Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stack Cake

Stack cake is an old pioneer recipe, usually served at weddings.  Each guest would bring a cake layer, which was spread with applesauce then the layers were stacked.  The brides popularity was measured by how tall the cake was.  This recipe is a molasses cake with an unusual ingredient, it's laced with beer and topped with a whipped lemon cream cheese frosting.  This cake was made for a birthday but what a fabulous wedding cake it would be!

Makes 6 thin 8 inch layers, serves 16
For the applesauce...
9-10 medium sized granny smith apples
1/2 cup sugar or to your taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the cake...
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
3 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup beer, I used a lager

For the frosting...
3 ounces cream cheese, full fat, room temperature
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
Grease and flour 6- 8" pans.  If you don't have 6- 8inch pans than bake in batches, cleaning and greasing each time.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the applesauce, peel, core and cut the apples into 1 inch pieces and place in a large saucepan.  Add 1/2 cup water and cover pan.  Place on medium high heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium and stirring frequently, continue to cook until apples are tender, being careful not to scorch the apples.  Remove the pan from the heat and add sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg,  Stir well.  Cool to room temperature.
To make the cake layers, in a mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.  Add molasses and mix well.  
Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the beer, starting with the flour and ending with the flour, beating well after each addition. 

Divide batter evenly between each pan (1 1/2 cups per pan).  Bake for 15 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.
To make the frosting, in a mixing bowl 
using a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until light.  Add sugar, vanilla and lemon zest, mix until well combined.  Switch out the paddle attachment with a whisk attachment, and add heavy cream.  Whisk until smooth and of spreading consistency. 

To assemble the cake, place the first cake layer on a cake plate and spread a layer of applesauce over it.  Repeat with the next 4 layers.  Place the last layer on top and swirl frosting over top.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day before serving.  This cake is delicious served cold and slice into thin slices, this cake is very tall.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Coconut Custard with Coconut Crisps

This recipe is adapted from the book,Eat Fat, Lose Fat by the authors of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.  In this recipe I'm using coconut milk and coconut sugar, which explains the brown color of the custard.  I've also accompanied the custard with a coconut crisp and fresh Mango.

makes 4 servings
for the custard...
1 cup real coconut milk, be sure to whisk the liquid and the cream together
   before measuring
1/2 cup coconut sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the coconut crisps...
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 fresh mango cut into 1/2 inch bits
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the custard, combine the coconut milk and the coconut sugar in a medium sauce pan and whisk together until combined.  Heat over medium flame only until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs until well combined and add to the coconut milk mixture, stir to combine. 

Butter 4 custard cups and divide the mixture evenly in each cup.  Place the cups in a baking pan and fill with hot water, about 1/2 way up the sides of the cups and bake for 30-35 minutes or until custard is set.

Remove from the oven and carefully place on a wire rack to cool. 

To make the coconut crisps (or Coconut Sprinkles as in the Eat Fat, Lose Fat book) set the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix together the desiccated coconut and the maple syrup.  Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet and with a spoon spread evenly, patting down to form a thin 10 or 12 inch round sheet of coconut.  

Bake 45 minutes to an hour or until coconut is dried.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.  Break apart with your hands and save aside some nice pieces to garnish your custard with and adding mangoes if you like .  The remaining crisps will store nicely in a glass jar to be used for crushing over yogurt or ice cream or just plane snacking. Enjoy!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Cherry and Herbed Cheese Salad with Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is a salad that I came up with after having made a wonderful herbed cheese spread, thinking this would be great in a salad.  I scooped out small balls and rolled them in chopped walnuts then paired them with dark cherries and dressed it with a chocolate balsamic vinaigrette.  I used leaf lettuce and spinach in this dish but you can use what ever combination you like.  This salad will certainly impress guests and you can prepare the components ahead of time, then arrange on plates and drizzle the vinaigrette over the top. 


Makes enough cheese balls for 4 salads

For the cheese Balls...

3 ounces brie cheese
3 ounces cream cheese, full fat
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon brandy
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, in a bowl

For the vinaigrette...

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste

1 cup pitted cherries cut in half
salad greens 

To make the cheese balls, combine the brie, cream cheese and grated cheddar cheese in a medium sized bowl.  With a fork, cream together the cheeses and mix until creamy and well combined.  Add the herbs and brandy, mix until incorporated.  Scrape the cheese into a small bowl and wrap with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to  days.

For the dressing, combine in a small bowl the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Whisk well to combine.  Set aside.

 To assemble the cheese balls, simply scoop out a rounded tablespoon of mixture and roll into a ball.  Roll in chopped walnuts, covering each ball well with nuts.

To assemble the salad, arrange salad greens and cherries on 4 salad plates.  Drizzle vinaigrette over greens, then place 3 cheese balls decoratively on top of each salad.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Little Berry Almond Cakes

I used to work in a gourmet food shop in a little coastal town in Maine.  I was one of two bakers who where given free reign to try new and interesting recipes.  Most of the recipes we used were favorites but sometimes we would enter uncharted territories, trying new recipes that didn't always quite deliver.  If they were unsellable, regrettably we would have to dump them but sometimes just adding a pretty garnish or frosting to hide a mistake was all that was needed.

This recipe was not a difficult recipe by any means, however the directions say to place berries on top of the batter before baking.  Fifteen minutes into the baking time I checked to see how my little cakes were doing and much to my dismay my cake had swallowed up my pretty arrangement of berries.  I could do one of two things, I could continue baking the cakes until done or I could add more berries to the top of the slightly sunken cakes and continue to bake until done.  I did both just to see what the results would be.  After 15 minutes of baking I sprinkled a few more berries on top of half of the cakes, at this point there was a slight crust forming which would keep the berries from sinking and continued to bake until done.  The result was lovely though slightly sunken.  After the cakes had cooled I added more fresh berries to the top and sifted a little confectioners sugar over the top and voile!  A beautiful, perfectly moist and delicious little cake I would not hesitate to serve guests.
What we call in the business a "happy mistake".

As you can see, the berries did a dive to the bottom of my cake and left a bit of a crater on the top.  Not the most beautiful cake but I can honestly say, one of the best tasting cakes I've made.

Makes 9- 5 ounce cakes 

2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs (300g)  
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups almond meal (300g)
grated zest of 1 lemon  
Fresh berries, I used raspberries and blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter until smooth on medium high speed.  Add the sugar slowly and beat until well incorporated.  Reduce speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Mix in lemon zest.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  Add flour to the butter mixture and mix to incorporate, scrape the bowl and add the almond meal and mix until combined. 

Divide batter evenly in paper baking cups to about 3/4 or more to the top.   Place filled baking cups on a baking sheet spaced a couple inches apart.  Place in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes carefully remove the pan from the oven and quickly sprinkle berries over top of each cake and place back into the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes more or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  The tops will be a nice golden color and slightly indented.  Remove from the baking sheet to a rack to cool completely.  You may add more fresh berries to the top at serving time and a little sifted confectioners sugar on top.  Enjoy!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Ham and Leek Tart

Ham and Leek Tart is one of my all time favorite savory tarts.  I love the golden flaky free form crust and the filling is divine!  It's a simple filling consisting of a good quality baked ham from the deli and fresh leeks sliced and sauteed in butter and white wine.  It's a lovely combination and it most certainly will impress!  

Ham and Leek Tart
Serves 4
For the filling...
1 pound fresh leeks, cleaned, trimmed and sliced 
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb baked ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
For the pastry...
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter, well chilled
6 tablespoons ice water approximately
For the glaze...
1 egg
2 tablespoons heavy cream

To make the filling, melt the butter in a medium sized skillet.  Add the sliced leeks and cook over medium heat stirring to coat leeks with butter.  Continue cooking until leeks begin to wilt.  Add the ham, wine and seasonings, cover the pan reduce the heat to low and cook the mixture until the leeks are very tender about half an hour.  Most of the liquid should be evaporated at this point, if not, remove cover and cook another 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolk and the cream together and add to the mixture, stirring well.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool.

To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt together in a chilled bowl.  Working quickly, cut the butter into the flour leaving bits of flour coated butter.  Add only enough ice water to form a dough.  Gather dough into a ball and on a floured work table shape into an even rectangle.  Wrap and chill for 1/2 an hour. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To assemble the tart, roll the pastry out on a floured work surface, to a slightly larger 12 inch square, then trimming to an even 12 inch square.  Cut into two pieces, one 12X7 inches, the other 12X5 inches.  Place the larger rectangle on a parchment lined baking pan.

Spread the cooled filling to within an inch of the boarder of the larger sheet. Cut a 1/2 inch square out of each corner of the rectangle.  
Make several 3 inch horizontal slashes 1 inch apart in the smaller rectangle and carefully place it over the filling.

Mix the egg and the heavy cream for the glaze.  Brush the edges of the bottom crust with the glaze and turn up the edges to overlap the top crust.  Press to seal.

Brush the top of the tart with the glaze and place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush again with the glaze and resume baking for another 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Tart may be served hot from the oven or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wasabi Crab Cakes with Mango Cucumber Salsa

  I first discovered these little cakes over at Elana's Pantry
she has a wonderful paleo and gluten free site well worth checking out.  Her recipe uses fresh salmon for her cakes but I was looking for a crab cake recipe with an Asian flavor.  This recipe definitely fit the bill.  I cut back on the wasabi for our taste and added a cool mango and cucumber salsa to serve along side.  This is a great summertime recipe that is quick and easy to prepare. 


Makes 6- 2 1/2 inch cakes

8 ounces fresh lump meat crab
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 large egg, slightly beat
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons wasabi powder
coconut oil


Squeeze any water from the crabmeat and place crab in a medium bowl.  Add ginger, scallions, cilantro, egg, lime juice, almond meal and salt.  Mix together well.  In a small bowl, combine the wasabi powder with enough water to make a moist paste and add this to the crab mixture mixing well and being sure the wasabi is distributed throughout the mixture.


Form into patties (I use an ice cream scoop to divide mixture evenly into 6 portions).

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Saute cakes until golden brown, 4-5 minutes on each side.  Enjoy!

To make the Mango Cucumber Salsa...

1/2 cup cucumber,  peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon fresh chili pepper, minced, seeds and ribs removed, unless you like it hot!
1 tablespoon dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing well and refrigerate for 1 hour.


Monday, July 7, 2014

S'mores Tart

This tart is an elegant take on a fun outdoor dessert.  A buttery graham cracker crust filled with a luscious velvety chocolate truffle filling and topped with a deliciously sweet toasted marshmallow meringue.  An easy no bake  dessert the whole crowd will love!


For the crust...
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
7 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling...
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces and placed in a heat proof bowl
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

For the marshmallow meringue...
2 egg whites, room temperature 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup may be used
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

This can be made in a 9 inch round tart pan, I used a 13 1/2 X 4 inch rectangle tart pan.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Add the melted butter and mix together until the crumbs are moistened and coming together.  Evenly press the crumbs over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, pressing firmly.  Chill the shell in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
Using a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.  Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds.  Stir very gently until chocolate melts completely and mixture is smooth.  

Remove the shell from the refrigerator.  Pour the chocolate through a fine strainer into the tart shell, spread evenly.  Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

When the chocolate is set, place the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Using a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs to a soft peak.

Place the remaining sugar in a medium saucepan and add the water and golden syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat giving a light stir with a wooden spoon to be sure the sugar has melted.  Continue to cook until the syrup reaches 240° or a soft ball stage.  Remove from the heat.

Very carefully stream the syrup into the bowl while the mixer is on low speed. Continue to mix until all the syrup in incorporated.  Add the vanilla and turn up the mixer to high and whip until thick and fluffy. 

You may pipe or swirl the meringue over the tart.  Brown the meringue using a brulee torch or the broiler of your oven, watching carefully, for a few minutes until browned and lightly toasted.  Enjoy!