For the Fourth of July, a rich, dark chocolate, raspberry cake celebrates the flavors of summer. The raspberries were harvested from Pahlman Farms, but the blueberries were store bought. Our blues won’t be ready for a couple of weeks yet. The frosting recipe was gleaned from Giada De Laurentiis’ Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake. The cake is triple layers of devil’s food from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine’s The New Best Recipe. I probably over-beat the batter as the layers came out a little thinner than expected, although they were still moist and had a light crumb.
The secret ingredient was a generous brushing over each layer with Chambord liqueur, which is optional if you are abstaining.
I served this a my father-in-law’s lake party. As soon as I began cutting, a line of appreciative friends and family began to form. I managed to sneak a slice for myself but forgot to set one aside for my husband at the grill station. Alas. Perhaps I only need an excuse to make it again.
When life hands you lemons, get cracking, break some eggs and make a great pie.
The Seahawks had an early game against the Atlanta Hawks today, so we decided to go South for menu inspiration. My home state of Iowa may have fought for the North but I do feel a kinship with the country cuisine of the South.
- Buttermilk Biscuits from Cooks Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe I trust this cookbook so I followed this recipe to a tee. These were the best biscuits I’ve ever made.
- Country Sausage Gravy This dish turned out amazing. I omitted the red pepper flakes since we were hosting small children at this get-together. Also left out the salt as processed sausage has plenty of sodium. One of our guests has a poultry allergy so I substituted veggie bouillon cubes for the chicken. The sage came from the herb garden at Pahlman Farms. No resemblance to the pasty glop of interstate diners, this hearty gravy is packed with onions and peppers, adding some needed veg into an otherwise dairy and carb loaded meal. I’ve a mind to try adapting a veggie version with mushrooms and double the garlic, sage and thyme instead of sausage.
- Cheesy Grits We didn’t do grits back in Iowa although we grew a lot of corn. I suppose it’s one of those little regional differences like tenderloin sandwiches or secessionism but I’m willing to adopt any tradition that includes this much dairy.
- Scrambled Eggs with a pinch of sage from the garden.
- Country-style pork sausage links The morning football crowd is a carnivorous horde. Also it’s easy finger food for the tots.
The best thing I’ve made in the kitchen lately is a Pavlova. A few years ago, a co-worker brought one to a holiday potluck. I’ve been thinking about trying it myself since then but was worried my oven would be too flakey to pull off such a delicate dessert.
All such concerns were unwarranted. It turns out that low and slow is my oven’s speciality. All the cracking and deflation as it cools add to the Pavlova’s charms. In the end, it all gets filled in with whipped cream and fruit. We pause here to lick our lips in remembrance.
If I were to change anything next time, I wouldn’t sweeten the whipped cream as the meringue is itself such a sugar bomb. Oh yes, there will be a next time.
Loosely continuing the breakfast for dinner theme, this week found me eating not sandwiches, not pizza, but toast. We picked the last of the tomatoes from the garden where lettuce is a faded memory and I cooked them down with some olive oil, salt, pepper, a splash of balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh basil. While the tomatoes were turning spreadable, I brushed baguette slices with olive oil and toasted them on one side under the broiler. The sweet tomato spread was smeared over the un-toasted side, topped with shaved Parmesan and finished with a quick turn under the broiler to melt the cheese and toast the edges of the bread.
Oh, and we had crab. Do you like how I just dropped that in? Like it’s only a side dish. I mixed Dungeness crabmeat with a little olive oil, green onions, and shredded Jack cheese. This also went on toasted baguette slices and the requisite turn under the broiler. Mmm toast, I’m feeling warmer just remembering it.
Fall is here which means football which means food. Morning games are my favorite because I can make breakfast. Or do we call it brunch if it’s a party and alcohol is served? Anyway, this week’s menu inspiration came from Skillet Diner. Z took me there for my last birthday and we’ve been back already. He knows I love breakfast for dinner. It reminds me of rare nights when Dad was away and my Mom would make strange suppers, like spaghetti or pancakes. Eating a waffle with a cocktail feels like getting away with staying up late.
Mom never made cornmeal waffles but I think both she and Dad would like these. I used the basic King Arthur Flour Crunchy Cornmeal Waffles recipe without the optional ingredients or chili. Instead we had lots of sweet and savory bacon and maple syrup. The waffles didn’t turn out crisp like Skillet’s but I couldn’t talk anyone into complaining.
Sorry no photos this time. My phone died on Friday and I stupidly wasn’t able to get it replaced until today. It’s not like I don’t have other cameras in the house, but it’s a party and I’m lazy. Trust me, the waffles were gloriously golden and glistening under the syrup.
I’ve cooked more last week than in months. My parents were out to visit and it was non-stop party. BBQ steak and salmon, ice cream and blueberry cobbler for dessert, breakfast blueberry muffins, Thai BBQ chicken, summer salads, and fresh lemonade, not to mention all the delicious meals out visiting with our friends and extended families. No pictures though, being ridiculously distracted and with Internet-shy family members.