The Brellis House


Category Archives: Summer

Pimm’s Cup

Posted on June 22nd, 2012 by Susanna

We found this classic English cocktail by accident, but it is a strong front runner to being our favorite summer drink.

Pimm’s No 1 is a liquor, first made in the early 1880’s in London, England. There are lots of different versions of the popular Pimm’s Cup drink- we decided to use the following:

  • 2/3 lemonade
  • 1/3 Pimm’s
  • sliced oranges, lemons, cucumbers, strawberries, and mint
  • ice

It was seriously delicious.

Summer Berries

Posted on June 19th, 2012 by Dan

No, it’s not summer yet.

Tomorrow brings the onslaught of 100°F days, dry dry gardens, and empty rain barrels.

sour cherries, blueberries, raspberries

But I’m celebrating summer 1 day early with my summer berries. I picked up 2 pints of sour cherries, blueberries and raspberries. They’re bursting with color and smell amazing. I just couldn’t stop myself from getting home, washing them all and snapping some shots in pretty bowls, while simultaneously trying not to eat all of them at once.

I really struggle with such gems this time of year. In my mind, nothing is a good enough application for these delicious morsels. I have tentative plans for some of them, but need to quickly decide on some other uses.

Anyway, hope these photos made your mouth water.

Best Cellars: Plungerhead Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel

Posted on June 10th, 2012 by Susanna

Pungerhead wine

We thought this wine had an interesting label and we wanted to try a zinfandel since the weather is getting warmer. This one is a 2008 old vine zin from the Dry Creek Valley of California.  Dan liked the smell, he picked up oak, vanilla, and raspberry. I smelled a lot of oak, but the taste was very unusual- I thought it tasted really musty like it was old, like in a good way.  Dan thought it was really dry and tasted sharp and acidic. Zinfandels are apparently good with rich sauces and grilled food, neither of which we had while we were drinking this.  We give this wine an 87. It was $18.99. We both really liked it, but preferred the Bogel zin we had last week.

I heart the Mountains

Posted on June 1st, 2012 by Susanna

Dan and I took advantage of a four day weekend opportunity and went away to Frostburg and then backpacking in West Virginia. It was a trip filled with pink lady’s slippers, red efts, and sore feet.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake (Gluten-Free)

Posted on March 18th, 2012 by Dan

I made these gluten-free chocolate shortcakes for my niece’s birthday. This was my first successful gluten-free baking experiment and tasted great topped with soy whipped cream and sliced strawberries. They’re more like biscuits in both recipe and method.

I used King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour Mix. It worked well, the cakes stayed together and were soft and chewy.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

Gluten-Free Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Makes about 15-20 shortcakes:


  • 3 cups gluten-free all purpose flour mix
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (omit if using non-alkalized cocoa powder)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, use a food processor or sift to ensure there are no clumps.
  2. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the oil and milk.
  3. Fold together until thoroughly combined.
  4. Scoop batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Make scoops a bit larger than the size of a gold ball and flatten in a patty-like shape. Space about 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 7 minutes, rotate pan and then bake for an addition 7-10 minutes or until cookies are firm (but not hard) and not burnt.

I’m feelin’ steamy!

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Susanna

Today we went to the Steamshow with my parents. Always a good time. Lots of vintage junk, tractors, confederate flags and, of course, steam engines. We only bought some mason jars and boyscout popcorn, but a lot of other things really wanted to come home with me.steamshow


steamshow tractorssteamshow plates

One highlight of the trip was my Uncle Johnny’s electric car that he built himself:johnnys electric carsusanna at steamshow

family at steamshow

So we can cross that adventure off our list for another year. It’ll always be a great anniversary tradition.


Canning Tomatoes

Posted on September 11th, 2011 by Susanna

Yesterday, Dan canned tomatoes he bought from the farmer’s market. (Unfortunately not from our garden, we didn’t have much success with tomatoes in this super dry, then super wet summer) It was enough tomatoes to half fill our sink (and our sink is big).

sink of tomatoes

After boiling them for a bit, he peeled the skins off. Mason jars were also boiled to sterilize.

Peeled tomatoes

We ended up having to buy a big pot to fit all the jars and then all the tomatoes. Not sure where we’ll store this thing huge pot

And the end product: 4 jars of fresh, local, organic tomatoes!canned tomatoescanned tomatoes


Cantaloupe Sorbet

Posted on August 17th, 2011 by Dan

Cantaloupe Sorbet

This recipe is heavily inspired by two sorbet, or water ice, recipes I recently found. The cantaloupe idea came from one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, cooking blogs, VeganDad. The other came from one of my childhood favorite tv chefs, Alton Brown.

When I saw VeganDad’s cantaloupe sorbet, I knew I had to try it. And I figured I could have done it exactly as he posted, but I wanted to be creative in my own right. That’s whenI turned to a set of sorbet ‘guidelines’ if you will from Mr Brown.

The key with water ices is to have a cold 35-45% sugar solution go into your ice cream machine. If you go on the high end of the sugar percentage, your ice will be thicker, more scoop-able and more solid. The low end will yield a more slushy-like result.


  • 1/2 of a large cantaloupe (about 6in diameter) pureed ≈ 3 cups ≈ 407g (32g sugar)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (~305 g)
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dry pectin powder (optional, for smoothness)
  • 2 tbsp vodka


  1. Take the pureed cantaloupe and pour in a saucepan under medium heat. Whisk in the sugar, zest, juice and pectin until fully dissolved. If you’re using the pectin, it’s important not to bring this to a boil or else the pectin will lose its functionality.
  2. Add the vodka and pour into a wide glass container and refrigerate until cold.
  3. Take the chilled mixture and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
  4. Place back into a glass container in the freezer for at least 3 hours or over night before serving.

Peach Yeast Cake

Posted on August 15th, 2011 by Dan

I love peaches. They are beautiful, juicy, flavorful, sweet and delicious in so many ways. And in the summer, we go overboard with them.


I remembered, once upon a time, of a yeast bread topped with peaches. It was thick, doughy, soft and juicy- what more could you ask for? So when I was looking for a recipe for my weekly peaches from the farmers’ market, I couldn’t find anything like what I remembered online. I tried every combination of peach, cake, yeast, and bread that I could think of, but nothing.

When I was telling my problem to my family the next day, they told me that I couldn’t find anything like it because it’s a recipe from my great grandmom. She grew up and raised kids on a farm her whole life and, from what I can tell, was the quintessential homemaker. She taught my dad’s mom how to cook, jar foods, garden, etc. I still have a pair of little booty slippers she crocheted me when I was a little boy.

My yeast bread was a slight variation of my great grandmother’s original, substituting for eggs, milk and butter. She says to top with any kind of fruit, apples, plums, blueberries, but I think peaches work best, especially during a Maryland summer when they’re fresh and available.

Marking peaches

Peaches in water

I peeled my peaches by making an X on the blossom side, dropping them in a pot of water and bring to a slight boil. This gets the skin to peel right off.

I was warned not to divulge the ‘secret family recipe’, but It’s a fairly simple sweet yeast dough. Mix the wet margarine, sugar and rice milk into the flour. Knead and let rest in a bowl to rise. Then you punch it down and lay it out on a sheet pan, top with peaches and let rise again. Sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar and then throw in the 350° oven for 25-30minutes.

Peach Yeast Cake

Mine turned out perfectly. It was flaky and the juices from the peaches made the dough on the top chewy and gooey.

Yeast Peach Cake slicesYeast Peach Cake with Ice Cream

Topped with Trader Joe’s vanilla soy ice cream, this made the perfect treat. And apparently, this is a Baltimore thing. When I added ‘Baltimore’ to my google search, I found a few similar recipes. So I hope you give it a try and get a taste of a Baltimore summer.

Her’e a nice picture to go out on. Remember those 2 ft cucumbers from the Vegetable Garden Update?

Susanna with Cucumber Bunny Ears

Summer Grilling

Posted on August 15th, 2011 by Dan

As a follow-up to the cliff hanger I left a few days ago, I have grilling stories to share. If you don’t know what I mean, we received our first ever grill last week and we’ve been antsy to use it.

Dan and Cosmo at the Grill


So, last Friday we fired it up. In preparation, I bought some local corn from the farmer’s market and we harvested a few tomatoes from our garden. I figured there was no better way to celebrate summer grilling than corn on the cob and burgers. Black bean burgers to be exact. I used the recipe from Chex Cayanne.

Southwestern Black Bean Burger

Southwestern Black Bean Burger (close up)

We mixed them together quickly and topped them with fresh tomatoes, guacamole and some red onions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to bake buns, but I’ll make sure to for next time. They were very tasty and held up perfectly on the grill.

Just have to love summer sometimes.