Every blackberry has it’s thorn..or something like that

Freshly picked wild blackberries are the star of this shortcake.

We’re celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this week back in the PNW. Enjoying fantastic views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, the occasional ferry and amazing sunsets. We’re also enjoying lots and lots of fresh sockeye salmon and wild blackberries.

I was spoiled growing up with wild blackberries growing just about everywhere and easy access to freshly caught wild salmon. Which even in the greater LA area its hard to find fresh salmon. Most grocery stores carry frozen farm raised Atlantic Salmon and it doesn’t taste even close to fresh caught, wild salmon.  As for the blackberries, its hard to want to pay $6 and $7 a pint for something you’re used to having in near limitless supply for free.

Blackberry brambles are extremely hearty and will grow just about anywhere and you don’t have to go to farms or any place special to find them.  They grow along paths and roadways all over the PNW  My only caution is to avoid picking them along heavily travelled roads, because they get sprayed with herbicides and are exposed to unhealthy levels of vehicle exhaust.

Conveniently there is a blackberry bramble that runs along the property line here. Since i have access to freshly picked blackberries this week, I’m going to make Shortcakes with vanilla whipped cream and honey macerated blackberries.

Blackberry Shortcake

1/2 cup of chilled butter cut into cubes

1 ½ cups AP Flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp white vinegar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract.

1 pint fresh berries

2 TBS honey

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 TBS powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine, flour, sugar, bakng powder, salt and butter into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is sandy texture (about 30. times). Add the vanilla extract and vinegar and slowly drizzle in milk until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball. You may not need all of the milk.

Turn mixture out onto a floured board and press out until dough is roughly ¾ to 1 inch thick disc. Wrap in wax paper and let chill for about an hour. While dough is chilling, clean and thoroughly drain the berries then toss with the honey and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F. Remove dough from fridge and cut into desired shape. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.  Remove from oven and  place on a wire rack to cool.

Place 1 cup of whipping cream into a chilled bowl, whip until doubled in volume and vanilla and sugar and whip until stiff peals form.

To assemble. cut shortcake in half, Place some of the whipped cream on the bottom half, place a couple of tablespoons of blackberries on top of the whipped cream.  Place a dollop of whipped cream on top of the berries then top with the other half of the shortcake.




Easy Summer Tomato Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs

summer sauce with pasta

I mentioned in a recent post that we have a nice little garden out back this summer and now we’ve find ourselves with an (over)abundance of cherry tomatoes. There’s only so many cherry tomatoes I can tolerate in a salad. So I thought I’d make a quick and easy pasta sauce out of them and with the addition of basil, thyme and oregano which is also in (over)abundance make a really light, easy and savory pasta sauce.

I cut the tomatoes in half, tossed them with about 1 TBS of olive oil, added 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, 1 TBS of chili flakes, and the herbs. I roasted them all on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes burst and start to brown.


Because the sauce is so light, thin pastas like angel hair, capellini or spaghettini work best. Just simply toss the sauce with some pasta and add a salty cheese like pecorino, ricotta salata or feta. If you wanna add some protein, it’d be nice with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken and finished with some julienned fresh basil. Or if you want to keep it vegan/vegetarian, add more summer veggies like zucchini and eggplant. These can easily be roasted alongside the cherry tomatoes.

The sauce will hold in the fridge for a couple of days and can be warmed by tossing with warm pasta. I just put into a jar and toss it in the fridge to use later in the week.


Cedar-Planked Chipotle Chili and Lime Salmon


Summer is finally here and we’re taking advantage of having access to a charcoal grill. We’re also taking advantage of the vegetables and herbs that we planted earleir in the Spring.  Our tomatoes are nice and ripen and the yellow bell peppers are finally changing from green to yellow.

We’ve been conducting a bit of an experiment this week trying to eat seafood as our primary protein.  Last night we had Shrimp cocktail with home-made cocktail sauce. Earlier in the week, we had seared swordfish with zucchini noodles, feta, herbs and frsh corn.  Tonight  we opted for cedar-planked Chipotle Lime Salmon. Cooking fish on a cedar plank, is an easy way to keep fish moist while grilling. The planks need to be soaked in water for at least an hour before using. So a little bit of planning and preparation is needed.

Perhaps, its because I’m a food nerd through and through, but I really enjoy checkimg out what vegetables and herbs are ready to harvest,  This morning’s survey yielded a handful of cherry tomatoes  a yellow bell pepper and cayenne pepper. I augmented the haul with fresh corn, zucchini, onion, a Hungarian wax pepper and a poblano. I julienned all the veggies earlier in the morning and marinaded them with salt, pepper, lime juice, olive oil, and chipotle chili powder. If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, you can use a small piece of canned chipotle and use the remainder for the salmon marinade.

Marinade the salmon fillets for a couple of hours, then place on the cedar planks on a medium hot grill. You should be able to hold your hand over the grill for about 5 seconds, if any less, then the grill is too hot.  Depending on thickness of your filets, the salmon should cook in 12-15 minutes.

Salmon Marinade

¼ Tbsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 clove of garlic, smashed

1 chili pepper such as serrano or jalapeño

the juice from 1 orange and 1 lime

¼ cup of olive oil

½ of a chipotle chili

Blend all together in a food processor or blender you can add which ever herbs you like. Cilantro and oregano go nicely with the chili and lime. Pour the mixture into a zip top bag and place the salmon in the back skin side up.  We set some of the marinade aside, and used that to dress the greens we had with our salmon.