June 2014


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There are lots of blueberry bar recipes out there. But last night, I found my thrill on a different blueberry hill. Sometimes, other recipes spark ideas about something new to do with the tried and true. So I doubled my favorite almond shortbread recipe, baked it up with fresh blueberries in the middle and almonds on top. Know what? It worked, it’s delicious and it’s really pretty, too!

BLUEBERRY ALMOND SHORTBREAD

For filling
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ a lemon, zested
juice of slightly less than ½ a lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For shortbread
1/2 cup almond flour (or 1/2 cup almonds processed till finely ground in a food processor)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (salted), softened
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

For topping
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter an 8″ square baking dish.

Let’s make the filling first. Combine blueberries, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon juice, zest and cornstarch. Set aside.

Next, with a mixer, cream butter, 1/2 cup sugar and almond extract. Add almond flour, all-purpose flour and salt; mix till smooth.

Divide the dough into two equal parts–cover the bottom of the pan completely. Pat dough into the dish, smooth the top of the dough evenly (an offset spatula is very helpful here), then pour blueberry filling evenly over this layer.

To help make an even top layer, drop small pieces of the dough over the blueberry layer, then smooth it out with an offset spatula or a knife. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and turbinado sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. OK, I let the rest of the pan cool completely, but not the quality control squares–those were insanely piping hot. I cut the rest of the pan into oversized squares, then diamonds, ’cause don’t you know, diamonds are a girl’s best friend?

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If you’ve never bought mushroom ravioli, you may never have wondered what kind of sauce to make to go with them. But mushroom ravs are things of deliciousness. And if you live in driving distance of DiFiore Pasta Co. in Hartford’s Little Italy, you really owe it to yourself to get there. Don’t like mushroom ravs? They have plenty of options, traditional and creative, and sauces to go with. And their manicotti are outta this world.

Here’s my special sauce for mushroom ravs. We’re pretty fond of this combo ’round heah. Hope you will be, too.

MUSHROOM HARVEY’S BRISTOL CREAM SAUCE FOR RAVIOLI
(for two)

2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, minced
1 rib celery, diced
8 oz. of your favorite mushrooms, sliced–plain ol’ white shrooms are fine, as are baby bellas or shiitakes
¼ cup Harvey’s Bristol Cream
Salt and pepper to taste (honestly, you can get away without it)
½ cup light cream (you can also use half-and half)*

*½ cup is plenty for 2 people; ¾ cup is nice for 1 more portion

Optional:
sprinkle of tarragon or fresh lemon thyme

Set a pot of water to boil for your ravs.

Meanwhile, melt butter, sauté shallot and celery about 4-5 minutes over medium heat, then add mushrooms.

Note: This is a perfect time to add the ravioli to the pot of water, which should be boiling by now.

Add tarragon or lemon thyme if you like, cook mushrooms about 7-8 minutes. They’ll get nice and golden. Add Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Give it about a minute before you add the cream. It will get all bubbly in the pan. Now your sauce is done–and so are your ravs!

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Don’t forget to swing into Modern Pastry Shop while you’re up on Franklin Ave. Their lobster tails filled with light-as-air cannoli cream are totally worth the extra calories as are their (leave the gun, take the …) cannoli.

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