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Blog

Lavender Lemonade

Patricia Reitz

 Lavender Lemonade - ButterYum

Lavender Lemonade - ButterYum

Who loves lavender?  Not only does it smell wonderful - it tastes great too, but it's very strong so you have to be careful not to use too much.  Here, dried lavender buds are gently steeped in hot water to make a tea which is then combined with water and freshly squeezed lemon juice to make this refreshing lavender lemonade.

 how to make lavender lemonade - recipe and how-to photos

The ingredients needed are pretty simple, fresh lemons, water, sugar, and dried lavender.  If you grow your own lavender, you can dried the buds yourself, otherwise they're pretty easy to find online (this is what I purchased).

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Gorgeous lemons!!!

 Lavender lemonade recipe

We need a lot of freshly squeezed lemon juice (don't even think about using the stuff in a bottle!).  You can squeeze the juice by hand (this is my favorite style for manual squeezing), but for large jobs, I love using my electric juicer.  Sadly, this one is no longer made, but there are plenty of similar models available online (here).

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Over high heat, combine some of the water with the sugar. 

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Stir the sugar until it dissolves.

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Bring the mixture to a boil.

 recipe for lavender lemonade - how-to photos and recipe

Turn off the heat and add the dried lavender flowers; steep for 10 minutes.

 How long to steep lavender to make lemonade - recipe and how-to photos.

After 10 minutes, strain the lavender out and discard.  Add the remaining water and freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve over ice.

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Oh, and here's a tip - store the empty lemon halves in the freezer.  Whenever you need lemon zest, grab a frozen half and run it over a microplane grater.  You'll never be without lemon zest again! 

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Enjoy!

Items used to make this recipe:


Lavender Lemonade

makes 8 servings

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons dried lavender
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • optional: a drop or two of blue or purple food coloring
  • garnish: lemon slices and fresh lavender petals

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  
  2. Remove from heat and stir in dried lavender; steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain lavender from mixture and discard.
  4. Place lavender-infused water in large pitcher; add remaining water, lemon juice, optional food coloring and stir well.
  5. Serve over ice.

Chocolate Raspberry Tarts

Patricia Reitz

One of my favorite ways to feature fresh, juicy raspberries is to use them to top decadent individually-sized chocolate tarts.  Such an impressive presentation, but so very easy to pull off.  Let me show you how easy they are to make.

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First, start with a batch of pate sucree (sweet dough) that's been chilling for about 30 minutes.  Press the pate sucree into mini tart pans (these are the ones I have).  I love individually sized desserts, and these are small enough to enjoy all by yourself, but they're not too small to share with someone special.

Now it's time to "bake them blind", which may sound really weird to someone not familiar with the technique, but basically it's partially baking the pie crust.  We do this by lining the tart crust with crumpled parchment paper (crumpling helps it easily fit the contours of the tart), then fill it with a variety of things that will 1) conduct heat, which will allow the crust to bake, and 2) keep the walls of the tart from slumping during the baking process.  

You can purchase metal or ceramic pie weights made specifically for the purpose of blind baking, but there are several substitutions you can use - dried beans, uncooked rice, or even granulated sugar.  Dried beans that have been used for this purpose can no longer be cooked for consumption, but they can be reused again and again so I let them cool completely, then store them in a jar in the pantry for next time.  Rice and sugar will toast slightly, but can be used for other recipes - they'll get slightly toasted in the oven, which imparts a lovely flavor.

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See how the crumpled parchment is able to hug the contours of the tart?  Much easier than trying to do the same thing with a piece of flat parchment, believe me!

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Fill with beans (or rice, sugar, pie weights, etc).  Chill well while the oven preheats.  Chilling the pate sucree before baking helps to keep it from shrinking during the baking process.

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After 10-15 minutes, the sides of the tart will be set and you can remove the parchment and its contents.  You can see how the sides have lost their shine, but the bottom of the tarts need more time in the oven so return them for another 10 minutes or so.

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You'll know they're done when they look dry and are firm to the touch.  Set aside to cool while you make the ganache filling.  

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To make the ganache, heat cream until just before it begins to boil.

Pour over your chopped chocolate and let it sit, undisturbed, for a few minutes.  Then whisk together until smooth.

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Pour the ganache into the baked tart shells.

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Chill for at least 15 minutes before adding the raspberries so they don't sink into the chocolate. 

When you're ready to serve, sprinkle the berries with a little confectioner's sugar and remove the sides of the tart pan.

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Place the tart on something elevated, yet small enough for the sides of the tart pan to fit over.  Here I'm using an egg cup.  Using gentle pressure, push the sides of the pan down.  

Enjoy!

Items used to make this recipe:


Individual Chocolate Raspberry Tarts

makes 6 mini tarts (or one 9-inch tart)

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Pate Sucree Crust:

Filling:

Garnish:

  • 3 pints fresh raspberries
  • confectioners sugar
  • mint sprigs

Directions

To Make Pate Sucree:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a BeaterBlade or flat paddle attachment, combine the ingredients until fully combined and no traces of dry ingredients remain.
  2. Wrap will with plastic and chill for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Divide dough equally between 6 individual tart pans with removable bottoms and press evenly across bottom and up sides; chill for at least 15 minutes (or up to several days if wrapped well with plastic).
  4. Preheat oven to 325F and line chilled tart shells with parchment paper filled with beans, rice, sugar, or pie weights.
  5. Place filled tart shells on silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the sides of the tarts are set; remove parchment and return empty shells to oven to continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the bottom crust is set.
  6. Allow tart shells to cool until while you make the filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl; set aside.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before it reaches the boiling point (small bubbles will form around the edges).
  3. Remove cream/butter mixture from the heat and pour over chocolate.
  4. Let the chocolate and cream steep together for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the espresso powder and pure vanilla extract; whisk gently until smooth and shiny. 
  6. Divide filling between tart shells, leaving 1/4-inch space at the top of each shell; chill for at least 15 minutes before adding berries.

To Serve:

  1. Top with fresh raspberries and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
  2. Carefully remove sides of tart pan as shown above, and garnish with fresh mint. 

Chicken Pot Pie

Patricia Reitz

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I found myself in need of a little comfort last week and the first thing that came to mind was a favorite meal from my childhood, my mother's chicken pot pie.  I like to make it using my homemade chicken stock and pie crust, but my mother always used a boxed crust mix and canned stock.  Feel free to do whatever works for you.  And if you don't have time to mess around with pie crust, no problem, serve this easy-to-make filling over biscuits or egg noodles.

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In a really good quality pan (here's mine), start by sauteing diced onions in a little butter.  Butter makes everything taste better!

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Add some kosher salt and pepper.

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Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes until the onions smell divine and make your mouth water.

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Next add flour to the pan.

The flour is going to help thicken things up for us.

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Whisk the flour into the butter and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook off the raw flour flavor - stir constantly so the mixture doesn't burn.  I love using a flat whisk for this job.

Technical stuff:  this step is called making a "roux" (roo).  A roux will thicken a sauce, in this case, a "veloute" (vuh loo tay).  Veloute is one of the 5 classic mother sauces (the other 4 are bechamel, hollandaise, espagnole, and tomat).  Info you may not care to know, but there you go. 

Back to our veloute - once the flour has bubbled away for a minute or two, add cold chicken stock (try my easy recipe) and milk.

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Now whisk constantly until the mixture boils.  The flour will reach its greatest thickening potential when it reaches a full boil. 

Professional tip - to reduce the risk of developing lumps in your sauce, add cold liquid to hot roux.  

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Bubbles achieved! 

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See how the mixture thickened?  You should be able to see a trail when you pull a wooden spoon across the bottom of your pan.  

Depending on how flavorful (salty) the chicken stock you used was, you may need to add more salt and pepper so taste it carefully and adjust if necessary.

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Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cubed chicken and frozen vegetables.  The frozen veggies will instantly cool down the filling - this is good because we want the filling to be cool when we fill the pie crusts.

Set the filling aside until needed (or chill in an airtight container for several days).  Taste the filling again, just to be on the safe side.  

For a busy weeknight option, forgo making pie crust and serve this filling over biscuits or egg noodles.  Just heat it on the stovetop for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the veggies are warmed through.

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My hands were covered in flour so I didn't get photos of this part, but line two ceramic 5-inch mini pie plates with a bottom crust (these are the ones I use), fill with the cooled chicken pot pie filling, and add a top crust, crimping the edges together.  Here's my all-butter pie crust.

For a shiny, golden brown crust, make an egg wash by whisking together an egg with a tablespoon of water.

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Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash all over the crust.  Cut a few vent holes in the top crust and place the pies on a silicone-lined half sheet pan.  The silicone liner will keep the pies from sliding on the pan, which, I can tell you from personal experience, can be disastrous...

I'll never forget the time a pumpkin pie slid across my tray, spilling its contents all over - what a horrible mess.  The filling baked onto the hot oven door, all over the mesh door gasket, inside the door vents, and way down in the door hinges.  We had to let the whole thing cool overnight before my husband could take the entire door apart so I could chizzle the solidified pumpkin pie filling out of all the nooks and crannies, and off the 3 panes of window glass.  It was epic.  Never, ever, again! 

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But I digress - back to our chicken pot pies...

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbly.  

Wait about 15 minutes before you dig in - enjoy! 

Oh my goodness... it's sooooo good!!!!!!!

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Extra - on days when I want to eat fewer carbs without completely giving up the pie crust, I fill 10-ounce French ramekins (here) with hot pie filling and top them with crust rounds that I bake for about 10 minutes.

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Or I cut the crust into cute little chicken shapes.  Kids love these.

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You could also place the unbaked crust shapes directly on the filling and bake them in the oven, but the shapes will bake faster if you bake them on a sheet tray.

Oops, here's what happens when you forget to remove the cute little chicken shaped cutter from the sheet tray before you bake your cutouts.  Sigh... happy baking!

Items used to make this recipe:


Chicken Pot Pie

makes two 5-inch pies

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • double pie crust recipe (check out my all-butter crust here - lots of how-to photos)
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground dried sage (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 fluid ounces) low sodium chicken stock (try mine)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 egg (any size)
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, saute onions, butter, salt, and pepper together for several minutes until the onions soften.
  2. Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the cold milk and chicken stock, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a full boil; taste carefully and adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cubed chicken and frozen mixed vegetables; set aside until needed.
  5. Preheat oven to 325F and place rack in lower third of oven.
  6. Divide a double pie crust recipe into 4 portions; roll two of them into 8-inch rounds and line two 5-inch pie plates; fill each with half of the filling mixture.
  7. Roll the remaining two portions of crust into 6-inch rounds and use them to top the pot pies; tuck under and crimp the edges.  
  8. Chill pies for at least 10 minutes before baking.
  9. Make and egg wash by whisking together the egg and water; brush on top crust and cut several vent holes.
  10. Place pie plates on silicone lined sheet pan and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
  11. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • To make a 9-inch deep pie pot pie, double the filling ingredients.
  • All chicken stocks are not created equally so be sure to taste the filling and add salt and pepper, if needed, before filling pie shells.
  • For an alternative crust variation, add 2 teaspoons of celery seed to a double crust recipe.
  • To make turkey pot pie, substitute turkey for the chicken and add 1/2 teaspoon ground sage while sauteing the onions.