Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inside Out Cookies & Cream Cake

Day 105

I don’t know if there’s a rule about using the word Oreo in a cake title without permission, especially if there are no Oreos to be found in the cake. To be safe, we called this one “cookies and cream”, but the absolutely best (and strangest!) thing about
Photo by Taylor Fowler
today’s cake is that it tastes a lot like the cream filled chocolate cookie.

This recipe is another from my daughter, Tate, whose baking skills really are very impressive. She made this for a dinner party last weekend, and it was a hit. Because she and I agree that there is no better cake recipe than the chocolate one she introduced on Day 99 (“Decadent Chocolate Cake”), she recycled that recipe for this cake*. The icing is another story. She searched the Internet for a buttercream that sounded interesting and happened upon several recipes that she merged to make her own. This takes lots of whipping, so you’ll definitely want an electric mixer. Finally, once cooled and iced, she shaved chocolate for the top, but you could actually crumble Oreos just before serving, or sprinkle it with your own flavor preferences. 

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
¾  cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
1½  tsp. vanilla
1 cup boiling water 

1. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom, and grease the sides.
2. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together.
3. Add eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Add vanilla to boiling water and add to mixture. Mix well.
5. Pour into two 8-inch cakes pans, about halfway up the pans, and bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. 
6. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.  

Icing Ingredients: 
3 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
4½ cups powdered sugar
1½ tsp. Vanilla extract
4 tbs. heavy cream

Icing Directions: 
Whip butter for 7-8 minutes with an electric mixer. Scrape down sides occasionally. Butter should change color from a rich yellow to a  very pale yellow to white. 

Add half of the sugar and incorporate. Add vanilla, one tablespoon of heavy cream, and remaining sugar, beating until completely incorporated. 

Add rest of heavy cream, beating on low for 4-5 minutes, until frosting is fluffy and air-filled. If frosting looks too hard, add an additional tablespoon (or two) of heavy cream.

The icing should be very spreadable and smooth, but not too soft. 

Once cakes are cooled, frost and decorate. Store in refrigerator until 30-40 minutes before serving, then rest at room temperature before slicing to maximize moistness. The cake can be stored in the refrigerator until service if you prefer a colder cake. 

*Original cake recipe can be found at this link: 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Arugula Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Day 104

With the month of June in full swing, it’s only appropriate to try a delicious salad that combines the textures and flavors of summer. This arugula salad is best served on a platter and pre-tossed in the vinaigrette just moments before eating. The sweetness of the honey pairs nicely with the bitter green and the grapefruit. This salad will be a hit this season, for sure.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2015
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2015

Arugula Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 cups washed baby arugula
½ red onion, sliced
½ cup pine nuts, toasted*
½ cup fried onion straws (I used French’s)
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 very large beet (or 2-3 small beets), roasted and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 small pink grapefruit, cut into wedges without white membrane

3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
½ olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs. honey
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. plus salt to taste


*To roast pine nuts, you can place them in a dry sauté pan on medium high heat. You must watch them carefully, as they burn quickly. If you prefer the microwave, Alton Brown offers directions at this link:

To make the vinaigrette, place the vinegar, ½ teaspoon of salt (you can always add more later to suit your taste), black pepper, and garlic in a mason jar. Use a fork to blend the ingredients. Add the Dijon mustard and mix again with a fork. Add the olive oil and honey. Close the lid and shake vigorously until all ingredients are combined. Mustard acts as an emulsifier, so there shouldn’t be lots of separation. Store at room temperature until ready to dress the greens.

To make the salad, in a large glass mixing bowl, toss the arugula in some of the vinaigrette, starting with a ¼ cup only. Toss well, noticing how quickly the dressing can coat the greens. Add more vinaigrette, if desired. How much dressing is up to you, but remember that salad can become over-saturated very quickly.

Place the greens on a large platter. Toss the beets in a small amount of the leftover vinaigrette, then save the rest for another time. Sprinkle beets and all remaining salad ingredients over the greens. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Summertime Sherbet

Day 103

I faithfully follow and try so many of Ree Drummond’s recipes after watching her show, The Pioneer Woman, that I couldn’t possibly include all of my attempts here. Sometimes, though, I happen upon one of her recipes that stands above the rest, and considering that all of her recipes are outstanding, that’s really saying something! If you haven’t watched The Pioneer Woman on Food Network, start today. She’s real, she’s funny, she’s a devoted Christian mother and wife, and she’s an inspirational cook, to boot. I can’t say enough nice things.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2015
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2015

Yesterday, while watching an episode, she made Cherry Pomegranate Sherbet. I had to try it. I rushed to the market for the ingredients, and less than 24 hours later, we had some of the best, most refreshingly creamy sherbet I’ve ever had in my life. Please try this. Follow the link below to The Pioneer Woman’s recipe, and I’ve also copied it here for your convenience.

Homemade ice cream of any sort reminds me of my childhood. My best friend growing up, Susan, had a wonderful grandmother who made homemade ice cream several times during the summer months on her farm. Her country cooking could not be rivaled. She would invite the whole family—and even a few of us who were honorary family members since we visited so often—over for a fish fry and an ice cream social. I remember peach, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams, churned from her old-fashioned, hand-cranked maker. We’d all take turns rotating the crank until it was ready, then we didn’t even wait for it to be frozen for a few hours to eat it; we just dug right in. It was perfect. I wish I could rewind time and enjoy a hot summer day, barefoot on the creek bed, waiting for the call that the fried catfish was ready, with ice cream soon to follow.

Make some of those memories with your family soon, and start with this sherbet recipe from The Pioneer Woman. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

*Note: I did make one change. Because I prefer very, very creamy sherbet, I actually adjusted the milk to cream ratio, in favor of heavy cream. So (I hope you’re sitting down for this decadent news…), I added 1 cup plus one tablespoon of heavy cream and ½ cup of whole milk. The result was a very, very creamy variation that I like. A lot. You decide.

Cherry Pomegranate Sherbet

3 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
½ cup pomegranate juice
1 ½ cups whole milk* (see note above)
1 tbs. heavy cream* (see note above)
Juice of 1 lemon

Add the cherries to a saucepan with the sugar and pomegranate juice. Bring to a slow boil and cook until the cherries are soft and the liquid is syrupy, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Add the cherries and juice to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, stopping short of totally liquefying it if you'd like a little pulp. Add the milk, cream and lemon juice and blend briefly.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions, and then transfer to an airtight freezer container and freeze for at least 24 hours before serving.
Photo by Taylor Fowler
P.S.- The Drummonds have a Basset Hound named Charlie who is the main character in a few children’s books. For obvious reasons, I’m smitten. Here’s Emmylou, waiting and hoping every day for a letter from Charlie.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

Day 102

My daughter, Tate, created this delicious biscuit recipe, using and modifying my traditional recipe. They melt in your mouth and are very worth the effort! Please try them for your next dinner; they complement almost every meal! As an aside—and a most worthy one at that—as we were enjoying these biscuits, hot from the oven, Tate mentioned that they were inspired by her late step-grandfather, Danny. He made these for his family often, and she was always happy when they were on his dinner table. A loving man and grandfather who inspired a great recipe is definitely worth a mention here, and I’m thankful that he was such an inspiration to her. 
Photo by Taylor Fowler

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

2½ cups self-rising flour (I recommend Martha White if it’s available)
1 stick very cold butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk
1½ cups shredded Colby Jack or Cheddar cheese 
¼ cup melted butter
finely chopped fresh thyme and rosemary (dried will work too)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. 

Place flour in large mixing bowl. Add cubes of butter and use pastry cutter, two knives, or your clean fingers to combine the butter and flour until the mixture forms small pearls and is fully incorporated. Make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture, and add buttermilk. Fold together until dough is sticky. Add cheese and fold until thoroughly combined. 

Flour surface and roll dough to ½ -¾ inch thickness and use biscuit cutter to cut biscuits. Place on parchment lined cookie or baking sheet, sides nearly touching. Brush each biscuit with butter and sprinkle thyme and rosemary on each. 

Bake in 475 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until biscuits have risen and are a slightly golden brown. Serve with butter.