Saturday, April 20, 2019

Spring Smörgåsbord #OurFamilyTable


April 23 is National Picnic Day. So the #OurFamilyTable group has decided to share our favorite portable picnic recipes to bring to the blanket.

Portable Picnic Food


We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table! Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too!

 Spring Smörgåsbord

One of our favorite picnic meals is a Scandinavian-style smörgåsbord filled with boiled shrimp, smoked fish, pickled vegetables, and roasted potatoes.


Smørrebrød means 'buttered bread' in Danish and refers to traditional open-face sandwiches with a myriad combination of toppings that are presented atop slices of dark Danish rye bread (rugbrød) and washed down with a crisp, cold lager beer (øl).


So I usually present platters of ham, hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, potatoes, avocados, rhubarb-raspberry jam, cornichons, fresh radishes, fresh sugar snap peas, fresh mint, and fresh parsley.

And to round out a Spring Smörgåsbord, you need a layered cake...such as a Petaled Ricotta Layer Cake...though a traditional dessert would be a strawberry cake.


And you'll also need an Aquavit cocktail. I'm partial to an Aquavit & Tonic. Skål!

Rhubarb Strawberry Tea Cake (Minus the Rhubarb) #TheCakeSliceBakers


Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is The European Cake Cookbook by Tatyana Nesteruk*. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes! 


Follow our FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details. 

The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

1. Poppy Seed Smetanik
2. Rhubarb Strawberry Tea Cake 
3. Opera Cake 
4. Marbled Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake


The Crew's Offerings
Poppy Seed Smetanik
Marbled Chocolate Orange Bundt
Rhubarb Strawberry Tea Cake 
  • Culinary Adventures with Camilla 
Opera Cake

Rhubarb Strawberry Tea Cake (Minus the Rhubarb)
very slightly adapted from The European Cake Cookbook by Tatyana Nesteruk
One of my rhubarb shopping sprees from years past...none to be had, yet, in 2019.

Why is this rhubarbless cake, you ask?! Because it's not quite rhubarb season where I am. Our season is very short - say a month - and when I see it in the markets, I buy it all. People usually respond to me grabbing every last stalk in one of two ways: one, they ask what it is and what I do with it; two, they glare are me until I offer to give them some of my armload. 

In any case, when I decided to make the Rhubarb Strawberry Tea Cake for this event, I went on a rhubarb hunt. To no avail. People even suggested getting frozen rhubarb. I tried. One of the markets I tried had everything from frozen berries to frozen dragonfruit, but not frozen rhubarb.


So, this is just a Strawberry Tea Cake. And it came from the 'Northern Treats' section - buttery pound cakes, tender lemon treats, and fruity delights that go well with tea. I actually served mine with strong Italian coffee, but you get the idea.


Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 C diced organic strawberries
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C whole milk sour cream
  • 4 large eggs (I actually used 2 super large duck eggs)
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C almond flour
  • 3 t baking powder (the original calls for 4 t, I reduced it)
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon

Topping

  • 1 C diced strawberries
  • 2 T organic granulated sugar
  • 2 T organic dark brown sugar
  • sliced almonds

Jam

  • 1-1/2 C diced strawberries
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
Procedure

Preheat oven to 335 degrees F. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, toss together the diced strawberries for the cake with the corn starch. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is lightened and fluffy. Beat in the sour cream and eggs until well-incorporated.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients - flour, almond flour, baking powder,  and ground cinnamon. Sift into the sour cream mixture and fold in with a spatula until just moistened.


Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly to the edges with the spatula. Press chunks for strawberries into the top of the batter. Combine the sugars and sprinkle over the top. Scatter sliced almonds over the cake.


Bake in the preheated oven for 80 to 90 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack before removing to a serving platter.


For the jam, combine the strawberries, sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the strawberries begin to break down into a thick puree.


Transfer the jam to a small bowl and let diners serve themselves with a large - or small - helping of cake and jam!


This was a hit with my family! But they definitely want to try it with rhubarb when those come into season here on California's central coast. I can't wait.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Salmorejo de Conejo #SoupSwappers


Here we are at the April Soup Saturday Swappers event. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and, every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile. And this month, I am hosting the event.

"The winter chill is loosening its grip on the world by now (hopefully)...and our produce is turning Springy. Let's create and share some soups that feature the darlings of Spring. Think fennel, peas, and whatever tickles your fancy," I urged the bloggers.

The Spring Soup Pot

Bunnies for Easter
While I initially started thinking of Spring produce, I went a slightly different way. Okay, follow this: Sunday is Easter. The Easter Bunny comes this week. Rabbit! I have a slightly strange sense of humor, I suppose. But we love cooking rabbit for Easter.

Salmorejo de Conejo
I love family recipes! When a friend posted a photo of two ways that her mother-in-law made rabbit for them, I immediately commented, "I have another rabbit to cook. Can you send me that Salmorejo de Conejo recipe?"

So, Susana emailed back that she would try. And, after spending the day with Juan's mom and aunt recently, she emailed me.


Of course I had to give it a try. But, not ever having had it before, I'm not sure of its authenticity. I did follow the recipe as much as I could though. Let see what she thinks...

Ingredients

  • one 2 to 2-1/2 pound rabbit (I'm grateful to have friends who produce meat rabbits)
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 C chopped organic parsley
  • freshly ground salt + 2 t salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 C white wine
  • 1/2 C olive oil, halved
  • water
  • 5 hardboiled eggs

Procedure

Mix 1/4 C olive oil with 1/2 C parsley, 4 cloves garlic, salt, and pepper. Rub this mixture on the rabbit and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the rabbit on a rimmed baking sheet with the head of garlic, sliced side down. Pour any oil or liquid from the rabbit over the top and place in the center of the oven. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until the meat pulls away from the bones easily. In the meantime, cook and peel the eggs. Place the cooked yolks in the bowl of a food processor; dice the whites.


Once the rabbit is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones. Place the meat in a bowl with the egg whites. I also added in some of the roasted herbs.

In the bowl of the food processor and the egg yolks, add 1/4 C white wine, 1/4 C olive oil, 1-1/2 C water, and 5 to 6 of the roasted garlic cloves. Process until smooth. Mine was pretty watery.

Pour the mixture over the rabbit and egg whites. Stir to combine, then refrigerate and let stand overnight.

To serve, ladle into individual serving bowls. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Our was perfect as is. Serve chilled.


At first bite, Jake was surprised it was cold. But once he recovered from his initial shock, he devoured his bowl. I loved the soup, it was subtle and Springy. Thanks for the recipe, Susana!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Cracked Crab, Cheesy Ravioli, and Chablis #Winophiles


This month Liz of What's in the Bottle? is hosting the French Winophiles as we explore Chablis. You can read her invitation here.

On Saturday, April 20we are convening on Twitter at 10 a.m. CST for a Chablis chat. If you like Chardonnay, ahem, Chablis, join in! Just use #winophiles and you’ll find us. We’ve got a fantastic group of bloggers posting about Chablis. We’ll talk about the region, the wines, food pairings and travel! 

The Chablis Line-Up



Chablis
from carlorossi.com

I'll be honest: When I saw Liz's topic for the month. I pictured the bottle above. When I was a kid - probably 6 to 9 years old -  my dad was teaching ROTC to students at San Francisco State and Sacramento State. These were young cadets, mostly in their early 20s and mostly single. So, my parents would host spaghetti dinners once a month and invite the students to our house for dinner. I just remember going to the commissary with my dad to get jugs of Carlo Rossi Chablis for those who liked white wine and, maybe the Paisano, for the people who liked red. I just remember the shape of the bottle and the word: Chablis.

I knew nothing beyond that. So, I started reading. Chablis is a region in the northernmost district of the Burgundy region in France. The Chablis Appellation d'origine contrôlée is required to use solely Chardonnay grapes. And the cool climate of the region produces wines with more acidity than Chardonnays hailing from warmer climates. These wines are often described as steely or "goût de pierre à fusil" meaning 'tasting of gunflint.' I was intrigued.

In My Glass

I was able to track down a La Chablisienne Chablis La Pierrelee 2015. From the website, I see that the wine is made from Chardonnay grapes grown on both sides of the River Serein in clay and limestone soils. It's also called 'typical' of the appellation.

On the nose, I got sweet hints of green apple while on the tongue, more of that minerality and flintiness came through. I thought this would be an easy match for a buttery, cheesy crab dinner.

On My Plate

It just so happened that on the day I wanted to open the Chablis, our CSF (community-supported fishery) had a special sale on fresh crab and crab ravioli. Ummm...yes, please! I ordered right away and picked it up on the way home. So dinner was take-out and I have no recipe to share. Sorry.


I will just say that all of the crab paired beautifully with the wine. I will definitely be grabbing another bottle or two for when I can get my hands on some more fresh crab. Cheers!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Framboise Whipped Stilton Cheese Toasts #OurFamilyTable


Today we're sharing brunch ideas for Mothers' Day. And, if you're anything like me, you make your own Mothers' Day brunch. So I prefer things to be easy-to-make or something made ahead of time. Here's the line-up for today's recipes...


We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table! Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too!

Framboise Whipped Stilton Cheese Toasts

This was just one combination on a platter of nibbles to start a great brunch. And, it's hardly a recipe, I know. But that's what makes it perfect for Mothers' Day, right? Quick note: 'framboise' refers to two different things, though both are raspberry-based. First is a Belgian lambic beer that's fermented with a raspberry puree in it; the second, and what I use in this recipe, is a raspberry-infused dessert wine.

Ingredients serves 6

  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C framboise
  • 2 C fresh, organic raspberries
  • flake sea salt + more for serving
  • 1 baguette cut into 1/2" slices
  • 1 T olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 C stilton or any other kind of bleu cheese that you prefer
  • 1/3 C mascarpone cream cheese

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine the vinegar and framboise in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened and reduced. The syrup should coat the back of a spoon when ready; mine took approximately 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Once the syrup is cool, toss with the berries in with 1/2 t of flake salt.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then strain out excess liquid, leaving about 1/4 C of the liquid in the bowl.

In the meantime,  arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with freshly ground back pepper.  Place in the oven and toast until golden, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Flip over halfway through cooking.

Combine the mascarpone with the stilton along with 1/2 t of salt. Whisk together until lightened and fluffy.

To assemble toasts, top each slice of toast with some cheese mixture and a spoonful of the soaked raspberries.  Season with a sprinkle of flake sea salt before serving, if desired.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Seabass Agli Agrumi + Wine from America's First Demeter-Certified Biodynamic Winery #WinePW


Gwen of Wine Predator has the Wine Pairing Weekend crew looking at Biodynamic Wines of the World. Read her invitation here. If you're reading this early enough, join us on Twitter for a live chat - Saturday, April 13th at 8am Pacific. Follow and use #WinePW. And here's the line-up for the event.


Biodynamic Wines
Gwen has had us focusing on biodynamic wines in all of our wine groups this year, including #ItalianFWT and #Winophiles. For those events, I shared, respectively: Dinner in Testosterone Land: Braised Short Ribs + 2016 Nuova Cappelletta Barbera del Monferrato and Learning about Biodynamic Wines + M.Chapoutier Wines with Some Cross-Cultural Pairings. I'll be honest, I appreciate learning about biodynamic practices and I truly respect wineries that are following those practices - whether they get the certifications or not - but the designation is not a guarantee of a "good" wine, in my mind.

In My Glass

So, I was excited to have the chance to explore biodynamic wines a little closer to home this month. I located one from Mendocino - Frey Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 - that read, "...bottled by America's 1st Demeter-certified biodynamic winery." Sweet!


Frey Vineyards is a third-generation family-owned and operated winery located at the headwaters of the Russian River in Mendocino County. They aim to meld modern and traditional winemaking methods to really showcase the distinct attributes of different grape varietals. And they have been crafting wine without added sulfites for over thirty years. They wholeheartedly embrace organic and biodynamic farming methods that promote biodiversity in the vineyard, referring to themselves as "stewards of the land"; in fact, they hold ninety percent of their estate as a natural habitat for native plants and animals.

This wine certainly feels like it mirrors a complex ecosystem. It's lively and velvety with flavors of spice and wild berries. And, at the finish, there's a perceptible note of elegant flowers. What a wine! I loved the complexity of this Cab.

On My Plate

I enjoy this preparation of fish because it's relatively quick...and it's pretty! And though I wasn't initially sure that all that citrus would pair well with the wine, the unctuous sea bass lent a creaminess that made the pairing a winner.


Ingredients serves 4

    • four seabass fillets (mine were just over 1/2 pound each)
    • an assortment of citrus for roasting, squeezing, and serving (I used a mixture of organic lemons, blood oranges, grapefruits, and mandarins)
    • freshly ground salt
    • freshly ground pepper
    • fennel pollen, optional
    • Also needed: olive oil, parchment paper or silicone baking mat

Procedure
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 


Thinly slice citrus and arrange them on a parchment paper or silicone mat-lined baking sheet. Place fish on top of the citrus and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fennel pollen, if using.

Arrange smaller segments of citrus on top of the fish. Squeeze citrus juice over the fish, then drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until just opaque, these took approximately 10 minutes.

If citrus slices have not browned or singed, place the pan under broiler for a minute. Serve drizzled with more olive oil and another squeeze of citrus. I served this with a wilted kale salad.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Griddled Delicata Squash


Delicata squash are a family favorite. And this is a quick preparation that you can season however you wish. Last night, I simply sprinkled the cooked delicata with fleur de sel and some fennel pollen.


Ingredients
  • delicata squash
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fleur de sel
  • fennel pollen

Procedure
Preheat griddle over medium heat. Halve the delicata and scoop out the seeds. Destem, then slice into 1/4" to 1/2" wide pieces. Arrange the slices on the griddle. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.

Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until the squash is softened and beginning to caramelize. Move to a serving plate. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with fleur de sel and fennel pollen. Serve immediately.

A Slightly Unconventional Arroz de Pato


I made this dish for a friend's birthday celebration last month. Last month! But I've been so consumed by robotics that I haven't had a chance to post about it. Geez...

This was a hit albeit a slightly unconventional way to make Arroz de Pato, Peruvian duck rice. It's not normally made in a tagine. But, I was feeding a lot of people and it was the biggest pot that wasn't already being used.

Arroz de Pato

Arroz de Pato is a combination of rice and duck that's popular all over northern Peru. Muscovy duck was domesticated there by pre-Inca civilizations and it benefited from long, slow cooking. The dish is perfumed by a purée of cilantro and spinach that's used to cook the rice. And I was fortunate to find Muscovy duck breasts!

Ingredients serves 10 to 12


  • 5 duck breasts, about 3 to 4 pounds, Muscovy if you can find it
  • 5 dried guajillo peppers
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced, approximately 2 C
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced, approximately 1 C
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 bottles dark beer (I used Guinness)
  • 4 C water
  • 2 C baby spinach
  • 1 C organic cilantro, rough chopped + more for garnish
  • 4 T long grain rice
  • 2 C shelled peas

Procedure

Destem and deseed the dried peppers. Place them in a small saucepan with 2 C of water and bring to a simmer. Cook the peppers until softened, approximately 15 minutes. 


Place the peppers, red wine vinegar, and enough of the soaking liquid into a blender so that it will blend nicely. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Heat a pot over medium heat; I used an oval Dutch oven. Prick the duck breasts all over with a fork and place skin side down in the pot. Brown on both sides until the fat begins to render, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the browned duck breasts to a plate. Pour off the excess fat and reserve. 


Add 2 T duck fat back into the pot and add garlic. Stir and sauté for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until beginning to soften, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the red bell pepper and cook until it soften, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper.

Pour in the beers, chile mixture, and 4 C water into the pot. Nestle the duck breasts in the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the duck is tender, approximately one hour. Remove the duck to a plate, again.

Add the spinach, cilantro, and one generous ladle-full of the hot duck broth to a blender. Process carefully and pour back into the pot.

Rinse the rice and drain or pat dry with paper towels. In a large pan, add 2 T of the reserved duck fat. Add the rice and stir to coat with the fat. Let the rice cook for a few minutes until the grains look dry and a little toasted.

Add the toasted rice to the hot broth. Bring to a low boil and simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add the peas to the top of the rice, cover the pot, and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, and fluff the rice with a fork, incorporating the peas into the rice. Cover and let steam, off the stove, for 10 more minutes.

While the rice is finishing, shred the meat from the duck breasts. To serve, fold the shredded duck into the rice. Garnish with more cilantro. Serve hot.

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