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.

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Recipes are born from many things. This one came one summer when I had promised to bring cookies to a gathering. When I volunteered, I was no doubt thinking it would be the easiest assignment – just whip up some chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies and go. But when it came down to it, I had this desire to make something lighter and more summery. I had some lemons on the counter, so I turned to an old recipe for a lemon poppy seed cookie and that seemed more like what I wanted. I opened the fridge to get out the butter, eggs and sour cream and found some blueberries I’d picked up in bulk at the farmers market. Why not, I thought. Thus this cookie was born.

These are a lightly sweet cookie in the old-fashioned Southern tea cake style. Pillowy and cakey with a simple glaze to sweeten things up. I love the burst of juicy berries this version has, and the poppy seeds add interest, and make them very pretty. By the way, they were a big hit at the event.

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 10 Tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
  2. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. ¼ cup sour cream
  5. zest and juice of one lemon
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons poppy seeds
  8. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  11. 1 cup fresh blueberries
  12. 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer to break it up, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, most of the lemon zest (save a pinch for the glaze) and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (save the rest for the glaze), vanilla and poppy seeds. Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt until the batter is smooth and well combined and there are no dry ingredients visible in the bowl. Fold the blueberries into the batter with a spatula.
  3. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to scoop mounds of dough an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until firm and just lightly golden on the bottoms, about 15 minutes. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, the remove to a wire rack placed over paper to catch drips from the glaze. Cool completely.
  4. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and a little lemon zest together with enough lemon juice to make a glaze you can drizzle over the cookies. If you don’t have enough lemon juice, add a touch of milk. You can add a pinch of poppy seed to the glaze as well if you’d like. Drizzle the tops of the cookies with the glaze and leave to set.
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Zucchini Pasta Bake with Mint Pesto

A few years ago, on a family trip to Italy, we had an amazing meal prepared by a local chef that included handmade ravioli with a zucchini mint pesto sauce. It was one of the culinary highlights of the trip for me. I asked the chef how it was made, but my lack of Italian and his lack of English didin’t make for very good instructions. I have wanted to recreate that dish since then, but making ravioli by hand is above my patience level, and I never managed to get his pesto version just right. But with tinkering, I eventually managed to get a mint pesto that mimicked the lovely fresh taste I remembered. I toss it here with freshly shredded zucchini – and the real shortcut of pasta made by someone other than me. I nice dose of crème fraiche mimicks the creamy handmade ricotta filling of the original dish, and just ties the whole thing together.

This really is the taste of summer in one dish. Beautiful in season zucchini with a gorgeous garden mint pesto, which I always find artfully displayed at the farmers market. Keep the pesto recipe in your back pocket – it is great stirred into pasta on its own or spooned over grilled chicken or veggies.

Zucchini Pasta Bake with Mint Pesto
Serves 8
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For the Pesto
  1. 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  2. 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  3. zest of one lemon
  4. 4 cups loosely packed mint leaves
  5. 1/3 cup olive oil
For the Pasta Bake
  1. 1 pound tubular pasta like rigatoni
  2. 2 medium zucchini (about 1 ¼ pounds)
  3. 2 (8-ounce) containers crème fraiche
  4. 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  5. ¾ cup plain dry bread crumbs
  6. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  7. salt and pepper to taste
For the Pesto
  1. Put the almonds, garlic, lemon zest and mint leaves in the bowl of a food processor and process until chopped to a rough puree. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil until you have a thick paste.
For the Pasta Bake
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water 2 minutes less than the package directions. Dip out about 1 cup of the pasta water in a measuring jug, then drain the pasta a rinse under cool water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Put the grated zucchini in a really large bowl, then add the crème fraiche and the pesto and generous pinches of salt and stir to combine. When the pasta has cooled, stir it into the zucchini. (If you don’t have a huge bowl, you can scrape everything into the pot you cooked the pasta in). Stir to coat the pasta with the creamy mixture. Drizzle in ¼ to ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to create a lighter sauce that coats the pasta.
  3. Scrape the pasta into a greased 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmegiano-Reggiano evenly over the top. Mix the breadcrumbs and the olive oil together in a small bowl. I start with a for, then use my fingers to rub them together until I have a mixture like wet sand. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta.
  4. The dish can be cooled covered and refrigerated overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Bake until heated through and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
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Raspberry Orange Pudding Cake

Summer fruit desserts are such a sunny joy. And whether you call this type of dish a cobbler, a slump or a pudding cake, it makes the perfect summer dessert. Sweet and juicy summer fruit melts into a saucy layer tucked beneath a tender cake. I’ve shared before my Saucy Peach and Bluebbery Cobbler version. Raspberries are a rare local treat and when I find them I make the most of them. If I find them in abundance, I freeze them, and can then use them throughout the year for this lovely dessert.

Part of the beauty of this recipe is its adaptability. I love the twist of using fresh orange to compliment the raspberries, but you could certainly use lemon, or even lime. Add some scraped vanilla beans to the cake to pump up that flavor, or a little raspberry liqueur to the berries. This dish is perfect on its own, but there is something special about hot pudding cake served with a scoop of cold ice cream. You could also top it with whipped cream, plain, sweetened or with a little liqueur. I love bring the dish to the table, and watching the looks of delight when the juicy raspberry layer is revealed on the first scoop.

Raspberry Orange Pudding Cake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Raspberry Orange Pudding Cake
  2. 2 cups fresh raspberries
  3. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice (zest before squeezing for the cake)
For the Cake
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. ¾ cups granulated sugar
  3. zest of one orange
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  8. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  9. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  10. 1 Tablespoon orange juice
For the Topping
  1. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  2. 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  3. ¾ cup hot water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the raspberries evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top, then sprinkle over the orange juice.
For the Cake
  1. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer to break it up, then add the sugar, orange zest and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg until the batter is smooth. Beat the flour, baking powder and baking soda in two additions alternately with the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the batter is smooth. Dollop the batter evenly over the berries, then spread it out to cover the berries completely. I find lightly damp fingers the easiest way to do this.
For the Topping
  1. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the batter in the pan. Place the pan on the oven rack, then pour over the hot water evenly, making sure the entire surface is damp.
  2. Bake the cake for 50 minutes, until firm and golden. Serve warm
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Squash Blossom Pasta Butter

I adore squash blossoms. A few local farmers market vendors sell them here, and I always buy as many as they have for sale. I make pesto, risotto, quesadillas, soup, and sometimes just lightly batter and fry them. I admit I have a little problem. I cannot resist buying them, and buying them in bulk. At the height of summer, I am in full canning mode, so I tend to bring home huge amounts of produce to put up. I often find that my love for summer finds outstrips reality. That is to say, I buy more than I have the time or energy to deal with. On one of those occasions when I found myself a little worn out after canning the bounty, but I still had a quantity of freshly picked squash blossoms. I knew I needed to use them, but felt a little overwhelmed by the idea of one more project. Inspiration struck suddenly for a way to make the most of the fresh flowers, but also save them for later use, a simple composed butter. That sparked my memory of one of my favorite summer simple tricks – pasta butter balls.

The end result of this buttery pasta dish reminds me of another favorite – cacio e pepe, simple linguine is tossed with butter, pecorino cheese, salt and lots of pepper. But this version has a special touch added by the squash blossoms, which also lends a lovely orangey-yellow color. And of course, you can use this butter any way you want – melted over a grilled chicken breast, tossed with vegetables (squash is an obvious choice) or spread on toasted bread.

Squash Blossom Pasta Butter
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cloves garlic
  2. 12 squash blossoms
  3. 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley leaves
  4. ½ cup grated Parmegiano-Regianno cheese
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  6. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Drop the garlic cloves into the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to finely chop. Pull the yellow petals off the squash blossoms and tear them into pieces and drop in the bowl. Discard any green leaves and the stamens. Add the parsley, then pulse a few times to finely chop. Add the cheese and pulse to combine, then add the butter, cut into pieces. Pulse until the butter is well combined, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add salt and grinds of black pepper to taste. Be generous with the pepper.
  2. Scoop the butter into a bowl, or roll it up in logs in waxed paper and refrigerate until ready to use. The butter logs can also be frozen for several months.
  3. To use the butter, cook your favorite pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve about a cup of the cooking water than drain the pasta. Melt some of the butter in a large skillet and whisk in enough of the pasta cooking water to coat the pasta. Whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy, then toss in the cooked pasta.
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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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Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cake with Strawberry Basil Sauce

Chiffon Cake always sounds so delightfully old-fashioned to me. Maybe because chiffon just sounds like a frilly, girly, poufy tea-party dress. I always see chiffon cake recipes in older community cookbooks, in all sorts of flavor combinations. I don’t think people make chiffon cakes much anymore, but the light, foamy sponge is a treat that shouldn’t be missed. Add some fresh in-season strawberries for a lovely light and and airy spring treat. I like to up the berry flavor with a sweet sauce and complement the whole with pillows of sweetened whipped cream.

Strawberries and basil work together beautifully, adding a lovely herbaceous note. And the fragrance is mouth-watering. The cake itself is such a pretty pink with little speckles of green, like a berry itself. This is a break-out the crystal cake plate dessert, colorful and bright on any spring table.

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cake with Strawberry Basil Sauce
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ¼ cup cake flour, sifted
  2. 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  4. ¼ teaspoon salt
  5. Roughly 1 cup of hulled strawberries
  6. 7 egg yolks
  7. 7 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  8. 5- 6 large basil leaves
  9. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. a drop or two of red or pink food coloring (optional)
  11. 7 egg whites
For the sauce
  1. 3 cups hulled, quartered strawberries
  2. ½ cup granulated sugar
  3. 6 large basil leaves on the stem
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Sift the flour, 1¼ cups of the sugar, the baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Drop the strawberries into a blender and puree. You will need ¾ cups, so measure it out and add more berries if needed. Put the puree back into the blender and add the egg yolks, vegetable oil, basil leaves, vanilla and food coloring, if using. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir to mix well, making sure there are no dry ingredients visible.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they become foamy. Slowly drizzle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir ¼ of the egg whites into the batter to loosen it up, then gently fold in the remaining whites in three additions. Make sure there are no streaks of white visible. Scrape the batter into a 10 – inch angel food cake pan and bake for 50 – 6o minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back at a light touch. Immediately invert the pan, centering the hole over the neck of a bottle, or over a rack if your pan has “feet” the raise it from the surface. Cool completely.
For the Sauce
  1. Put the quartered berries and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir. Pluck the basil leaves off the stem and tuck the stem into the berries. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 - 7 minutes. Pick out he stem. Use an immersion blender to roughly puree the sauce – it’s nice to have a few pieces of berries in there, but do give it a whirl with the blender. Cook for a further five minutes or so to reduce the sauce slightly. Take the pan of the heat. Finely chop the basil leaves and immediately stir them into the sauce. Leave to cool, then cover and refrigerate. The sauce can be made up to two days ahead.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Chess Pie

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Chess PieI adore sweet potato pie, but I admit I was a latecomer to its joys. I think as a young person, I thought it was a trick to make me eat vegetables. I mean, who puts potatoes in pie? I always avoided the marshmallow topped casserole at Thanksgiving, because I just couldn’t imagine the sweet, sugary combo. I don’t remember when I discovered the pleasure of sweet potato pie, but I have spent many years chasing a signature recipe. I’ve tried it with condensed milk, evaporated milk, a roster of spices, nuts, crumb crusts, bought crusts, bruleed toppings and all manner of things. Now, a classic Southern chess pie I have always loved and I have great memories of little miniature chess pies as a special treat in my childhood. Chess pie was one of the earliest dishes I learned to make. So eventually, coming around to the idea of a sweet potato chess seemed only natural. And now, this is my go to sweet potato pie.

Buttermilk is my secret weapon for about everything. It gives this pie a little tang which is a great complement to the rich sweet potates. The buttermilk crust adds an extra layer of flavor as well, and also makes a tender crust. I don’t go overboard with the spices on this one, just a teeny whisper of nutmeg. The lemon really adds balance, but I have also made this with an orange to good results.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Chess Pie
Serves 6
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For the Buttermilk Crust
  1. 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  2. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  5. ¼ - ½ cup buttermilk
For the Filling
  1. 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 pound
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  4. ½ cup buttermilk
  5. zest and juice of one lemon
  6. 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  8. ¼ cup light brown sugar
  9. 2 Tablespoons cornmeal
  10. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
For the Pie Crust
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse just until the mixture is crumbly. Add ¼ cup of buttermilk and pulse until you have a shaggy ball of dough, adding more buttermilk if needed. Remove the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and knead to pull together, then pat it into a disk and wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  2. When ready to make the pie, take the dough from the fridge and let soften slightly. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Roll the dough on a lightly floured counter into a 12-inch round disk. Carefully fit the crust into the pie plate. Prick the bottom all over with a fork, then line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool. Remove the pie weights.
For the Filling
  1. Prick the potatoes all over with a sharp knife and microwave fro 10 minutes until soft when pressed. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, but still warm, cut in half and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Process until you have a smooth puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. You should have about 1 cup of puree. Leave the puree to cool.
  2. When the puree is cool and the pie crust is also cooled, add the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and vanilla to the sweet potato in the food processor. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Whisk the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornmeal and nutmeg together in small bowl, then dump it all at once into the bowl and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is completely combined. Pour the filling into the prepared crust
  3. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, the sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top and return to the oven. If the crust is getting very brown, shield it with foil. Bake a further 15 – 20 minutes until the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Swedish Waitress Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard

Swedish Waitress Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard

A recipe developer asks a lot of questions. It’s the best way to learn the secrets of cooking – the little tips and hints and tricks people use, things they learned from mothers, grandmothers and aunts, secrets from fathers, advice from magazines, cookbooks and the back of boxes, or lessons learned from failure. So I ask questions. In restaurants, stores, markets, from neighbors, friends and strangers. Thus this cake. I was in a bakery in London having tea on a rainy day, and the very sweet waitress said that on a gloomy day, one should always have a piece of cake. I had to agree and asked for recommendations. She suggested the apple cake – with the caveat that it was her second favorite apple cake, as her mother made the absolute best version. So I asked her to describe her mother’s cake. What struck me was the apples. Her mother, she assured me, peeled and chopped the apples and tossed them with sugar and cinnamon and let them sit for hours, until they produced their own syrup. She then put the apples on top of a simple butter cake and drizzled the juices over. I was intrigued, and wrote the idea in my little travel notebook.

The waitress was Swedish, working at the bakery while she studied at university in London. I could tell describing her mother’s cake made her a little wistful for home. I don’t know if this method is typically Swedish or the whole-cloth invention of her mother, but I knew it was an idea I had to try for myself. As I was in London at the time I learned about this method, I thought I would add a classic British custard sauce – no British dessert is complete without it!

Swedish Waitress Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard
Serves 8
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For the Vanilla Custard
  1. 2 cups milk
  2. ½ a vanilla bean
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. ½ cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
For the Cake
  1. 1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  3. 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  4. ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  5. 3 baking apples
  6. 5 Tablespoons butter, softened
  7. 3 eggs
  8. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. ¼ cup milk
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Custard
  1. Put the milk in a medium saucepan and scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into it. Heat over medium just until small bubbles appear around the edges and on the surface.
  2. While the milk is heating, mix the yolks, sugar and corn starch together in a medium mixing bowl. When the milk is warm, slowly drizzle a little into the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time, then continue to whisk in the milk slowly until well combined and smooth. Pour the custard back into the sauce pan and heat over medium, stirring frequently until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Pour the custard through a sieve back into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cold. This can be made up to one day ahead.
For the Cake
  1. Mix 3 tablespoons of sugar, the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves together in a medium sized bowl. One at a time, peel and core the apples and chop into small cubes, dropping them into the bowl and tossing with the sugar mixture to coat completely. Leave the apples, completely coated in the sugar, to sit for several hours, until some juices have been released (I usually wait about 4 hours, longer is fine).
  2. When ready to bake the cake, preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour and baking powder, then add the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top of the batter. Spread the apple pieces over the top of the batter, pressing them into the cake a little, then drizzle over the accumulated juices. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool at least 20 minutes, then release it from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. The cake can be made one day ahead.
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Scandi-Style Potatoes

Scandi-Style Potatoes

Potatoes are a real kitchen workhorse. They go with anything – fish, chicken, beef, pork, lamb – and it is easy to make them taste good. Tossed with a little olive oil and herbs and roasted, mashed with butter and milk, baked and topped with all manner of things, cold in a potato salad. I’m a believer that if you have a potato in the house, you always have a meal. But I also admit to falling into a rut. I spend a lot of time working on a main dish, figuring I’ll just cook some potatoes to go with it. The roasted version is my go to, and everyone seems to like them that way. I sometimes pull out the mandolin and slice up a pile for a cheese gratin or a simple pommes boulangere, but I am not always as creative as I could be.

Nowadays, I am also always intrigued by the variety and color range of the potatoes we find in the stores and farmers markets. I can barely resist the selection of jewel-toned orbs available now, and sometimes come home from a shop with way more than I intended. So I look for ways to push the boat out a little, try something new and different to expand my potato horizons. I found a version of this recipe in a community cookbook that involved way more packaged and processed ingredients than I am comfortable with, but I saw the potential and soldiered on. That recipe was called German Potatoes, but these have more of a Scandanavian feel to me – maybe it’s the dill, but really the glaze reminds me of the sweet-tangy sauce on Swedish meatballs. I love to use the bite-size multi-colored potatoes when I find them, but simple red or yellow ones will do. These spuds are perfect with a simple roast meal like a good chicken, a fatty pork roast or a simple beef tenderloin.

Scandi-Style Potatoes
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds small potatoes
  2. 6 strips of bacon
  3. 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  5. 2 Tablespoons flour
  6. ½ cup granulated sugar
  7. ½ cup cider vinegar
  8. ¾ cup water
  9. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Instructions
  1. Choose small potatoes about the size of a ping pong ball, but if they are larger cut them half. Cook the potatoes just until tender – I prefer to steam them over boiling water for about 20 minutes, which helps them hold their shape, but you can also boil them for about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and set aside, covered with a tea towel to keep warm. Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook over in a saucepan large enough to hold the potatoes until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Let the bacon grease cool for about 5 minutes, then add the chopped onion and celery. (If you add the veg to the hot grease, they will burn). Cook over medium heat, until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Sprinkle over the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes until the flour has disappeared and the mixture is thick. Add the sugar and stir well until dissolved. Pour over the vinegar and water and continue cooking until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chopped dill.
  3. Add the potatoes to the sauce and stir to coat completely. Add the chopped bacon to combine. Cook until everything is warmed through, and serve immediately.
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Watermelon Barbecue Sauce with Country Ribs

Watermelon Barbecue Sauce and Country Ribs

I have several Southern community cookbooks that have recipes for watermelon barbecue sauce. I love the idea, and I have made every one of those recipes, but the results were never what I had hoped for. No watermelon flavor, or sickly sweet, or just bland. But the idea appeals to me so much that I have continued to tinker with the concept for years, and I finally hit on it. With a pile of fresh in season tomatoes on the counter as I chopped up yet another melon, I decided to try fresh tomatoes instead of bottled ketchup and that has made all the difference. I little hint of tomato paste adds the depth needed in a sauce, but the acidity of a fresh tomato balances everything nicely. Rich Southern cane syrup is perfect with sweet watermelon, adding a complexity to such simple ingredients. I realized the other recipes I tried just had to many ingredients – spices and herbs and all manner of things. So I whittled the ingredient list down to use as much fresh summer produce at possible, good Worcestershire sauce creates layers of flavor without masking the watermelon sweetness. I’m really crazy about the end result.

So when I perfected the recipe, I set my mind to figuring how to use it. I settled on pork country ribs, which are not ribs at all, but boneless cuts of pork shoulder that stand up well to slow cooking and the hearty sauce. But I can attest, this sauce works in any way you would normally use a barbecue sauce. Brushed on grilled chicken breasts, slathered on pork tenderloin, as a sauce for wings or stirred through pulled pork.

Watermelon Barbecue Sauce and Country Ribs
Serves 6
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For the Watermelon Barbecue Sauce
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 2 Vidalia onions, diced
  3. 4 cups chopped watermelon, from about 3 1/2 pound melon, seeds removed
  4. 1 tomato, about 12 ounces, diced
  5. 2 Tablespoon tomato paste
  6. 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  7. 4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  8. 3 Tablespoons cane syrup or honey
  9. salt and pepper to taste
For the Ribs
  1. 4 pounds boneless country style pork ribs
  2. half an onion, sliced
  3. salt and pepper
For the Watermelon Barbecue Sauce
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepot and cook the onion until glassy and soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a further 2 minutes. Add the watermelon chunks and the tomato and cook until soft and beginning to release some liquid, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a few minutes, then transfer to a blender (you may need to do this in batches). Remove the vent from the top of the blender and hold the lid down with a tea towel. Puree until smooth, then pour the sauce back into the pan through a sieve, scraping as much liquid through as possible. Stir in the vinegar, cane syrup and Worcestershire sauce and cook until thickened and reduced almost in half, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. The sauce can be cooled, covered and refrigerated at this point up to three days.
For the ribs
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish that fits the ribs comfortably with foil. Season the ribs all over with salt and pepper, then lay the sliced onions on top. Roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Carefully drain off any accumulated fat from the pan, then pour over all but one cup of the barbecue sauce. Turn the ribs to coat in the sauce with tongs and return the pan to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the ribs again and cover the pan tightly with foil and return to the oven. Roast for a further 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the remaining sauce in a small pan. Serve the ribs with the extra sauce to spoon over.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/