Tuesday, January 17, 2012

blackberry crumble

Have you seen the abundance of blackberries in your super market yet? Well, I saw stacks of these gloriously large blackberries the other morning and simply had to buy them. There were loads of blackberries, which lead me to believe that it must be blackberry season somewhere – Mexico perhaps? Blackberry season in California is May to October, this is January! Anyway, once I got these purple black beauties home, it was time to figure out what I was going to do with them.

I wanted a simple and quick recipe, one that the sweet flavor of the blackberries would not be lost in. A blackberry crumble seemed like the perfect recipe. The juicy blackberries cook into a sweet crunchy crumble topping and it is so easy to make. Once cooked, it can be served warm or at room temperature. I ate it by the spoonfuls for two days.

This blackberry crumble recipe is perfect as a desert or for breakfast. Blackberries are one of the top ten foods containing antioxidants, so you will feel good about eating this crumble.

Adapted from at home with magnolia


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces

4 cups (1 pound) blackberries, washed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-teaspoon cornstarch


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the crumble: In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugars. Using your fingers, mix in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, carefully toss the blackberries with the sugar and cornstarch until evenly coated. Spoon filling into a 2-½ quart casserole dish or 8 x 8 square pan. Sprinkle crumble evenly over filling. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature. Try it with whip cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

italian sausage and basil red sauce with rigatoni pasta

My hubby and I recently celebrated our five-year anniversary of marriage. When we met nearly 9 years ago (yes, it took us a while to get hitched), we were both single parents. It was with great discovery to learn that he too enjoyed cooking past with red sauce for dinner on Sunday’s. During our time dating, he taught me how to cook his red sauce, one that he learned from his previous Italian mother in-law. On Sundays, I would assist him with cooking his red sauce. As time carried on, I slowly began adding in ingredients from my pasta sauce recipe, thus creating a marriage of red sauce!

By the way, we eloped to Las Vegas and celebrate every anniversary by renewing our marriage vows in Las Vegas...ahhhh!

Photo taken at Little Church of the West in Las Vegas, NV on our 5 year anniversary 11/18/11.
Our red sauce is hearty, full of flavor from spicy sausage, full-bodied red wine, tomatoes, and basil. Served on large sized pasta such as rigatoni or cellentani (a corkscrew pasta) along warm fresh sourdough bread, is all that you need for a satisfying dinner.

We like our red sauce with a kick of spice, which it gets from the spicy sausage and pinch of red pepper. If you prefer a less spicy sauce, you can easily switch to sweet sausage and omit the red pepper. Either way this red sauce is delizioso!

2-tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb Italian spicy sausage, casings removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes in puree
1 5 oz can tomato paste
2 cups full bodied red wine
¼ teaspoon red pepper
1 cup basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 boxes rigatoni

  • In large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil then add onion, carrots, and celery, cooking until soft for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add beef, turkey and sausage and cook until browned.
  • Add tomatoes, tomatoes paste, red wine, red pepper, basil, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Cook rigatoni pasta as directed on box.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and warm fresh sourdough bread.

This recipe makes a large portion of pasta and sauce. Freeze leftovers in a 9 x 13 casserole dish, top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan chesses, cover and freeze. To reheat, defrost, remove cover and cook in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

pizza tomato sauce, pizza dough, pizza margarite, and prosciutto and white truffle oil pizza

Pizza night for my family doesn’t always mean ordering pizza or heating a frozen pizza…it means we get to create our own pizzas and cook them in our wood-fire oven.

Entertaining has been especially fun with a wood-fire oven. Everyone gets to help in rolling out the dough and placing their own toppings on individual size pizzas. I place a variety of toppings, such as mushrooms, peppers, anchovies, pepperonis, Italian sausage, and cheeses out in small bowls. Our guest become very creative in making their own personal pizzas and it usually results in a pizza cook off contest.

I have experimented with several fresh pizza dough recipes and have even tried pre-made pizza dough, however this recipe had been the favorite and is the only pizza dough I make now.

This fresh pizza dough recipe creates a thin crispy crust that bubbles to perfection when cooked. It also cooks a lot quicker than a thicker crust pizza and allows the flavors of the toppings to be the hit!

My recipe calls for “00” flour, which is finely ground flour and can be purchased from an Italian mart or deli and even available o-line. Don’t be afraid to purchase extra since the flour can be frozen.

Although I cook my pizzas in a wood-fire oven, you will get almost the same results with a conventional oven using a pizza stone.

pizza tomato sauce

2-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 28 oz cans San Marzano whole tomatoes with juice
2 cups water
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1-teaspoon salt
1-tablespoon sugar

  • Using a blender or Cuisinart, puree tomatoes with juice. 
  • In a dutch oven or large saucepan, heat olive oil. 
  • Add pureed tomatoes, water, basil, salt and sugar to pan. 
  • Bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. 

Pizza dough

Adapted from Tuscano's

2 cups warm water (not hot)
1 ¼ teaspoon dry yeast
1-teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoon sugar
2-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 cups Italian “00” flour (can be purchased at an Italian deli or on-line)

  • In a mixing bowl, add the water, yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil. 
  • Whisk until the yeast is dissolved and let sit for approximately 2 minutes, until yeast has dissolved and mixture turns cloudy. This means the yeast has activated. 
  • Pour mixture into a mixer fitted with a dough hook. 
  • Start mixer on low speed and slowly start adding the flour. 
  • When all of the flour has been added, speed up the mixer and mix for approximately 1 minute, until a ball is formed. Normally, the ball will surround the hook. 
  • Remove the dough and place on a floured countertop and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. 
  • Divide the dough into 8 balls for large pizzas or 16 balls for individual size pizzas. 
  • Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 15 minutes. 
  • The dough is now ready to use. 
Pizza crust

  • Dust a smooth working surface with flour. 
  • Place one pizza dough ball in the center of working station. 
  • Flatten the dough and shape into a disc with fingers. 
  • Next, roll the dough with a rolling pin, working from the center out all around the circle. 
  • Continue rolling until dough is thin. 
  • Place dough on a floured metal or wood pull. This is a tool used for wood-fire ovens. 
  • Assemble your pizza with toppings. 
Bake Pizza

  • Place the pizza in a wood-fire oven, away from the fire, and let bake several minutes, until edges have browned and cheese is bubbling. 
  • If using a conventional oven, place a pizza stone in center of the oven and pre-heat oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. 
  • Place the pizza directly on the stone. 
  • Bake for approximately 6 minutes until brown on edges and cheese is bubbly. 
  • Place fresh toppings, such as basil, prosciutto, truffle oil, and tomatoes onto hot pizza. 

Pizza margarite

1 individual size ball of pizza dough
¼ cup pizza tomato sauce
1-cup low moisture shredded mozzarella cheese
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1-teaspoon fresh basil leaves, torn

  • Roll out pizza dough as instructed in pizza dough recipe. 
  • Top pizza with pizza tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and oregano 
  • Bake in wood-fire oven or conventional oven for approximately 6 minutes, or until edges are brown and cheese begins to bubble. 
  • Remove pizza from oven and top with fresh basil leaves. 
Prosciutto white truffle oil pizza

1 individual size ball of pizza dough
¼ cup pizza tomato sauce
1-cup low moisture shredded mozzarella cheese
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1-teaspoon fresh basil leaves, torn
2 slices prosciutto, torn
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil, suggest William Sonoma Olive Oil with White Truffle Essence

  • Roll out pizza dough as instructed in pizza dough recipe. 
  • Top pizza with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and oregano. 
  • Bake in wood-fire oven or conventional oven for approximately 6 minutes, or until edges are brown and cheese begins to bubble. 
  • Remove pizza from oven and place prosciutto, basil, and truffle oil on top of pizza.
Your family and friends are going to love creating their own pizzas and so will you!


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