Tuesday, February 28, 2017

BUTTERMILK CAKE WITH VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

When I was a child, living on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, my family would drive to Virginia every Sunday. In the Spring and Summer, we would meet relatives somewhere in beautiful Virginia near a river or on Skyline Drive. My Aunt Dorothy would bring this delicious old fashioned buttermilk cake. 




2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda

½ t fine sea salt
¾ cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 t pure vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease an 8-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar.
Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
Blend in the buttermilk, alternately with flour mixture, into the creamed mixture. 

Using a rubber spatula, transfer batter into the prepared pan.
Smooth top with an off set spatula or a table knife.

Bake in center of oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting the cake.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ t fine sea salt
1 T pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream or buttermilk

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together the butter and vanilla until smooth.
Beat on high another 2 minutes.

Lower speed to medium and add sugar, alternating with cream.
Beat until it is a good spreading consistency.

Spread frosting onto cooled cake, either in the pan or on a platter.

Cut into 9 squares or 12 smaller squares.



Monday, February 27, 2017

BLOOD ORANGE, VODKA & ELDERFLOWER COCKTAIL

I found blood oranges in my grocery store a couple of days ago. I had the elderflower liqueur on hand, as well as the vodka, lime, and lemon thyme in my herb garden.
If you love blood orange juice, this could be your absolute favorite cocktail.



½ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
4 oz vodka
1 oz St Germain (elderflower liqueur)
Juice of 1 lime
Blood orange slices, for garnish
Lemon thyme sprigs, for garnish (optional)

In a small pitcher, combine the orange juice, vodka, St Germain, and lime juice
Stir to combine and pour into two cocktail glasses filled with ice.
Garnish with blood orange slices and a sprig of lemon thyme.

Makes 2 drinks




Sunday, February 26, 2017

SPANISH CHICKEN WITH RICE - Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo is a traditional Spanish and Latin American one-pot dish. I use a paella pan when I make it, but a heavy pot with a lid will work just fine. If you don't have saffron threads or powdered saffron, add a little more turmeric.


2 T avocado oil
2 T unsalted butter
8 oz Spanish or Portuguese chorizo sausage links, thinly sliced
10 bone-in chicken pieces, of your choice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 t paprika
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t freeze-dried or fresh oregano
½ t saffron threads (optional)
2 t ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 cups Arborio or Valencia rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 qt chicken stock
2 bay leaves

3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup small pimento-stuffed green olives, cut in half
1 cup frozen peas
Sliced roasted red bell peppers, for garnish
Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish

Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or paella pan.
Add the chorizo and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, until slightly crisp.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside.

Season chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika
Brown chicken on both sides then remove and set aside on the same plate.  

Add onion and bell pepper; sauté for 10 minutes.  
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add cumin, turmeric, coriander, oregano, and saffron. 
Stir in rice and add wine. 
Simmer for a couple of minutes.
Add stewed tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon.
Add chicken stock and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Return the chicken and chorizo to the pot and add the bay leaves.
Cover and simmer very slowly for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, remove and discard the bay leaves.
Add the green onions, olives, peas, and roasted bell pepper slices.
Cover again and simmer another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with hot sauce. 

Serves 4 to 6


Friday, February 17, 2017

POTATO PANCAKES WITH WILD SMOKED SALMON & HOMEMADE CRÈME FRAÎCHE

This is a wonderful brunch dish and all you need is a fresh fruit salad and maybe a Mimosa.
You can keep the cooked potato pancakes warm in the skillet or on a baking sheet in a 225 F degree oven until you are ready to plate and serve. 
Start your crème fraîche at least two days before you want to make this dish. You can also buy the expensive crème fraîche in your grocery store, but it is quite satisfying to be able to make your own.



¼ cup crème fraîche, homemade recipe below
1 t minced dill
1 t small capers, drained

1 baking potato, peeled
½ small onion
1 egg, beaten
1 T all-purpose flour
¼ t baking powder
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper
1 T avocado or coconut oil
¼ lb thinly sliced wild Chinook or Sockeye smoked salmon
Minced dill, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for garnish

In a small bowl, stir the crème fraîche with the minced dill and capers.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Using a box grater or food processor, coarsely shred the potato onto a clean tea towel.
I use a clean white flour sack tea towel.
Shred the onion onto the tea towel.
Gather up and squeeze out the moisture.

In a medium bowl, mix the shredded potatoes and onion, egg, flour, and baking powder.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet or griddle, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Using an ice cream scoop, drop mounds of the potato mixture onto the skillet.
Flatten with the back of the scoop to make a 4-inch round pancake.
Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Flip over and cook another 5 minutes.

Place on two warm plates and top with a slice of smoked salmon, a dollop of the crème fraîche mixture and a sprinkling of minced dill.

Serves 2


Homemade Crème Fraîche
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 T fresh lemon juice



Pour cream into a clean canning jar fitted with a clean lid and screw on band.
Add the lemon juice.
Stir vigorously and cover with a clean piece of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band or a new or clean knee high stocking.


Let sit in a warm spot for 24 hours.
Stir contents and screw on lid and refrigerate up to two weeks.