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.

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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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.
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Rhubarb-e-Cue Sauce

I have this obsession with rhubarb. I think because it is not something I grew up with and it seems so exotic. It’s one of the many foodstuffs I was first introduced to while living in England, and there is always this mystique around those decidedly British things to me. Plus, the red stalks are so pretty and cheerful when they start to signal that spring is coming in the markets. Invariably, the checker at the store has to ask what it is – it’s just not very common around here. So maybe the name is a little over the top, but I got tongue tied saying rhubarb barbecue and ended up with this.

I clipped a recipe for a rhubarb sauce from an English magazine years ago, intrigued by the idea of a savory application. It was one of those five ingredient quickies. It hung around my files for years, then when I finally made it, my first impression was that with a little Memphis-style tweaking, I could turn it into a barbecue sauce – the true nectar of my homeland. And it’s good. Sweet but tangy from the vinegar with a little kick from ginger and mustard and smoky hit from the Worcestershire and paprika. Roasting the rhubarb and garlic brings out the sweetness of both. Its great brushed on grilled chicken or a pork tenderloin, or stir it through pulled chicken or pork, or try it spread it on a burger or a chicken sandwich.

Rhubarb-e-Cue Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups of 1-inch pieces of fresh rhubarb
  2. 3 cloves of garlic
  3. 1 cup water
  4. ½ cup light brown sugar
  5. ¼ cup ketchup
  6. 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  7. 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  9. ½ teaspoon yellow mustard powder
  10. ½ teaspoon ground balck pepper
  11. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  12. ½ teaspoon celery salt
  13. ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil or foil sprayed with olive spray. Spread the rhubarb chunks evenly on the try, then nestle in the garlic cloves. Spray with olive oil, then roast for 15 – 20 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft. Remove from the oven and scrape the rhubarb and garlic into a blender. Add the water and puree until very smooth. Scrape the puree into a saucepan.
  2. Stir the brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire into the rhubarb, then place over medium high heat. Stir in the spices, salts and pepper and stir until well combined. Bring to a low bubble, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened
Notes
  1. Makes about 1 cup
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Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Red Wine Rosemary Pears

I love taking classic dishes and adding a little twist, without adding a whole lot of work. Cheesecake topped with syrupy fruit is definitely a classic. In my younger years, cheesecake with strawberries, or later the more fanciful raspberry coulis, was the go to dessert for romantic dinner menus. With this recipe, you get the brilliant, creamy sweetness of a classic cheesecake, but the goat cheese adds this lovely tang. Pears poached in red wine are another cool-weather dessert stand-by, but add a little rosemary and it reaches a whole new dimension. So a simple classic becomes a sophisticated new dessert, perfect for a party or a romantic dinner. And I have to say, leftovers make a pretty good breakfast as well.

Use a wine you would want to drink to poach the pears, but don’t sacrifice your best bottle. I have also made this cheesecake with a crust made of gingersnaps which adds a little spice. The rosemary in the poaching liquid is such a special and unique twist, but you could swap it out for a cinnamon stick and a few pods of star anise for a spiced version. The presentation of this dish is striking, with the creamy cake and ruby-tinted pears. A little sprig of rosemary on top adds flair and a hint of the tastes to come.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Red Wine Rosemary Pears
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. For the Pears
  2. 1 ½ cups red wine
  3. ¾ cup sugar
  4. 3 sprigs rosemary
  5. 4 pears, forelle, Anjou or bosc
For the Crust
  1. 15 graham crackers (the whole sheet)
  2. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
  1. 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  2. 12 ounces soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  3. zest of 1 lemon
  4. 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  7. 4 large eggs
For the Pears
  1. Peel the pears and cut into small chunks. Pour the red wine into a saucepan and stir in the sugar. Heat over medium high heat until just boiling and drop in the rosemary, pressing it down to submerge it in the liquid. Add the pears and stir gently to cover with the wine and cook until the pears are soft and tender and the wine is reduced to a syrup about the consistency of maple syrup. Remove from the heat and leave to cool and for the wine to soak in and tint the pears red. Remove the rosemary stems and any stray needles before serving. The pears can be prepared a day ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated.
For the Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
  2. Break the graham crackers into small pieces and drop into a food processor. Pulse until broken up into crumbs, then add the sugar and process until very fine. With the motor running, drizzle in the melted butter and process until the crumbs are all moist. Dump the crumbs into the prepared pan and press into an even tight layer. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325.
For the Cheesecake
  1. Beat the cream cheese and goat cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to break them up. Add the lemon zest, juice and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Beat in the sugar until light and fluffy and smooth. Beat the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Spread the filling over the crust in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until lightly golden and firm, but slightly jiggly in the very center. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack, then transfer to the refrigerator loosely covered and chill for several hours, but overnight is fine.
  2. Remove the springform ring, slice and serve topped with the pears and syrup.
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Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

Cranberry Oatmeal MuffinsThe holidays are filled with so much sweet and sugary (not that I’m complaining), so sometimes it’s nice to have a treat that’s seasonal and festive, but not as cloying or overly sweet. These muffins hit the spot. Hearty with oatmeal and moist from yogurt, these muffins are filling and comforting with a nice holiday kick. Perfect for a Christmas morning buffet or as a little early morning present opening snack before the big meal. They make a great gift, wrapped up in a pretty gift bag or napkin.

These muffins are not overly sweet and have a tangy kick from the fresh cranberries. That means they are the perfect vehicle for sweet spreads like apple butter or pumpkin butter, or try my Egg Nog Butter for a nice holiday feel. They are also great in a bread basket with a main meal, with a little smidge of butter.

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup rolled oats
  2. 1 cup whole yogurt
  3. ½ cup canola oil
  4. 1 egg
  5. ¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  6. 1 cup flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
  10. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  11. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  12. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  13. 1 cup fresh cranberries
Instructions
  1. Stir the oats and the yogurt together in a large bowl, making sure all the oats are covered. Set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  3. Add the oil and the egg to the oat and yogurt mixture and stir well to combine. Stir in the brown sugar until combined, then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices and stir just until well combined and there is no dry flour visible. Fold in the cranberries.
  4. Divide the dough between the muffin cups – I like to use a large cookie scoop for this – then bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the muffins have browned and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool. The muffins will keep for one day in an airtight container.
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Sweet Potato Fruitcake

Sweet Potato FruitcakeI adore fruitcake. Some think that a controversial opinion. But I couldn’t have Christmas without it. Every year, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I make my classic Fruitcake. To be honest, I start in the summer by making bourbon Cherry Bounce to soak the cake, and I pour a good dose over every couple of days until Christmas. My mother and I are sometimes the only ones who eat it, but I simply can’t imagine the holiday without it. So when I came across a recipe for sweet potato fruitcake in a community cookbook, I had to make it. It was one of those old recipes with very few specific measurements and spotty instructions, so it took me awhile to get it right, but I did and I love it.

My favorite thing about this fruitcake is fruitcake for Thanksgiving! I get the immense pleasure of extending fruitcake season, which makes me very happy. This cake is colorful and beautiful on a cake stand on the Thanksgiving dessert spread. The sweet potato adds a lovely, earthy note and is a great counterpoint to pies and fluffy cakes. The cake keeps well for up to a week in an airtight container, but it doesn’t have to be made weeks ahead. The color and texture is a lighter than the traditional version, but no less rich and flavorful.

Fruitcake lovers unite!

Sweet Potato Fruitcake
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ cups grated sweet potato (from about 1 large potato)
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  4. 4 eggs, separated
  5. 4 Tablespoons hot water
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
  8. 3 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1 teaspoon mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice
  10. ¼ teaspoon salt
  11. 1 pound chopped candied fruit
  12. 2 ½ cups chopped pecans
  13. ¼ cup bourbon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250. Spray a tube (not a Bundt) pan with baking spray (such as Baker’s Joy).
  2. Beat the sugar and the oil in the large bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until pale and combined. Beat in the egg yolks until combined. Pour in the hot water and vanilla extract and beat until blended. Add the sweet potatoes and beat just until combined. Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the candied fruit and nuts. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks in the small mixer bowl using the whisk attachment. Fold the whites into the batter in the large bowl using a sturdy spatula. This takes a little elbow grease, but don’t be too harsh, you still want the eggs whites to retain some air. Make sure the get the batter from the center of the bowl combined with the whites as well. Fold until the whites have completely disappeared into the batter.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan, making sure it is evenly distributed and the top is flat. Pick up the pan and drop it on the counter a few time to knock out any air bubbles.
  5. Bake the cake for 2 ½ hours. A tester inserted in the center should have a few crumbs clinging to it. When you remove it from the oven, immediately drizzle the bourbon over the top, very slowly. Leave to cool completely (even overnight covered with a towel) before removing it from the pan. The cake can be kept for a week in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. You can grate the sweet potatoes on a box grater or use the food processor grating blade. But then you have to clean the food processor.
  2. I separate the eggs putting the whites in the small mixer bowl and the yolks directly into the sugar and oil.
  3. My market sells mixed candied fruit during the holidays and I use that to make things easy. You can also make up your own blend of candied fruit (cherries, lemon peel, orange peel, pineapple etc.) and chop it finely, or toss it with a little flour and pulse in the food processor.
  4. The cake may crumble when you slice, but it can be easily pressed together and the taste is still delicious!
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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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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.
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Fresh Fig Mousse

Fresh Fig MousseI adore figs, and during their short growing season here, I really try to make the most of them. I make jars and jars of Fig, Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Jam. It is one of my signature preserves now, one people always ask me for. My Fresh Fig Cake with Buttermilk Glaze is a summer favorite as well – it’s a wonderful way to incorporate figs into baking. And of course, I eat the figs on their own, maybe with a little country ham wrapped around them, sometimes then thrown on the grill.

I saw a recipe for a simple fig mousse in an old community cookbook and honestly couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of the idea before. I tweeked and modernized the recipe a little, so it is now a very simple and refreshing summer dessert with a real touch of elegance and panache, with the added bonus that it needs to made ahead so it is ready and waiting. Figs in their natural state are so pretty, that a simple slice of pink flesh with delicate purple tinge makes an absolutely beautiful garnish on the soft pink, marbled mousse. This mouse can be served frozen, or just chilled until firm – I like equally either way. I prefer to use darker purple figs for the rich color, but if brown are all you have access to, they are delicious as well.

Fresh Fig Mousse
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup halved fresh figs (about 8) plus more for garnish
  2. 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  5. 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Place the fig pieces, lemon juice, vanilla and powdered sugar in a blender and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the carafe as needed.
  2. Whip the cream in an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold the puree into the cream a little at a time, making sure the cream and puree are combined. Spoon the mousse into eight small or six larger glass bowls or ramekins and smooth the tops.
  3. You can freeze the mousse, each covered with plastic wrap, for up to two days and serve frozen or slightly softened, or you can cover the dishes with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 4 hours or up to one day ahead.
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Blueberry Sour Cream Torte

Blueberry Sour Cream Torte

The high heat of summer doesn’t seem to me like the time for complicated baking and cooking, or entertaining. But the abundance of beautiful, in-season fruits and berries means I definitely want to create some delicious dishes. This one fits the bill, making the most of juicy blueberries in a rustic, creamy torte. It has all the hallmarks of a great summer dessert – it looks much more complicated than it is, must be made ahead and is cool and refreshing on a hot day. Serve this as the finale to a cookout or keep it in the fridge for a sweet snack.

I like this dessert because it has the creaminess of a cheesecake with the cookie-like base of a bar, but somehow seems easier to pull together than either. The blueberries seep a lovely purple color into the creamy topping which makes for a very pretty dish when served. I can’t resist adding a little dash of nutmeg to blueberry sweets because it marries so beautifully, adding a little hint of spice and intrigue.

Blueberry Sour Cream Torte
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  2. 1 cup sugar, divided
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  5. 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  6. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  7. 2 cups fresh blueberries
  8. 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
  9. 2 egg yolks
  10. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Thoroughly grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
  2. Beat the butter on medium speed in a stand mixer to loosen it up, then gradually add ½ cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well blended. Beat the flour and baking powder in at low speed in small additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Make sure all the flour is incorporated – you can use a spatula to blend it in if needed. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it into an even layer over the bottom. Spread the blueberries in an even layer over the base.
  3. Stir the sour cream, remaining ½ cup sugar, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and nutmeg together until smooth and spread the mix over the blueberries in the pan, creating an even layer. It’s okay if some berries are peaking through.
  4. Bake the torte for 1 hour until the edges are golden. The very center may still be slightly jiggly, but overall the top should be firm and set. Cool the torte on a wire rack to keep the base from getting soggy, then place it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  5. Run a thin knife around the edges of the torte, then release the ring, slice and serve.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/