Blueberry Cake with Lemon Crème Fraîche for July 4th

With the long July 4th weekend almost here, I’m certain many cooks are finalizing their menus for outdoor meals. Grilling, naturally, will take center stage, whether juicy burgers, marinated chicken, spice-rubbed steaks, barbecued ribs, or fresh fish fillets. Favorite potato or pasta salads and summer vegetables will be set on the table too. And then there is dessert. For this mid-summer holiday, I believe that there are two requirements. The chosen confection should be special, and it should feed a family generously with seconds. Blueberry Cake with Lemon Crème Fraîche meets both these Continue reading

Betty Rosbottom is giving zoom cooking classes at The Baker’s Pin Cooking School!

I’m thrilled to let everyone know that I’ll be giving zoom cooking classes starting in July at The Baker’s Pin Cookware Shop and School in Northampton, Ma,. In my Paris Summer Cooking class, you’ll see how easily you can make  dishes like grilled lamb chops topped with pats of delicious Béarnaise butter plus delectable lemon and white chocolate mousse parfaits with raspberries. You can also travel to the south of France virtually with me in the Glorious Provencal Dinner class where a fabulous Salade nicoise with grilled tuna steaks will be the main attraction. And, for a simple yet irresistible summer meal, sign up for Best Ever Backyard Cooking and discover how quickly you can prepare pork tenderloins with fresh peach salsa served with 5-minute roasted sugar snaps and sesame ginger cole slaw.

To see the cooking class schedule and sign up, click hereSince zoom classes have no geographic boundaries, I hope I’ll be able to greet many of you  from western Massachusetts, and from other parts of the country too!

Let’s cook well, eat well, and hopefully all stay well!   Betty

 

 

 

Favorite Dishes for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day almost at hand, many of us are planning celebrations outdoors. I’ve turned for inspiration to The Big Book of Backyard Cooking, which I authored back in 2004. The recipes in this collection always seem to please my husband, the dad and granddad in our family. He loves any dish if coded with the letters BLT, plus slow-cooked barbecued ribs, grilled lamb chops or rib-eye steaks simply garnished, homemade or purchased artisanal ice creams, and any summer dessert that includes cherries or peaches. Looking through the book, it didn’t take long to find a trio of dishes certain to please his palate. Lamb Chops with Roquefort, Figs, and Rosemary, BLT Pasta Salad, and Best Ever Caramel Sauce that could be used for peach sundaes jumped off the page.

The recipe for the lamb chops is just as tempting today as it was over  a decade ago. Wine marinated lamb chops (either loin or rib) are grilled and then topped with crumbled Roquefort, wine-soaked figs, and chopped rosemary. The slightly charred meat combined with the salty cheese, sweet fruit, plus an herbal accent of rosemary makes a stellar dish.

For the pasta salad, crispy bacon, multi-hued cherry or grape tomatoes, and coarsely chopped arugula are the primary accents to a cooked pasta such as farfalle or penne, all tossed in a Parmesan mayonnaise dressing. This side dish can be assembled an hour ahead and makes a fine partner not only to lamb, but to grilled chicken or steaks as well.

I’ve never met a caramel sauce I didn’t like, but this one, due to the addition of cream cheese and butter, is noteworthy for its extra creaminess. For sundaes you place a couple of scoops of purchased vanilla ice cream in a bowl or wine glass (I used small glass canning jars minus lids), then top with fresh sliced peaches, and a generous drizzle of caramel.

Happy Father’s Day this Sunday, June 21st, to all the dads and granddads out there!

 

 

A Simple French Cake Becomes My Go-To Recipe

During the lockdown when I was cooking three meals a day, some recipes became staples—especially desserts. One was an Extra Easy Brown Butter Almond Cake. My husband likes it so much that now even with things opening up, he is still asking me to bake it. As the name implies, it’s exceptionally easy and doesn’t call for any hard- to- find ingredients. I’ve made it twice in the last few weeks!

The batter for this cake is based on one used in France for those special confections called financiers, mouthwatering small cakes prepared with brown butter, sugar, flour, and almonds. They take their name from the brokers (financiers) who bought them in Paris’ financial district. My friend, Tina Isaac, who lives in Paris, introduced me to a simpler version of this classic. She bakes the batter in a single pan rather than in the traditional smaller molds.

I’d offer two caveats when baking this dessert. The oven temperature of 450 degrees F is quite high so if you have an oven thermometer be sure to confirm the temperature.  Also, following the recipe you’ll find a cooking tip that it is best to avoid using a dark metal baking pan as it causes the cake to cook too quickly on the sides.

Served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar, this golden “gateau” is versatile. Pair it with scoops of ice cream or a bowl of fresh berries, or drizzle it with your favorite chocolate ganache. Right now, I’m garnishing this cake with juicy sliced strawberries and dollops of vanilla-scented whipped cream. I think of it as a French version of our quintessential summer dessert–strawberry shortcake.

 

 

 

Roasted Cod with Tomatoes and Guacamole Salsa for Lighter Summer Cooking

Photo by Susie Cushner

After the Memorial Day holiday when we indulged in grilled burgers and steaks, I knew we needed some lighter fare at our house. I was thinking fish, but my spouse is a picky eater when it comes to seafood. He loves shellfish, but is not crazy about fish with fins! Since my local grocery has displayed beautiful cod almost every week during this pandemic, I’ve ordered some fillets. I have a special recipe in mind—Roasted Cod with Tomatoes and Chunky Guacamole Salsa.

I drizzle the fillets with lime juice, top them with sliced tomatoes, and then Continue reading

Three Special Dishes for Memorial Day Cooking

Although Massachusetts has partially re-opened, our restaurants are still closed for dining so most home cooks are preparing meals or ordering out. With Memorial Day weekend here, I thought my readers might enjoy some recipes to celebrate this holiday that marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Cheeseburgers with roasted jalapeno peppers, potato salad with sautéed chorizo and chives, plus lime and ginger cream cheese bars are all tried–and-true favorites my family and friends have enjoyed over the years.

For the burgers, I use a hefty third of a pound of ground beef (rather than my usual quarter pound), and top them with plenty of cheese—Spanish Mahon, a good sharp white cheddar, or even Havarti. It’s the jalapenos, though, that make these sandwiches special. Halved and de-seeded and Continue reading

Two Easy Spring Soups for Light Suppers

Since the lockdown began in Massachusetts, at various times, my local supermarkets have run low or run out of cornmeal, chicken stock, lentils, pastas, milk, flour, butter, and my husband’s favorite local ice cream. Sometimes there’s been no chicken breasts or thighs, no pork chops or tenderloins, and no ground beef, ingredients that often anchor our evening meals.  Now with meat processing plants either being shut or unable to run at full capacity due to the virus, I wonder if there will be more restricted offerings at the meat counter. If so, I plan to make light soups with a touch of seafood or meats as garnishes and serve them for supper along with a seasonal salad.

Asparagus Soup with Crème Fraiche and Lemon plus “Twenty -Minute” Brodo with Ravioli, Chard, and Parmigiano are easy to prepare and can be Continue reading

Making Scrumptious Brunch Dishes for Mother’s Day

In 2012, I wrote a book called Sunday Brunch that included a collection of recipes for that popular mid-morning meal. Whenever I am asked to pick a favorite recipe from this book (or any other, for that matter), I typically respond that I love them all! Many readers, however, make their favorites well known to me, and for this book, the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Warm Blueberry Sauce as well as the Gratin of Leeks Eggs, Bacon and St André Cheese were the recipes they liked best. So, with a Mother’s Day brunch in mind, I’ve included the directions for both.

Ricotta cheese gives the golden pancakes their rich, smooth texture, while a generous addition of lemon zest provides a light, citrus accent. The scrumptious blueberry sauce that accompanies these griddlecakes is easy to assemble, and can be prepared three days ahead and reheated at serving time. (By now, most of you who follow my blog must have figured out that I love lemon and blueberry combinations. See recipe for No Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce here.) Continue reading

Turning Rotisserie Chicken into Delicious New Dishes

Pre-pandemic, on busy days when I had no time to cook, I often put one of those ubiquitous rotisserie chickens in my cart for dinner. Typically, I carved the bird and served it drizzled with some of the juices collected in its plastic container. Simple sides, roasted asparagus sprinkled with sea salt and quick couscous scented with a pinch of saffron or turmeric would complete a meal. Now, I am looking at that same rotisserie fowl with a different eye, re-purposing it to make more interesting dishes. 

A spring casserole prepared with diced chicken, snow peas, and sautéed mushrooms is a new all-in-one main course that I created recently for supper. Chicken salad with chutney, lime, and cilantro is tempting served on its own or used for open-faced sandwiches. Finally, a soup prepared with Continue reading

Extra Thin, Extra Easy Oatmeal Cookies For Easy Baking

My book club canceled its March meeting due to the pandemic, but after several of us starting using Zoom, we decided to organize a virtual meeting on-line. Our first gathering took place this week with eleven of our twelve members prominently displayed, gallery style, on the screens of our computers. After a lively discussion of our book selection, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (which we all liked!), we drifted into conversations about day-to day-life, sheltering in. How we were having tele-visits rather than office visits with doctors, how we were dealing with unwanted gray roots in the era of closed salons (most were using DIY home kits), and where we were grocery shopping and what we were cooking. Several members, especially those who like to bake, were discouraged that flour was in short supply in many of our local stores.

Later that night, thinking about the flour shortage, I had a eureka moment, recalling that I had recently baked a batch of delicious oatmeal cookies that Continue reading