A thick slice of warm sweet cake…

A thick slice of warm sweet cake…

Oh, my, my! It’s time to bake and share…. You know, those gifts that you have ready when you need something for a friend at work, or a favorite neighbor. My recipe for Blueberry Poppy Seed Loaf with Jammin’ Berry Jam fits the bill for a bake a share holiday treat. An excellent way to present this sweet and heavenly loaf of thoughtfulness is to wrap it in a linen kitchen towel, and tie it off with a sprig of holly.

Visually it works, and taste bud wise it totally works. I can all but guarantee nothing’s better with your morning skinny latte than a thick slice of warm, sweet cake with a slather of tart berry jam. It’s a combo that makes your tongue want to slap the roof of your mouth!

The jam is super fresh, owing that to a total of two pints of fresh blue and blackberries, zesty citrus and hint of mint.

This recipe works well, printed out and tucked into the gift of a new electric mixer. In my book, SUNDAY BEST DISHES, I recommend this Kitchen Aid – and since you’re already on Amazon, go ahead and get my cookbook while you’re at it. I can guarantee a personalized bookplate if you order before Christmas. But without further adieu…

Blueberry Poppy Seed Loaf

with Jammin’ Berry Jam

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

 

Loaf

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon table salt

½ cups whole milk

⅓ cup canola oil

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the milk, canola oil and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in almond and vanilla extracts. Mix in the flour. Stir in the poppy seeds and blueberries until just combined. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake until the loaf is golden on the top and a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely.

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Jam

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh blackberries

½ cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 medium lime, about 1 to 2 teaspoons

Juice of 1 large lime, about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Place the berries, sugar, lime zest and juice into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the berries are mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the mint and cook until the berries break down completely, about 5 minutes more. Pour the jam into a bowl and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

 

Summertime and the Peach Desserts are Easy…

Summertime and the Peach Desserts are Easy…

Summer screams for ice cream, and ice cream screams for bold new flavors. While walking through the Farmer’s Market last Saturday, I came to a popsicle stand advertising the most interesting flavors: Lavender Chocolate, Roasted Blueberry, Thyme & Lime. It was fascinating! Inspired by these unique combinations, and having just bagged loads of juicy, fresh peaches, I embarked on a little ice cream screamin’ myself!

First, I decided to roast the peaches. Since I never roasted peached before, this was a bit of a trial. I preheated the oven to 400°, and divided my sliced peaches into groups. I placed half on parchment paper (on a baking sheet), and the other half on the sheet itself. Here they are in glorious detail:

Then I divided these groups, and sprinkled half with brown sugar. I placed the pan in the oven and waited. After 5 minutes, the peaches began to break down, but did not appear to brown. I waited 5 minutes more, and noticed that the peaches with brown sugar were beginning to brown. After a total of 12 minutes, the group with brown sugar looked perfect. Success!

Now for the ice cream! In my book, Sunday Best Dishes, I have a recipe for Salted Caramel Ice Cream. It involves caramelizing the sugar before you mix it into the custard. It sounds hard, but it’s really not. I made the caramel ice cream base (without the salt) and stirred in the peach puree. Let me just tell you I am really delighted with the results. And, I think you will be too.

What this recipe really shows is first how easy it is to make ice cream at home and secondly, how easy it is to make your own inspirational ice cream at home, using your favorite flavors and whatever is in season. I encourage you to give it a try and share your screamin’ ice cream with your fellow foodies here at Jorj.com.

Roasted Peach and Caramel Ice Cream

Serves a crowd

30 Minute Cuisine plus cooling and chilling

Roasting fresh picked peaches intensifies the flavor and gives them a hint of smokiness. Caramelizing the sugar intensifies the sweetness. Seems to me, it’s a match made in ice cream heaven!

6 to 8 medium peaches, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 cups half and half

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

6 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 425°. Place the sliced peaches onto a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the peaches, and gently toss. Roast the peaches until they begin to break down and turn golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the peaches to a blender and puree. You will get about 2 cups of really yummy peach puree.

Heat the half and half, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat, until little bubbles begin to form on the sides of the pan, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Heat the sugar in a separate saucepan pan with ¼ cup water, over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat and bring the sugar to a boil. Continue boiling until the sugar begins to turn caramel in color, about 8 minutes. Gently swirl the pan to make sure that the sugar colors evenly.

Now, here is the tricky part. SLOWLY pour the warm half and half into the caramel. As it first blends, the hot caramel will bubble up and expand up the sides of the pan. Stop pouring until the bubbles settle down, and then pour in the rest of the half and half.

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Carefully pour about ¼ cup of the caramel half and half into the eggs, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg yolks and help to prevent them from scrambling. Pour the tempered egg yolks into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir until the caramel custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Pour the custard through a fine sieve (or colander) into a clean bowl. Stir in the peach puree. Place that bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes. Chill the peach custard, stirring occasionally, until it comes to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Cover the custard with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Place the custard into the bowl of your ice cream maker and freeze according to the directions for your machine. Serve immediately, or place the ice cream into an airtight container in the freezer. When you serve it it’ll look like this, PEACHY KEEN:

Jen’s Soft Peanut Brittle was Very Yummy Indeed

Jen’s Soft Peanut Brittle was Very Yummy Indeed

The operative word here is “was”. The half-pound bag of peanut brittle I ordered from Maricopa, Arizona was briefly admired and quickly scarfed down. Jen’s Soft Peanut Brittle is a home business, owned and operated by NANA Network fan, Jenny Gould Gibbs Mertes. She’s a writer by day and candy maker by night. Actually, I should ask her to clarify that – maybe it’s the other way around! Jenny is a fiction editor at Brighton Publishing, with a dual love of grammar and baking.

Here’s what she has to say about her product. Jorj.com sat down with her, after she made batches of extra soft peanut brittle for a client with braces. Her company is just that special J:

 

“I find joy in creating a product that makes people smile. Every time someone does a taste test and walks out with a plate of candy and a big grin, saying they’ve never tasted anything so good, I feel fulfilled. I’m making a unique product that’s unlike the usual peanut brittle, and those happy reactions and repeat business prove I’m doing something right. I get some of the same joy from editing, but not in the same way. I know I’m improving a product and making a positive difference, but my clients may feel like they’ve been corrected by their favorite English teacher. I have to be even handed with my praise and my corrections because writers tend to be fragile creatures. Candy customers, on the other hand, are easy to please!

 

Why thank you, Jenny! As someone who has a real sweet tooth (and I’m sure I speak for a lot of my fellow Nanas and grands), I’ll take that as a compliment. I was delighted to discover Jenny’s product tasted like a GREAT BIG peanut butter cookie – every shard melts in your mouth. I absolutely loved the big, chewy nuts in each piece. Since the majority of Jenny’s candy is purchased and enjoyed within her own AZ zip code, she generally doesn’t ship out of state; I was happy to be that rare exception. The peanut brittle arrived looking like this:

 

My household used the crumbled parts in smoothies, which was awwww….some!

Here’s the info you’ll need to join the peanut gallery: $5.00 for 1/2 lb. If you buy a whole pound, you get $1 off. That’s only $9 for one pound of the best-tasting Soft Peanut Brittle ever! https://www.facebook.com/SoftPeanutBrittle4You/

Thanks for letting us do this review. We’ll look for you every day on social media!