25 August 2012

Isaac - well this might be craptacular

I'm not happy - but this is the season... it's what is expected. Crap. Thank goodness the generator is in working order. And that I get mimosas tomorrow morning. It will be necessary. That is Sunday. 
And Monday will bring what it brings. It is life. 


Spent most of today going through hurricane supplies, purchasing a few things, checking the generator, and making sure we've watched all the clothes. 
Expect to spend tomorrow putting away all said hurricane supplies, etc. Looks like it is going east of us. 
Now, we'll still get rain in bands and wind, but we're on the good (west) side of the storm as it's projected. 
We'll see what tomorrow brings. 

Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake

Literally, the best cheesecake ever. From Three Cities of Spain

1 crumb-crust recipe made with finely ground graham crackers
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
16 oz sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make crumb crust as directed. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken. Let stand in baking pan on a rack 5 minutes. Leave oven on.

Make topping:
Stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Drop spoonfuls of topping around edge of cake and spread gently over center, smoothing evenly. Bake cake with topping 10 minutes.

Run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen and cool completely in springform pan on rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.) Chill cake, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. Remove side from pan and transfer cake to a plate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

well, that did not work or at least not yet

groan ....we will not deal with this until it is past Cuba --- - or at least I will not ... that will be  Sunday ... ugh.

It's the Season

Two people in the office today requested that I start my summer superstition post haste. In my own defense, it has worked for many years now - warding off hurricanes from our area.
So what is it? I print copies of the National Hurricane Center's 5-day cone of probability and put them on the front left (if you're sitting in my chair) of my desk -- where anyone can see them as they walk by my office.
So take that Issac.
(fingers crossed)

24 August 2012

Blueberry Crumb Cake

For the Streusel Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
For the Cake
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, well shaken
1 1/2 cups blueberries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make streusel topping: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter using your hands or a pastry blender until large, moist crumbs form. Chill.
Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Add flour mixture
and buttermilk alternately until just combined. (Batter will be very stiff.) In a large bowl, toss the blueberries with remaining teaspoon flour. Fold blueberries into the batter; spoon into prepared pan.
Sprinkle cake with streusel topping. Bake until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar before cutting into squares.

Source: Martha Stewart

23 August 2012

Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
2 Tbs lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10" tube pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in lemon zest, then beat in the eggs one at a time until well-combined. In measuring cup or small bowl, combine vanilla, buttermilk and vegetable oil. Working in two or three additions, alternately add the flour mixture with the buttermilk mixture, ending with the final addition of dry ingredients. Stir only until no straks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack before topping with lemon glaze (recipe below)

Serves 16

Lemon Glaze
2 Tbs butter, melted
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

22 August 2012


We've had several dinner events at work recently, and with one meal came a loaf of country white bread that no one touched, save my single slice with butter for breakfast. So I took it home and made - wait for it, croutons.

There isn't a real recipe here, although I read Jennifer Reese's recipe from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter (p.137), and used that as a starting point. 

Heat oven to 275 degrees. In a fairly large saucepan, heat olive oil over low heat and add minced garlic. Keep on low to let garlic flavor the oil. Slice bread into equal sized pieces (they cook more evenly that way). Add herbs - I used Herbs de Provence (rosemary, fennel,
savory, thyme, basil, tarragon, dill, oregano, lavender, chervil, and marjoram), lemon zest, and black pepper to the olive oil and again left it on low in to flavor the oil. When everything started to smell nice, increase the heat to medium and add the bread cubes and turn to coat, adding more oil as needed. You're going to try to get them crisp, and then finish drying them out, for lack of a better term, in the oven.

Once crispy on the outside, put them on a baking sheet and place in the over for 35 or so minutes.

Notes: One time I added the juice of a lemon to the olive oil - excellent! A dash or three of Worcestershire Sauce is a good thing too. You can also dry the croutons by putting them in an oven where you were baking at a higher temperature, but turn the oven off and leave in for about an hour. I also leave them out over night to make sure they are really dry before storing them. I did not add any salt, but think I may put more black pepper next time. 

21 August 2012

"Artisan" - what does it mean?

I thought this was a great explanation of the demise of the words artisan and artisanal and their vast overuse in food discussions. From the larger discussion here.

Kevin West of Saving the Season:

""Artisanal" is the Paris Hilton of food words – it went from obscurity to ubiquity in no time, and now I'd like to see that trajectory reversed. The first time I remember hearing it used frequently was in 2001, around the opening of Terrance Brennan's New York cheese-centric restaurant, Artisanal. Back then I liked the word because of its etymological roots in skilled craft – akin to "art" but with that special connotation of the practical arts, such as carpentry, iron-working, and making food.

In recent years "artisanal" has become a synonym for small, smaller, smallest – the Portlandia battle cry – and has grown shabby with overuse. Now that Domino's has unveiled Artisan Pizzas, the word is officially threadbare. Anyone who cares about food or language should put "artisanal" in cold storage for a century, in hopes that it may be restored and repaired by generations to come."

20 August 2012


I've been looking for a good recipe for a red sangria over the summer. I have a favorite California Mexican restaurant that serves a great sangria that is described as a Merlot with citrus, peach, and mango juices - it's heavenly, but I was hoping for something a little simpler. So after experimenting this summer, this is what I've come up with and it's pretty good. 

1 750 ml bottle of red wine 
2 oranges
2 lemons
1 lime
1 c sugar
1 c water

Put sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. 

Slice one lemon and one orange into segments. Juice the other orange and other lemon in addition to the lime. Add these juices to red wine in pitcher. Add the lemon and orange segments. When cooled, add the simple syrup. Mix and chill.
Serve over ice. 

Things I've learned:
Red wine should be something fruity, I usually use a beaujolais villages and find it works well. 
Experiment with other fruits, such as peaches when in season.
Lemon Verbena simple syrup
Flavor the simple syrup. I used some of my lemon verbena to flavor and it was a nice floral lemon flavor. 
Lots of recipes call for Triple Sec or other liquors, but to me, they can overpower the drink.