Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blackberry Shortbread Bars

When I first received my copy of the Peace Meals cookbook and flipped through to preview all the recipes I knew this was going to be a great one! The ladies at the Junior League even dedicated a full page for a photo. I first had the pleasure of tasting these yummy treats at a sprinkle (shower for a second baby); they were everything I expected and more. A few weeks ago I hosted a bridal shower at my home and made these for the dessert buffet. All I sampled of this divine goodness was a scrap for the crispy edge. The shower guests devoured the blackberry bars and even came into the kitchen and ate all the crispy edges that I had left in the pan…not a single crumb remained. Last night I made these again to share at work for our monthly birthday celebration, in hopes that I could enjoy more than a few crumbs. I think I ate at least 4 and they barely survived past the lunch hour. Sweet Success!

Blackberry Shortbread Bars
Adapted from Peace Meals
Makes 24 bars

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ tsp salt
3 sticks butter, chilled and cut into ½” cubes

· Preheat oven to 350.
· In a food processor combine flour, sugar, salt for 45 seconds. Then add butter and process for 30 seconds or until mixture is crumbly and butter is distributed.
· Reserve 1 ½ cups of the mixture to sprinkle over the top of the filling.
· Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with Pam for Baking. Then fill baking dish with the remaining crust mixture, pressing the crust mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan.
· Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and then cool for 10 minutes before adding the filling.

2 eggs, whisked
½ cup sugar
½ cup light sour cream
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
16 oz frozen blackberries, thawed*

· In large bowl whisk eggs and then add the sugar, sour cream, and flour to combine.
· After the eggs and other ingredients have been mixed together gently fold in the blackberries.
· Pour the mixture evenly over the prepared crust.
· Sprinkle the top evenly with reserved crust mixture.
· Bake in oven for 45-55 minutes or until crumble top is lightly browned.
· Let cool for at least one hour before cutting into bars.**

*when thawing blackberries place bag inside of a plastic grocery sack to prevent leaks.

**If the baking dish is lined with aluminum foil, once the bars have been cooled they can be lifted out of the baking dish for easier cutting.

These bars would also be great if made with raspberries or a berry medley of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Restaurant Review: Catalan

Last Thursday night Scott and I enjoyed our first dinner at Catalan. As we were browsing through the menu we quickly realized that narrowing down our choices would be next to impossible because everything sounded so good. We inquired about the Sandbox Tasting and discovered it was 7 courses of the chef’s choosing. This was the perfect solution to our problem. However, we were warned in advance that we should not have plans to go out afterwards, fortunately for us we did not. We also requested to have a wine paired with each course so that we could have a perfect complement to the meal. 3 hours later we made our way home with very full bellies. I highly recommend this option if you want to try some new culinary delights.

The Sandbox Tasting:

Market greens tossed in a local citrus vinaigrette with strawberries, goat cheese and Marcona almonds
Adelsheim Rosé of Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

This was the perfect starter with all my favorite components. I would definitely call it a taste of spring.

Raventós i Blanc L’Hereu Reserva Brut Cava (Penedes)

We couldn’t quite figure out the details of this since it was not on the menu, but it had a spicy kick to it, some chile oil perhaps and we think the fish was tuna but maybe not…it doesn’t really matter anyway because it tasted excellent.

Roasted Oysters topped with gruyere cheese on a bed of cauliflower puree
Ermes Pavese Blanc de Morgex et De La Salle (Vallée D’Aoste, Italia)

I think this might have been Scott’s favorite course since he is a big oyster fan. Once I figured out how to get them out of the shell I enjoyed every bite. These are the chef’s favorite however they aren’t a regular menu item since he’s very picky out his oysters.

Snapper with jumbo lump crab meat and tomato rice
Dom. de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône, France)

Earlier in the meal the waiter brought out a whole snapper for our approval, it had just come in from Galveston that afternoon. I’m not much of a fish person but will branch out and eat it if I have to. I was pleasantly surprised…and wow it was a lot of fish.

Lamp Chop with chickpea, tomato, and zucchini salad
Marimar Estate “Dona Margarita Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)

I love lamp chops and had we not ordered the sandbox I most likely would have ordered this from the menu….I was not disappointed.

Duck Confit with pickled red onion topped with fried duck egg
Miner Vineyards “The Odyssey” Syrah/Grenache/Mourvèdre (Napa)

Duck is one of those rare finds on restaurant menus but I love it…although I let Scott have my duck egg. The wine paired with this was very yummy and a great compliment.

Local Meyer lemon cream tart, Texas pecan crust, and sweet tea ice cream
Chocolate Espresso Bread Pudding
Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port (Portugal)

We got the best of both: Scott loves Chocolate and I love citrusy desserts.