Plush Coconut Cake

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This cake is being devoured by the boys and one of their friends as I write this. I’m not sure there’s going to be any left by the time I finish this post.

This is a one-bowl cake that takes no time at all to make. It has a faint coconut taste and it’s quite moist. It’s a bit heavier than a typical layer cake, and has a slightly larger crumb. For me, the glaze pushes this delicious cake over the top; I’m a sucker for a good frosting.

I was happy to make this today because earlier this morning I made some healthy oatmeal bars (I hope to post them soon) that called for 1/2 cup of coconut milk. I then had most of a can of coconut milk sitting around. I didn’t want to toss it, so I decided to try this cake. I had bookmarked it a while ago. The remaining coconut milk was almost enough for the cake, so I added a bit of heavy cream to top it up.

If you’re having company and need a quick, delicious dessert, this is it.

Today was a beautiful day. I took a free walking tour of Central Park with one of my sons this afternoon, and it was great. It was run by the Central Park Conservancy. I highly recommend their tours. They offer a number of tours of different parts of the park. I’ll definitely take another one.


Plush Coconut Cake
Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (285 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (110 grams) coconut oil, warmed just enough to liquefy
1 1/2 cups full- or low-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) plain vinegar

For glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk or cream (or more to achieve your desired consistency)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat the bottoms and sides with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add coconut oil, coconut milk, and vinegar and whisk until batter is smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes [updated to note: it’s sounding in the comments like it’s taking some people a bit longer — it’s not done until the center is set, even if it’s longer than it took me], or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out batter-free. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cut around it with a knife to ensure it is loosened and flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

For the glaze: Whisk together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and the vanilla. Add the milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached. You don’t want the glaze to be too runny. You want to be able to pour it on and have it slowly start to slide towards the edges of the cake. You can use a knife to spread the glaze as well. I used some orange sprinkles on mine for decoration.

Yield: 8 slices


One year ago: Burrata with Lentils and Basil Vinaigrette
Two years ago: Cake Batter Truffles
Three years ago: Stuffed Cookie Dough Bites
Four years ago: Gnocchi Verde (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)
Five years ago: Lemon Scones
Six years ago: Chicken and Rice Soup
Seven years ago: Cajun Jambalaya
Eight years ago: Red Velvet Cupcakes
Nine years ago: 
Parmesan Cheese Crackers
Ten years ago: Cardamom Spritz Cookies
Eleven years ago: Turkey Meat Loaf

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Instant Pot Tomato Soup

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I haven’t posted too many Instant Pot recipes on this blog, but I hope to post more in the near future. This soup is fairly easy to make. I love that you can add the ingredients to the Instant Pot, and after you sauté the onions and garlic, you can add everything else, set the machine to cook, and forget about it until it’s done. You then add a little cream, mix it with an immersion blender and you’re done. My husband and I ate it for dinner the other night with a side of macaroni and cheese and a green salad. It was a perfect, simple winter meal. I just ate the leftovers for lunch today. Do you think the boys liked the soup? You’re right. Nope.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup
Recipe from Peas and Crayons

1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil
3 carrots, chopped
15 oz. can tomato sauce
15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. dried basil or to taste
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar optional*
1/4 tsp oregano
3 oz. heavy cream or cream cheese (add to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Switch your Instant Pot to the sauté function and sauté onion in 1 tablespoon of oil for 3-5 minutes, until edges are golden and brown.

Next add garlic and sauté for a minute more. Add seasoning (salt, oregano, basil, and optional sugar, along with carrots, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and broth.

Set to high pressure for 15 minutes and allow to come to pressure, followed by a natural pressure release.

Add the heavy cream or cream cheese and puree using a hand held immersion blender until smooth and bisque-like. You can also blend the soup, in two batches, in your blender or food processor.

Taste the soup and adjust broth/tomato/seasoning to taste.

Yield: 4 servings


One year ago: Caramelized Shallots
Two years ago: Cake Batter Truffles
Three years ago: Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin
Four years ago: Individual Mac and Cheese Cups
Five years ago: Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies
Six years ago: Chicken, Ham and Cheddar Roll-Ups
Seven years ago: Zvi’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Eight years ago: Coconut Blondies
Nine years ago: 
Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
Ten years ago: Shrimp with Spiced Masala and Coconut Milk
Eleven years ago: French Lentil Soup

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Pear Crisp with Vanilla Brown Butter

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I love a good pear or apple crisp in the winter. Warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s fantastic. This crisp has a fantastic topping. My usual toppings have a base of flour, butter, sugar and sometimes oats. This streusel topping is loaded with ground almonds and it’s so delicious! Because of the healthy almonds and pears, this dessert can double as a breakfast in our house. When I was growing up, if there was ever apple pie left over from dessert, my mother declared it a breakfast item, so that’s where I get it.

The original recipe calls for six individual gratin dishes. I made my crisp in two larger ones. You can use either. The recipe also calls for pear brandy or eau-de-vie. Who has that lying around? I certainly don’t. I used dark rum instead, but only used 3 teaspoons because I didn’t want to overwhelm the pear flavor with too much rum. It worked perfectly.

My husband and I loved this recipe, as did one of my sons. The others had no interest in trying it. I think that’s crazy.

Pear Crisp with Vanilla Brown Butter
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, slightly adapted from Gourmet, Oct. 2007

For topping :
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole almonds with skin
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (or slightly more) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling:
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 lb firm-ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears (about 6), peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons pear brandy or eau-de-vie or in a pinch, dark rum

Make topping: Pulse together flour, almonds, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and pulse just until blended. If your crumbs look like sand, you will need more butter. Add one tablespoon of additional melted butter at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the crumbs look like big crumbles, not sand. When done, coarsely crumble in a shallow baking pan and chill at least 1 hour. 

Make filling and bake crisps: Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small heavy saucepan, then add pod and butter and cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes. 

While butter browns, stir together sugars, flour, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add pears and brandy and toss to combine.

Discard vanilla pod, then toss butter with pear mixture. Spoon filling into gratin dishes and sprinkle with topping, mounding it slightly in centers. Put in a shallow baking pan and bake 30 minutes, then rotate baking sheet and bake until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature on a rack. 

Do ahead: The topping can made in advance, chilled and covered for up to two days. The crisps can be assembled (but not baked) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring them room temperature before baking. 

Yield: 6 servings


One year ago: Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Two years ago: Cake Batter Truffles
Three years ago: Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
Four years ago: Shrimp with White Beans, Spinach and Tomatoes
Five years ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies
Six years ago: Mini Hot Cocoa Cookies
Seven years ago: Zvi’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Eight years ago: Quick Chickpea Curry
Nine years ago: 
Asian Pork Tenderloin
Ten years ago: Black Bean Brownies
Eleven years ago: Chicken Stew with Biscuits

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Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling

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These bars are both out-of-this-world, and award-winning! My son recently entered a baking competition at his high school during Spirit Week, and these bars took first place. They are loaded with flavor and not overly sweet, a nice combination of blueberry and lemon. Blueberry and lemon is one of my favorite fruit combinations. If you’re a fan of that combination too, try this scone recipe.

This recipe comes from the July ’08 issue of Fine Cooking, one of my favorite cooking magazines. These bars are great at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator. This is a perfect summer recipe when blueberries are in season.

Because of the oats and blueberries, in addition to being a dessert, this is breakfast in my book.

When you cut these, only do so after they’ve had a chance to chill in the refrigerator. The bars will cut much more cleanly if they’re cold.

Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling
Recipe from Fine Cooking

8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg, separated
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2-1/2 – 3 cups room-temperature blueberries (about 13 oz.), washed and drained on paper towels


Yield: 24 bars

One year ago:Gingerbread Biscotti
Two years ago:Cake Batter Truffles
Three years ago:Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
Four years ago:Quinoa and White Bean Burgers
Five years ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies
Six years ago:Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
Seven years ago:Cajun Jambalaya
Eight years ago:Cocoa-Banana Muffins
Nine years ago: 
Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
Ten years ago:M&M’s Cookies
Eleven years ago:Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Spiced Candied Almonds

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I love spiced nuts and I find these addictive. They’re great on their own but can also be added to a nice green salad for a sweet and spicy crunch. They also make a great hostess gift.

A word of warning, once you start eating these, it’s difficult to stop. I can easily eat a whole jar in a sitting.

For this recipe, you want to make sure you have some type of flaky sea salt, like Maldon. I don’t recommend using table or Kosher salt in this recipe. You also want to make sure that you’re going to be near your oven for the short time that these nuts need to bake because they need to be stirred every five minutes or so to make sure that they brown evenly.

I have made these several times in the last two weeks and I plan to make another batch today. They’re that good.    


Spiced Candied Almonds
Recipe via David Liebovitz, adapted from Almonds, Anchovies and Pancetta: A Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of by Cal Peternell

2 cups sliced almonds, natural or blanched
1/4 teaspoon curshed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Put the almonds in a medium-sized bowl along with the red pepper flakes, sea salt, and several generous turns of freshly ground black pepper.

In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir the syrup into the almonds so they’re completely coated.

Scrape the almonds into a mesh strainer set over a bowl or pan, and let drain 5 minutes.

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake the almonds in the oven until the almonds are golden brown, removing them from the oven to stir them twice during baking, so they brown evenly. They’ll take about 15 to 20 minutes to bake. Remove the almonds from the oven and let cool before removing them from the baking sheet.

Storage: Store the almonds in an airtight container. They can be left at room temperature up to two weeks.

Yield: 2 cups of nuts

One year ago: Gingerbread Biscotti
Two years ago: Cake Batter Truffles
Three years ago: Stuffed Cookie Dough Bites
Four years ago: Graham Cracker Bites
Five years ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies
Six years ago: Homemade Wheat Thins
Seven years ago: Orange-Scented Almond and Olive Oil Muffins
Eight years ago: Alsatian Pizza
Nine years ago: 
Honey Wheat Cookies
Ten years ago: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
Eleven years ago: Chewy Sugar Cookies

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The BEST Chocolate Cake

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I can safely say that this is the best chocolate cake I have ever made. It is really moist, even several days after it’s made, and it’s incredibly chocolatey. I have made a number of cakes that have “essence of chocolate’, as my grandmother used to say, meaning it barely had any real chocolate taste at all. This cake is not something you’re going to make a couple of hours before a party starts. For me, this cake took a couple of days to make; it’s definitely time consuming. I baked the three chocolate layers on the first day. When they were cool, I wrapped them tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight. This isn’t necessary, but I started baking at the end of the day, and there wasn’t enough time to make the frosting that night. The frosting is delicious and like no other that I have made before. I have never before put frosting in the freezer, then whipped it up again.
Try this cake if you have some time and you want to make something show-stopping. I brought this to our Thanksgiving celebration and everyone raved about it. We ate some of the leftover cake five and six days after Thanksgiving and it was still incredible.

This cake calls for one ingredient that you might not have in your kitchen cabinets: Lyle’s Golden Syrup. It’s worth finding. Worst case, Amazon has it (is there anything that Amazon doesn’t sell these days?)

 

 

The BEST Chocolate Layer Cake
Recipe from Fine Cooking

For the cake:
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
3/4 cup canola oil
4-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 3 cups granulated sugar
2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature 2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the frosting:

2-1/2 cups heavy cream
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
6 oz. (2 cups) natural unsweetened cocoa powder; more for decorating
1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Butter three 9×2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment, then dust with flour and knock out the excess.

In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the butter, oil, chopped chocolate, and 1 cup water. Heat over medium heat until melted.In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until combined.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.Set two pans on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no pan is directly over another. Bake, swapping and rotating the pans’ positions after 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

Make the frosting; In a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the cream, butter, and vanilla bean and seeds and stir until the butter is melted. Remove the vanilla bean and whisk in the chopped chocolate until melted. Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, syrup, and salt until smooth—be sure the cocoa powder dissolves completely. Pour into a 9×13-inch pan and freeze until firm, about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Assemble the cake; Remove the frosting from the freezer or refrigerator. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to soften. Change to a whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Put a cake layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while icing. Top the layer with 1-1/2 cups of the frosting, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula to the cake’s edge. Repeat with another cake layer and 1-1/2 cups frosting. Top with the last cake layer. Put 1-1/2 cups of the frosting in a small bowl. With an offset spatula, spread this frosting in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting firms enough to seal in the crumbs, 20 to 30 minutes.Spread the remaining frosting in a smooth layer over the top and sides of the cake. If necessary, you can rewhip the remaining frosting to loosen and lighten it. Remove the waxed paper strips.

Make Ahead Tips

You can bake, cool, wrap, and store the cake layers at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 1 month. You can refrigerate the frosting for up to 3 days. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours (return to room temperature before serving).


Yield: 16 servings


One year ago: Gingerbread Biscotti
Two years ago: Cake Batter Truffles
Three years ago: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Curry Chickpeas
Four years ago: Candied Orange Peel
Five years ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies
Six years ago: Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Seven years ago: Granola
Eight years ago: Boston Cream Pie
Nine years ago:
Pear Salad with Raspberry Cream
Ten years ago: Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Eleven years ago: Zucchini Gratin
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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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I wouldn’t usually be posting a recipe with raisins in it, because as a rule, I don’t love raisins, or mushrooms for that matter. That said, we have a neighbor, who is basically like family, that LOVES oatmeal raisin cookies. He recently had surgery, so I made these for him. Two of the six of us in my family told me that the cookies were really good (four of us don’t like raisins), so I decided to post the recipe in case I need to make them again.

I made these to send to our neighbor, even though he’s a Patriots fan. One of these years, our Jets will trounce the Patriots. It may be a while before that happens, but I’ll root for the Jets until it does.

If you like oatmeal raisin cookies, try these. They’ve received great reviews the few times I’ve made them.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (125 grams) light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup (120 grams) raisins
1/2 cup walnuts (65 grams), chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but they may end up slighly less thick.

Scoop the cookies onto the baking sheets and place them two inches apart. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Yield: ~24 cookies

One year ago: Loiusa’s Cake
Two years ago: Pumpkin Lentil Soup
Three years ago: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Four years ago: Mallobars
Five years ago: Sweet Potato-Sausage Soup
Six years ago: Marcus Samuelsson’s Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup
Seven years ago: Rosemary-Lemon Sandwich Cookies
Eight years ago: Weeknight Bolognese
Nine years ago:
Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops
Ten years ago: Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce

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Chocolate Nut Zucchini Bread

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One of my favorite cooking magazines is called Fine Cooking. I subscribe to their email newsletter, which is where I found this recipe. Having made it several times now, it’s being officially added to my rotation of quick breads. It’s not overly sweet, and it’s not overly chocolatey either, with just 1/3 cup of chocolate. It’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon. A slice is also nice as dessert after dinner.

Use chocolate chips if you don’t have bittersweet chocolate on hand and don’t skip the walnuts.

 

Chocolate Nut Zucchini Bread
Recipe from Fine Cooking

4 oz. (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter; more for the pan
9-1/2 oz. (2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
3/4 lb. zucchini (about 3 small), stem ends trimmed
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup strongly brewed coffee, cold or at room temperature
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt or buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (2 oz.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch metal loaf pan and dust with flour; tap out any excess.
Using the large grating disk on a food processor, pass the zucchini vertically through the feed tube to grate. (If the zucchini is too wide to fit, slice in half lengthwise.) Discard any remaining ungrated portions wedged on top of the disk. Transfer the grated zucchini to a colander or sieve set over a bowl. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the sugar over the grated zucchini and toss to distribute. Sprinkle another 1 Tbs. sugar over the zucchini and toss again. Set aside for 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Pour the butter into a medium bowl and let cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, coffee, yogurt or buttermilk, and eggs into the butter.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, chocolate, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Squeeze the zucchini by the fistful to thoroughly wring out excess liquid. Add the zucchini to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Pour over the flour mixture and, using a large wooden spoon, stir until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and release the bread, turning it upright onto the rack until completely cooled.

Yield: 1 loaf

One year ago: Veggie Nuggets
Two years ago: Pumpkin Lentil Soup
Three years ago: Giant Bubbles
Four years ago: Mallobars
Five years ago: Quick Poached Salmon with Mustard Dill Sauce
Six years ago: Granola-Crusted Nuts
Seven years ago: Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
Eight years ago: Pumpkin Muffins
Nine years ago:
Go Green Giant Calzone
Ten years ago: Broccoli Salad

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Plum Torte

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I have made this torte many times over the last year and I’m just getting around to posting the recipe. It’s delicious when plums are in season, and when they’re not, it’s quite tasty with berries as well. Make sure the berries on top are well packed; don’t leave too much interstitial space. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream are nice additions.

This is an incredibly easy recipe to make, it’s very forgiving, and it’s a great dessert to serve at a dinner party. It’s always a big hit.

 

Plum Torte
Recipe from the NY Times

3/4 to 1 cup sugar (I typically split the difference and use 7/8 cup of sugar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
2 eggs
24 halves pitted Italian plums (I use ~4 – 5 regular plums (not the small Italian ones) and slice each plum into 8 wedges and tightly pack them on top of the batter)
Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.

Spoon the batter into an 8″, 9″ or 10″ springform pan. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Tightly pack the fruit. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes. Watch the torte so it doesn’t burn or dry out. Remove from oven and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)

Yield: 8 servings

One year ago: No Bake Healthy Breakfast Cookies
Two years ago: Salted Caramel and Chocolate Rice Krispies Squares
Three years ago: Curried Peas and Tofu
Four years ago: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Energy Bars
Five years ago: Crispy Chicken and Apple Salad
Six years ago: Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano
Seven years ago: Classic Tomato Soup
Eight years ago: Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Nine years ago:
French Toast
Ten years ago: Fun Fall Cookies

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Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Chicken Skillet

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My husband said that this is one of the best chicken dishes he has EVER eaten! How’s that for an endorsement?

For me, this dish is reminiscent of the birthday meal that I chose year after year as I was growing up, Chicken Divan. for decades, it was my favorite, until I switched to my mom’s Eggplant Parm, and then her Cashew Chicken, which I still ask for today. This dish and Chicken Divan are not exactly the same, but both have a flavorful, creamy sauce over chicken and vegetables. Next time I make this, I will double the spinach and maybe even add a few more artichokes. I like dishes that are heavy on vegetables.

This is comfort food at its best. Serve it over rice or noodles. Leftovers are great too.

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Chicken Skillet
Recipe from FoodNetwork.com

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Four 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
1 cup half-and-half
One 5-ounce package baby spinach (about 4 cups)
One 14-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
Steamed rice, for serving

Whisk together the flour, 1 tablespoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a pie plate or shallow dish. Coat both sides of the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until deeply golden, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook the second side. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Pour in the half-and-half and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken back to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook, turning about halfway through, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F, 12 to 14 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. At this point, you can leave the chicken breasts whole or cut them into chunks (I like mine cut into chunks.) Add the spinach to the sauce in the skillet, cover and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the artichoke hearts and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the creamy sauce over the chicken. Serve with steamed rice.

Yield: 4 servings

One year ago: Cocoa Buttermilk Breakfast Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter
Two years ago: Tomato, Melted Leek and Feta Galette
Three years ago: Summer Squash Casserole
Four years ago: Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Five years ago: Chickpea Vegetable Stew
Six years ago: Apple Chips
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Eight years ago: Smoked Chili Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Nine years ago:
Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes
Ten years ago: Frosted Pumpkin Muffins

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