Southern Snacks

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.

Roasted Summer Succotash

Recipe ideas come to me everywhere, this one came to me after I saw roasted lima beans on a menu, I think something I saw online, because it’s not something I ate. The description made me wonder exactly what the result would be – raosting bean? Then I remembered a Greek-style roasted dish using gigante beans and tomatoes, and my mind immediately went to butter beans, which lead to succotash. Corn and butter beans are one of the great pleasures of summer. They pair beautifully together and look like a lovely dose of bright summer. And succotash is just too fun to say. I’ve visited the idea before with my Succotash Salad, which is sort of the opposite of a this dish – the cold version as opposed to this richly roasted iteration. I’ve even changed the idea up with Sunshine Succotash, a yellow-toned dish bursting with sunshine.

Roasting any vegetable really concentrates the flavors and brings out the sweetness and that is absolutely true with this dish. The butter beans are juicy and tender, the corn sweet and crisp and the tomatoes bring the whole together. A bonus with the recipe is that it makes a big dish of summer goodness that can sit happily in the oven while you get on with any other preparations. And it’s pretty – the pale jade of the beans, the bright yellows and whites of the corn with a pop of tomato red. I love thyme for a nice herbal note, but any sturdy, woodsy herb like oregano, marjoram or even rosemary (very finely chopped) would hold up to the long cooking time. I can also see preparing this dish in winter with the frozen beans and corn I am putting up now, as the roasting will refresh the summer sweetness.

Roasted Summer Succotash

1 pound fresh butter beans

4 ears of corn

6 green onions, white and light green parts

2 bell pepper, red and orange are pretty, green is fine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup water

10 cherry tomatoes

½ cup olive oil

Generous amounts of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the butter beans in a small pot and cover by water by about an inch. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that rises, then lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the butter beans are just tender but with a little bite. Drain thoroughly.

Cut the kernels from the corn cobs into a large bowl. Finely dice the green onions, then finely dice the bell peppers and add to the bowl. Add the butter beans and the thyme and gently stir to combine and distribute everything evenly. Mix the tomato paste and water together and add to the bowl with generous amounts of salt and pepper and stir again to coat. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish, then half the tomatoes and nestle them into the beans. Pour over the olive oil.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for one hour. Serve warm.

Serves 8

Peach Amaretto Cheesecake

I accidently bought 25 pounds of peaches. I’ve been reading about these peaches from a certain farm that only come to Memphis twice a season. People rave about these peaches. I missed any notification that they were coming, but then one day going about my own business, I got stuck in traffic behind cars turning into a nursery and saw the big sign advertising the peaches. So I figured I better turn in too and see what all the fuss was about. The peaches are only sold in 25 pound boxes, which is a lot of peaches, but I had waited and parked and just decided I better go ahead and buy them. And they are delicious peaches. I gave quite a few to a friend, I made Peach Julep Jam, a peach jalapeno jam, peach chutney, spiced peach butter and vin du peche, a French liqueur.

At the start of peach season, I had some idea about a dessert with peaches and amaretti cookies – my mom used to make delicious peach halves stuffed with buttered amaretti crumbs and baked – but I just couldn’t figure out where to go with it. I wanted something composed, like a tart or an ice cream. I bought a couple of bags of amaretti and they sat on my counter for weeks, taunting me to come up with an idea. In my panic over this spectacular array of peaches I acquired with no coherent plan, the idea came to me while I stirred a pot of peach jam. Creamy, rich, decadent cheesecake with a sweet-bitter amaretti crust and a healthy dose of amaretto liqueur. My niece who sampled the finished result texted me “that cheesecake. I can’t get over it.” So clearly in this case, abundance was the mother of invention.

I live to serve this with some sliced or cubed fresh peaches, for the contrast of the sweetly cooked fruit that almost melts into the filling with the bite of fresh, but a lightly sweetened puree would be delicious as well if you like your cheesecake that way.

Peach Amaretto Cheese Cake with Amaretti Crust

For the Crust:

1 (7-ounce) package amaretti cookies

4 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling

3 large fresh peaches

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup amaretto liqueur

½ teaspoon almond extract

For the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. 

Set a few of the cookie aside, then place the rest in the bowl of a small food processor and process until finely ground. Drizzle in the butter and process until the crumbs are wet through. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press them into an even layer completely covering the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely. Put the remaining cookies in a small ziptop bag and crush well. Set aside.

For the Filling:

Peel and pit the peaches, then cut into small, bite-sized pieces.

Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for a few minutes, then stream in the sugar, beating until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream, amaretto and almond extract until completely smooth. Add the chopped peaches and stir to combine and evenly distribute them. Scrape the filling into the pan over the crust and spread the top evenly.  Place a large piece of foil on the oven rack, then place the cheesecake on the foil and bake for about 1 hour, until puffed up, set in the center and just begining to brown. Remove from the oven to a rack to cool for 5 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen from the ring. Leave to cool another 30 minutes, then place in the refrigerator overnight to chill. You can cover the cake after it is firm and refrigerate for up to two days.

Before serving, sprinkle the remaining cookie crumbs over the top of the cake. Serve with sliced peaches if you’d like.

 

No Churn Peach Ice Cream with Sweet Tea Caramel Sauce

It is hot here. All summer. So ice cream is must. Homemade ice cream is a special treat, but it involves a little effort in the kitchen that I’m not always up to in the heat of summer. I have memories of making ice cream with my family as a child. We had this electric contraption that fit over a basin that went in a bucket filled with rock salt and ice. Making the base and pouring it in the machine was exciting, but for my brother and I, the excitement faded after about 5 minutes of watching the churn do its job, leaving my mother to wait the rest of the time watching and adding ice and salt for the rather lengthy time the whole process took. Technology has advanced and now I have a little electric ice cream maker that has a bowl that stores in the freezer – the problem is I don’t always have room in the freezer. So when I started seeing lots of no churn recipes on the internet, I was intrigued. And it turns out it’s good. The texture is a bit thicker and grainier than the type churned in a machine that whips in air, but to me the ease of preparation fully justifies the denser texture. And the recipe is highly adaptable too. Start with condensed milk and cream, then you can add fruits, herbs and spices to your tastes.

I went for sweet in season peaches, heated lightly to release some juice. I added a little buttermilk here for the tang and creaminess. My favorite part of ice cream is usually a sweet sauce, so I wanted to create a perfect complement for the peaches, which leads me to sweet tea. I’ve been there before, in this Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches. This caramel sauce is rich and with the lovely tannic bite of tea and the freshness of mint and lemon. It’s a perfect summer version of caramel sauce that would be lovely on any kind of ice cream or with fresh fruit.

No Churn Peach Ice Cream with Sweet Tea Caramel Sauce
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For the Ice Cream
  1. 3 large peaches, peeled and cut into small pieces
  2. 1 cup heavy cream
  3. 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  4. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  5. Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
For the Caramel
  1. 4 black tea bags
  2. 1 sprig of fresh mint
  3. 2 cups water
  4. 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  5. ½ cup granulated sugar
  6. ½ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Put the peaches in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat until the peaches are soft and some juice begins to run. Set aside to cool.
  2. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks form. Add the condensed milk and whip until the mixture is thick and soft peaks form then add the buttermilk and vanilla beans seeds and beat until completely combined and thick. Stir in the peaches and their juice until evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into a metal loaf pan and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream. Freeze overnight.
For the Caramel
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then drop in the tea bags and mint sprig. Leave to infuse off the heat for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags and the mint. Return to the heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture is reduced to one cup of tea, then stir in the lemon juice and sugar until dissolved. Boil until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of maple syrup, stirring frequently. Stir in the heavy cream and continue cooking until the syrup is thickened back to a syrupy consistency – it will thicken a little when it cools. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Summer Squash and Leek Gratin

Squash casserole is a Southern summer must. My go to has been a classic version, rich with cheese and sour cream, and I adapted that for a pimento cheese version in my first book, Pimento Cheese the Cookbook. Most southerners deal with an overabundance of summer squash, whether it’s from friends who garden or the irresistible urge to buy the locally grown, beautiful sunshine yellow vegetable at the farmers market.  So we are always looking for new and interesting ways to serve fresh squash. This gratin has the beautifully creaminess we love  in squash casserole, but is lighter and very fresh and bright.  My mom told me this was the best thing I’ve made recently, and what better endorsement could there be.

I like that the leeks in this dish complement the squash without overwhelming – the brilliant sunny taste of the squash shines through. Thyme is my favorite herb with squash, but feel free to branch out with marjoram or oregano. Nutty gruyere cheese and a light hit of breadcrumbs make a rustic topping, but you could also use fontina or swiss.

Summer Squash and Leek Gratin
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 large leeks, white and lightest green parts only
  2. 2 pounds yellow summer squash (about 4 medium)
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  4. 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (stripped from the stalks)
  5. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1 cup milk, heated in the microwave or a small pan until hot to the touch
  9. ¾ cup grated gruyere cheese
  10. ½ cup bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Slice the leeks in in half, then slice the leeks into thin half-moons. Place in a colander and rinse well, then leave to drain for a few minutes. Thinly slice the squash – I use a mandoline, but the slicing blade of a food processor also works, or a knife and a little patience.
  2. Melt 6 Tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a large, deep-sided sauté pan or a Dutch oven (you need room to stir the squash around). Add the leeks with some water clinging to them and stir to coat with the butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft and glassy, do not let them brown, about 15 minutes. Add the squash and stir to coat in the butter and combine with the leeks. Cook until the squash is tender and floppy, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves, the salt and the pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle over the flour and stir until there is no dry flour left visible in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the hot milk and bring to a bubble. Cook until the milk has thickened and created a nice sauce for the vegetables, about 5 minutes. Transfer everything to a buttered 2-quart baking dish. If you are making this ahead, leave to cool before proceeding.
  3. Toss the gruyere and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the gratin. Cut the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter into small pieces and dot over the top of the gratin. You can cover the cooled dish at this point and refrigerate for several hours, or bake immediately. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until bubbly and golden on the top, about 20 minutes.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

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.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Buttermilk Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a perfectly refreshing summer side dish, I’m not sure it’s actually allowed to have a summer celebration without it! There are so many delicious versions of coleslaw, and many people have very particular requirements, it can be a somewhat fraught decision about which to serve. But I do like to switch things up, from tangy, vinegary Crispy Picnic Slaw to this creamy iteration that has a very fresh finish perfect in the heat of summer. Some people tell me am a little bit obsessed with buttermilk, and I can’t say they’re wrong. I think it adds such flavor and dimension to everything it touches. In this recipe, buttermilk makes the slaw tangy and fresh with a refreshing creaminess that manages not to be overbearing.

And this coleslaw is versatile. Great with barbecue, hamburgers or hot dogs, or as a part of a cold picnic spread. I grab my vegetables at the farmers market for a local summer treat at the peak of freshness. If you can’t find two kinds of cabbage, one color is perfectly fine, and you can omit the carrots or the radishes, though they add such a lovely, colorful touch. You may want to drain off a little of the dressing before serving, some of the liquid from the cabbage will add to the dressing.

Buttermilk Coleslaw
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 small head of green cabbage
  2. 1 small head of purple cabbage
  3. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  4. 2 carrots
  5. 3 radishes
  6. ½ cup mayonnaise
  7. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  8. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  9. 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  10. 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  11. generous grinds of black pepper.
Instructions
  1. Shred the cabbage – you can do this on the food processor, a box grater, or very thinly slice the cabbage with a large knife. You should have about 10 cups of cabbage Place the cabbage in a colander and toss it with the salt. Leave it to drain for at least an hour, tossing it around a few times. Rinse and drain the cabbage. Spread the cabbage on paper-towel lined baking sheet. Grate the carrots and radishes and toss with the cabbage. Leave to dry for about half and hour. You can pat it dry with more paper towels if you prefer.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar, lemon juice and pepper until thoroughly combined. Add the grated vegetables and toss with a fork to coat the slaw with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for several hours at least, but overnight is perfect. Toss well before serving. You may want to drain off some accumulated dressing.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Lady Pea Buttermilk Vichyssoise with Crispy Country Ham

 

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes in summer serve cold soups for supper. Mostly vichysoisse from a can and something called consommé madrilène. I didn’t not like this. The idea of cold soup just didn’t square in my adolescent brain. But like most things, my mother was right. Cold soup is such a perfectly refreshing summer meal. And it is a great opportunity to make the most of summer’s delicious produce, like my summer squash Vichysquash, or Cold Vidalia Onion Soup. And my favorite summer produce is unquestionably field peas. Add a touch of buttermilk and I am in chilled soup heaven.

Delicate lady peas are perfect for pureeing into a light and creamy soup. Tangy buttermilk and soft leeks add layers of flavor. The crispy country ham adds the perfect salty note and crunchy texture to finish it off. This soup can be an elegant dinner party starter, and I can also see it as one of those soup shooters serves at a cocktail party, with a pretty shard of country ham balanced on the glass. But I also like it for a simple summer dinner, maybe with some sliced tomatoes on the side, and having some in the fridge over a weekend to sip for lunch or a snack is a treat.

Lady Pea Buttermilk Vichyssoise with Crispy Country Ham
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only (about 3)
  2. ¼ cup butter
  3. 1 pound fresh lady peas
  4. 3 celery stalks
  5. 2 shallots
  6. 6 – 7 stalks of thyme
  7. 2 bay leaves
  8. zest and juice of one large lemon
  9. 1 ¼ cups whole buttermilk
  10. 6 ounces thinly sliced country ham
Instructions
  1. Slice the white and lightest green parts of the leeks into halves lengthwise, then into thin half -moons. Place the leek slices in a strainer submerged in a bowl of water and shake around a bit to loosen any dirt. Let the leeks sit for a few minutes while you melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove the strainer and shake out excess water. Drop the leeks into the pot and stir. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not let the leeks brown.
  2. When the leeks are soft, add the lady peas, the celery stalks (broken in half if needed) and the shallots. Pour over 6 cups of water. Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen string and drop in the pot with the bay leaves. Zest and juice the lemon and set aside both. Drop the squeezed out lemon halves in the pot, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the peas are very tender, about 1 hour.
  3. Fish out the bay leaves, the thyme bundle and the lemon halves, then cool the soup to room temperature. Transfer the soup to a blender (in batches if needed), add the lemon zest and juice and puree until completely smooth. Season well with salt – it may take quite a bit. Pour the soup through a wire mesh strainer, scraping it through, into the cleaned out pot or a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Whisk in the buttermilk until smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
  4. Cut the country ham into thin slivers and cook in a skillet over medium high heat until brown and crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain.
  5. Serve the soup topped with the slivers of country ham.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Blueberry Zucchini Cake

What grows together goes together is a good way to cook in the kitchen. I love to make the most of in-season produce. I always seem to end up with one more zucchini hanging around and my market bag is always bursting with berries when they are in season. So it seemed only natural to find a way to use them together. And I really love this unique, fresh, summery sheet cake.

I saw a recipe for a zucchini bread with blueberries somewhere, but I didn’t save it our cut it out, the idea just stuck with me. I worked on that idea for a while, but in the end, it seemed to me like a great idea for a straight-up sweet with a twist. The zucchini adds this grassy, vegetal note to the sweetness of the cake and the pop of juicy blueberries. Buttermilk adds a little tang with some freshness brought in with a zip of lemon to the cake and to the sweet, crackly glaze. The added bonus here is that this makes a great big sheet cake that serves a real crowd, so it’s perfect for a summer picnic party.

Blueberry Zucchini Cake
Serves 24
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For the Cake
  1. 2 cups grated zucchini, from about 1 large zucchini
  2. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  3. zest of one lemon
  4. 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  5. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  6. 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  10. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  11. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  12. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  13. 2 cups fresh blueberries
For the Glaze
  1. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  2. ¼ cup whole buttermilk
  3. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  4. a dash of nutmeg
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 15 by 10 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil with some overlapping ends.
  2. Combine the grated zucchini, buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg alternately with the zucchini mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. When fully combined and smooth, fold in the blueberries with a spatula to evenly distribute them. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, scooting the berries around as needed to distribute them throughout the cake. Bake for 30- 40 minutes until golden and firm and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.
For the glaze
  1. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice and nutmeg together until smooth. Slowly spread it over the top of the cooled cake to cover the top. Go slow so the glaze doesn’t drip off the sides. Let the glaze set for at least an hour, then slice and serve.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Ricotta Cake with Blackberry Limoncello Compote

I used to make this cake all the time because it is so simple to put together but is so luscious. I think the original recipe is from a Mollie Katzen Moosewood book, but I have it scrawled in one of my many recipe keeping notebooks. I used to serve it with raspberry coulis when that was in vogue, or with chocolate sauce. That’s kind of the great thing about this cake. It is so simple that it can be the vehicle for any manner of delicious toppings without overwhelming it. The smooth, creamy cake has the texture of cheese cake and is not overly sweet, so it really lets a fruit accompaniment shine. The compote I top it with here was honestly born from having some blackberries from the farmers market and some limoncello a friend made on the counter at the same time. When I whipped up this tart and sweet topping, I knew immediately I had to search through my files for the ricotta cake recipe. I inadvertently pulled together a delightful summer Italian inspired dessert.

Nothing could be an easier summer treat – a few seconds in the food processor and a little time on the stove – no chopping, dicing, whipping and very little clean up involved! This would be equally delicious with Blueberry Basil Compote or Peach Butterbourbon Sauce.

Ricotta Cake with Blackberry Limoncello Compote
Serves 6
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For the Cake
  1. Softened butter for greasing the pan
  2. 2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
  3. 3 large eggs
  4. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/3 cup all purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  6. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  7. Zest from one lemon
  8. 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
For the Compote
  1. 1 Tablespoon butter
  2. 2 pints blackberries
  3. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  4. zest and juice of one lemon
  5. ¼ cup limoncello liqueur
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then sprinkle with flour. Shake the pan to coat with the flour and dump out any excess. Don’t be tempted to use cooking spray – this is an important step.
  2. Put the ricotta, eggs, sugar and flour in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and blend until smooth and combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until the center is set. Touch it lightly with your finger and it should be firm to the touch. Cool completely, then chill for several hours or overnight.
For the Compote
  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, then tumble in the blackberries. Stir them around to coat in the butter and cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Stir in the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and cook for about 3 minutes until the berries release their juices. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to mash about half of the berries as they soften so you have a nice, juicy sauce. Carefully add the limoncello away from heat, and stir to combine. Cook the compote for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid had reduced a little and is thick and syrupy. Set aside to cool.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Southern Buttermilk Cobb Salad

Summer entertaining should be easy. It is just too hot to spend hours over a steaming stove. But that doesn’t mean a meal can’t be spectacular. And I am telling you, no one will feel cheated with a salad for dinner when it is this full of delicious, hearty components. I love laying this out on a big rectangular platter – it absolutely produces oohs and ahhs. But a big pretty bowl will work as well. The buttermilk poached chicken is tender with a hint of tang, and the buttermilk vinaigrette walks the line between creamy and light perfectly.

Here’s what I do to make this easy. I marinate and cook the chicken a day ahead and chill in the fridge, and hard boil the eggs keeping them in their shell in the fridge as well and whip up the dressing. Then before serving I put the bacon on a baking sheet in the oven to cook until crispy, then drain it on paper towels. Radishes and cucumbers can be sliced and cubed a few hours ahead. Cut the chicken into chunks, peel and slice the eggs, crumble the bacon and shortly before dinner is to be served, just assemble the salad. Serve with some lovely bread and you’ve got a full meal.

What I list here is a guide: go with whatever beautiful fresh vegetables you find. Avocado is traditional on a cobb salad, but I like refreshing locally grown cucumbers, paired with colorful radishes and bright tomatoes. Blue cheese adds a lot of tang, but goat cheese is wonderful too.

Southern Buttermilk Cobb Salad
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. Buttermilk Poached Chicken
  2. 3 ½ cups whole buttermilk
  3. 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  6. Buttermilk Vinaigrette
  7. 2 green onions, very finely chopped
  8. 1 clove of garlic, put through a garlic press
  9. 2/3 cup whole buttermilk
  10. 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  11. 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  12. ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  13. Salt and pepper to taste
Salad
  1. 2 heads of romaine lettuce
  2. 3 hard boiled eggs. sliced
  3. 3 large radishes. Thinly sliced
  4. 6 strips of bacon, cooked crisp
  5. ½ cup blue cheese
  6. ½ of a seedless cucumber, cubed
  7. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
For the chicken
  1. Stir the buttermilk, hot sauce, and a hearty dose of salt and pepper together in a large saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Place the pan over medium low heat and bring the buttermilk just to a simmer – do not boil. Cook just at a bubble until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 – 40 minutes. I like to use a probe thermometer to gauge that the chicken has reached 165 degrees. The buttermilk will separate and look a little curdled, that’s fine. When the chicken is cooked through, remove it and rinse off the curdy buttermilk. Pat the chicken dry, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Vinaigrette
  1. Place all the ingredients in a pint jar and shake well to combined. I like to make this a day ahead so the flavors really meld together and store it in the fridge. Shake well before serving.
Assembly
  1. Layer a large platter or salad bowl with torn romaine leaves, then top with the chicken, vegetables, eggs, bacon and cheese, Drizzle with the vinaigrette.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/