Blueberry-Basil Hand Pies

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The chief recipe taster in my kitchen calls these fruit empanatas.  Also known as turnovers, hand pies are personal pies. Tidier to eat and serve, they are perfect for picnics and potlucks or to enjoy on the go.  With plump, sweet and juicy berries in season, hand pies showcase the bounty in a tasty little parcel of goodness.  Hiding inside my blueberry hand pies is a layer of lemon curd to add some zing to the berries.  I love contrasting sweet notes with earthy herbs and this filling features fresh basil.  You could substitute lemon balm or leave it out completely.  Just make sure to toss your filling together just before filling the pastry so the berries don’t have a chance to weep and make the pastry soggy.  The hand pies can be made in any shape desired and could be fancied up with a special cut out on the top such as a star or heart.  Mine are a classic half round shape with 3 vent slits.  Whatever you want to call them, just call these flaky mini pies delicious!

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6 Wine Crate Centerpieces

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“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Wine crates are one of my favorite containers for displaying flowers.  They are available for free from most wine stores and come in many different sizes.  They can be painted or stained if desired to coordinate with a décor theme.  Because of their generous size, they make an imposing centerpiece once filled with flowers.

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This wine crate was filled with pots of annual flowers.  I ran a string of whimsical dragonfly lights through the flowers to light up the centerpiece for an evening party.  Magical!  For detailed instructions on how-to, please click here. Continue reading

Tomato-White Bean Galette with Pesto Swirl and Feta

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Although my own garden tomatoes are still green on the vine, the markets are bursting with plump, juicy seasonal tomatoes.  This galette showcases heirloom tomatoes layered on top of a protein-rich white bean purée drizzled with fragrant pesto, topped with tangy feta and enveloped in flaky pastry.  It was a perfect summer meal and so good, I’m making another one tonight!  If in a rush, you can use ready made white bean hummus and pesto.image Continue reading

The Garden Sculptures of Inta Krombolz

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As a passionate lover of gardens, I have visited gardens in many parts of the world.  My favorite however, is close to home, in Chester County Pennsylvania and is the garden of the talented Inta Krombolz.  Inta’s garden has been developed over more than 30 years and is a luxuriant display of perennials, shrubs and trees.   With contrasting elements of color, texture and form, it is a garden with great bones and the designer’s personal imprint. Continue reading

French Canadian Tarte au Sucre

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This is a love story not about a pie but about the woman who has baked it for her family for more than 60 years. Innovation in the kitchen is not as impressive as consistency. After all, anyone can come up with an original idea or two over a lifetime. But making something perfectly, the same way, time after time, well that is an achievement. Everytime I get to eat this pie, I consider myself the luckiest person in the world.

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3 Cheese Ricotta Pie in a Polenta Crust

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Move over quiche.  This savory ricotta pie in a polenta crust is summer’s answer to the quiche.  Lower in fat but full of flavor and fiber, the pie is as delicious for brunch as for dinner. The cornmeal-parmesan crust studded with parsley crisps up nicely like those irresitible parmesan carckers and is totally gluten free. The crust and the filling can be made a day ahead if desired then assembled on the day of baking.  The herbed ricotta filling has a rich velvety texture achieved without the addition of cream.   We served ours with a spiralized zucchini-tomato salad, recipe follows.  A crisp green salad would totally go well with this pie.    Add some salsa on the side.

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