Wednesday, March 28, 2012

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

I know I've mentioned the numerous Sunday Dinners we have.   Sitting at the end of the table, gazing over the family and food makes me so happy.   I also love to end the meal with dessert.   I'm not sure why I made this cake other than we love white chocolate and raspberries.   It turned out great, and the touch of Chambord on every layer added more of that wonderful raspberry flavor.   It didn't last long as the kids took the majority home with them after our dinner was done.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Layered Cake

 Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 6 (1 ounce) squares white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 C hot water
  • 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/4 C buttermilk 
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 8 inch round cake pans with shortening and flour.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.  In small saucepan, melt the white chocolate and hot water over low heat. Stir until smooth, and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add vanilla bean paste.  Stir in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk. Mix in melted white chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.

White Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 6 (1 ounce) squares white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C butter, room temperature
  • 1 C confectioners sugar
  • 1 t vanilla bean paste
Directions:  In a medium saucepan, combine the white chocolate, flour and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick. Cool completely.

In large bowl, cream the butter, confectioners sugar and  vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add cooled white chocolate mixture. Beat at high speed until it is the consistency of whipped cream. 

Additional Ingredients:
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Chambord
  • White Chocolate curls
  • fresh Raspberries
To assemble cake:   Cut each cooled cake into 2 layers.   Smear dollop of buttercream onto cake plate and place 1st layer.   Brush that layer with Chambord then add a couple tablespoons of Raspberry Jam, spreading to cover the layer.   Place the 2nd layer next, brush with Chambord and then add a couple tablespoons of white chocolate buttercream, spreading to cover the layer.   Repeat with remaining four layers and then completely frost the cake.

I used a box grater on the large size to grate a room temperature bar of white chocolate with gave me small curls.   Using parchment, I applied the curls to the sides of the cake then topped it with fresh raspberries.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sunrise Breakfast Bake

I love to cook {as if you didn't notice} and the weekend is where I find myself making the bigger meals for our family.   Breakfast usually consists of fruit, eggs and maybe pancakes if Emma has a friend spend the night.   I needed something hearty, something easy and more complete so came up with this casserole.   It's been devoured every time I make it!

Sunrise Breakfast Bake

  • 1 loaf french bread
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 C cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 T caraway seeds
  • 1/4 C Italian Parsley, minced
  • salt and pepper
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a coat of Pam on the bottom of the casserole dish.   In a fry pan, saute the shallot in the olive oil and remove.  In the same pan, cook the Italian Sausage, drain off the fat and then add the shallots back in along with the caraway seeds and parsley, stir to mix.   In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together.

Tear the french bread into bite sized pieces and place in the casserole dish.  Add the cooked sausage mixture, egg mixture, 1 C of the cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.   I use my hands to mix everything together, then top with the remaining 1/2 C cheese.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the egg is cooked through.   This will serve between 8 - 10 people and can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.   Great reheated!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Roast Lamb

I've grown up eating lamb and I adore it with mint sauce on the side.   We usually buy a lamb roast every few months and Costco seems to have a good selection with good prices.   We follow one of the recipes handed down from my husbands Grandmother and that is to stuff the lamb roast with lots of garlic cloves, then a simple salt and pepper and into the oven it goes.   I make an Au Jus with the drippings and we are set for an amazing Sunday Dinner.

Garlic Studded Lamb Roast

  • Lamb Roast (sized for your family and guests)
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • rosemary sprigs
Directions:   Remove the lamb roast from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes as it will roast more evenly that way.   Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Pierce the roast with a sharp paring knife, making a small hole and stuff with clove of garlic.   Try to do this over the roast as evenly as possible. Add a bit of olive oil to the bottom of a roaster then place the garlic studded lamb in center.  Drizzle remaining olive oil over the lamb, season with salt and pepper and toss in a few rosemary sprigs.    Place in oven and roast, uncovered, until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees or for 30 minutes per pound of meat.

Remove the lamb roast from the oven and tent with foil for 15 minutes and allow it to rest.   While the roast rests, make an au jus...

  • 1 C lamb dripping to include fat
  • 15 oz beef broth
  • 1/4 C warm water
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 1 t seasoning salt
  • pepper
In a small bowl, whisk the warm water and corn starch together and set aside.   In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine lamb dripping and beef broth and bring to a boil.   Whisk in the corn starch mixture and continue whisking until it thickens a bit.   Taste it first BEFORE adding any season salt to make sure it isn't overly salty, then season with pepper.

Remove the twine holding the lamb roast together and slice.   Serve with the au jus, mint sauce and some great sides!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cupcake Craze Demo!

Please join me on Sunday, April 1st, 2012 - not kidding - between 12 - 3:00 p.m. for a fun demonstration at Faraday's Kitchen Store in Lakeway.   It's all about cupcakes - Cupcake Craze - is FREE and kid friendly.

I will have four different cake types that you can mix with four different fillings, four different frostings and all the embellishments.   Every one gets to try making their own flavor combination!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stacked Salmon

This recipe has it all; delicious salmon, watercress, tangy aioli all stacked onto a crisp potato pancake.   My problem with this recipe is that I didn't make enough (or rather we ate it all).

Stacked Salmon

  • Salmon filet
  • juice of 1 lime
  • cedar plank
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C flour
  • Lawry's Season Salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 4 T mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 T capers
  • 1 T Durkee Sauce
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
Directions:   Preheat your grill and soak the cedar plank for about 30 minutes in water.   Squeeze lime juice over salmon filet and season with salt and pepper.   Place on cedar plank and grill until done and flaky.

Peel potatoes and barboil whole for about 10 minutes, starting with potatoes covered with room temperature water and heat from there. Immerse in cold water.  Remove from water, dry and let cool.   Meanwhile, in a small bowl mash capers with a spoon.   Then add mayonnaise, Durkee Sauce (or a brown mustard with a hint of horseradish), lemon juice and Lawry's Season Salt.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to touch, grate with a box grater into a medium bowl.   Add a bit of Lawry's Season Salt.   In a small bowl combine egg and flour and whisk well and add to potatoes.  In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.   Make 4 large potato patties and place in hot oil.   Leave it alone for 4-5 minutes until it crisps then flip to the other side and cook an additional 5 minutes.   Drain on papertowels.  

To assemble, start with a potato cake, then a handful of watercress, then a piece of cedar plank salmon, topped with the aioli sauce.   Garnish with zest of lemon and serve.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Basic Pancake Recipe

Every food blogger and chef spends time thinking of flavor and texture when creating a new recipe that usually has many steps and takes hours to prepare.   I love and appreciate those types of dishes very much but today I went back to the basics.   I love the basics too, as they usually are some of the first steps of a more elaborate recipe.

Today was a very basic pancake recipe.

Emma's bestie Claire spent the night last night and as I was tucking them in, Emma said they wanted stakes of pancakes for breakfast in the morning.

My best childhood memory of pancakes was during a very snowy winter in Springfield, Virginia in 1978.   After a few hours of sledding with my best friend, Beth Evans, we headed back to her house frozen solid.   Her mother made the BEST and fluffiest pancakes ever - with real butter on top.   At my house growing up we always had buckwheat pancakes that were a little flat with nuts and "junk" in them and used margarine.   These were white with crisp edges and the real butter had such an amazing taste with syrup drizzled on them.   Amazing.  I think I can still taste them to this day.

Emma and Claire ate a huge stack this morning and I even made each girl and initial pancake as well.   You'll never buy store bought pancake mixes again.

Basic Pancake Recipe

  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 T canola oil
Directions:   In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.   In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and oil.   Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix well.   As the mixture stands, heat your griddle and cook your pancakes.   Wait until you see the bubbles before you flip and cook until golden.   Serve immediately.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I'm catering a Brunch this weekend and made these wonderful little bites.   Lemon and blueberries make a great combination and I made them mini to just pop in your mouth.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

  • 3/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 t vanilla bean paste
  • 1 T lemon extract
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 2 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
Directions:   Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your pans, whether regular muffin tins with paper cups or mini muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray.

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.   Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well then add vanilla, lemon extract, sour cream and milk.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and add to the batter and blend until just mixed.   Fold in blueberries and lemon zest.

Scoop batter into prepared pans, filling 3/4 full and bake.   If making regular sized muffins, bake 25 minutes and if making mini muffins, bake 15 minutes.   They will be lightly browned on top.   Delish!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Avocado and Salmon Salad

The sun is shining brightly in Austin and it's been steadily warming up too.   I'm in such a spring type of mood, both in the house as in spring cleaning AND in the kitchen as in making lighter dishes.   I've been wanting to do something fun with avocado's and this experiment turned out delish!   Toasted pine nuts add crunch and texture to the creamy avocado with salmon and the basil, scallions, zest of lemon and orange.   This would be a great salad to use at an outdoor luncheon, Bridal Shower or any springy celebration.

Avocado and Salmon Salad

  • Ripe Avocados
  • 4 - 6 oz cooked salmon (smoked if you prefer)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1 T fresh basil, julienned
  • juice of a fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh lemon and orange zest
  • mixed greens
  • pine nuts, toasted

Directions:   In a small saute pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts.  

In a medium bowl, combine the cooked salmon with the scallions, mayonnaise, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and zest and mix well, breaking the salmon up into bite sized pieces.

Just before serving, cut the avocado's in half, remove the seed and remove from the skin, keeping the half in tact.   To plate, start with a bed of mixed greens, then the avocado, topped with the salmon mixture and garnished with toasted pine nuts and zest.   Serve immediately!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Keeping corn in it's green husks will render tenderness and the spicy herbed butter adds a tasty kick!  

Grilled Corn on the Cob

  • fresh corn on the cob in husks
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 T fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 - 2 T cayenne pepper (depending on your taste)
  • 1 T salad supreme seasoning
  • 1 T fresh cracked pepper
  • salt to taste
Directions:   In a small bowl combine butter and herbs/spices, mixing well.    Set aside.   Remove outside corn husks to reveal pale green and tender husks.  

Gently peel them away from the cob and remove all the silk.   With a spoon, spread a thin layer of the butter mixture over the corn and gently bring the husks back into place. 

They will stick to the butter, but I like to use a husk to tie a knot at the top of each ear of corn.

Grill over medium heat on your grill for about 20 minutes or until tender.

To serve, have your guests peel the husks back and use them as a handle!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Perfect for the wonderful weather we're having in Austin... my Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes are a great way to end a delicious meal.   I love cutting out the centers then filling it with my lemon zest infused chopped strawberries - it really packs a flavorful punch.   Hope Spring is happening where you are in this world and if not, still makes these yummy bites!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1 C (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 C sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  • 2 3/4 C flour
  • 1 C milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 cupcake tins with paper cups.   In a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy then add the sugar and mix well.   Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each addition then add the vanilla.   Alternate adding the flour and the milk, mixing well then add a pinch of salt and scrape the sides of the bowl down.   Stir well then add the lemon juice and zest.   Scoop into cupcake papers (3/4 full) and bake for 22 - 25 minutes or until done.   Remove from oven and cool.

Strawberry Lemon filling:
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 C chopped strawberries
In a small bowl, mix the lemon zest with the sugar and let sit for 10 minutes.   Add the chopped strawberries, mix well and set aside to fill cupcakes.

Lemon Buttercream:
  • 1/2 C solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 t lemon extract
  • 4 C confectioners sugar
  • 2 T milk
In a medium bowl cream vegetable shortening and butter together until light and fluffy.   Add lemon extract then confectioners sugar, a cup at a time, mixing well with each addition.   Add the milk and beat until fluffy.

To assemble cupcakes, cut the center of each cupcake out with a sharp knife.   Spoon strawberry lemon filling into hole then using a large tip, frost over the filling on each cupcake.   I added extra lemon zest as a garnish.