Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cherry-Lemon Pecan Cake

You can find the recipe I modeled this cafe after Lemon cake found on Martha Stewart's sit, with my own addition of reconstituted cherries in a glaze and pecans. Now remember I did not frost the cake, only glazed it, and found brushing it on was the best trick I have ever learned; it went on as smoothly and very evenly as it could cooling I might add, and soaked in well. Frosting would be too much for this cake.

We also found letting it sit for a whole 24 hours before cutting it, well I had a nibble to see how it tasted, but the following night everyone found it to be wonderful. And not too sweet.

I recommend reading through these instructions before starting...

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans (I used 50/50 whole wheat flour mix- bakers blend or garam flour which is called Chappati flour in Indian stories)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups sugar (I cut sugar by 1 cup and used it all in recipe)
  • 2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks (don't be afraid, this will be very much like whipping egg whites, but it all works out in the end.)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (did not have this so added lemon juice to whole milk and let it sit til curdles)
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded (didn't use this, nor the frosting recipe you will see on site. I made a cherry glaze instead)
Dried Cherry Mixture for Icing

 1/2 cup dried cherries (frozen will work, but thaw)
1/3 cup cherry wine or cherry liquor

Mix together and let sit overnight or about an hour (this mixture works best if warmed up a bit in microwaved or on stove; the heat will help reconstitute cherries- microwave for about 46 seconds on high- stove, warm liquid and add dried cherries, remove from heat quickly.)


1 cup powder sugar
1/2 cup dried cherries reconstituted for an hour in cherry wine

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. (Once all of batter is in bundt pan I added some cherries drained from liquid, and pecans to the top of batter; batter will bake up and around these ingredients.)
  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.
  4. (I skipped this step and made up #5) While cakes are baking, bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate. Stir remaining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.
  5. Using 1 cup powder sugar, 1/2 cup remaining cherries and cherry wine mixing them until a glaze is created. If you find too runny, add a teaspoonful of more powder sugar until thickens a bit more, but not too runny.
  6. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup (in this case the glaze). Let cool completely. (I also skipped this part, as there was no need for frosting) Prepare frosting, substituting 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for vanilla extract. Frost cooled cakes and top with candied lemon slices.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

5 Spices Beneficial To Your Health

I  often clip magazine hints like this and save it in a recipe book for future reference, and wonder years later how it helped me and if it still applies. Many of my Asian and Indian friends here firmly believe they do help you, and have so many more suggestions such as eating anise, coriander, and other seeds help with stomach ailments and digestion. They often make teas and use them to make dosai and dals. But here is the original article...

These five hot spices can be good for everything from easing arthritis pain to keeping your heart healthy.

Recent studies suggest that when it comes to cuisine, kicking it up a notch can be as good for your health as it is tasty for your palate. Some spices, particularly hot ones, contain phytochemicals that may help ward off cell damage associated with chronic diseases.

Potential health perk: Relieves achy joints. Research shows that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help ease arthritic swelling and pain.  
Hot way to dish it: Sprinkle a few shakes of chili powder and salt on baked French fries.

Potential health perk: Protects against Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A 2003 study found that about half a teaspoon lowered blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  
Hot way to dish it: Mix half a teaspoon of cinnamon into your coffee, or jazz up whipped cream with a couple of pinches.

Potential health perk: Safeguards your brain. The yellow curry pigment curcumin may fight Alzheimer's by thwarting development of the disease's signature amyloid brain plaques, says a study. Hot way to dish it: Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder into mayonnaise to dress up sandwiches.

Potential health perk: Improves your heart's health. Brigham Young University researchers found that garlic consumption can lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by an average of 10 percent.  
Hot way to dish it: Add minced garlic and chopped cucumber to plain yogurt for a light dip or salad dressing.

Potential health perk: Prevents ulcers. A 2004 South Korean study suggests Japanese horseradish can kill ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Plant chemicals may also prevent tooth decay. Hot way to dish it: Mix a smidgen of wasabi paste with mashed avocado for a snappier guacamole.

Originally published in Ladys Home Journal magazine and written by  Marie Kerns, 2008.

(Above photo is a handful of dried chilies from my tepin bush my sister grew for me in Texas. Plant is native to Mexico. I've heard them called chile pequin, turkey pepper, bird's eye pepper among some of the other names. The wild pepper is a small round pepper growing wild in Mexico. )

Friday, January 11, 2013

Scallops Are The Bomb

Oh heck, keep the old, just do some revamping...and we do love our scallops!
I was hired to cater a dinner party for my clients husbands boss. The wife left the menu up to me. I like it when that happens. 

Salad for the beginner, and no big dessert for the finish, just an assortment of candies and truffles. I was sure most were spent on the Christmas end of sweets as it was. A light meal was in order. I went with scallops, and filet Mignon as the meat option. You would be surprised at how many said no to the steak.

(I did get a grand deal on a tenderloin at H-Mart in Edison- $6.99 lb. Other locations available. It was cheaper than what I can get at the wholesale butcher, and you have to buy a certain quantity at that. I prefer Rib-eye steaks for more flavor, or a strip, but often high end clients want filet.)

Pan seared with a little salt and pepper. Over sauteed Parmesan spinach. I deglazed the pan with a tamarind infused heavy cream. Added room temp pomegranate seeds, and dusted it with some curry powder.

It tasted wonderful, and was paired with two Chardonnay's- oaked and steel barrel fermented, both from Long Island.  You might think the oak would overpower the dish, but it actually highlighted the light curry powder dusting. Guest felt they both were a good match.

Regrets- my rice was not flavorful enough. I often overdo everything, and had considered a risotto. But that is usually too creamy for a solid presentation. Not because I was criticized, but because I personally like everything to shine in flavor. The clients and even hubs in our trial meal said it was fine. In retro, the meal was fantastic, and I want it again! However...see there I go again...I felt it needed a bit more curry powder, but I like my food spicy...

I don't carry my camera around as once did a year or so ago, so the smart phone photo has to do when a quick expedite is in order.

Next play with your food meal on my menu is smoked Duck...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year with some Pea-zazz!

I grew up eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. A southern tradition. Once I went out on my own I developed a taste for spicy everything, so chilies found their way into the pot. My grandmother made them in the pressure cooker with snap beans and bacon. I went a little north on mine.

Bacon, can of green chili tomatoes, frozen black-eyed peas and Italian flat beans, stock or broth, and a heaping tablespoon of Indian Tava Fry or Kitchen King powder, for that extra slam of heat. Then boil it on the stove until peas and beans are tender to the bite. I never measure unless its for a client, and they have given me instructions for something special. But it will all be good in the end.

This year I made a Sambar soup base and added everything but the bacon. Can't find it. Two different people in my house went shopping without telling the other, so my freezer is a war zone. I will deal with that later. You can buy Sambar seasonings in the box just like the other named spices above. And mash up some of the peas after they cook to thicken the soup base. I would add lentils if there were any in the cabinet. Hubs gave the thumbs up after eating a bowl, and he is not a fan of my concoction. Black-eyed peas are an acquired taste.

Happy New Year!