Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread WedgesIt’s never fun to come home from vacation, but I think I did it right this time. Returning over the holiday weekend left me ample time to relax, grocery shop, meal prep, put up all the new things I bought in Swan’s Island and Portland, and watch all of The Good Place season 2. I’m calling it a success.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Getting back into the groove yesterday wasn’t too terrible, but a piece of my heart is definitely still in Maine. You know, where it’s not 95 degrees.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Two days before I packed up to go home, my sister and I walked a good stretch of the North Road at a snail’s pace, picking upwards of a quart of tiny wild blackberries in about two hours. It might sound dull, but I can assure you that Eliot and I were anything but bored.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

The vast majority of the berries we found were the blackberries we expected, but we also spotted a blueberry patch and two teeny raspberries. All the apple trees were starting to turn, too. Maybe one day I’ll vacation a little later so I can enjoy them.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve written before about how I consider baking (and cooking) to be a form of active meditation; I feel the same way about foraging for berries. It’s easy to get lost in the simple process of plucking them from bushes and interacting with nature in a very tactile way. Berry-picking is probably the only time in my life where I am able to peacefully, fearlessly coexist with bees and that I’m not mad about a few good scratches from thorns. If anything, they’re little badges of honor.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve made pies with my foraged berries the last three years I’ve been on Swan’s Island, but decided to keep it easy this year, opting instead for these Blackberry Shortbread Wedges.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

They’re a slight adaptation of my Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars (and their apple counterpart), this time baked in an 8-inch round pan. The resulting wedges (or bars or whatever you want to call them) are served up almost like pie, and have a thick, buttery shortbread crust that is difficult to stop eating. You could certainly serve these at room temperature, but my fellow vacationers and I preferred them straight from the fridge. There’s just something about the combination of cold, tangy blackberry filling and rich shortbread.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

You’ll notice in the photos that I didn’t line the pan with foil or parchment—that’s only because I didn’t have any at our house. Instead, I greased and floured the pan and then sliced and served them directly from the pan. You may follow my lead here, or line the pan with foil and lift them onto a cutting board before slicing. I’ve written instructions for both methods in the recipe.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

However you choose to go about making these, I urge you to do so in these last weeks of summer. We saw pumpkins for sale as we drove out of Maine on September 1st, and while I am all for pumpkin after September 20th, I’m going to enjoy these end-of-season berries while I can.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges
makes one 8-inch pan, 8-12 wedges

Filling:
3 cups fresh blackberries
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, or line with aluminum foil, leaving overhang, and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make blackberry filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine blackberries, lime juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Pour blackberry filling over the top, leaving behind any excess liquid. Spread berries into an even layer.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the blackberry layer.

If your pan is on the shallow side, place it on a rimmed baking sheet to collect any light overflow. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the top rack and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until barely golden. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 90 minutes, or until cold.

If pan was buttered and floured, slice and serve wedges directly from the pan. If it was lined with foil, use overhang to remove to a cutting board. Peel off foil before slicing and serving.

Leftover Blackberry Shortbread Wedges will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will soften over time.

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

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Guac O’Clock & Other Meals on Swan’s Island, Maine

I’ll be real with you—I’ve been doing island things instead of baking.Like wading into the fuh-reezing Atlantic Ocean with three of the most fabulous women I know.And picking blackberries with my sister.But, I mean, we still have to eat. We might as well do it in style.Meals here on Swan’s Island are meticulously planned. Four years in though, we sort of know what we’re doing.

We have a meeting before we leave NYC. There’s an organized menu. There’s an itemized grocery list. There’s one harried/hilarious trip through the Hannaford in Ellsworth, Maine. And then there’s cooking every last meal, snack, and dessert we eat on this beautiful island.If it sounds like work to vacation here, that’s because it is. Fortunately for me, it’s the sort of work I love most. I mean, what’s to complain about when there’s daily Salsa O’Clock?And don’t forget Guac O’Clock. It’s very important when you are on vacation.It’s impossible to be grouchy in the morning when VJ makes you gluten-free vegan waffles……and blueberry muffins. The bacon was my contribution.There were Migas, too……and the Blueberry Baked Oatmeal I told you about on Wednesday.And cantaloupe. (Can you tell I am in love with the white prep table?)Lunches have been less curated, but this chickpea-centric spin on my favorite Jacques Pepin soup recipe really hit the spot on Sunday afternoon.And don’t forget extra-toasty grilled cheeses.Dinner is an event though. We’ve had a Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions, and some extra caramelly maple-roasted carrots.There was vegan cornbread, too. (My recipe, but with non-dairy milk + vinegar, vegan butter, aquafaba for egg, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup more cornmeal.)And Eliot made my crowd-favorite Everyday Cassoulet and some garlicky kale.Last night was taco night. Hooray for using up leftovers!Dessert has been plentiful. I mean, I’m here.I made a batch of Toasted Oat Graham Crackers,so naturally, there were s’mores.There have also been also S’moreos.And just straight-up toasted marshmallows.Also, lots and lots and lots of coffee. Arnab finally learned how to use the French press we bought him for Christmas. #adultingSo, as you can see, we have not starved. We have some produce to finish and a few things we’ll divvy up on our way back to New York, but we have, by and large, used everything we brought.I’m planning to do some last day of vacation baking today (all those blackberries!), but I may also just sit on a rock and watercolor.The day is young.

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Hello from Swan’s Island!Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}VJ and I got here Saturday afternoon. It was supposed to be us and two more that day, but due to a work snafu, they didn’t join us until yesterday. Thank goodness for our other guest, my sister, EliotBlueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Since it’s just been the two of us these last few days, meals have been simple. As I’ve mentioned many (many, many, many) times, VJ is a gluten-free vegan. I am neither of those things, but it simply doesn’t make sense to make meat or floury baked goods just for me. I made scrambled eggs and ate a piece of avocado toast, but it was all vegan and gluten-free otherwise.

I’m not complaining.Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}While everyone else I know was going to work Monday morning, I made this Blueberry Baked Oatmeal for us. Made with gluten-free old-fashioned oats, rice milk,* and aquafaba in place of eggs, it was the perfect way to start the day. And also the next day—it makes enough for six people.

*You could use almond milk or another unsweetened non-dairy milk, but we have a nut-allergic friend here and we’d like not to poison him, you know?Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}This oatmeal is super simple to make. With just a few minutes of prep-work and 40 minutes of bake time, you’ll be rewarded with a rich, cinnamon-spiked oatmeal that is positively bursting with blueberries.Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}You just need two bowls and a stirring implement to put it together, and you probably have all the ingredients already (with the possible exception of blueberries).Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}VJ and I prefer our oatmeal on the sweet side, so I used 1/2 cup maple syrup here. If you’d like a less-sweet breakfast, you can reduce it to 1/4 cup.Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Feel free to add nuts or seeds (toast them with the oats!), or stir in coconut flakes or mashed banana. Everything we eat on Swan’s Island comes from one pre-ferry grocery trip on the mainland, so meals are paired down and simple. I like this oatmeal as-is with an additional drizzle of maple and a pat of butter, but that’s just me.As with many of the recipes on this site, this recipe can be made with many variations. Feel free to take my favorite and make it yours.Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 6 servings

2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats (certified gluten-free for gluten-free)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-grated lemon zest
2 cups non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
6 tablespoons aquafaba (or 2 large eggs or 2 flax eggs)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (may be reduced to 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pint fresh blueberries, divided

For serving:
maple syrup
butter (vegan or regular)
yogurt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a deep 9-inch pie plate or other casserole dish. Set aside.

Place oats on a dry rimmed baking sheet (or other large pan) and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool a few minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stir in cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together non-dairy milk, aquafaba, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Stir in oat mixture.

Reserve 1/4 cup blueberries for topping. Scatter remaining blueberries in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add oatmeal mixture over the top and spread out as evenly as you can. Dot with remaining blueberries. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is lightly set.

Let oatmeal cool for at least 15 minutes before serving with additional maple syrup, butter, and/or yogurt. Oatmeal is best warm or at room temperature.

Leftover oatmeal will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.Blueberry Baked Oatmeal {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Hello! I’m headed north for my annual trip to Swans Island, Maine, and I am SO excited 🙂 24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteIf you follow me on Instagram though, you know this isn’t my first trip to Vacationland this summer. Heck, it isn’t even my first this month! My parents decided on a whim that they wanted to attend a car show near Rockland, ME, about three weeks ago. Two weeks ago, my little sister and I decided we’d drive up to join them. One AirBNB reservation and a rental car later, we drove up to spend 24 hours with our Mom & Dad. It was a quick visit, but between the family, the cute town, and the food, it was totally worth the haul up there!

Hill’s Seafood Co.

24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteWe just had to start out our trip with a lobster roll! This one from Hill’s Seafood Co. absolutely hit the spot after our long drive north. Eliot and I especially liked that we could skip the fries and get a side of broccoli instead. The service and harbor view were great too. No complaints from the peanut gallery. I wish I had more to say, but I was so happy to have food that I didn’t notice much else 🙂 24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Rock City Coffee24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

I’m a two large coffees-per-day sort of gal, but after our early morning drive, I needed a third jolt of caffeine. After getting things settled at our B&B, Eliot and I popped over to Rock City Coffee so I could get my fix. I got the iced coffee I needed and Eliot got a blueberry-hazelnut Italian soda with an adorable Maine-y name that I can’t remember. She said it was delicious.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteEven if coffee and artisanal beverages aren’t your thing, I recommend checking out Rock City Coffee for the bookstore in the back. That’s right—after you grab your coffee, walk to the end of the counter and you’ll find Hello Hello Books! It’s totally adorable and sells all sorts of new and used books and other fun things. I thoroughly enjoyed scouring the cookbooks and Maine-specific sections.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAs you may be able to tell, I didn’t capture any photos of my coffee (rest assured, it looked like coffee), but I did capture this guy in all his cinnamon glory ❤

We loved the location with the bookstore as well as a smaller outpost next door to our parents’ hotel. As with Hill’s Seafood Co., Rock City Coffee had great service–super friendly. I highly recommend stopping in if you’re in Rockland!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Primo

Primo was recommended to us by the owner of our B&B. From the way she described it, we were sort of amazed when we were able to get a day-of reservation!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AtePrimo is a farm-to-table restaurant right on the border between Rockland and Owls Head, ME. The restaurant itself is in a beautiful Victorian house, but the real magic is in the farm behind it.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteMom, Eliot, and I zipped over right after we made our reservation and spent a good 40 minutes wandering through the farm. We loved all the colors of the vegetables, and we named every animal. All the chickens were named after characters from Frasier. You won’t be surprised to learn that none of us ate chicken or pork.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

The menu at Primo changes everyday. To start, we all split a red lettuce salad with castelveltrano olives.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

My entree was halibut and rock shrimp with a summer squash risotto, and it was spectacular. That’s saying something since I had a horrible cold at the time and could barely taste anything!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteWe had to get dessert too. I had this chocolate budino cake with mint gelato and local strawberries. Eliot went for this almost comically large affogato with the lightest zeppole ever. So dreamy.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteOn top of the amazing meal and farm, Primo had spectacular service. I’m starting to see a trend 🙂

I highly recommend going to Primo if you are in Rockland. It’s pricey, but it’s also an experience. And if you aren’t as lucky with getting a reservation, they have bar seating upstairs and will allow you to order off the bar menu and the regular dining menu. Love that.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

The Lobster Shack

We all did our own thing for breakfast before going to the Andrew Wyeth and Ai Weiwei exhibits at the Farnsworth Museum. Before long though, we were hungry and wandered over to The Lobster Shack. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like—a shed with a kitchen and some open air seating.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAll four of us got the Shack Fave: half-lobster roll, half-crab roll. I mean, we were only in Maine for 24 hours—two lobster rolls were a necessity. Plus, Rockland is the lobster capitol of Maine. Who knew?!24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteOur lunches came with potato chips, cole slaw, dilly beans, and a wedge of watermelon. Everything was delicious, but I’ll be honest and say that I personally prefer lobster over crab in this particular instance.

This was a perfect way to cap off our quick trip. I definitely recommend stopping for lunch at The Lobster Shack. Heads up that it’s cash only—come prepared!
24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAfter lunch, we went over to the Owls Head Transportation Museum to see what all the fuss was about before heading back to Boston. I don’t have any particular feelings about old cars, but my dad was having a ball. For Eliot and me, the highlight was meeting this new moose friend.24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We AteAlright, that’s enough of that Maine trip—now it’s time for another 🙂 We’re spending the night in Portland tonight and headed up to the island tomorrow! Make sure to check in next week so you can see what we’re cooking (and baking!) up on Swan’s Island ❤ 24 Hours in Rockland, Maine: What We Ate

Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}If you’ve been around here a while, you know that I spend 51 weeks of the year dreaming about my annual trip to Swans Island, Maine, and one week actually on the island. I hope to one day be able to make that more of a 40:12 situation (I’d settle for 50:2), but until then, I’ll just have to make the most of that week.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}This is my fourth year going up to Swans Island, and my third organizing the trip. There’s something wonderful about the anticipation of it all. From the moment we start looking at vacation dates and rental houses, and then confirming guests, there’s a wonderful familiarity to the whole process.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}We book the house. We choose a spot to stop overnight on our way up (usually Portland) and VJ books the AirBNB. We rent a car. We create a menu and make a grocery list. Throughout it all, we dream about this incredible place and probably annoy the crap out of the first-timers going with us 😉 Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}One of my favorite parts of the process is coming up with recipes we can all enjoy. VJ, my Swans Island ride-or-die, is a gluten-free vegan. In fact, she might be the world’s most adaptable gluten-free vegan—I’ve never seen her look at a menu and not be able to find *something* she can eat.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}When it comes to my on-island baking adventures, VJ is always willing to help take process photos and is super supportive (she once sat on a rock in the dark outside the Swans Island Post Office with me so I could use their WiFi to post these Lemon Bars), but I rarely bake anything she can actually eat. As such, I’ve made an effort on these recent trips to make baked goods that all of us can get behind. Last year’s gluten-free vegan options included Cornmeal Pancakes and Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola. This year’s are going to include s’mores made with these easy Toasted Oat Graham Crackers!Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The idea for these sweet little crackers came to me as I was falling asleep one night last week and the inspiration was so strong that I had to get up and type it all down before I forgot! Four test batches later, I’m serving up a delicious and deliciously easy recipe perfect for our vacation 🙂 Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers are crunchy and nubbly, and have just the right amount of sweetness. They’re everything you could want in a graham cracker, except where the traditional treats start with a specialty coarse wheat flour, these are made with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry, like old-fashioned oats, light brown sugar, cinnamon, coconut oil, and pure maple syrup.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Also, the dough is made entirely in the bowl of a food processor! Easy peasy.

Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Once the dough is made, roll it out between two sheets of parchment and give it a quick freeze before slicing it into crackers. A chef’s knife works well for this, but I am fond of this expandable pizza wheel.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Score each cracker down the center…Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}…and pierce it a few times with a toothpick. I use a wire cake tester.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Bake the graham crackers for twenty minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes and then, all bets are off! These crispy, crunchy, cinnamon-spiced Toasted Oat Graham Crackers are great by themselves, or topped with peanut butter. Or cream cheese frosting.

Don’t judge me.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}These crackers can be kept whole or broken neatly in half along that score line. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m pretty sure these would make an amazing gluten-free vegan graham cracker pie crust!Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}One thing I know for sure is that they’re pretty damn good stacked with dark chocolate and toasted vegan marshmallow. Best vegan s’mores ever.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I can’t wait for vacation.Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
makes about 3 dozen square crackers

3 cups old fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free for gluten-free crackers)
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons water

Place oven racks in the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 325F.

Spread oats onto a dry rimmed sheet pan. Place in oven and toast for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Transfer oats into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1.5-2 minutes, or until there are no recognizable oats. Pulse in light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Add coconut oil, maple syrup, and 3 tablespoons of water and process until a dough ball forms. Add 1 more tablespoon of water if the dough is crumbly.

Sandwich dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll until 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to the freezer (on a baking sheet, if desired) for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, line two sheet pans with parchment. Set aside.

Remove frozen dough from freezer. Slice in 2-inch squares (scraps may be re-rolled). Place about 1.5-inches apart on prepared pans. Use a sharp knife to score lightly down the centers. Pierce a few times with a toothpick or the tines of a fork.

Bake 10 minutes before rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let crackers cool for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Crackers will initially be slightly soft, but will harden as they cool. Repeat brief chill, slicing, scoring, and baking with any remaining dough.

Graham crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.
Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}