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




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.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CHICKEN À LA KING

The origin of Chicken à la King has been disputed over the years. One claim is that it was created at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City. Another version claims it was created at the Claridge's Hotel in London. Another account is that it first appeared in the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, and yet another is it was created at the Brighton Beach Hotel in Brooklyn, New York. We do know for sure is that it was created in the late 1800s. I prefer my version without green bell peppers and pimentos. 
You can also shred the chicken into smaller pieces and serve it inside crêpes instead of over rice, noodles, or toast points.


4 cups chicken broth                                                  
3 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces
¼ cup unsalted butter
12 white mushrooms, sliced
2 large shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry sherry
1 t paprika     
1 t dried thyme                                                          
1 cup crème fraîche or cream, or half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T snipped fresh chives or parsley
1 ½ cups long grain and wild rice blend, cooked                                
                                   
Put broth and chicken in a skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Cover with a lid and gently poach chicken in broth for about 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through.
Transfer chicken to a bowl and pour broth into a 4-cup measuring pitcher and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. 
Add shallots and sauté another 5 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté one more minute.
Add flour and stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in the sherry, paprika, thyme, and broth and bring to a boil, while stirring.
Simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
Add crème fraîche, cream, or half-and-half. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken to the sauce and stir in.
Simmer for about 5 minutes and serve over hot cooked rice, noodles, or toast points.

Sprinkle with chives or parsley, for garnish


Serves 4