, basil and celery leaves (my new favorite ingredient by the way). It’s dressed with lemon juice and lots of good olive oil. So basically it’s a big bread salad with lots of stuff in it. Or better yet, a chickpea panzanella with a Greek twist?

That sounds better.

The beauty of a salad like this is that you can throw in/take out whatever you’d like.

However, if you’re in the mood for something crunchy and refreshing, this particular combination fits the bill (celery leaves! celery leaves!)

It’s a great salad for a crowd or a little bowl of heaven to enjoy at lunch.

chickpea panzanella
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
If summer could speak, it would scream this salad. Creamy chickpeas, juicy tomatoes, and toasted bread join forces to create this Greek-inspired panzanella. My secret? The mandolin. It slices the vegetables beautifully thin. I'm not into kitchen gadgets but this tool is essential for speed and precision. In fact, I own three...
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Croutons
  • 1½ c. cubed country bread, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Salad
  • 1x 14 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 c. sliced English cucumber
  • ¼ c. Vidalia onion, quartered & thinly sliced
  • ¼ c. sliced celery
  • ¼ c. chopped celery leaves
  • 2 tbsp. minced chives
  • ¼ c. basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • ¼ c. Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • ½ c. crumbled feta
Dressing
  • 1 tbsp. of lemon zest, about 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ c. good quality olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
  • handful of celery and basil leaves
Kitchen Notes:
Slice the vegetables as thin as possible, about ¼-inch thick. If you do not have a mandolin, a food processor fitted with the slicer blade would work as well.
Substitutions:
Sweet Vidalia onions are seasonal and at their peak in the summer months. When unavailable, use a red onion instead.
Instructions
  1. Croutons: preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the bread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Bake in the center of the oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Salad: add the croutons, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, celery, celery leaves, chives, basil and olives to a large bowl.
  3. Dressing: add the lemon zest and lemon juice to a small bowl. Slowly stream in the olive oil and whisk well to emulsify. Add salt and pepper.
  4. To assemble, drizzle a little vinaigrette over the salad. Toss well, so that all of the ingredients are well coated. Taste the salad; it should be crisp and refreshing with plenty of acidity from the lemon. If not, add more dressing and adjust seasoning.
  5. Right before serving, top with crumbled feta (if you add it too early, it will disappear into little pieces when tossed).
  6. Garnish with extra celery and basil leaves.

blackberry nectarine tart

Blackberry Nectarine Tart

My little ones are master berry pickers.

We spent the day at Patti’s Berries & Bunches and they somehow managed to clean the place out. I have hundreds of juicy blackberries to use up. I’ve also been trying to master a flaky, all-butter pie crust so I decided to marry the two in a blackberry nectarine tart.

I’ve never been good at making pie crust. Why? I’m too impatient to follow directions. I bake like I cook- I throw in a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and hope it all works out. But it doesn’t. Baking is precise and you have to follow the recipe. Through trial and error (mostly error) I’ve finally come up with a pie crust recipe that works.

blackberry nectarine tart

I will spare you all of the technical details here, as I now realize that homemade pie crust deserves it’s own post. But I will say that this crust is incredibly tender, flaky and buttery. I could eat it by itself.

As for the fruit, the blackberries burst in the oven and their juices become thick and syrupy. The nectarines bathe happily in this syrup mixed with a layer of apricot jam smeared onto the base.

You can make this dough in advance, or assemble the whole tart and chill until ready to bake. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

* Pie crust inspired by ‘The Pie and Pastry Bible’ by, Rose Levy Beranbaum.

blackberry

blackberry nectarine tart
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
Pastry:
  • 1½ c. all purpose flour
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) salted butter
  • ¼ c. blond cane sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1½-3 tbsp. ice water
Filling:
  • 2 ripe, but firm nectarines
  • 1 pint of fresh blackberries
  • 2 tsp. blond cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp. apricot jam
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 large zip loc bag
Instructions
  1. Pre heat your oven to 400 F. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest level and place a pizza stone or cookie sheet inside.
  2. Make the pastry: Divide your butter into 5 tbsp. and 3 tbsp. Cut into ¾ " cubes. Refrigerate the 5 tbsp. of butter and freeze the other 3 tbsp.
  3. In a food processor, blitz the flour, sugar and baking powder to combine. Add the chilled 5 tbsp. of butter and pulse 10-15 times until you have moist looking crumbs, and no large chunks of butter visible.
  4. Then add the frozen 3 tbsp. of butter and pulse 3 times. This time you want the butter in large pieces (see notes).
  5. Add the cider vinegar + 1½ tbsp. of ice water. Pulse 3-4 times. Unplug the food processor. Pinch the mixture between your fingers. If it sticks together, you're done. If not, add more water ½ tsp at a time until it comes together when pinched.
  6. At this point you will not have a ball of dough, just a lot of crumbs. This is what you want. Tip the mixture into a large zip loc bag and seal it. Using your hands, knead the dough until it comes together. Flatten into a disk and chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Make the filling: Holding the nectarine upright, slice off the sides. The reddish area closest to the pit tends to be bitter, so you want to avoid this. You should be able to get 4 sides from each nectarine. Then thinly slice them and add to a large bowl.
  8. Toss in 8-10 blackberries depending on size. Sprinkle in the sugar and cornstarch and give it a mix. Set aside.
  9. Remove your pastry from the zip loc bag and place it between 2 sheets of parchment paper. This will make rolling the dough very easy.
  10. Roll your dough into a 12" circle. Use a ruler or dinner plate to help guide you. Don't worry if it's not a perfect circle. Cut off any scraggly bits of dough to get an even circle. Chill for 10 minutes.
  11. Spread the apricot jam in the center leaving a 2" border. Pile in your fruit. Gently fold over the edges, turning the dough as you go (it's still on the parchment paper so you're really just turning the paper). Slide the parchment onto your pre heated stone or cookie tray.
  12. Bake for 45-60 minutes, rotating half way through cooking time. If the top is browning faster then the bottom, cover loosely with foil.
  13. When finished, remove from the oven to cool. Scatter with some extra blackberries over the top.
  14. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Notes
*Butter left in large chunks creates a flaky crust. *Dough can be chilled for 3-5 days, or frozen up to 3 months.