White Cake with Lemon Curd

My favorite cake is white cake. Last December I made a white cake following the King Arthur Flour recipe for Tender White Cake on the box of KAF unbleached cake flour blend.  I also used the recipes blog as a guide but my cake did not turn out well.  I made two mistakes; first, I over beat the cake batter which caused the cake to be very dense and second, I iced it with black as night chocolate frosting that completely overwhelmed the cake.  I was bummed.

In mid-March one of my favorite bloggers, Joe Pastry, asked for suggestions for future projects.  Reader Jennifer requested a “flawless white cake recipe” and I emphatically seconded the request.  Three days later, Joe provided the recipe and I made a truly flawless white cake.  To welcome the first day of Spring (after a wicked cold North East Winter) I filled the cake with the most amazing lemon curd and frosted with a delicate Chantilly Cream.  It was not only the best white cake I’ve ever made, it was the best cake I’ve ever made period.

Here is the link to Joe Pastry’s WHITE LAYER CAKE RECIPE and here is the link for the process with pictures MAKING WHITE CAKE LAYERS.  I only have two notes: let your butter get very soft and turn the mixer up slowly after adding the liquid (I had a big splash!). I also used Joe’s Chantilly Cream recipe.  At the top of Joe Pastry’s blog it reads “Baking Techniques, History + Science”.  If you have some time, spend it checking out his amazingly informative blog – if you’ve got a question, he has – or will get you – the answer!

The cake recipe calls for 5 egg whites.  I knew I wanted to make lemon curd and was fortunate to find a great recipe that called for 5 egg yolks.  I followed this recipe from the kitchen. Use high quality butter and the best lemons you can find.  The recipe recommends using a food processor but a blender will work just as good, if not better!

I made my cake and lemon curd two days in advance.  When I was ready to assemble I plated the first cake layer, piped frosting around the perimeter then filled with lemon curd.  I topped with the second cake layer, piped frosting around the perimeter and filled with lemon curd.  Then I covered the whole cake with the remaining frosting.  Topping and filling the cake with lemon curd made a huge impact to the lemony-ness of the cake.  It was, for me, perfect!

Mini Cheesecakes

Tags

, , ,

I saw this recipe a few years ago on The Chew.  They looked delicious and a lot less intimidating than making a whole cheesecake.  No leaky springform pan or bain-marie just a mini muffin tin with paper or foil liners.  The original recipe lists the servings as “over 12” so I wasn’t sure how many to make for Easter that year.  I decided to increase by half and ended up with a lot of cheesecake (I didn’t write down the exact number).  Thankfully they freeze well.  This weekend is my nieces high school graduation party.  We’re a BIG dessert family so in addition to cake, lemon bars and brownies I offered to make mini cheesecakes, glazed lemon cookies and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.  I doubled the recipe and made 103 cakes!  It would have made a few more but I ran out of crust so 24 crustless cakes took more filling.  Speaking of crust, the original recipe calls for a graham cracker crust but I prefer a shortbread crust.  While you could certainly pick up a box of shortbread at the store I encourage you to try the recipe I use.  You can make the shortbread for the crust up to 5 days in advance.  I made it the same day and wished I would have let it cool longer before crushing into crumbs.  I also probably wouldn’t have run out if I had been able to resist eating it.

Here is the link to the recipe: Cooking Light – Vanilla Bean Shortbread.  I only make two changes: use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in place of bean (expensive!) and cook in a glass 9×13 dish eliminating the need for lining the pan with foil.  After cookies cool completely, cut into squares and process into crumbs (use a food processor or a zip top bag and rolling pin).

Carla Hall’s Mini Cheesecakes – Double Recipe, serves “over 50” assuming two per serving

Please take out your cold ingredients at least 30 minutes prior to allow enough time to come to room temp.  This will make a huge difference in the texture of the cheesecake.  You can cut the cream cheese into smaller chunks to speed up the process.

  • 4 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, ROOM TEMPERATURE
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk, ROOM TEMPERATURE
  • 4 eggs, ROOM TEMPERATURE
  • 1 cup sour cream, ROOM TEMPERATURE
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place liners into muffin tin and press 1 tsp of crumbs into the bottom of each.

In a large bowl, mix softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Blend in milk.  Mix in eggs, one at a time, just enough to incorporate.  Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth.  Transfer filling to measuring cup – this makes filling the cups much easier and cleaner.  Pour filling into prepared cups.  Fill to just below the top of the liner.  Bake 10 – 15 minutes.  *DO NOT OVER BAKE*  When done they will be puffy and jiggle a little.  Cooks Illustrated notes the perfect temperature for cheesecake is 150°F.  In my oven 10 minutes was perfect, 12 minutes was too long resulting in sunken (but still delicious) cheesecakes. Allow to cool in pan a few minutes then, carefully, remove to cooling rack.  Cool to room temperature, then chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

I allowed them to cool for over an hour and then placed in large zip top freezer bags and placed directly in the freezer.  Take out of freezer 30 minutes prior to serving.

 

Farro

I’m having trouble getting started on this post.  It’s not writers block.  It’s because there are SO many things I want to write. This recipe makes me happy. I enjoy making it, eating it and sharing it.  It is, by far, the recipe I have shared the most.  I love to make it for people and encourage people to make it.  If you have a tomato plant, I’ve given you this recipe.  If you’ve eaten lunch or dinner at my house, I’ve made this for you and handed you a copy of the recipe. Pretty much if I’ve talked to you in the last year I’ve told you about this recipe, I can’t help myself – it’s that good. It should be no surprise that it’s a smitten kitchen recipe.  Simply put – Deb rocks.  She puts so much thought and time into a recipe before sharing. Her blog followers write the most helpful comments. Some of her posts have HUNDREDS of comments (467 for this recipe). The best way to search the comments for a specific questions (e.g.; can I use quinoa) is to use the “find” tool.  I just did that to find my comment – #336 – from July 28, 2013. I’m going to post the recipe here but check it out over on SK for notes on farro and how to substitute other grains. I have my own note on farro; don’t pay an arm and a leg for it.  Some stores price farro, quinoa and other “discovery” or “ancient” grains like they’re covered in 24K gold.  Shoprite has a store brand farro which is just fine.  Bob’s Red Mill carries it too.

Smitten Kitchen: One-pan farro with tomatoes , serves 4 as a side, 2 as a hearty main **I always double this recipe.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 9 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp kosher or coarse sea salt
  • up to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste **Can be served as a topping if you’re worried about kiddos
  • 1 TBSP olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Few basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Rinse farro and place in a medium saucepan with the water.  Add each ingredient to the pot as you finish preparing it.  Cut onion in half again and very thinly slice it into quarter moons.  Thinly slice garlic. Halve or quarter tomatoes. Add salt, pepper flakes, and olive oil.  Set timer for 30 minutes.  Bring uncovered pan (NO LID necessary) up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.  When timer rings the farro should be perfectly cooked, tender with a meaty chew.  If needed, cook for additional 5 minutes.

Transfer to a wide serving bowl.  If there is a lot of cooking liquid leftover, use a slotted spoon to leave some behind.  Drizzle farro lightly with additional olive oil, scatter with basil and parmesan. **I always serve this out of the pot it cooked in.  It looks pretty the way Deb plates but if it’s just the family, save a dish.  I serve the basil, parmesan and additional red pepper flakes and allow people to top as they see fit.

This recipe is perfect as written but if you forget to add the garlic, your basil plant died and your husband ate all the red pepper flakes on his pizza it’s still very, very good.  I love this as a main served with a salad.  It’s also a great with sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage.

Southwestern Chicken Salad

Tags

,

Does anyone else have a catch-all for mail, kids drawings, recipes, birthday cards, etc? Maybe yours is a drawer, a bag or just a corner on the countertop. Mine is a big basket.  I was digging through it this morning for a copy of a recipe for Spicy Southwestern Tabbouleh and found a recipe that use to hang on the side of the refrigerator in our old apartment. I loved that apartment. In the basket with the recipe I found an envelope from a card our downstairs neighbor, Ms. Dolly, sent when we moved to our new home. Ms. Dolly passed away last December. She was a kind and generous woman and she treated my daughter like one of her own grandkids. Sadly, I only saw her twice after we moved.  I wish it would have been more. Finding the recipe and the envelope made the basket less of a catch-all mess that must be dealt with and more of a time capsule. There are cards from my sons first birthday – he’ll be three next month – and old notebooks from the when my daughter was born – she’ll be in Kindergarten this fall.  I found the recipe I was looking for and some great memories of a wonderful neighbor in that big messy basket.  My intent was to separate the basket and file things in their proper place but I’m putting it back exactly as I found it in hopes that the next time I’m looking for a “lost recipe” I’ll stumble upon something that reminds me that time is short and precious.

Southwestern Chicken Salad – serves two as a main, four as a side.

I cut this recipe out of Real Simple magazine. It’s a great way to use up a rotisserie chicken and is good with whatever salad veggies you like.  You can also easily double the dressing and use any leftovers on a sandwich or wrap!

  • 6 cups sliced romain lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded chicken
  • 1 sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 TBSP lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Toss lettuce, chicken, pepper and beans together.  In small bowl, whisk together sour cream, lime or lemon juice, chili powder and kosher salt.  Serve salad with dressing and tortilla chips.

Bean Casserole

Tags

,

Bean Casserole is a staple dish at our house. The recipe is from Jonny Bowden’s cookbook The 150 Healthiest 15-Minute Recipes On Earth. The recipe is titled Healthy Jalapeño Cornbread Chili, but my 4-year-old calls it bean casserole and she loves it. I’ve made this many different ways and I don’t think you can mess it up, although my MIL says she did once. Despite the title of the cookbook, this recipe takes longer than 15 minutes to cook but it does come together quick and freezes well.

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups whole-grain cornbread mix (I use this.)
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 ounces cottage cheese, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup milk, any kind
  • 1-2 TBSP canned chopped jalapeño, or to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken, well browned and drained
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar salsa (use your favorite)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans (light or dark), drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or cheddar or a mix)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the cornbread mix, eggs, cottage cheese, milk and jalapeño (if using) and mix until just combined. Spread a thin layer in the bottom of prepared pan.

Next, layer as follows: browned meat, salsa, beans, corn and cheese. Top with remaining batter. Use a wet spoon or wet fingers to spread the batter over the top. It will be sticky and may not cover the entire surface. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cornbread is cooked through.

“Kid-friendly” version: omit the jalapeños and salsa. Serve sliced jalapeños and salsa on the side for the grown-ups.

Vegetarian version: replace meat an additional can of beans.  I use pinto.

Extra cheesy version: top with extra cheese!

There is a side note in the original recipe that suggests you could “thaw and add a box of frozen chopped broccoli to the cornbread mix”.  I’ve never done it but let me know if you do!

Marinated Chicken Breasts

Tags

,

My sister-in-law asked me how the blogging was going.  I answered truthfully – it’s hard to find the time because I have to take care of two kids AND I have to prioritize – make the food or write about the food.  Making the food wins out every time.  Today I’m blessed with napping kids and tacos for dinner so I have some time to post.

When I first started cooking I made a recipe from the back of a bottle of mustard for Mustard Chicken.  It smelled awful and it tasted bad.  My husband still jokes about it.  I never wanted to cook chicken again.  Thankfully, I have since gathered a few really good chicken recipes.  This is a recipe for a marinade.  How you cook the chicken is up to you; we love it grilled.  It tastes great hot or cold and is customizable to match other dishes you’ll be serving it with.

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP vinegar: cider, balsamic or red wine
  • 3 tsp dried herbs: thyme, oregano or rosemary
  • 2 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp garlic or onion powder
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 chicken breasts

Put everything into a large zip top bag.  Marinate 4 hours or overnight.  Cook chicken how you wish : )

Planning ahead: put everything in a freezer proof zip top bag and freeze.  When ready to cook, allow to thaw overnight in the fridge.  *Place in a container just in case the bag leaks!*

I apologize that I cannot find the origin of this recipe.  I have it written on a card.  I thought it was from All Recipes but I searched and cannot find this recipe on the site.  If I do find the source, I’ll give credit where credit is due!

Tortilla Chicken Casserole

Tags

, ,

Food Blog. Just a couple years ago I had never read one. I went to the internet for recipes, sure, but mostly to All Recipes, Cooking Light, Food Network, etc. One night, I googled “Lemon Snap Recipe” and clicked on a link to what I thought was a Martha Stewart recipe. It was a link to a blog, by a woman named Amber, about baking through the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. “Who would do that?” and “Who would read that?” are two questions that immediately came to mind.  I even showed it to my husband with some snide remark about crazy people. I had no idea that I had just stumbled down the Knuckerhole!  I am now an avid food blog follower and, now with this site, a person who blogs about food.  Crazy, I know!

One of my favorite food blogs is The Kitchn. I love the recipes, tips, cooking lessons and Faith’s Daily Find; Faith Durand is the Executive Editor.  One day I came across Faith’s recipe for Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs & Shallots from her cookbook Not Your Mother’s Casseroles.  We LOVE chickpeas so I printed the recipe and put the book on hold at the library.  The chickpea casserole was amazing and I was excited to try more of her casseroles.  I made her ziti, baked chicken and rice, and this tortilla chicken casserole.  We eat a lot of “burritos”.  In our house anything put in a tortilla (wrap) is a burrito.  Ask my kids what they want for dinner and the answer will be “BURRITO’S!”  So I thought there was a good chance they’d like this too.  They loved it!

  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 3 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz can mild green chiles, chopped (I omitted)
  • Eight 8-inch flour tortillas (I only had five 8-inch whole wheat)
  • 2 cups finely shredded cooked chicken (use a rotisserie or this poaching tip)
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used a mix of pepper jack and sharp cheddar – and used way less)
  • **I had left over black beans, maybe a half can, so I through them in too

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour.  Cook, stirring, until the mixture forms a paste.  Slowly whisk in the broth and milk and stir until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in chiles (if using).

Place a tortilla in the prepared pie pan and top with a couple tablespoons of the sauce.  (I found 3 TBSP to be enough and I spread it around to cover the tortilla).  Then add a small handful of shredded chicken, small handful of cheese and some black beans (if using).  Repeat with remaining tortillas, and top the whole stack with a sprinkle of cheese.  Cover the pan loosely with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.  Serve with salsa, corn chips and a salad.

BONUS RECIPE!  Because I only had five tortillas, I had a lot of left over sauce.  I didn’t want to waste it but wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Then I remembered this mac and cheese recipe from Homebeccanomics.  I did not measure anything but here’s what I did and it turned out great!

  • 1/2 box whole wheat rotini
  • shredded cheddar
  • left over sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to box.  Drain and return to pan over low heat.  Add sauce and cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Season with pepper….or ketchup.  You know who you are!

Ice Cream Saver

Tags

uvegottatrythis Kitchen Tip!

I saw an infomercial for a book full of tips for the kitchen. You know the one? With the portly guy dressed like a chef telling us he’s going to pass on all grandma’s kitchen secrets! Well, I didn’t watch much but thankfully I kept it on long enough to see this money saving tip: put a piece of plastic wrap on your ice cream to prevent freezer burn. We don’t buy a lot of ice cream and when we do it takes a while to finish. By the time we’d pull it out of the back of the freezer it would be badly freezer burnt. Well, not any more! We had a tub of ice cream from beginning of February and at the end of March it was good as new. Then again in April (when we finished it).

So, next time you have some left over ice cream, press a piece of plastic wrap down on it before putting the lid back on and enjoy a freezer burn free treat!

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Tags

I admit that I use to have a phobia about making yeast bread.  That’s right, I had an extreme, irrational fear of making yeast bread! Making a cake is easy; measure the ingredients properly, follow the directions carefully, when a toothpick comes out crumb free, voilà, cake!  Same with quick breads.  Yeast breads though are something of an ART form, and I am no artist.  How was I supposed to know if there was too much/ too little flour or water?!  Was my yeast alive or did I somehow kill it?!  The qualifying terms used in yeast breads are so subjective; puffy, very puffy, tacky, moist, sticky, cohesive, elastic, very soft, smooth, taut, etc.  To quote Cook’s Illustrated “Bread making is shrouded in mystery and plagued by misinformation and myths.”

My adventure into yeast bread came in the form of pizza.  This pizza dough changed everything for me!  After several successful pies I was ready to try other forms of yeast bread.  I still wasn’t “loaf confident” but thought I could tackle rolls.  Enter King Arthur Flour’s (KAF) blog FLOURISH!  I started with Parker House Rolls.  I poured over the directions and pictures on the blog until I was sure I could do it.  I took notes on my printed recipe and had the blog open on the computer and phone (in case one stopped working) and nervously set out to make rolls to serve with dinner.  I then asked my husband to go to the store to buy a back-up loaf of Italian bread!  Well, the rolls were awesome (thanks to KAF and PJ Hamel).

I was slowly gaining the confidence needed to bring me to the level where I could bake my own 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread!  Requirements: my family would enjoy, would freeze well, no special ingredients or equipment, not tie me to the kitchen all day.  On January 2nd, I got the confidence booster to go for it (but honestly still waited until like March)!

This is the ingredient list in my store bought 100% Whole Wheat Bread:

Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Yeast, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Wheat Bran, Molasses, Soybean Oil, Salt, Monoglycerides, Calcium Propionate (preservative), Calcium Sulfate, DATEM, Grain Vinegar, Citric Acid, Soy Lecithin, Whey, Soy Flour, Nonfat Milk.

This is the ingredient list in my homemade 100% Whole Wheat Bread:

Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Vegetable Oil*, Maple Syrup (or Honey, or Molasses), Yeast, Nonfat Dried Milk, Salt.        *I use GrapeOla 100% Grape seed oil.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to bake your own bread, uvegottatrythis 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, KAF’s most popular recipe.

NOTES: Combine all ingredients and let sit 20 – 30 minutes (fancy bread term: autolyse).  This gives the flour time to absorb the liquid and it has made a big impact on rise time for me.  Also, if you want to make two loaves, double all ingredients but leave the yeast at 2-1/2 tsp.  Since this bread is preservative free, I slice it, bag it, and store it in the freezer.  I bag it in halve loafs and pull one out before bed (if I remember) or at breakfast or, like I did today, 5 minutes before lunch and served very cold bread to my kids : )

Lemon Loaf Cake

uvegottatrythis Lemon Loaf Cake recipe!

Last year Mom and I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) and they provided recipes to help us use our share.  One of the first recipes was for Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe from smitten kitchen.  I made it, loved it, and wanted more great recipes.  I went online to smittenkitchen.com and “met” Deb Perlman.  Deb welcomes you like an old friend into her tiny NY kitchen. Her posts are witty and informative and her recipes never disappoint.  I’ve become a better, more confident cook thanks to SK!  Most of my family, friends, and neighbors have received at least one SK recipe.  I’m still debating the best way to share all the SK recipes I love. My latest favorite is this lemon cake.  I’ve made it four times.  First with blueberries, then raspberries, then sans fruit because the 2-year-old doesn’t like fruit in his cake.  An honestly, this cake is best with fruit (and ice cream) on the side.

Ingredients:

For cake:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest (approx. 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

For topping:

  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease and 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2- inch loaf pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  In separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 50 minutes, until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, cook the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.  Set aside.

Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Carefully flip out onto cooling rack. Remove parchment paper.  Flip loaf right side up on rack and place rack over cutting board or baking sheet.  While cake is warm, poke tiny holes with a toothpick all over top of cake.  Gently brush on the lemon-sugar topping allowing it to soak in.  Cool cake completely.

As stated above, this cake is best served with fresh fruit and ice cream (or whipped cream, or créme fraîche).  It keeps well wrapped in plastic at room temperature for a couple days.

Click for original recipe for lemon yogurt anything cake.