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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out – well, I hope that’s not wishful thinking. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers. It tells a detailed chronology of its inception, and all the various  parts that had to come together every day, three meals a day, plus some, to make a mammoth food machine run. I have no background in the restaurant biz, but found the story very interesting. Would make a great gift.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius, held captive in a woe begotten prison. It’s about Jewish history, about relationships, and certainly a lot about the starvation and mistreatment (and many died there) of this boat load of people who never should have been sent there. So very sad, but it has bright and hopeful moments toward the end when many of them finally made it to Tel Aviv, their original destination.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then become something else. There is graphic detail here (was it really necessary? not sure of the answer) so if you don’t like that sort of thing, you might want to pass on this – or else skip by those details when you read it. Women have been victims in so many ways for so many centuries, and it’s hard to read that it’s still a common thing in today’s society.

Barbara Delinsky writes current day fiction. Coast Road is really sweet story. Jack (ex-husband) is called away from his career to care for his two daughters when his ex (Rachel) has an accident and is in a coma. Over the course of weeks, he spends time with his daughters (he was an occasional dad). He also spends a lot of time at his ex’s bedside, getting to know her friends. Through them he learns what went wrong in their marriage. I don’t want to spoil the story. I liked it a lot.

Christina Baker Kline has written quite a story about Tasmania. You may, or may not, remember that my DH and I visited Tasmania about 10 years ago (loved it) and having read a lot about Botany Bay and the thousands of criminal exiles from Britain who were shipped there as slave labor in the 1800s. This book tells a different story. The Exiles: A Novel. This one mostly from a few women who were sentenced to Tasmania. There is plenty of cruelty on several fronts, but there is also kindness and salvation for some. Really good read.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Marion Kummerow wrote an amazing WWII novel. Not Without My Sister. If you don’t like concentration camp stories, pass on this one, but it’s very riveting, much of it at Bergen-Belsen. Two sisters (17 and 4) are separated at the camp. The story switches back and forth between the two sisters’ situations, and yes, the horror of the camp(s), the starvation, the cruelty. But, even though I’m giving away the ending . . . they do get back together again. The story is all about the in between times. Excellent book.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping. This book is about a young man, who is a young father also, loses his beloved wife. He’s barely functioning, trying to get through a day, taking care of his young son. And visiting the cemetery (the one in Montmartre, Paris). There are several peripheral characters (his son, a neighbor and best friend of his departed wife, a good fellow friend too, plus a young woman he befriends at the cemetery). Before his wife’s death she asks him to write 33 letters to her after she’s gone, and to put them in a special box hidden in the cemetery monument. And that begins the story.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

As you’ve read here many times, I marvel at authors who come up with unusual premises for their books. This one Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding. And yes, it IS somewhat about Grace Kelly’s wedding, but most of the novel is about a young woman perfume designer, Sophie, who accidentally rescues Grace Kelly from the relentless photographers who hound her every move.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Packs up and leaves.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Desserts, on September 27th, 2021.

Such heavenly flavor from the almond paste in the cake. Beautiful to look at, too.

A post from Carolyn.  I’ve been a long-time follower of Luisa Weiss, from The Wednesday Chef blog. Some years ago she moved to Germany (Berlin, I think) and now has a venerable cookbook to her name, Classic German Baking. She’s a baker of the first order – my opinion from having made a few of her things over the years. Although I don’t own her cookbook. But occasionally one of her cookbook recipes pops up, this one on David Lebovitz‘s blog. I quick-like made sure to save it. So glad I did.

First off, though, you need to know that I’m a big fan of almond paste. It’s an intense almond flavor, and since it’s finely ground almonds and sugar, you can’t just add it to another recipe unless it’s called for. And as many of you have discovered, almond paste doesn’t keep on your kitchen pantry shelf for all that long. A few months at the most. After that it gets dried up and turns into the texture of a rock! I’ve learned that from experience. As I type this I have a 2nd tube of it on my shelf that needs to be used sometime soon before it’s over the hill.

When the 1st of September rolls around, my cooking brain begins to think about apples. I begin to long for cooler nights (hasn’t happened yet, as I write this), and cooler days as well (that won’t happen until mid-October here in SoCal). One year – decades ago – my DH and I took a driving trip in the New England states during September, and I was awed by the side-of-the-road fruit stands with baskets and barrels, displayed within inches of the paved road, just overflowing with apples I’d rarely heard of before, like Northern Spy, Empire, Macoun. Well, perhaps I’d read about them, but never tasted any. Is it because they don’t ship well? Probably they don’t do well with long-term storage? I’d never seen any of them in California. We ate some in the car, we bought some apple juice, and also used some of the apples in baking when we returned to Philadelphia to stay on with our friends Judy and Jerry. I have no recollection what I baked, but something. We all bought apples, and when we left to fly home, THEY still had apples overflowing in their 2nd refrigerator. I probably could have put a few in my suitcase that wouldn’t have been discovered (you aren’t supposed to bring raw fruit into California). What I did do, after I got home, was go online to one of the farms we’d stopped at, and ordered a 25-pound box of mixed apples to be shipped. What a treasure those were. Haven’t done that since, but it was fun.

So, back to this cake. This cake is a real winner . . . I’m just sayin’. Lovely moist cake (with some cubed-up apples in the batter) baked in a springform, with sliced apples angle-shingled on top, then baked to perfect tenderness, and then some apricot jam is brushed on top to let it glisten. This cake lasted for several days. I served it at that lunch I mentioned before, with some of my old employees from 25+ years ago. I sent slices home with several of them, and Taylor and I ate the rest.

There, at right, is an image of the about-to-be-baked cake. You nestle the apple slices into the batter – pressing in just a little. I used Granny Smith apples, and they held their shape well. In fact, some of those slices on the top were still bite-able. Not crisp, but certainly plenty of apple texture.

Thanks to Monica from Playing with Flour, for the photo

One of the interesting techniques mentioned in this recipe (one you need to remember) is to GRATE the almond paste using a box grater. Even the freshest of almond paste can sometimes be a bit firm, and I’ve always wondered how to best disperse it in a cake batter. A-ha moment with the grater.

Forgetting to take a photo of this genius technique, I found an image on the web, from PlayingwithFlour. Monica used a fine-grind. My tube of almond paste was perhaps a month old, and I couldn’t grate it finely, but did it using slightly larger holes on another side of my box grater. And it seemed to disperse easily in the cake batter. Hooray!

Luisa didn’t say to serve the cake with anything, but I had a tub of crème fraiche, so each piece got a dollop of that when I plated it.

What’s GOOD: everything about this cake was marvelous. Can’t say enough good things about it. Love-loved the intense almond flavor (from the almond paste) and the tender cake itself. Loved how beautiful it was. I served it at the table on a cake stand. So pretty! My recollection is that everyone loved the cake. Cake was easy to make. I’ll definitely make this again.

What’s NOT: only that you need a fresh tube of almond paste.
printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

German Apple Almond Cake

Recipe By: Luisa Weiss, blogger, Classic German Baking (cookbook)
Serving Size: 10

4 medium apples — (1 3/4 pounds, 800g)
1 lemon — zested and juiced
7 ounces almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted and cooled
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 large eggs — at room temperature
1 cup flour — plus 3 tablespoons (150g)
9 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder — preferably aluminum free
1/4 cup apricot jam — strained if lumpy

1. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (23cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Peel and core the apples. Divide the lemon juice into two separate bowls. Slice two of the peeled and cored apples into 8 sections, and toss the apple slices in one bowl of lemon juice. Dice the other two apples into 1/3-inch (1cm) cubes, then toss them in the other bowl of lemon juice. The cubed apples are added to the cake batter; the sliced apples are placed on top.
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
4. Using a grater with large holes, grate the almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and mix until the almond paste is finely broken up.
5. Add the melted butter, almond extract, and lemon zest, and continue mixing until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
6. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the almond batter mixture by hand, then fold in the diced apples, along with any lemon juice in the bowl.
7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place the sliced apples in concentric circles on top of the batter, pressing them in very lightly.
8. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. If using a 9″ springform pan (meaning the batter is higher), it might take an extra few minutes to get the very center cooked through.
9. Remove the cake from the oven. Warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan and brush it over the top while the cake is hot. Let the cake cool completely, then run a knife around the inside of the cake pan to release the cake, and remove the sides of the cake pan. Keeps at room temp for a day or more; refrigerate after that.
Per Serving: 465 Calories; 24g Fat (44.7% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 60g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 117mg Cholesterol; 226mg Sodium; 36g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 129mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 227mg Potassium; 213mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, easy, on August 2nd, 2021.

What is more beautiful than summer fruit topping a cake?

A post from Carolyn. This recipe has been hanging around in my to-try file for awhile. It came from Beth Hensperger from her book: Best Quick Breads: 150 Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Shortcakes, Gingerbreads, Cornbreads, Coffeecakes, and More, I don’t own the book and can’t find a reference online to this recipe, but it’s a keeper. I think I must have borrowed the book from the library and entered it into my MasterCook program. Her recipe only contained peaches. I had nectarines, and I also had about a cup of blueberries that were on the over-ripe side, so decided to add those in also. The other change I made was to substitute 3/4 cup of artificial sugar (I use So Nourished brand Erythritol Sweetener Granular – 1:1 Sugar Substitute, Keto – 0 Calorie, 0 Net Carb, Non-GMO). And then I rounded out the quantity with 1/4 cup of real sugar. Otherwise, I used her recipe. You know, of course, that baking is all about chemistry. You don’t want to adjust measurements of dry ingredients or wet ingredients, or you’ll throw off the chemistry of it all. I used less nectarines (or you can use peaches) but then added in the cup of blueberries, so it all works out.

Beth’s recipe had you halve the peaches (after peeling and removing the pit) and simply lay them on the top of the batter. I cut the nectarines into wedges instead (peel on) and sprinkled the blueberries all over the top too (first). Some of the batter baked up beside the fruit. Makes for a very pretty dessert. There at right is the photo of the raw batter with the fruit on top. I didn’t mind the peel on the fruit (isn’t it good for us?) and I thought it looked more beautiful that way. I love the color contrast of the blueberries nestled in amongst the nectarine slices.

See, I couldn’t decide which photo was better – the cake whole at the top, of this photo below of the slice of torte.

The dry ingredients include almond flour – her cookbook was published before the recent craze for all things non-wheat flour, so instead of grinding up raw almonds, I simply used almond flour from my big bag of Costco’s blanched almond flour that I keep in my freezer. There’s nothing low calorie about this cake – it has a cup of butter in it and 4 eggs as well. I served 3 pieces the evening I made this. The recipe said it’s best eaten the day it’s made, but I can say that the next day (left out at room temp, covered) it seemed fine. But for me, baked goods don’t like hanging around very long before they begin to stale, hence I froze the remains. I served the cake with some vanilla ice cream.

What’s GOOD: everything about this cake was good – very tender, tasty. Loved the almond flavoring and with peaches or nectarines in season, so delicious. It probably could be frozen whole – but the top of the batter is kind of wet (from the juice of the fruit). If you do freeze, reheat it briefly. Freeze what you haven’t eaten after 2 days.

What’s NOT: nothing at all, really. Pretty easy cake/torte to make. I’d definitely make it again.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Peach or Nectarine Almond Torte with Blueberries

Recipe By: adapted from Beth Hensperger, The Best Quick Breads
Serving Size: 8-10

3 large peaches — about 1 pound OR use a 29-ounce can of peaches, drained, patted dry
1 cup blueberries — fresh
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter — room temp
1 cup sugar — (or substitute artificial sugar or part or all)
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. If using fresh peaches, fill a deep, medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add peaches and blanch them for 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool under running water. Place on a cutting board, slip off the skins, cut peaches in half and pit them. Drain on paper towels. If peaches are very tart, sprinkle them with some sugar and set aside at room temp. If using nectarines, peeling is not necessary.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan and set aside. Combine flour, almond flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
3. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add almond extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat well until fluffy, smooth and quite thick batter is formed. There should be no lumps or dry spots. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Cover surface evenly with blueberries, then add nectarine slices in a spoke pattern or place peach halves over the batter, with flat sides down.
4. Bake in center of oven until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, the center springs back when gently touched, and a cake tester inserting into the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Let the cake stand for 10 minutes before removing the springform ring. Serve warm or at room temp, cut into wedges. This cake is best eaten the day it is made. It will keep for a day, covered, at room temp. After that, freeze. When defrosted, warm cake in a 200°F oven for about 10-12 minutes.
Per Serving (based on 8 servings): 547 Calories; 34g Fat (53.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 154mg Cholesterol; 108mg Sodium; 32g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 138mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 306mg Potassium; 257mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, on June 7th, 2021.

In cooking terms, what does “outrageous” mean to you?

A post from Carolyn.  So, outrageous . . . the word? Out of the box? Rich? Decadent? Probably all of the above. And this recipe qualifies on all counts. Maybe not so much on “out of the box” except that it’s an outrageous amount of chocolate in them. You can see on the right all the various packages of chocolate I unwrapped – unsweetened, semi-sweet plus the dark chocolate chips too.

Of course, the batch, baked in a half sheet pan, makes 20 (or more) servings, so to tell you that it calls for a pound of butter and nearly 3 pounds of chocolate . . . it does make a lot. I cut them into smaller pieces, so I got about 30+ squares from the pan. Not counting the two small one-inch square pieces I ate while the pan was cooling. . .

The recipe comes from Ina Garten. I think I saw her make these on her TV show awhile back – that’s probably why I already had it in my recipe collection. And perhaps it’s in one of her cookbooks as well? I haven’t checked. As I write this I’m having a wine tasting event here at my house. To serve a variety of wines with appropriate appetizers to go with them. Some white, some red. I’ve made home made caponata (I’ll post it soon – couldn’t believe that recipe wasn’t already here on the blog). I’m going to open a bottle of red after-dinner wine, which will go with the brownies. I still have a couple hundred bottles of wine in the wine cellar – 99% of them from when my DH Dave was still alive (and he’s been gone for 7 years now). And 95% of them are reds. A few of the bottles got poured out as they didn’t cellar well, but mostly the wine has been fabulous.  I did go out and purchase a couple bottles of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, one of my favorites if I’m drinking a white. Many years ago Dave and I spent time in New Zealand, and I fell in love with Cloudy Bay wines.

Know from the beginning, that there are several steps:

Melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate and butter

Mix the 7 eggs, sugar and vanilla together

Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl

Mix the add-ins (chocolate chips and walnuts) separately, and coat with flour.

If you know all of the above when you start, you’ll get it all in the right order. First thing is to melt the chocolate and butter (either in the microwave – see the instructions – or over the stove in a double boiler or on top of a flame-tamer – the latter is what I did) and let it cool some. While you’re doing that, get all the rest of the ingredients together in their proper bowls. Heat the oven, then start mixing. The chocolate mixture does need to cool to room temp before you can proceed. Hot chocolate + raw eggs = scrambled eggs, maybe. So be careful.

The only unusual thing – after 20 minutes in the oven, open the door, pull out the rack, pick up the sheet pan a bit and rap the pan on the baking rack, to pump out any air trapped in between the pan and the parchment. After they finish baking, the brownies are cooled to room temp, refrigerated (yes) for an hour – THEN you can cut them. Makes for easier slicing. They’ll store in the frig (in an airtight container) for a week. Otherwise, freeze them, tightly wrapped in foil.

What’s GOOD: oh my gosh, are these wonderful. If you’re a chocoholic, you’ll be over the moon. I used dark chocolate chips so these were pure decadence for me. Wonderful. Marvelous. A keeper. Rich. Buttery. Yessss.

What’s NOT: don’t be on a diet when you make these.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Outrageous Brownies

Recipe By: Ina Garten
Serving Size: 20 (or 30)

CHOCOLATE BUTTER MIXTURE:
16 ounces unsalted butter
16 ounces semisweet chocolate — finely chopped
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate — bar type, finely chopped (not cocoa)
EGG MIXTURE:
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
DRY MIXTURE:
1 cup all-purpose flour — divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
CHIPS & NUTS:
3 cups chopped walnuts
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup flour

1. PREP: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13×18-inch rimmed half sheet pan (or grease and line with parchment paper).
2. CHOCOLATE BUTTER MIXTURE: Place the butter, semisweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth. (Alternately, you can also melt the butter and chocolates in a double boiler on the stovetop). Allow to cool slightly.
3. EGG & SUGAR MIXTURE: In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. DRY MIXTURE: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture and stir gently with the wooden spoon until mostly combined.
5. NUT & CHIPS MIXTURE: In a medium bowl, toss the walnuts and chocolate chips with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter and stir until totally incorporated. Pour into the baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and cut into 20 large squares (and those are very large). Leftover brownies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Freeze in foil for longer storage. If you cut smaller squares you can certainly have 30 servings that are more “normal” sized squares.
Per Serving (cut into 20 pieces): 670 Calories; 48g Fat (61.5% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 114mg Cholesterol; 205mg Sodium; 45g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 107mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 335mg Potassium; 266mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, on December 9th, 2020.

pumpkin_pudding_pie

What do you do when you want pumpkin pie, but are trying to limit carbs? Make the pudding part this way.

Since I spent Thanksgiving at home, by myself (it was okay, don’t worry), I still wanted to have a traditional kind of meal. So I planned out a menu that would satisfy my desire for the full dinner.

thanksgiving_plateI roasted a whole chicken, with a recipe I’ve posted here before, and by far it’s still the BEST roasted chicken I’ve ever made. I’ve probably made it four times this year. I try not to eat chicken skin, but oh, this one, well, I had to have a bite (actually two). It makes a gorgeous golden bird, done in an iron skillet, partly at 450°F and then with the oven turned off. I prepared an old favorite, Broccoli Casserole. I’ll bet I haven’t made that in 10 years. It’s cooked broccoli with a kind of cream sauce, with mayo in it, and eggs to gel it. As I write this, I’ve had that for my dinner the last 2 nights. Now it’s all gone, as I made a smaller sized casserole of it this time. I baked a sweet potato and had it with butter on it. I also made two cranberry sides. My old favorite, Cranberry Relish. It originated with my mother’s recipe, but I’ve embellished it a little, by adding apple and the ginger. It’s a raw relish with apples and oranges in it, plus a little bit of ground ginger for zing. And I’ll post next a different cranberry side I made that’s more a savory one, called Cranberry Caponata. It’s an interesting story how I came upon this recipe. More on that in my next post.

So, back to this pumpkin dessert. Obviously  – if you’ve followed this blog long enough – you know that pumpkin pie is one of my favorite desserts. Years ago I used to make a layered ice cream and pumpkin pie (that was served frozen, obviously) in a pie crust. Haven’t made that in years. I think my family (once I married Dave in 1983) didn’t much love that pie so I began baking my own very traditional ones, using the Libby label recipe. Of all the pumpkin pie recipes I’ve ever made, that one is still my favorite. Then I discovered Costco’s pumpkin pie and game over. I bought that for years. But I didn’t want to visit Costco this year (I’m being really careful about Covid exposure). I suppose I could have made the same Libby’s filling recipe for this. I may try that next time. But this one was really good, and very easy.

Recently I bought a flat (12) of those cute little Ball 4-Ounce Quilted Jars. They’re small but really perfect for a small dessert, and so cute to serve. And I’ve discovered plastic lids (made by Ball) that work so much better than the metal rings and inserts that seem to rust after you’ve used them 3-4 times. For canning you do want to use the metal rings and inserts, but for ordinary food storage and making a dessert for refrigerating, the plastic lids are a dream. The jars and gray plastic lids are on amazon, if you’re interested (click on the links I’ve provided). Just make sure you buy the right size lid – they make them for the Ball Mason Jar Lids – Regular Mouth (Mason Jar Caps) – Leak Proof (Standard), and for Ball Mason Jar Lids Caps) – Leak Proof (Wide). These little jars use the regular size lids.

9_puddings_to_bakeSo, I prepared the filling/pudding and poured it into the little Ball jars, placed them in a baking pan and baked them (without a water bath) for about 25 minutes. Once cooled, those little babies went into the refrigerator until ready to serve. Whip up some heavy cream with a little sugar and vanilla, or be lazy and use the canned, which is what I did this time.

What’s GOOD: that I could enjoy pumpkin “pie” without making a crust. Since I was having lots of calories for this Thanksgiving dinner, it was good to limit something! Easy recipe to make. Easy to store in those cute little Ball jars, and easy to serve.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of.

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Pumpkin Pudding – pie with no crust

Recipe By: probably online recipe somewhere!
Serving Size: 8

3/4 cup granulated sugar — or sugar substitute
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves — scant
2 large eggs
15 ounces pumpkin purée — Libby brand, preferably
12 ounces evaporated milk Whipped cream for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
3. Pour into glass or ceramic baking dish. A good thing to know is that you can fill a baking dish deeper than a pie crust, but it’s best not to exceed a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. Baking times vary with depth, size, and type of baking dish, so you just have to watch and check.
4. Bake until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack, then refrigerate overnight, until ready to serve. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
NOTE: Can make in individual ramekins, bake about 25 minutes or more.
Per Serving: 167 Calories; 5g Fat (23.8% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 59mg Cholesterol; 211mg Sodium; 25g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 136mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 260mg Potassium; 130mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, on November 24th, 2020.

peach_upside_down_cake

So easy, so tender. Have an iron skillet? Make this.

It’s been awhile back – mid October actually – when my grandson Vaughan was visiting me for 5 days, we went to my friend Cherrie’s house and had dinner with them.We stayed social-distanced the entire time. Bud made his wonderful gin ‘n tonics (using Fever Tree Light Tonic). So refreshing – it was a warm evening. We had a very hot summer in Southern California.

Cherrie isn’t much of a baker – she will tell anybody that. So I was surprised when she brought out dessert! I made meatloaf and a vegetable (a Brussels sprout dish I’ve shared here). Cherrie had an appetizer (plus the dessert). Vaughan got some very gingery ginger ale. And then we had this wonderful, light dessert. Cherrie served it with whipped cream. We brought some of it home and Vaughan couldn’t WAIT to have seconds. We had it with ice cream the next day.

Cherrie gave me the recipe. And Vaughan asked Cherrie if she’d send it to his mom, because he wanted to have it again once he got home. It was THAT good.

Since I didn’t make this myself – I will, however, as I have some white peaches frozen – I don’t have firsthand knowledge of the making of this, but I trust Cherrie when she said this is very easy to make. She had gorgeous peaches which are put on the bottom of the iron skillet, but on top of some melted butter and brown sugar. Then the white cake is made and spooned over the top. It’s baked and once removed from the oven and cooled for 10 minutes, you carefully flip over the hot pan (or iron skillet) onto a platter and serve it warm. You could make this ahead and simply reheat very gently in a low oven for about 10-15 minutes to get that wonderful warm-out-the-oven taste. The recipe came from Taste of Home. So the original recipe said, this is a very old recipe – I can just see it created from an old farm kitchen with peach trees in the back 40.

What’s GOOD: this is SO easy to make, so Cherrie said. And I can certainly attest to the taste (and so will my grandson Vaughan) – it’s not all that sweet (good) and the cake is VERY tender. I liked that part a lot. Cherrie suggested sifting the dry ingredients first.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Peach Upside Down Cake

Recipe By: Taste of Home
Serving Size: 8

PEACH LAYER:
4 tablespoons butter — softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups fresh peaches — sliced peeled
CAKE LAYER:
8 tablespoons butter — softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg — room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk — 2% works fine here

1. Melt butter; pour into an ungreased 9-in. round baking pan or iron skillet. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
2. Arrange peach slices in single layer over sugar.
3. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and sift once (helps to make the cake light in texture); add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spoon over peaches.
4. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting (carefully) onto a serving plate. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Per Serving: 391 Calories; 19g Fat (42.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 70mg Cholesterol; 285mg Sodium; 38g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 97mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 187mg Potassium; 135mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, on November 14th, 2020.

gooey_fudge_brownies

A post from Sara . . .

This is my new go-to brownie recipe.  It’s a bit more challenging than the one-bowl recipes but well worth it.  They taste great out of oven (if my kids are home, I usually loose 1/4 of the tray within minutes of removing it from the oven!).  And soooo much better frozen.  They are the true dense, chewy chocolaty taste that I feel brownies should be. The recipe comes from the back of the Rodelle brand cocoa package. It’s been on the back of their product for years and years.

The recipe requires the extra step of melting the butter with sugar to make a syrup.  Then the 5 (that’s right, 5) eggs makes the chewy (and tender) factor.  You can double this recipe easily and bake it in a large sheet pan.  Don’t skip the parchment paper on the bottom for easy removal. The recipe says it makes 12, but I think I cut them smaller, so I get about 18 out of the 9×13 pan.

I’ve been known to modify the recipe by adding these items:

1. melted smooth peanut butter and swirl it in

2. or dulce de leche and swirl it in

3. or stack it on top of a batch of my chocolate chip cookies in bar form.

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Gooey Fudge Brownies from Rodelle

Recipe By: Rodelle’s famous recipe
Serving Size: 12 (or 18)

1 cup butter — PLUS 2 tbsp
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour — PLUS 1 tablespoon
3/4 cup cocoa powder — PLUS 1 tablespoon
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped nuts — (optional)

NOTE: If you cut smaller squares, you’ll get more than 12 brownies.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Line 9×13 pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
3. Melt butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan on very low heat. Let the mixture cool slightly and transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs gradually, mixing well. Add vanilla extract.
4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg mixture, stirring gently and minimally.
Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Pour into prepared pan and bake approximately 35 minutes – do NOT overbake or you’ll lose the fudgy, gooey texture!
5. Cool before cutting. Turn onto a surface and peel parchment paper off. Cut into squares. They are great frozen, just so you know.
Per Serving: 431 Calories; 25g Fat (48.6% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 118mg Cholesterol; 298mg Sodium; 42g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 35mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 200mg Potassium; 124mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, on August 26th, 2020.

whoopie_pies

A post from Sara . . .

Do you remember that childhood treat, the Whoopie Pie?  That hand-held delectably moist chocolate cake with marshmallow buttercream inside?  I recently made this recipe again. I can’t remember when I made it last but whoa, was it good! My kids and their friends who are now in their 20’s ate them within 2 days and I made a double batch! I’ve already been asked to make more. They are an excellent make ahead individual dessert that travels well and freezes easily.

My suggestions while making the cakes:

  • Use a scoop so that the cakes are close in size and shape.  That way they can be matched up easily to make the sandwich-style “pie.”
  • Keep the cake batter chilled, as it tends to spread out if it gets too warm.
  • When assembling the pies I paired the cakes on a cooling rack. Then flip every other row onto its top to expose the flat bottom of the cake for frosting.
  • Use a smaller scoop to add frosting.  It spreads out on its own, no need to use a knife.  I topped each upside down frosted cake with another so that both cake tops were showing.
  • If it’s warm, the top cake will slide.  So once assembled,  immediately refrigerate to solidify the frosting.

Due to COVID, I chose to wrap each pie individually in plastic wrap so the kids could just grab and enjoy.  

The recipe makes 8 pies but they are quite large.  I think using a smaller scoop and making twice as many would be better next time. There is a Wilton 12-Cavity Whoopie Pie Baking Pan available on amazon, but those are the larger (standard) size. If  you decide to make them smaller, just use a cookie sheet. These dessert cookies are very rich and full of flavor so I believe the smaller size is a better choice.

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Whoopie Pies

Serving Size: 8 (or 16, if you make them half-size)

CAKES:
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter — softened
1 cup brown sugar — packed
1 large egg
FILLING:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 cups marshmallow cream topping
1 teaspoon vanilla

Notes: Sara’s advice – make smaller cookies, about half as large as indicated, which would give a double yield. These are very rich.
1. Mix flour, cocoa, soda and salt in a bowl.
2. Stir together he buttermilk and vanilla.
3. Beat together sugar and butter in large bowl until mixture is very pale and fluffy.
4. Add egg. Reduce speed, then add buttermilk mixture with flour mixture, alternately, starting and ending with flour.
5. Spoon 1/4 cup batter on greased baking sheet, 2″ apart. Bake in 350°F oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
6. FILLING: Mix all ingredients together in electric mixer. Spread 1 large tablespoon of filling onto flat side of cake. Top with a second cake, flat side down. Chill immediately.
Per Serving (for 8 cookies): 695 Calories; 26g Fat (32.7% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 113g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 87mg Cholesterol; 674mg Sodium; 65g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 75mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 300mg Potassium; 137mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, on August 20th, 2020.

iron_skillet_peach_crisp

Oh, lovely peaches. They are SO good this year.

When I asked my neighbor to buy peaches for me, I asked for eight of them. And I had some kind of peach whiskey drink in mind I’d read about that used a reduction of peaches. But then, I couldn’t find the recipe. So, as two days went by and the peaches ripened to perfection, I had to decide what to do with them. I’m trying NOT to make desserts – because I’m the only one eating them – but alas, what to do except make peach crisp. What a treat this was. There’s not a lot of topping on this, and I used monkfruit sweetener – and truly I cannot taste the difference. The original recipe came from a 2015 issue of Bon Appetit. I adapted it a little bit –  less sugar, then the substitution of monkfruit in the topping and the peaches. I added a bit more garam masala (what an unusual addition).

What is garam masala:

it’s a frequent ingredient in Indian cooking, but it’s a combo of spices and maybe a few herbs (coriander, cumin, bay, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, maybe star anise and sometimes fennel). So, it works fine here in a fruit dessert.

peach_pecan_layer

There at left you can see the skillet with just the peach mixture and the pecans sprinkled on top.

The peaches were dripping juice off my hands as I peeled them, then sliced them into a bowl, adding just a tetch of monkfruit sweetener, lemon juice, garam masala and salt. Into the buttered iron skillet it went. The topping is very easy to make, and I used less monkfruit than the recipe called for too. The little chilled butter cubes are easily mushed into the dry mixture – using your fingers. Pecans are an essential ingredient – they are so perfect with peaches (they’re one of those magic combinations made in heaven) which tells me God had a plan when he made Georgia (and the South) peach country, and also pecan iron_skillet_peach_crisp_unbakedcountry. So the topping is sprinkled over the top and it’s baked for 25-40 minutes. It kind of depends on how thick the peaches are in the skillet. If you have fewer peaches, do use a smaller iron skillet. You want the peaches to be about 1 1/2 inches thick in the pan. Maybe even more as they shrink as they bake.

There, at right, is the crisp, just out of the oven. The topping doesn’t get all that brown, just a bit golden.

Because this was a treat for me, I ate just that for dinner. Nothing else. And oh yes, it was just wonderful. I let the skillet sit out on my counter overnight and then put what was left of the crisp (a lot) into a storage container. The topping won’t be crisp anymore, but the flavor will still be just as good. And probably the pecans will be soggy. So, ideally, make just enough of this that you’ll eat at one sitting.

What’s GOOD: I liked everything about this. The peaches, of course, which were at the peak of perfection; the toasted pecans were also SO good. I couldn’t discern the garam masala, but am sure they contributed to the flavor even though I couldn’t actually taste it. I’d definitely make this again.

What’s NOT: nothing really – it helps to have really ripe peaches. Ideally, eat all of it at the first serving of it as the topping won’t stay crisp and the pecans will get soggy. Eat up!

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Iron-Skillet Peach Pecan Crisp

Recipe By: Adapted from Bon Appetit 2015
Serving Size: 8

TOPPING:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar — (packed) or artificial sweetener like monkfruit brown
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter — chilled, cut into very small cubes
FILLING:
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 tablespoon unsalted butter — room temperature, to smear inside skillet
2 1/4 pounds peaches — (about 7 medium), cut into 1/2″ wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar — or artificial sweetener like monkfruit
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

NOTES: If peaches are not fully ripe, use more sugar mixed into the peaches. If you reduce the size of this, make the crisp in a smaller iron skillet.
1. Topping: Whisk flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Rub in butter with your fingers until clumps form and no dry spots remain.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened in color, 8-10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
3. Smear bottom and sides of a 10″ cast-iron skillet with butter. Toss peaches, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon juice, garam masala, and salt in a large bowl to combine. Transfer to skillet. Sprinkle toasted pecans on top, then add crumble topping, breaking up into large pieces, over filling.
4. Bake crisp until topping is golden brown and juices are thick and bubbling around the edges, 25-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
5. Crisp can be made 1 day ahead. Store lightly covered at room temperature.
Per Serving: 405 Calories; 27g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 34mg Cholesterol; 295mg Sodium; 26g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 37mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 361mg Potassium; 99mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, Grilling, on August 2nd, 2020.

grilled_lemon_pound_cake_grilled_peaches

Another recipe from Sara.

Some weeks ago I spent the day with daughter Sara and her family. In her backyard. Social distanced. It was a beautiful sunny Southern California day – the kind that makes you glad you live in California. Sara had made two new dishes – I’ve already posted the Italian Meatball Sub Sandwiches (which were SO good). For dessert she made this lemon pound cake. She’d baked it the evening before, and her family went so NUTS over it, they ate the whole thing. So the next morning she had to bake another one. Her words: this is the best pound cake I’ve ever made. What it is, is VERY lemony. It’s a pound cake – dense like a pound cake is, but so tender. SO tender.

lemon_pound_cake_ready_to_grillThe  cake comprises the usual ingredients – eggs, butter and sugar, but what was different was cake flour. Which always makes baked goods lighter in texture. That’s not to say it’s like a normal cake – no. It’s a pound cake, meaning more dense. And it is all lemon – there’s 1/4 CUP of lemon zest in this pound cake. I wonder if there’s ever too much lemon zest in things?

Do use ripe, but not overly ripe peaches. And get everything in place when you begin the grilling. Have the serving platter or dishes handy. Grill the pound cake so you get pretty grill marks, remove them, then start on the peaches. If you have a big grill, put the pound cake on the unheated side while you do the peaches. That way the pound cake will stay warm. This could be served with ice cream (vanilla) or whipped cream. grilling_peaches

Years ago I posted a recipe for grilled pound cake with grilled peaches, but the cake didn’t have the lemon in it. That makes this recipe much more interesting to me. Everybody loved it.

What’s GOOD: what bring summer to mind any more than fresh, juicy peaches? The pound cake would be good any time of  year, but the lemon aspect of this is off the charts delicious. And the combination of pound cake and peaches is sublime.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything. Great for an outdoor barbecue.

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Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Peaches and Cream

Recipe By: Bryan Calvert, James (restaurant), Brooklyn
Serving Size: 10

2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup lemon zest — finely grated, from about 3 lemons
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter — at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs — at room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable oil — for brushing the grill
4 large peaches — sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
Lightly sweetened whipped cream

1 Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray a 9 1/2-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour with the lemon zest, baking powder and salt.
2 In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Beat in the milk, lemon juice and vanilla, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
3 Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool for 20 minutes. Unmold the cake and let cool completely, about 3 hours.
4 Light a grill. Using a serrated knife, cut the pound cake into 10 slices. Lightly oil the grate and grill the slices over moderate heat, turning once, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plates. Lightly oil the grate again. Grill the peaches over moderately high heat until lightly browned and tender, about 2 minutes. Spoon the peaches over the cake, dollop with whipped cream and serve.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 22g Fat (39.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 69g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 161mg Cholesterol; 201mg Sodium; 46g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 75mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 209mg Potassium; 152mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, Grilling, on July 27th, 2020.

roasted_tomatoes_before_roasting

That’s a photo BEFORE roasting. SO good afterwards. See that photo below.

You’ve heard me mention my best friend Cherrie. She’s an avid cook, and prepares fabulous meals for herself and her husband Bud on a daily basis. Even before the pandemic, they rarely went out to eat. During the pandemic she’s been preparing a monstrous dish of some kind about once a week, dividing it up into four boxes and taking it to four friends – all of them don’t like to cook. One afternoon each week she and Bud go on a driving trip to deliver the meals to these four friends. Who have come to depend on their weekly delivery! She doesn’t stop at my house because she knows that I DO cook.

Some weeks ago she tried this recipe for Roasted Tomatoes from Ina Garten. I think Cherrie served them with some nice, soft fresh mozzarella cheese and made a salad. Then she began incorporating them in several of her casserole dishes she was making for friends. Then they bought a 25 pound box of Roma tomatoes to make even more of them. She was swimming in Roma tomatoes! They would be wonderful chopped up into pasta, if you’re inclined. Anyway, Cherrie was raving to me about these tomatoes. So I decided I’d best try them myself.

My neighbor did buy 12 Roma (plum) tomatoes for me a week ago, and I had some fresh thyme from my veggie delivery box. I had garlic, EVOO and balsamic. That’s all it needs except for some salt and pepper. Ina’s original recipe didn’t call for thyme, so you can eliminate that if you’d prefer. The tomatoes are halved (and I clipped out the little stem part), placed on parchment , cut side up on a sheet pan, then you begin the layering – salt, pepper, EVOO, garlic and then the thyme laid gently on the top. Roast in the oven until the tomatoes have slumped. The recipe said 20-25 minutes, but mine didn’t “slump” until about 50 minutes, probably because they were quite large tomatoes. Once roasted and cooled slight, gently strip the thyme sprigs off onto the tomatoes and discard those twigs.

roasted_tomatoes_ina_gartenMany nights I’ve been eating just vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, onions in some manner, summer squashes and mushrooms. Sometimes in combination, but usually on their own. That night I made green beans, with onions and bacon, and put a couple of these tomatoes on my plate. I didn’t take a picture of that . . . sorry.

What’s GOOD: well, what can I tell you . . . one of those tomatoes popped into your mouth is like eating candy. Truly. I think they’d be best at room temp or warmed. They’d be good with fresh mozzarella. Or chopped up and served alongside a burger or steak. Or chicken. Chopped up with green onions and lime juice, they’d be good on a piece of grilled fish.

What’s NOT: nothing other than you do need to use Roma (plum) tomatoes. I suppose you could try it with other varieties, even cherry tomatoes.

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Roasted Tomatoes with Thyme

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Ina Garten
Serving Size: 4

12 plum tomatoes — halved lengthwise, cores and seeds removed
4 tablespoons EVOO
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves — minced
2 teaspoons sugar — optional
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 sprigs fresh thyme

NOTE: I generally don’t add sugar – ripe tomatoes have plenty of sweetness.
1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Place a piece of parchment paper in a large roasting pan and bend up the edges if possible so the juices don’t ooze out onto your pan (the juices will burn something fierce on the super-hot metal). You may also use foil, but parchment works better.
2. Arrange the tomatoes on the lined sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar (if using), salt, and pepper over the tomatoes. Spread the thyme sprigs across the tops of the tomatoes.
3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to slump down and caramelize (which may take up to 45-55 minutes). Remove from oven, cool, then carefully, over the tomatoes, strip the thyme sprigs of their leaves, and discard the stems.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be used in a salad with mozzarella cheese, or ricotta, chopped up on top of a block of cream cheese with crackers, or eaten straight, warm or at room temp, for a delicious sugar bomb in your mouth!
Per Serving: 170 Calories; 14g Fat (70.5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 879mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 29mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 464mg Potassium; 50mg Phosphorus.

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