Blackberry Buckle

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in Chatham, MA, this summer, and have stopped a few times at a local breakfast spot called Hangar B. It’s off the beaten path –  at the tiny airport in Chatham – but worth finding. All their food is great, but the real standouts are their incredible homemade baked goods and jams.

The blackberry jam in particular is so good that I wanted to find to way another way to eat it. Because spreading it on doughnuts with lemon curd just wasn’t enough.

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I played around with a number of different cake batters and crumbles, and this Blackberry Buckle finally hit all the marks. It’s a riff on traditional blueberry buckle, or coffee cake, with a jammy swirl running through the middle. The cake itself is moist and has just a hint of lemon. It’s basically a vehicle for the blackberries and crumble, but very good in its own right too.

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This is the kind of cake you could make for dessert, and serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or for breakfast, with a big mug of coffee. I would recommend serving it for dessert and then eating the leftovers before anyone else is awake the next morning.

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Use the best jam you can find for this cake- preferably one without a lot of “jiggle,” so to speak. I first tried this recipe with Hangar B’s blackberry jam and was very happy with the results, but I wanted to make sure the cake would be delicious with regular grocery store jam, too. I tried a few different kinds, and Bonne Maman and Hero blackberry preserves were by far the best.

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Blackberry Buckle

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blackberry jam
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries, divided
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt, such as Fage
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • crumble topping:
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour a 9” inch square baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the jam, 1 cup of the blackberries, and ½ tsp vanilla extract.  In another small bowl, make the crumble topping. Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and pinch the ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture makes big crumbles. Set aside the jam mixture and crumble topping.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer),  cream the butter and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the yogurt, lemon zest, and remaining 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, and spoon the jam mixture on top. Using a spatula, carefully spread the jam mixture to cover the entire surface of the batter. Add remaining cake batter in large spoonfuls and carefully smooth again. Don’t worry if the jam peeks through the top layer of batter in places.
  6. Sprinkle the crumble topping and remaining 1 cup blackberries on top and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the center of the cake springs back under a light touch.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or at room temperature.

 

Sicilian Tomato and Eggplant Rigatoni

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I love going to the farmers market, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked past all the beautiful fruit and vegetables and then stopped and thought, “but what am I actually going to cook?” Instead of standing in front of a crate of eggplants and Googling easy eggplant recipes – or just buying a muffin and a few peaches and calling it a day- I wanted to come up with a great summer dish that would make use of those abundant peak-of-summer vegetables.

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David inspects grilled eggplant for doneness.

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This recipe combines eggplant and sweet cherry tomatoes in a pasta that’s light, simple, and really flavorful. Instead of the classic summer go-tos, basil, mozzarella and balsamic, I used Sicilian flavors and ingredients- hot red pepper flakes, garlic, anchovy and golden raisins- and came up with a sauce that’s spicy, savory and just a little bit sweet. It’s almost like rigatoni with a summery caponata on top.

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I like to use a mix of red cherry tomatoes, for their color, and super sweet Sun-Gold tomatoes, for their super sweetness..

This pasta is great for potlucks and summer cookouts because it’s delicious both warm and at room temperature. If you’re planning ahead, you could even make the sauce and grill the eggplant in advance, and then cook the pasta and toss everything together at the last minute. And if you omit the anchovy paste, the pasta will not only be vegetarian, but vegan, too. (woooo!) That said, if you aren’t vegetarian, I highly recommend including the anchovy. It’s subtle, but adds great depth of flavor to the sauce.

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Sicilian Tomato and Eggplant Rigatoni

Ingredients

  • 2 small eggplants (1 1/2 lbs total), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 4 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes (2 pints)
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare a charcoal grill with a single layer of hot coals, set a gas grill to medium-high heat, or heat a stovetop grill pan over medium-heat high. Brush the eggplant slices generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until charred and cooked through. Set aside to cool. Once the eggplant has cooled, cut each slice into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a small sauté pan, combine the raisins and vinegar and cook over low heat until the vinegar has completely evaporated, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/3 cup olive oil, along with the garlic, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have burst and are starting to break down. Add the eggplant and the raisins and cook for 5 more minutes.*
  4. Cook the rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package. Drain and pour the pasta into a large bowl. Add the sauce and toss well. Add the pine nuts and parsley, reserving about 2 tablespoons of each for the top, and toss gently. Sprinkle the pasta with the reserved pine nuts and parsley, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm or at room temperature.
  5. Note: The sauce can be made several hours in advance and brought back to a simmer just before you plan to cook the pasta.