Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cinnamon Swirl Pound Cake

Take it from me, when it's cold outside with a chance of snow (or blizzard) you want something warm to eat.  And what's warmer than cinnamon?  Just saying the word warms me right up.  Now say 'cinnamon swirl pound cake' and you can almost take off that extra sweater.

Yes, nothing says stuck-inside-all-day-worrying-about-the-snowaggedon like baking a cinnamon swirl pound cake and then eating most of it.  But after that third piece I could've sworn I smelled daffodils.  It made me so happy.  It's not like this pound cake wasn't good all by itself, but the snow terrors (it's a thing, look it up) demanded something extra special.  

I offer this to you in case you too may be in the path of the next named storm to descend from the heavens.  (Why do they name them?  It gives them too much personality.)  Just know I'll be sweating it out with you!
cinnamon swirl pound cake
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature (plus some for the pan)
1/4 cup oil
2 cups white sugar
6 eggs
3 cups unbleached flour (plus some for the pan)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon 

1/4 cup butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make the filling by combing brown sugar, raw cane sugar and cinnamon until thoroughly mixed, set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 10" tube pan.  Cream butter, oil and sugar in stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add eggs two at a time beating well after each addition.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add vanilla extract to milk.  Add 1/3 of flour to egg mixture, then half of the milk.  Beat well and scrap the bowl.  Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, ending with flour.

Beat the batter on medium for 3 to 5 minutes.  Pour half of the batter into prepared pan, sprinkle filling over top then cover with the rest of the batter.  With a knife or decorating spatula swirl the batter to distribute the filling.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 or 15 minutes before turning out from cake pan. 

For the icing, in a small pot melt butter.  Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla.  Pour over cooled cake.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Shaker Lemon Pie

If the winter blues have you down I have the perfect antidote and it comes in yellow.  This bright, sweet Shaker Lemon pie is just what you need in your life right now. Yes, it has two whole lemons in it, and I do mean whole as in rind and pith.  The Shakers were a thrifty bunch and didn't like anything to go to waste.  Of course, that two cups of sugar could also have a mood elevating component as well, but I like to think it's the lemons with their C vitamins and acidic pick-me-up.

Most recipes I looked at were strikingly similar, two lemons, two cups of sugar and 4 eggs.  Some had flour and I thought it was a good idea to add it.  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract, vanilla and lemon being such good friends.  And the pie gave me a chance to try out my new favorite pie crust again and it's still my favorite.  This batch was just the right amount for a bottom and top crust. 

Two words of caution: First, make sure you use organic lemons.  Since you're using the whole lemon and you can never be certain what a conventional fruit has been sprayed with. And second, both the filling and crust do require some down time to achieve the desired results making it the perfect project for a long Holiday weekend.  You can't rush good medicine.

Shaker lemon pie

2 organic lemons
2 cups sugar (plus some for the top)
4 whole eggs (plus some for brushing)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pie dough for top and bottom crust

Wash and dry lemons, grate the skin and set aside.  Slice lemons into the thinnest possible slices.  Place in a large bowl and toss with sugar.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out the bottom crust. Roll out top crust between two pieces of parchment or waxed paper.  Refrigerate both until ready to use.

In a large bowl whisk eggs.  Add lemon mixture, flour, salt and vanilla extract and mix well.  Place pie shell on sheet pan and add filling.  Top with crust, seal and crimp edges.  Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Make 4 or 5 slits from the center out to the edge to vent pie.

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Potato and White Bean Soup

Happy New Year!  How's it going so far?  Too early to tell?  Did you have some beans or pork or greens yet?  If not, get on it and bring yourself some good luck for 2015!

You can start with this creamy potato and white bean soup with olive tapanade.  It's ridiculously easy to make and goes down even easier.  I caught a quick glance of the recipe while switching channels and landing on some PBS travel show.  I never in a million years would have thought of putting tapanade on potato soup. So, well done public TV!

The soup itself is pretty tasty, a creamy blend of leeks, potatoes and beans.  But when you put that tapanade on top, oh momma!!  It basically took this mild mannered potato and bean soup and woke it up with a round house kick to the head.  It's bangin', like New Year's Eve fireworks all over again!

Wishing you all much health, wealth, love and laughter for the New Year!

potato and white bean soup with olive tapenade

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white only, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
heavy cream, optional for garnis

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat butter and olive on medium-high heat.  Add leeks and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, potatoes and vegetable stock; cook on medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

When potatoes are tender, add beans and more vegetable stock if necessary.  Cook for about 5 minutes more.  Turn off the heat and puree soup using an immersion blender or a blender.  Keep soup warm while making the tapenade.

In a Cuisinart combine olives, anchovy paste, capers, olive oil and lemon juice.  Pulse until mixture is blended but still a bit chunky.

Serve soup with a garnish of tapanade and a splash of heavy cream or sour cream, if desired.