Strawberries and Cream Cake!

I discovered this cake on Twitter!

I follow Hungry Rabbit NYC and he told the most lovely story from his childhood and made the most beautiful cake for his mother for Mother’s Day!

Ken, otherwise known as HungryRabbitNYC, takes amazing photographs and builds an even more amazing cake.

My photos aren’t nearly as good, and my skills don’t seem to be as sharpened as Ken’s but this cake was delicious!

Strawberry n Cream Cake

recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

1 tablespoon lemon zest, freshly grated
1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
1-1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

2-1/2 pounds fresh strawberries (medium or large, use 3 quarts), washed, dried, reserve 8-10 strawberries (stems in tacked) for decoration
4–6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons rum
Pinch table salt

WHIPPED ICING
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (3-1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 cups heavy cream

Method

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 by 2-inch cake line with parchment paper, grease and flour, set aside.

2. Add lemon zest and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in large mixing bowl, rub with fingers until sugar is slightly moist and takes on a pale yellow color. Add flour, baking powder, salt, whisk to combine. add 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water and both extracts; whisk until smooth.

3. In clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form,about 2 minutes. Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten; add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 25-35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.

5. Stemmed and halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve. Quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of berries) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2-3/4 cup). Place macerated berries in food processor fitted with metal blade, give it five 1-second pulses (you should have about 2 cups).

6. In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and rum until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.

WHIPPED ICING
1. Place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
1. Using large serrated knife, slice cake into three even layers. Place bottom layer on cake plate and arrange half of the strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer. Pour one half of pureed berry mixture in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake. Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge. Place middle cake layer on top and press down gently. Repeat with remaining strawberry halves and berry mixture, and half of remaining whipped cream; gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with reserved strawberries. Chill for 1-2 hours.

The aroma of the batter; full of lemon zest and vanilla, was intoxicating!

We wanted to eat it fresh out of the oven!

The texture is also fantastic and I could see using this recipe for other fruity type cakes, heavy frostings, or nut fillings.

I am a bit sloppy campared to Ken who seems to be an engineer of all things Baked!

Thank you Hungry Rabbit for a beautiful recipe and for inspiring me to make this cake for myself on Mother’s Day!

I assure you that I thuroughly enjoyed it!

Spinach Spirals with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper!

013spinach  pasta wit red pepper and goatcheese sauce

Super easy and so delicious!

Whole grain spinach spirals and red pepper are perfect paired with a creamy goat cheese sauce.

002spinach pasta

I roasted the pepper in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes then chopped them and threw them into the boiling pasta water for abot 10 minutes.

This infused the flavor a bit and softened the peppers.

005cheese sauce

I started with about 2 tbsp. of butter, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1/2 cup of half and half, and 1 cup of sour cream.

Let this simmer for a few minutes then add a half a cup or more to taste of soft goat cheese.

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Drain the pasta and mix in the goat cheese with the red pepper and stir.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

015spinach pasta with red pepper and goatcheese sauce

This is a great meatless meal, nutritious and filling.
Enjoy!

“Easy Peasy” Chocolate Cream Pie with Perfect Pie Crust for Your Sweetie!

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002perfect pie crust

The secret to this recipe is the Martha Stewart Perfect Pie Crust.

You may not have a pre made crust on hand but you most certainly have flour, butter and water!

The recipe is so easy and so delicious you’ll have a fresh homemade pie in no time.

This recipe makes two crusts. Freeze one for a quickie treat later!

Makes 1 double-crust for a 9-inch pie

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons margarine or chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water

Method

1.Hand Method: In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. Cut the chilled butter and margarine into 1-tablespoon bits and add to the flour. With a pastry cutter, work flour and shortening together until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water little by little pressing the pastry together into a ball. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

2.It is very important to work the pastry as little as possible. Don’t overhandle. A secret to light, flaky pastry is to keep the mixture cool, add as little water as possible, and mix only as much as necessary.

3.Food Processor Method: Put flour and salt in bowl of machine. Cut butter and margarine into flour. Process a few seconds until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drop by drop add the water, processing very briefly. The whole process would take 20 to 30 seconds. Wrap and chill the pastry for at least 1 hour.

4.If pastry has been chilled for a long time, let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before rolling.

5.Lightly flour a pastry board, marble counter, or kitchen counter. Divide the pastry in half. Pat each piece of pastry into a flat round. Lightly flour the rolling pin. Roll pastry in one direction only, turning pastry continually to prevent it from sticking to the surface.

6.Using pie plate as a guide, measure rolled-out pastry — it should be slightly larger than the pie plate and 1-8-inch thick. Fold rolled pastry circle in half so you can lift it more easily. Unfold, gently fitting the pastry into the pie plate, allowing pastry to hang evenly over the edge. Do not trim the pastry yet.

7.Fill the pie with filling. Then roll out the second crust in the same manner as for the bottom. Fold circle in half and with a sharp, pointed knife cut little vents in a decorative pattern. Place folded pastry on one half the pie. Unfold, pressing top and bottom pastry together. Trim edges with scissors, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold bottom pastry overhang over top and press firmly to seal. Crimp rim, using fingers or the tines of a fork.

012 chocolate cream pie

Roll out the crust.

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Make it look pretty.

006whipped cream

As for the filling I just used what I had on hand and got fancy!

I created layers by mixing some whipped cream with some pudding but you could just as easily do a layer of pudding; I used instant chocolate, and whipped cream; I made my own!

009whipped cream

Whipped cream.

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First layer of chocolate pudding.

036chocolate cream pie

Mix some whipped cream with chocolate pudding for a special layer of creamy yumminess!

041chocolate cream pie

I dusted with cocoa for effect!

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Fun for two!

063choc pie

Soda Bread with Raisins is Warm and Delicious on a Snowy Winter Morning!

042soda bread with raisins

046soda bread with raisins

This delicious bread is so simple to make that I can find no reason not to make a fresh loaf every morning!

There is nothing better than waking up on a snowy winter morning to the smell of bread baking in the oven.

034soda bread with raisins

This slightly sweet, crumbly quick bread worked well with 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup baking flour.

I also used turbinado in the place of granulated white sugar.

037soda bread with raisins

Ingredients

Raisin Soda Bread

3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour)

3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons (42 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

3/4 cup (100 grams) Thompson raisins

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk (soured milk)

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture, with a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add most of the buttermilk. Using yours hands, or a wooden spoon, mix (adding more buttermilk if necessary) until you have a soft moist dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into a 7 inch (18 cm) round. Place the round on your prepared baking sheet and then, with a sharp knife, cut a 1/4 inch deep “X” across the top of the bread.

Bake for about 40 – 50 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. You can also test that is fully baked by tapping the bottom of the bread – it should sound hollow. Remove from oven. This bread is wonderful when served warm with butter. It also makes great toast.

Makes one seven inch (18 cm) round raisin soda bread.

004soda bread with raisins

The dough hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer makes this a peice of cake!

005soda bread with raisins

017soda bread with raisins

I always use parchment paper.

020soda bread with raisins

This recipe is so quick and easy.

You can have warm bread in less than an hour!

What a great last minute surprise for breakfast.

026soda bread with raisins

Cold butter on warm bread is a special treat!

009soda bread with raisins

028soda bread with raisins

What is especially nice is that you can usually find most of these ingredients in your pantry at all times.

No buttermilk? Add lemon juice to milk!

035soda bread with raisins

No raisins? Use dried cranberries or prunes.

039soda bread with raisins

…even chocolate chips would work nicely and the kids will love it!

040soda bread with raisins

What to do with Party Leftovers!? Crudites get re-made with Linguine and Feta Cheese!

064what to do with leftovers

I hate to waste food. So after a recent party instead of just tossing the leftovers, I made an effort to to come up with a meal that utilized the crudites that were left.

I didn’t want another raw food meal or a stir fry rice thingy.

This reminds me a little of pot roast; vegetarian style , of course.

It kind of looks like that, don’t you think?

I just sauteed the vegetables as they were, added them to some linguine added feta cheese, balsamic vinegar and Ghee. You could also use butter.

This was a complete meal and quite different from the ingredients original incarnation.

My secret ingredient ? Live music in my kitchen!

Check out this video performance of “Summertime” by Dolinar Spahija!

027what to do with leftovers

053what to do with leftovers

001what to do with leftovers

007what to do with left overs

008what to do with leftovers

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Ricotta Cheese Cake with Lemon Zest and Honey! Light and Delicious!

017ricotta cheesecake

My grandmother used to make a Farmer’s cheese or cottage cheesecake when I was growing up.

It was her “not fancy”, always good with a cup of coffee, cake.

I have yet to try these versions but decided to start first with ricotta cheese since that was what I had in my fridge!

001ricotta cheesecake crust

This cake was wonderful and whipping the egg whites makes it especially light and delicious.

005ricotta cheesecake

Lemon zest or even lavender is a lovely flavor note.

I plan to experiment with herbs and other flavors such as almond, orange or even rose.

010ricotta cheesecake

I used a 9 inch spring form pan for this recipe.

I also used Nilla Wafers with pecans and butter for the crust.

I ballparked the amount for the 9 inch pan.

015ricotta cheesecake

Ingredients:

6 Large eggs
2/3 cups sugar
2 tspn vanilla
2 15 oz containers whole milk ricotta cheese
2 tspn grated lemon zest

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 fahrenheit

seperate eggs

place yolks in mixer

and sugar and vanilla to yolks in mixer

Add ricotta cheese and zest and mix for 30 seconds

Beat egg whites until stiff

fold into the ricotta cheese mixture

pour mixture into greased pan

Bake until golden, approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Let cool at least 6 hours before serving

016ricotta cheesecake

I serve this was honey!

023ricotta cheesecake

028ricotta cheesecake

033ricotta cheesecake

ricotta cheesecake

001ricotta cheesecake

009ricotta cheesecake

012ricotta cheesecake

018ricotta cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake! Pumpkins, Squash and Autumn Corn! The Flavors of the Season!

023pumpkins

It’s that time of year and nothing says Autumn like pumpkins!

Pumpkin is great in soup, cheesecake, cookies, pies, breads, curries and more.

Cooking with Fresh Pumpkin

There’s no shame in using canned pumpkin. Even professional bakers do it. But if you’re using fresh, choose small, flavorful sugar pie pumpkins–and save the big ones for carving. A four-pound pumpkin should yield about 1½ cups of puree.

To make pumpkin puree:

1. Cut the pumpkin in half and bake cut-side down, covered with foil, in a 375 degree F oven for about 90 minutes or until flesh is tender.

2. Allow to cool, scoop out the flesh, and puree.

3. Strain the puree for extra-silky smooth soups and custards.

022Pumpkins

A trip to a local farm introduced me to all kinds of squash and corn varieties.

The possibilities are vast and are not limited to baked goods.

Pumpkins are great in savory dishes and lend themselves to spicy flavors; think curry and roasted pepper.

024pumpkins

Over the next few weeks I want to explore all things pumpkin, squash and corn!

027pumpkins

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ingredients

1 1/2 cups graham cracker cookie crumbs
3/4 cup ground hazelnuts
3 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 eggs

Method

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan.

2.Using a fork, combine gingersnaps, hazelnuts, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and melted butter. Press mixture onto the bottom and two inches up the sides of the pan to form the crust.

3.With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin. Mix in the cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth.

4.Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes, or until center of cheesecake is set. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

028pumpkins

I have no idea what these are but I am willing to give them a try!

029pumpkins

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese! Easy, Yummy and Healthy!

016macaroni and cheese

Nothing says comfort food like macaroni and cheese.

And there is no reason to resort to boxed products when homemade cheese sauce is so delicious, nutritious and easy!

Experiment with your favorite cheeses and get creative.

This recipe is the basic cheddar cheese sauce that we all remember.

There is a way to make this old favorite healthy and hardy with quality ingredients.

002cheese sauce

This cheese sauce starts with a basic roux and shredded cheddar cheese.

Roux
1 stick of butter
2-3 Tbspn flour
1 cup of half and half or whole milk

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
Add flour and allow it to bubble and cook for a few minutes
Then add milk creating a smooth and creamy sauce.

Cheese Sauce

Add to the Roux,
1 and ½ to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
A pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste.
And add enough milk or half and half to reach the desired consistency; which should be creamy and not too thick, approximately the thickness of heavy cream.

Stir over low heat and allow to cook into a creamy, rich sauce.

Stir in cooked whole wheat shells or the macaroni of your choice.

This is the basic sauce. To the roux you can add any cheese you like.

You can also add ingredients like crushed garlic, capers sautéed onions, mushrooms, fresh green onions or sautéed leeks.

The list is endless.

Macaroni and cheese can go from simple and familiar to gourmet and sophisticated in no time.

The most important ingredient is your imagination!

Risotto with Shrimp, Scallops and Asparagus!

008risotto with shrimp and asparagus

I don’t know why I’ve always been so intimidated by risotto.

Arborio rice seemed exotic and complicated.

Like most people I assumed that it meant hours standing at the stove; stirring, demanding an almost psychic sense to determine when it is ready.

Well it couldn’t be further from the truth.

This dish is fast and easy and virtually full proof.

001risotto

I’d say that about 45 minutes is all that you need to have this dish prepared.

004rwith shrimp am

Ingredients:

2 cups risotto Arborio rice

8-10 cups water or vegetable stock

Method:

In a deep skillet toast the risotto in about 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Add 4 cups of liquid and allow to simmer slowly until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Then cup by cup add the remaining liquid as it is absobed by the rice while stirring.

Stirring brings out the starch and creates the creamy texture for which this rice is known.

005risotto with shhrimp and asparagus

007risotto with shrimp and asparagus

In a seperate skillet sautee shrimp asparagus and scallops in butter and crushed garlic.

Add to the risotto and mix well.

You can add about 1/4 ohf heavy cream and parmesan cheese if desired.

011risotto with shrimp and asparagus

014peppers

Sliced peppers go well with eggplant dip which is light and garlicky!

019eggplant dip

I couln’t help but to end this meal with a little Dulce de Leche Cheesecake!

026dessert

Whipped Cream Avalanche! Cheesecake in a Midwest Heatwave!

002 birthday cheesecake

I should have given this a bit more thought!

I do not have air conditioning and we are in the middle of an incredible heatwave here in the midwest.

The heat index was 106 degrees! yesterday.

005birthday cheesecake

We were celebrating a birthday and this cheesecake with strawberries and whipped cream is a favorite.

birthday cheesecake

It did look great when I placed it on the table but by the time I picked up the camera it was sliding all over the place!

That was about 15 seconds!

One of the secrets to the greatness of this cheesecake is the crust.

The butter toasted pecans make the crust amazing and every time I make this the only request is that next time I make more crust!

Ingredients:

Crust

1 stick of butter

3/4 cup of pecans

1 1/2 cups graham crackers

Filling

3 8 oz. pkgs cream cheese
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
Whipped cream prepared or homemade; we used Redi-Whip, it’s a nostalgia thing!

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Saute butter and pecans until they become aromatic and lightly toasted

Place graham crackers, sauteed pecans and butter in the food processor and mix until the texture is fine

Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and bake for 10 minutes

Set aside; reset oven to 325 degrees

With an electric mixer beat cream cheese, sugar and flour together until well mixed

Add vanilla and beat until smooth

Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition

Beat until smooth

Add milk and mix until well blended

Pour the batter over the crust and bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes

Fell free to garnish with your favorite fresh fruit after the cheesecake has chilled in the fridge overnight

Don’t be shy with the whipped cream!

Put love in it and Enjoy!

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