Friday, July 25, 2014

Peach~Almond Ice Box Cake

The icebox cake gained its popularity in 1920s and 30s when it was first introduced during WWI, using many commercial shortcuts and premade ingredients.  Similar in structure to a Charlotte or a Trife, the ingredients for the cake included wafer cookies, pudding or whipped cream and companies began printing recipes on the back of the boxes of these ingredients.

It certainly is the answer to creating a crowd-pleasing dessert without heating up the kitchen with the oven on during the summer months...especially here in the South where our temperatures have been in the 90s with humidity!

This recipe was features in my Fine Cooking magazine for August/September, along with a luscious Chocolate Mousse and Frozen Lime & Dulce-de-Leche Terrine with Blackberry Sauce.  I still had some peaches left over and this one definitely called to me to make.
These icebox cakes are easy and the best part is that they are made ahead for the best flavor and texture to develop, which turned out to be a good thing when I'm rushing around and getting ready for our next move.  Our home is just about done and we will start bringing boxes over this weekend, however, one little snag is that we're still waiting for the bamboo flooring to arrive so it can be installed.  We'll be living in the basement (which is finished with cork flooring) for about a week or so.  What do they say about "best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

Peach~Almond Ice Box Cake
Peach Jam  
4 ripe medium peaches, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup peach liqueur, such as Mathilde (or water, which is what I used)
3 T granulated sugar
Coarsely chop the peaches and put them in a 2 to 3 quart saucepan.  Add the liqueur or water and the sugar.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally and mashing the peaches with a potato masher, about 15 minutes.  They will become thick and jammy.  Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely.



Cake
4-5 peaches, peeled and pitted
4 oz. (1/2 cup) mascarpone
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2  3.5oz boxes thin almond cookies such as Jules Destrooper

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Thinly slice the peaches and set aside.  Beat the mascarpone with 1 cup of the heaving whipping cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer using the whisk attachment (you can also use your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat on low speed until smooth.  Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and beat on medium speed until firm peaks, about 3 minutes.


Spread a thin layer (about 1/4 cup) of the whipped cream mixture on the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish.
Cover the cream with a single layer of the almond cookies.  Spread about half of the peach jam on top of the cookies, then arrange a half of the sliced peaches over the jam. Repeat the steps for a second layer, starting with the whipped cream, using half of what is left, then, the cookies, peach jam, and sliced peaches.


Sprinkle the top with the sliced, toasted almonds and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days. 

Cool and refreshing, this icebox cake was just the thing for a hot and humid summer day. Enjoy!

In case you were curious, the kittens are doing well, although Rosie is still not a happy camper.  I'm hoping that will change:-D

Curious, but still hissing a bit at these strange little beings!
 

 Now, since I will be busy packing, moving and unpacking over the next week and a half, I decided to announce July's apron winner...Mary Jane Sampson!  Please email me your mailing information so I can get this apron off to you.  

Understandably, I will be a little late getting the August apron up, buy boy am I anxious to create some new things in my kitchen!

 
 
  


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Peaches...and Kittens!

I admit it...I've become my mother!  This week, with just a few weeks from our last big move, I was hit with kittens dropped in the yard of our rental home--three little kittens, but, no mittens:-D  My first reaction was to call every "no-kill" shelter to drop these little guys off.  Lucky for these little kittens, no one answered or they had a recording that they were full.  The next step was to take them to our Vet and have them checked out.  They're clean of fleas, no worms, and actually have had their first distemper immunization.  However, they remain in the one of the bathrooms, away from our 10 year old Ragdoll, Rosie, who looks at me with those big blue eyes as if saying, "what the heck is this!"

Why I say I've become my mother is because as kids, we brought home every animal under the sun and she never said no.  There were numerous cats, dogs, a pair of flying squirrels, a chipmunk, fish, baby Mockingbirds that had fallen out of their nest, guinea pig and hamsters. Realistically, I know going from one cat to now four is crazy, but when your grandchildren say with excitement..."Mimi, you have to keep them!"  Well, there's my mother in me saying, "okay."
Hubby with Harper (the buff one), ZuZu (the tortoise shell) and Clara (the "Russian Blue" gray)

To relieve the stress, I bought a bushel of peaches and made 14 jars of peach jam and this morning made Brown Butter Waffles with a Peach compote.  Our new home is going to be filled with grandchildren and apparently a lot of pets...which is what a home should be:-D




Brown Butter Waffles with Peach Compote
Waffles:
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 T granulated sugar
2 T finely-ground cornmeal
2 large eggs
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and browned
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk (you can make your own by adding 1 T apple cider vinegar to milk and let stand until curdled)
In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together, then add the eggs and buttermilk and stir thoroughly.  Finally, fold in the slightly cooled brown butter.

Heat a waffle iron up and brush with some vegetable oil for the first time; after that, you should have to add any more oil.
Bake the waffles until golden brown.  Dab a pat of butter, add a little bit of warm maple syrup and a spoonful of peach compote for a delicious Sunday breakfast.

Peach Compote:
4 to 5 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
In a small sauce pan, add the sliced peaches.  Next, mix 1/3 cup of granulated sugar with 1tsp. cornstarch.  Add to the peaches and stir  gently.  Place over low heat, covered and cook until bubbly.  Remove the lid and keep on low heat until ready to serve with your waffles.  These peaches would also be good on ice cream!
This move is definitely going to be interesting.  Our bamboo floors have still not gone in, so we may be living in the basement on the cork floors with our new furry friends! Enjoy! 


Monday, July 7, 2014

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake & July's Give-Away Apron

While I was grocery shopping last week, I came across a curious looking product in the produce section...near the berries, Glaze for Strawberries.
I imagine it is meant for glazing fresh fruit pies, but as my mind goes, I thought it would be perfect swirled through my favorite cake--pound cake.

Dating back to the early 1700s in Northern England, a pound cake refers to any recipe that has a ratio of 1:1:1:1; butter, sugar, eggs and flour.  I know, all too well, it's a staple in the South and can be dressed up in a number of ways, grilled, or broken up as a base in Trifle.  My mother and I chose pound cakes for wedding and anniversary cakes for it's denseness and ability to freeze well when making up multiple layers prior to the big date; a big plus considering we didn't have a "walk-in" refrigerator like most bakeries:-D

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
1-8oz pkg. cream cheese
6 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup (approx. 12 tsps.) Glaze for Strawberries

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Grease and flour (or use a baking spray with both in it) a 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter well.  Gradually add the sugar while the mixer is running.  Scrape down sides, as needed, with a rubber spatula.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides once more.  Add the flavorings and mix again.

Add the flour and salt and beat until combine, then, on medium speed beat 1 minute more.  Measure the batter in thirds--I use a large scoop to do this.
 Smooth the batter with a small off-set spatula, then, add 6 tsp. Strawberry Glaze.
Use a long wooden skewer or kitchen knife to swirl the glaze through the batter.
Repeat with another layer of batter and 6 more tsp. of glaze.  Finally, add the last 1/3 of the batter to cover.
Bake in the preheated oven 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, checking by inserting a wooden skewer in the center and making sure it comes out cleanly.  Cool cake completely before slicing...something I didn't do and as you can see, compressed the bottom a bit:-(
I love the bright strawberry swirl and all this pound cake needed was a dusting of confectioners' sugar and some fresh strawberries (macerated with a little sugar) to top it off. Enjoy!

Summer is definitely upon us and getting use to humidity is something I'm trying to do!  I couldn't help remembering the wonderful times spent on the Chesapeake Bay to cool off on my dad's sailboat--Rhianna. My dad name her for the Irish green-eyed witch (nymph) and my girls loved to
 sit on the side and ask "Granddad" to tilt the boat so their feet would go into the water!

To be eligible for this beauty, simply comment on any of the posts this month.  Good luck!

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of July Picnic Rolls

My mother did 4th of July in a big way.  Lots of salads, breads/rolls, desserts, fried chicken, and of course, Chesapeake Bay Crabs.  My dad would go in the morning and buy two bushels to bring home.  I loved helping my mother prepare for this big day that both family and dear friends looked forward to--and, it was a day to be thankful for the freedoms we hold dearly.

Since I was seven years old, I've made lots of rolls in my time and thanks to my mother's encouragement, I have no fear of trying anything new.   However, I do listen to your comments about working with yeast and tried to come up with an easy, but very impressive recipe to WOW your family with on these special occasions.  I got this idea from a recipe that appeared in the New York Times years ago, for an easy to make bread that takes no kneading and is baked in an enamel/cast iron casserole (or Dutch Oven) pan.  I tweaked it a bit and I'm quite pleased to give you all a recipe to make a stunning roll that is crispy crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside!

Picnic Rolls
4 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sea salt
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 T olive oil

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
Add the olive oil to the water and pour it over the dry ingredients.  Mix with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together.  (It will be soft and sticky).
Cover the bowl tightly with a piece of plastic wrap that you have sprayed one side with a baking spray and let it set for 4 hours.
At the end of 4 hours, the dough will looks puffy and have risen almost to the top.

Generously flour a bread board and scrape the dough out onto it, adding more flour as needed.  Divide the dough into 7 pieces and with floured hands, shape into a roll and place in a 6 quart Dutch Oven that you have brushed with olive oil.
Cover the Dutch Oven with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes more.  (I even put the top on to hold the plastic wrap tightly.)
Preheat oven to 425F-degrees.  After 30 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, but place the top of the pan on and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake another 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and place a cooling rack on top.  Use the handles to flip out the rolls, turning them right-side-up to cool completely.  Dust the tops with some additional flour.

Because the rolls are crunchy, you will need to take a knife to cut them apart, but oh my, do they look great and so easy to make.
Now, I need to get to the rest of the meal.  Happy 4th of July everyone, Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sister's Visit and June's Apron Winner

Five years ago, Kelly, Ari and I did a road trip from Kentucky to Virginia to visit my sister and my oldest daughter, Erin flew down to meet us! It was a great Sister's Weekend that we've come to cherish.

This past weekend, I drove down to visit my sister's home in the Shenandoah Valley; we had not seen each other since May 2010 when Kelly passed away.  Although it was a little sad making this trip by myself, it soon became a much needed reunion for both of us.  Lots of reminiscing, laughter, and starting a knitting project that we both wanted to do together.
This beautiful shawl appeared in the February issue of Piecework (we both subscribe to it!) and we decided to knit it together.  I put together the yarn, Signature needles and made a tote bag for my sister as part of an early birthday present.
The fabric is from the Downton Abby collection 
It was so good to get away, but moreover, spend time with my sister whom I love dearly.

Now, for the winner of June's Give-Away apron...Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary!
Mary, please email me your address and I will send your apron to you asap:-D

July's apron is cut out and hopefully will be up on the blog shortly.  I've been remiss in keeping up posts, but with less than 4 weeks away from our last big move, I'm looking forward to getting back into my normal routine.

Happy 4th of July to everyone...and stay dry and safe!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Strawberry~Lemon Cream Bar

It's officially summer and all the fresh fruits abound; strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and in a week, peaches.  I preserved 24 jars of strawberry jam a few weeks ago and when I spied this recipe in The Baking Sheet, I knew I would have to try it.
I love jam bars and it was for sure one of Kelly's favorite.  I've made her recipe several times, but this one intrigued me with the addition of a "cream" center and tartness of the lemon.

My Grandpa Frank grew strawberries, so we always had fresh ones to pick when I was growing up, but when the patch was gone my mom and I would pick at a farm nearby to ensure we'd have jars of jam for the winter.  I love to pick fresh fruit and have found a farm here to "feed my addiction!" 

Strawberry~Lemon Cream Bars
Crust:
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried strawberry bits, optional
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease a 9"-square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the butter and mix well.  Pour the melted butter over and mix until distributed evenly.  Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan firmly and evenly.
Filling:
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup strawberry jam
2 T Pie Filling Enhancer

Whisk together the ingredients until slightly thickened.  Pour the filling over the crust and smooth with a spoon.  
Sprinkle the remaining half of the oat mixture over the filling, pressing down lightly.  
 Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan.  Run a table knife along the edges of the pan and use the edges of the parchment to remove it from the pan (I used my spring form pan).  Cut the bars into 2" x 2" bars.  Yields 16 bars.

It's a lazy day...oh, I have things to do, but I chose to bake after a marathon day of sewing yesterday. I even tuckered out Rosie!
Enjoy summer days!
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Pound cake is like a "little black dress" that you can accessorize in a number of ways.  I've made literally hundreds of pound cakes in my lifetime and it's still my go to dessert that my hubby never gets tired of.

Meyer Lemons finally showed up in our grocery store and I couldn't wait to run home and make this luscious cake in a new cake pan I discovered at Sur La Table.  The Meyer lemon is from China and is thought to be a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange. It was introduce to the United States in 1908 by an agricultural explorer, Frank Nicholas Meyer.  The thinner skin is perfect for zest and I think it produces much more juice than the common variety we have in the stores.
This Four Bundt pan is larger than minis, but smaller than the 10 or 12 cup version--perfect size to freeze for us "empty-nesters" or to give as gifts.  With the addition of poppy seeds, this  pound cake would be great for breakfast, but also make a lovely dessert with some berries.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 large eggs
3 cups Cake Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray 12-cup Bundt pan (or small 4 Bundt pan + loaf pan) with a baking spray that has a flour addition.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter completely.  Rub the zest into the sugar then, add to the butter gradually, beating until fluffy.  Add juice and vanilla extract and beat once more.


Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds together and add to the batter.  Beat on medium until completely combined.  Scraping down the sides as needed.
If you're using a 12-cup bundt pan place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325F-degrees and continue baking 45 to 55 minutes, testing the center with a wooden skewer that should come out cleanly.

I measured the batter among the 4 Bundt pan and a glass loaf pan.
I started them in the 350F-degree oven for 15 minutes, then, lowered the temperature to 325F-degrees for 30 minutes for the 4 Bundt pan and left the loaf pan in another 15 minutes.
Total time: 4 Bundt pan - 45 minutes; Loaf pan - 60 minutes.

You can dust the tops with confectioner's sugar or as I like to do, make a glaze:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 T Light Karo Syrup

Whisk all ingredients together in a 2-cup bowl and pour over the slightly cooled cakes.

A simple and easy cake that never ceases to delight my family. Enjoy!