Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Prickly Pear Flowers

Keep an eye out for these gorgeous, succulent treats! They're crunchy, colorful, nutritious and tasty on top of any salad or sandwich. Pluck the yellow or orange prickly pear flower petals and eat them raw or lightly sauteed.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wild Blackberries

We're at the tail-end of wild blackberry and dewberry season out here in the Texas Hill Country, but there still might be a few of these deliciously tart little gems out in the fields. Watch out for chiggers and snakes and then harvest away!

The kids enjoy eating the berries straight out of our harvest bag

If you manage to harvest enough to freeze or use in cooking, here's a quick and easy way to enjoy them baked:

Wild Blackberry Crostatas

Once baked, the crostatas are best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top

2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
3 to 4 Tbsp. ice water or heavy cream
1 c blackberries

Preheat the oven to 425ยบ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment, you can use foil or a nonstick pan but be sure you coat the pan with a nonstick spray or rub it down with butter.

Combine the flour, 1/2 c of the sugar and salt and whisk together. Cut the butter into small pieces and cut in to the flour mixture with a pastry blender or a food processor until the butter chunks are the size of peas. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of liquid at a time and stir or pulse until the dough comes together. Once you can push the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic and let it rest in your fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Once it has rested and the butter in the mixture has firmed up, remove it from the fridge and divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Sprinkle your counter with flour and roll or press each piece out into an imperfect round (see picture), about 1/8 inch thick, and set on the baking sheet. Spoon several berries into the center of each round and pull the dough up around the berries to form a triangle or square shaped pastry, pinching it at the corners to make sure it doesn't unravel in the oven. Place the whole pan in the fridge for another 30 minutes to allow the dough the rest again.

Remove from the fridge and coat the top of each crostata with egg wash if desired (to make it turn extra golden brown in the oven) and sprinkle the extra sugar over the top. Place the crostatas in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 25 minutes until brown at the edges. Don't be surprised if some of the blackberry juices spill over during cooking - it will simply add to the rustic look of a crostata! Let cool on a rack and then serve warm. Or, you can store them in the fridge and warm them up in an oven when you're ready to serve.