In the house where I grew up in a Chicago suburb that was situated so far south that its streets ended exactly where the tall, green and golden midwestern cornfields began, the best treasures were often in the big freezer out in the utility room. Last summer’s fish from vacations in Minnesota or Wisconsin (cleaned by yours truly), stored in tubs of water, were frozen forever just as they were…or at least until the next weekend’s fish fry. Small cartons of peaches –the ones that came in after the canning was done–might be on the door for mid-winter dessert or for topping the homemade ice cream we all took turns cranking early the following summer. The thing you really had to search for, though, as they were well-hidden from my Dad, me, and all the grandkids (you know who you are), were ice cream sandwiches made from Mom’s leftover waffles. Now I don’t know how there were ever leftover waffles, but there were. And somehow my mom managed to press vanilla ice cream between a couple of them, wrap them tightly, and hide them well until they were badly needed. You get it, right? When your whole adolescent world was falling apart or the Chicago weather had turned frightening…Continue reading
My mom, born in Mississippi in 1916, always called Memorial Day “Decoration Day” while we were growing up. While I knew why we celebrated Memorial Day, the idea of “Decoration Day” was a bit murky for me. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized many people literally went to cemeteries to decorate graves and remember. As fewer and fewer people are buried as years go on, this is worth tucking away in our heads.
Here’s the current scoop from TIME.com. It might surprise you.
It hasn’t been summer in Colorado Springs until the past couple of days. In fact, we’ve been wet and cool with little need for sandals (boo hoo), short sleeves or air conditioning. Vegetables plantings have washed away and flower pots have been flooded, poured out, and replanted, only to start that entire cycle again the next day. Neighbors have water in their basements for the first time in memory. Living in a place where fire is a typical weather condition possibility many months a year, we don’t complain about rain. Ever. (But…)
As as cook who adores seasonal preparations, I really have been yearning for frozen margaritas, fajitas on the grill, plain ol’ burgers and dogs, and so on. Until last weekend, summer’s been pretty much miss and very little hit. And then it began to look like this around here:
After a nutty week of Dave traveling for work in Mexico, Miss Bo-Bo (Rosie) being horrifically ill and isolated with several upper-respiratory infections, me with multiple-cooking away-from-home jobs, Continue reading
Just looking at this cake will tell you that it’s not difficult to make and it’s NOT. A quick glance at the recipe, however, might put you off. Don’t let it. There may be a little reading involved, but the cooking and baking are fairly simple and don’t take long. In fact, though it’s two layers, you only bake one cake. After it’s cool, you cut it in half.
Another idea comes from my mother-in-law, who, when I was a young wife, often made a similar cake using a homemade or store bought angel food cake. To cut calories, she used Cool Whip, but I can’t go that far. If I’m eating cake I want to eat cake. Let them eat cake! But if you really must cut the whipped cream for health or allergy reasons, try the Cool Whip version.
I made this for Mother’s Day and took it to a friend’s. We all had a tiny slice with a huge cup of coffee.
Easy Berry Butter Cake (Aida Mollenkamp–courtesy Food Network)
For the cake:*
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened, plus more for coating the pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
*Or use a purchased cake like Sara Lee Pound Cake
For the filling:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
INSTRUCTIONSFor the cake:
- 1 1/2 pounds mixed berries*, washed (if you’re using *strawberries, they’ll also need to be hulled and quartered) You might not need quite this many berries; mine didn’t fit on the cake.
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with butter and flour, tap out the excess flour, and set the pan aside. Combine measured flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until evenly combined; set aside.
- Place measured butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light in color and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium high until white in color and the texture of wet sand, about 3 minutes more.
- Add eggs one at a time, letting each incorporate fully before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, add half of the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated, then add milk and continue mixing until smooth. Add the rest of the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated, about 2 minutes more.
For the filling:Place mascarpone in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cream, sugar, and almond extract, increase speed to medium high, and whip until ingredients are combined and firm peaks form, about 15 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.To assemble: *
- Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and turn out onto the rack, right side up, to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling.
If using a purchased cake like frozen Sara Lee pound cake, you might want to slice it (into thirds, perhaps) while it’s still partially frozen. (Recipe first posted in May of 2012)
- Slice cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Divide filling evenly between the cut side and the top of the cake. Divide berries evenly over the filling. Stack cakes on top of each other and serve.
Note: I’ll share with you that whenever I’ve made a recipe by Aida Mollenkamp, it’s been incredible. I don’t see her on Food Network anymore; is she still on? But she does have a lot of recipes. One that immediately comes to mind is her lasagna. Can’t make that very often.
I like berries because of all the things they can do for us…provide tons of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, memory ability boosters, and more… But I also love them because they’re gorgeous, inexpensive (relatively), taste incredibly good, and are low in calories. Many of them are also easy to grow at home. And while we’re out of berry season in most places in the country, I just got a couple of pints of Michigan blueberries much like the tiny wild Maine berries that are often lusciously sweet-tart and make such great pancakes and muffins. For more on berries and why we should eat them, click here.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients: Read more about beautiful berries this week at these sites:Ansh – SpiceRoots.comChaya – SweetSav.blogspot.comJeanette – JeanettesHealthyLiving.comMartha – Simple-Nourished-Living.comMinnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.comMireya – MyHealthyEatingHabits.com^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Need some fall love?Try reading this week on my Dinner Place blog (Cooking for One):Sing a new song,AlyceP.S. Fellow blogger @donteatalone.blogspot.com, Milton Brasher-Cunningham, has just published a book you might be interested in:
Check it out!
When it’s my friend Sue’s birthday, or at least if I can find one, I send her a birthday card with strawberries on it. Sometimes I can’t find one. Sue loves strawberries and so when I knew she was coming for our Mother’s Day cook-out, I knew what the dessert was going to be. It’ll be just perfect for Memorial Day, too, though I’ll be busy making carrot cake sheet cakes for a graduation party. (Carrot cake was one of my first posts as a blogger. Things, luckily, have really improved! If all goes well, I’ll take some better photographs than I did three years ago.)
|Taking vanilla bean out with my kids’ Mickey Mouse spoon.|
I only make Strawberry Shortcake once or twice a year, so I try and make it light, layered with lots of ripe fruit, full of textural and temperature contrasts, and touched just enough by two kinds sweet cream–frozen and fresh whipped. It’s a celebration of the start of summer, though if we’re lucky, we have strawberries coming for a good part of summer in Minnesota.
For the best Strawberry Shortcake, you need each ingredient to be fresh and/or the best you can find or make. So for this dessert, I made the shortcakes as well as homemade vanilla ice cream. (Baby spoon used at right still in drawer and my kids are 25 and 34. We’ve moved 20 times since the oldest was a baby, so it’s been through at least 20 kitchens. Geez.) Ripe strawberries (some mashed) and just-whipped cream, of course. My other tiny, but critical element is a gentle smear of raspberry jam on each half of the sliced sweet biscuits we use for shortcakes. This recipe makes enough for 8 with a few shortcakes leftover for breakfast the next day. (Slice them, spread with butter, slip under the broiler and serve with jam and lots of hot coffee.)
strawberry shortcake with homemade shortcakes and
ice cream serves 8
8 freshly baked and cooled shortcakes, each sliced in half (recipe below)
1/2 cup best quality raspberry jam, room temperature
2 qts ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced. Mash about 1/4 of the berries with a tablespoon of sugar
and mix the rest of the berries into the sugared ones.
1 1/2 qts homemade vanilla ice cream*
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with 1/4 tsp vanilla and a pinch of sugar
To assemble...for each shortcake in a deep individual serving bowl or plate:
- Spread the two halves of the shortcake gently with a little raspberry jam, using about half a tablespoon for each half. Place one half (jammed side up) in the bottom of bowl or plate and top with sliced strawberries.
- Dollop in a little whipped cream on top of the berries and place the second half jammed shortcake on top. Spoon on more strawberries and top with whipped cream.
- Garnish with a couple strawberry slices.
- Add a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side of the cake and berries or on top, if you wish.
- Strawberry shortcake is good with a cup of coffee.
*I made Jeni’s Ugandan Vanilla Ice Cream. You can make any kind you’d like or even buy some best quality vanilla if you don’t have time to make it. This recipe from epicurious.com is similar to Jeni’s, though Jeni’s has no eggs.
My ice cream:
|Chilling the ice cream mixture.|
|All frozen and ready for you in about 25 minutes.|
And the shortcakes:
|Making the shortcakes, which are like a sweet biscuit.|
|Shortcakes cooling on the rack. Don’t want them too brown.|
Recipe for Shortcakes from Fanny Farmer’s Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham:
fluffy shortcakes makes 16
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 4 t baking powder
- 1/2 t cream of tartar
- 3 T sugar
- 8 T butter
- 1 egg, well-beaten
- 1/3 c milk or cream, plus droplets if needed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Get out 2 8 or 9″ round cake pans or a large baking sheet, but do not grease.
two-dog kitchen and around the hood or other stuff I’m cooking:
Bleeding Hearts (I have pink and white) and Pansies…
I’ll decorate the sheet carrot cake next weekend with the edible pansies.
|One of these girls lays eggs so big they don’t fit in the carton! (Top right corner)|
I got more eggs from Cathy’s ladies this week. (Cathy’s a friend and fine pianist whose family owns a terrific coffee business, Velasquez Family Coffee, in St. Paul) I usually save them for an omelet dinner, poached eggs on grilled cheese tomatoes:
|Poached eggs on grilled asparagus and mushrooms with hot balsamic vinaigrette|
and I did make an omelet, but I also spread my wings and beat some up to use in making some fried chicken out of the Olives cookbook (the recipe is actually for cornish hens; I subbed boneless chicken thighs and served them with a spicy black bean-ham salad.) This chicken is worth the price of the book.
|Tucker sneaking around the cookbook corner. Red stool @ counter = my kitchen table!|
|Hey, Mom! Time to eat yet?|
|These are my youngest peonies planted in the shade on the west side. Must be moved to sun. I have some on the south side that are literally on the ground because they’re so big and I don’t have a peony cage for them.|
If you liked this, I think you’d like my Fresh Berry Cake--. Take the components separately to a Memorial Day Picnic. Make it with a one-layer butter cake sliced in half, or buy a Sara Lee (or bakery) pound cake, slice it horizontally, and serve a rectangular version. Time for berries! Recipe for Fresh Berry Cake courtesy Aida Mollenkamp, whose recipes–every one–have been delicious and spot-on.
The other thing I get to do this week is make a BBQ Chicken Pizza for our 50 Women Game-Changers (Gourmet Live); this week–almost the end–is Foodspotting. I really love making pizza, though I don’t do it often. (My son Sean makes the best pizza I’ve ever eaten and I’m embarrassed to think how much pizza I’ve eaten. And in how many countries!)
A little guilty admission: I recently moved my computer to the basement temporarily and find I’m blogging while I watch Morning Joe, one of the few tv shows to which I’m addicted. So as Joe holds forth and Mika never gets to say her piece, the blog gets written. Thanks, guys.