Monday, May 19, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits

Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Introducing a new favorite around our house, Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits. Do I even need to tellyou that this is a Paula Deen recipe from the word go? My husband saw Miss Paula talking about her recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits a while back, and asked me to make a pan of them, after all, Pineapple Upside Down Cake is his very favorite cake. Miss Paula's innovation is to create individual servings by placing the pineapple and brown sugar mixture into a muffin pan. Miss Paula pops open a tube of biscuits to top off her little cakes and I thought why not make a homemade biscuit and wouldn't they be even better? And you know what? I was right.

Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits

1 (10 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained, with juice reserved
½ cup light brown sugar
½ stick butter, melted
12 maraschino cherries

1.       Preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin tins.
2.       Combine pineapple, sugar and butter in a small bowl and mix well. Divide mixture among the muffin cups. Place cherry firmly in center of each muffin cup.


2 cups all-purpose flour, White Lily preferred
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons shortening, chilled
1 cup buttermilk, whole milk preferred (I use Marburger brand)

1.       Into a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add shortening and cut the fat into the flour using a fork or pastry blender. I use my fingers to rub the fat into the flour ~ it’s messy, but I get a better feel for how the fat is distributed throughout the flour.
2.       Pour in buttermilk and using a large spoon, stir until a dough is formed. With a light touch, place dough on lightly floured counter, gently press out with your hands to a uniform 1/2-inch thickness and cut out 1 dozen, 2-inch biscuits. I usually end up with 14, so you may have extras to bake alongside the pineapple biscuits.
3.       Place biscuits on top of pineapple mixture. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 13 minutes. Biscuits will be lightly brown and spring back when done. Place muffin pan on countertop to cool for five minutes.
4.       Cover a baking sheet with foil and turn muffin pan out onto baking sheet. Serve biscuits warm. Store leftovers in a covered container and refrigerate.

Text and images copyright 2014, Lucy Mercer.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Asian Noodle Salad with Ginger Dressing

Asian Noodle Salad with Ginger Dressing/Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
I needed a potluck salad last week and found this delicious recipe ~ it caught my eye because of the mango. I just so happened to have a couple fruits ripening on the counter. The chicken was my addition, because the original didn't seem quite hearty enough. With the protein, this can be a main dish salad, perfect for packed lunches or a summertime dinner on the porch.

Asian Noodle Salad with Chicken and Mango and Ginger Dressing

6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
1 garlic clove, chopped

½ pound whole wheat spaghetti, broken in half, and cooked according to package directions
1 cup chopped, cooked chicken breast
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced ½ inch
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 firm but ripe mango, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Cilantro, minced, used as a garnish, if desired

1.       Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until combined.

2.       For salad, place cooked, drained spaghetti noodles in a large bowl, add chicken, cucumber, scallions, mango and carrot. Gently toss with vinaigrette and garnish with cilantro, if using. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook.

Text and images, copyright 2014, Lucy Mercer.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Fool for Strawberries

Strawberry fool. Lucy Mercer, A Cook and Her Books
I'm a fool for strawberries, the tart and sweet fruits of spring. I know they are available all year round, but when the days get longer and the temps start rising, strawberries seem the perfect answer to every noshing question. "What shall I have for breakfast?" Strawberries with vanilla yogurt and a sprinkle of granola. "What shall I give the girls to snack on after school?" A big bowl of strawberries with a teeny bowl of either white or brown sugar for dipping. "What about dessert?" you ask and I answer "Strawberries and Cream."

This version of strawberries and cream is called a "fool," an old-fashioned dessert that is simply sweetened, whipped cream with pureed fruit. You could use other soft fruits and berries such as mango and blackberries for a delicious variation.

Strawberry Fool
8 Servings

1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
Additional strawberries for garnishing, if desired
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

1. In a food processor, puree berries with sugar until smooth and lump-free. Add lemon juice and zest.

2. Beat cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Use a spatula to gently fold in 1/4th of fruit puree, gradually adding more until all is incorporated. Scoop mixture into covered container and refrigerate for at least one hour. When ready to serve, spoon into individual dessert glasses and garnish with fresh berries.

Here's the step-by-step. Honestly, this takes more time to describe than it will take you to make it. Pin this recipe "Super Easy and Delicious Desserts."

Red, ripe strawberries. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Strawberries ready for slicing. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

A dusting of lemon zest before pureeing. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Beat heavy whipping cream until it looks just like this ~softly swirling peaks. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Gradually fold in berry puree. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Incorporate all the strawberry puree into the cream. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

This post is part of #LetsLunch, a monthly Twitter party from a global group of bloggers. May's theme is Fruit Fiesta. Visit these other wonderful writers for more cooking inspiration:

Cantaloupe Pie at Tea and Scones.
Mango Refrigerator Cake at Asian in America.
Sticky Pears at Monday Morning Cooking Club.
 Mango Kale Salad at

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Blooms at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

 I have taken many pictures of this sweet cherub, but I never tire of seeing how the Atlanta Botanical Garden surrounds the statue with seasonal plants. In this case, the tulips were a riot of color in early April, for the annual Atlanta Blooms event.

Here are some pictures from our afternoon at the garden, including a stroll through the orchid garden.
Tulips. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

The Canopy Walk is at the entrance of the garden and allows tremendous views of the woods and an upcoming exhibit...
Canopy Walk. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Imaginary Worlds will open in early May and features this beauty.

Imaginary Worlds. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

The Botanical Garden showcases fancy plants, but also tried and true varieties, like Lenten Rose.
Lenten Rose. Lucy Mercer/ A Cook and Her Books
And flaming native azaleas.
Native azaleas. Lucy Mercer/ A Cook and Her Books

A few treats from the Orchid House...
Lucy Mercer/ A Cook and Her Books

Orchids. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Bromeliad. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books