Saturday, April 23, 2016

Strawberries and Cream Cake

Lovey selected this clipping from the April 2013 issue of Southern Living.

I'll just say up front that this cake is very easy but takes a lot of time to create.  A lot of that time is everything cooling off in the refrigerator.  They should call this Patience Cake

You have three components: the cake layers, a strawberry jam filling and a strawberry frosting.

It will make it easier on you if you start the jam and the cake layers a day or two ahead of serving.

For the Jam

Begin by slicing up or roughly chopping fresh strawberries then mashing them up.  I used my pastry blender to get the mashing job done.

Add sugar, blend and let stand for about half an hour.  (There's 1/2 hour waiting)

Bring this to a boil over medium heat; let boil for 5 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in strawberry gelatin until dissolved.  Let this sit and cool for about an hour (another hour of waiting).

Once cooled pour into a covered container and refrigerate for 8 hours. (we're up to 9-1/2 hours waiting now).

Once the jam is in hibernation you can make the cake layers.

You will be making six 8-inch layers.  I just happened to have 6 throw-away tins so I used those.  They've been taking up cabinet space for more time than they are worth.

Grease and flour each cake pan.

Separate your eggs.  You'll use a lot of eggs in this cake.

Measure out the dry ingredients and the oil, lemon juice and water.

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl then make a well in the center.

Add the oil, lemon juice, water and egg yolks and beat 3 or 4 minutes until smooth.

I mixed up the batter with my hand mixer because I'm going to use the stand mixer for the egg whites.

Sugar and cream of tartar will be added to the egg whites.

Beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar at medium-high until soft peaks form.

Gradually add the sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

Gently stir about a fourth of the egg white mixture into the cake batter.

Now gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture into the batter.

Spoon batter into the cake pans, dividing equally.

Smooth tops with an offset spatula.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  The instructions called for 12 - 15 minutes of baking time but I baked them for about 20 minutes before a cake tester came out clean.

After resting in the pans for about 10 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks, about an hour.  (we're up to 11 hours cooling time now)

I covered the cake layers and began the assembly the next day.  See what I mean about this being a cake "in the waiting"???

Cover a cake board with foil and place one layer on the cake board

Give the chilled jam a good stir and spread about 2/3 cup on top of the first layer, leaving  1/4" border around the edges.

Repeat with the remaining layers but do not spread any jam on the top layer.  You will have jam left over.

Now, wrap the complete assembly in plastic wrap and, you guessed it.....put it in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.  (we now have a tally of 19 to 35 hours of chill time)

Now it's time to ice the cake.  You know, I was so tired of working on this thing that I didn't even take photos of making the frosting.  Again, like every step in this recipe it was very simple and easy; nothing difficult.  The magazine photos of the finished cake showed the icing to be as smooth as a baby's butt.  Mine definitely didn't look as pristine.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that once you ice the cake (yes, you are correct..) it has to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours.

It was impressive and showy

It was also very tasty; but here's the thing...

After the first bite, Lovey and I looked at each other and said, "Tastes just like strawberry shortcake".  And it did.  Lawzy Mercy!  Next time I'm wanting something like this I'll just make shortcake from scratch, cut up some fresh berries and top with whipped cream!

But if you want to make an impressive looking cake that tastes just like strawberry shortcake here is how to do it.

Strawberries and Cream Cake
Adapted from the April 2013 issue of Southern Living
Serves 12

The Strawberry Jam Filling
2 pounds whole strawberries
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin

Wash and slice  or roughly chop strawberries. Using a pastry cutter mash the berries so you have  4 cups mash.

Stir together the strawberries and sugar in a large saucepan; allow to sit and macerate for 30 minutes.

Bring strawberry mixture to a boil over medium heat; boil 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved; cool completely (about 1 hour).  Cover and chill for 8 hours.

The Cake
2 cups sifted cake flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
1-1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup water
8 large egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease and flour 6 8-inch round cake pans.

Stir together the first 3 ingredients and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of mixture; add the oil, the lemon juice, egg yolks, and water. Beat at medium-high with an electric hand mixer 3-4 minutes or until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into flour mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon batter into the 6 prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Spread the chilled filling between the cake layers, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edges (about 2/3 cup between each layer). Don't spread any filling on the top layer. Cover the cake with plastic wrap, and chill 8 to 24 hours.

The Strawberry Frosting
1 Tbsp. strawberry-flavored gelatin
2 Tbsp. boiling water
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 - 8 ounce container chilled sour cream

Stir together first 2 ingredients in a small bowl; cool completely (about 20 minutes).

Beat whipping cream and gelatin mixture at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Stir in sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring just until blended after each addition. 

Place the chilled, layered cake on a cake plate or stand.  Spread the frosting on top and sides of cake.  Chill 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Baked Meatballs

I took this recipe from Alton Brown. I love the flavor created by the three types of meat that are used. If you have an affinity to lamb, you can use more beef and pork as a substitute.  I personally love lamb. Lovey doesn't know there is lamb in these. Lovey doesn't care for lamb but he gobbles these up. Perhaps he only thinks he doesn't like lamb.

I doubled Alton Brown's recipe so I could freeze them and have them on hand for a last minute supperNow that I'm cooking for Papa (my father-in-law), convenience is a nicety. If you are not planning on freezing any I would recommend halving the recipe.

The meatballs will be flavored by these: Parmesan, dried basil, dried parsley, garlic salt, and red paper flakes


These ingredients will add texture and binding: thawed and squeezed frozen spinach, lightly beaten eggs, and bread crumbs. The bread crumbs are divided in half; one half mixed in with the meat mixture and the other half for coating.

In a large mixing bowl combine your three meats: pork, lamb, and ground chuck.

Once the meats are lightly combined, add the flavorings and binders and mix until incorporated.

Just a note on mixing and shaping.  When you are mixing all of your ingredients, use your hands (I use gloves) and mix with your fingers gently until everything is incorporated.  Don't squeeze like your squishing the heck out of a piece of play dough; you don't want the mixture to be compacted.

Cover the bowl and set the meat mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour
 After the meat mixture has rested, form into 1-1/2 ounce balls (1 fluid ounce volume scoop) and set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Gently roll each portion into a ball .  Remember, you don't want a rock hard, compacted piece of meat!

In a small bowl place the remaining amount of bread crumbs. One meatball at a time, gently toss in the crumbs to lightly coat.

Place each breaded meatball in the cup of a mini cupcake tin. 

Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes; drain on a paper towel.

At this point you can add to spaghetti sauce or make a meatball sub.

If freezing, place the drained meatballs on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and place in freezer.  Once frozen solid, place meatballs in a plastic freezer bag.

Very easy procedure:  measure & mix, weigh & shape, roll & coat, bake & drain.


Adapted from Alton Brown
Yields approximately 40 meatballs

2 - 5 ounce packages chopped frozen spinach
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. Lawry's Garlic Salt
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup dried bread crumbs, divided
2 eggs
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground round or chuck
1 pound ground lamb

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Thaw spinach and squeeze out all the liquid that you can.
Grate the Parmesan and measure out the parsley, basil, garlic salt and red pepper flakes.
Divide the bread crumbs in half. 
Lightly beat the eggs.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly combine the three meats.

Add the spinach, Parmesan, parsley, basil, garlic salt, pepper flakes, 1/2 cup bread crumbs and eggs to the meat mixture. With your fingers, mix all the ingredients. Avoid 'squishing' the meat together. You don't want your meat compacted. Use your fingers and combine until everything is evenly mixed.

Allow mixture to rest in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Using a food scale measure out 1-1/2 ounces of meat portions, or use a 1 fluid ounce scoop.  Place portions on a parchment lined sheet pan.  With your hands, gently roll the weighed out portions into balls.

Place each ball into the cup of a miniature muffin tin.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Black Eyed Peas

I posted a black-eyed pea recipe a few New Years ago that was prepared in a slow cooker. This year I cooked them on the stove top

I spent New Years at Papa's this year so I made a small pot for us and his girlfriend.  I found a package of fresh black-eyed peas so soaking them overnight was unnecessary and it made the cooking time a lot shorter.

 My flavorings were onion, jalapeno, garlic and fresh thyme.

I let the vegetables sweat in a little olive oil

then I added this bad boy.  Papa had a honey baked ham for Christmas and I cut the bone out of it.  The honey baked ham bone made a milder broth than a smoked ham hock that I would normally use.

I added some broth, the thyme and the peas.

I threw in a handful of chopped up honey baked ham

After bringing everything to a boil the heat was turned down and the peas simmered about an hour until they were tender but not mushy.

I don't add any salt until the peas are done.  The reason is that I never know how salty the ham or the broth may be.  With this batch, I didn't have to add any at all.

Waiting on the corn muffins to come out of the oven so we can eat a little bit of good luck for 2016!

Stove-Top Cooked 
Serves 6 to 8

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 large jalapeno pepper
1 large ham bone
5 cups chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound fresh black-eyed peas
 3/4 pound honey baked ham
salt to taste

Mise en Place
  • chop onion
  • mince garlic
  • remove seeds and veins from jalapeno and finely dice the pepper
  • measure broth
  • cube the honey baked ham
Heat Dutch oven over medium heat and add olive oil.  Toss in the onion, garlic and the jalapeno.  Allow to sweat for a few minutes; do not let them brown.  Add the ham bone, broth, thyme, black-eyed peas and the cubed ham.  Bring to a boil then turn heat to medium low and allow peas to simmer.

Check the peas for doneness after 1 hour.  Allow to simmer longer if necessary.  You want them to be tender but not mushy and falling apart. Serve with hot corn muffins.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Potage Crécy (Cream of Carrot Soup)

The reference of Crécy in the name of this cream soup (potage) is to Crécy-en-Ponthieu; a region in Northern France that is famous for growing, in their opinion,  the most tasteful carrots. The area is also know for a battle in the fourteenth century in which England kicked some French butt.  Anyhow, the French generally refer to cream of carrot soup as Postage Crécy.   

But that's not why I'm making this today.  I'm making it because my Papa inspired me to make it.

I've recently become a co-caregiver for my father-in-law; our Papa.  Papa is nearly 98 years old.  He has a hard time seeing due to macular degeneration, relies on  hearing aids to hear, and moves slowly but surely with his Harley walker but other than that Papa has 100% of his mental faculties which is such a blessing at his age.  He's also fortunate that he is still able to live in his home.

We were visiting the other night about the days when Lovey used to gallivant around France on a regular basis searching for antiques.  Papa shared a little story about a time Lovey took him along on one of his buying trips.

At the end of a long day, and fairly late in the evening, they checked in to a small inn in Beaune.  They were tired and hungry.  The woman who ran the inn apologetically let them know that the only thing she had left in the kitchen was cream of carrot soup.

Two men from west Texas weren't overly excited about this but they were hungry.  So they conveyed to her that soup sounded great.  She brought out two bowls of this extremely hot, creamy, orange soup and a loaf of crusty bread.  They ordered two more bowls each and with each order and praise of how wonderful the soup was the lady became more endeared to them.  French people (especially those out in the country) love it when you love them and their food.

So, with that pleasant recollection that Papa shared with me I thought I would place cream of carrot soup on the menu for Christmas dinner.

I don't have a saved clipping for cream of carrot soup but I do have a clipping for a cream of pea soup that I have posted here in the past.  This is such a basic French technique to make any cream vegetable soup, or potage.  In France a "soup" usually means the dish has chunks of vegetables in it; a potage means it is pureéd.

There's not much to it.  You sauté / simmer what ever vegetable you are going for in a broth.  You can add other vegetables that lend flavor and/or color.  So, this is what I did for the carrot soup.  I don't have any idea how their potage looked or tasted at that little inn so I'm just making this up.

I diced up carrots, yellow onion, a little potato, garlic and added a little dried thyme, ground cardamom (I wanted to use grated nutmeg instead of the cardamom but I was left to use what resources were in Papa's pantry) and lemon juice.  All of these were simmered in chicken broth until the vegetables were tender.

This is a really un-appetizing photo, I know.  I failed to snap a photo once I had pureéd the know how hectic it gets at that moment when everything is coming together for Christmas dinner and everything gets crazy (after 4 hours of very calm preparation).  After the vegetables are pureéd the cream is added, mixed well with the pureé and re-heated.

Papa does not have a blender so I had Lovey bring me my immersion blender.  If you prefer, as I do, a really smooth potage use a blender.  Using an immersion blender or a food processor  will give you a rougher pureé.  But the taste is not compromised.

The soup was a hit but most important to me (even though he didn't say it was just like his bowl of soup in Beaune) was that Papa loved it.   Mission accomplished.

Potage Crécy (Cream of Carrot Soup)
Serves 6 - 8

5 to 6 carrots
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1-1/4 tsp. fresh)
1/4 ground nutmeg (or cardamom)
1/2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup cream

Mise en Place:
  • dice carrots
  • dice onion
  • mince garlic
  • measure out herbs
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • measure chicken broth
  • measure cream
 Place carrots, onion, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and chicken broth in a medium stock pot.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Pureé vegetables and broth in a blender, in batches, until smooth.  Return pureé to pot and add cream.  Re-heat and serve hot.