Tag Archives: Fourth of July

Panna Cotta with Blueberry Port Sauce and Strawberries

If you’ve only ordered panna cotta in a restaurant, you need to make this. If you can make Jello, you can do this. It’s closely related in terms of preparation.

Panna cotta is an eggless Italian custard. It’s fairly plain but is often served with a nice fruit sauce that enhances the flavor.

I created this red, white and blue sweet treat for the Fourth of July.

Since I needed something blue for my theme, I decided to make a blueberry port sauce to pour over and it’s wonderful. Strawberries add a touch of red and texture.  It’s very nice.

For the photos, I styled my panna cotta two ways: in a champagne flute, which is beautiful; and then in a star glass dish that I bought from Dollar Tree.

 

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You can also serve them in ramekins which is more traditional.

It’s simple and perfect for a couple or small family because there’s only five servings. Enjoy!

Panna Cotta with Blueberry Port Sauce and Strawberries

Makes 5 servings

1/2 cup whole milk

1 ½ envelopes (.25 ounces each) unflavored gelatin

2 cups of heavy whipping cream (1 pint)

½ cup sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sauce:

1 pint blueberries

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

3 tablespoons port

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

For the panna cotta: place whole milk in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Set aside for 3 minutes.

Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the tiny seeds inside into a heavy bottomed pot. The seeds contain the vanilla flavor. Next add the heavy cream and sugar and heat it over medium or medium-low heat. You don’t want to rush it because you don’t want the cream to curdle. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Then pour the gelatin/milk mixture into the cream. Stir until gelatin is dissolved which takes about 3 minutes.

When it’s done, turn off the heat and add the vanilla extract.

Pour ½ cup of mixture into ramekins or champagne glasses, whatever you plan to use to serve the dish.  Refrigerate for 4 hours.

For the port sauce, heat blueberries, water and sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens. When it’s done, stir in the port.   For a mild port flavor, use 2 tablespoons. If you want more pronounced flavor, add 3 or even 4. I used Taylor Port which is readily available, inexpensive and works wells in this recipe.

Refrigerate the port sauce until it’s time to use. Note, you can also serve the port sauce warm but if you decide to do this make it right before serving.

Before serving, top each panna cotta with blueberry port sauce and fresh strawberries.

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A Fourth of July Cake the Crowd will Remember

Heavenly. That is how I describe this cake. First, I took Vanilla Oreo’s and lined the bottom of a pan. Then I topped those with sweet shredded coconut. I whipped together cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar and then blended that with a package of cheesecake flavored pudding and a package of white chocolate pudding and whipped topping.

The result is sweet, creamy, light and refreshing. This is a cake your family will remember this holiday weekend.

There’s a funny little story that goes along with this cake that I shared in my column this week. Here it goes:

One of the joys of being a parent is passing on traditions.

I was so excited to write this patriotic desserts column because I planned to create them with my 3-year-old daughter Bella.

Growing up, every holiday was festive in our home.  The traditional American flag cake was a Fourth of July favorite.  Typically, we’d make a white cake topped with whipped cream and then decorate it with blueberries and strawberries but since I was writing a column, I wanted to create something special.

I came up with a Flag Sheet Dessert which was inspired by coconut cream pudding and dirt cake (a Halloween tradition).

I thought my daughter would be excited to help me but after placing two blueberries, she was done. I finished the cake.

But the kicker was when I proudly displayed the finished product and she looked at my flag and told me I had done it wrong. The background should be blue and the stars white so she told to make it again with cream on top this time. She even picked up a flag napkin I’d been using as a prop to prove she was right. I laughed my head off.

During my photo shoot, she grew jealous of the attention I was paying to the desserts and came over and tried to sit on my lap, then took the red dish cloth I was using and placed it on her head like a hat to make me laugh.

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The day didn’t turn out as I expected, but luckily the desserts did.

 

Flag Sheet Dessert

Serves 12

1 package Vanilla Oreos

1 cup sweet shredded coconut

1 (3.4 ounce) package cheesecake flavored pudding

1 (3.4 ounce) package white chocolate pudding

1 package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8 ounce) carton whipped topping, divided in half.

½ cup fresh blueberries

1 pound strawberries

First, line a 9 x 13 inch pan with vanilla Oreos. Then sprinkle shredded coconut over the cookies.

In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together both pudding mixes, milk and half of the container of whipped topping.

Then beat together the cream cheese mixture and pudding mixture. Spread it over the bananas. Top it with the last half of the whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or more. This can be made a day in advance but shouldn’t be decorated until the day you are going to serve it because the strawberries may bleed into the topping.

Make your own barbecue sauce this week

It’s July 4th week, which means the grills are going to be sizzling all over this country.

It’s a perfect time for me to take a break from my rotisserie chicken and showcase other fare.

I wrote this story for The Joplin Globe http://www.joplinglobe.com. And today, I am showing off some of my homemade barbecue sauce recipes. I make a mean sauce and have plenty of ideas for you.

Some are homemade, some are doctored up, but all are delicious. My Blueberry Port sauce is sooooooooo easy and delectable!DSC_0733 (2)

There are many styles of barbecue sauce in this nation. This is a very abbreviated version of some of the highlights:

There’s the sweet, dark, tomato and molasses variety from Kansas City, accented with a dose of liquid smoke. This is one of the nation’s most popular varieties and one of my favorites. And from that style, comes a variety of commercial spin-offs, like honey, honey-bourbon, etc.

I love the thickness of this variety because it sticks to the meat.

Then, there’s the mustard and vinegar sauce from South Carolina which I love, too. This style was inspired by German immigrants in South Carolina and is nothing like the K.C. variety. This sauce is very thin so it’s better to dip your meat in it (if you pour it over a sandwich, the bread will get soggy).

I make an easy 10 minute version with plain yellow mustard (traditional), a little coarse mustard (not so traditional), vinegar, sugar and lager. It’s best served on pork or chicken. The beer really compliments the mustard.

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North Carolina also serves up a vinegar sauce but has a good kick of hot pepper. I prefer its neighboring state’s tradition.

Then, there’s Texas, which has different varieties by region. There’s not a classic barbecue sauce per say, but the sauces in the Lone Star state tend to have heat, like jalapenos, and spices like cumin and chili powder. I’ve also found the varieties in Texas to be less sweet and thinner than the Kansas City style.

And Memphis has a style similar to Kansas City, with a lot of tomato and brown sugar or molasses in the recipe. Kansas City is actually a mutation from the Memphis version. Dry rubs are popular in Memphis.

While you can buy so many commercial varieties these days to reflect these traditions, it’s fun and easy to make your own (or doctor up your own).

When I make barbecue for a party, I like to put out a homemade barbecue sauce bar and offer five varieties or so. It’s perfect because people get to sample a variety of sauces and the smorgasbord of sauce satisfies a variety of taste buds.

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Here’s a tip: I usually put out pretzel sticks next to the sauce so people can dip a stick to taste the sauce and decide which one they want to use. You also use less meat this way and less chance of contaminating the sauce.

Another great thing about barbecue sauce is if the meat is a little dry, sauce can cover up that mistake. Even moist barbecue tends to dry out by the second day, so barbecue sauce can make leftovers more palatable.

I have a variety of recipes for you, including some doctored up varieties. And here’s a few extra ideas to doctor up some more sauces, but I recommend using inexpensive sauce when trying these:

  • Mix together 1 cup barbecue sauce with ½ cup hot picante sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • A shot of brandy or bourbon can add depth to a sauce.
  • Add ½ cup of beer to 1 ½ cups of sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Try adding in orange zest for a burst of flavor.
  • Chopped jalapenos will add great spice to a sweet sauce and make it sweet and spicy.
  • Try adding apple butter or a blackberry jam to sauce to kick up the sweetness and add depth.

Other than that, invite friends over and enjoy the barbecue.

Mustard and Lager Sauce

Makes a large batch

1 tablespoon coarse mustard

¼ cup yellow mustard

½ cup apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup Lager

2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 5 minutes (use an overly large pot to keep it from boiling over). Whisk ingredients together halfway through the cooking. Cool before serving.

This sauce is best with chicken, pork, and a variety of grilled sausages. A thick slice of sharp cheddar cheese is also nice dipped in this sauce.

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Blueberry Port Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons Port

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Place all ingredients in a medium pan and bring to a simmer. Use a potato masher to mash blueberries. Turn off heat and allow to cool. You can puree this sauce once it has cooled to make it smooth or serve as is.

Note: This sauce is so good, you can serve it as a dip either plain or on top of a block of cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

This sauce is best on chicken, pork, or salmon (as a finishing glaze).

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No Cook Peach Barbecue Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup canned peaches in heavy syrup (with about 1 tablespoon of the peach liquid in the cup)

Place peaches in the blender and blend until smooth.

Stir the puree into the barbecue sauce and serve.

This sauce is best with pork or chicken.

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Sweet BBQ Sauce (Similar to Kansas City)

Makes a medium batch (double the recipe for a party)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/3 cup chopped red onion

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ cup ketchup

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon liquid smoke

In a medium, nonstick pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions and ground cumin and cook for 5 minutes. Then add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so mixture does not stick. Turn off heat and cool before serving.

I personally like to serve this with the bits of onion, but you can put it through the blender if you want a smooth sauce.

This sauce is great with beef, game meats, or chicken.