Funfeasts is about enjoying and exploring life - through food. It's an attempt to chronicle my feasts of fun and the many tasty bites experienced along the way.

My oh my, it's time for blueberry pie!


There's just something about the bounty of summer fruit and my need to make pies. Topped with a little ice cream you have the perfect dessert or breakfast depending upon the time of day.

This year I started my "pie season" with blueberries because they seem to be abundant at the local farmer's markets or my neighborhood store. Plus, they are really easy to work with; no peeling or chopping. I simply wash and drain, then smash a few to ensure there is adequate juice in the final product (it's a personal preference).

The following recipe is from the Joy of Cooking: All About Pies and Tarts. What I like best about this recipe is the simplicity which allows the fruit to be the star of the show. I must say the one variation is that depending on the tartness of the fruit - and your palate - it's best to taste, taste, taste once all the ingredients are mixed together. If the flavor seems too sweet and you want a bit of "sparkle" simply add a smidge more lemon juice.

Blueberry (or any fruit) pie

• Pie crust
• 5 cups fruit (sliced or peeled if necessary)
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon strained fresh lemon juice
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Mix the fruit, sugar, thickener, lemon juice and salt and let stand for 15 minutes before pouring into the crust. This is where I taste the filling and make adjustments if needed. Dot the butter over the filling. Brush the edge of the bottom crust with cold water, then cover with the top crust or lattice. Seal the edge, trim and crimp or flute. Cut steam vents in the top crust.

Bake the pie in the lower third of a 425 degree oven for 30 minute; then slip a baking sheet beneath it, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake the pie until thick juices bubble through the vents, about 30 minutes more.

If you like peach pie, here's another great recipe. On Funfeasts, of course!

Make your own mozzarella and ricotta!

Whenever I’m in Seattle a stop at the Pike Place Market and Beecher’s cheese is on my itinerary. Beecher’s sells cheese (of course) and also cheese-related items like Ricki’s mozzarella and ricotta kit for the do-it-yourself-crowd (like me!) The kit makes things pretty simple; you add the citric acid, salt and rennet from the kit to purchased whole milk.

Looking for a cheese without rennet? Try using cardoons as your cheese enzyme. Also called the artichoke thistle, cardoons have invisible spines that can be painful if they come in contact with the skin. My contact with cardoons came in the form of a delicious gratin while dining at a local restaurant. Thank goodness someone else braved the harvest and prepped the cardoons for me!

If you want to make your own cheese, you can pick up a kit at the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.

Ricki’s Whole Milk Ricotta

1 gallon milk
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon cheese salt

1. Pour the milk into a non-reactive pot (not aluminum, not cast iron). Add citric acid (and salt, optional). Stir.
2. Heat the mild to 195 degrees. Stir often to avoid scorching.
3. When the curds and whey separate turn off the heat and let set for 5 minutes.
4. Line a colander with muslin or cheesecloth. Ladle the curds gently into the cloth.
5. Tie the cloth into a bag and hang to drain for ½ hour or more depending on the desired consistency.
6. After draining to the consistency you prefer, the cheese is ready to eat. It will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator or it may be frozen.

Recipe courtesy of the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company



Homemade organic ricotta - what a treat and so easy to make!





Here's a cardoon looking similar to an artichoke. Beware the spikes!




Cardoon in bloom almost seems to pretty to eat!

Underground Farmer's Market - SF

The minute I heard about the underground farmer's market in San Francisco it was on my list of things "to do." A quick glance at the long line in front of the warehouse / gym and I realized the event is on a lot of lists!

Sponsored by a group called Forage SF the premise is simple: it's a farmer's market that's a bit free-form. Essentially anyone can sign up to sell food whether homemade jams, pastries or sliders hot off the grill. My favorites? The massaman curry, coconut tarts and pot stickers.

If you want a little food adventure, then the underground market might be your ticket!



Yummy coconut tarts.



Ok, going to make a bad joke here. If they are "pot stickers" how do you get them out of the container?? Sorry but I couldn't resist!



The "slider guys". Cute. And the food looked tasty too.



It was a toss up; either cupcakes or sweet pickles. But I bought the pickles anyway. Next time it's the cupcakes!

Yummy Devil's Food Cake

A birthday is always a good reason to bake a cake - and the devil's food buttermilk recipe below is sure to please. Moist and flavorful, this will even win over the people in your life who say "I rarely eat dessert." (Right, like I've ever met a cheese I didn't like...)

For a little festive flair add stiffly whipped cream and fruit (in this case, sliced bing cherries.) Or just go with the decadent and delightful buttercream frosting. Oh, and don't forget the candles!



Deluxe Devil’s Food Cake/Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
1 t clear vanilla
¾ t almond extract
2 large eggs
2 ½ cups Pillsbury softasilk cake flour
1 cup dutch processed cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder (valrhona)
2 t baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups buttermilk

Heat oven to 350 F.
Place paper cupcake fillers in a pan (approx. 24-30).

Beat sugar, 1 cup butter, 1 t clear vanilla and ¾ teaspoon almond extract in a large bowl with electric mixed on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat eggs on at a time. Mix cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; beat into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk on medium speed. Beat 1 minute longer. Pour into cupcake liners.

Bake 18 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes approx. 24 – 28 cupcakes.

Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury - http://www.pillsburybaking.com/default.aspx

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

8 ounces unsalted butter (1 cup) cut into cubes, room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar (8 cups)
½ cup milk (start with ¼ cup, add more until desired consistency)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
6 oz. melted bittersweet chocolate, cooled

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and milk, alternately then add vanilla and salt. Mix on low speed until fluffy and smooth.

Melt chocolate until smooth. Cool. Add to the buttercream.

Sunset Celebration 2010 - Menlo Park CA

Want to see the latest in glam camping essentials? Or check out the latest in gardening tools and succulents? The Sunset celebration served these up and more over a two day weekend of outdoor festivities in Menlo Park CA.

My favorites were the food tasting pavilion (of course) where we tried various cheeses, chocolates (met Michael Rechiutti) and other delectables. I ended up purchasing a container of chili crunch which is a "hot crunchy condiment" that should add a punch to eggs, hummus and a whole host of foods.


Glam camping? Makes summers past at Camp Zanika seem sooo rustic.






Check out the kitchen in the back of the camper. Wow!



I guess it's not just the cows in California who are happy!