Saturday, August 30, 2014

Blackberry Mania - From Storing Tips to Recipes for Savory Blackberry Sauce and Blackberry Brandy

It's blackberry season! Chef Erin shares tips for storing fresh blackberries as well as a couple of her favorite recipes.

Okay, as cheesy as this sounds, blackberry brandy makes me oddly nostalgic for my "childhood." I grew up in Wisconsin and it's sad to admit but we country kids started drinking pretty early. Blackberry brandy was the drink of choice for many of the teenage girls I knew. (I was a sloe gin drinker, myself. Good God!) Anyway, with the plethora of wild blackberries in the Pacific Northwest, I'm always looking for ways to use them up. So an homage to my high school girlfriends seemed like a natural! (This is for you Suzi, Tammy, Heidi, Kim and Lisa - you know who you are!)

On a grown up note, I also love making a savory sweet sauce for salmon, duck or pork so I've included that recipe too. Plus, I think you should try some blackberries in your next lemon or almond cake. To die for!

Savory Blackberry Sauce
for Salmon, Duck or Pork 
Serves 4

2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
pinch of white pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Simmer the blackberries, sugar and water in a saucepan until the berries are soft and starting to fall apart (about 5 minutes).Take off the burner and put the blackberries into a sieve. Use a wooden spoon or rubber scraper to push the berries through until you have extracted all the liquid. Discard the residue.

Put the liquid back into the saucepan and bring to heat. Whisk in the lemon juice, cornstarch or arrowroot, and white pepper. Heat until it begins to thicken slightly.

Remove from heat and whisk in butter and a dash of red wine vinegar. Add a little salt, if desired.

Spoon over roasted or grilled salmon and it's also wonderful on duck breast or pork tenderloin.

Blackberry Brandy

2 cups fresh, crushed blackberries
1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups brandy, divided

Add sugar to boiling water and stir until dissolved. Gently crush the blackberries. Using your hands is fine! Pour the sugar water over the crushed berries.

Pour the mixture into a glass jar, add 1 cup brandy and seal the jar and shake gently. Place the jar in a cool, dark cupboard for 1 week. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Add the second cup of brandy.

Sip on it's own or blend with vanilla ice cream for a decadent smoothie!

Don't forget to join me for a cooking class the next time you are in Seattle!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Blogger's Take: Moroccan Cooking Class at

This blog has been reprinted with the permission of Lizette Wolter McKinley, local photographer and blogger.  Check out her blog at

When I saw Chef Shop, a local fine and specialty food purveyor was offering a Moroccan cooking class I was intrigued. There are some types of food I have never attempted to make and Moroccan is one of them. I arrived at Chef Shop a tad early for my class, giving myself some time to look around the store and meet the employees ahead of time. From the start, I was impressed with how friendly, passionate and welcoming all the women were. Hors d'oeuvres were already laid out for the students and drinks were offered within minutes of stepping inside. As we waited for the other students to arrive we nibbled on scrumptious snacks and delicious drinks. 
Since I had never attended a presentation style cooking class before I was not certain what to expect. Once everyone arrived we took our seats and Erin Coopey warmly and enthusiastically greeted us. As Erin sliced and diced she confidently walked us through each recipe. Eliza Ward, Chef Shop's owner and founder, was on hand to interject product knowledge and show us what we could purchase from her store in order to create the food we were witnessing being made.
Our menu for the evening included:
Appetizers: Olives with Harissa and Moroccan-style bean dip
Entree: Chicken tagine with preserved lemons
Sides: Quinoa salad and carrot salad with feta and mint
Dessert: Moroccan coconut "cake" 
After a long, busy day it was nice to sit back and learn about food with the knowledge your dinner is being made for you. Most classes I have attended in the past focus on the importance of fresh ingredients, this class focused on the importance of your what is in your pantry. To be honest, I am a big proponent of eating seasonally and finding the freshest ingredients, but I have never been much thought to the beans I put in my soup or the salt I through in my pot of boiling water. I learned many things throughout the duration of this class, but most importantly I have become more aware of my options. 
For instance, without thinking I have adopted a habit of using olive oil for cooking. Little did I know the burn point of olive oil is not particularly high and that as much as I am trying to be health conscious by using the wrong oil at the wrong temperature I am destroying the health benefits of the product. Same goes for my lack of knowledge in regards to table salt. I have always been under the impression that we as human beings need iodine, I never gave it much thought I am probably consuming enough of it whenever I eat processed food or better yet- seafood. 
Knowledge is power and after the Moroccan cooking class I left feeling confident I could replicate the dishes I had seen prepared before my very eyes. I am eager to use my new rice bran oil, which has a much higher smoke point than olive oil and I finally got wise and purchased large tube of tomato paste. I was getting tired of throwing away cans of unused tomato paste when sometimes you just need a little. 
Chef Shop is a treasure trove for the at home cook or foodie that you know. It is the perfect spot to pick up a unique host/hostess gift or the next time you want to upgrade your own pantry. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pulled Pork with Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Over the past month, I've been teaching a class on Carolina Barbecue at the PCC Natural Markets.  You'd think that I'd be sick of it by now, but I have to tell you that the recipes are so good that I made them all again this weekend!  The class is a complete summertime feast from Southern Pimento Cheese to coleslaw, roasted corn with chili honey butter, pulled pork, and grilled peaches with bourbon caramel sauce.  It's really a treat.

The pulled pork features my version of a Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce excerpted from The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook.  It's vinegar and mustard based barbecue like you find in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.  I created it after a visit with my dear friend, Christin. (Hi CP!)

When I was writing the book, I thought it would be fun to offer more than one type of barbecue sauce. We're so used to the typical tomato/molasses style of most commercial brands. Once I'd perfected the recipe, we invited friends over for a taste test and served both my Kansas City-Style and Carolina-Style sauces. Although both were popular, we all decided that Carolina-Style with its zingy mustard and vinegar base was the favorite.

For the Carolina Barbecue class I use a pressure cooker to make the pulled pork because we have limited time but I thought it might be better to give you the old-fashioned slow braised version here.  It's an all-day affair but I promise it's worth the wait!

Check out the video for an overview and then follow the recipe below for all the details.

Pulled Pork

3 - 4 lbs pork shoulder, pork butt or boneless country spare ribs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons bacon fat, lard or oil
1 cup chicken broth, apple cider vinegar or apple juice - your choice
buns for sandwiches, optional

Preheat oven to 250F or 275F. (See Chef's Note)

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dry rub - brown sugar, salt, paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, mustard powder, granulated garlic, and black pepper. Stir to mix.

Coat the pork with spice mixture. Massage it in well.

Place dutch oven or heavy pot on the stove top over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add fat. Brown the pork on all sides. 

Add the broth to the pot and gently scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of meat and only that are stuck.

Place the lid on the dutch oven. Be sure that it's a tight fitting lid. If you don't have a snug lid, cover the pan with aluminum foil and place the lid on top of the foil to ensure a good seal.  Since the pork will be braising slowly, it's important to seal the moisture inside. 

Place the pork in the oven and roast for 4 1/2 to 8 hours. I realize that's a huge range but it depends on the size of your pork shoulder.  You can estimate it will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours per pound to cook your pork roast between 250F and 275F.  When you can easily pull the meat apart with a fork, it's done!

I usually let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes before pulling it. After the pork has rested, shred the meat with your fingers or a fork and serve with Carolina-Style Barbecue SauceServes 4 to 8

Chef's Note: So, you just can't wait for hours to eat your pulled pork, huh? Well, here's quicker method if you own a pressure cooker.

Cut the pork butt into several chunks, 2- to 3-inches each. Coat the chunks of pork with the spice mixture.

Place a pressure cooker pot on the stove top over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Brown the pork in batches. When the pork is browned, remove it from the pot and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Add 2 cups broth or vinegar to the pot and gently scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of meat that are stuck. Return the pork to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Close and lock the lid.

Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure (15 psi). Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to maintain pressure, and set the timer for 1 hour.

When the time is up remove the pressure cooker from the heat and manually release the pressure. Carefully open the lid and remove the meat to a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before shredding. Discard the cooking liquid and serve with Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce

Years ago, my best friend, Christin moved to the Raleigh-Durham area. When I went out for a visit, she took me for some real Carolina barbecue. I was really struck by the barbecue sauce. It was really unlike any I'd ever tried before. It was piquant, tart - just plain zippy.  I really loved it.

When I was writing recipes for The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, I decided to try to recreate the sauce. I thought it would be good to offer a couple distinct barbecue sauces to choose from.  I love my Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce too but the Carolina-Style has stolen my heart.

Condiment photo by Rina Jordan
from Kitchen Pantry Cookbook (2013) by Erin Coopey
(Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce - center, right)

Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce

Although I typically use this sauce as a condiment on ribs or pulled pork, it makes a great mop sauce if you are into pit barbecuing. I also love it with grilled chicken!

Makes 2 cups

3/4 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Mix ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. If you like a thicker sauce, just simmer it a bit longer. 

Sauce can be used immediately or refrigerated for up to 1 month.

This barbecue sauce makes a great marinade for either chicken or pork. If you plan to use this sauce as marinade, be sure to cool it in the refrigerator before adding the meat.

Excerpted from The Kitchen PantryCookbook by Erin Coopey, Quarry Books 2013