Brown Sugar-Scorched Lemonade

By Libbie Summers from her book, Brown Sugar (shortstack editions)

There are few things better than sitting on a screened-in porch in the summer while sipping a glass of this lemonade. I think of it as a privilege for those of us lucky enough to live in the South, a reward for surviving the annual sand gnat season. The thing is, our lemons aren’t very juicy during the summer months. My solution: “scorching” the lemons in a hot pan before squeezing them, which yields 40% more juice and adds a subtle caramelized flavor. 

Scorched Lemonade, Grilled Lemonade, Summer Drinks, Refreshing Drinks, Brown Sugar Shortstack Edition, Libbie Summers Recipes

Brown Sugar-Scorched Lemonade
makes 2 quarts

What you need: 
3/4 cup light brown sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean, split
4 lemons, halved

What to do: 
1. Make Vanilla Brown Sugar Syrup: In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Cook, stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and add vanilla bean. Let vanilla bean steep in the water until cooled. Remove vanilla bean and save for another use (make vanilla sugar -your baking will never be the same old). Note: A faint vanilla flavor is what you are trying to achieve in this sugar syrup.

2. Scorch Lemons: Heat a griddle or medium skillet over high heat. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup sugar onto a small plate. Dip all the cut sides of the lemons into the sugar to coat the surfaces. Place the sugar-coated lemon halves (sugar side down) on the hot griddle and cook until the sugar starts to turn brown and bubble around the lemons (about 30-45 seconds). Remove the griddle from the heat and allow to cool until the lemons are cool enough to handle.

3. Make Lemonade: Fill a pitcher or large jar with 2 quarts of water. Squeeze the lemons over the water, then drop the squeezed lemons into the water. Stir in the vanilla sugar syrup.

To Serve: Fill glasses with ice and pour the Scorched Lemonade over.

Lemonade Recipe, Libbie Summers Recipes, Brown Sugar Lemonade, Shortstack Editions, Brown Sugar

Thirsty for more? Try these other Refreshing Drink Recipes! 
Havana Mojito
Cherry Coke Float
Lunar Landing Cocktail
Watermelon Basil Beach Blaster
Chinese Junk

 

Georgia Peach Upside-down Skillet Corn Cake

By Libbie Summers
Floral Apron Shown with Cake:Hostess Apron in Floral Linen available at Libbie Summers label

Yet another variation on a recipe from my cookbook, Sweet and Vicious: Baking With Attitude. A never fail cake recipe that will work with any fruit…like any fruit! Change up the spices to make it your own. In this recipe, I swapped out the cinnamon for ground cardamom and a heavy pinch of black pepper. Serving with vanilla ice cream is not optional.
Peach Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake by Libbie Summers

Georgia Peach Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake
serves 8-10

What you need:
For the fruit layer:
4 tablespoons butter
3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (optional)
4-5 ripe Georgia peaches, pitted and sliced into 1/4” slices

For the cake batter:
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon (swap out for ground cardamom and a heavy pinch of black pepper if you like)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla paste or really good vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup milk, at room temperature
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (not optional)

What to do:
1. Make the fruit layer:
In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter until just bubbling.  Add the brown sugar and rum. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  Arrange two layers of the sliced peaches in a decorative pattern to cover the brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the skillet. Set aside while you make the cake batter.

2. Make the cake batter: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and spice(s). Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla paste and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture, then add the milk and mix to combine, then add the last of the flour mixture. Mix only until the flour mixture is just incorporated (the batter will be thick). Spread the batter over the fruit, being careful not to move the fruit around too much.  You may smooth the top, but don’t worry too much because everything will settle as it bakes.

3. Finish the Cake: Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the skillet or an instant read thermometer registers 190-195ºF. The center should feel set to the touch. Remove the skillet from the oven and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the skillet, then very carefully place a plate (larger than the diameter of the skillet) over the top of the skillet and flip the skillet over to turn the cake out onto the plate.

To Serve: Serve the cake warm or room temperature sat in the middle of your dinner table with a bowl of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Georgia Peach Upside Down Skillet Corn Cake from Libbie Summers

Bacon Wrapped and Stuffed Vidalia Onions

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Wine Pairing by Grapefriend

Eggs and bacon like Dad never had them…with or without a glass of wine. 

Bacon Wrapped Vidalia Onions by Libbie Summers (photography by Chia Chong)

Bacon Wrapped and Stuffed Vidalia Onions
serves 6

What you need:
3 large Vidalia Onions, outer dry skins removed
6 strips bacon
6 (4-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs (the woody ends)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons finely diced rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup milk
6 eggs

What to do:
1. Boil Onions: Place onions in a large saucepan and cover with water. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Place saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain water and allow onion to cool.

2. Prep Onions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Working with one onion at a time, cut the onion in half width-wise. Remove center of each half leaving a shell 1/4 to 1/2″ thick. Finely chop the onion pieces that have been removed and place in a medium mixing bowl. Wrap the outside of each onion half with a piece of bacon and secure with the rosemary sprig or a bamboo skewer. Place in an ovenproof baking dish and continue the process with the remaining onions.

3. Make Topping: To the mixing bowl of finely chopped onion pieces, add the bread crumbs, butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, parmesan cheese, remaining salt, pepper and milk. Stir together. Stuff mixture into the center of each bacon wrapped onion half (mixture will be piling over the top).

4. Finish Onions: Pour 1/2 cup hot water into the bottom of the baking dish around the onions and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and pat the top of each onion flat with the back of a spoon. Break one egg over each onion and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until the eggs are cooked. Serve immediately.
Bacon Wrapped Vidalia Onions by Libbie Summers (photography by Chia Chong)

Wine Pairing by Grapefriend:
One of the only times I’ll have eggs after breakfast is sitting at the bar at my favorite neighborhood bistro where they make a killer omelet, and it pairs perfectly with a glass of Sancerre. This dish is much heartier and more savory than a plain omelet though, so I’d go for something with a little more body. If we still want to go French, white Burgundy is all Chardonnay grapes, but like the best Chardonnay you’ve ever had in your life and not one of those overly oaky ones from California. If you want even more oomph, a lush peachy Pinot Gris from Oregon would be a great balance for the salty bacon and parmesan.

 

Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

My Aunt Darlene used to make a version of this midwestern holiday treat when I was a kid. She called it her “Special Toffee”. It wasn’t until last year that I knew there was a cracker inside. Some call them cookies. I prefer to think of this as Aunt Darlene’s Special Toffee 2.0. I’ve taken her recipe and raised it a toffee. 

Easy Candy Making, Saltine Cracker toffee recipe, Gifts from the kitchen, Libbie Summers recipes, Toffee Recipe, Holiday Cookies, Holiday Candy, Candy Recipes, Toffee Recipes

Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee
makes one quarter baking tray/24 crackers

What you need:
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
24 salted saltine crackers (or you can make these using  a 1/2 sheet tray and use a full sleeve of saltines. The rest of the recipe will work with either amount)
3/4 cup Chocolate Heath Toffee Bits
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a 1/4 baking sheet tray with foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Get a timer ready!!
2. Arrange Crackers: Line the baking tray with the crackers in a single layer.
3. Start Toffee: In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat add the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture has started to boil DO NOT STIR. Allow to boil for 3 minutes only. Pour the hot mixture over the tray of crackers and spread to cover crackers if you need to (I never need to). Bake for 5 minutes.
4. Add Second Toffee: Remove tray from oven and spread toffee bits over the bubbling mixture. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
5. Add Chocolate: Remove tray from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate chips are almost completely melted. Be patient! Once melted, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the top.
6. Rest and Cool: Let the tray sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (this will help the crackers soak up all the goodness) then refrigerate until hard.

To Serve: Remove from foil and cut into uniform pieces or break apart into irregular pieces (I prefer to break apart). Package in a cute vintage tin for a lovely gift from the kitchen.

Check out these other Easy Candy Making Recipes! 
Chocolate Nut Clusters: Recipe or VIDEO
Homemade Tootsie Rolls: Recipe or VIDEO
•Beautiful Bark: Recipe and Video 

 

Chocolate Nut Clusters

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

If you interested in giving candy making a try, I’d like to introduce you to this Chocolate Nut Cluster recipe. It’s a very forgiving recipe that is as delicious as it is beautiful. Bonus, it’s my father’s favorite holiday candy! The recipe makes two dozen and let me tell you 6 of these make a perfect gift, so give away 3 gifts and keep one for yourself! Happy candy making! 

Candy Making, Chocolate Nut Candy, Easy Candy Making, Holiday Candy Making, Libbie Summers Recipes, A food-inspired life, Chocolate Candy Recipes, Holiday Gifts from the kitchen, Edible Gifts

Chocolate Nut Clusters
(makes 24)

What you need: 
1 pound white candy coating, chopped
6 ounces milk chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate)
2 1/2 cups dry roasted and salted nuts (I used 1 1/2 cups cashews and 1/2 cup peanuts)
Maldon Salt (optional)
Chipotle chili powder (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

What to do:
1. Prepare Trays: Line four 1/4 baking sheet trays or two 1/2 baking sheet trays (whatever will fit into your refrigerator) with waxed paper and set aside. *note: if you don’t have enough baking sheet trays, use any flat surface that you have that will fit into your refrigerator. Plates, platters or whatever.
2. Melt Coating and Chocolate: In a pyrex bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water (a double boiler), add the candy coating and chocolate. Heat until melted and smooth.
3. Cool Chocolate Mixture: Remove the bowl from the double boiler and allow the chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes. This step can not be skipped. Allowing the chocolate cool for a few minutes help keep your clusters together when you scoop them out.
4. Add Nuts: Stir nuts into the slightly cooled chocolate. 5. Scoop and Set: Using a small portion scoop (about a heaping 1 tablespoon size), scoop the chocolate nut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet trays. Sprinkle the tops of each cluster with a wee bit of salt, chipotle chili powder or sprinkles if you like. Refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Try out these other Easy Candy and Sweet Snack Recipes!
They make great gifts from the kitchen! 

Homemade Tootsie Rolls
Beautiful Bark
Homemade Caramel Corn

Get the latest from Libbie!
Stay up-to-date with the latest recipes, photoshoots, videos and much more!