Tag Archives: Blackberries

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

This summer, I learned the hard way, yet again, that stone fruits (specifically peaches, nectarines, and plums) really aren’t ready for prime time up here until August (apricots seem to usually be ready much sooner). I always try to force my will upon the stone fruits sometime in late June/early July, and every time I lose. This year I ceded the issue when I royally screwed up a nectarine crostata that shoulda woulda been delicious if not for unripe, horrifically uncooperative fruit.

So, we’ve been enjoying berries instead. Perhaps it’s the inner contrarian in me, but I absolutely love finding savory recipes for berries, despite the fact that they are so perfect in desserts and drinks. And make no mistake, I love berries in desserts and drinks! But, we’re consuming less sugar these days, so this just fits our lifestyle better, I guess. Fortunately, there are many, many methods of showcasing berries in all their sweet-tart glory that don’t add any sugar and are perfectly at home as your main dish for dinner.

grilled venison chops with blackberry-sage brown butter

Like this one. This one is beautiful. It came together very quickly, yet I would have happily paid $30 in a restaurant for it. This is one of the first recipes I made in the new apartment, (which is why the photography is subpar) as I was dying to try out my brand new indoor grill pan, and it taught me the value of saran-wrapping your smoke detector! Hashtag newer building problems.

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

No matter. All worth it. Well, for us anyways. I suppose the neighbors may respectfully disagree… I hope y’all enjoy it!

Source: slightly adapted from The Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

4 (8 oz.) venison chops
2 tbs canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips, plus whole leaves for garnish
12 fresh blackberries, sliced in half

Preheat your outdoor or indoor grill pan to high.
Brush both sides of the chops with the oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on the hot grill and grill until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the chops and grill 3 minutes on the other side, until you have a nice brown exterior and the inside is between medium-rare and medium. Venison is incredibly lean, so you really, really don’t want to cook them even a second past medium.
When done, transfer to a platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest 5 minutes.
While the venison is resting, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced sage leaves and cook, occasionally stirring and turning the leaves, until the edges curl and the butter is dark amber but not black or burnt, about 5 minutes. Add the blackberries to the butter and cook for 20 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon some of the butter onto 4 large dinner plates. Top with the venison chops, and spoon some of the blackberries and butter over each top. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Blackberry Jam Toaster Pastries

blackberry jam toaster pastries

As promised, I’m back for today’s second post! I’m still on my Christmas Gifts theme, and today I’m highlighting some homemade blackberry jam made by and given to me by Matt’s mom. Homemade jam is always better, simply because it was homemade, right? And I really admire anyone who does their own canning, as that is a culinary arena into which I haven’t yet ventured. The whole thing looks fairly intimidating to me.

making pop tarts at home

homemade toaster pastries, before baking

So what to make with this delicious jam? Well, I’ve been dying to try my hand at homemade toaster pastries (Pop Tarts) for a long while now, and figured now is as good a time as any!

blackberry jam toaster pastries

Growing up, we were never permitted to have Pop Tarts. My mother *never* bought them for us. We were always told they were unhealthy and had little if any nutritional value, and that it wouldn’t give us a good start to the day to eat them for breakfast. Mom was undoubtedly right on all counts, but that didn’t stop me from pouting. And from being extremely curious. I was probably well into my teenage years by the time I was able to clandestinely snag one, and as you can probably imagine, the anticipation was killing me. I took a bite… and it tasted like bland, yet cloying, chalk. What a letdown!

Blackberry Jam Toaster Pastries

Over the years I’ve rarely eaten them, but I still marvel at the packaging and the idea. Even after you know what a disappointment they are, they still look so good! Which is why I’m very happy that homemade toaster pastries have become vogue in recent years. Because, I am here to tell you, the homemade versions are so delicious. They are so infinitely superior to the store bought versions, I can’t even explain. Matt, who has also never been a fan of store bought Pop Tarts, went completely nuts over these.

Blackberry jam toaster pastries

This was such a lovely way to utilize a wonderful Christmas gift; it really exceeded my expectations. Thank you Nancy!

Blackberry Jam toaster pastries

{One year ago: Chipotle Chilaquiles}

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 large egg, beaten
6 generous tbs blackberry jam, or other jam of your choosing
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Quickly slice the butter into thin pats and place it in a large mixing bowl with the flour and salt. Using 2 butter knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas.
Combine the vinegar and water in a water glass or measuring cup. Add ice. When it is very cold, slowly pour the liquid into the flour mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine. When it is almost combined, work the mixture with your hands to get the last crumbly bits at the bottom of the bowl. Divide the dough evenly in half and form 2 discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
Set up a work space away from your heating oven, or prepare the pastries before preheating your oven (keep the prepared pastries in the refrigerator while the oven comes up to temperature). Sprinkle a flat work surface with flour, then flour your rolling pin. Remove 1 of the discs from the refrigerator and roll it out a little bit. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Working with them one at a time, fold the piece into a rectangle shape. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 5 inches in length. You don’t have to get too nitpicky about the exact size; basically everyone knows the size and shape of a Pop Tart, and that’s what you’re going for. Just make it look as much like a Pop Tart as possible. Transfer the dough to your prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the 5 remaining pieces of dough.
Brush the outside edge of each rectangle of dough with the egg wash. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of jam down the center of each rectangle. Set aside.
Remove the other disc from the refrigerator and repeat with the same process. You want 6 rectangles roughly the same shape as the first batch. Lay each new rectangle of dough over the first rectangle with the filling, pressing at the edges to seal. With the tines of a fork, press all around the edges of the pastries to seal and make a decorative crimp. Brush the tops of each pastry with more egg wash. Then poke holes with the fork in 4 places down the center of the pastry, to allow steam to escape. Repeat with each pastry until done.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before dusting with the powdered sugar, if desired.

Blackberry Orange Sangria Ice Pops

Blackberry Orange Sangria Ice Pops

Sangria + Ice Pops = Oh Yes I Did.

This is the other (and final for the season) blackberry recipe I promised to share with you. And it’s a doozy of a good one, one that might make you a bit doozy if you eat too many of them. Haha!

blackberry sangria ice pop mix

Bad jokes aside, this one is a huge winner. As Matt said, “Wow. It’s sangria… in an ice pop!” No false advertising here, I assure you. And of course what I’m really sharing here is the method for transforming sangria into an ice pop – you can vary up the specific ingredients however you please.

instant ice pop maker

Blackberry Orange Sangria Ice Pops

The only recipe note I have on this one is to please be careful pouring, as there are chunks of fruit in the liquid, and it will spatter all over if you pour too fast. And due to its rich, deep purple-red color, I’d advise having paper towels extremely handy when you are pouring into the ice pop molds. We all know how red wine can stain if not mopped up immediately. Oh, and if your ice pop molds don’t come with a spill guard, use an apple slice for that purpose (when you remove the frozen ice pops from the mold, quickly slip a slice of apple onto the stick at the base of the treat). Again, that deep purplish hue will stain like nobody’s business, so just something to watch out for. But, the good news is that the kids aren’t eating this one, so it’ll be easier to control for that! Enjoy!

Blackberry Orange Sangria Ice Pops

{One year ago: Baba Ghanoush}

Source: adapted from Ice Pops by Shelly Kaldunski

2 oranges
1 (750-ml) bottle light red wine, such as Rioja
¼ cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
1 small tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup fresh blackberries
Pinch of salt

Juice 1 orange into a measuring cup. You should have 1/3 cup. Cut the top and bottom from the remaining orange, then use a sharp knife to cut off the peel. Holding the orange over a bowl, cut along each side of the membranes between the sections. Let the sections fall into the bowl along with any juices. If your first orange didn’t give enough juice to make 1/3 cup, add any juice in the bowl to the measuring cup. Chop the orange segments into about a ½-inch dice and set aside.
Place the blackberries in the same bowl and mash with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Add the diced oranges and apples and stir to combine. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the wine to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat level to low. Add the sugar, orange juice, bowl of fruit, and salt. Add 6 tbs of water. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.
If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, cover, and freeze until solid, about 4 hours, inserting the sticks according to manufacturer’s instructions. If using an instant ice pop maker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to freeze the pops (mine took 9 minutes). Unmold and enjoy!
Makes 12 to 14 ice pops.

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

pork schnitzel sandwiches with pinot-blackberry gravy

Today I find myself a bit pensive, as yesterday was another thirty-something birthday for me. It made me feel very reflective and somewhat well, odd, I guess. See, back in my mid to late twenties, I picked an arbitrary age – seriously arbitrary, as in, not even a “milestone” age – and set two goals that “should” be accomplished by that age. Yesterday I turned that age. And neither goal has been met.

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

The first goal was financial in nature, and looking back, it was almost laughably ambitious. So I don’t feel particularly bad for not meeting it, but it does make me pause and reflect on my life and the unexpected twists and turns it’s taken. Like the legal career I abandoned. And if I can be brutally honest, there’s always a part of me that feels a little bit like a failure for no longer being a lawyer. Even though I know I made the right decision, a small part of me saw fit to pop up yesterday, unwelcome, and derisively ask if I would have met that financial goal by now were I still an attorney (in all realistic likelihood, probably not). But it still made me feel a little bit bad.

pinot noir blackberry gravy

The other goal I set for myself had to do with having kids. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always felt extremely ambivalent about becoming a parent. It’s a feeling I always expected would go away to one side or the other, and when it hadn’t by my mid-twenties, I set a goal that by the age I turned yesterday, I would know for sure whether or not I wanted kids. Well, here it is, and I still don’t know. In truth, I feel perfectly fine without a baby, and don’t feel like I’m missing anything in the present; but I also don’t feel averse to the idea of having one, and I worry that years later I’ll regret it if I don’t experience motherhood.

pork cutlet sandwiches

So what does all this have to do with pork sandwiches? Well, nothing really; it’s just what’s on my mind today. Anywho, these sandwiches are insanely delicious, and I did promise you some more blackberry posts. This recipe was apparently inspired by ingredients local to the Portland, Oregon area, a locale I haven’t yet visited, though I’d very much like to someday. And I don’t really have any recipe notes, it was very straight-forward and easy to pull together. Enjoy!

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

Source: adapted from The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray

½ cup whole, peeled hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 large eggs
4 (6 oz.) boneless, center-cut pork chops, pounded to about ¼-inch thick
Olive oil
Small handful each of fresh parsley and mint, minced together
4 brioche hamburger buns, split and toasted
1 ½ tbs unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 tbs flour
¼ cup pinot noir
A small handful of fresh blackberries
¼ cup chicken stock

Grind the hazelnuts in a mini food processor to fine crumbs. Place them on a plate and add the panko to them. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything to combine. Add a bit of flour to another plate, and season with salt and pepper. In a pie plate, beat the eggs with a splash of water and a little bit of salt and pepper. Place the pork chops first in the flour and coat on both sides. Shake off the excess, then dip in the egg wash. Let the excess drip off, then place in the hazelnut-panko mixture. Coat on both sides, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with the remaining chops.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium-high. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the olive oil. Add the chops to the hot oil and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Do this in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the chops to a plate.
Make the gravy. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook to soften, a couple of minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking or stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, and cook about 1 minute to reduce (it will bubble immediately and reduce very quickly, so keep an eye on it). Add the blackberries and chicken stock. Mash the blackberries with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Once it has thickened to a desired consistency, reduce the heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. You want the consistency to be thick enough to spread on a sandwich and not make too much of a mess.
To assemble the sandwiches, place the pork chops on a bottom bun, then top with a few heaping spoonfuls of gravy, then sprinkle some of the chopped herbs on top. Top with the top hamburger buns and dig in!

Blackberry Pie Bars

Blackberry Pie Bars

I’m not sure why, but blackberries seemed to have hit their stride a little late in the season this year (at least up here). No complaining or anything, of course. So this past week or so I’ve been working with them, starting these luscious, amazing, cookie bars. Well, technically I started with a French toast smothered in blackberry butter, but my pictures really aren’t up to snuff, so that won’t be making an appearance here. :/



Never fear though, we have these little beauties. I took these to a family reunion of sorts on Sunday; every early September, Matt’s dad’s side of the family gathers at the Jersey shore, and we went down to visit for the day, blackberry pie bars in tow.

ready to bake blackberry pie bars

blackberry pie bars, before baking

They were quite the hit, to say the least. I had taste-tested one – okay fine, two – before we left, and I figured they would be well received. No one I know ever turned down a short bread crust. And the blackberries were the perfect texture and sweetness. Even the little kids and picky eaters were raving. I think you should make these bars soon and not miss out on the perfection. And of course, you can use whatever fruit you desire. Enjoy!

blackberry pie bars

A few recipe notes: it sounds like a lot of fruit, but it’s not too much, I promise. My blackberries were huge, and when I spread them on the short bread crust, I felt a pang of panic that perhaps I should have halved them. But no, it worked perfectly as it was. And speaking of short bread crusts, it will be a tad crumbly and that’s fine. There’s no need to work every last crumb into the dough. And last note – I found it easier to first cut large squares in the pan, remove those large squares and then cut them down smaller.

blackberry pie bars

Blackberry Pie Bars

{One year ago: Pork Tinga Tacos and Blondies}

Source: slightly adapted from Wit and Vinegar

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks, cubed up)
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
18 oz package blackberries, roughly 3 cups
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×13″ pan very well, making sure to get the sides too.
In a very large bowl whisk together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt, and lemon zest.
Using a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives, incorporate the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture until it’s crumbly. Add the beaten egg and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine. Knead gently a few times with your hands to make it lightly come together, but don’t get too crazy – some crumbliness is okay.
In another bowl combine lemon juice, cornstarch, and sugar. Gently toss with blackberries.
Pat about 60% of the dough mixture into the pan. Top with blackberries, then crumble over the rest of the dough. Bake for 35-40 min until top is golden brown.
Let them cool completely, then refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight. Cut into large squares to remove, then cut the squares into halves or quarters if desired. They taste best chilled.

Purple Jesus

Purple Jesus

Who doesn’t love the name of this drink – it’s so amusing to me. Upon discovering this recipe in the Lee Bros’ second book, I knew it had to be made. But it still begged the question: what exactly is a Purple Jesus?

fruit syrup for drinks

Well, apparently it’s a Deep South libation usually made with grape Kool-Aid, citrus fruit, and cheap vodka. It’s fairly unsophisticated, and in fact, Matt and Ted introduce this drink as a concoction that would get mixed in college students’ bathtubs at frat parties, of course noting that those shindigs started out fun but rarely ended well. I can’t speak from experience; somehow, I managed to make it through college without ever seeing Jesus in my bathtub.

Purple Jesus drink

Since Matt and Ted Lee are the complete antithesis of unsophisticated, there’s no grape Kool-Aid for them. Instead, they use cherries and blackberries for the purple. They wrote the recipe advising to steep the vodka with the fruit overnight, then top off the vodka with club soda. Though I’ll certainly make exceptions from time to time, I generally lack the patience to be a let-it-sit-overnight kind of cook. So I tweaked this recipe quite a bit.

Purple Jesus

To keep the flavors and the spirit of the drink, I pureed the cherries and blackberries, strained them, added the grapefruit juice as suggested, some superfine sugar, and kept the vodka and club soda part. This way it was ready when I was – no waiting until tomorrow. We both really enjoyed relaxing with a glass of this oddly-named, yet pleasant drink. Beautiful to look at and to consume.

Purple Jesus

So there you have it – a Purple Jesus. Overall, I get the Purple part, though I remain a bit unclear on how Jesus got involved. Oh well. Due to its sheer deliciousness I’ve decided not to ponder it further. Neither should you. You should just make it and enjoy it.

Purple Jesus with cherries and blackberries

{One year ago: Cherry Limeade and Soft Cheese Tacos}

Source: heavily adapted from Simple Fresh Southern by the Lee Bros

8 oz. sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted, plus a few for garnish
1 pint blackberries
Juice of half a grapefruit
Superfine sugar, if needed
8 oz. vodka
Club soda

First make the syrup. Save a few blackberries for garnish, if desired. Place the cherries and blackberries in the blender. Puree, adding a splash of water if necessary. Strain the puree through a sieve and chill in the refrigerator if not using right away.
Right before you plan to make the drinks, add the juice of half a grapefruit to the puree. Taste, and sprinkle in some sugar if it isn’t sweet enough for your tastes.
Make the drinks. For each drink, fill an 8 oz. glass with ice. Add 4 tablespoons fruit syrup, 2 oz. vodka, and top with club soda. Garnish with a cherry and a blackberry.
As written, this will make about 4 drinks.