Party Food


When life gives you a big bag of lemons from Costco, you make lemon cake before they all spoil.

Ingredients

6 lemons, zested and juiced
6 eggs
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups unbleached flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
lemon extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup Dickinson’s Lemon Curd

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake pans by rubbing with solid coconut oil (like you would with butter) and/or line the muffin tins with paper liners.

This recipe makes four 8 inch layer cakes or 3 dozen cupcakes or a combination of both.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt) together in a large bowl. Combine the eggs, oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a standing mixer. Use a whisk and do this by hand — if you use the mixer it’s very sloshy and messy.

Put the bowl in the mixer, with the paddle attachment.  Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the yogurt, mixing at medium-low speed. Once combined, you can turn up the speed to add a little air to the batter so it’s less dense. Just be careful not to overwork the batter.

Fill the cake pans/muffin tins three quarters full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.  Let the cakes cool completely.

2017-03-21 20.40.13

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter (both at room temperature) together until smooth.  Add all the lemon zest plus a few drops of the lemon extract. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar in batches, remembering to turn down the speed of the mixer so you don’t have a giant POOF of sugar.  Continue until you have lots of smooth, fluffy frosting.

To assemble the cake, put one layer upside down on a cake plate. Spread the lemon curd over the top.  It helps if you work the lemon curd with a spatula in a bowl before spreading it on the cake.  Put the second layer on top, right side up.  Using a frosting spatula or other thin, flexible knife, frost the cake.  Decorate with something festive (I used Mike and Ikes). Because of the lemon zest, this frosting is not great in a piping bag (the zest gets stuck in the decorator tip).

2017-03-23 20.13.06 (2)

How It Turned Out

I was nervous about the olive oil (I mean, it goes with lemons but does it go with cake?). And the yogurt was because I had no sour cream. Even so. . .

This would win the Great British Bake Off!  The cake is the perfect consistency, neither too dense nor too light.  The taste is a lovely burst of lemon without being too sour or too citrusy.  And I love how the zest shows through in the frosting.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Beau and I have been going in different directions for weeks, so I wanted to make a special Sunday Supper. Whenever I want to make something lovely, I drift toward the incomparable Julia Child and her beef bourguignon, or at least my version of it.

Tonight’s take on the classic French beef stew uses a rioja rather than a burgundy, and has more of an au jus than a stew-y sauce.

Ingredients

5 slices thick cut, uncured bacon, cut into large pieces
4 beef tenderloins, cut into large pieces
1 cup beef stock
1 cup Rioja (Spanish red wine)
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 lb frozen pearl onions
1 lb fresh carrots, peeled, cut long-ways
2 cups crimini mushrooms, cleaned, sliced

20161030_072245

How I Made It

Cook the bacon in a non-stick skillet. Transfer the bacon to the slow cooker/crock pot with a slotted spoon. Brown the tenderloin pieces in the bacon fat, and then transfer them with a slotted spoon to the crock pot. Add the frozen pearl onions on top.

20161030_073019

Add the wine to the skillet and scrape the brown bits up with a spoon or spatula.  When it starts to bubble and all the bits have been incorporated, add the beef broth.  Then add the garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and stir to combine. Let it cook on medium-high heat for a minute or two before pouring the sauce into the slow cooker.

Cover and let the concoction cook on low heat for 8 hours.  Add the mushrooms at 4 hours, and the carrots an hour or two before the end (depending on how crisp you want them).

Serve over mashed potatoes. If you need more veggies, green beans are a perfect side.

How It Turned Out

The Beau made all sorts of happy sounds at the table, and was quick to take a big bowl of leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.  I think I might like it better than the original, not just because it’s easier but because the sauce is a bit lighter.

When the world seems too sad or scary to bear, I always find comfort in the kitchen. Focusing on creating something nourishing to my family’s body nourishes my soul, even when life is at its gloomiest. This dessert is an attempt to combine all that’s good in the world — brownies, cheesecake, and cherries — in one lovely treat.

Ingredients

2 cups of frozen pitted cherries, thawed
2/3 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of water
2 tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 tbs lemon juice (I used two frozen lemon juice cubes made when I made the lemon poundcake)
1 Ghirardelli brownie mix (you’ll make this according to the directions, so you’ll need an egg and vegetable oil)
3 packages of cream cheese
8 ounces Noosa Tart Cherry yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs vanilla
3 eggs

How I Made It

In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the cherries with 2/3 cup of sugar and 2/3 cup of water.  Cover and microwave for however long it takes to come to a boil.  You might stir it halfway through to make sure the sugar dissolves.

In a separate bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water.  When the cherries are bubbly,  carefully remove the bowl from the microwave. Stir in the cornstarch, then the lemon juice.  Set the cherries aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a springform pan with a little oil or butter.

Make the brownie batter according to the directions on the box. Spread the batter in the springform pan and bake for 35 minutes. The edges will be completely set but the middle will be just set.

While the brownie bottom bakes, make the cheesecake batter.  In a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together. Add the 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to combine.  Add the yogurt and vanilla.  Allow the batter to mix until thoroughly combined and smooth. I like to turn up the speed for a minute or so to whip the batter, for a lighter consistency when it’s done.

Gently spoon cherries over the brownie batter. Use a slotted spoon so it’s not too soupy. Top with the cheesecake batter.  It will be thick, so add it in dollops and spread it gently to fill the pan (don’t just dump it in).

Bake for 55 minutes or until the middle is set (not hard, but not wet either).  Turn off the oven and let the cake rest in the oven for 20 minutes or so.  Remove the cake and let it come to room temp, then chill it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Serve it with a spoon of cherry sauce or a little whipped cream.

How It Turned Out

This may be the first crack-free cheesecake I’ve ever made.

IMG_5768

The layers are lovely, and super rich. A small piece is certainly enough.  Until later, that is.

IMG_5770

I am one of those people who feels compelled to have a bowl of lemons in the kitchen — and then fails to use them all before they go bad.  Today, I decided to zest and juice them all and then make something yummy.  This pound cake is a basic recipe, with a few twists.

First, after throwing out all my baking and cooking sprays (one of my remaining bad habits in the kitchen), I decided to throw caution to the wind and use coconut oil (solid) to grease the pan.  Coconuts go with lemon, right?

Second, I recently read something somewhere (I have no recollection where) about the sweet crunch a cake will get if you sugar the pan instead of flouring it. So I sugared the coconut oiled bundt cake pan instead of flouring it.

Third, I didn’t have plain yogurt or enough sour cream for the recipe.  What I did have was 4 ounces of sour cream and a container of Noosa Raspberry Yogurt.  (I am addicted to Noosa yogurt — even the pumpkin flavor is good!)  Raspberries go with lemon, right?

Ingredients

2 tbs organic coconut oil
2 sticks of unsalted organic butter, softened
3 cups of sugar (I use Zulka Morena, a minimally processed sugar)
3 tbs lemon zest (this was about 4-5 medium sized lemons)
3 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
juice from one medium lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 eggs (preferably not straight from the fridge)
4 ounces sour cream
8 ounces Noosa raspberry yogurt (or other Greek or Australian yogurt)

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with coconut oil and sprinkle sugar evenly in the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Sift together with a fork.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until well-combined. Turn the speed down to medium and add the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each into the mixture before adding another. Once the eggs are all combined, add the lemon juice.

Turn the mixer down to low. Add one third of the flour mixture, then the sour cream. Add another third of the flour and half the yogurt.  Add the last of the flour and the last of the yogurt. Turn up the speed for just about 30 seconds to be sure it’s all combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and give the batter a few good stirs. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. You might have extra, which you can bake as cupcakes (just halve the baking time).

Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a cake tester comes away clean. Let the cake cool in the pan. Loosen the sides with a slim knife, and turn it out onto a cake plate.

How It Turned Out

Lemon Pound Cake (2)

The sugar trick worked on the sides but not the top (maybe that’s because of the pan?).  Otherwise, it’s an oh so summery cake to share.

P.S. What did I do with the juice from all those lemons I zested? I juiced them straight into an ice tray. When it’s done freezing, I’ll have little cubes of fresh lemon juice for whenever I need a couple of tablespoons for a recipe.

My best friend loves cucumber sandwiches, so whenever we have a tea party or other excuse for finger foods, I make them for her. These are an upgrade from my last cucumber sandwiches, made more elegant with a round shape and fresh dill garnish.

Ingredients

Seedless English cucumber, sliced thin but not too thin
Blue Isle Yogurt Spread, plain*
Fresh organic dill
Sea salt
White sandwich bread (1 loaf will make 12 sandwiches)

How I Made Them:

My sweet sous chef S recommended cutting the bread into circles by using a glass. Smart and easy! He cut the bread for us by pressing the glass into the center of each slice of bread.

Assemble the sandwiches by spreading the yogurt spread on the slices of bread. Arrange the cucumber slices on one piece of bread and sprinkle with salt. Top with the second slice of bread. Garnish with fresh dill (I used a spot of yogurt spread to make the dill stick).

How The Turned Out:

IMG_4730 (2)

Fresh and light and perfect. The Supersonic Seven Year (formerly known at the Stupendous Six Year Old) announced to his mother (my best friend, the cucumber sandwich connoisseur) “These are great! We should make them at home.”

 *I stumbled onto this new Blue Isle Yogurt Spread when I was looking for cream cheese. I tried out the plain flavor for this recipe, and liked it so much that we whipped up a lovely veggie dip with a little garlic and dill.

 

This year’s Easter supper was a wonderful success, thanks to my spectacular new sous chef (my friend S is a wonder in the kitchen). This year we had a traditional feast with few fresh twists.

Brie en Croute

Cucumber Sandwiches

Deviled Eggs

Hummus with Snap Peas, Carrots and Radishes

Ham with Apricot Maple Glaze

Essential Macaroni and Cheese

Roasted Broccolini

Ambrosia Salad

Homemade Rolls

Lemon Curd Cakes with Strawberries, and Whipped Cream

IMG_4728 (2)

Of course, this is not a recipe for some sort of astronaut food.  It is, however, the revelation that prime rib is perhaps the easiest “fancy food” to make.

Go ahead and splurge on a really beautiful rib roast. It will be spendy but it is worth it.

To cook it, place a rack toward the bottom of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a roasting pan with heavy foil, and place the roasting rack on top of the foil.

Rinse and pat the rib roast dry.  Place it on the rack in the roasting pan.  Season it some, but do not be seduced into using a heavy rub.  A used a basic garlic and herb mix from Spice Islands.

Put the rib roast in the oven and let it cook, uncovered, until it reaches the desired temperature (check out this Prime Rib Cooking Chart).  Mine was 7 pounds and I let it cook about three and a half hours (but we don’t like our meat too rare — the ends were medium, and the middle was medium rare.).

20151225_133757 (2)

That’s it. No fuss, no muss. A decadent meal to share with friends and family (and all the mess in the pan goes straight into the trash).

I served it with Stonewall Kitchen Cranberry Horseradish Sauce (which I love!) and traditional horseradish. Yummy!

(Have you noticed that I don’t always have photos of the food I make, or of the final product before it’s eaten?  That’s because the food is made to be eaten, and too often I forget to grab the camera before everyone starts eating.  For a while I didn’t post a recipe if I didn’t get a “final” photo, but I think I’ll relax a bit about that from now on.)

Next Page »