Monday, July 13, 2009

Easy Cherry Turnovers

These are super easy, but messy to make. You will not be disappointed in the results, though! They look and taste quite impressive! You could serve them for breakfast or at a party or shower. I used Williams-Sonoma's cherry pocket pies recipe as a jumping point for this one. (I like to give credit where it's due!)

2 cups fresh cherries, washed and pitted
1/2 c. sugar
1.5 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. almond extract
1 pinch salt
1 sheet puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farms's puff pastry, which had no animal-derived ingredients. You have to thaw it 40 minutes before using.)
1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 tsp. water (omit if preparing for vegan diners)
granulated sugar for sprinkling, optional

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add cherries and almond extract, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Although it starts off looking dry, it will quickly get gooey and gelatinous, and this is a good thing.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Once the cherries are cooked, set them aside to cool slightly. Roll the puff pastry sheet to a 12x12 square, and cut into 9 4-inch squares. Put a spoonful of cherries in the center of each square. Brush the egg wash (or just water for vegan preparation) around the edges of the square. Fold over into a triangle and crimp the edges with fork tines to seal. Move the turnover to the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Brush the top of the turnover with the egg wash (or just water for vegan preparation) and sprinkle with granulated sugar, if using.

Bake 20 minutes or until the pastry is browned. (It will brown less without the egg wash and more golden with the egg wash.) Enjoy!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Pie

Happy Independence Day! This recipe comes from my friend Ginger, and I am not sure where she got it. I didn't change a thing about it, b/c it's so good already. Thank you, Ginger!

1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. golden brown sugar
1/3 c. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. almond extract
1 pinch salt
3 large eggs, beaten (I have used medium eggs with perfectly fine results.)
3/4 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. whole pecans
1 frozen pie crust

Place a large baking sheet on the oven rack (middle of the oven), and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With a fork, mix the sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, almond extract, and salt in a 1.5-quart or larger bowl to blend. Mix in the beaten eggs. With a spoon, stir in the shredded coconut, chocolate chips, and pecans. Pour the filling into the frozen pie crust. Place the pie on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set in the center (about 40 minutes). Transfer pie to rack, and cool before serving.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Orzo Salad

This is my version of "Herb Orzo Salad with Feta and Cucumbers" from an article in The Commercial Appeal last month. It's perfect for picnics or for summer evenings when you don't want to eat anything heavy. You could serve it as a side dish or put it over a bed of lettuce for an elegant main dish.

1 lb. dry orzo (Orzo is rice-shaped pasta. It nearly triples in size when cooked.)
1 4-oz. log goat cheese (Vegetarians should be sure to check cheeses to make sure they are not made with rennet or animal-derived enzymes.)
1 pint (or more, to taste) grape tomatoes, halved (Or you can quarter the larger cherry tomatoes.)
1 large cucumber (or more, to taste), peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dried parsley (or 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano (or 1/4 c. chopped fresh oregano)
1 c. (or to taste) balsamic vinaigrette (I used Newman's Own Light.) or other Italian-style dressing of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to cool the orzo, then set it aside to dry. (I stirred this occasionally to expose new surfaces to the air.)

Mix everything except the goat cheese together, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Crumble the goat cheese over the salad, and mix it in. Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator until needed.