Baker’s Delight: Lemon Pound Cake w/Lemon Cream

I adapted a recipe for plain pound cake into a lemon pound cake. And I came up with a lemon cream to add the lemon flavor. Any kind of berry would be delicious topping this cake – I chose lightly sweetened strawberries. It was the perfect dessert for a summer dinner party!

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1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 lg. eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
zest of 2 lemons
1/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan. Combine flour and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Using a mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well vlended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in extracts and zest. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then milk, then remaining flour. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake cake until golden and tester comes out clean – about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Cute around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.


4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. heavy whipping cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon

Whip the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add zest and juice and mix until fully combined. Add whipping cream and whip until stiff peaks form.

Market Fresh: Strawberries

I’m so excited that it’s strawberry season and grill season! I combined the two into a Balsamic Grilled Chicken Strawberry Salad. This was so delicious and so summery and the colors are stunning! This will definitely make a frequent appearance on our summer menu!

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1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. herbs de provence
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. heavy cream
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Combine first five ingredients. Place chicken in a bag or container and pour marinade overall. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Grill until chicken is fully cooked – juices will run clear.

1/2 lb. baby spinach
1/2 lb. strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1/4 c. feta cheese (blue or gorgonzola would also be great!)
1/4 c. pecans, chopped

Arrange on a platter or in a salad bowl. Top with grilled chicken. Drizzle dressing over all.

3 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. heavy cream

Combine all ingredients and shake or whisk well to combine.

Off the Shelf: April Magazine Reviews

Bon Appetit (Stephanie): The advent of spring is celebrated throughout the pages of Bon Appetit with recipes highlighting ingredients like asparagus, radishes, peas, strawberries, leeks. After the long winter months, it’s such a pleasure to cook with fresh seasonal produce again. So many recipes sounded tempting: Garganelli with Asparagus, Artichokes, Favas, and Peas; Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon and Asparagus Radish, Arugula, and Red Onion Salad with Tangerines; Orange-Flower Pavlovas with Strawberries; Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg; Ginger-Pecan Scones. Doesn’t all of that sound springy and delicious?!

My pantry ingredients enticed me to make the Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs. I didn’t have the fresh parsley or basil on hand, so I did substitute 1/2 tsp of the dried herbs, though I’m certain fresh would have been better. Still, this made a nutritious, delicious, inexpensive lunch. I served it on a bed of shredded romaine. This will definitely become a standby recipe.

Bon Appetit, April 2011
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1 15- to 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine rinsed and drained chickpeas, chopped fresh basil, chopped Italian parsley, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and pressed garlic clove in medium bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese and toss gently to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Season chickpea salad to taste with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

DO AHEAD Chickpea salad can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature.

Everyday Food (Stephanie): Every couple of months I get my hands on an issue of Everyday Food, and while I’m not wowed by every page, there are always several recipes that pique my interest. In this issue I did find recipes I hope to try sometime: Sauteed Collards with Bacon; Raspberry Cornmeal Crumble Bars; Shredded Chicken with Kale and Lentils; Mushroom Risotto with Spring Herbs. Overall though, I felt like a Celebration of Spring theme seemed rather absent (other than the Easter Dinner menu: Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze; Salt and Pepper Rolls; Asparagus and Green Beans with Chili-Orange Oil; Balsamic Red Onions; Simple Lemon Cake). I would have enjoyed more lightened-up, spring produce featuring recipes.
We don’t eat much cereal in our house, but I love a bowl of granola now and then. So, I decided to try two variations of granola recipes: Pistachio-Apricot Granola and Cherry-Lime Granola. Both were quite tasty! (Though I didn’t have enough of the lime zest, so the lime flavor didn’t come through as strong as I would have liked.) I make my granola with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, so my husband can enjoy the bounty as well. These recipes are a little on the pricey-side as the nuts and dried fruits can be expensive, but it’s fun to experiment with different flavors. The basic quantities are endlessly adaptable to your pocketbook and palate.
Everyday Food, April 2011
3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used 3/4 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup dried apricots, diced medium
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine oats and pistachios. In a small saucepan, combine butter, honey, cardamom, and salt over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, place ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes; stir until combined.)
Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss until oats and nuts are completely coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
Bake until oats are lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool completely; stir in apricots. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 weeks.)
Everyday Food, April 2011
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup agave nectar or honey
1 packed Tablespoon fresh lime zest, finely grated
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup dried tart cherries
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine oats and pistachios. In a small saucepan, combine butter, agave, lime zest, lime juice, and salt over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, place ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes; stir until combined.)
Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss until oats and nuts are completely coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
Bake until oats are lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool completely; stir in apricots. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 weeks.)
Saveur (Alaina): This is consistently a great magazine full of information and great recipes. They nearly always include international recipes which I really like.
Sandwiches was the tantalizing theme of this month’s issue. You may recall, that I am crazy about sandwiches. So, of course, I had to feature this magazine in the review. I made two of the over 40 sandwich recipes. It was a little hard to narrow it down! They were quite different but both were popular with my crew.
The first was the Elena Cruz – yes, I partly chose it because it shares my name and also because it sounded delicious – it was. The second was the California. Yum. I made it as written and then after I tried it that way and loved it, I added some bacon and loved it even more. Sigh. Sandwich Nirvana. There are so many more to try…
Saveur, April 2011
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¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices multigrain sandwich bread
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup alfalfa sprouts
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 ripe tomato, cored and thinly sliced
Whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, chives, parsley, and garlic and onion powders in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and spread on all bread slices. Place 1 slice cheese each on 2 slices of bread and top with sprouts, avocado, and tomato. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with remaining 2 slices of bread.
Makes 2 sandwiches (You will have extra sauce, which would be delicious as a salad dressing.)

ELENA RUZ (Cuban Turkey Tea Sandwich)
Saveur, April 2011
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1 Cuban roll or brioche bun
2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. strawberry jam
3 oz. sliced turkey breast
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Split roll, spread cream cheese on bottom half, and top with turkey. Spread jam on top half of roll and close sandwich. Heat butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook sandwich, weighing down with a cast-iron skillet and turning once, until golden brown and heated through, 3–4 minutes. Cut in half, and serve hot.

Weekend Fare: Strawberry Soup

When I first learned about chilled, fruit soups, I was not inclined to give them a try. It was just too weird. However, my opinion has changed! They can be a delicious addition to brunch, a wonderful appetizer, or even a light dessert. I think this recipe would be perfect served in shooter glasses as an appetizer at a garden party. It’s also super easy and great for weekend cooking!

(adapted from Food Network)
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1 lb. strawberries, cleaned and hulled
3/4 c. half & half or cream
 3/4 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. lemon juice

Blend the strawberries until pureed. Pour into a bowl and stir in the half & half, sour cream, sugar and lemon juice. Chill until serving. Top with fresh mint or strawberries if desired. Serves 4.

Off The Shelf: Well Preserved

Well Preserved: A Jam-Making Hymnal by Joan Hassol is a tribute to the joys of preserving the seasons in your kitchen. Part memoir, mostly recipes, this book was enjoyable to read through and imagine what kind of jam I might like to make next.

Hassol’s drive to make jam so matches my feelings that I felt I was reading my thoughts put on paper. Here are a few excerpts from the introduction: “There is something about finding the succulent, almost ripe fruits; about picking berries; about laboring in the hot sun, that awakens long-dormant memories of a sun-washed early childhood….I’m still a hunter-gatherer, with an instinctive sense of needing to ‘have enough’…Stacking jars fills me with a sense of security….This book is about my relationship with jam, my soul, music, and the world in which I live.”

Arranged seasonally, you will find recipes such as: Apple Grape Jam, Cranberry Raspberry Jam, Green Tomato Chutney, Cranberry Citrus Chutney, Lemon Ginger Marmalade, Orange Marmalade with Whiskey, Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Rhubarb with Ginger Jam, Apricot with Rum Jam, Pineapple Ginger Jam, Blueberry Jam, Raspberry Amaretto Jam, Cherry Pineapple Jam, and Wild Cherry Jam. The book ends with a collection of muffins, breads and scones to enjoy with your jam.

I decided first upon the Strawberry Rhubarb Jam since I love that kind of pie. The directions were easy to follow and my jam came out exactly as it should. The original recipe did not include a processing time so I just checked with the National Center for Home Food Preservation and found I should process my jam for 10 minutes. I could have wished for more fruit flavor, and less sweet, but with the amount of sugar in these recipes, one won’t be getting something less sweet.

I would really like to try the Rhubarb Ginger Jam next!

(Well  Preserved)
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3 cups chopped, fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup water
1  1/2 packages powdered pectin
7 cups sugar

Simmer the strawberries, rhubarb and water until the rhubarb is soft, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil. Add the pectin. Return to the boil. Add the sugar slowly, stirring constantly. Bring to the boil again and boil for 1 minute, or until the jam sheets off the spoon. Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Cover with new, clean, hot lids. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 7-8 eight-ounce jars.

Weekend Fare: Summer Drinks

I love summery, fruit drinks. They are great for an afternoon playdate, for an evening dinner party, or a casual cookout. These are both incredibly easy and wonderful! My favorite was the strawberry lemonade – so fresh and delicious.  

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1 1/2 qts. black tea
2-11 oz. cans fruit nectar (I used peach)
Sugar to taste
Mint Leaves
Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Combine tea, fruit nectar, and sugar. Serve over ice and garnish with mint and fruit. Serves 4-6. 

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1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. water
8-10 strawberries, halved
1 c. sparkling water

Combine sugar, lemon juice, and water – stir until sugar is dissolved. Add strawberries and juice to the blender and pulse. Add sparkling water and blend until smooth. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint. Serves 3-4.

Off The Shelf: Good to the Grain

Every now and then foodies need a new frontier to explore. Mine, just now, seems to be the up-and-coming world of grains beyond wheat, oats and rice. When I found Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce, I realized I had the perfect roadmap in my hand to begin my exploration.

Good to the Grain delves into the history and uses of flours such as whole-wheat, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, kamut, multigrain, oat, quinoa, rye, spelt, and teff. In this book, each grain has numerous recipes with mouth-watering photos meant to tempt you into branching out beyond your comfort zone and trying some of these lesser-known grains.

Some of the recipes include: wholewheat: gingersnaps, apple graham coffee cake, drop biscuits with strawberries and cream; amaranth: molasses bran muffins, honey hazelnut cookies, flatbread; barley: coconut cookies, barley crepes, maple pecan granola; buckwheat: figgy buckwheat scones, kasha pudding, poppy seed wafers; corn: rhubarb tarts, cornmeal blueberry cookies; kamut: sand cookies, pumpkin pancakes, chocolate babka; multigrain: five-grain cream waffles, spice muffins; oat: granola bars, oatmeal pancakes; quinoa: honeyed crepes, quinoa cookies; rye: apricot boysenberry tarts, soft rye pretzels, maple danish; spelt: currant scones, huckle buckle, focaccia; teff: date nut bread, brown butter scones.

As my family can testify,  cookbook after cookbook passes through this house en route to or from the library. This was one of the few books that made it to the shortlist for almost-instant purchase. I now own my own copy, thanks to Mother’s Day and my mom’s generosity. My mom was at my house the first time I made these strawberry-barley scones. Neither of us could stop raving about them, and the cookbook came with the request that I make the scones again soon. Believe me, I will!

(Good to the Grain)
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1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

8 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used regular milk plus 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar)
1 egg

1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. sugar

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Rub a baking sheet lightly with butter. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the dry mixture. Use your hands to rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the butter is in sizes ranging from rice grains to flattened peas. The more quickly you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of this recipe.

in a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until thoroughly combined. Scrape the buttermilk and egg into the dry mixture, and mix until barely combined.

Use a pastry scraper or a spatula to transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface. The dough may be too sticky to handle; if it is, dust it with flour and fold it together a few times. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Flour your hands and pat each piece of dough into a disk about 3/4 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter.

Cover one disk with the jam. Top the spread with the other disk and press down gently so that the dough settles into the jam. Brush the dough lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Use a sharp knife to slice the circle into 8 triangular wedges, like a pie. Carefully place the wedges on the baking sheet, leaving a few inches between them.

Bake the scones for 22 to 26 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The scones are ready when their tops are golden brown and some of the jam has bubbled over onto the pan. To keep the scones from sticking to the pan, slide a thin spatula underneath them while they’re still warm and move them to a baking rack. The scones are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day.

Makes 8.

NOTE: I like to use parchment paper to line my baking sheet as it prevents the jam from making a mess, and it is easy to “unstick” the scones.

Market Fresh: Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables gardeners can harvest in the spring. It is a perennial plant, so it comes up on its own each spring, sporting beautiful red stalks (or sometimes pink or green) which can be turned into a number of delightful treats.

Somehow it was always elderly people in my life who had large rhubarb patches from which they were happy to share. I guess that makes me think of rhubarb as an old-fashioned food, but one I love. As a child, my mom would give us kids a bowl of sugar and a few stalks of rhubarb. We’d dip the end of our stalk in the sugar and then take a bite.

I think my all-time favorite use for rhubarb is strawberry-rhubarb pie. While in the UK I was introduced to exclusively rhubarb pie, which I enjoyed and made several times. Rhubarb is delicious in a crumble (see recipe below), either on its own, or combined with strawberries. And it is well-suited for jams and chutneys. Stewed or roasted rhubarb with whipped cream is a simple but sublime dessert. I even came across a recipe for using rhubarb in a green salad!

If you don’t have any rhubarb in your garden, and don’t know any elderly friends with large patches, its worth buying a bunch at the grocery store and enjoying at least one rhubarb dessert during the season. And here is a terrific recipe to try:

(Bon Appetit May 2010)
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3/4 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
large pinch of salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup husked hazelnuts, toasted coarsely chopped (almonds or pecans would also work)
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I omitted this)
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
12 ounces rhubarb (preferrable bright red), ends trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces

vanilla ice cream to serve

Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter. Rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. Mix in oats and nuts. (Topping can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; whisk to blend well. Add strawberries and rhubarb to sugar in bowl; toss to coat well. Scrape fruit filling into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle oat topping evenly over filling.

Bake crumble until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Spoon warm crumble into bowls. Serve with ice cream.

Serves 8.

Chocolate Giveaway!

We couldn’t have a week devoted to chocolate without a giveaway! So today, we offer a chocolate cookbook. The title is Celebrate with Chocolate, by: Marcel Desaulniers (also the author of Death by Chocolate Cake). 

It has delightful and impressive desserts and quite a lot of information about chocolate – working with it, different types etc. There are photos of some of the recipes in the center. Just the very name of some of the chocolate creations will make you want to step into your kitchen and whip up a little something – Hot Chocolate Snow Day Cakes, Pretty in Pink Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies, or maybe Chocolate Grasshopper Ice Cream Sandwich. The collection of recipes includes cakes, cookies, frozen delights, and truffles.

I decided to try Cocoa Berry Yogurt Mousse – it was a delicious, not-too-sweet, creamy, very easy, gluten-free dessert.  We enjoyed it and concluded that it was fancy enough to be the ending to a nice dinner but simple enough to be a last minute treat for unexpected guests.

Print This Recipe

12 large fresh or frozen strawberries
1/4 c. granulated sugar (opt.)

Cut the berries and add sugar if using fresh to increase juiciness. If using frozen berries just thaw and use including the juices (this was what I used!).  Divide between four glasses, cups, or dessert dishes.

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. plain lowfat yogurt

In a sifter combine the sugar and cocoa powder. Sift onto a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.

Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip. Operate the mixer on low speed while gradually adding the dry ingredients; mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Now whisk on medium for 5 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the yogurt; fold the ingredients together with a spatula until thoroughly combined. Immediately spoon the yogurt mousse onto the strawberries in each glass. Serve immediately of cover the top of each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.

I garnished each dish with shaved dark chocolate and a strawberry. Delicious!

To enter this giveaway:
1) Leave a comment telling us your favorite chocolate dessert or kind of chocolate or your best chocolate memory.
2) Make sure we have a way to contact you!
3) You may gain an extra entry for each of the following (please tell us what you have done in your comment!) – subscribe to our feed, facebook about this giveaway, join our facebook group, or follow us on twitter. If you already do any of those, just let us know in your comment and you will get the extra entries!
4) This drawing will stay open through Tuesday, February 9.

Weekend Fare: Smoothies

Smoothies are perfect for the weekends or any day of the week. They often feature yogurt and/or milk but there are dairy-free recipes as well. You can boost their nutrients by adding protein powder, ground flax seed, or whatever other additives you prefer. Here are two that our family enjoy.

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1 c. vanilla yogurt
2 Tb. shredded coconut
8-10 oz. crushed pineapple w/juice
1/2 banana
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. The coconut will still have some texture, so if you don’t prefer that, you can make a pineapple-banana smoothie and omit the coconut or substitute coconut milk for the milk and shredded coconut! Serves 3-4.

Print this Recipe
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 c. frozen strawberries
1/2 banana
1/2 c. fruit juice (I used a berry blend)

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Serves 2-3.