Two Easy Appetizers and Blueberry Cake!

There’s a snoring kitty by my side, I’ve just finished a delicious plate of tomatoes and basil, I’m still humming  Theo Katzman’s jazzy tunes from Sonic Lunch today (check him out! ) and I’m way behind in my blogging.  This is going to be a rather random and rambling post–you’ve been warned!  So, last Friday I went to Norma’s for some girl time catch-up and to watch Liam Neeson’s “Unknown” (so-so) on her gigantic television.  She’s been rather unavailable lately for going out (she might need a television intervention!), but for now I decided if I can’t beat her, might as well join her.  She prepared a lovely Greek Village Salad which we ate with leftover mashed potatoes and roast chicken.  I brought the following two appetizers because they are so simple and I had the ingredients on hand.  Prosciutto e Melone (might as well make it sound fancier than it is by calling it by its Italian name) is the easiest of all summer appetizers, but please don’t bother if melons aren’t in season.  Instead wrap some prosciutto around some bread sticks or, in the springtime, roasted asparagus.  No need to tell you what to do, you’re smart enough to look at the pictures and figure it out.

The second easy appetizer I brought along I adapted from what I remember of a Bon Appétit (calling to me again!) recipe for a “5 minute smoked salmon appetizer” (or something like that).  The original recipe  calls for salt and pepper kettle chips, which are perfect here, but I had some Chicago Flatbread crackers and they worked just as well.  Any ‘ol cracker or mild chip would be fine here I’m sure.

Smoked Salmon Crackers

1/4 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon lemon juice

small package smoked salmon

some chopped red onion and dill

crackers or kettle chips

The amounts in this recipe are really hard to nail down.  I’d love to just  say some, but that’s not fair, so the above are estimated amounts.  For two of us, I made nine crackers but I’ve certainly made more for larger gatherings by using more sour cream (mixed with the lemon juice),  smoked salmon, chips, dill and red onion.  It’s so easy that it’s embarrassing to tell you what to do (other than mixing the sour cream and lemon juice) so again, see the picture.  Oh yeah, the original recipe also calls for crème fraîche , but who has that on hand?

On to the Blueberry Cake.  I made this a couple of days ago for a dear friend who’s recently gone through a terrible tragedy.  Sometimes one just doesn’t know what to say to help, so the best remedy is make something comforting to eat.  After a dinner of chicken with haricots verts and fresh sliced tomatoes, we devoured this cake with a little freshly whipped cream, while taking full advantage of what remains of blueberry season.  I referred to this cake earlier when I made Smitten Kitchen’s strawberry version.  Now that I’ve adapted it with blueberries, here it is.  And if making a cake seems daunting, trust me, this can be whipped up in about 10 minutes.

6 Tablespoons butter, plus extra for the pie plate

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup sugar plus two tablespoons for the top of the cake

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pint blueberries

Make sure the butter is room temperature or microwave for 10 second intervals until it becomes soft (but not melted).

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Add the sugar to the butter in a larger bowl and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes or so.  Add the egg, vanilla, and milk and mix until just combined.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and, again, mix until just combined and flour is moist (do not overmix or the cake may be tough).  Pour into a liberally buttered 10″ pie plate or casserole dish and top with the blueberries, pressing them into the batter.  Then dust with the  remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar and bake for 10 minutes at 350°.  Then lower oven temperature to 325° and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean (with blueberries of course).  Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

This cake is delicious as is, but next time I might be inclined to mix half the blueberries into the batter and press the other half into the top, so as to enjoy blueberries running throughout the cake rather than just the top bit.  Either way, it’s so good, I bet it would work with almost any fruit that is in season.  Go ahead and try it!

And finally, about those summer tomatoes, get ’em while they’re hot (well, I mean best of course) from any local farmers’ market.  Slice, add fresh basil and just a tad of sea salt.  No additional adornment needed or even wanted.


About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
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