French home cooks always seem to have a dozen wonderful things up their sleeves to make on the spur of the moment. Great ideas to use up leftovers come awfully naturally, as well, and they all appear to know about how to feed 6 people with a cup and a half of milk, 3 eggs, a bit of ham, and a handful of grated cheese. How DO they do it? These folks are always frying croutons, whipping up homemade hot chocolate, baking an apple tart using apples from the backyard tree, simmering cream soups or vegetable pastas, stirring up something tasty with canned tuna … or even making quiche! How is it that even carbs aren’t a problem for them? This is proven routinely by the unending ubiquitous photos of yard-long baguettes being carried home by slim citizens riding bikes down tree-lined sunny Paris streets. (Well, right now they’re limited to an hour out a day and can’t go far from home. Sigh.) Over the years I’ve been writing the blog, I’ve read and seen quite a lot about this phenomenon, but staying in France for two weeks a couple of years ago gave me a much more complete and definitely personal insight. I’m finding it all definitely useful in today’s cooking world.Continue reading
While our world feels like a fearful, indescribable mess — and it is, dear friends — I can handle it better if I’m baking. Especially for a holiday and, like it or not, Easter’s coming. Think renewed life, rebirth, clean beginnings — positive thoughts for anyone of any faith or none. We need this now, even if only two are gathered. A holiday for a duet is a tender occasion and while there’ll be a gorgeous lamb chop a piece and not our huge traditional Italian roasted leg of lamb for a crowd, we’ll also have dessert to remember this spring by.
I’m looking at Susan Hermann Loomis’ recipe for lamb chops. You might, too. (Do you know Susan’s work? She’s one of my very favorite cooking teacher/writers.) I squirreled away the chops weeks ago, but there’s still time for you to get some. Or something else you fancy more.
Need more Easter or Good Friday ideas? Just type “Easter” into the search window. You can also type “brunch,” “eggs,” “lamb,” “Friday Fish,”etc.Continue reading
What better for Easter dessert than carrot cake? I’ll freely admit I love carrot cake and am happy for an excuse to make it; Easter’s one of those rare times when I whip up a big fattening dessert and don’t worry about it. There are usually some other folks willing to eat most of it and I can send leftovers home with children. All right, I do keep a bite or two for Dave and I to share on Monday. There’s a link about making the bunny cake, though it’s fairly obvious, and if you make the cupcakes, let the kids decorate them with the cream cheese icing and jelly beans. They’re pretty on a big tray filled with Easter “grass.”
Disclaimer: I decorate about one cake a year, so forgive my cake. I do always have fun doing it, whether for adults, kids, or a mix. This old-school bunny method has been around for decades and is simple and easy for children or for anyone who doesn’t have cake decorating skills or equipment. Icing, jelly beans, licorice whips, and food coloring-dyed sweetened coconut are all you need..
(below: Miss Gab and Tucker all ready for Easter. Miss Gab wanted a bonnet I refused to buy.)
Note: This recipe has shown up on the blog before, but it bears repeating. It comes from our housekeeper at Woodlawn Plantation –where I worked years ago — Grace Herson. If we had someone special coming for dinner at Woodlawn, Grace made carrot cake. When I left, the women in the house wrote a cookbook for me. Grace’s addition was this cake.
Grace’s Carrot Cake
Warnings: This cake, while totally delicious, is prone to a sink hole at its center for the 9×13 or 2 9″ layer versions. Fill it with icing and no one’s the wiser. After years, I still can’t fix the problem.
UPDATE: The hole in the center problem can be helped by either grating the carrots by hand and pressing out extra moisture with paper towels or grating them with the food processor and letting them dry for 30 minutes on sheet pans and then pressing out extra moisture with towels. (See photo at bottom of post.) The problem evidently comes from the weight of the extra water in the carrots.
The cupcakes easily run over and sometimes have a hole, too. Don’t overfill the cupcake tins and, if they still over run, scrape them each back off the tin carefully and remove to cool on rack. Trim, cool completely, then cover with icing!
makes 1 9×13 cake, 2 9″ layers for one bunny cake+, or about 24 cupcakes
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs (I use extra large at altitude or add an extra egg.)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I use Canola now)
3 cups grated carrots (blotted dry w/ towel if you use food processor or the extra liquid will make the cake sink-which it may do anyway.)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Icing: 8 ounces cream cheese, 4 Tablespoons softened butter, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (If you make cupcakes, use 350 F.)
Cake: mix dry ingredients together and add eggs, oil and mix well. Add carrots and nuts and mix well again. Turn into greased 9x13x2″ pan or scoop into cupcake tins* and bake 45-55 minutes for cake, 25-30 for the 9-inch pans, and about 20 minutes for cupcakes or until a toothpick stuck in middle comes out clean. Cool well in pan, if making the 9×13. Remove cupcakes from the pans and cool on racks. For 9-inch round pans –used for bunny cake — let them cool in the pans about 10 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely. Bang pans soundly on the counter before tipping out.
Ice all cakes when completely cooled, piping icing onto cupcakes and topping with a bit of tinted coconut and 3 or 4 jelly beans, if desired.
Refrigerate if not eating that day. Cake freezes very well for up to one month.
*I like muffins and cupcakes baked right in the greased tins so that the cake batter hits the hot metal directly for a nice crust instead of steaming in the paper liners. If you’d like to use paper liners, which many bakers do, please feel free.
+The two nine-inch layers form the bunny: one layer is her body and the other layer is cut into three pieces that form the two ears and the bow tie. See Bunny Cake directions below.
Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter together very well for 2 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar (or you’ll have a big mess). Beat in vanilla and whip icing until very smooth.
Here’s what my 9×13 cake looks like with my oh-so-artsy carrot at center. (Just draw a carrot with greens freehand with a toothpick and fill with orange frosting for carrot and green for the greens.)
Sing a new song,
below: drying out the shredded carrots.
POTATOES WITH PEPPERS AND ZUCCHINI
Heat oil, butter, crushed red pepper, and rosemary in a large, deep skillet over low heat for a minute or two.
|Don’t be scared; he doesn’t bite.|
- 1 cup all purpose white flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon each chopped parsley and dill
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Pinch ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Hot sauce
- 1 approximately 3/4-pound cleaned rainbow trout, head and tail left on (rinsed and patted dry)
- Olive oil
- Canola Oil
1. Into one of three shallow bowls, place 1/2 cup flour mixed well with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2. Into another bowl, place the rest of the flour, the cornmeal, fresh herbs, lemon zest, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.
3. Into the third bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 4-5 drops hot sauce.
4. Dip both sides of trout first in the flour-salt-pepper mixture, then in the buttermilk mixture, and last in the flour-cornmeal mixture. Set on plate while you heat oil.
5. Into a large, deep skillet, pour a mixture of olive and canola oil to fill the skillet 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat. Gently lay fish in the oil and cook 4-5 minutes or until quite brown on one side.
6. Carefully turn fish and cook another 2-3 minutes or until browned and, when tested inside, fish is firm and flaking.
7. Drain fish on paper towels while you fry four eggs in prepared skillet (no recipe included.) and make your toast.
8. Gently transfer fish to the platter with the warm potatoes and vegetables.
9. Using a sharp, serrated knife and cooking fork, separate head from the body of the fish with a quick cut. Gently pry apart the opened body of the trout to expose the spine, bones, and flesh.
Filet by removing as much of the skeleton as possible. Cut fish in half and serve with eggs, potatoes, avocado-basil mayo, and toast. I leave the tail on for serving. Watch for bones!
You CAN also filet the trout before cooking; I think the trout is tastier cooked whole.
For detailed trout prep, check this out.
38 Power Foods is a Team Effort!
Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available:
All sites may not blog power foods each week.
ON MY DINNER PLACE BLOG THIS WEEK:
Sing a new song,