Peach Cobbler

So, this post is a little late, peach season is winding down and we’re on to apple season already. I can hardly believe its September! Not only is its September but its already September 4th. I had a small heart attack this morning thinking it was still September 1 and although the humidity still says August, I’m hoping we start to have some cooler Fall evenings soon. Two weeks ago I finally got around to making peach cobbler. I had been thinking about it and wanting to make it for weeks but needed the time and a reason to make it. My parents were coming over for dinner and my mom loves peaches so this was the perfect occasion; I had people to help me eat it, people who I knew would enjoy it!

It may be hard to believe but I’ve actually never made peach cobbler before. I’ve made peach pie, peach crisp, peach crumbles, but never cobbler. This means I needed a recipe. Of course I immediately went online and began searching my usual sites, Epicurious and The Food Network and landed upon Paula Deen’s recipe for peach cobbler. I figured, if anyone can make it a good peach cobbler, its her.

I started the recipe by blanching my peaches and peeling them. If you’ve never peeled peaches before, this is by far the easiest way. All you do is boil a large pot of water and drop in your peaches. I let them boil for about 2 minutes and then move them into a bowl of ice water to cool them down. Once they’re cool, you can cut a small slit in them and pull the skin right off. It’s nice and easy, if not a little messy!

Once the peaches are peeled and sliced, this recipe called for you to boil them, along with sugar and water on the stove for about 10 minutes. I also chose to add in a split vanilla bean to the mixture for more flavor.

This step was key to making the cobbler extra delicious. The boiling peaches, sugar, water and vanilla bean created an incredible sauce, and yes, the whole kitchen smelled divine.

After making the peaches and syrup, place your baking dish with the sliced butter, into the preheated oven. You want the butter to melt completely before you pour in the cobbler mixture.

While the butter is melting, mix up the dry and wet ingredients for the biscuit part of the cobbler. When the butter is melted, first pour in the biscuit mixture, into the butter in the dish. This might seem backwards to you and it is, typical cobbler recipes call for the peaches on the bottom and the dough on top but this one calls for the opposite. The reason is that the dough actually rises up through the peaches and in doing so soaks up all sorts of flavor. It’s SO good!

Top the dough mixture with the peach mixture and do not mix it. Place it right in the oven and bake it for about an hour, until the middle has set.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I’m telling you, this was the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. Paula knows her peaches.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from FoodNetwork.com:

Peach Cobbler
Print
Author: Adapted from Paula Deen
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean split
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Ground cinnamon, optional
  • Ground Nutmeg, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, vanilla bean, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 2 pinches of nutmeg and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
  3. Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
  4. Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

 

Cooking School

I hope you’re all enjoying your week! I have been trying to keep busy as Eric is away on business again but its become quickly apparent how quiet this house can get when he’s away. Good thing I have my cute puppy to keep me company! She has taken up her place on Eric’s side of the bed now and I’m afraid Eric may have to fight her for it when he gets home. I can’t imagine what I’d do without her though. Here she was this morning when  I woke up.

But I digress, the point I’m trying to make is that when Eric is away, I plan more social things for myself to do so that I don’t go crazy being alone (though to be fair I am an introvert and enjoy being alone quite a bit). Wednesday night I decided to finally take some friends up on their requests for me to teach them how to cook something or in this case bake something. Recently, one of my girlfriends expressed an interest in pies and, just her luck, pies are one thing I have conquered. I invited her and another friend over for pie making and instructed them to bring two things: a pie plate, so they could take their creation home, and a pound of butter. Pies require lots of butter, maybe that’s why I like them so much…

I love that the evening meant spending time in the kitchen getting covered in flour and being chatty girls. I also loved the fact that each one of us wanted to make a different type of pie. I like to think people’s taste in pie is another facet of their personalities and find it fascinating what people favor in their pie flavors (this is the type of question that I love asking, “Hi, nice to meet you, what’s your favorite kind if pie.” I could almost decided if I like you or not based on the answer to that question alone).

After a simple tutorial on the Do’s and Don’ts of making pies, we got down and dirty making our pie crusts, rolling them out, making the fillings and putting the entire pies together. We had three pies in total; I made a peach, raspberry and blueberry pie, one of my friends made a blueberry pie and the other made a triple berry pie which include red raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.

I was so proud of our pies! Here they are before going into the oven:

Blueberry

Triple Berry (check out the gorgeous lattice top!)

Peach, Raspberry, Blueberry

We had such a nice time together. I love feeding people and using food to bring people together, to make them feel welcome in my home, but this was a whole new way for me to share not only food, but the passion that I have for making food with people I love. It was so fun to see the pride my friends had in their creations!

Here’s shots of the finished products:

Blueberry

Triple Berry

Peach, Raspberry, Blueberry

My friends have now declared that I am giving cooking lesson and have named it “Marah’s Cooking School” and we’re already discussing what we’d like to cook next. I for one, can’t wait!

Blueberry Ice Cream

Before I get into my latest recipe adventure, I just wanted to thank everyone for the kind words and support after my last post. Sharing personal details about your life on the internet isn’t for everyone, but I have been overwhelmed with the encouraging words that have come my way since I shared my latest unemployment news with you all. Your kind words were exactly the kind of boost I needed, so thanks!

I’m sure you’re all wondering what I’ve been doing with my new found free time and I’ll tell you one thing, I haven’t been sitting around eating bon-bons, though I wish I could…bon-bons are delicious, but I’ve been cleaning my house, doing small projects that have been on my To-Do list for ages and of course cooking. I never realized how much I missed the idea of Summer vacation and to be honest, its nice to get some time to do horrible tasks like wash your windows or paint the spare room. I promise to give you updates on all my little DIY projects, too.

Today, however, we’re back to food. It is the middle of July and naturally, its hot. On top of the seasonal temperatures, we’ve also had a bit of a heat wave. My morning run this morning felt like I was running inside the sauna at the YMCA. When it gets this steamy and sticky you only want one thing, besides ice water that is, ice cream! My handy little Cuisinart ice cream maker has been hard at work the last two weeks creating all sorts of flavors of ice cream.

I’ve been searching for a blueberry ice cream recipe for the last two years. I had a wonderfully fresh blueberry ice cream at the Strasburg Creamery a few years back and have never been able to forget it. My mission last week was to replicate it. This ice cream was not the typical blueberry one might think of. Most people think of blueberry ice cream that looks like this:

It’s a beautiful violet color and is packed with blueberry flavor. This kind of blueberry ice cream is flavored from making a blueberry puree after cooking the blueberries with sugar until they burst and make a syrup. This method is rich and delicious but the kind of blueberry ice cream  I was going for was less intense in flavor and color. It’s almost white and is filled with whole blueberries that have not been cooked at all. Oh! And its creamy and light.

After scouring the internet looking for the “right” kind of blueberry ice cream recipe, I finally came across this one from a fellow blogger at Catsandcasseroles.blogspot.com. The recipe was perfect. No cooking blueberries and a no cook ice cream base!

To start the ice cream (after you’ve already chilled your ice cream maker drum in the freezer over night, of course), combine the fresh blueberries and 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl.

Cover it and put it in the fridge for a few hours, getting it out and stirring it every 30 minutes or so. I squished a few berries with a fork and stirred them up.

After the berries are ready, mix up the ice cream base. Sugar, heavy cream and half and half, mix in the blueberries.

The base will be a light lavender color. Since you used cold cream and half and half, the mixture is cold and you can put it in your ice cream maker immediately. Churn is as directed by your ice cream maker instructions. Chill in the freezer to harden it a bit more. Once its the desired firmness, scoop it and enjoy!

See how light the ice cream is and how it has big whole blueberries right in it? This ice cream is so yum. I learned from the Cats and Casseroles Blog that this style of preparing ice cream is called Philadelphia Style because there are no eggs in it and requires no cooking, like most custard based ice creams. The ice cream gets its rich flavor entirely from the high butterfat content of the cream.

This blueberry ice cream is simple and quick to make and is creamy, light and delicious; perfect for those hotter than hot Summer days.

Here’s the recipe from Cats and Casseroles:

Blueberry Ice Cream
Print
Author: Cats and Casseroles
Prep time: 5 hours
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 5 hours 30 mins
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 c. (half-pint) blueberries, rinsed and any stems removed
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. half-and-half
  • scant 1/2 c. sugar
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, toss blueberries with 1/4 c. sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Keep refrigerated 2-3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
  2. Mash sugared blueberries in the bowl, using a fork. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together heavy cream and scant 1/2 c. sugar. Whisk in half-and-half. Add blueberries (and the syrup they’ve created) into cream mixture. Whisk for about two minutes.
  3. Churn according to ice cream manufacturer’s instructions. Enjoy right away, or store in freezer in an air-tight container. This recipe yields about a pint of ice cream.

 

Tea With Grandma

Two weeks ago, we went to Delaware to visit Eric’s Grandmother. She is a wonderful woman who has traveled the world and I love getting a chance to talk with her about her travel adventures. One of the main topics of conversation during this visit was Eric’s Grandfather. He served in World War II as an Army Ranger (famous for scaling the cliffs at Point du Hoc) and Signal Corps seargant and was a part the D’Day Invasion. He went over the English Channel in a fishing boat the night before D’Day and hid in a manure pile until morning, when he worked to set up communications lines. He was a part of Patton’s 3rd Army and fought all over Europe, earning 3 purple hearts and a bronze star.

When we travel to Normandy this Fall, we want to make sure we visit the beaches that he fought on and find his name in the war memorial. Eric’s grandparents also traveled to Normandy 2-3 times after the war and we wanted to get the skinny on their adventures; those details will help us plan our trip.

Eric’s Grandmother grew up in Delaware but has English heritage and relatives that she has kept in touch with over the years. She has been to visit them in England many times and in the same way, they have come to visit her as well. She has an extensive tea set collection and always tells me how to make a “proper” pot of tea.

When we decided to visit her, I wanted to make her some tea cakes and scones. After some research, I went with a lavender tea cake and strawberry basil scones. I’m never actually baked with lavender before and was excited to try that tea cake recipe. I’ve also never made scones before, I was intimidated since they required kneading and cutting, but in the end both were simple and delicious.

The lavender tea cake initially sounded interesting but I was nervous that it would come out tasting like soap. Most of the lavender in my life is not in cake form but more soap, dried herbs and even herbs de Provence.

The recipe stated that I could use either the purple flower part of the lavender or the silvery, green leaf part. I cut a little of both from my garden and followed the rest of the baking instructions, adding the lavender last and gently mixing it into the light cake batter.

Bake the cake in a loaf pan and cool slightly before popping it out of the pan and drizzling it with glaze, the cake should still be warm when you glaze it.

After all that, slice the cake and you’ll see this:

Isn’t it gorgeous? It was light, fluffy, slightly sweet with just a hint of lavender at the end. The texture of the cake was so nice that I kept going back for more. I’ll admit it, I was a little sad when Eric’s grandmother asked me to leave her the last few pieces of cake; I guess I’ll just have to make it again soon, while my lavender is still blooming.

The other recipe I made for the visit were Strawberry Basil Scones. I got my last quart of local strawberries, for the season, and mixed up a batch of these babies:

 I liked that this recipe had you roll out the scones in a circle and then I cut it like a pizza to make my perfect triangle scones.

It was so much easier than I thought! In the end, the scones were crumbly and delicious with lots of strawberry chunks and the light hint of basil. The flavors were great together.

The scones keep for about a week, but make sure you store them in the fridge, they will get moldy quick.

 

As always, our visit with Eric’s grandmother was too short, the afternoon went by so quickly but we were able to see a bunch of photo’s that Eric’s grandfather took during WWII, I loved the ones of Paris! We heard his grandmother’s account of D’Day, from Eric’s grandfather, read letters that he had written to Eric’s grandmother during the war and got to hear about all of their travels later in life. They had so many great adventures and were such great friends. I hope that my marriage is even half of what they had for 60 years.

We’re looking forward to our next visit already but in the meantime, here are those tasty recipes:

Lavender Tea Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain or lowfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender leaves

Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla until well-blended.
  2. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beat well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour and combine with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir well.
  4. Add the flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lavender.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until a sharp knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients. Spread on the warm cake. Cool in pan 20 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan.

 

Strawberry Basil Scones

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (I used half all purpose flour and half cake flour for the best results)

1/3 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries (we preferred them cut into 1/2-inch or 1-inch pieces)
2 T snipped basil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half

Half-and-half or milk
Sugar
slivered almonds, optional

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently toss in fresh strawberries and basil. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together eggs and half-and-half. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Using a large spoon, gently stir just until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it 5 to 7 times, turning the dough one quarter turn after each fold. (If it is too sticky, add flour from the extra 1/4 cup as needed to make it workable.) Transfer to a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat or lightly roll dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle. Cut circle into wedges and pull apart slightly.

Brush wedges with additional half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar and almonds (if using). Bake about 14-16 minutes or until golden. Serve dolloped with whipped cream. Refrigerate any leftover scones.

Strawberry-fest

I’ve gotten some great feedback about the strawberry cake I posted last week. Lots of you have printed out the recipe and some have already made it and fallen in love with it! This is why I blog. I love sharing recipes that become successful for others; there truly is nothing that bring people together more than food.

The strawberries are still around at our Lancaster Central Market and for me, they are irresistible. Since they have such a short season and taste so incredibly compared to the year-round California strawberries you can always find overpriced at the grocery store, I feel like I must eat as many as possible so that I can last until next year. As I walked through rows of stands at market last week, eyeing up the pretty produce and the first ears of corn I found myself buying another quart of those sweet red berries, with no clue what I was going to make with them. The answer ended up being an deliciously elegant strawberry tart!

I’ve mentioned my love for Paris and all things French before but I’ll mention it again; I’m a francophile. I spent a Summer semester in Paris in college and began taking French lessons in the 3rd grade. Eric and I have been fortunate enough to go back to Paris 2 times since we’ve been married and we just booked are 3rd trip this November! We’ve also spent time in Toulouse and Provence and fell in love with each region. This upcoming trip will take us to Normandy for a few days and back to Paris to enjoy the city. All of these things have been fresh on my mind lately with the trip planning and so when I found those strawberries immediately this image and more like it popped into my mind:

I thought of French pastries and how much I miss them sometimes, even just walking by the colorful windows on my way to somewhere else. They are so beautiful with so many colors and creations but most specifically I thought of these:

The gorgeous little strawberry tarts that can be found in pastry windows all over Paris. They’re light and rich at the same time with the perfect balance of custard and fruit. I’ve always wanted to make one but thought they looked complicated. This time I decided to go for it.

I was right, they are complicated but if you break down all the steps and do a few ahead of time, the process seems much more manageable. I used Julia Child’s Strawberry tart recipe and mixed up the tart crust dough and the custard  the day before we were to eat the tart.

The following day, about 2 hours before I wanted to eat the tart (because you don’t want it to get soggy) I rolled out and baked the tart shell completely. When it was cool, I brushed it with glaze to create and extra seal and prevent additional sogginess and then filled the shell with the custard.

I placed the strawberries on top of the custard and then brushed them with the glaze to make them shiny and beautiful. The final result was this:

 

I actually needed more strawberries, I thought a whole quart would be enough, but was very wrong, I think needed a second whole quart to really cover the top! No matter, we ate the tart for dessert and it was perfect. Took me straight back to a pastry shop in Paris.

Here’s the Julia Child Recipe:

Strawberry Tart
Print
Author: Julia Child
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 3 hours 25 mins
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • PATE BRISEE SUCREE
  • Sweet Short Paste
  • For the Pastry Shell)
  • For an 8 to 9-inch shell, proportions for 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup flour (scooped and leveled)
  • A mixing bowl
  • 1 Tb granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 5 1/2 Tb fat ( 4 Tb chilled butter and 1 1/2 Tb chilled vegetable shortening)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 Tb cold water
  • CREME PATISSIERE
  • Custard Filling)
  • For about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups boiling milk
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract and 2 to 3 Tb kirsch or cognac
  • TARTE AUX FRAISES
  • Fresh Strawberry Tart – cold)
  • A 10-inch fully baked pastry shell
  • 1 quart large, ripe strawberries (washed, halled and dried)
  • 1 cup red currant jelly
  • 2 Tb granulated sugar
  • 2 Tb kirsch or cognac
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chilled crème pâtissière
Instructions
  1. PATE BRISEE SUCREE
  2. Sweet Short Paste
  3. (For the Pastry Shell)
  4. Place flour, salt, sugar, butter and vegetable shortening in a big mixing bowl. Rub the flour and fat together rapidly between the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into pieces the size of oatmeal flakes.
  5. Add the water and blend quickly with one hand, rapidly gather the dough into a mass. Then press the dough firmly into a roughly shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pliable, but not sticky.
  6. Place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board. With the heel of one hand rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. This constitutes the final blending of fat and flour.
  7. With a scraper or spatula, gather the dough again into a mass; knead it briefly into a fairly smooth round ball. Sprinkle it lightly with flour and wrap it in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 2 hours or over night.
  8. Rolling out the dough after taking out the fridge to cover and press into the base. Press a decorative edge around the rim of the pastry with the dull edge of a knife. Prick the sides and bottom of pastry lightly with a fork.
  9. To keep the sides of the pastry shell from collapsing and the bottom from puffing up, line the pastry with buttered, lightweight foil. For a fully cooked shell, bake 15-19 minutes until the shell is very lightly browned.
  10. CREME PATISSIERE
  11. (Custard Filling)
  12. For about 2 1/2 cups
  13. Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks in a mixing bowl by a wire whip or electric beater and continue beating for 2 – 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms the ribbon.
  14. Beat in the flour then gradually pour on the milk in a thin stream of droplets
  15. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and set over moderately high beat. Stir with wire whip, reaching all over bottom of pan. Turn down to low heat until the sauce becomes lumpy and beat for another 2 – 3 minutes to cook the flour.
  16. Remove from heat and beat in the butter, then the vanilla extract and liqueur and set it aside to cool
  17. TARTE AUX FRAISES
  18. (Fresh Strawberry Tart – cold)
  19. Boil the currant jelly, sugar and liqueur in a small saucepan until last drops from spoon are sticky. Paint the interior of the shell with a thin coating of the glaze and allow to set for 5 miniutes.
  20. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of crème pâtissière in the bottom of the pastry shell. Arrange a design of strawberries over the cream. Spoon or paint over them a thin coating of the glaze, and the tart is ready to serve.

Strawberry Cake

We’re now at the tail end of strawberry season and this year I found an amazing recipe for strawberry cake. It’s not a traditional cake with icing but more of a coffee cake like cake. I love it because it has wonderful texture and flavor, uses lots of fresh strawberries and can be whipped up in about 20 minutes plus baking time. It also looks beautiful. It was so good that last week I made it two days in a row! I made it to take to dinner with some friends on Saturday and we left the rest of the cake with them to enjoy but it was so good that the next day I used my left over strawberries to whip up another just for us. Eric has been away on business all week so I’ve been eating a slice each night after dinner and it lasted me until last night! I love having something homemade to look forward to after dinner.

Originally, I found this recipe from Pinterest and printed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and then I tweaked it. The recipe called for all white sugar and after thinking it through, I’m a brown sugar kinda girl. I love how it adds flavor, especially when using it with fruit so I opted to halve the sugar and add half brown sugar and half white sugar to the batter. It was a good way to go. The batter had a hint of chocolate chip cookie dough taste to it when I tested it and that can never be bad!

Begin the recipe by hulling and slicing the strawberries in half.

Cream the sugars and butter. Mix up the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add vanilla and egg to the creamed butter and then the milk.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients just until combined, be careful not to over mix.

Pour the batter into a buttered spring form pan.

Place the strawberries lightly into the batter, cut side down. Lay them out and fill the entire pan. Try not to layer them too much but if you must to fit them all on, that’s OK. Sprinkle the top of the cake with 2 tablespoons of white sugar (when it bakes, this turns the strawberries into a gooey jam!).

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature down to 325 degrees and bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Once the cake is cool, pop it out of the spring form pan and put it on a pretty plate. Right before serving, dust the top with powered sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Like I said, so easy, so pretty and so delicious. Plus, you can use strawberries that are a little too ripe, once baked down they taste great!

Happy June everyone, where did May go?!

Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Cake
Print
Author: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 10 mins
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan.
  2. Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup light brown sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
  4. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.
  5. **Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered.**

 

 

April Dinner Club

Given the fact that today is the last day in May, I think its time I fill you all in on April’s Dinner club. April was a difficult theme to choose. We wanted something that was seasonal and reflective of Spring. Early Spring can be a weird time seasonally because all the Winter produce is no longer as good and no one wants to eat heavy meals anymore yet the Summer produce isn’t ready to be eaten yet. Perhaps that’s why Easter candy  is one of the first things I think of when trying to come up with a Spring theme ingredient! We did all finally agree on the theme ingredient mint.

We were chosen to cook the main course this month and mint is not an herb that I find myself using very often; I loved being forced to use it in a recipe that  was not a salad or a dessert. Immediately, lamb came to mind as a good protein to go with mint however I’ll admit lamb intimidates me. I made braised lamb for Christmas this year and I killed it; it was so dry that I think it resembled jerky more than the braised lamb I was going for. After that incident, I haven’t attempted lamb again. I tried to look up other recipes involving mint but kept coming back to lamb.

After finally giving in to the lamb I needed to find a recipe that cooked the lamb in a relatively short period of time, due to the fact that dinner club in progressive, I’d only have about 30 minutes to get everything together. I came upon a recipe for lamb that was marinated and grilled. It got excellent reviews online and seemed very simple, sold. The bonus was that dinner club was scheduled for the week following Easter and I scored a nice cut of lamb on super sale!

This recipe turned out better than I ever could have imagined. Not only was the lamb perfectly medium rare but the marinade had made the meat incredibly tender and flavorful. We devoured the entire thing and all agreed that, it had been the best dinner club to date. The marinade contained some Asian flavors which I’m convinced made the dish especially good. This is the first recipe I made from my new Jacques Pepin cookbook that Eric bought me for Christmas and it was the perfect choice.

Like I said, this dish was beyond easy but be sure to marinate it the day before. Prep all the ingredients including cutting the string mesh from the lamb roast. I had double the amount of meat so I doubled the marinade. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and then pour it over the lamb in a large freezer bag.

Turn the bag a few times in the fridge.

The following day, sear the lamb on a hot grill for about 7 minutes per side and then bring it inside to finish in the oven. The recipe calls for the oven to be 170 degrees. I was skeptical at first thinking it was not hot enough, but as I do with all first time recipes, I followed it. I was right, 170 is not hot enough to get the meat cooking more and I ended up turning the oven up to 250 degrees and cooking it another 15 minutes. By then, the lamb was perfectly medium rare.

**Do not cook lamb more than medium, ideally you want it rare to medium rare otherwise the flavor gets weird and its incredibly dry. The exception to this is of course when braising lamb, that can be cooked longer and is delicious but grilling the lamb or lamb chops you want to cook rare-medium rare.**

Here it is in its glory:

While the lamb was cooking, I cooked down the marinade in a small saucepan and poured it over the lamb when it went into the oven. It was SO GOOD!

We all wanted to lick our plates. I served two sides, green beans with crispy shallots and fresh mint.

I also braised carrots and brussel sprouts and tossed them with balsamic vinegar.

These were also a hit. The only thing I had leftovers of was the green beans. The mint was fresh and light in all the dishes, a great theme ingredient.

I won’t leave out the other courses! However, we forgot to take any pictures of those at all this month, sorry! The first course was an amazing Asian spring roll with shrimp and stuffed with rice noodles and mint. They were beautiful, fresh and light; a perfect starter. They were accompanied by strawberry mojitos.

The third course was a chocolate and mint trifle with chocolate shavings on top. It was cool and sweet, not to mention pretty. Chocolate is always a great way to end a meal.

So there you have it, the quick overview of April’s Dinner Club! Now, on to May and hopefully some warmer weather again.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cadbury Egg Cookies by Let’s Meet for Lunch

I hope everyone has a nice Easter holiday filled with chocolate and peeps! As a special Easter treat, I’ve invited Dana from the blog Let’s Meet for Lunch, you’ll remember her from back in January when we wrote posts for each other’s blogs here. Today we’re bringing you some Easter or Spring dessert ideas, without futher ado, here’s Dana, and don’t forget to click over to Let’s Meet for Lunch to check out my post on Grapefruit cake!

Hey Red Velvet readers! I’m so glad to be back, this time with an Easter treat for you. This is a recipe that I have been making for a few years, from the blog that inspired me to start my own. If you’ve never checked out Our Best Bites, you should – they have tutorials for everything under the sun and some really creative ideas. I’ve always made these cookies strictly according to the directions in the past because…. well, why mess with a good thing? However, when I thought about posting it on my own blog (or Marah’s in this case!) I wanted to make it my own. How better to do that than add some creamy peanut butter?  Chocolate and peanut butter are a pretty classic Easter combo if you think about it – I for some reason always associate Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs with my Easter basket growing up. These cookies combine that flavor with Cadbury Mini Eggs… I know, I know… over the top. If you have a peanut allergy, feel free to just leave the peanut butter out – they were good before without it!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cadbury Egg Cookies
Adapted from ourbestbites.com
Printable Recipe Card

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 Egg (ignore the second one in the picture!)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda (not pictured)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. flour
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 10 oz bag Cadbury Mini-Eggs

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars, then add in the egg and vanilla, beating well.

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add until combined.

Add the peanut butter…. look at those swirls! So pretty.

Pour the mini Cadbury eggs into a plastic bag and crush into chunks. Fold into the cookie batter….

…and drop by the tablespoon onto a prepared baking sheet. I like to use parchment paper for most of my baked goods because it keeps the bottoms from browning. But feel free to use nonstick spray if that’s what you have!

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are well cooked and the middles are still slightly soft. I prefer a chewier cookie, but if you want them more crunchy, take them out on the 10 minute side of things.


Enjoy, and have a happy Easter! Be sure to stop by my blog by clicking here to check out Marah’s Grapefruit Cake…. sounds delicious!

Printable Recipe Card available here.

Dinner Club – March

As promised last week, I’m finally (after battling it out with a case of bronchitis) back to regale you with our March Dinner Club experience which was also our St. Patrick’s Day celebration. When choosing the date for this month’s club, we all noticed that St. Patrick’s Day was on a Saturday and that all of our schedules were free so naturally we choose that to be the date of our club and we choose traditional Irish fare as the theme. Eric and I ended up with the dessert course this time, if you remember last month we had the appetizer course, read more about that here.

Being of Irish heritage and having visited Ireland were definitely an advantage for this theme, however dessert was probably the most difficult course to research. Go ahead and Google it, not one major dessert will appear, if you’re even able to find one that is definitively Irish. In the end I did find a lot of apple cakes, recipes that combined Guinness and chocolate (not unlike the Stout Cake I made last week) and many that contained Irish Whiskey. I found one that was from an Irish restaurant and was for a white bread pudding with a caramel whiskey sauce. This recipe was different than most of the other and I liked that it deviated from the popular Bailey’s Irish Creme, or Guinness and chocolate ingredients. It also stated that this recipe “was the best thing you’ll ever taste in your life” if that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

Start the recipe by soaking the raisins in whiskey and set that aside until the very end.

Remove the crusts from the white bread (I just used white sandwich bread, nothing fancy) and lightly brush with melted butter.

Toast one side under the broiler until it just begins to brown.

Remove from the oven and, once cooled, cut into cubes.

While prepping the bread cubes, combine the milk and heavy cream in a medium size sauce pan. Cut a vanilla bean lengthwise and use a knife to scrape out all the black seeds into the cream mixture. Put the vanilla pod into the cream and slowly bring to a boil, watch it carefully so that it doesn’t boil over.

Once it boils, immediately remove the pot from the heat (to avoid scalding the milk). Take out the vanilla pod and chill until cooled, about an hour.

Once the cream mixture is cool, whisk together the eggs and sugar.

Add in the cream mixture. Stir in the bread cubes and raisins and let the whole thing sit for about 15 minutes.

Pour the whole mixture into a buttered baking dish and dot more butter.

Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees until set, about an hour.

While that’s baking, make the caramel whiskey sauce.

Melt and sugar and water over medium heat stirring slowly until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Boil the mixture without stirring for about 30 minutes, until it just starts to caramelize (a hint of golden color).

While that’s caramelizing, warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.

Once the caramel is ready, add butter and whipping cream. Stir over medium heat until smooth, 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Now you can store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. Once its time to serve, add in the whiskey and more cream until the sauce reaches the consistency you want.

Drizzle sauce over a big piece of bread pudding.

I was told it tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch on a Saturday morning, as a child. And everyone had seconds on dessert. All in all, the bread pudding was a great success! Not to mention, it was pretty easy. We have some sauce left over and Eric just asked if I would make another batch to “finish up” the sauce.

Here is the link to the recipe I found online.

Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

Since we started this post with dessert first, I guess I’ll go back and tell you about the first two courses. We began at the first house with some home made Irish Soda bread and Irish Rarebit. Yep, I know what you’re thinking, “Do you mean rabbit? Did you eat rabbit?” Nope. That’s what I thought when they first said what they were serving, too. But in fact, there is no rabbit to be found in this dish, nor does it look like a rabbit. Wikipedia only had an explanation for Welsh Rarebit but it states:

Welsh rarebit is a dish made with a savoury sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toast. The names of the dish originate from 18th century Great Britain.Welsh rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in contrast to the Continental European fondue which classically depends on Swiss cheeses.

The Irish rarebit includes Guinness and cheese in the sauce. We all forgot cameras so I’ll pull one from the internet so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

Rarebit Recipe

After some rarebit and beers, we moved on to the second house and the main course.

We enjoyed some delicious Shepards Pie. Again, photo stolen from Pinterest because we forgot to take pictures.

Individual shepards pie

Finishing with the bread pudding was perfect. We all felt happy and comfy, just like you should after eating an Irish meal because it’s probably windy and rainy outside the window.

Thanks again to all our dinner club couples for putting in a wonderful effort to making great dishes. Can’t wait for April!

Chocolate Stout Cake

St. Patrick’s Day is in less than a week and as someone with predominantly Irish heritage, I always enjoy celebrating the holiday with some Irish inspired dishes. This week, I’ll be sharing with you some Irish dishes that you can make to celebrate too!

I spotted this recipe, a chocolate stout cake, on one of my new favorite baking blogs, Sweetapolita, a week or so ago and realized I had all the ingredients on hand to make it. Few things go together better than chocolate and Guinness and then add the fact that you can eat them together in cake form. Brilliant!

Start this cake by measuring and cutting parchment paper to line the bottoms of two round cake pans. Then spray the pans with baking spray.

Heat the Guinness and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts.

Remove it from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.

Pour it into a separate bowl and set it aside to cool completely (I put mine in the fridge to speed up the cooling process).

In a medium size bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In an electric mixer, mix together the eggs and sour cream until well combined.

Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix until well combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients and combine on low speed.

Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Once cooled, frost with the whipped vanilla bean frosting.

This cake was delicious. It tasted chocolaty but also had another layer of flavor from the Guinness. There is a visible difference between my cake and the one from Sweetapolita, my cake is lighter in color. I think I may have needed a darker cocoa powder but I couldn’t find any at the grocery store. I may have to start ordering some baking ingredients online in order to get what I truly need.

The frosting was sensational! Creamy and light and the addition of the vanilla bean was a great idea, it looked like vanilla bean ice cream covering the cake. The flavor in the icing paired very well with the cake. All in all, a simple and delicious recipe and perfect for your St. Patty’s Day celebration!

The recipes for both cake and frosting can be found at Sweetapolita.com.