Monthly Archives

May 2010

One-Bowl Blackberry Cake

May 29, 2010
If ever there was such a thing as a ‘breakfast cake’ this, my friends, would be it. And if there was such a thing as a ‘perfect for every occasion’ cake, this would also be it. Time and time again I have made this humble dessert: for brunches, breakfasts, coffee dates, and dinner parties. And every time it comes through for me – the knight-in-shining-armor of cakes. It wins extra points for having a very basic ingredient list, for not being temperamental and coming together in one bowl with a spoon or fork, no mixer required

And if that wasn’t enough to make you love it, this little beauty continues to impress when you put fork to cake to mouth. It’s light and pleasantly sweet, contrasting nicely with the tanginess of the berries. A dusting of sugar before baking becomes a crisp crust, transformed by the heat of the oven. When serving this cake for dessert or a decadent brunch item, I drizzle a simple glaze made of powdered sugar and milk over the cake while it is still warm, though it’s beautiful and plenty sweet without, too. Depending on the season and my mood, I substitute berries of all types and have had equally great success when substituting whole wheat flour for the all-purpose kind. 

As much as I love variety, change, and experimenting with new recipes, there are times when having a reliable, delicious recipe like this one is all kinds of necessary. A recipe that can be whipped together in a moment’s notice for impromptu guests or when the recipe you were planning on making totally flopped. If you stop by for brunch, coffee, or dessert, I’ll probably serve you this cake. And if you’re lucky, I’ll send the leftovers home with you, too. That is, if there are any leftovers to be had. 
 
One-Bowl Blackberry Cake
Ingredients:
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1/2 tsp. baking powder
*1/2 tsp. baking soda
*1/4 tsp. salt
*2/3 cup sugar (plus 1 1/2 Tbsp. extra for top)
*1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) butter, melted
*1 large egg
*1/2 cup milk (I use 2%)
*1 tsp. almond extract
*1 tsp. lemon juice
*1 cup fresh blackberries 

Instructions:
*Preheat oven to 400*F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan (I used a 10-inch tart pan, which worked nice, too). 
*In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. 
*Add the melted butter, egg, milk, almond extract, and lemon juice to the bowl and stir (by hand) until ingredients are well-combined and batter is smooth.
*Pour batter into the cake pan. Top with the blackberries and sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar. 
*Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted into the center. (For the 10-inch tart pan, bake 18-20 minutes.) Cool on wire rack.

Happy Baking!

Madison

Broccoli-Raisin Salad

May 27, 2010
After three days of blistering hot and humid weather, I’m convinced Iowans are a very discontent group of individuals. Weather here is hardly ever deemed pleasant or even satisfactory,which I believe is a combination of outlook and cold hard facts. It seems Iowa is a bit of an extremist state in matters of the weather. My two favorite seasons, spring and fall, get only slight acknowledgment because Iowa prefers to vacillate between the dead of winter and the peak of summer. Being half Floridian, I hardly mind the occasional humid day; in fact it makes me feel at home, but I have yet to find another Iowan who shares my enthusiasm for humidity. 

So even though the calendar is telling me it’s still weeks away the weather tells me summer is here to stay. The soup I was planning to make has been shelved and the recipes using winter squash but a distant memory. Instead my mind and my tastes have switched to lighter fare, summer food, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

Like many during the summer, my appetite changes when warm weather comes knocking at the door. I am not saying my appetite goes missing (I always want to eat!). It’s more the what of eating that changes. This salad, for example, is the epitome of summer eating Espresso and Cream style. Light and bright, sweet and salty. Served cold. With raisins for sweetness, broccoli and walnuts for crunch, and feta cheese for, well, overall deliciousness and salty contrast this salad hits the spot. I’ll leave it at that.

In case you need a reminder, mayonnaise and I have a bit of a strained relationship and for a long time I thought I didn’t like pasta or veggie salads – that is, until I started making them myself. Substituting Greek yogurt for what would normally be mayonnaise is an easy, healthy swap, measuring cup-for-cup like mayonnaise but with fewer calories and loads of protein. If, however, mayonnaise happens to be your thing, the bread-and-butter of your salad eating existence, then by all means use mayonnaise, because life is too short to not eat what you love.

Broccoli-Raisin Salad 
(Printable Recipe)
Ingredients:
*5 to 6 cups broccoli florets
*1 (7-oz.) container 2% Greek Yogurt (may substitute mayonnaise if desired)
*1/4 cup olive oil
*1 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp. regular table salt)
*1 tsp. cumin
*2 Tbsp. honey mustard
*2 Tbsp. lemon juice
*1/4 tsp. black pepper
*3/4 cup raisins
*1/2 cup chopped walnuts
*4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Instructions:
*Place broccoli in a large saucepan with 3 cups of salted water. Bring to boiling and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from stove top and strain. Run cold water over the broccoli and strain again to stop the cooking process. Transfer broccoli to a large bowl and set aside.
*Whisk together the Greek yogurt, olive oil, salt, cumin, honey mustard, lemon juice, and black pepper.
*Add the raisins, walnuts, and feta cheese to the bowl with the broccoli. Drizzle the dressing on top of the broccoli mixture and toss to coat evenly. Serve cold.

Happy Cooking!

Madison

Homemade Oreos

May 25, 2010

Whew. Two days after graduation, three loads of laundry, four bags of groceries, one day of work, and two deliriously wonderful nights of sleep later I think I’ve finally recovered from a crazy-lovely graduation weekend up in Minneapolis. And yes, that guy I talk about quite a bit on Espresso and Cream graduated, with honors and a job! (excuse my bragging, I’m just a bit proud) And because I enjoy looking at other people’s photos on the blogs I follow, here is a little snippet from graduation. 
Part two of the sandwich cookie series comes back to the original, or at least the most famous, mass-produced sandwich cookie. I hardly think I need to go into detail about what makes an Oreo so beloved. It’s crispy on the outside, creamy inside, and brings together the very classic combination of vanilla and chocolate. 
My greatest complaint with purchased Oreos is the lack of filling. Even the double stuffed variety just isn’t quite enough. I want to sit down with a glass of milk, split apart my cookie, and see lots of white cream waiting to be dipped. And since they have yet to roll out a triple stuffed Oreo, I am making my own. 
Like the original, they are crispy, creamy, and make your teeth black with chocolaty goodness, but they taste a little bit more real and a whole lot more special. For everyday, store-bought Oreos will do just fine, but get a group together for a dinner party and serve them Oreos from the package for dessert and they may look at you a little funny. Serve them homemade Oreos and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have yourself a dessert that is familiar yet unexpected.
Ingredients:

Homemade Oreos
Adapted from Retro Desserts from Wayne Brachman via Smitten Kitchen 
(Printable Recipe)
Ingredients:
Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract  

Filling
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. milk

Instructions:
*Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350°F.
*In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
*Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter (I used a flower-shaped cutter) slice cookies and place on baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

*To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar, vanilla, and milk. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
*To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, (I just used a zip lock bag with the end snipped off) pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Happy Baking!

Madison

Almond Sandwich Cookies

May 23, 2010

At this moment, I would love nothing more than to write words beautiful enough to do these cookies justice, but right now the only words coming to my head are exhaustion and sleep-deprivation. Graduation weekends and the celebration of new beginnings and memories past bring about excitement, sadness, joy, and pure lack of sleep. This weekend J. graduated from college and today I managed to sneak away to a coffee shop so I could stop, and breathe, and take a minute to think about something as simple and beautiful as a light almond sandwich cookie filled with cream.

Consider this recipe part one of a two part series – a contrast of sorts in light and dark. Last week I played with two versions of what started out as a homemade Oreo. Much like the Homemade Pop Tarts of a few weeks back, there is something incredibly fun and nostalgic about making your own version of a treat you’ve been eating from the package since childhood. Part of the beauty is the ability to customize in whatever way you see fit. Me? I’m a vanilla sort of girl. 

So in this case, my version of a homemade Oreo takes the form of Almond Sandwich Cookies. These cookies are light, crispy, and incredibly sweet, especially when filled with an Oreo-like cream, so proceed with caution when making them. I found one of my smallest cookie cutters was the perfect size, allowing me to finish a cook in no more than a couple bites. And for both taste and nostalgic value, always serve with a glass of milk.

 Almond Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Retro Desserts from Wayne Brachman via Smitten Kitchen
(Printable Recipe)
Ingredients:
Cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tsp. almond extract 

Filling
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tbsp. milk

Instructions:
*Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350°F.
*In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
*Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter (I used a flower-shaped cutter) slice cookies and place on baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

*To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar, almond extract, and milk. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
*To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, (I just used a zip lock bag with the end snipped off) pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Happy Baking!

Madison

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

May 19, 2010

Working at a magazine devoted to home and family, I think I fit in pretty well. I love my family, dabble in home (er, apartment) decorating and design, and it’s no surprise food gets me going. But truth be told, I’ve never even really had the desire to grow anything, especially when I can run down to the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning and return with a bounty of reasonably priced local produce – no weeding required.  That is, until I was home last weekend and developed a hint of longing for a small garden of sorts. Or in the case of my yard at home, just a few healthy rhubarb plants, sprouting like clockwork every year around this time.

I returned to my apartment Monday morning, suitcase and a big bunch of freshly-cut rhubarb in tow, excited about my loot but unsure what I wanted to make. Rhubarb bread was tossed around for a while, followed by the idea of making rhubarb sauce. But since J. tells me his mom makes a fabulous rhubarb sauce and I’ve never made any, I figured some things are best left untouched. Instead I settled on the classic combo of strawberry and rhubarb in the form of a cobbler.


Cobblers epitomize everything great about fruit desserts; they are sweet, simple, and light enough to eat even during the warmest days of summer. They pair nicely with ice cream and are easily adaptable for whatever fruit is in season. But no matter how great the fruit below may be, the bread and butter of a cobbler lies in the topping.

In my mind a good cobbler topping must be substantial, crispy, sweet and toasty – like eating an oatmeal cookie only to discover an equally delicious fruity delight underneath. This cobbler is best when eaten warm and straight from the oven, or within a day of baking. And if you are lucky enough to have any cobbler left over, it makes a delicious, indulgent breakfast when served alongside a scoop of yogurt and a cup of good, strong coffee.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
(Printable Recipe)
Ingredients:
Filling
*3 cups rhubarb, chopped
*1 lb. straberries, sliced
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1 Tbsp. strawberry gelatin
Topping
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 cup rolled oats
*1/2 cup chopped pecans
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/4 tsp. nutmeg
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. baking soda
*1 stick of butter, melted
*1 large egg

Instructions:
*Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease a 9- to 10-inch pie plate. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, flour, and strawberry gelatin. Pour the strawberry-rhubarb mixture into the pie plate and spread into an even layer.
*In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda and stir until evenly combined.
*Add the butter and egg to the dry ingredients and stir until dry and wet ingredients are well combined.
*With your fingers, crumble the topping over the fruit. Place the cobbler in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbly and topping is set and slightly golden. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Best is served warm or within one day of baking.

Happy Baking!

Madison

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