Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Nectarine and Almond Coffee Cake with Whipped Honey Yogurt

I’ll be honest, the first time I set out to make this cake, my idea was to use purple plums, which I had seen at the farmers market the previous week. At that Saturdays market though, there were no plums, but I had promised to make a fruity coffee cake for a girls’ brunch the next day. Fortunately, I found some lovely, rosy nectarines and knew they would work just as well and be a little unique, as I find I don’t make use of nectarines as much as I do the plums or peaches which are in season alongside. I love the grainy, sweet and nutty flavor of almond paste and think it is just perfect paired with fresh stone fruits. It creates a dense, moist cake that is not to sweet and really highlights the fruit. I consider it a coffee cake, but it could perfectly well serve as dessert along with some ice cream. And of course, you can use plums to beautiful effect as well.

The sprinkling of demerara sugar over the batter gives it a lovely, crackly crust that I just love on a brunch cake, but you can omit it or use granulated sugar, though the top won’t be quite as textured. The tangy yogurt whip matches beautifully to the dense almond cake and adds a hint of earthy sweetness. This yogurt makes a wonderful dip for any sliced fruit, or pairs well with other cakes.  The afternoon that I served this, I sliced the one left over nectarine and served it with a little of the slightly deflated yogurt and a sprinkling of nuts for a lovely snack.

Nectarine and Almond Coffee Cake with Whipped Honey Yogurt
Serves 8
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For the Coffee Cake
  1. 8 ounces almond paste
  2. 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  4. 6 eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 3- 4 nectarines, pitted
  10. 1 Tablespoon demerara sugar
For the Yogurt
  1. 1 cup Greek yogurt (whole or low fat)
  2. ½ cup heavy cream
  3. 2 Tablespoons honey
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the almond paste and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until well combined and creamy. Add the butter and beat until smooth, light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, then add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat until the batter is thick and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Scrape the butter into the prepared pan and smooth the top to an even layer with a spatula.
  3. Cut the nectarines into chunks and spread evenly over the top of the cake batter. Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the top, then bake until no longer wobbly in the center and a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool completely.
For the Yogurt
  1. Right before serving the coffee cake, beat the yogurt, cream and honey together in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until completely combined and fluffy. Serve dolloped over wedges of the cake.
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Savory Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cakes

I’ve never been completely sure what to title this recipe. They are more than muffins, but this is based on an old recipe I found in an English cookbook where they were called dumplings, but I don’t really think that translates. There’s a biscuit-y batter, but turn them upside down and there is a pretty and sweet onion surprise. Muffins, cakes, dumplings, upside down surprise, I still can’t quite decide.

What I do know is that these are delicious and unique and the perfect Vidalia for in-season sweet Vidalia onions. Caramelized Vidalias are one of my favorite uses for onion so I am always looking for ways to incorporate them into my repertoire when they come into season. I love these served with a good grilled steak, but honestly they make a lovely luncheon dish or dinner with fresh salad on the side. Sage complements the nutty walnuts and give the whole a sweet and savory woodsy feel, but you could use thyme, marjoram or chives.

Savory Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cakes
Yields 6
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For the Onions
  1. 2 Tablespoons butter
  2. 2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
For the Cake Batter
  1. ½ cup chopped walnuts
  2. 1 cup self-rising flour
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. ½ cup unslated butter, at room temperature
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 2 Tablespoons buttermilk or milk
  7. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
For the Onions
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and begin to brown. Pour in ½ cup of water, stir well and cook until the liquid is evaporated and the onions are a rich caramelized amber color. Remove the onions from the heat.
For the Batter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor until they are well crushed. Add the flour, baking powder, and butter and pulse until combined and crumbly. Add the eggs, milk and sage and process until smooth and combined. You can add a little more buttermilk if needed to create a smooth, thick batter.
  2. Spray a 6-cup muffin tin with cooking spray, then divide the onions between the cooks. Divide the batter between the cups covering the onions. Press the batter down into the cups with a spatula, then smooth the tops. Bake for 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Let the cakes cool for about five minutes in the pan, then invert the pan onto a rimmed baking sheet. Let the inverted pan sit for a few minutes before you lift it off the cakes. Serve immediately.
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Fresh Strawberry Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy

I have combined a lot of words I like here. Strawberries and biscuits and chocolate. I’m not sure I can do any better for a strawberry season brunch treat. I think strawberries and chocolate are a timeless pairing, though usually found in desserts and candies. Of course, I’m not saying you can’t eat these for dessert, but they make a really lovely surprise on a breakfast or brunch menu. Classic Southern biscuits get an upgrade with seasonal strawberries and a little sweet sugar. Inspired by my Fresh Corn Buttermilk Biscuits, these pale pink beauties are tender and moist and packed with strawberry flavor. Traditional Southern chocolate gravy is rich and chocolate-y without being cloying or tooth-achingly sweet.

These biscuits are also wonderful for strawberry shortcake, split open and layered with whipped cream and sliced, macerated berries. Or mix up a little strawberry butter to spread on them, or your best homemade strawberry jam. The chocolate gravy is wonderful (and traditional) on plain buttermilk biscuits – but if you make these for breakfast or brunch and have some extra gravy, it is very good on ice cream after dinner!

Fresh Strawberry Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
Yields 12
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For the Biscuits
  1. 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  2. 12 ounces strawberries
  3. 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  4. 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  5. 4 ½ - 5 cups soft wheat flour (such as White Lily)
  6. 4 teaspoons baking powder
  7. A pinch of salt
For the Gravy
  1. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  2. ¼ cup cocoa powder
  3. 3 Tablespoons flour
  4. 2 cups whole milk
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
For the Biscuits
  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Hull the strawberries, cut into chunks and place about 10 ounces in a blender with 4 Tablespoons sugar (1/4 cup). Puree until very smooth (you can add a drop of cream to get things going if needed). Pour the puree into a 2-cup measuring jug. You should have about 1 cup puree. Puree some more strawberries if needed. Add cream to measure 2 cups of liquid. Return the liquid to the blender, add the melted butter and blend until smooth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix 3 ½ cups flour, the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar, the baking powder and salt with a fork until blended. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Using the fork, blend everything together, pulling the flour into the wet ingredients until everything is incorporated. Lightly flour your hands and work in up to another 1 cup of flour until you have a soft, cohesive dough. Don’t treat the dough too rough – you want a tender biscuit. Cut three or four strawberries into small pieces and sprinkle them over the dough. Lightly knead in a little more flour and the strawberry pieces until you have a nice, soft, cohesive dough dotted with berries. Don’t be tempted to use more berries – they can make the dough watery.
  3. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Lightly knead the dough, folding it over on itself, about 6 times, then pat it out into a circle 1-inch thick. Using a floured 2- inch biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits by just pressing down and lifting out – don’t twist the cutter. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, almost touching. You can pat out the dough scraps to cut more biscuits, but they are never quite as pretty. I usually get nine biscuits on the first go, then three more from a second pat out. Refrigerate the biscuit dough for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees/
  5. Brush the tops of the biscuits with cream and sprinkle a light sparkle of sugar over the top. Bake the biscuits for 8 minutes, rotate the pan and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes until they are firm and cooked through.
For the Gravy
  1. Sift the sugar, cocoa powder and flour together into a medium saucepan. You want the dry ingredients lump free from the start. Add the milk and vanilla extract and cook over medium high heat, whisking frequently until the gravy is smooth and thick (like gravy). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until it is melted and smooth.
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Pineapple Ginger Fruit Dip

I am forever looking for interesting ways to serve strawberries on a spring buffet. Their natural beauty brightens up any table, and I always want to make the most of their short growing season. Not that there is anything wrong with eating strawberries on their own, but it’s nice to have a little delicious extra to highlight their flavor. This sweet citrus saucehas been my go to, but I wanted to mix things up with this slightly tropical blend that hints of summer to come.

I like that this dip is full of flavor, but not too sweet. That way you really get the sweetness from the berries. But you could add a little powdered sugar into the mix if you like – just taste both the berries and the dip first so you don’t go overboard. And of course, this works beautifully with other fruit. You can leave out the rum if you must, but it adds a perfect undernote.

Pineapple Ginger Fruit Dip
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
  2. 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  3. ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  4. ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
  5. 1 Tablespoon dark rum
Instructions
  1. Drain the pineapple well over a bowl to catch the juice. Beat the cream cheese, pineapple, yogurt, ginger and rum together in a food processor (a mini is fine) until smooth and well combined. Beat in enough of the reserved pineapple juice to create a dippable consistency. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, then serve with strawberries or other fruit.
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Carrot Ginger Bundt Cake

There are some flavors that are a natural match. Tomatoes and basil, leek and potato, cucumber and mint, and for me, carrot and ginger. The combination works in both sweet and savory applications. Carrot cake needs a lot of spice to complement the sweetness of the carrots, and its usually lots of cinnamon and nutmeg. I have slowly been upping the ginger in my carrot cakes for years, until I just decided to go all the way. A lovely dose of ground ginger in the cake plus bright, sweet candied ginger pieces rather than the more traditional raisins, adds a subtle heat and spice and a delightful texture. Fresh ginger pumps up the glaze adding another layer of zing.

I love this version of carrot cake for a variety of reasons. I always find Bundt cakes easier to make than layer cakes and simply because of the pan’s shape, you easily get a pretty presentation. This cake is very moist which is the key to delicious carrot cake. The glaze is a crackly sweet gingery glaze, almost like a glazed donut. The cake will keep well for a couple of days.

Carrot Ginger Bundt Cake
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For the Cake
  1. 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  2. 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  3. Zest of one medium navel orange
  4. ½ cup fresh orange juice
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  8. 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  9. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  10. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  11. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  12. 3 cups grated carrots, from about 4 - 5 carrots
  13. ½ cup crystalized ginger bits (small piece), plus more for garnish
For the Glaze
  1. 6 Tablespoons whole milk
  2. 3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  3. 2 cups confectioner's sugar
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10 -cup Bundt pan with baking spray.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, orange juice, zest and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each addition is completely combined before adding the next. Beat in the flour, baking soda, ginger, salt and nutmeg until the batter is smooth and combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the carrots and ginger bits and mix on low until evenly distributed. Give the batter a good stir with the spatula to make sure the carrots are distributed, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Glaze
  1. While the cake is cooking, heat the milk and the ginger slices in a small saucepan just until the milk begins to bubble at the edges. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse and cool. Strain the milk through a fine sieve into a large bowl and discard the ginger. Beat in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and spoon over the cooled cake.
Notes
  1. I transfer the cake to a serving platter and tuck some wax or parchment paper around the edges before glazing the cake. When you've finished the glazing, just pull out the paper and you have a clean platter. This glaze is a little drippy to begin with, so I gently spoon the glaze that collects in the center around the edges and return it to the top of the cake covering the entire surface.
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Frittata Brunch Bites

Brunch has become one of my favorite ways to entertain, and spring is the perfect time for a brunch. I love morning food, from sausage casseroles to biscuits and grits, and so do my guests. And in spring, you just start to get beautiful produce, like strawberries and asparagus and fresh colorful flowers that can just be dropped in a pretty vase and still look gorgeous – tulips, daffodils, and peonies. But I’ll be honest, I also love kicking off the season in bright floral dresses after months of sweaters and tights!

Serving eggs to a crowd poses a problem, but who doesn’t love eggs for brunch? While I love a good, eggy bread-based casserole, sometimes with biscuits or muffins on the menu, it’s a little too much. My go to has for years been this Creamy Scrambled Egg Casserole, but I wanted to branch out a little. These hearty bites are perfect for a brunch buffet, hearty with potatoes and bacon, but still with a pleasantly eggy taste. You can cut these into small squares and serve as an appetizer, or portion out larger pieces as part of a main spread. You can make the potatoes and bacon a day ahead, spread them on the pan, cover and refrigerate overnight then just blitz up the eggs, pour over and bake.

Frittata Brunch Bites
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Ingredients
  1. 6 strips of bacon, cut in to small pieces
  2. 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small bite-sized pieces
  3. ¼ cup chopped chives
  4. 6 large eggs
  5. 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  6. 2/3 cup whole ricotta cheese
  7. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  8. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  9. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  10. ½ teaspoon black pepper
  11. paprika for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 . Line a 9 by 13 inch small rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment paper with some overhanging ends.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined plates with a slotted spoon. Drain all but 2 Tablespoons bacon grease from the pan, then drop in the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are beginning to turn golden and a knife is inserted in the center of a piece meets no resistance. Spread the potatoes in one even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon evenly over the potatoes, then the chopped chives.
  3. Put the eggs, cheddar cheese, flour, baking powder salt and pepper into the carafe of a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the carafe as needed to make sure all the flour is blended in. Pour the eggs evenly over the potatoes, then use a spatula to make sure the potatoes and bacon are well distributed and the egg is in all parts of the pan. Sprinkle over a little paprika and some extra salt and pepper.
  4. Bake until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, then lift out the frittata by the overhanging pan liner and cut into small squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Honey Black Pepper Cornmeal Dinner Rolls

I’ve spoken many times before about my desire to produce perfect baked breads and rolls, and my all-to-frequent failures with yeast, kneading and patience. But my quest for easy, no fuss, no fail breads and dinner rolls is an on-going adventure. Sometimes I hit, sometimes I miss, but this recipe is definitely a hit. Instant yeast and the stand mixer make idiot proof rolls like these possible. Really, if I can produce soft, light and fluffy pillowy rolls like these, so can you.

The flavor combination here is inspired by the simplest of corn bread muffins I’ve made for years, a basic recipe jazzed up with a good dose of black pepper and a nice hint of honey. But these light and airy rolls take it to a whole new level. The cornmeal adds a little texture and depth, and the sweet hit of honey plays beautifully with the bite of black pepper. Don’t’ skimp on the pepper, it really elevates these rolls. Butter melting into these rolls is delicious, but a little honey butter could take these up a notch. An extra benefit of this recipe is that it makes a big batch of rolls, perfect for entertaining or big family suppers.

Honey Black Pepper Cornmeal Dinner Rolls
Serves 24
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups whole milk
  2. 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal, plus a little for sprinkling
  3. 1/3 cup honey
  4. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  5. 1 ½ Tablespoons instant yeast
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  8. 3 large eggs
  9. 5 – 6 cups all purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat just until it is warm through and bubbles form around the edges. Stir in the cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbling. Scrape the cornmeal mush into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and leave to cool to lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Beat in the honey, butter and yeast until smooth, then add the salt, pepper and eggs and beat until well combined and smooth. Beat in the flour, a cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pull the dough off the hook if needed to combine the flour and liquid. You are looking for a wet, shaggy dough, but it should cling together in a ball. You may not need all the flour. Beat the dough for 2 – 3 minutes on medium speed.
  2. Gather up all the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  3. Line a 12 by 17 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently deflate the dough, then roll it into 24 equal balls, each about the size of a golf ball and place on the baking sheet close but not touching. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled, about an hour. Sprinkle a little cornmeal evenly over the top of the rolls.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375.
  5. Bake the rolls until golden and baked through, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.
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Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Lemon Caramel Sauce

I have to say, this recipe involves a lot of words I like. Juicy fresh summer blueberries, rich buttermilk and caramel. Bread pudding has always been a favorite of mine and this fresh summer version bursting with berries is a great way to make the most of the farmers market fruit. Buttermilk adds a nice tang to the luscious custard. Top the whole with a silky caramel sauce freshened up with lemon juice for a lovely dessert, or brunch dish.

This recipe started life as a way to use up a basket of blueberries and an unused loaf of bread, but the idea was so solid that I set to work on a formal recipe. I added buttermilk because, well, I love buttermilk and always have some around. Challah is an airy, soft, eggy pairing for this summery version. I found a traditional caramel sauce a bit heavy for the fresh fruit, so lightened it up with a nice hint of fresh lemon. And, obviously, the sauce is delicious over ice cream or any variety of sweets.

Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Lemon Caramel Sauce
Serves 6
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For the Caramel Sauce
  1. 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  2. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup boiling water
  4. Zest and juice of one lemon
  5. 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. Pinch of sea salt
For the Bread Pudding
  1. 1 pound loaf challah
  2. 2 cups fresh blueberries
  3. 3 whole large eggs
  4. 2 egg yolks
  5. ¾ cups packed light brown sugar
  6. 3 cups buttermilk
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. zest and juice of one lemon
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  10. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
For the Caramel Sauce
  1. Whisk the brown sugar and flour together in a medium saucepan, then pour over the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat, and when it just begins to bubble, stir in the lemon zest and juice, then add the butter, whisking until melted. Bring to a low boil and cook for five minutes, watching carefully and stirring occasionally. The sauce will be just a little thicker than maple syrup. Stir in a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat. The sauce can be made a few hours ahead and served at room temperature or served warm.
For the Bread Pudding
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the challah into 1 inch cubes and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t brown the bread, just let it crisp up slightly.
  2. Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the bread cubes in a solid layer in the dish. You don’t want too much of the dish showing through, so use a little more than half of the bread if needed. Sprinkle over half of the blueberries, then repeat with the remaining bread and berries.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl, then whisk in the brown sugar. Add the buttermilk, cream, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and nutmeg and whisk until smooth. Pour the custard evenly over the bread in the dish. Press the bread cubes down into the custard to saturate. Leave to soak in for at least half an hour, but you can cover and refrigerated for several hours.
  4. When ready to serve, cook the bread pudding at 350 until set, golden and firm, about 30 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve drizzled with the caramel sauce.
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Radishes with Browned Butter Spread

I think radishes are absolutely gorgeous and I love it when they start to appear at the farmers market. Beautiful red and pink and pale purple Easter egg radishes, long ombre breakfast radishes, simply orbs of bright red. But to be honest, I’ve never really known what to do with them besides slice them for a salad. I’ve been so tempted by their beauty that I searched out recipes and ideas, and I’ve tried some with nice results, though I truly think the simple, French way of serving radishes with very good butter, flaky salt and soft baguettes is the best. It is that type simply stunning presentation you see in magazine spreads that I always aspire to reproducing. The beauty of the radishes does most of the work. And I find people are always excited or intrigued. Just to spark things up a little, I whipped up this browned butter spread

Use a good European-style butter for the best flavor, there is so little to this dish that you want to make every ingredient count. I think this is charming with pink Himalayan salt, or really striking with black salt, but crunchy flaky white salt, such as Maldon, is perfect. Any type of radish works, and you can slice them to drape over baguette slices slathered with the butter, or leave them whole for swiping through the spread and eating out of hand. The browned butter spread is good on just about anything!

Radishes with Browned Butter Spread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
  2. ½ teaspoon flaky salt, pink, black or white
  3. radishes
Instructions
  1. Cut one stick of the butter into small pieces and place in a small saucepan (light colored or stainless is best so you can see the butter as it browns). Heat over medium high heat, watching constantly, until the butter is melted. It will start to spit and hiss, then you will see brown speckles appear. Stir the butter to distribute the browned bits, and as soon as the butter has an even brown color and a nice nutty smell, pour it into a measuring jug. Leave to cool, but not solidify.
  2. When the browned butter has cooled, place the remaining stick of softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the loosen up the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, drizzle in the browned butter, leaving the brown bits at the bottom of the measuring jug. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the salt and beat until well blended. Scrape the butter into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours (or up to three days) to allow the flavors to meld. Return to room temperature before serving.
  3. Serve with radishes and sliced baguettes.
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Asparagus with Creamy Brie Dressing

Fresh spring asparagus I such a lovely thing to serve at an Easter brunch, or any spring occasion really. It can easily be made ahead, it’s hugely adaptable, plus, it always looks so pretty on the table. I have several lovely oblong dishes that seem made for asparagus, and I love asparagus serving tongs. So I am always looking for a pretty and unique way to serve a pile of perfect green spears. And I love anything with brie. I’ve made this dressing for years and served it over baby lettuces with chopped apples and pears, walnuts and crispy bacon (and I recommend you do the same). But as spring arrived and Easter approaches, I wanted to share some great brunch ideas and use spring produce. It hit me that brie and asparagus would be very happy together.

The dressing is thick and creamy, tinged a lovely pale celadon by the chives. You can serve the dressing napped over the spears on a platter, or individual plates for serving a seated meal, or serve it as a dip. When I find gorgeous, local, fresh spring asparagus I just barely blanch it, but if yours is a bit woody or thick, feel free to cook it a little longer, or toss the spears very lightly with olive oil and roast.

Asparagus with Creamy Brie Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. 7 ounces brie cheese
  2. 1/3 cup whole milk
  3. ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  4. 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1 clove garlic
  6. 1 Tablespoon roughly chopped chives
  7. generous pinch sea salt
  8. generous grinds black pepper
  9. 2 pounds asparagus
Instructions
  1. Use a thin, sharp knife to remove the rind from the brie. It’s easiest to do this when the brie is cold. Don’t be too precious, some rind is perfectly fine and you don’t want to lose too much cheese. Cut the brie into chunks and place in a blender. Leave to come to room temperature. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth. The dressing can be made several hours ahead – refrigerate it in the blender carafe and give it one more whir before using.
  2. Fill a sink or large bowl with ice water, then fil a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Break off the woody ends of the asparagus, and when the water is boiling, drop in the asparagus. Cook just until the asparagus is bright green, but still tender, about 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the asparagus to the ice water with tongs. When the asparagus is cold, transfer to a clean tea towel and pat dry. The asparagus can be blanced severl hours ahead. Store on the platter or in ziptop bags in the fridge.
  3. Makes about 1 ½ cups dressing
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