Summer Berries

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Blueberry Almond Buckle (Gluten-Free Cake) Recipe | What’s Cooking

Blueberry Almond Buckle Cake (a gluten-free dessert) recipe from Nordstrom.

Buckle: if you aren’t familiar, it’s sort of like a coffeecake and a muffin had a sweet, delicious child, and is so called because the butter and sugar stuesel topping caramelizes and “buckles.” Our version is served at selected Nordstrom restaurants. Packed with blueberries (two pounds to be exact), it’s an excellent way to capitalize on summer’s bounty.

This recipe sprung from a happy accident. Our chefs were working with corn and almond flour for our Blueberry Almond Cake and realized afterward that it just happens to be gluten-free—though that affects neither the texture nor the flavor of this moist and tender blueberry cake.

Serve this easy-to-make dessert with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on a warm summer night.

Gluten free dessert: Blueberry Almond Cake recipe from Nordstrom.

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Easy Fresh Blueberry and Strawberry Cobbler Recipe | What’s Cooking

Easy, fresh mixed berry cobbler recipe with strawberries, blueberries and vanilla bean from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Looking for a way to use up those ripe summer berries—or an excuse to have more of them? Our mixed-berry cobbler combines fresh blueberries and strawberries into an easy-to-prepare dessert that’s just right for the season. A little sugar sweetens the berries, and seeds from a vanilla bean dot the perfectly thickened juices with their rich, warm flavor—all underneath a crisp and crumbly old-fashioned oat topping.

For an added layer of sophistication (i.e., to make people think you spent a whole lot more time on this super-simple recipe than you actually did), serve it as we do in our Blue Stove Restaurants in individual crème brûlée dishes. However you present it—in individual portions or a family-style casserole dish—this Strawberry and Blueberry Cobbler couldn’t be a better way to punctuate the end of a delicious midsummer dinner.

Easy, fresh mixed berry cobbler recipe with strawberries, blueberries and vanilla bean from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

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Crisp Strawberry Crostata Recipe with Vanilla Pastry Cream and Balsamic Reduction | What’s Cooking

Straberry Crostata Dessert Recipe with vanilla pastry cream and balsamic reduction from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Ripe, sweet strawberries; rich, luscious pastry cream; syrupy balsamic; and a scoop of vanilla-bean gelato, all atop a buttery, flaky crostata shell. You’re going to want to make this summery dessert next time you have people over: it’s a showstopper. Making homemade pastry cream and dough may sound like a challenge, but it’s actually pretty easy and requires only a few ingredients. Even better, you can whip up all the components of this extremely delicious dessert four days ahead of serving, and assemble it in just a couple minutes for your guests (just save macerating the strawberries for the last minute). Serve, sit back and enjoy how popular you have now become.

For a nice touch, warm up the crostata shells in a 350°F oven for a few minutes before serving. And a really good jam can stand in for the streak of raspberry sauce, if you don’t want to make it yourself. Just warm the jar in a microwave and add a few drops of water to loosen it to a spreadable consistency; passing it through a sieve to remove any seeds is also a good idea.

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Summer Berry Salad Recipe with Blackberry-Champagne Vinaigrette | What’s Cooking

Two years ago, one of the first recipes that kicked off our What’s Cooking series was a summer berry salad with balsamic fig vinaigrette and spiced, candied almonds. We thought it high time for a new salad idea featuring everyone’s favorite summer ingredient (berries!) for those hot and sunny days.

Mixed Summer Berry Salad Recipe with Blackberry Champagne Vinaigrette. Photo by Jeff Powell.

This time around, we’ve got snack-on-the-leftovers-worthy candied walnuts and a beautifully colored (and flavored) Blackberry-Champagne Vinaigrette. Rounding out this salad, roasted chicken breast and blue cheese (pick a good creamy but crumbly one or a goat cheese, if you find blue too funky) ground everything with their savory notes. Prep your ingredients up to two days in advance, and you’ve got a dinner salad–or office lunch everyone will jealously eyeball–at the ready whenever you are.

You’ll have extra berries after making this recipe. I’d encourage using the additional blackberries to serve up a couple Amelia Cocktails with vodka, lemon and St. Germain, or get a couple extra pints while you’re shopping and make your menu a real berry bonanza with a summertime dessert like our Shortcakes with Lemon Curd or White Chocolate Mousse.

Mixed Summer Berry Salad Recipe with Blackberry Champagne Vinaigrette. Photo by Jeff Powell.

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Fresh Blueberry and Lavender Cocktail Recipe | What’s Cooking

Fresh blueberry martini cocktail recipe with lavender syrup from Nordstrom Bars. Photo by Jeff Powell.

What a perfect cocktail to celebrate the first official week of summer. Fresh blueberries get muddled to release their sweet juices–and a beautiful hue that helps color the cocktail–and lavender is simmered into a syrup that ends up slightly fragrant and contributes just the right touch of floral notes. I find lavender sometimes a bit overwhelming, but not here, when balanced by the refreshing tartness of lemon. Try this Blueberry and Lavender Martini in our Nordstrom bars, or read on to create this cocktail recipe for yourself and some very good friends this summer at home.

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The Amelia: Blackberry, Vodka, St. Germain & Lemon Cocktail Recipe | What’s Cooking

The Amelia: Blackberry, Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germain and Lemon Cocktail Recipe from Nordstrom; photo by Jeff Powell.

The Amelia cocktail served at our Nordstrom bars has a lot of great things going for it. It’s well balanced. It has handcrafted appeal and derives maximum flavor from just a small handful of ingredients. It’s also dangerously delicious and refined while being easy enough to prepare at home. This variation on the classic Aviation cocktail–said to be named after Amelia Earhart–is going to the top of my shortlist of adult beverages for entertaining (see our Smoke and Heat Cocktail recipe with Mezcal for another topping that list).

Ingredients: the Amelia: Blackberry, Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germain and Lemon Cocktail Recipe from Nordstrom; photo by Jeff Powell.

In the Amelia, ripe, muddled blackberries lend a seductive color and texture, while St. Germain elderflower liqueur heightens the flavors of summer. Freshly squeezed lemon juice cuts through any overt sweetness with just the right amount of tang. Served up, I chose the vintage look of a coupe cocktail glass, but–as presented at our bars–a classic martini glass equally shows off the beauty of this beverage. Pro tip: as called for in the recipe, try to use superfine (caster) sugar for the glass-rim garnish. Unlike more coarse, granulated sugar, the finely processed crystals feel velvety and melt instantly on contact with your lips.

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Nordstrom White Chocolate Bread Pudding Recipe | What’s Cooking

White Chocolate Nordstrom Bread Pudding Recipe from Nordstrom Bistro; photo by Jeff Powell.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding: it’s the most-asked-for recipe here on the blog and the most popular dessert at Nordstrom Cafe Bistro. There’s a reason for that—it’s pretty incredible. While baking, the pudding filled my kitchen with the smell of French toast, and the half-exposed bread on top developed a light crust, which added a nice textural contrast to the silky interior. The orange zest gives the raspberry sauce a tasty hint of citrus, while the white chocolate cream sauce takes the whole decadent dish to a very special place. And (bonus!) it can be made ahead of time. White chocolate and raspberries are a winning combination, and this is a perfect recipe for celebrating Mother’s Day—or any time you need a ridiculously good dessert.

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What’s Cooking: Berry Shortcakes with Lemon Curd and Blackberry Sauce

In this edition of What’s Cooking, we’re helping you squeeze all you can out of the last bits of summer berry season with a sweet and lemony filling topped with ripe blackberries and raspberries—all sandwiched between an easy, buttery shortcake.

With another easy-to-follow recipe developed by our corporate chef Michael Northern and his small army of chefs and contributors, our blog editor Jeff Powell proves (with his photographic evidence) that you don’t have to be a professional chef to transform beautiful ingredients into irresistible food that’s meant to be shared with family and friends.

Summer-Berry-Shortcake-Recipe-with-Lemon-Curd-and-Blackberry-Sauce-recipSummer Berry Shortcake Recipe with Lemon Curd and Blackberry Sauce recipe from Nordstrom.e-from-Nordstrom

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What’s Cooking: Fresh Berry and Balsamic Fig Salad with Goat Cheese

For our second installment of What’s Cooking, Nordstrom Blog Editor Jeff makes a sweet and tangy salad with balsamic fig vinaigrette from the Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook—also featured as a seasonal offering in selected Nordstrom restaurants.

With another simple-to-follow recipe developed by our corporate chef, Michael Northern, and his small army of chefs and contributors, Jeff proves (with his photographic evidence) that you don’t have to be a professional chef to transform beautiful ingredients into irresistible food that’s meant to be shared with family and friends.

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After that decadent White Chocolate Mousse, I thought I’d lighten things up a bit with a fresh but complexly flavored salad. Ripe berries bring a juicy flair to this party, but there are three more things I also love about this salad:

1. The goat cheese: I’m a sucker for anything with chèvre (though I am an equal-opportunity fromage-ophile).

2. The spiced almonds (recipe below): sweet and spicy with a satisfying crunch, these not only add great texture to the salad but also make a seriously addictive snack for guests—or a late-night nosh.

3. The balsamic fig vinaigrette: I’ve probably made gallons of vinaigrette over the years, but the fig-and-balsamic reduction in this one—with savory roasted garlic and bright cherry preserves—transforms it into the most sumptuous, flavor-layered vinaigrette of them all (no joke). I’ll definitely be making it again for salads that I want dressed to impress.

Fresh Berry and Balsamic Fig Salad with Goat Cheese
From the Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook
(makes six servings)

Balsamic Fig Vinaigrette:
½ cup (1½ ounces) coarsely chopped dried mission figs
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup cherry preserves
1½ teaspoons mashed Simple Roasted Garlic
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup canola oil

Salad Fixings:
10 ounces mixed baby greens
6 ounces baby arugula
15 dried mission figs, cut lengthwise into quarters
1 cup Spiced Whole Almonds (recipe below)
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1½ cups fresh blueberries
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups (6 ounces) crumbled rindless goat cheese (chèvre)
1½ cups fresh raspberries
1½ cups fresh blackberries

1. To make the vinaigrette, bring the figs, balsamic vinegar, and sugar to a simmer in a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the cherry preserves and roasted garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Let cool. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Process until the figs are finely chopped. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream to form an emulsion. One tablespoon at a time, add 3 tablespoons of water.

Spiced Whole Almonds:
(Makes about 2½ cups)
1 large egg white
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2½ cups (12 ounces) blanched whole almonds
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

A. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

B. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white, Tabasco, and salt until very foamy with no liquid. Add the almonds and brown sugar and fold gently with a rubber spatula to coat. Spread the almonds in a single layer, without touching each other, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, without stirring, until the almonds are crisp and golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes.

C. Mix the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a heatproof medium bowl. Scrape the hot almonds into the cinnamon mixture and toss to coat. Spread on a platter and let cool. (The almonds can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

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2. Combine the mixed greens and arugula in a large bowl. Add the figs and the almonds, drizzle with 1 cup of the vinaigrette and toss. Add the strawberries and blueberries and toss again. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Divide the salad evenly among 6 chilled salad bowls. Scatter equal amounts of the goat cheese, raspberries, and blackberries evenly over the salads. Serve immediately.

Note: The recipe for Balsamic Fig Vinaigrette makes about 1½ cups, although only 1 cup is needed for this recipe. Place the extra vinaigrette in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days to use on other salads. Shake well before using.

Download a PDF of this recipe to print, or find it in our Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook. Have a favorite recipe from our restaurants or cookbooks that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!

[Photos by Jeff Powell]

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What’s Cooking: White Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berries

Introducing our newest feature: What’s Cooking. Get ready for delicious, seasonal recipes from our four Nordstrom cookbooks, including beloved dishes from our restaurants and other original, simple-to-follow recipes developed by our corporate chef, Michael Northern, and his small army of chefs and contributors.

Nordstrom Blog Editor Jeff will be taking you into the kitchen as he brings home what’s fresh in Seattle to create a dish and prove (with his photographic evidence) that you don’t have to be a professional chef to transform beautiful ingredients into irresistible food meant to be shared with family and friends.

Best white chocolate mousse recipe with berries from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell

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It’s been one of the most amazing summers I can remember here in Seattle, and I like to celebrate such gorgeous weather by snatching up the berries we have at the Broadway Farmers Market. The first few recipes we’ll be sharing are perfect for showcasing these plump little juice-bombs. First up: raspberries—though this mousse plays well with any summer berry that makes you happy.

White Chocolate Mousse with Summer Berries

(Makes 8 Servings)

For me, hot and sunny days call for a light-feeling dessert, especially one like this that doesn’t require turning on the oven—just a barely lit stove with enough heat to melt some luscious white chocolate. For such a straightforward recipe with so few components, the resulting airy texture of this rich and velvety dessert seems almost unbelievable. As always, but especially here, quality ingredients are key.

From the Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook: 

“Not that there is anything wrong with dark chocolate mousse (you can use bittersweet chocolate to replace the white chocolate in this recipe), but the mousse’s silky texture and pristine color is irresistible. When purchasing white chocolate, be sure the ingredients include cocoa butter. Tangy fresh berries balance the mousse’s sweetness.” –Marcus Matusky, contributing chef

Ingredients:
1¼ cups heavy cream
8 ounces high-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
4 large eggs, separated*
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
4 cups assorted fresh berries, such as raspberries and blueberries
White chocolate curls

1. Pour ¼ inch water into a medium skillet and bring to a bare simmer over low heat. Pour ¼ cup of the heavy cream into a heatproof small bowl. Add the white chocolate. Place the bowl in the skillet and turn off the heat. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool slightly.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow and thickened. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. Let stand, stirring often, until tepid, about 10 minutes. (If the mixture is too warm, it will melt the whipped cream in the next step.)

3. Beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream in a chilled medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir one-quarter of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture to lighten its texture. Fold in the remaining cream.

4. Using clean beaters, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whip just until the peaks are stiff and shiny. Stir one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the white chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

5. Divide the mousse among 8 individual bowls or wine glasses. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Garnish with berries and white chocolate curls; serve chilled.

To make chocolate curls, let a chunk of chocolate (at least 6 ounces) stand in a warm place in the kitchen for about 1 hour. Working over a plate, use a vegetable peeler to shave curls from the chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm the curls before using.

Editor’s Note. I confess: No doubt some of you eagle-eyed readers have noticed my lack of a white-chocolate-curl garnish on the final martini glass presentation. After I finished all the whisking and beating, I noticed the extra chocolate I reserved had vanished. Into my mouth. I’ll just call it “overzealous quality control.” In a culinary make-it-work moment, a sprig of mint seemed like a classic, colorful substitution to complement those ruby-red raspberries.

The best part about making this mousse was watching the looks of near delirium on my friends’ faces as they relished their first spoonful. The combination of voluminous, silky sweetness and fat little berries at the height of freshness made for a dessert that’s nothing less than summertime perfection. I love how elegant it looks and tastes.

Download a PDF of this recipe to print, or find it in our Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook. Have a favorite recipe from our restaurants or cookbooks that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!

[Photos by Jeff Powell]

*This recipe contains under-cooked eggs, which have been known to carry the potentially harmful salmonella bacterium. Do not serve to the very young or elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system.

Best white chocolate mousse recipe with berries from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell

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