Blueberry Crisp


What would you have for your last supper? I know it sounds like a morbid question but it’s one I love to ask people and have been annoying friends and strangers with ever since I was given a copy of the gorgeous  ‘My Last Supper’  by Melanie Dunea. I’ve been perfecting mine for years. It starts with zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and fried in a light batter. Then unsurprisingly, if you’ve read my earlier blogs, spaghetti with tomato sauce followed by roast lamb, caramelized carrots and potato gratin all finished off with a fruit crumble buried in heavy cream. What I’ve found in my own little (completely unsubstantiated) anthropological experiment is that no matter how much of a connoisseur of fine food a person has become, most everyone seems to want their last supper to contain something they were fed as a child. The connection between food, emotions and memories that we read so much about proven once more.


Crumbles (or Crisps if you are American) are my kind of dessert; baked fruit bubbling up under a thick streusel like topping. I remember picking blackberries in Suffolk as a child and reaching a little too far for that perfect juicy berry before the inevitable fall into the bramble and the later satisfaction of having contributed to the apple and blackberry crumble for dinner. Perhaps best of all fruit desserts is my godmother’s blueberry crisp, a staple at large dinners she gave; so easy to put together for a big group and always beloved by all.


When Mr. Wittle’s joined our community I instantly thought of how delightful and easy their pie fillings would be as crisps/crumbles. Keeping a jar on hand lets you have a fresh baked dessert all year round, no matter what is in season. So below is my godmother’s recipe adapted for Mr. Wittle’s delectable blueberry pie filling. I hope you enjoy.


Blueberry Crisp

Serves 6


1 jar of Mr. Wittle’s blueberry pie filling (or if making fresh: 4 cups of fresh blueberries)

1 cup of all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup of oats

1/2 cup of soft brown sugar

1 stick of butter at room temperature



1.Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Butter a large baking dish.

3. Add the pie filling (or fresh blueberries) and spread evenly.

4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt, oats and butter using your fingertips until you get a “crumbly” texture.

5. Add the sugar and combine with the flour, oats and butter.

6. Sprinkle the mixture over the fruit and bake on the highest shelf for 40 minutes or until the crumble has begun to brown and the fruit is bubbling through.

7. Serve warm with creme fraîche, ice cream or my favorite, heavy cream.


Tim’s Beer Can Chicken


Tim’s Beer Can Chicken is not only my favorite chicken ever, it has the added bonus of making me chuckle the entire time it’s cooking. There’s no two ways about it – it just looks funny. I got my annual fix of Tim’s signature dish over July 4th while staying with him and Lolly. As a side, I picked sugar snap peas from my godmother’s garden that were so good, we ate them raw. Lolly made an Iranian yogurt sauce that was not the most obvious pairing but that was beyond perfect. Tim removed the impaled can (more giggling) and carved the chicken. The perfect meal was served. The beer had done its magic; the entire chicken was juicy and tender. I’ve always found white meat on chicken a little dry but in this case, I’m happy with any part of the bird.


Only being able to eat this during grilling season is just not enough, so I started wondering why it couldn’t be done in an oven. A couple of seconds on Google showed me that I was far from the first person to have this idea. While there are most definite advantages to the grilled version, it was still absolutely delicious and now I can make it all year round! Below are the recipes for both versions as well as the recipe for Lolly’s amazing yogurt sauce.



To Brine or Not to Brine? 

If you want the most succulent bird possible (i.e as good as Tim’s), then it is definitely worth it but if you are pressed for time, it is not absolutely necessary.




1/2 cup of table salt

1/2 cup of sugar



1. Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 quarts of cold water in a stockpot or dutch oven.

2. Immerse the chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If you want a particularly succulent bird, allow to rest overnight in the refrigerator.


Beer Can Chicken


1 whole chicken

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/4 cup all purpose rub (if you don’t like spicy, try the fowl rub instead)

1 can of beer for grill method (2 cans of beer for oven method), any beer will do


Method on the grill:

1. Heat the grill. If gas, heat to high and if using coals, until they glow orange and begin to ash.

2. Wash the chicken inside and out and remove any giblets.

3. Pat dry with paper towels (inside and out).

4. Rub the olive oil all over the chicken.

5. Pat the chicken all over with the rub and set aside.

6. Open the can of beer and pour out at least a third of the liquid.

7. Holding both of the chicken legs apart, gently lower the chicken onto the can until it is able sit upright on its own.

8. When the grill has reached 325 °F,  add the chicken and cook covered until the internal temperature reaches 160 °F in the thigh. Test after 1 hour and 15 minutes but it may take up to 1 hour and a half.

9. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before carefully removing the beer can and carving.


Method in the oven:

1. Heat the oven to 350 °F.

2. Wash the chicken inside and out and remove any giblets.

3. Pat dry with paper towels (inside and out).

4. Rub the olive oil all over the chicken.

5. Pat the chicken all over with the rub and set aside.

6. Open the can of beer and pour at least a third of the liquid into a baking tray that is at least 2 inches deep.

7. Holding both of the chicken legs apart, gently lower the chicken onto the can until it is able sit upright on its own.

8. Open the second can of beer and pour half into the baking tray.

9. Place the chicken in the baking tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

10. Pour the remaining beer over the chicken allowing it to drizzle into the pan and roast for a further 45 minutes (the chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 160 °F in the thigh).

11. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before carefully removing the beer can and carving.


Iranian Yogurt with Fresh Mint, Raisins and Walnuts


2 cups of plain Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup of golden raisins (soaked for 1 hour in hot water)

2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts



1. Put the yogurt in a bowl.

2. Add the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

3. Mix well with a fork until creamy.

4. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix again.


Baked Peaches (Pesche alla Piemontese)


My mother has a repertoire of a few desserts that she does expertly but rarely and I’m sure I have her to thank for my relatively savory tooth. Baked peaches were one of these famous few and a dish that her grandmother used to make for her when she was a child growing up in Piedmont. Every summer, the minute I start to see ripe peaches in the market, I feel the need to bake up a batch and hope that they taste as good as my great grandmother’s.


I have just returned from a blissful but brief visit to Italy where the peaches were in abundance and so juicy that I had to eat them over the sink. I crammed a two week holiday into 5 days with my oldest friend Catherine. She has the house across the way from me and as children we used to talk about being old ladies together in Italy. Sitting on ‘The Wall’ last week, we joked that we were finally living the dream! Ben joined us from London for just two nights and wrote how he felt like he’d been away for a whole week. There’s something about being there (probably the lack of internet) that makes you feel wonderfully cut off and relaxed.


But back to those peaches! Ever since Aurora and I first discovered Bunches & Bunches delicious Snaps ginger cookies, I’ve been dying to try them on top of baked peaches. It was one of those pairings that I just knew would work as an improvement on the traditional Amaretti di Saronno. The delicious smells emanating from the oven told me I was right before I even tasted them. Wanting to still include a little of that classic flavor, I added a few splashes of Amaretto into the baking dish.



Pesche alla Piemontese

Serves 8


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 peaches (as ripe as you can find)

1/4 cup sugar

8 ginger snaps

1/2 cup Amaretto



1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Grease an ovenproof dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

3. Halve and pit the peaches and place in the ovenproof dish.

4. In a bowl, crumble the ginger snaps and mix with the sugar.

5. Divide the mixture among the peaches.

6. Dot each peach with butter.

7. Pour over the Amaretto (you could also use sherry or even white wine) allowing some to fall into the bottom of the dish.

8. Bake in the oven for about an hour and serve warm with creme fraiche.