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The Circle B Kitchen has been blogging since September, 2009.  We have loads of recipes and thoughts on food to share in the coming weeks and months, so come back and check in often!  We love hearing from you and hope you'll leave a comment or shoot an email our way.  Whether you have questions about a recipe or the site in general, please let us know...    Contact me at      pberry@circle-B-kitchen.com

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Some of Our Favorite Summertime Things!

         3- Berry Crumble

       Peach Caprese Salad

        Summer Tomato Tart

     Fresh Sour Cherry Cobbler

Arugula, Peach and Blue Cheese Salad

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Shortcake

         Paella on the Grill!

     Grilled Nacho Burger

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa

     Fresh Peach Pudding Cake

   Summer White Bean Salad



     Swordfish Provencal

Bacon-Guacamole Salmon Burger

      Circle B BBQ'd Chicken

And just in case you were wondering...



Our oldest daughter, Erin, has been riding, training and showing horses since she was a teenager.  She graduated from Colorado St. University with a degree in Equine Science and is now Financial and Administrative Manager for HETRA (Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Association), which provides therapy through horseback riding for children and adults with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, brain tumors, head injuries, blindness, autism, and strokes.  For more information or to donate to this amazing cause, please visit http://www.hetra.org/ .



Entries in dessert (18)


Homemade Orange Sherbet

Pardon me as I wax a bit nostalgic for a moment here, but for me, summertime in the ‘hood back in the 50’s and 60’s was just plain fun; the ‘hood being a middle class neighborhood in a suburb of L.A.  Our particular neighborhood was peopled with working class families with lots of post-war kids, and if you can even imagine it, not one electronic device other than our big ol’ radios and black and white TV’s.  Which meant that summer evenings were spent playing freeze tag and kick ball and waiting for the ice cream truck to make its way over to our street.  I’ve always been pretty up front about my age, but if this doesn’t make me sound old, I just don’t know what. 

But back then it was always a tough decision to have to choose between fudgsicles, popsicles, drumsticks, ice cream sandwiches, Eskimo Pies, and one of my personal favorites…the creamsicle or 50-50 bar, which was half vanilla ice cream and half orange sherbet.  I think I most often ended up with that 50-50 bar, and for years ever after, I’ve had an orange sherbet crush, made all the better if I can pair it up with some vanilla ice cream.  And which probably led to my total and complete addiction to the Orange Julius in high school. 

But here’s the thing… to me, orange sherbet just isn’t quite what it used to be.  It could be all the additives and artificial ingredients that get thrown into it nowadays, or it could just be a selective memory thing, or maybe it really was better back then.  Hard to say, but I decided it was high time I made some up just to see if I could replicate those sherbet flavors of my youth. 

But why isn’t it spelled sherbert?

I started with a recipe from my Cuisinart ice cream maker (very forgettable); moved on to one from Alton Brown (better, but still not quite there) and then landed on this one from Fine Cooking.  Score!!  Oh man, is this stuff good.  Super bright and orange-y, balanced with just the right amount of creaminess and the perfect sweet to tangy ratio, and in my humble opinion, maybe even better than my beloved childhood sherbet.  

We’re going to start with fresh oranges, which, of course, is what this sherbet is all about, although one time I swapped out a few of the fresh oranges for some fresh-squeezed, organic tangerine juice and it was amazing!! 

Then we’re going to zest up a few of those oranges and infuse this stuff with even more orangey-ness, which is what I think sends it right over the edge of sherbet mediocrity and into orange sherbet legend.  

Of course, you don’t have to dredge up some sappy childhood memories from the 50’s to get excited about orange sherbet.  It’s just pretty much one of those cold summertime treats that's ever so easy to love.  Here’s the recipe…

Homemade Orange Sherbet

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe Courtesy Fine Cooking 

At the risk of setting your expectations impossibly high, I’m still going to say that this may be some of the best orange sherbet you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.  It’s bright and citrusy and creamy and sweet and tangy all at the same time and all of that is so perfectly balanced and just so good.  The only change I made to the recipe was to use half and half instead of cream.  We loved it, but if you’re game for using the cream, I can only imagine how even more creamy and wondrous it would be.  Please DO use fresh-squeezed orange juice.  From real, fresh oranges.  Mostly because of the fresh orange flavor, but also because you absolutely cannot skip the step where you steep the orange zest to make this even more awesomely orange.  Lovely stuff. 

10 medium navel oranges (about 5 lb.)
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half) 

Finely grate enough zest from the oranges to yield 2 Tbs., and then squeeze the oranges to yield 3 cups juice. 

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the zest, 1 cup of the juice, and the sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Strain though a fine sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on the zest; discard the zest. 

Strain the remaining orange juice and the lemon juice into the bowl, and then whisk in the heavy cream. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. 

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the sherbet to an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

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Blueberry Breakfast Cobbler

A sure sign that life has become just a bit too busy has to be the moment when getting sick seems something like a possible vacation.  None of us ever wish ourselves to be truly ill, but it seems I’ve contracted a chesty coughing virus that requires me to stop everything and rest.  Resting, and its distant cousin, relaxing, are a decidedly foreign concept in my life, so having it imposed upon me, is, dare I say it, a rather appealing prospect. 

And here’s the bonus… it’s fall and chilly and it just started raining and I can’t think of anything better right now than curling up with a cup of tea, a cozy blanket and a pile of food magazines and cookbooks that I’ve not had the time to peruse.  And being a bit under the weather affords me an excuse to do just that, minus the guilt that might normally accompany such behavior.  I know myself well enough to know that the minute I’m feeling even the slightest bit better I’ll be up and working my way down the chore list once again.  But for now, I get to indulge a bit and it’s kinda nice. 

And speaking of nice, how about some scrumptious blueberry breakfast cobbler?  (shameless seamless segue into today’s post)… 

Actually, this cobbler was way beyond just nice.  It was so awesome and so delicious and just so right and exactly what I was hoping for on the morning in question, in which I had blueberries and was wanting something like coffee cake but not really wanting anything sweet and cake-y.  I was looking for something a bit more rustic and earthy so I grabbed a blueberry coffee cake recipe, left out the eggs, did a little layering, and what resulted was exactly what I was hoping for…something more related to a cobbler (which I am choosing to call it); a bit biscuit-y but still moist and oh so very good.  This rarely happens when I’m in the kitchen first thing in the morning, which makes this cobbler all the more miraculous. 

And who doesn’t love cobbler for breakfast?   But if baking first thing in the a.m. isn’t your deal (it really isn’t mine either), this can be assembled the night (or day) before and baked off in the morning, which qualifies it for rock star cobbler status around here. 

In the meantime, it’s still raining.  I’m going to go make some chicken soup and then it’s back to the couch.  My chore list for the day says “rest”, and I’m feeling very productive.    

Update to the above which was written several days ago… I'm so over the whole resting thing.  I’ve had enough rest to last me for the next decade, and yet, curiously, am still enjoying the company of this virus which the doc assures me will be with me for a few more days yet.  To cheer myself up, I’m making a blueberry cobbler for breakfast.  Here’s the recipe…

Blueberry Breakfast Cobbler 

Click here for a printable recipe

This scrumptious breakfast treat is loaded with blueberry goodness and has a slightly crunchy top from the sprinkling of raw sugar.  The recipe calls for fresh blueberries, but if you all you have are frozen, no worries.  If you’re going to make this in the morning, place your frozen blueberries on a cookie sheet lined with double paper towels the night before.  They’ll be nicely thawed and ready to use in the morning, turning them out onto a dry paper towel to soak up any excess moisture.  And don’t forget to put the butter on the counter the night before too!  If you'd like to assemble the whole thing the night before.  Just get it all put together, stick it in the fridge and bake it off first thing.  If it's still chilled from the fridge, it only takes 5 minutes longer in the oven.

You will need 3 bowls (1 largish, 1 medium and 1 smallish) and a 9-inch baking dish

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
zest from 1 large lemon (optional, but yummy)
7/8 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (see headnote)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon raw sugar for sprinkling on top 

Preheat the oven to 350º F 

Grease a 9” square baking dish 

1.  In the large-ish bowl, cream together the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in the buttermilk. 

2.  Place the blueberries in the small-ish bowl.

3.  Place the 2 cups of flour in the medium bowl, and then remove 1 or 2 tablespoons of the flour and add it to the blueberries in the small-ish bowl and toss those together to coat the blueberries.  You can mix a tablespoon of sugar in with the blueberries if you'd like.

4.  Add the baking powder and salt to the flour in the medium bowl and whisk to combine. 

3.  Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir to combine.  The batter will be fairly stiff.

5.  Spread ½ of the batter into the prepared pan and then top that with the blueberries.  Using your fingers, place the rest of the batter on top, doing your best to cover the blueberries, but it’s OK if there are gaps. (If the dough seems too sticky, I dip my fingers in flour).  Sprinkle the top of the batter with the raw sugar.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top begins to brown ever so slightly (you don’t want the top to get very brown).  Let cool briefly before serving.  Note:  in my oven it takes 45 minutes to bake perfectly; 50 minutes if it's still a little chilled from the fridge.

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3-Berry Crumble

I know you’ve all been there… You have this amazing food experience that is inextricably woven with a memorable setting, an incredible dining partner or just an unforgettable mood or ambiance that leaves you wondering if that meal or that certain dish might have tasted differently in another setting or at another moment in time or with someone else.  

Such was the case for me with this scrumptious berry cobbler.  I threw it together on a whim just because I had berries I wanted to use up and I’d had this recipe in the file for like 30 years and it was time to get it made up.  I only had enough berries to make half a recipe, which was fine because it was just the two of us.  When I tell you that this is an easy dessert to assemble, I'm not even kidding... 10 minutes tops  No crust to make, nothing tricky, especially if you've got a food processor.

So after watching the most recent episodes of Outlander a couple of weeks ago, we grabbed two spoons and that little cobbler up there and went out onto the porch on a warm summer’s evening and proceeded to eat the entire thing, all the while being serenaded by a million crickets and entertained by the last couple of fireflies of the season, twinkling and dancing in the moonlight. 

We were completely and totally blown away by how good this cobbler was and were still talking about it the next morning.  But I had a niggling sense that on such an evening at such a moment with that particular guy sitting next to me, a bowl of cheerios might have seemed magical. 

So before I could sell this to you as the spectacularly delicious dessert I remembered, I was just going to have to make it again.  To determine if it was as good as I remembered, I wanted an objective experience of this cobbler and decided to take a scientific approach in order to be completely sure.  I hadn’t thought to eat this second crumble by myself in a dark room, but I sort of planned that this taste test would be a bit more clinical than our experience two weeks ago.

So last night after we finished watching the most recent episodes of Outlander, we grabbed a couple of spoons and headed out to the porch and a gorgeous summer evening in which a million crickets serenaded us with... um.  I pretty much suck at science.  But lucky for us, I am apparently very good at making berry crumbles.  It was every bit as good as we remembered, but to be truly convinced, I guess you’ll have to try it for yourself.  Here’s the recipe…

3-Berry Crumble 

Click here for a printable recipe

This is such an incredibly delicious dessert for so little effort.  The crunchy, caramel-y topping is just ever so good next to those sweet, juicy berries.  I added a little mulberry jam to the fruit and it created a wonderfully jammy texture to the fruit.  As I mentioned below, you can quickly and easily make the crumble topping for this in the food processor.  One note of caution... do not use more berries than the recipe calls for as that will throw off the ratio of crumble to filling which makes this so good.  If you're making 1/2 recipe, reduce the baking time to about 25 or 30 minutes.

4-6 cups of fresh berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4  cup blackberry, blueberry or raspberry jam (optional)

The Topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick cold butter 

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Toss the berries with the flour and sugar and stir in the jam. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish, preferably rather shallow (more surface area for the crumble). 

For the topping: Mix together flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut butter into small pieces. Using your hands, work in butter until large, moist clumps form.  (you can do this in the food processor, pulsing several times until you have pea-sized clumps). 

Crumble the topping over the berry mixture. 

Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and light golden brown. 

Serves 6-8

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Coconut Macaroon Pie

You know how you sometimes have things all planned and locked in and you’re all ready to press the launch button and then without warning you get completely and totally yanked out of that plan by something so awesomely incredible that you get whiplash from the suddenness of the u-turn you just executed?  Yeah, me too. 

In fact, that very thing just happened to me yesterday.  No kidding.  I was all set to post some amazingly fun and delicious edamame recipes when I happened to be perusing the L.A. Times recipe section and came face to face with a photo of this coconut macaroon pie.  Within 2 hours I had one cooling on my kitchen counter.  It wouldn’t have taken me so long, but I decided to take some photos along the way… just in case. 

And boy howdy am I ever glad I did because that meant I could waste no time sharing this experience with you.  And what an experience it is.  I mean, it starts with how ridiculously easy this pie is to make.  If you happen to have some coconut in your pantry, then you probably can make it right now, especially if you’re one who likes to make your own pie crusts.  But maybe you have one of those in your freezer or something. 

The best part of the whole coconut macaroon pie experience though, is of course, that first bite.  I was totally unprepared for how those simple ingredients had conspired together to create this luscious coconut custard, topped with that crisp, browned coconut.  As much as I love coconut macaroons, and I do, I’ve never had one that tasted like this. 

And when I say this pie is easy, I mean it.  Easy as pie.  Sorry. 

Let’s start with the crust.  I’ve been making pie crusts for over 30 years, so I can pretty much throw one out in my sleep (here’s my recipe), but use a store-bought one if that’s your preference.

 Once you get your pie crust in place, 

we’re going to whisk together a couple of eggs, a little flour, water, salt, butter, sugar and coconut. 

And then we’re going to add my secret weapon to make this pie even more spectacular.  Ready? 

Yep.  Coconut extract.  It wasn’t in the original recipe, but I cannot make a coconut pie or cake without it.  We’re not talking imitation flavoring.  Your pie will be better if you leave that out.  No, we’re talking about the real deal… extract.  It’s a bit hard to find, but if you’re determined, you can order it online or find yourself a spice shop that carries it. 

Then we’re going to pour that lovely coconut mixture into your pie crust and sprinkle the top with more coconut. 

Then we’re going to bake it, let it cool and slice it up.  It’s that easy. 

Oh, and if you really must, but it sure doesn’t need it, you can drizzle your slice with a little chocolate. 

I hope I’ve persuaded you as to the deliciousness of a coconut macaroon pie.  My fear, actually, is that I’ve over-sold it.   Perhaps I’ve raised your expectations so high that no pie could possibly meet them.  This is, in truth, a very simple pie with very simple ingredients that just happens to be crazy good. Guess I’ll just stick with that.  Here’s the recipe…

Coconut Macaroon Pie

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from Saddlebag Lake Resort 
  via the L.A. Times

As I mentioned in my post, I added coconut extract, but if you can't find it, I'm sure it will be fine without it.  Also, it took my pie the full hour to bake, and then I had to turn the oven up to 350 for the last 5 minutes.  Every oven is different, so check your pie at 45 minutes, but it may take a bit longer.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (not flavoring)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut, plus extra for sprinkling over the top of the pie if desired.
Unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, sugar, coconut extract, flour, salt and butter. Fold in the vlaked coconut. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell, and top with a little extra coconut if desired to brown as the pie bakes.

Place the pie in the oven and bake until lightly golden and the custard is set (it will jiggle only slightly when tapped), 45 to 55 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. If the pie colors too quickly before it is set, loosely tent with foil.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

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One Perfect Bite

I was watching a Top Chef episode not long ago wherein the chefs had been challenged to create “one perfect bite” for the judges.  Of course their little bites were mostly pretty complex in terms of flavors and ingredients, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes a perfect bite can be insanely simple and un-complex; this little Clementine being a case in point. 

There are few things that aren’t made better by a little chocolate, so this isn’t all that much of a stretch, but little Clementine segments really are the perfect little bite-sized vehicle for chocolate-dipping.  Adding some toasted almonds and a sprinkle of sea salt creates a lovely, complex burst of flavor that takes it right over the edge of yumminess into Greatness.  Well, that’s what I think anyway. 

So before the little clementines take their leave for another season, might I suggest taking them for a little chocolate dunk?  Here’s the recipe…

Chocolate-Dipped Clementines with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt

Click here for a printable recipe

You can use any kind of sweet tangerine for this.  I had some “Cuties” on hand and they worked well, but any seedless mandarin would be great.  And if you don’t have any flaked sea salt, you can use kosher salt or coarse-grained sea salt.  I prefer to eat these as soon as the chocolate hardens.  If they sit out too long, the tangerine segments have a tendency to start to dry out.  They’re still good, but not quite as juicy.  The measurements here a just approximations.  You can add more nuts or chocolate to suit your own tastes.

For 2 Clementines:

1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds (or more, if you'd like)
flaked sea salt for sprinkling

Peel the clementines and separate the segments.

Place a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on a flat plate or baking sheet.

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20-second intervals until they're smooth and melted.  Stir in the chopped nuts.

Dip half of each clementine segment in the melted chocolate and place on the wax paper.  Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt.

When all of the clementines are dipped, place them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.  It will harden at room temperature in about an hour.  These are best if eaten right away.

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