I was craving popsicles likes none other this month and so happy to share these! My sister gifted the molds to me (easy find at TJ MAxx or BB&B), delicious strawberries are in season and Philip whipped up a beautifully simple recipe!
Plus it's the first day of summer? Perfect.
Happy summer to you all!
It starts with a strawberry. Smack in the middle of strawberry season.
I'm always drawn more to a fruit-filled dessert than a chocolatey one and strawberry shortcake is no exception.
It's simple to make at home which is wonderful since I've yet to experience any phenomenal restaurant versions.
Join me each week this June to indulge in favorite summer sweets, most will be southern and locally inspired.
Recipe by Philip Bollhoefer...
The biscuits (yields 12):
Cake flour 2cup
All purpose flour 2cup
Kosher salt 1tbsp
Baking powder 1tbsp
Baking soda 1tsp
Butter (cold) 2 sticks cut into 1/4inch cubes
Sift dry ingredients together. Mix sifted dry ingredients and butter. In 4 batches, pulse the butter flour mixture in food processor until butter is the size of small peas.
Transfer butter and flour mixture into a large mixing bowl and create a well in the middle. Using your hands combine buttermilk until incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX. The dough should just come together and look ragged.
On a floured work surface roll dough out and fold over itself. Repeat 3 times. Once layers have been formed roll dough out approximately 1 inch thick. Cut into 2.5" rings.
Brush tops of biscuits with buttermilk. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes/until lightly browned.
Quartered strawberries 2cups
Sugar in the raw 2tbsp
Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur 1tbsp
Lemon juice 1tsp
Mix all ingredients together. Let strawberry mixture sit overnight or at least while biscuits bake.
Let biscuits cool then open them up. Scoop vanilla ice cream and place on bottom half of biscuits and top with strawberries and garnish with powdered sugar.
Chocolate is usually one of the last types of dessert that I order or bake. I reach for the blueberry filled crumbles, chocolate chip cookies or plain jane treats like shortbread.
That being said, these simple chocolate tarts are killer.
Philip created these with inspiration from his stacks of cookbooks and added his own touches, including a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
The tart dough:
All purpose flour 2cup + 3tbsp
Kosher salt 3tsp
Cold unsalted butter 8oz cut into ¼ in cubes
Ice water 1/4cup
Combine 1 cup of flour and the salt. Add flour and salt mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment for approx. while adding the butter in 4 additions. Stir until well combined, approx. 1 minute. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add ice water and mix just until the dough comes together. There should be no visible pieces of butter left. Flatten the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough chill for at least 2 hours.
Unwrap the dough a place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin pound the top of the dough to get the rolling process started. Roll the dough out to approximately 1/8 inch thick and cut for the desired tart mold (can us a muffin pan). Place tart dough into desired mold. Use parchment paper or a coffee filter to cover the tart dough once in the mold. Fill the coffee filter/parchment with raw rice. This will keep the dough from rising while the tart bakes.
Bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes until the shells are golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove from mold and reserve.
55-65% cocoa dark chocolate 8oz
Heavy cream 8oz
Cold butter 1tsp
Place chocolate in a hear resistant mixing bowl. Heat cream in medium sauce pan over high heat. Once the cream bowls poor over chocolate and mix until completely melted. Add cold butter and stir.
While the gnache is still warm poor into tart shells. Finish with a pinch of fluer de see on top!
Every Monday during the month of May I'm sharing my favorite salads, most are easy to pack for work lunch and they all highlight ingredients local to WNC.
Using strawberries in salads during the summer is very common at our house. This year, we're enjoying our first CSA and using ingredients in new ways helps you use up all we get each week without waste.
Combine the following for a simple tossed salad:
Spinach (locally available as early as spring)
Strawberries (begin fruiting in May in WNC)
Goat cheese (again, gotta love Three Graces Dairy!)
Chopped pecans (plenty of NC pecan growers if you don't already have some in your pantry leftover from fall pie making!)
Your favorite balsamic dressing
Catch you next week veg lovers.
Second salad of the month, this one may be tougher to pack to-go. Still, it's great to create at home and still simple!
Local ingredients: arugula, sweet potatoes & cheese!
Roast small pieces of sweet potato (tossed in olive oil and salt & pepper) at 350 until tender, about 20-30 min.
Coat your arugula in lemon, olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.
After sweet potato has been cooked, toss in arugula.
Top with thinly shaved slices of Goldie's Gouda from Three Graces.
This is a great spring salad when these ingredients specifically are available in our area before all the fun summer items arrive.
Man, I love arugula.
Part II, less talk and more color.
Let's just admire how wonderful all the shades of green are.
Look one was a gorgeous LWD Couture emerald gown with embellishments to highlight the waist. The cloud coverage was strong and the fog was rolling in. We were on this mountain bald at a lucky time of year when the grass was getting green yet the trees were still bare. It felt like we were in Ireland.
We really got to show off the Susie Saltzman ring and Floressence Flowers bouquet in Look 2. The second gown by LWD Couture was a hue somewhere between purple and grey, a smokey color that was so flattering. The bouquet was full of peach and green with hints of purple, the whole look flowed so well.
Then the sun set quickly, we took advantage and just kept snapping.
Invited by the best Asheville duo, Jameykay & Arlie, to this styled shoot, I could not have been more thrilled! Jameykay and Arlie are friends of mine and continuously rocking out their own styled shoots; I was so honored to be asked along to this one!
First off I'm sharing my favorite black and whites. Kendra modeled and she became the perfect accentuation with the mountaintop setting. The sun set fast and the breeze blew in but you'd never know by what pro Kendra is.
Each gown was created by Liz White Couture, another incredible local talent. Her gowns wow me each time I see them in person. In part two of this this post, I'll share the color photos to enjoy the detail of each dress.
I'm all about brides going for an alternative look and I can really see some brides-to-be embracing a style like this.
We can't forget the other details here. The floral crown was created by Florescence Flowers and what I've enjoyed about their work is how they can run with a concept. When J&A set this up, they provided minimal direction and Floresscence just gets it.
And the ring. It complements the gown so well and is another touch of an alternative bride.
You'll likely see Susie Saltzsman work all over Instagram, tucked into every beautiful wedding.
Pt. II will show off the shades of green, peach, and purple-grey, stay tuned.
I found just the right time to make your Cinco de Mayo plans.
A real crowd pleaser, the margarita. On the rocks.
I love a good frozen margarita too. I'm also happy to share a pitcher. As long as the ingredients are real (see below), I'm good to go.
Fresh & simple recipe from Serious Eats:
Lime wedge, plus 2 lime wheels for garnish
1 tablespoon coarse salt, for glass rims
4 ounces high quality blanco tequila (see note above)
2 ounces Cointreau
1 1/2 ounces fresh juice from 2 limes
Run lime wedge around the outer rims of two rocks glasses and dip rims in salt. Set aside. In cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Fill with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled, about 15 seconds (the bottom of a metal shaker should frost over). Fill glasses with fresh ice and strain margarita into both glasses. Garnish with lime wheels and serve.
And just like that, April is over! What a fantastic start to a beautiful summer here in WNC. Cheers to 5 gorgeous cocktails we shared each Friday of this month.
Let's see what kind of summer series I'll cook up for May...
A Pimm's Cup. Incredibly refreshing and easy to drink. Citrus, mint and cucumber always garnish my Pimm's.
Since this is my favorite of all 5 cocktails I'll be sharing with you this month, it makes sense that I post it on my birthday, cheers!
Great story plus recipe found here on Eater:
1.5 ounces Pimm’s No.1
½ ounce Hendrick’s Gin
½ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Fever Tree ginger beer
Juice from 1 lemon wedge
Build above ingredients over ice. Top with Fever Tree ginger beer. Garnish frivolously with fresh fruits of the season and some form of greenery. Cucumber, however, is a must.
The French 75.
Although not southern in origin, it is a well known New Orleans favorite. And New Orleans is a top favorite Southern city for myself.
The New Orleans style French 75 can differ from the classic. The question is, gin or cognac?
Some say the cognac version suits colder days and the gin version suits a warm southern night, so of course we're choosing the latter today!
A simple recipe from Saveur:
1/2oz simple syrup
1/2oz fresh lemon juice
Brut champagne or dry sparkling white wine
Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist to serve.
Cheers to bubbles even if you're not celebrating a birthday or Mardi Gras!
So many fun things come into my life in the summer. Windows open, dinners on the picnic table, lounging in the hammock, fresh produce, hikes, camping, waterfall adventures, fireflies... the list goes on.
Moving back to the mountains refreshed a hidden appreciation of the summer months.
To celebrate, I'll be working on a few projects all season long and plan to share them here on my blog as a summer series.
I'm kicking off the month of April with southern cocktails every Friday afternoon.
The summer series will continue into August and each month will have a new theme. A theme that fits well into the WNC lifestyle. Outdoor adventures, southern nights on the porch and food food food drink drink drink.
Our first summer cocktail fit for rockin' in your rocking chair: the mint julep.
A simple recipe from Epicurious:
1oz minted simple syrup
2c crushed ice
Add simple syrup then 1 c of ice, bourbon and a splash of water. Add enough remaining ice to fill glass. Stir well and garnish with the mint.
It's a strong drink, sip safely and see you at the derby next month!
I believe there is a huge importance seated in knowing where your food comes from. A few reasons:
If you find any of this of interest, it is likely you consider buying local, organic, non-GMO, any other form of awareness when shopping.
I have found that I'm most passionate about the humane treatment of animals as I am an animal-lover but I'm not (yet) a vegetarian. So I educate myself on eating humanely-raised proteins. I learn and buy accordingly. This often translates into eating organic or local (but not always).
When the water levels are low enough, you can hike right up to Bridal Veil Falls (inside DuPont State Park).
You get to hike along a rushing waterfall, see small pools cratered along the way & then crawl underneath a really rushing waterfall.
The rocks can be a bit slick but manageable.
You feel like you're standing right in the middle of it all.
The hike to Bridal Veil is more of a long walk past open fields and over bridges. You may get your heart pumping but it is not strenuous.
Ready for a little summer adventure?
We took a slight detour from our Summer Hiking Challenge to work our upper body strength.
We took to the water. Lake Lure to be exact.
Have you been?
The lake houses along the lake are the best kind of window shopping.
Driving up a winding road to the picnic area of Table Rock was slightly terrifying.
I am afraid of heights, after all.
But I would peek over from the passenger seat and realize that we were driving above it all. Into the clouds we go.
There are a few different hikes to choose from once you get up there (and finish your picnic). We were a bit crunched for time so we opted for the short but strenuous climb to the top of Table Rock.
We huffed and puffed through the midday April sun. You pass a few overlook spots that seem like the best view ever, until it gets beat by the next overlook.
At the top, the view of Linville Gorge was waiting for us. The Spring greens were starting to pop. The bees buzzed around us while we took photos and stayed away from the edge.
The sun rays shine through puffy clouds.
The clouds hover over mountain tops creating deep shadows.
The mountains stretch around you entirely.
Hike No. 3 down. Ready for No. 4?
Yes, being scared of heights doesn't pair well with flying or hiking. But I continue to do both. Repeatedly.
Why? A means to an end. The end, in this case, being the views, the fresh air and our 2015 Hiking Challenge.
This year, we're on a mission. Hike, hike and hike again.
We have decided to challenge ourselves this season (well, Spring through early Winter) to get out there and explore the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.
To get exercise by gradually increasing the difficulty of the hikes each month.
To get out of our comfort zone by trying a new hike each week.
Hike No. 1: Mount Mitchell, the highest peak this side of the Mississippi. The views speak for themselves.
Time your afternoon hike just right and catch the sunset as you drive back down the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A full summer ahead.
We were lucky to arrange our schedules this week to squeeze in a hike. And some leaf peepin'.
Take a drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The elevation affects the leaf colors so keep going!
Keep going past Pisgah Inn.
Ok, stop at some overlooks and snap some pics. You're almost to one of WNC's best hikes!
Just past Graveyard Fields (FYI - no gravestones there) is Black Balsam Knob. Pull over and hike up up up.
Clouds will roll in and out. You will get hot then cold then hot again.
Families, dogs, serious hikers and toddlers will pass you by but keep going.
Keep roaming this mountain bald to feel on top of everything. Wave to those on the other mountain bald and simply enjoy the view.
On September 20th-21st, ASAP hosted its annual Western North Carolina Farm Tour. 37 farms were featured this year! Although I couldn't make it to all of them, I was lucky to visit 4 that I have never been to before.
We took our tour on Sunday and families were out all afternoon learning about farm life and where food comes from. It was touching to see kids getting excited about gardening and farming as it is so important to understand your food source.
The farms on the tour represent so many different products. Molasses, vegetables, meat, flowers. It is special to see the farmers proud of their operation and happy to open their doors to the public.
The above photos were taken at Ivy Creek Family Farm.