Spiced Challah French Toast Stuffed with Wild Huckleberries and Cream

Believe it or not, this recipe is actually perfect for a morning campfire breakfast (assuming you have a cooler while camping). Whodathunk you could make such a decadent breakfast while camping? You can mix the eggs ahead of time and cook the toast on a skillet right over an open flame. On your morning trek, pick a few wild huckleberries, bring them back to the campsite and prepare this delicious breakfast.

What You’ll Need:

4 large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon butter
4 slices of day-old challah bread, 1” thick
½ cup fresh huckleberries
¼ cup cream cheese at room temperature
2 pomegranate pluots, plums, or plumcots for garnish, cut into wedges
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Maple syrup (optional, but highly recommended)

Combine the eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk until the egg yolks and whites are thoroughly combined.

Next, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, gently coat the challah slices in the egg mixture and lay flat on the skillet. You should hear a slight fizz when the challah touches the hot skillet. If you don’t, your skillet is not hot enough. Cook the toast until golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes each side.

Remove the toast from the skillet and gently spread the cream cheese on 1 side of 2 of the toasts. It is VERY important that the cheese is at room temperature - if it isn’t it will be too hard to spread and it will glob. Next, spread the huckleberries on top of the cream cheese. Place the undressed toasts on top of the cream cheese and huckleberries (you’re essentially making a sandwich).

Finally, garnish with pomegranate pluots (my personal favorite), plums, or plumcots. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over top and drizzle with maple syrup.

Serves: 2

Homemade Garden Herb Pasta with Linguica, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Brocolini

This past weekend, there was a break in the weather - I mean a significant break. The heavy-handed 95-degree heat gave way to a crisp rain and dense fog that slowly rolled through the pioneer valley. This recipe is perfect for those rare, and often appreciated, chilly summer nights when your appetite comes roaring back from the deep slumber of summer heat.

What You’ll Need:

For the Pasta:
1 cup white flour
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
pinch of salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

For the Sauce and Vegetables:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8 oz. smoked Linguica sausage, cut on the bias in ½” rings
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup fresh broccolini, roughly chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the pasta, place the flour, basil, thyme, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine with a fork until the herbs are evenly incorporated. Make a small well in the center of the flour. Crack the egg and yolk in the center of the well. Using a fork, whip the egg and yolk together, then slowly begin to incorporate the flour. Continue to mix until the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a rough ball and knead on a floured work surface until smooth, about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a plastic bag or covered bowl and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

When the dough has rested, cut it into 8 equal pieces. On a floured work surface, roll each piece out as thin as possible, like a sheet of paper. You should be able to see your hand through it. If you have a pasta machine, you can use that as well. Once your pasta is at the desired thinness, cut it into 1½” by 3½” rectangles. Lightly wet the end of one rectangle and stick the two ends together to form a tube (You can make a different shape if you prefer, this is just the shape I chose).

Set the formed pasta aside on a baking sheet. If you do not want to use the pasta right away, you can dry it and store it for later use. Dry it on a baking sheet for 24 hours then store in an airtight container.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sausage and veggies. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until just translucent and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the Linguica and garlic. Cover and cook until the oil from the Linguica is released and colors the onions to an orangish tinge. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and broccolini. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

At this point, the water for the pasta should be boiling. Place your homemade pasta into the boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes until done to your liking.

While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce - bring the heat back up to medium high, add the white wine and herbs. Cook, uncovered, until the wine is mostly evaporated, about 2 or 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Strain the pasta and serve immediately with the Linguica and vegetables. Top with shaved Asiago and Parmesan.

Serves 2-4

Avocado Potato Salad

Nothing says summertime quite like potato salad. My husband and I had just had a busy day in the garden: pulling weeds, watering, training our stubborn snow peas to climb, and setting up our calendula flowers for drying. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we started to think about dinner. As we sat back with a glass of wine, looking out over our garden and looking at the work we had just done, the only words I could utter were, “potato salad”. We went inside and quickly realized we had no mayonnaise… but we did have an avocado. This recipe was born. Enjoy this delicious twist on a classic with grilled chicken on top of a bed of fresh greens from the garden.

What You’ll Need:

2 large yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1” cubes
2 large red potatoes, diced into 1” cubes
2 ripe avocados
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dill
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the potatoes in the oiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the avocado. Peel the avocados and remove the seed. Place the pulp in a medium bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a fork until combined.

When the potatoes are tender, strain them through a colander or sieve. Add the strained potatoes to the avocado mixture and mix to coat the potatoes and chill until ready to serve.

Yield: about 3 to 4 pounds

Enroll in one of my workshops or sign up for my Jam, Jelly and Fruit Preserve CSA!

Want to learn how to create your own delicious jams an jellies? Sign up for my workshop to learn the ins and outs of canning fruit. Click here to sign up!

I've also started a Jam, Jelly and Fruit Preserve CSA! Now, you can enjoy fresh and tasty jams and jellies by signing up for Sweet Bea's Jam, Jelly and Fruit Preserve CSA. I source my fruit from local farms throughout Massachusetts, from Allendale Farm in Brookline to Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury.

For $175, you will receive 2 jars of jams, jellies, or preserves hand crafted by Sweet Bea herself each month from July through December. We ship them via USPS so you don't have to worry about pick-up dates. Payment is due by June 15th. To sign up, email me at sweetbeashc@gmail.com

Meyer Lemon and Rose Petal Marmalade

I never liked marmalade all that much. I remember my father preparing breakfast for me and my three sisters on a bright, late winter’s morning. He made himself a cup of coffee while he waited for the soft English muffins to pop out of the toaster. He lovingly spread orange marmalade on each side, put them on a plate and handed them to my sisters and me. “You have to try this! It’s delicious!” he said. His father was an English chef, so I suppose the love marmalade is natural. I had one bite and spit it out. I hated everything about it - the bitter sweetness, the chunky rinds, all of it.

Since citrus is so lovely this time of year, and really the only thing in season, I could only get so far without tackling a marmalade. I must admit, I was a little wary of getting back on that horse. I scoured recipes in all my cookbooks and the internet and I finally came across this lovely combination - meyer lemon and rose petals. The meyer lemons are sweeter than their cousins and the rose petals give this marmelade a lovely pink hue.

As I sat down to develop my own recipe, I remembered all the things I hated about traditional marmalade when I was a child. This time, I cut the rinds very thin into small strips. I also scrape off the pith from the rind to get rid of some of the bitterness. After all is said and done, I can say I have been converted. This lovely marmalade is fit for the Queen of England herself. Enjoy it on a sunny morning with a delicious blueberry scone and a cup of earl grey.  

What You’ll Need:
2 lbs Meyer lemons
3 ½ cups cane sugar
1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons dried rose petals

  1. Thoroughly wash each lemon. Using a sharp knife, cut off each end of the lemon. Gently cut along the rind from end to end, segmenting the rind in 4 or 5 pieces – do not cut all the way through, only cut through the rind. Peal the rind from the lemon and set the rinds aside. Cut the lemon in half then thinly slice, removing all seeds. Place the lemon slices in a large bowl. Place the seeds in a small bowl. Next, using a paring knife, gently scrape the pith from the rind and place in the small bowl with the seeds. Thinly slice the rind and place in the bowl with the lemon pieces. Pour the sugar over the lemon pieces and rinds. Stir until the lemons and rinds are evenly distributed and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let the lemons and sugar sit, unrefrigerated, overnight.
  2. The next day, pour the reserved seeds and pith into a jelly bag or a few layers of cheesecloth. Tie into a pouch. Most of the pectin is in the seeds and pith, so we will cook the marmalade with the pith and seeds for the pectin. Place a small, ceramic or glass plate in the freezer – we will use this to test the set of our marmalade later. Next, pour the lemon and sugar mixture into a large saucepot. Pour in the lemon juice.  
  3. Place the jelly bag into the saucepot and bring mixture to a boil. Simmer for 35 minutes, making sure the pot does not overflow.  After 20 minutes of simmering, add the rose petals. 
  4. After 35 minutes, remove the plate from the freezer and drop a small amount of marmalade on the center of the plate. Place the plate back into the freezer. After 5 minutes, remove the plate and slide your finger along the drop of marmalade – if it is set, it should wrinkle gently. 
  5. Pour your marmalade into sterilized jars and seal with sterilized lids and tops. Either process cans in a boiling bath for 10 minutes or use the flip method to seal your jars. Once the jars have sealed, you will hear a loud pop!

Enjoy with scones, crumpets or muffins.

Cinnamon Plumcot and Wild Blueberry Hand Pies

Often I find my winter-self thanking my summer-self - I thank myself for the sewing and the watering and the weeding. For the foraging and the harvesting and, most of all, for the preserving. The moment I open a fresh can of cinnamon plumcot preserves, I am instantly taken back to that warm summer day when I plucked a ripe plumcot from that beautifully gnarled tree and took a big juicy bite. And when I pop a tiny frozen wild blueberry into my mouth, I remember swimming all day at the Pisgah and picking wild blueberries and huckleberries near the waterside. Suddenly, summertime seams not-so-distant, even though I’m covered in 2 feet of snow and ice.

What You'll Need

For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup ice water

For the Filling:
1 cup cinnamon plumcot preserves, strained (or fresh plums or pluots, peeled and diced mixed with 1 tsp of cinnamon)
1 cup wild blueberries, fresh or thawed from frozen
juice of half lemon (omit if you are using plumcot preserves)
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

1 egg for the wash
⅛ cup raw sugar

  1. To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse or stir a few times to ensure the salt and flour are combined. Next, scatter the butter pieces over the flour. If you’re using a food processor, pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. If you are doing this the old fashioned way, use two knives or a pastry cutter and “cut-in” the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Next, pour the ice water over the flour mixture and toss with a fork until the dough comes together in one ball. Divide the dough in half, place in a tupperware container and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.
  2. While the dough is resting, let’s make the filling. Combine the plumcots and blueberries and lemon juice (if you are using fresh plumcots, otherwise omit the lemon juice) in a large bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle the brown sugar and flour on top and toss to coat the fruit. Set aside until you are ready to assemble your pies.
  3. Next, in a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork until the yolk and white are thoroughly combined.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Now it’s time to assemble the pies. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out until it is about ¼” thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, or even the rim of a cup, press firmly into the dough and lift up the resulting shape. Be sure to make your cut-outs as close as possible. You only want to re-roll the dough one more time. If you roll out the dough more than twice, it will get gummy and the texture of your crust will suffer.
  6. To assemble the pies, place one shape in front of you. Dollop about a tablespoon of the filling on the cut-out. Place another cut-out on top of the filling and using the tines of a fork, gently fresh around the edges to seal the pie and pierce the top of the pie with the fork. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over top and sprinkle with raw sugar.
  7. Place the pie on the prepared cookie sheet and repeat until you have used all your dough, or filling (whichever runs out first).
  8. Bake the pies for 30 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with French Vanilla or Bourbon Butterscotch Ice Cream.

Yield: sixteen 3” pies

Shortbread Blood Orange Tartlets with Bourbon Butterscotch Ice Cream

“This ice cream kicks the pants off of that new hipster ice cream place that just opened up in my neighborhood!” My sisters came to visit this weekend and I wanted to make them something special...something really special. One of them lives in West Philly and she was mentioning this new “hipster” ice cream place that just opened up in her neighborhood - it’s supposed to be all the rage with unique and off-the-wall flavors combinations. That got me thinking about making ice cream again. I have made many many ice creams and tried many many recipes, and all of them seem to fall short: too icy, too dense, bland, etc. Each of these bad recipes has taught me something about making ice cream in general and finally, with this Bourbon Butterscotch ice cream, I think I have finally developed a winning recipe.

The next issue was the blood orange tartlets. I poured over the internet, searching for inspiration. All citrus-filled tart/pie recipes I found used the citrus in a curd and were served cold. Nobody likes a cold tart with ice cream. Ice cream should be served over something warm so it melts and melds with the treat it is sitting atop. Then I began looking through my stack of old family recipes. I found this recipe given to me by my mother-in-law for maple syrup pie and that got me to thinking…

I think I’ve adapted that favorite family pie recipe into something special, but I’ll let her be the judge of that next time she comes for a visit...

What You’ll Need:

For the Ice Cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 ¼ cups heavy cream (divided in ¾ cup and 1 ½ cups)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks

For the Shortbread Tart Crust                                    

1 cup flour
⅓ cup confectioners sugar
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cold, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon whole milk

For the Blood Orange Filling

2 cups fresh squeezed blood orange juice (about 8 blood oranges)
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. First, let’s make the butterscotch for the ice cream. In a large saucepot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the brown sugar and salt. Stir with a spatula until the sugar is completely coated with the butter. Continue to stir for about 5 minutes until the sugar is melted. Make sure you get the corners of the pan as you stir. When the sugar is completely melted, add the cream, vanilla and bourbon. The mixture bubble and fizz violently so be careful not to get it on your skin. Whisk the mixture for 10 minutes and bring it to a boil. While gently whisking, let the mixture boil for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand while we prepare the custard for the ice cream.
  2. Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg yolks on medium speed until thickened and light yellow, about 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Next, heat the cream and milk in a medium saucepot over medium heat until tiny bubbles appear at the edges and the milk starts to steam (this is called scalding). Whisking the egg yolks constantly, pour ¼ of the cream mixture over the whisked eggs yolks. Continue to whisk until the egg yolks are completely incorporated. Return the egg yolk and cream mixture back to the saucepot. Cook and whisk over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon. You should be able to draw a line with your finger through the custard and the line should stay sharp and not ooze back in on itself. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butterscotch. Pour the custard into a tightly sealed tupperware (like pyrex) and refrigerate overnight. The next day, pour the custard into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Now let’s get down to business - the tartlets. First, let’s make the shortbread crust. Combine the flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor or large bowl. Pulse or whisk a few times to combine the ingredients. Next, scatter the cold butter pieces over the flour. Pulse the mixture or use a pastry cutter to combine until the mixture is very fine and resembles cornmeal. Pour the cold whole milk over the top and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together in one mass. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Using for fingers, push the dough into the bottom and sides of 4 tartlet pans. Once the dough is firmly pressed into each pan, place the crusts in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the crusts have been chilled, cover them with tin foil and use pie weights or rice to weight down the foil. Place them in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the crusts out and let them cool. Remove the foil.
  4. While the crusts cool, let’s make the filling. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the blood orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepot. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook over medium high heat until it has reduced by ¼, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Once the cornstarch is thoroughly dissolved into the water, add the mixture to the blood orange juice and stir until incorporated. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the butter and stir until the butter is completely melted. Pour the filling into the tart crusts and place the tarts into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. When you remove the tartlets, the filling will be VERY hot. It is best to bake them on a cookie sheet so you can remove them easily. Let the tartlets cool for 30 minutes at room temperature and serve with a dollop of the butterscotch ice cream.

Yield: 4 cups ice cream and 4 - 4 ¼” tartlets