Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

Image source: Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

I saw this recipe in the Cooking section of The New York Times and, as usual, Bookmarked it. When I was ready to try it, I shopped for ingredients, but didn’t realize the almond flour I had at home was actually almond meal, a grittier, nuttier-tasting “flour.” I decided to use it anyway, and also incorporated suggested adjustments to the recipe for Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake by Yotam Ottolenghi. Alterations include decreasing the amount of sugar, separating eggs, beating egg whites, coating blueberries in dry ingredients, and baking for a shorter time uncovered.

The cake smelled so good coming out of the oven, I didn’t make the icing–the recipe below is essentially a Blueberry, Almond, and Lemon Loaf rather than a cake. Slice it and enjoy plain or with butter or cream cheese. The inside is super moist and the blueberries are–umm–berry sweet!

Happy baking, hon!

Fresh out of the oven.
Berry yummy!

Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) 150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan (I used non-stick spray for greasing pan and parchment paper.)
  • 1/2 cup/95 grams granulated or superfine sugar (caster sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated lemon), plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more juice as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (vanilla essence)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature and separated
  • ⅔ cup/90 grams all-purpose flour (plain flour)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup/110 grams almond flour
  • 1 ½ cups/200 grams fresh blueberries
  • ⅔ cup/70 grams confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)

Instructions

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius. Grease a 9- or 8-inch/21-centimeter loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray, line with a parchment paper sling and butter the paper. Set the pan aside.

2. Combine butter, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extract in a bowl and mix with paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light. Add eggs yolks and beat. Don’t worry if mix splits a little: It’ll come back together once dry ingredients are added.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and almond flour.

4. Sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon of dry ingredients over blueberries (or just enough to coat blueberries) and carefully toss. Set blueberries aside. (Coating blueberries w/dry ingredients helps to keep them suspended in batter rather than sinking to bottom.)

5. Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

6. In three additions, add dry ingredients to butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix just until no white specks remain. Fold in blueberries by hand. Fold in stiff egg whites. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.

7. Bake uncovered for approximately 1 hour. Test middle with toothpick and when it comes out clean, cake is done. Let cook in pan for at least 10 minutes before removing cake from pan and placing on wire rack to cool completely.

8. When cake is cool, make the icing: Add lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar to a bowl and whisk until smooth, adding a bit more juice if necessary, just until the icing moves when you tilt the bowl. Pour over the cake and gently spread out. The blueberries on the top of the cake may bleed into the icing a little, but this will add to the look. Let icing set (about 30 minutes), slice and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Three Berry Crisp

Berry Delicious!

This perfect-for-summer Three Berry Crisp is yummy by itself, served with ice cream, or topped with whipped cream. There’s plenty of berry juice at the bottom to drizzle on waffles, brownies or anything else you want to dress up with some red and blue sweetness. Found on Oukosher.org by Eileen Goltz, this Three Berry Crisp is gluten-free, nut-free if walnuts are eliminated, and vegan and parve when margarine is used. The recipe is missing one thing–a note that spoons are required for serving and eating–lol!

Happy baking, hon!

Three Berry Crisp

Ingredients

Fruit Filling:

  • 3 cups raspberries
  • 1½ cups blackberries
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Topping:

  • 1¾ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (I cut to approx. 1/4 cup.)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup coarsely-chopped walnuts (Or substitute with plain oatmeal to make nut-free.)
  • ⅔ cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted and cooled
  • Optional: dashes of ground cloves and cardamom

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 7×11-inch baking dish and set aside. (I used two deep pie dishes.)

To Prepare the Filling:

2. Lightly rinse the berries and drain on a paper towel-lined half sheet pan. Gently pat dry and then place in a large bowl. Add the sugar and cornstarch and toss them gently with the berries. Add the lemon juice and toss gently. Transfer the filling to the prepared dish.

To Prepare the Topping:

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and mix to combine. Add the nuts. Pour in the butter and toss with a fork to form crumbs. 

4. Take a clump of the crumb mixture and squeeze gently to form a larger clump. Break the larger clump apart over the fruit. Repeat, using all of the crumb mixture. (Optional: Sprinkle cinnamon on top of crumb mixture before baking.)

5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crumbs begin to brown and the fruit juices are bubbling. 

6. Serve warm with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Tip: Make ahead. Warm before serving in a 300 degrees F oven for approx. 10 -15 minutes.

Note: Berry Crisps are prone to leaking. If transporting, wrap in foil from bottom up and carry in leak-proof bag or dessert carrier.

Safe Rose Spray Recipe

My mother loved to garden. Her roses were lush, hearty, and fragrant, and their maroon and pink petals were as soft as velvet. Before I walked to elementary school, she’d cut stems, crinkle tin foil around the bottoms, and tell me to give the flowers to my teachers. I’d walk the whole way smelling sweetness.

Irises and strawberries were also abundant in my mother’s garden, while my father cultivated tomatoes and cucumbers. I’d pick wild raspberries and blackberries which grew on the hill behind my childhood home. Needless to say, roses are my favorite flowers.

Though I share my mom’s love of writing, I did not inherit her green thumb. If the garden in front of my house were my mother’s, the roses would bloom large and healthy. My roses are not. I prune them regularly, cutting off spent blossoms at an angle, and though they smell sweet, their petals are thin and their leaves are being eaten by garden pests. What to do?

I came across this organic pesticide in the article Safe Rose Spray Recipe That Really Works by Meghan Shinn in Horticulture.

Hon, do you have any tips for keeping roses healthy?

More than 5,000 rose bushes grow at Hershey Gardens in Hershey, Pa., where the gardening staff works hard to keep them free of pests and diseases. They use a chemical spray in the main garden, but they did not want to use this spray in the dedicated Children’s Garden. Instead, they came up with the following safe rose spray recipe, which they’ve found to be very effective.

Horticulture

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon dish soap
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (or any other cooking oil)

Directions:

Mix vinegar and water, then add baking soda, dish soap and vegetable oil. Stir mixture into one gallon water. Pour into spray bottle and spray on roses’ foliage. Reapply every seven to ten days or after a rainstorm.

Strawberry Galette

Strawberry Galette

I haven’t posted a recipe in awhile, but I’m still collecting them! Every time I see something interesting, I “Bookmark” it on my computer. So many recipes to try!

I discovered this recipe for Strawberry Galette by Naz Deravian in the Cooking section of The New York Times. Though not complicated, this recipe takes time. I read comments and found out some steps can be skipped. I needed to make this dairy-free and nut-free, so I used non-dairy whipping cream, margarine, and rice flour. Hubby whipped up whipping cream and, hon, the dessert was delicious!

A strawberry galette served with a side of fresh whipped cream or ice cream is a spring salve that is just as soothing to prepare for oneself as it is to share with others. Inspired by the baker Alice Medrich’s yogurt-butter pie dough, the dough in this recipe includes almond flour for a flaky, subtly nutty crust that comes together without much fuss. This dough is very forgiving and works well with the rustic charm of a galette. It’s OK if the edges of the crust crack and some juices leak. Even out-of-season strawberries would work, as there’s just enough sugar here to coax them back to life. Make sure you give the galette enough time to rest before slicing into it, so that the juices have time to set.

The New York Times Cooking Section

Strawberry Galette

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRUST: 

  • 1 cup/120 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup/50 grams almond flour (from blanched, skinless almonds, not almond meal) I substituted rice flour.
  • 8 tablespoons/113 grams very cold unsalted butter I substituted margarine.
  • ¼ cup/60 grams cold plain whole yogurt (not Greek) I substituted nondairy whipping cream.
  • 1 tablespoon ice-cold water, plus up to 3 tablespoons more, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon yogurt or water (for the egg wash)

FOR THE FILLING:

  • ½ to ¾ cup/100 grams to 150 grams granulated sugar I used the smaller amount of sugar.
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 ½ pounds stemmed strawberries (about 5 cups), sliced
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  •  Small pinch of salt

PREPARATION

  1. Whisk the all-purpose flour and the almond flour in a large bowl, then set aside. (It’s best to stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes until ready to use, to ensure a well-chilled dough.)
  2. Slice 3 tablespoons of the butter as thinly as possible without getting obsessive about it. (It’s OK if pieces break.) Cut the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Keeping the sliced butter and cubed butter separate, set the butter in the fridge to chill until ready to use. 
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the 1/4 cup yogurt with 1 tablespoon of the water and keep cold in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Whisk the flour mixture with the 1 teaspoon sugar and the salt. Spread the cubed butter pieces over the flour and cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or your fingers until the chunks look slightly smaller than pea size. Toss the butter slices with the flour mixture, separating them as you go, then gently press them into the flour between your fingers into flat sheets. (This extra step is helpful in creating pockets of steam, which will make for a flakier crust, an added bonus for pie dough makers of any skill!) I used a food processor to make the dough. I skipped this step and in a food processor, I added the flour to the container, dropped sliced butter through the tube and pulsed.
  5. Drizzle the chilled yogurt over the flour and butter mixture. Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to toss and combine. If the dough seems dry, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the ice water, and continue tossing and combining, incorporating any dry flour bits at the bottom of the bowl and scraping off the spatula as you go, until the mixture just comes together in a mound. If needed, drizzle more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, without allowing the dough to get too wet. I skipped this step, adding cold water through food processor tube a little at a time until dough came together in a mound.
  6. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap, then press the dough into a 6-inch disk and wrap well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. 
  7. Heat oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the center position. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 
  8. Prepare the filling: Place 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon zest in a large bowl and rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips. Add the strawberries, cornstarch and salt; mix well to combine, making sure the cornstarch is well incorporated. Add up to another 1/4 cup sugar if desired, depending on the sweetness of your strawberries and your desired level of sweetness.
  9. Dust your countertop with flour, then transfer the chilled dough to it and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Roll the dough out to a 12- to 14-inch round, lightly flouring as needed. (It’s OK if the edges break and the shape isn’t perfectly round.) Gently transfer the dough by rolling it over a rolling pin and onto the prepared baking sheet. (At this point, if you’ve forgotten something, like preparing the egg wash, or if your dough has warmed up slightly, place the sheet pan in the fridge for a few minutes.) 
  10. Mound the strawberries and their juices in the middle of the dough and leave a 2-inch border. Fold the border over the fruit, pleating as you fold and leaving the center of the galette exposed. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. 
  11. Bake until the crust is golden and the strawberries are bubbling, about 35 minutes. It’s OK if some juices leak. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour and serve.
  • YIELD: 6 servings
  • TIME: 1 to 1½ hours, plus chilling and resting 

Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread

Image source: Once Upon a Chef

This is the first time I baked Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread, but it won’t be the last! I intended to bake Coffee Cake, but didn’t have sour cream or buttermilk on hand. Searching for a recipe that contained ingredients I already had in my kitchen, I came across Jen Segal’s blog Once Upon a Chef  and found just what I was looking for. Her recipes look so good, I’m sure I’ll be referring to her blog again. The Cinnamon Apple Swirl Bread smelled amazing while it was in the oven!

Happy baking, hon.

CINNAMON SWIRL APPLE BREAD

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup peeled and finely diced tart baking apple (such as Granny Smith)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set oven rack in middle position. Spray an 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Optional:  line the long side of loaf pan with parchment paper “sling” and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray again.
  2. In a small bowl, mix  brown sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, combine granulated sugar and eggs. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, blend on medium speed until pale and creamy
  4. With mixer on low, gradually add melted butter followed by milk and vanilla. Mix just until evenly combined.
  5. Add flour, salt, and baking powder to batter and mix on low speed until evenly combined.
  6. Add apples to batter and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated.
  7. Spoon about 2/3 of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle about 2/3 of brown sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of batter. Spoon remaining batter over top, followed by remaining brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl layers by making a zig-zag motion through the batter once in each direction (don’t overdo it!).
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes, until bread is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let bread cool on rack for about 30 minutes, then use parchment sling to lift bread out of pan and onto rack. Let cool completely before slicing, a few hours or overnight. Store loosely covered with aluminum foil on the countertop for up to 4 days.

Yield:  One 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf (approx. 8-12 slices)

Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Image source: Kalyn’s Kitchen

When the temperature dips below 20 degrees F and we’re covering our faces not because of a virus, but because our cheeks may freeze, hot comfort food is in order! I’ve posted recipes for Vegetarian Chili and Beef Chili, but Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes is my new favorite warm-up-in-cold-weather recipe. I made this Turkey Chili in a crockpot, but it can be cooked on a stove. Have extra? Freeze it for another-ummm–chilly day. Do you make Turkey Chili? Do you add sweet potatoes? Have suggestions for other ingredients to add?

Stay warm, hon.

Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans tomatoes (I used one can diced tomatoes and one can crushed tomotoes)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans
  • 1 cup water or 1/2 cup beef broth and 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (adjust if you like things more or less spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder (yup–cocoa powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Directions:

1.  Brown ground turkey.

2.  Place browned turkey and remaining ingredients in crock pot, stirring to blend.

3.  Cover and cook on low setting 6 hours.

Don’t have a crock pot?  Don’t worry.

1.  In a frying pan, saute ground beef and onions until soft.

2.  Drain off fat.

3.  Transfer mixture to a large pot.

4.  Add remaining ingredients.

5.  Bring to a boil, them simmer, covered, approx. 45 minutes. Chili’s ready when sweet potatoes can be sliced easily.

Yield:  Approx. 8-10 servings.

Candy Cane Cocktail, Peppermintinis

Image source: Brad Hollad for Delish.com

Are you a fan of peppermint? How about when it’s combined with chocolate?

One of my daughters shared Peppermint Bark that a friend made and it was soooo sweet! These Peppermintinis from Delish.com are like holiday bark in a drink! I included this recipe for Peppermintinis in my article for Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, “Ready, Set, Glow! Creative Hosting Ideas: Gatherings with Family and Friends” along with lots of other fun ideas.

Happy holidays, hon!

Chanukah is Here! Potato Latkes Recipe (aka Potato Pancakes)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Chanukah Treat! 

Shout out to my niece Eli, who brought potato latkes to Thanksgiving! Why? Because, this year, the two holidays coincided. I have a love/hate relationship with these delicious Chanukah treats. I love to eat them, but don’t love making them. Trust me when I say oil splatters everywhere and energy must be reserved for a rigorous clean-up. I once heard a colleague say she fries hers outside on her deck in an electric frying pan. I own one, but am always cooking for a crowd. I’d need several electric frying pans…

Hmmm, food for thought!

IMG_2753

potatoes grated in food processor
Grate potatoes in food processor.

onions grated in food processor
Grate onions in food processor.

Latkes frying.
Fry latkes in oil until medium brown on each side.

Latkes frying.
Add more oil to frying pan when oil level drops.

Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.

POTATO LATKES

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, peeled and grated (I used a food processor to grate potatoes and onions.)

1 cup onions, grated

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Corn, canola or vegetable oil

brown paper grocery bags, cut open and flattened on a counter

Directions

1.  Insert grating disc in food processor and grate potatoes.  Place potatoes in a colander sitting in a bowl or sink.  Drain excess liquid.

2.  Grate onions in food processor.

3.  In a large bowl, combine drained potatoes with eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, flour and onions.  Mix well.

4.  Pour a layer of oil in frying pan and heat on a medium heat.

5.  Drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  (Be careful, because they splatter.)

6.  When one side of a latke is medium brown, turn and brown other side.

7.  Drain on paper bags.

Yield:  approximately 25 latkes, depending on the size of the spoon and amount of mixture you drop into the oil.

*If not serving right away, you may freeze latkes once they’ve cooled. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place latkes in a single layer on foil-lined cookie sheets.  Bake approximately 15 minutes or until crisp.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Thanksgiving Menu–Autumn, Tomato, Bean and Vegetable Soups

My Thanksgiving menu always includes soup. Velvety Vegetable Soup has been my go-to meal starter for years, but last year I changed it up by serving Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup. It was delicious! Friday, when the house is full and lunch includes more visitors, I’ve paired Roasted Tomato Soup and Tuscan Rosemary White Bean Soup with paninis and cheese and cracker platters.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Thanksgiving! Hope it’s filled with family, friends and some time to relax.

Thanksgiving Menu–Apple, Pumpkin & Pecan Pies

Apple Pie with Basket Weave Crust.

One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving holiday food so much is that I love pie, especially if it’s pumpkin, apple or pecan! Want the recipes to some of my favorite desserts? Click on the links to find out my tried and true recipes for Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie. I’ve posted recipes for Pecan Pie in the past, but pecans burn easily making getting the recipe right a bit finicky. I’m ready to try a new one. The link below connects to a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Happy baking, hon!