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.

Christmas Fruit Salad

Christmas Fruit Salad

Christmas is, for me, a time of indulgence. I gorge myself on cookies and candies and appetizers and heavy meals. It is one of the special treats of the season, and motivation for a new year’s resolution. I have been known to serve Christmas breakfast buffets featuring cheese grits, cheese and sausage casserole, bacon, ham, biscuits and all manner of desserts. It’s not how we eat during the year. It’s a special occasion. But it is nice to have some refreshing fruit on the table. But tough to find good fruit in the heart of winter. I love a rich baked fruit casserole, I find this simple bowl of festive fruit really refreshing and a great complement to all the richness of the other dishes.

Bright red apples and juicy green pears get a dusting of mint sugar. This looks absolutely beautiful in a pretty glass or crystal dish, garnished with a few sprigs of mint. It’s also a great way to use some of the pears from that box that so frequently arrives during the holiday.

Christmas Fruit Salad
Serves 10
  1. 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  2. 3 red apples
  3. 2 green pears
  4. 2 cups pomegranate seeds
  5. ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  6. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  7. ¼ inch piece of vanilla bean
  1. Put the lemon juice in a large bowl and add water to fill it half way. This is called acidulated water and will keep the fruit from turning brown.
  2. Cut the apple into chunks and add to the acidulated water. Cut the pear into chinks and add it to the water as well. Stir the fruit around as you add it to the water so every surface gets a dunk.
  3. Drain the fruit and place in a large bowl. Rinse and drain the pomegranate seeds and add to the apples and pears.
  4. Place the mint, sugar and vanilla bean in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until you have a fine, damp mixture like wet sand. Sprinkle the mint sugar over the fruit and toss to coat. Taste as you go; you may not need or want to use all the mint sugar.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
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Eggnog Pound Cake

Eggnog Pound Cake

Pound cake is one of the best holiday desserts out there. It is easy to make, can be made ahead, is perfect for transport and imminently customizable. Pound cake really just uses the most basic techniques of baking, made easy using an electric mixer, and it’s a pretty forgiving process. A pound cake can easily be made a few days ahead and kept wrapped tightly on the counter. It can even be frozen (without a glaze or frosting). And if the cake dries out, toast the slices and serve with a drizzle of sauce. A pound cake is sturdy, so it can travel to a party or a road trip without fear of layers sliding apart. And the list of what you can do with a pound cake is endless. Serve it with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate, caramel or fruit sauce. Berries, poached fruit, jam or a combination of any of the above.

Here, I up the holiday factor by adding in one of my favorite festive flavors, eggnog. The sweet, creamy flavor is incorporated both into the cake and with a rich frosting, all set off by spicy nutmeg. This cake can make a simple, homey treat or an impressive display. Put it on your favorite funny Santa plate or an elegant cake stand as a centerpiece for a dessert buffet.

Eggnog Pound Cake
Serves 12
For the cake
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3 cups granulated sugar
  3. 6 eggs
  4. 3 cups flour
  5. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  6. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  7. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 cup prepared eggnog
For the frosting
  1. ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. ¼ cup eggnog, at room temperature
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  4. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  5. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a large stand mixer on medium until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, a good 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Combine the flour, nutmeg, salt and baking soda and add the creamed mixture, alternating with the eggnog. Do this in three additions, ending with eggnog. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 -60 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cover the top of the cake loosely with foil if it begins to brown to much. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes, then invert it on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting
  1. Beat the butter, eggnog, vanilla and nutmeg together in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar gradually and beat until combined and smooth. You want a thick but pourable icing, so adjust with extra eggnog or sugar as needed. Spoon the frosting over the completely cooled cake.
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Homemade Southern Hash Brown Casserole

Homemade Southern Hashbrown Casserole

I rather hope this recipe becomes an internet sensation. Because I know I have searched and searched through websites, engines, magazines and books looking for an old-fashioned style hash brown casserole that doesn’t use canned soup. I cannot abide canned soup, so I finally took it upon myself to come up with a can-free casserole. I don’t know why I was so stymied, going without the soup is pretty darn easy. Okay, maybe I stretch the word homemade a bit – I do use frozen hash browns, but as long as they are nothing but potatoes, I am fine with this major timesaver.

I’ve added all the flavors that are reminiscent of southern cooking to me. Chopped green onions, lots of parsley and a hit of paprika in tribute to my grandmother’s garnishing ways, a touch of bacon, and of course pimentos and cheddar cheese. This can be made ahead and popped in the oven to be hot and ready for a family breakfast or brunch. It is rustic and homey, but I happily serve it with my most elegant silver on a holiday table. And sure, it’s great for dinner, too.

The casserole is adapatable too. You could sprinkle some cheese over the top before baking, though I think that leaves an unappealing crust. Swap out the pimentos for green chiles and use Monterrey jack cheese. Leave out the bacon or use ham instead – or country ham.

Homemade Southern Hash Brown Casserole
Serves 6
  1. 30 ounce bag frozen, shredded hash browns, thawed (potato only)
  2. 2 Tablespoons butter
  3. 3 Tablespoons flour
  4. ½ cup whole milk
  5. ½ cup chicken broth
  6. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  7. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  10. ½ teaspoon paprika
  11. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  12. 8 ounces sour cream
  13. 8 – 10 green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
  14. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  15. 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, rinsed and well drained
  16. 6 strips bacon, cooked and finely chopped
  17. 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Drain the potatoes fully in a colander.
  2. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir until combined and you have a thick paste. Whisk in the milk and chicken broth and cook until smooth and bubbling and any floury taste is gone. Whisk in the mustard, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg. Set aside to cool.
  3. Toss the thawed potatoes with the green onions, parsley, pimentos, bacon and cheese together in a large bowl until well mixed. Stir the sour cream into the cooled sauce base. The sauce base will be thick, just keep stirring until it is smooth and combined and add to the potatoes. Stir until everything is combined and evenly distributed. Spoon the hash browns into a well-greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
  4. At this point, the dish can be covered and refrigerated 8 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350° and bake, covered with foil, until heated through and bubbly, about an hour.
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Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter

Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter

I’ve been focusing this month on simple comfort foods; food to share with family and friends that are simple and delicious. And nothing is more comforting to me than a homemade biscuit. So in the fall, I like to pair up the best of the season’s apples with a little sweet maple syrup to make a perfectly appropriate treat for breakfast, brunch or a snack.

These biscuits have just a hint of sweetness, so they pair well with the sweet maple butter. Any sweet spread would be lovely from homemade apple butter to a drizzle of honey. Take them more to the savory side with plain butter, or use them for ham biscuits with a little swipe of mustard.

Maple Apple Biscuits with Whipped Maple Butter
Serves 8
  1. 2 cups soft wheat flour (such as White Lily)
  2. 3 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 3 teaspoons sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, plus ¼ teaspoon
  6. ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, divided
  7. ¼ cup milk
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 Tablespoons grade B amber maple syrup
  10. 1 medium apple
For the Maple Butter
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  2. 2 Tablespoons grade B amber maple syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Grease a small baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, 3 teaspoons sugar, salt and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon together with a fork in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. Toss the butter to coat it with the flour, then use two knifes or your good clean hands to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse meal.
  3. Measure the milk into a jug then add the egg and maple syrup. Beat with a fork until well combined. Add to the flour and butter and still with a fork until the dough is just coming together. Peel the apple, remove the core and cut it into very small pieces. Drop the pieces into the bowl and use your clean hands to lightly knead the dough until the flour is all incorporated and the apples are distributed evenly. (peeling and chopping the apples right before adding them prevents browning.)
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat it out into a rectangle about 4 by 8 inches. Press any stray apple pieces into the dough. Flour a knife or bench scraper and cut the dough into eight squares. Carefully transfer the biscuits to the greased baking sheet.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan or the microwave. Stir in the 1 Tablespoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon until you have a thick paste. The sugar will not dissolve completely. Brush the butter mixture over the tops of the biscuits using a pastry brush. Make sure you get some sugar on the biscuits. Coat the biscuits well, but you may not use all the topping.
  6. Bake the biscuits until risen and golden on the edges, 8 – 12 minutes, watching closely.
  7. For the Maple Butter
  8. Whip the softened butter and maple syrup together with an electric mixer until completely combined and smooth. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
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Cheeseburger Quiche

Cheeseburger Quiche

My family ate together almost every night when I was growing up. We sat at a little table for four in the den; the table came from a restaurant that was once on the property when my grandparents bought their farm lock, stock and barrel. My mom cooked mostly, sometimes my dad, sometimes me as I got older. Never my brother as I remember, though he is a good cook now. The meals were not always complicated, though my mom did tend to go through exotic vegetable phases and my father periods of interest in Chinese cuisine or James Beard books. But sitting at that table as a family was probably the most formative experience of my youth.

This is not, however, a dish from my childhood. But it is the perfect family dinner. It is easy to make and has a whimsical appeal that all ages can love. I take no issue with using purchased, roll-out pie crust, and you can easily brown the beef, onions and garlic early and assemble the quiche right before baking. The shredded lettuce and tomato topper is fun, and you can make up a side salad with any extra lettuce. As I have made pretty clear, I am not a fan of pickle relish, but if your family is, stir a little into the filling or serve a dollop on top.

I asked my family if I should call this quiche or pie, and they suggested Quicheburger Pie. For clarity’s sake I stick with the original, but I will always think of it as Quicheburger now!

Cheeseburger Quiche
Serves 6
  1. Pastry for one 9-inch tart pan (store bought, ready roll is fine)
  2. 1 pound ground beef
  3. 1 cup finely chopped onion
  4. 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. 1 cup mayonnaise
  11. 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  12. 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  13. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  14. shredded lettuce
  15. diced tomato
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Fit the pastry into a 9 – inch removable bottom tart pan. Line the pastry with parchment and fill with pastry weights (or dried beans or rice) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and leave the crust to cool.
  2. Break up the meat into a large skillet and cook until it begins to brown, breaking it up into small pieces as you cook. Add the onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Set aside to cool. Spread the meat over the crust, then sprinkle over the grated cheese in an even layer.
  3. Whisk the eggs, milk, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire together in a bowl until combined and as smooth as possible (there may be some small lumps). Pour the filling over the meat and cheese in the crust. Use a fork to help some of the custard seep through the filling.
  4. Bake the quiche for 25 – 30 minutes until the center is puffed up and firm. Let the quiche cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove the ring around the tart pan. Serve the quiche warm with the shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on top.
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Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

I’m sticking to my simple comfort food theme here. This recipe is no innovative or new, just simple delicious. You’ll find similar versions in all sorts of community cookbooks I am sure. It’s the type of 9 by 13 dessert you might take to a church social or a big family gathering. The cake is delightfully moist and hearty with a nice caramel undertone. The topping adds sweetness and crunch, but I promise is not overwhelmingly coconutty. Cut this in small pieces to serve a big crowd or big slabs with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a comforting, filling dessert. I bet someone you serve it too will have a memory of something similar in from his or her childhood.

Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting
Serves 10
  1. 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  2. 1 ½ cups boiling water
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  11. ½ teaspoon salt
  12. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Broiled frosting
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  2. ¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  3. 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  4. 1 cup shredded coconut
  5. 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  1. For the Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray (I like Baker’s Joy for baking).
  3. Put the oats in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Leave the oats to soak for 20 minutes.
  4. Cream the butter and both sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Slowly beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until completely incorporated, scrapiing down the bowl as needed. Beat in the soaked oats until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, until the top is just beginning firm.
  5. For the Frosting
  6. Make the frosting while the cake is baking, put the butter, brown sugar and cream in a medium saucepan and heat over medium, just until the butter melts. Remove from the heat. A gew minutes before the cake timer goes off, bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and boil for 1 minutes. Stir in the coconut and pecans until well combined. Take the cake out of the oven and pour and spread the frosting over the top. The frosting will be thick, just do you best to spread it out. Don’t worry about evenly covering the cake, or if some of the cake seems to pull up and mix with the frosting. The end result is a fabulous concoction of cake and gooey frosting.
  7. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  1. I particularly like the cake served slightly warm, but it is equally delicious at room temperature, and leftovers make a delicious breakfast, room temperature or lightly warmed.
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Vidalia Onion and Goat Cheese Soufflé

Vidalia Onion and Goat Cheese Souffle

I’m a little obsessed with Vidalia onions. I love the sweetness with the onion edge. I buy them in bulk when they are in season, and I tie them up in pantyhose to hang in my pantry for winter storage. Really. Vidalias are sweet and smooth without any of the burn of other onions, so it is easy to make them the star of a dish. The flavor is mellow and rich, creating a unique soft onion flavor.

The slow, gently cooking of the onions brings out their sweetness, but leaves the characteristic onion taste in tact. Patience is a must here, just cook them to a soft, glossy tangle; you don’t want deep sticky caramelized onions for this. Marjoram is a wonderful complement to sweet onions with its mildly woodsy taste. If you can’t find marjoram, use thyme or oregano (though slightly less of either). Find a good, soft, salty goat cheese with lots of flavor (I use a locally made chevre). This soufflé makes a wonderful side dish to a roast, but is also an elegant vegetarian centerpiece. This doesn’t rise up and puff the way a traditional French soufflé does, but is light and creamy and packed with flavor.

Vidalia Onion and Goat Cheese Soufflé
Serves 4
  1. ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, divided
  2. 3 medium Vidalia onions, finely sliced
  3. 6 sprigs fresh marjoram
  4. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  5. 1 cup milk
  6. 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  7. kosher salt to taste
  8. 5 egg whites
  9. ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the sliced onions. Stir to coat in the onions in the butter and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Partially cover the pot for the first 5 - 10 minutes of cooking just to wilt the onions, but stir frequently. A little browning is okay, but you don’t want to caramelize the onions, just make them really soft. If they start to brown, turn down the heat and watch carefully. Sprinkle the leaves of about three marjoram sprigs over the onions, then leave the onions to cool to room temperature.
  2. Scrape the cooled onions into a blender or food processor and process until you have a rough puree, sort of like loose mashed potatoes. You should have roughly 2 cups of puree.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until you have a smooth, thick paste that is pale in color, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking away any lumps, until thick and smooth. Reduce the heat to low and cook the base for 10 minutes. Add the onions puree, stir well to combine and cook a further 10 minutes. Whisk in the crumbled cheese a handful at a time, making sure each addition is melted before adding the next. Finely chop the remaining marjoram leaves and stir in with a big pinch of salt. Leave the mixture to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 2-quart soufflé dish with cooking spray or butter.
  5. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until almost stiff. Sprinkle over the cream of tartar and beat until the whites hold very stiff peaks. Stir a big spoonful of the whites into the onion base to loosen things up, then gradually fold in the remaining whites a big spoonful at a time, doing your best not to deflate the whites. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish, lightly smoothing the top.
  6. Bake the soufflé for 30 – 35 minutes until the top is light golden and puffed. Serve immediately.
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Farmers Market Vegetable Tart

Farmers Market Vegetable Tart

I think this tart is the very picture of summer farmers market bounty. It uses all the best local summer produce with fresh herbs and salty cheese. I even use locally produced goat feta. You can buy the vegetables for specifically for this magnificent tart or make it with the remnants of a big shopping haul. It looks like a work of art, simply because of the bounty of nature. I like to vary the vegetables to get the beautiful colors – green zucchini, yellow squash, red tomatoes and peppers, purple eggplant and onions. Vary it up according to your tastes and what is growing. Thyme is a wonderful complement to hot weather vegetables, but oregano or marjoram work as well, or you could add some basil or parsley to the cooked vegetables.

And it is perfect summer cooking. You can make it in easy stages and have the final product ready hours before popping it in the oven. It is good fresh and hot, but still delicious as it cools to room temperature. It makes a great meal on its own, or can be a side to grilled meats.

Farmers Market Vegetable Tart
Serves 6
  1. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  2. ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  3. 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
  6. ½ cup water
  7. 1 zucchini
  8. 1 yellow squash
  9. 1 small eggplant
  10. 1 yellow bell pepper
  11. 1 red bell pepper
  12. 1 small red onion
  13. 2 plum tomatoes
  14. 3 cloves garlic
  15. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  16. 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  17. 1 egg
  1. Pulse the flour, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, salt and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves together in the bowl of a food processor until combined. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the texture of fine meal. If you pinch a little between your fingers, it should stick together. Add ¼ cup of water and pulse until the dough starts to come together, then slowly drizzle in the remaining water just until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it out into a flat disc. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut all the vegetables into bite size chunks and place on a baking sheet. Cut the onion into small wedges and add to the pan, then cut the tomatoes into chunks and add. Peel the garlic cloves and add to the pan. Drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and about ½ teaspoon of thyme leaves. Toss everything together with your hands until the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Don’t be tempted to add lots of oil – the vegetables will not be lovely and roasted, but soggy. Roast for 30 - 45 minutes until the vegetables are soft and slightly browned. Leave the vegetables to cool, then toss with the crumbled feta.
  3. Take the pastry out of the fridge and let rest for about 10 minutes. Trace a circle about 14-inches round onto a piece of parchment paper (I frequently trace an outline of the platter I am going to serve on). Lightly flour the parchment paper and transfer the chilled dough disk to the paper. Lightly sprinkle the top with flour and roll the dough into a circle the size you’ve traced on the paper. Pile the vegetables into the center of the dough, leaving about a 2-inch border. Carefully fold the dough up around the vegetables. Use your fingers to press together any creases or breaks of in the dough. Carefully transfer the tart on the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon parmesan over the top and some thyme leaves. Beat the egg with a splash of water and brush a thin layer over the crust. The tart can rest in the fridge for a few hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the tart until the pastry is cooked through and golden, about 30 minutes. Let the tart rest for a few minutes before slicing, though it is also delicious at room temperature.
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Blackberry Cobbler with Bourbon Sauce

Blackberry Cobbler with Bourbon Sauce

I call this dish a cobbler, but I know that description can be controversial. I served this dish to my family, and as the spoons scraped the plates, a discussion came up about what is a cobbler exactly. We each described different types of dishes, and went through all the other names for similar dishes – grunt, buckle, crumble, slump, betty…When the plates were clean and the remnants of sauce being eaten by the spoonful, I asked if they thought I should give the dish a different name. The general consensus was, when it’s as good as this, who cares what it’s called.

This sauce is rich and delicious, but you could add a scope of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Blackberry Cobbler with Bourbon Sauce
Serves 6
  1. Blackberry Cobbler
  2. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup granulated sugar
  4. 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  5. ¼ teaspoon salt
  6. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  7. ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
  8. ¾ cups whole milk
  9. 2 cups blackberries
  10. Bourbon Sauce
  11. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  12. 1 cup light brown sugar
  13. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  14. 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  15. ¼ cup bourbon
For the Cobbler
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract and milk and stir until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the blackberries over the surface.
  3. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until puffed and golden around the edges and a tester inserted in the center of the batter comes out clean.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.
For the Sauce
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is cohesive. Pull the pan off the heat and and cool slightly. Slowly whisk the egg yolks into the mixture and whisk until the sauce is combined and slightly thickened. Whisk in the bourbon and return to the heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens slightly. The sauce should be the consistency of thick syrup.
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Sugar Cake with Blueberry Basil Compote

Sugar Cake with Blueberry Basil Compote

I was first drawn to this recipe, because, well, who could resist something called sugar cake. It reminds me of the great classic song “Tea for Two”, the Ella Fitzgerald version is on my kitchen playlist. “Day will break and I will wake, and start to bake a sugar cake, for you to take for all the boys to see.” Recipes for Sugar Cake are scattered through community cookbooks, mostly a version called Moravian Sugar Cake, which involves yeast. But I came across this simple version and had to try it. It is dense and tender and beautifully yellow, with that thick, chewy crust so perfect on a moist loaf cake. I sprinkle the top with sugar to create a crackly sweet bite.

Simple cakes like this are the perfect vehicle for summer’s fresh berries. A simple tumble of blueberries with some lightly sweet whipped cream would be lovely, but I love pulling together the fruit and herbs of summer. This basil-scented blueberry compote is not too sweet, and lets the flavor of the berries really shine.

Sugar Cake with Blueberry Basil Compote
Serves 8
  1. Sugar Cake
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. 1 ½ cups white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  4. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  5. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. ¾ teaspoon salt
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. Blueberry Basil Compote
  10. 1 pint of blueberries, washed and stemmed
  11. 2 Tablespoons honey
  12. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  13. 5 – 6 basil leaves (attached to the stem is easiest)
For the Sugar Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan generously.
  2. Beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer until lemon yellow, then add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, baking powder and salt alternately with the cream, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla until you have a smooth, thick batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon sugar evenly over the top of the batter.
  3. Bake the cake for 50 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Cover the top loosely with foil when it starts to brown. Cool the cake in the pan.
For the Compote
  1. Place the blueberries, honey and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well, and cook until the berries are soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Mash the berries with a fork and cook until the compote is thickened and reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil leaves. Leave to cool, then remove the basil leaves. Refrigerate the compote until ready to use. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
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