Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

One of my favorite things about trying new recipes is that, when I discover something I love, it changes the ingredients I keep in my kitchen.

Let me explain.

some of the ingredients for spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

The first time I made this recipe I had to buy pretty much everything on the ingredient list except the pasta. When I made this yesterday the only thing I had to buy was the arugula. Seriously. Ok, I should add that I bought the arugula because I knew I had everything else on hand, and some cherry tomatoes threatening to become inedible, but still- I’m proud of my well stocked kitchen. At least well stocked for my favorite recipes.

Lets talk arugula. If you find baby arugula the leaves are sweet with a slight hint of pepper and lemon. Later in the season, or at your farmers markets, you are likely to find bigger ticker leaves that are downright spicy (yey!) with a big bite and a slap-you-in-your-face lemon finish. In case you can’t tell I prefer the latter. But it took a while to get there. Unsure? Start with the baby arugula. You can find it in most megamarts in a clamshell. Once you fall in love venture into the big spicy leaves. Or heck, plant your own and harvest it when the flavor is perfect.

Either way I am telling you to make this. Basil? Lime? Arugula AND feta AND Parmesan? Just trust me. It all works together and is amazing.

Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

12 ounces spaghetti
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Grated rind and juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic
4 packed cups arugula
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Extra Parmesan and feta (for serving)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until it is tender but still has some bite.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, lime rind, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, 4 minutes, or until onions soften.

When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss gently. Tip the spaghetti into the skillet. Toss again.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the arugula, lime juice, and salt. Toss gently and cover the pan for a few minutes. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the arugula. Add the tomatoes, basil, feta, and Parmesan. Toss again. Serve with more Parmesan and feta.

Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

Peppermint pattie cake

In the process of making this cake I got covered in chocolate. C.O.V.E.R.E.D. Oh and it was 7:30 am. I have mentioned before that Little gets up earlier than anyone should be up. Hence why I was impatiently messing with ganache early one morning.

Mike eating cake

Word to the wise- wait for the ganache to get thick before pouring it on the cake. When I say thick I mean thick. Be patient. Unless you prefer to be covered in chocolate in which case have at it. I don’t judge. Just don’t do it first thing in the morning. I ate more chocolate than was prudent before finishing my first cup of coffee. It happens sometimes.

I made this cake for my dear friend Mike. He and his lovely better half Bev joined our family of friends a few years back and are two of the kindest, most thoughtful, generous people I have ever met. Mike works in Afghanistan roughly six months out of every year and is heading back soon. We threw a big barbeque at our house so we all had a chance to say “we love you and come back safe!”

In trying to decide what to make for dessert I remembered Mike’s favorite candies are York peppermint patties. Like devour 40 in day kind of favorite. So what better way to send him off but with a cake studded with his very favorite. It was a hit. He devoured a double sized slice in under 5 minutes. The lucky guy even took the leftovers home. Mostly to save me from eating more chocolate than than anyone should first thing the next morning. I appreciated the gesture. Way to take one for the team.

This cake is rich. It is practically a brownie. The whipped cream to top it with is a must as is the mint sauce. Both cut the richness and add great depth. Only make this if you are feeding a crowd. Or want to eat more chocolate than you should. Either is a good choice.

Peppermint Pattie Cake

Peppermint Pattie Cake (16 servings)

14 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup (6 ounces) small-diced peppermint pattie candies

Ganache Topping

1 cup cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Whipped cream, for serving

Mint Syrup, recipe follows, for serving

mixing the cake

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Melt the chocolate with the butter and cream in the top of a double boiler. Reserve.

In the bowl of a mixer with a whip, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and light (about 5 minutes). Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix until just blended. Add the flour, salt, and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice. Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the Peppermint Pattie pieces. The mixture will be quite thick.

In a clean mixing bowl, with a clean whip, beat the egg whites to medium soft peaks. Lighten the batter by stirring in about one-third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining whites and place the batter in the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. The top of the cake will feel set and very fine hairline cracks will just start to form around the edges. Remove and cool in the pan on a rack.

Delicious peppermint pattie cake

To make the ganache topping:

Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan to just under a boil. Add the chopped chocolate and, over very low heat, constantly stirring, cook the mixture until it is completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable. This can take several hours. You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead, refrigerate it, and allow it to come to room temperature for several hours before using. You can also hasten the cooling process by placing the melted ganache over an ice bath and gently stirring it till thickened; however, the resulting texture may not be quite as smooth and creamy.

Place the cooled cake upside down on a cardboard cake circle or a service plate. Remove the sides and bottom of the springform pan. Remove the parchment liner. Using an offset spatula, decoratively spread the ganache over what is now the top of the cake, drawing the ganache all the way out to the edges of the cake. Using the offset spatula, level the edges to give the cake a finished look. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and Mint Syrup.

blanching the mint

Mint Syrup

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat down and simmer several minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely. Reserve.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Have a strainer and a bowl of ice water at the ready. Working quickly, place the mint leaves in the boiling water and blanch until just wilted (about 10 seconds). Immediately strain the mint and place the leaves directly in the ice water to set their color. Strain the mint again, pressing to remove excess liquid.

Place the mint leaves and half of the reserved syrup in a blender. Puree the mint, stopping several times to scrape down the blender bowl. Add the remaining syrup and blend for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a clean storage container and allow to sit overnight, covered, at room temperature.

Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solid mint puree. Store the syrup, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Shake or stir lightly before using.

Decorate peppermint pattie cake

Ps. I know this cake has what feels like 90 million steps and will most likely dirty every dish in your kitchen. It is time consuming and yes it will wreck your kitchen but trust me- it is completely worth it.

Mini blueberry pies

I have to tell you a secret- I don’t remember exactly how I made this.

It was a warm summer day. We had a lovely big pot of clams and crusty bread for dinner (recipe for another day but fear not I will give it to you). We ate on the picnic table in the backyard. There was leftover pie crust lurking in my fridge and blueberries we had picked earlier in the week were threatening to take a turn for the worse.

Fancy dinners like clams call for fancy desserts.  And wine. Lots of cold white wine. Even if it is a weeknight.

Ready for another secret? I used to be scared of pie crust. Then one day I talked myself into buying Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook from the local used bookstore. Her pate brisee (fancy name for pie crust if you ask me) is simple. Four ingredients and a food processor. I conquered my fear and could now make this in my sleep. It was in fact this very crust that was lurking behind the bowl of blueberries.

So I pulled it out, rolled it, shoved it in to some custard cups  , filled it with peak of the summer Oregon blueberries, topped it with a star, and then, as soon as it cooled, I inhaled it. My sister, brother-in-law, and husband were impressed. Both by the dessert and my speed in eating it.

Yumm.

So please make this. Use up leftover pie crust. Throw in whatever fruit you have on hand. I am sure you could make with with pitted cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, or even strawberries. Be brave. Experiment. You won’t regret it.

Loosely based on these two recipes from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook :

Pate Brisee (Makes enough for one double or two single-crust 9 inch pies)
I had already made a double crusted pie and was using up the scraps I had left in the fridge. It made 4 mini custard cup pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
Dump flour and salt into the food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs about 10 pulses 1-2 seconds each. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
Turn machine on add ice water through feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

single serving blueberry pies

Blueberry Pie

Pate Brisee (see above recipe)
8 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cornstarch
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half the dough to 1/8-inch-thick circle, about 13 inches in diameter. Drape dough over a 9-inch pie pan, and transfer to refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together egg and milk to make egg wash, and set aside. Combine blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and turn onto chilled bottom crust. Dot with butter. Roll out the remaining dough to the same size and thickness. Brush the rim of the crust with the egg wash, place the other piece of dough on top, trim to 1/2 inch over edge of pan, and crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator to chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash, and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more or until juices are bubbling. Let cool before serving.

Now that you have the recipes here is what I did- I took the leftover pie crust, rolled it out and lined my custard cups with it. Then I mixed about two cups of blueberries with roughly 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, two tablespoons of sugar and a dash of lemon juice. I divided the blueberries between my four lined mason jars. Then I rolled out the leftover dough, cut a star out of the dough with my largest star cookie cutter, placed a small dot of butter on top of each mini pie, topped with the cut out star, brushed with egg wash, then sprinkled with sugar. Baked at 400 for about 20 minutes checking frequently.

super cute single serving blueberry pies

Then stuff in your face. Preferably after a big clam dinner and loads of wine.

clam dinner

My favorites- #2

It has been an off week around here. The holiday in the middle of the week was just odd. Granted I am home every day, but somehow I kept thinking Wednesday was Saturday and yeah it has all just been a whirlwind and a mess. Here are a few things this week I wanted to make. I haven’t had time though. I did, however, make what appears to be a delicious peppermint patty cake. Pictures, post, and review next week! In the meantime…

-I have been buying zucchini from the farmers market like it is going out of style. My plants in my garden are as big as a good sized pony and the first teeny tiny zucchinis are coming on. I found this recipe for zucchini fries. It looks crispy, yummy, and an easy way to use up lots of zucchini! Also just go poke around The Lean Green Bean. She has some great posts!

-Another blog I discovered this week is Smells Like Home. I got lost in her posts for the better part of Little’s nap time earlier this week. These strawberry crumb bars look amazing. Oregon strawberries are in full force and I love finding new recipes to make with them! I have never really baked with strawberries before this year.

-My sister and I have a weakness for dipped ice cream cones from Dairy Queen. Anyone else suffer from this addiction? Well I found a way to make them at home! This post for DIY magic shell topping popped up on my pinterest feed and I was thrilled. Haven’t tried it yet but will report back when I do.

-And last but not least- brownie cookies with salted caramel creme filling. Um. Yes please. I will be making these soon and reporting back. In the meantime, if you have a few hours to kill and want to feel like a less than adequate baker, visit Bakers Royale. So many tasty treats I want to try!!!

Hugs and love. Have a great weekend!

Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting

I have made a lot of cupcakes recently. A. LOT. Over 130 two weekends ago and 90+ this past weekend. I prefer to make cakes honestly as they have more of a “wow” factor but cupcakes seem to be the in thing these days. Besides Nathan loves that I make them because then he gets to taste test as I frost unlike a cake. Pretty sure no one misses a devoured cupcake but would notice if a slice of cake was missing.

So just putting the word out there- could someone order a cake next time instead of cupcakes? Or order cookies. Or bars. Or brownies. I am cupcaked out.

On to the cake recipe- in my quest for the perfect chocolate cake I have made more than I care to count. None hold a candle to this recipe. It tastes like box cake mix- in a good way. It is light, fluffy, has a good crumb and dirties exactly one bowl. Not to mention a well stocked kitchen should have all the ingredients on hand at all times.

This recipe comes from my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. I picked it up at a local used bookstore years ago. I love it to pieces. If you want to challenge yourself as a baker pick it up. I have only dared to make some of the recipes but everything comes out perfect on the first try. This cupcake recipe along with her pate brisee and swiss meringue buttercream are some of my go-tos in this book.

And the frosting- well it is ok. I don’t love this frosting but it gets good reviews. It is a bit soft when pipped so keep that in mind. Don’t set these out in hot weather. It takes advance planning since you have to let the base cool completely. Its one redeeming factor is that it looks stunning. Oh and it is easy (although time consuming) to make.

Simple. Tasty. Enjoy!

chocolate cupcake with vanilla bean frosting

Chocolate cupcakes (makes about 30)

1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 1/2 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
vanilla frosting
Vanilla Bean Frosting (Makes about 4 cups)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2  scraped vanilla beans (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature

In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. It should thicken considerably. Cook for 3-7 minutes tasting often (carefully!) to make sure that the flour is completely cooked.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature. If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I made mine in the morning, left it on the counter, then finished the frosting in the afternoon. You could refrigerate it but let it come to room temp before proceeding.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature, beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully. Increase the speed to medium-high. Beat the frosting for five FULL minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. Chill 30-60 minutes before piping.

Amazing Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting

 

My favorites- #1

Once a week I will be posting things I have either made or want to make that I have found online. I hope you enjoy and might find something tasty!

I am obsessed with French Macaroons. I am horrible at making them. My very first attempt they came out beautifully and since then… I will master them fear not but will most likely not post the recipes here. Honestly they are impossible to replicate. It is a matter of feel and what the weather is doing that day and if you do quarter spin to the left at the right moment. It is voodoo I tell you. Either way I tried this recipe for chocolate macaroons from Cannelle et Vanille. They were delicious although a complete failure in execution again.

I am making these vanilla bean cupcakes from The Sisters Cafe for a fundraiser a few weekends ago. I found the vanilla bean cupcake with the vanilla bean frosting to be too much vanilla so I am using a different frosting (probably chocolate) and using this frosting on chocolate cupcakes. Also I used this frosting to fill the macaroons mentioned above. That was divine.

I can’t wait to try this salted caramel shortbread from Sweet Tooth. Enough said. Want to come over when I make them to save me from eating them ALL? There will be coffee….

Who doesn’t love Smitten Kitchen? I have made many of her recipes and they are flawless every single time. Sunday morning Little woke us up way to early (as he often does). The morning was saved by these strawberry scones and two lattes before 9 am. They were a little bland so I would double the strawberries and increase the sugar by 50%. All around tasty though.

Peanut butter pie (of sorts)

I have a confession. You say birthday I say cake. As in if I hear it is your birthday, your dogs birthday, your half birthday, etc I consider it an occasion to make you a cake. Nothing says I love you (to me at least) quite like homamade loveliness covered in frosting lovingly (although poorly) decorated. Precious little brings me as much joy as being part of a special occasion and being able to bring that person a whole pile of sugar love.

Aaron with Peanut Butter CakeSo last week when I heard it was Aaron’s birthday the first words out of my mouth were “Can I make you a cake?”His response was “Well I certainly am not going to turn you down so if you want to…” He requested peanut butter and chocolate. I was set out to make a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Have I mentioned I must be the one person on the planet that doesn’t like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate? However the birthday boy requested it so that was the kind of cake he was going to get.

And somehow this isn’t a cake. Well it is of sorts because it comes out of a springform pan but it more pie like. There is a graham cracker crust and a filling. I did make my very first parchment piping bag to drizzle chocolate over the top. It wouldn’t be a special occasion if I didn’t pipe something on to it. It actually looks ok for a change. I stumbled onto this recipe at sweetapolita.com and couldn’t resist making it.

Happy birthday Aaron. I hope you enjoyed it.

 Peanut Butter Cake

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

8 ounces chocolate graham crackers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mash up the graham crackers in to a fine powder (food processor, in a bag with a rolling pin, in a bowl with the bottom of a cup). Combine melted butter and  crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Notes- The crust was a bit crumbly. If I were to remake it I would do one of two things- instead of just melting the chocolate and spreading it on I would add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to make it a ganache which I think would hold the crust together better. The other thing to try would be to add an extra tablespoon of butter. Just my two cents.

A Slice of Peanut Butter Cake

Lemon blueberry Cake (and giveaway winner)

Brooke you won the bag of red fife wheat flour! I’ll get it to you soon. Message me on facebook and we will work out a time. Congrats.

If you didn’t win, go make the cake below. It will make you feel better. Guaranteed.

Some dear dear friends, who live in an hour away, had a baby girl (Darling) just three months before we had Little. I love them to pieces and wish they lived closer. We joke all the time that Little and Darling will be each others first dates- once they turn 16. They are so so so cute together.

I was honored when I was asked to make a cake for the grown ups to eat at Darling’s first birthday. Honored and nervous! What if it doesn’t turn out? What if no on likes it? What if something happens to it in transit? What if? What if? What if? As usual though, I tackled a recipe I had never made before (why do I do that to myself!?!).

The frosting job left something to be desired in my opinion but the cake itself was delicious. I hope to take a cake decorating class sometime in the near future. In the meantime we will have to settle for taste not looks.

Happy Birthday Darling. We had a lovely time at your party. Thank you for the snuggles and giggles. You are becoming a beautiful young lady!

Lemon blueberry Cake

Lemon Blueberry cake

Cake:
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened about 20 minutes out of refrigerator
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8″ round cake pans with parchment paper, butter and flour. Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to larger bowl. Add fresh blueberries and toss to coat them with flour. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside.

Stir whole milk, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest in small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar, until pale yellow and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, until well combined. Mix in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Divide batter equally among 8″ round pans.

Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 10 minutes, then invert onto racks until completely cool.

Frosting (this is hands down one of the best frostings I have ever tried)

1 cup soft unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
5 cups icing sugar (or 6 cups for sweeter version)
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons whipping cream (35% cream)
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
pinch salt
a drop or two of yellow food coloring

Cream butter and lemon zest in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, about 3 minutes. Slowly add icing sugar, mixing on low speed for about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat on med-high for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy. If using color gel, add a drop or two, then beat until blended. Yields enough to frost outside of three layer 8″ round cake.

Lemon Curd (make a double batch):

3 large egg yolks, strained
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth.
Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour.

A few notes: First- I made the cake and lemon curd three days in advance and refrigerated it. Nothing was lost in taste, moistness, or texture as everything was tightly wrapped. A total time saver, especially when I can generally only bake when Little is in bed. Second the lemon curd is SO strong. I would make 1.5 frosting recipes next time and only one of the lemon curd. I would then cut the lemon curd with the frosting and use that as the filling rather than straight lemon curd. Makes sense? Let me know if you try this and how it turns out.

Lemon blueberry CakeLemon blueberry Cake

 

Red Fife Wheat Bread

Camas Country Mill gave us a bag of Red Fife Wheat Flour to give away, so be sure to share, like, pin and then comment on this post to get entered in the drawing. Each counts as an entry. We will be drawing the winner on Friday, so spread the word!

Guest Post by my husband Nathan.

Kimmy and I have been trying to be more conscientious about what we eat with a focus on foods that are whole and generally more natural.   We also really enjoy making things from scratch and trying to source things as locally as possible.  Like most families, one of our staples is bread.  For the last several years, we have had a decent generic lighter wheat bread that we would always throw in the cart.   Although it was a relatively healthy choice and was certainly easy, it still had some preservatives and stabilizers.  With that in mind, and the desire to get to learn more about locally available ingredients, we thought it would be fun to start baking our own sandwich bread each week.

So far baking each week has been a great experience.  One of the challenges I always run into with bread is when to start in order to give the dough the proper time to rest while not interrupting my schedule too much.  My first attempt at the recipe below was late Sunday afternoon a few weeks back and resulted in a late night. I had miss read the recipe and didn’t account for one of the rises.  The bread turned out great though and when we repeated the effort the following week, I  had my timing worked out. Starting the bread after getting home from work fit in perfectly with sitting down to eat a wonderful dinner Kimmy had made, putting Little to bed, and enjoying some down time that evening.

The following recipe was given to me last month by the folks from Camas Country Mill when Kimmy and I stopped by their booth at the Saturday Market in Eugene. The original recipe was by Christina Jessie. I have adjusted some of the timing and added a few tips to reflect my experience baking these loaves.  Enjoy and be sure to comment below letting us know what you think of the bread and how it turns out if you make it with other types of flour.

Red Fife Wheat Bread Recipe

3 cups warm water (110 deg F)
3/4 Cup Honey at room temp
2 pkgs dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1/3 Cup melted butter
8 Cups Red Fife Wheat Flour

In large mixing bowl combine water, honey, and yeast. After about about 5 minutes, once the yeast has softened, incorporate the butter and 4 cups of the flour, one cup at a time using your bread hook mixer attachment on low speed. Continue mixing for 7 minutes on low speed. Add salt and 2 – 3 more cups of the red fife flour one cup at a time till a stiff dough forms.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the remaining flour on a clean surface knead for 8 to 10 minutes till dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a greased metal bowl, turning the dough over to grease top. Cover the bowl loosely with a damp towel or with Saran Wrap and place it in a warm (75 to 85 degree F) draft free place until it has doubled in size (approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour)

Punch down dough, knead for 1 minute, cover and let rise again until double (approximately 45 minutes)

Punch down a second time and then divide the dough in half. Shaping it into 2 loaves and place each loaf in a greased loaf plan. Place loaves in a warm place and allow loaves to rise to the top of the pans. The top of the dough will crest about an inch above the edges of the pan. (approximately 45 minutes)

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they are a deep golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped.

Butter the tops with 2 or 3 tablespoons of melted butter and let the loaves cool for at least 15 minutes in their pans before turning them out on a rack to cool completely.