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.

Sweet Citrus Sauce for Fruit

Sweet Citrus Sauce for Fruit

Serving fruit to a group of guests can present a challenge. We’ve all seen that desultory grocery store platter of chunked fruit languishing away at the lonely end of the buffet table. There’s always the carved watermelon basket with balls of melon, but that is way to much work for me. I have never been a fan of savory dressing for fruit salads – those mustard and poppy seed versions – and old-fashioned congelead salads get some funny looks these days. So I developed this recipe for a purely sweet, citrusy dressing that that works spring through summer and is versatile to boot. You can vary the citrus to taste, using whatever is available, but all lemon is a bit too tangy.

The lovely, sunshiny yellow color of this dip looks beautiful on a platter with vibrantly colored fruit. Serve this as a dip with juicy strawberries, dolloped over a platter of sliced fruits, or gently stirred through a bowl of mixed, chopped fruit and berries.

Sweet Citrus Sauce for Fruit
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Ingredients
  1. 1 orange
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 1 lime
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  6. 1 Tablespoon butter
Instructions
  1. Zest the orange, lemon and lime, then juice them. Measure ½ cup of juice into a jug, then add water to make ¾ cups liquid.
  2. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan and add the liquid. Whisk over medium heat until the sauce is thick and glossy, about the consistency of thick maple syrup. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Whisk in 1 Tablespoon of the combined citrus zest. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a small piece at a time until melted and smooth. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cool, cover and refrigerate up to 12 hours. Let the sauce come to room temperature before serving with fruit.
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Roasted Asparagus Mimosa

Roasted Asparagus Mimosa

The true culinary harbinger of Spring – asparagus. When the tender stems push their way up through the dirt and out to the market, I really feel like we can start celebrating spring. Asparagus on the plate and buttercups in a vase mean soft days and gentle nights before the heat of summer truly starts. Color comes back, and the gray days of winter are behind us.

Asparagus Mimosa is a classic preparation, but I like to mix it up a bit by roasting the asparagus to deepen the flavor and bring out the natural sweetness. I up the spring factor by tossing the spears with a simple dressing bright with lemon. The grated hardboiled eggs are where the name mimosa comes from – the yellow and white is meant to look like a shower of mimosa petals. A platter of Asparagus Mimosa is a gorgeous addition to a brunch buffet table at any Spring celebration.

Roasted Asparagus Mimosa
Serves 6
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For the Asparagus
  1. 1 pound asparagus
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
For the Dressing
  1. juice of one medium lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  4. 2 hard boiled eggs
Instructions
  1. Heat to oven to 400°. Break any thick woody stems from the asparagus by just snapping them off. Place the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and then toss with the oil until each spear is coated. Spread the spears in one even layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until tender, but still with some bite left to them, about 12 – 15 minutes.
  2. While the asparagus are cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and mustard until smooth and emulsified. Remove the baked asparagus to a platter and toss with the dressing.
  3. Cut the eggs in half and pop out the yolks. Press the whites, one half at a time, through a wire mesh strainer, then do the same for the yolks. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to push them through. I like to do this onto a plate into a pile of whites and pile of yolks, then carefully arrange them over the asparagus.
  4. The asparagus can be roasted and dressed a few hours ahead. Add the eggs just before serving.
Notes
  1. In the picture above, I added some color with a few cherry tomatoes and some chive blossoms I purchased at the farmers market.
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Root Vegetables with Walnut Sage Crumble

Root Vegetables with Walnut and Sage Crumble

Everyone is always eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring and the excitement of the fresh vegetables that begin to grow. And I love that too. Then the overwhelming bounty of summer, when there is so much fresh produce, there is hardly time to sample it all. But I love winter vegetables too. Rich, hearty root vegetables in a beautiful palate of colors. These sturdy vegetables go well with so many flavors – herbs and spices of all sorts, and work wonderfully well – roasted, mashed, pureed, in soups, stew and gratins. I think some of these knobbly beauties are the unsung heroes of the vegetable world, but I am here to sing the praises.

I love this dish for its homey charm and the creative twist – turning the idea of a summer fruit crumble into a hearty winter vegetable dish. This can be served as a side to a roasted joint of meat or as an impressive vegetarian main course. The combination of vegetables below marries into a perfect array of colors and contrasting flavors, but you can sub in other roots in the same quantities.

Root Vegetables with Walnut Sage Crumble
Serves 6
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For the Vegetables
  1. 1 celeriac (celery root), about 14 ounces
  2. 3 carrots, about 6 ounces
  3. 1 large parsnip, about 7 ounces
  4. 1 sweet potato, about 12 ounces
  5. 2 leeks
  6. 1 2/3 cup vegetable stock
  7. 1 (8 ounce) tub crème fraiche
  8. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  9. 1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
  10. 4 – 5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  11. kosher salt
For the Crumble
  1. ¾ cup walnuts
  2. 6 sage leaves
  3. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 6 Tablespoons butter
  5. ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel and chop the celeriac, carrots, parsnips and sweet potato. Cut all the vegetables into roughly the same size pieces, about ½ inch. Chop the leeks into half moons and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the root vegetables and stir, then add the leeks and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, stir together the crème fraiche, flour, mustard and chopped sage until thoroughly combined. When the vegetables have cooked, stir through the crème fraiche until everything is fully coated. Season to taste. Spoon the vegetables into a 2- quart baking dish and set aside to cool.
For the Crumble
  1. Pulse the walnuts and sage leaves together until you have a fine meal. Add the flour and the butter, cut into small chunks, and process until you have a nice crumbly topping. Add the parmesan and pulse briefly to mix.
  2. Spread the crumble topping over the vegetables. At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°. Cook the crumble until heated through and golden brown on top. Serve immediately.
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Green Bean Casserole with Tarragon and Hazelnuts

Green Bean Casserole with Tarragon and Hazelnuts

Green bean casserole is a traditional, can’t-do-without dish for many families Thanksgiving table. I have to say it though, I cannot stand the traditional version made with canned soup and fried crunchy bits. The beans are mushy, there is no telling what is in that can of soup and the oniony things are too salty. But green beans do make a great casserole for the holidays.

So here’s a perfect, unique version with a fresh, clean taste and a great deal of interest. I love to use tarragon to get a different herbal flavor in the mix, as I always use lots of sage and rosemary in the dressing and the bird. Toastyhazelnuts add a nice crunch, and a hit of cream, tangy mayonnaise and nutty cheese keep things in the traditional vein, while the lemon keeps it from being too cloying. Maybe this will be a new tradition for your family table too.

Green Bean Casserole with Tarragon and Hazelnuts
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  2. ¼ cup butter
  3. 4 shallots, halved and sliced into thin half moons
  4. 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  5. ½ cup chopped hazelnuts
  6. 3 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  7. zest and juice of one lemon
  8. 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  9. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  10. 6 ounces gruyere, grated
  11. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 8 by 8 inch baking dish.
  2. Cut the trimmed green beans into roughly one inch pieces. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil and drop in the beans. Boil for about a minute, just until the bright color of the beans comes out. Drain the beans and plunge into cold water to cool. Drain again.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot strands and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is soft and just beginning to turn a pale caramel brown, about 4 minutes. Add the hazelnuts, stir and cook for about 2 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the green beans, tarragon, the lemon zest and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice until everything is evenly distributed. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix the mayonnaise and cream together in small bowl, then add it to the green beans, stirring to coat well. Spread a layer of beans in the baking dish, sprinkle over half the cheese, then layer the remaining beans and cheese.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake a further 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
  6. The casserole can prepared several hours before baking and kept covered in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Easily doubled.
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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
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Ingredients
  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
Instructions
  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 6 Tablespoons of 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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Roasted Green Beans and Peppers with Garlic

Roasted Green Beans and Peppers with Garlic

Every summer, I wait until the green beans at the farmers market look really plump and delicious, then I buy a big batch to take home, blanch and freeze. These are my Thanksgiving beans, for a traditional casserole or a simple steamed platter. I impress myself with my forward thinking ways. But sometimes I go overboard at the farmers market when everything is so fresh and ripe, and this recipe was born of that impulse. I was canning and pickling and cooking, and I completely forgot about the big basket of beans. And I bought a little tray of peppers in rainbow colors because they were so pretty, but I didn’t have any plan for them. So a few days later, when I rediscovered those beans, I wanted to use them in a flavorful way even though they weren’t at the very peak of freshness.

Roasting intensifies flavor, so it’s a great way to maximize beans that aren’t fresh off the vine. And it’s easy. You can prep everything ahead of time, then toss the beans and peppers with the oil at the last minute and bang them in the oven while your meat is resting. Bell peppers add wonderful bright pop to the dish and love to use a rainbow of colors – yellow, red, orange, purple. If you remembered to freeze some fresh, this is also a great way to give them a boost.

Roasted Green Beans and Peppers with Garlic
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup olive oil
  2. 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  3. zest and juice of one lemon
  4. 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  5. salt and black pepper
  6. 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  7. 4 bell peppers, the more colors the better
Instructions
  1. Pour the oil into a small saucepan and gently heat over low. When the oil is warm,
  2. add the minced garlic and stir to combine. When the garlic is very fragrant, stir in lemon zest and marjoram and remove the pan from the heat. Leave to steep for at least 5 minutes, but an hour is fine.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°. Place the beans in a spacious bowl. Remove the stem, seeds and cores from the peppers and cut into strips about as wide as the green beans. Toss them with the beans in the bowl. Drizzle the oil over the beans and peppers and toss to coat. Spread the mix on a baking sheet in one layer (you can use two sheets if needed). Salt and pepper the beans generously, then roast in the oven for 15 minutes, until the beans are still tender and crisp, but browned and charred in a few places. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the beans and serve immediately.
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Fresh Herb Field Peas

Fresh Herb Field Peas

I buy field peas in bulk in the summer. Ladys, creamers, zippers, whippoorwill, crowders, purple hulls, you name it. Farmers market Saturdays for me are about canning and putting up, followed by a Southern supper of field peas, corn and tomatoes. So I am always looking for creative ways to prepare them. This is my new favorite. It’s clean and summery with a good dose of the best of the seasons herbs.

It can be a little hard sometimes when writing recipes to quantify herbs. Particularly for a recipe like this. So I just say handfuls. You want the potlikker the peas cook in well flavored, and the finishing butter to be chockfull, so the peas are well coated with fresh green herbs. Choose whatever herbs you have to hand. I love a good blend of leafy basil and parsley with a little hint of mint, combined with onion-y chives and woodsy oregano. I love the flavor pork adds to field peas, but you can leave it out to make a vegetarian version of this dish.

Fresh Herb Field Peas
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound purple hull or other field peas
  2. 6 cloves garlic
  3. 2 generous handfuls of fresh herb leaves – basil, mint, oregano, chives, parsley and thyme
  4. 3 strips bacon
  5. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  6. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the peas in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to settle for 30 minutes, then scoop off any floaters. Pick out any bruised peas, then lift the peas out of the water into a saucepan using your hands. Don’t pour through a strainer, the dirt only gets on the peas again.
  2. Pick out a good handful of herbs and tie them together in a piece of cheesecloth. Nestle the herb bundle, the bacon and 4 cloves of garlic in the peas and add fresh water to just barely cover. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam or scum that rises. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the peas, uncovered, for about 1 hour until soft and tender but still holding their shape.
  3. While the peas are cooking, finely chop another handful of herbs and place in a bowl with the softened butter. Put the remaining two cloves of garlic through a press or very finely chop them and add to the butter. Use a fork to mash the herbs, garlic and butter together. Add salt and pepper to taste and combine thoroughly.
  4. When the peas are cooked, strain through a strainer and discard the bacon, garlic cloves and herb bundle. Scrape the herb butter into the saucepan over low heat until it begins to melt. Return the peas to the saucepan and gently stir through the butter until the peas are coated. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve.
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Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches

Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches

Here I go again. Peaches and bourbon. They just go so well together, and when I am standing in the kitchen with some marvelous summer peaches, I just want to add a little splash. The peaches have been so amazing this year – I’ve jammed, spiced, ketchuped and canned a huge amount. But I went a little overboard on the buying. I created this recipe for a family dinner when I found myself with an overabundance of peaches, and added a touch of bourbon at the end. But I still had more peaches, so I upped the Southern factor by making a sweet tea infused compote, which adds another layer of flavor. You could add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, but it is rich enough as is. The cake would also be delicious with Peach Butterbourbon Sauce and the compote would be delicious on its own or stirred into some yogurt for breakfast.

Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. Peach Bourbon Cake
  2. 4 medium sized peaches
  3. 3 cups flour, divided
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
  10. ½ cup buttermilk
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  12. 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  13. Sweet Tea Peaches
  14. 1 cup water
  15. 1 cup granulated sugar
  16. 2 black tea bag
  17. 8 medium peaches
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan thoroughly.
  2. Peel and pit the peaches and cut into small chunks. Toss with ¼ cup of the flour and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugars together in the bowl of a stand mixer for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Add the remaining 2 ¾ cups flour, baking powder and salt alternately with the buttermilk, scraping down the bowl, until completely mixed. Beat in the vanilla and bourbon.
  4. Gently fold the floured peaches through the batter distributing the chunks evenly. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Peaches
  1. Stir the water and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is syrup. Remove from the heat and add the tea bag. Leave to steep for about 5 minutes.
  2. Peel and pit the peaches and cut into small chunks. Remove the tea bag from the syrup and add the peaches. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced and the peaches are coated in a light syrup, about 15 minutes.
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Tomatoes Stuffed with Summer Squash

Tomatoes Stuffed with Summer Squash

So it’s the middle of summer. You’ve been to the farmers market and loaded up your bag with beautiful vegetables. That whole box of yellow squash and lots and lots of tomatoes. Now what? I always get questions from friends about how to use squash (other than squash casserole) and for interesting ways to use tomatoes. And I am just as guilty. I buy and buy, wanting to soak up every last bit of summer bounty.

I love this vividly summer dish as a twist to traditional stuffed tomatoes and a unique way to highlight Southern summer favorites. Sure, there is a little work involved, but it pays off in spades. Look for medium sized, firm tomatoes that just fit in the palm of you hand. Grating the squash takes a few minutes, but do use the small side on the grater to give you a fine, almost mousse-like filling. These beauties can be the centerpiece of a stunning vegetable plate with field peas, greens and fresh corn or a side dish for a meatier meal.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Summer Squash
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 medium tomatoes
  2. 2 yellow squash
  3. ½ small yellow onion
  4. 2 Tablespoons butter
  5. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  9. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut a small slice off of the top of each tomato and use small spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a nice little hollow cup. Sprinkle the insides lightly with salt, then turn them upside down on several layers of paper towels to drain for 30 minutes.
  2. Grate the squash on the fine holes of a box grater and place in a colander. Leave to drain for 30 minutes. Transfer the squash to a clean tea towel and twist and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Grate the onion on the same small holes and add to the squash.
  3. Melt the butter with the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the squash and onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the squash is soft, stirring frequently to avoid browning. Stir in the chopped oregano. Pour in the heavy cream and cook, stirring frequently, until the squash has absorbed all the cream and is thick and there is no cream left in the pan. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted, then remove the skillet from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  4. Place the tomatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish in which they fit snuggly – basically holding each other upright. Spoon the squash into the tomatoes, filling the hollows and pressing down, but be gentle so you don’t break the tomatoes. Fill the tomatoes, but don’t leave mounded squash overflowing. You may have some filling leftover – chef’s treat!
  5. You can cool and refrigerate the tomatoes for a few hours at this point.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the tomatoes for about 20 minute, until heated through but the tomatoes are still holding their shape. Serve immediately.
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Cherry Tomatoes in Cream

Cherry Tomatoes in Cream

Beautiful cherry tomatoes in all shapes and sizes are such a temptation at the farmers market. Like little summer jewels. This is an old southern recipe, updated with fresh herbs, that is a perfect side to a grilled steak or fish. These tomatoes are quick to prepare, but luxuriant and rich, with a lightly caramelized cream finish.

Use whatever type of lovely little tomatoes you find at your farmers market. The mixed red and golden ones are particularly pretty, but a bowl full of bright red beauties with a sprinkling of bright green herbs are just as striking. I even like it when the tomatoes are different shapes and sizes – little ones will burst and completely fall apart while the larger ones will be just soft.

Cherry Tomatoes in Cream
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 Tablespoons butter
  2. 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  3. 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  4. salt and pepper
  5. 1 cup heavy cream
  6. 2 teaspoons chopped oregano, basil or mint
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved and bubbling. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes begin to soften and burst. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes until the cream starts to bubble. Remove the tomatoes to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Continue to cook the cream until it is slightly thickened and reduced, about 3 minutes. Pour the cream over the tomatoes, sprinkle with the herbs and serve immediately.
Notes
  1. You can easily half or double the recipe.
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