Monthly Archives: June 2009

Blueberry-Lime Sheet Cake

I was a bit hesitant to take this to a party this weekend, as I modified the original recipe a huge amount (among other things, I halved it and made it not vegan). And it’s not like you can take a bite of a sheet cake to find out if it’s good or not! Luckily, it was and I didn’t have to take any leftovers home. Even my husband, who whined “I don’t like liiiiiime,” ate a piece of this one.

The original recipe also called for raspberries, we got a box of Texas organic blueberries in our Greenling delivery this week so I used those instead. I’ve used the blueberry-lime flavor combination once before when I made blueberry-lime frozen yogurt and it turned out wonderfully, so I was reasonably sure that even if the consistency didn’t turn out right, the flavors would be spot on.

Inspired by BitterSweet

Ingredients:
For the cake:

  • 3/8 c. (6 Tbsp.) skim milk
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-3/8 c. (1 c. + 6 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries

For the glaze:

  • 1 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Water, if needed

Directions:

  • Combine the milk, lime zest and lime juice in a small bowl and let sit for ~5 minutes, allowing it to curdle.
  • Add the oil, cream cheese and vanilla to the milk mixture, stirring until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Wash the blueberries and with the berries still damp, add them to the flour mixture and toss to coat (this will ensure that they don’t fall to the bottom of the cake).
  • Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring continuously to combine.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for ~25 minutes.
  • While the cake is baking, whisk the confectioner’s sugar and the lime juice together in a small bowl to make the glaze. If more liquid is needed, add a bit more lime juice or water (if you don’t want it to be as “lime-y”).
  • After the cake is cooled, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake before serving.


Thanks to Amy of Skinny Food by Amy for the tip about coating blueberries in flour to prevent them from sinking!

Verdict:
This cake is quite moist and has a lovely chewy texture, which really surprised me. I hesitated at first to sub the silken tofu with cream cheese, but it was a fine choice in the end. The recipe uses just enough lime with just enough berries so that the sour flavor of the lime doesn’t overwhelm the cake, even with the glaze. It’s pretty sweet though; next time, I will cut the amount of sugar back to 1/2 c. The sweetness is probably a function of the fact that my blueberries were fairly ripe; if yours are less so, you might want to keep the whole 3/4 c.

Our friends weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the cake:

“Where did my piece go?”

“Buster!! You ate my cake!”

Cran-Lemonade Punch Cocktail

At the risk of seeming like Sandra Lee, a summer barbecue isn’t the same without a icy punch (with a kick!). At least mine didn’t match my potato salad. Or my oversized tunic. I don’t even own an oversized tunic.

I made this in a pretty large pitcher (it’s probably around a 1/2 gallon), so you might need to adjust amounts accordingly.

I love adding herbs to my drinks, by the way. We got lemon basil in our Greenling box this week, and it was a good infusion of fresh flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. cranberry-raspberry frozen juice concentrate
  • 2 capfuls lemonade mix
  • 1.5 c. citrus-flavored vodka
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Lemon basil leaves, bruised (You can do this by rolling the leaves between your fingers.)

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a pitcher. Fill with ice and water and enjoy.


So sorry for the terrible picture. I really just wanted to get back to the barbecue!

Verdict: Yummy! I don’t care for liquor, but this was a perfectly refreshing summer drink. The herbs and lemon help bring some freshness to the drink, so it doesn’t taste too much like drink mixes. If you have more time (and lemons), make the lemonade from scratch. I don’t use drink mixes often because they’re so sweet, and this didn’t let me down.

Barbecue Side Dishes

We had some friends over for a barbecue this weekend, and these 2 salads rounded out the meal. Both can be outside for extended periods of time (the potato salad isn’t mayo-based), so it’s perfect for your 4th of July barbecue this weekend.

Potato Salad with Dijon, Red Onion, and Herbs
I love potato salad, but the ones that are mayo-based are always so heavy. This one packs so much flavor from the dijon and white wine vinegar, so the heavy dressing isn’t necessary.

I used the lemon basil from our Greenling box this weekend, but I’ve also used flat-leaf parsley when I’ve made this before.

Adapted from NY Times

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large red potatoes
  • 1/3. c. finely minced red onion
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  • Remove the potatoes’ skin, if you like (I don’t). Cut the potatoes into small chunks. Boil for 10-12 minutes. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Gradually add the extra-virgin olive oil. Set aside.
  • Blend the flat-leaf parsley and red onion. Set aside.
  • Thirty minutes before serving, pour the dressing over the potatoes and add the red onion/parsley mixture. Let the flavors marinate together, then top with goat cheese right before serving.

Verdict:
The salad is light, but very flavorful. The white wine vinegar and dijon give it a nice bite, and the goat cheese gives it a creamy mouthfeel. The parsley really brightens up the whole dish.

Macaroni Salad
This recipe is a remnant of my childhood when one of my favorite meals was pasta with italian dressing. Same concept, plus veggies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. cooked short pasta
  • ~1/2 c. Italian dressing
  • Variety of veggies. I used a cucumber, a patty pan squash, a summer squash, and a pint of Juliette tomatoes, all of which came from our Greenling box this week. You could grill or roast them if you like, but raw is fine also.

Directions:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat. Serve at room-temperature.

Verdict:
A completely different direction from the potato salad, this is a much simpler dish that really highlights the freshness of the veggies. It’s so quick to prepare and can be made a few hours in advance if you’re strapped for time.

Flag Cake

This is the first of a few posts celebrating all-American food for the upcoming holiday weekend. Enjoy!

I’ve made this once before, but I was sent to the emergency room before I got to try a piece. I was racing up the stairs from the basement, camera in hand, thinking that this was the coolest thing I had ever made and thus, definitely photo-worthy (come a long way, huh?). Looped around the banister was a strand of glass lights, one of which was broken. I grabbed the banister at just that spot and sliced my finger open. Fortunately, I managed to get my picture. Unfortunately, even though I was only at the ER for a few hours, the cake was gone by the time I got back.

I had to scan this picture in. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I last made a flag cake!

I made this again for Memorial Day this year, and it turned out so well. It would be a perfect dessert for a 4th of July barbecue, especially since we’re in the midst of blueberry season here in Central Texas.

You could certainly choose to use boxed cake mix and frosting if you’re short on time, but homemade tastes so much better! Make sure you use a white cake (not yellow) to preserve the red, white and blue theme.

Cake recipe from Sara Moulton

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 12 Tbsp. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 large egg whites (3/4 c.)
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting: (Keep in mind that buttercream should not be left outside in warm weather. I’d use another kind of frosting if you’re planning on keeping the cake outside.)

  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ~4 c. confectioner’s sugar

For the decoration:

  • 2 lb. strawberries, washed, dried and sliced
  • 1/2 pint blueberries, washed and dried

Directions:

  • Set rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of a 13×9″ pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for the cake and granulated sugar for about 5 minutes with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
  • Stir together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  • Stir together egg whites, milk and vanilla extract and set aside.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add half the milk mixture. Continue to alternate the two, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scape the bowl and beater often.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a metal spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
  • Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto the rack, remove the paper and let cool completely.
  • Beat the butter for the frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy (~5 minutes).
  • Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar until the frosting is stiff.
  • When the cake is cooled, using a long slicing knife (or one of these), slice the cake in half to make 2 layers.
  • Frost the top of one of the bottom layer with the buttercream, then arrange 1 lb. of the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting.
  • Put the second layer on top of the strawberries and frost the rest of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
  • In the upper left corner of the cake, arrange the blueberries in a rectangle-ish square to form the stars. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, use the remaining buttercream to pipe on the stars. I usually skip that. People know it’s the flag without the stars.
  • Using the other 1 lb. of strawberries, make horizontal rows across the cake to form the stripes.

Verdict:

This cake is a cross between sheet cake and strawberry shortcake, and in turn, it’s got the best of both worlds. The rich flavor of the buttercream is counterbalanced by the freshness of the berries, ensuring that the cake isn’t too heavy. The cake is moist and spongy, and a good vehicle for the berries and buttercream (sorry cake fans, I’m the kind of gal that always goes for the corner piece — the one with the most frosting). Although you can make this cake a single layer without the strawberries in the middle, it’s much better with it; the juice from the strawberries soaks into the middle of the cake and you get the strawberry taste in every bite.

Soy-Glazed Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

We got a bunch of string beans in our Greenling box last week, and I was planning to make honey-soy-ginger pork tenderloin anyway, so I thought that doing an Asian twist to go with the pork might be nice. I just carried over the some of the flavors that were in the pork to the green beans.

These green beans were so fresh that they honestly didn’t need doctoring up like this, but it was a nice change of pace from the normal steamed or sauteed green bean.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. green beans, washed and trimmed (Mine were particularly long, so I also cut them in half.)
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce (The flavor gets pretty concentrated, so low sodium is key here — otherwise, your beans will be way too salty.)
  • 1/4 c. toasted sliced almonds

Directions:

  • Heat the canola and sesame oils in a skillet over high heat, then add the garlic and green beans and saute for ~4 minutes.
  • After the green beans are almost done (al dente), add the soy sauce. It’ll deglaze the pan. Let it simmer and reduce for ~30 seconds.
  • Remove to a plate, top with the toasted almonds, and serve.


For the pork recipe, click here.

Verdict:
Yum! The soy sauce was reduced just enough to make a nice glaze over everything and make the almonds stick to the beans, while the beans were just cooked enough to still regain their crispness and freshness. The flavor of the beans was accentuated by the other ingredients, rather than hidden. This is a great side dish for any meal, Asian-inspired or not.

Scallion-Corn Pancakes

I’m a member of a group called Cooking Away your CSA, and one of the group members emailed us a recipe for scallion pancakes. To me, scallions make everything better, and I thought corn would be a good addition for another dimension of texture.

This recipe makes ~10 pancakes.

Adapted from Dolores Riccio

Ingredients:

  • Pam spray (if necessary)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Kernels from 2 ears of raw sweet corn
  • 1 c. buttermilk (you can make your own by adding 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to a scant cup of milk)
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 3/4 c. cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Directions:

  • Heat a griddle over medium-high heat and spray with Pam if it’s not a non-stick pan.
  • Thinly slice scallion bulbs and about 3 inches of the green part.
  • Whisk the cornmeal with the boiling water, then add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda to the cornmeal mixture.
  • Mix the buttermilk, eggs, and oil together, then whisk into the cornmeal mixture. Fold in the scallions and corn kernels.
  • Drop the mixture onto the hot griddle as pancakes and cook until they are lightly browned on each side (it took me ~3 minutes per side).

Verdict:
You know how some people have a sweet tooth? Well I have a scallion-corn pancake tooth. These have the same comfort food flavor as cornbread, but in breakfast food form, which automatically makes it better. I thought that this would be the perfect vessel for an hors d’oeuvre if you made the pancakes a bit smaller and more like blinis — maybe with a red pepper or black bean relish?

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Soup in June? Oh, yes. I’m usually freezing in the summer when it’s 100 degrees outside. My office cranks the A/C way up, so I’m often craving soups come lunchtime. There’s a cute little deli near my office that makes fantastic carrot-ginger soup, so I thought I would re-create theirs at home.

The carrots I used in this soup came from our Local box and they were HUGE! Each one had to be at least 18 inches long.

From A Full Belly

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. minced onion
  • 1/4 c. minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 4 c. peeled and sliced carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1/2 c. half-and-half
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (I used more like 1/4 tsp.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and ginger with some salt and pepper and sweat them for ~5 minutes, or until the onions become translucent.
  • Add the chicken stock and carrots and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for ~30 minutes.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and puree with an immersion blender or food mill.
  • Put back on the burner and add the half-and-half (so pretty when you swirl it into the soup!), orange juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Bring back to a simmer before serving. This can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.

Verdict:
That picture totally does not do it justice. This soup is beautifully light orange in color and is flecked with spices in the same way that you know vanilla bean ice cream is good because it has vanilla beans running through it. =) It’s such a warm soup, not only because of the temperature but because of the ginger and cinnamon. It’s truly comfort food, but doesn’t have the same heaviness that most comfort foods do. It also freezes well, so save some for a cold, rainy day!