Stacked Salad with Lemon Zest/Thyme dressing

This is a salad I saw someone make on television many years ago and I’ve made it over and over ever since.  It’s easy to do–you need some “rocks” glasses that are are about an interior circumference of 2 1/2 2 3/4 inches.  You need something kind of heavy in the bottom so I usually use one layer of lox but I’ve made them all vegetarian also using several layers of thinly sliced mushrooms in the very bottom–here’s what you need:

In the bottom of a rocks glass start with

  • A small sprinkling finely diced red onion and capres
  • On thin layer of smoked salmon or lox
  • one or two layers of very thinly sliced cucumber–peeled or not
  • one or two layers of VTS yellow zucchini
  • one layer only of VTS red onion
  • one or two layers of VTS Roma tomato
  • one or two layers of VTS white mushrooms
  • Other choices:  grated carrot, VTS beets–they do bleed a bit, VTS colored bell peppers, etc.

When your stack is about 2 inches deep–stop!  It will not un-mold properly if you try to get it higher than that.  Give a squeeze of lemon in each glass and cover with plastic and place in the fridge for several hours.  The longer they sit the better they’ll un-mold.  While they’re chilling make this dressing:

  • about 1/4 C fresh lemon juice–it’s about 1 and 1/2 lemons
  • fine zest of one lemon–zest the lemon before you juice it
  • 1 T seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/3 C good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large pinch Drew’s salt or equivalent
  • about 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • As always shake all the ingredients in a lidded jar

When you’re ready to serve, place the rocks glass upside-down in the center of a large plate and allow the stacked salad to fall out of the glass–if it sticks at first just let it sit there for a moment or two–it nearly always drops out in good time!  Drizzle a small amount the lemon dressing on and around the salad–your guests will be delighted.

 

 

 

Marzipan Cake–Cut!

I put the raspberry jam on both interior layers but it was a mistake–next time I’ll just do one layer.  I made a French ivy decoration on top with some fresh spring flowers from my yard.  This cake was so delicious and beautiful–very fun trying to recreate it!

Marzipan Cake a la “Scandinave”

So for many, many years in Salt Lake City there was a Scandinavian bakery in the Sugarhouse area.  The cakes was not too sweet on the inside–had a luscious layer of firm whipped cream in the center.  Like many European cakes–it was lightly soaked with a syrup and had a layer of seedless Raspberry Jam.  The outside had a perfect layer of natural marzipan rolled out to a thickness of 1/8 inch–it’s difficult but try not to have it thicker than that.  Roll out the marzipan in powdered sugar and make sure the marzipan is at room temp.  I used about 17 oz of marzipan and I had quite a bit left over around the edges.  I watch a video on how to marzipan a cake and it was helpful.  There really no recipe here except for the cream which I’ll give you:

So you need to make a sponge cake which is not very sweet, a bit dry and has holes in the crumb.  There is no fat in a sponge—also called Genoise in French.  I made it in a square baking pan about 10 X 10 inches.  After baking and cooling I cut the cake in half through the middle to make 2 layers–then I wrapped the cake in plastic and placed in the freezer.  I used a recipe off the web where “Natasha” had a Youtube video:  natashaskitchen.com.  The other ingredients are:

  • About 2/3 C simple syrup—I used the juice off of canned peaches
  • 1-2 T Grand Marnier or Rum
  • Seedless Raspberry Jam
  • Heavy whipped cream icing made with Neufchatel Cheese and about 2 C of cream and 1/3 C Sugar—I may put some oranges zest in the cream
  • RECIPE FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
  • 2 C heavy whipping Cream
  • 1 6 oz package Neufchatel-style cream cheese–softened to room temp
  • 1/3 C sugar

In a large stand mixer with the whip attachment whip the softened cheese and the sugar until smooth.  On medium speed add the first cup of whipping cream–whip on med speed until the cream begins to thicken.  Stop the mixer and using a rubber spatula make sure you get all the cheese dislodged from the bottom of the bowl–return the mixer speed to medium and the remaining cream and whip to firm peaks on medium speed.  Do not over beat of the cream will turn to butter!  This makes enough cream to generously fill the middle layer, speed a thin outer layer over the cake and there’s enough left to decorate with shells and small decorations on top.  You’ll need a jar of seedless raspberry jam for a thin layer in the cake and before adding the cream you brush the inside layers and later the top with the syrup.  (Seems complicated but just try it!)

  • 1 1/2, 7 oz tubes Marzipan rolled out thin–1/8 inch approx.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Couscous Tabbouleh

  • 1 package of Near East Couscous—the instant kind is what I get, I got the roasted pine nut flavor and it really worked great
  • ½ C finely diced red bell pepper
  • ½ C rinsed and drained garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 medium Cucumber—striped, seeded and cut into small dices
  • 1 rib celery cut into long narrow slices, then finely diced
  • ½ C Red bell pepper finely minced
  • ½ C ripe tomatoes finely diced
  • ½ C yellow squash finely diced
  • 1/4 C each finley chopped parsley and fresh mint
  • 2 T Good olive oile
  • 2 T Fresly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T Seasoned rice vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper or Drew’s salt plus white pepper

Prepare couscous according to directions and let cool.  Fluff with a fork as suggested.  Prepare all ingredients separately and toss veggies into the couscous.  Add the oil vinegar and lemon a bit at a time and taste after each addition.  Serve immediately

Yummy Date Cake out of the oven

The chunky apples kind of melt into the cake and just after a few hours the cake is very moist.  I inverted the cake onto a cake stand and drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze laced with almond flavoring.  This cake is very moist, marbly-looking and has that old-fashioned comfort food allure.

Date Cake

So I made a really yummy cake yesterday by cleaning out my spice cupboard.  I had two different containers of dates getting dry and hard & about 1/3 C golden raisins in about the same condition.  I also had two gala apples starting to wither a bit in the fridge.  One other odd ingredient–about 1/3 C Vin de Glaciere which is an inexpensive version of a Northwest “ice wine.”  This was based on my banana bread recipe which I’ve used for years.  Here’s how I did it:

  • About 1/3 C chopped, pitted dates
  • 1/3 C raisins–any kind
  • 2 medium apples peeled, cored & thinly sliced then coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 C sweet, white dessert wine–you could use cream sherry
  • 1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 t. Ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. Nutmeg

I placed all the above ingredient in a microwaveable container & heated them for about 2 minutes–then I let this cool while I was preparing the cake.

CAKE:

  • 1 stick butter or margarine at room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 c sour cream or buttermilk or plain yogurt (or you can “sour” the cream by adding 1 t vinegar to 1/4 fresh cream

In a stand mixer cream the butter, sugar & eggs using a batter paddle until creamy & fluffy.  Place the dry ingredients on top of the egg mixture, add the sour cream & place the cooled fruit mixture on top.  On the slowest speed fold all the ingredients together.  Do not over mix!!!  After several turns of the paddle take the bowl off the stand finish folding everything together by hand.  The batter should be really thick, chunky and marbled.  I spray a bundt pan with bakers joy and evenly place the batter in the bundt.  Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Cake is done when the cake is springy to the touch or a toothpick comes our clean.  Invert onto a cake plate after 15 minutes.  Let cool–I made a simple powdered sugar glaze flavored with almond.  (Photos to follow.). It was moist & delicious!

Crustless Quiche Bites

Many years ago on my first stay in France I learned how to make a French Cheese tart which required making a white sauce first.  At the same time I was a frequent purchaser of a breakfast-sized Quiche–nearly every morning from a local Patisserie.  I tried some recipes for Quiche which just made a custard of cream and eggs poured over the fillings into a pie shell.  I didn’t like this kind of quiche as I found it to be gummy and after a  little while the custard would start to break down and become very watery in the bottom.  So I started early on making a white sauce first and add the beaten eggs to that and I got a better texture and it was more reminiscent of the small quiches I was getting at the French bakeries.  These little quiche bites I just dreamed up from the same recipe and baked them in a small, bite-sized muffin tin.  (The first batch I made stuck a bit to the pan so subsequent batches I sprayed the pan very well with cooking spray and dusted it with corn meal and from then on the mini quiches just popped right out.)  Here’s the recipe for Crustless Quiche batter:

  • 2 1/2 T Butter
  • 4 T flour
  • 1 2/3 C whole milk
  • Salt and pepper or Drew’s salt + white pepper (to Taste)
  • 2 large handfuls grated cheeses–any kind–I used cheddar/jack combo
  • 1/3 C finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 C Finely cut green onion (I used only the green tops)
  • 1/2 C small diced ham or you could use bacon–this need to be small cut
  • 5 eggs beaten
  • Paprika sprinkle

In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and stir in the flour to form a roux–I let the roux cook for a minute or two but it does not need to brown.  Add the milk, seasonings and stir constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens into a THICK white sauce.  Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook and stir and let the sauce bubble several minutes–the flour needs to cook completely.  Remove from the heat and let cool 15 or 20 minutes while still stirring from time to time.    Add the cheese and stir until its mostly incorporated and then stir in the chopped ingredients.  Beat the eggs and stir them into the sauce–(the sauce should now be cool enough to accept the eggs–do not pour the eggs into the sauce while its too hot!)  Now you have a batter–I found your quiches puff better if you let the batter set for up 30 minutes.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees–generously spray the mini muffin tin(s) and dust with corn meal.  Using a table spoon fill each tiny cup in the tin with the batter–I filled them to the top.  Bake for 20 minutes–they will be really puffy and should be starting to brown and firm to the touch.  While still hot you may lightly dust them with paprika just to enhance the color.  You can serve now, when they are at room temp, or you can chill them and reheat later in the microwave.  They are delicious and not too fussy since your screwing around with pie dough.  Bon Apetit!

 

Crustless Apple Pie–Taken from Delish

Crustless Apple Pie

  • 6 large baking apples, halved vertically and cored
  • 12 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 generous T granulated sugar for each apple half
  • 2/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • about 4 T Butter
  • about 4 T Brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • (Combine the above to make a streusel)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
  • Warm caramel, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each apple half flat side down and use a paring knife to create thin slices all the way across, making sure to stop slicing right before the bottom of the apple (so it stays together as one piece). Transfer apple halves to prepared baking sheet.
  • Lightly brush apple tops with melted butter mixed with the cinnamon and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake until apples are soft and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. In a small bowl, combine remaining melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and oats. Once cool enough to handle, spoon mixture inside apple slits.
  • Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more.
  • Top each with a scoop of ice cream and serve
  • (This is one of the best desserts we’ve made at Ecole Dijon in a long time–it was easy but really made an impression!)

Photo of Plated Pork with Maple/Sage Glaze & Snow Peas

Sautéed Snow Peas

  • 1 1/2 lbs snow peas—I de-string them like to do for string beans
  • 2 T finely minced shallots–I mince several shallots at a time a pour white wine over them–they will stay preserved for months
  • 2 T Butter–I bought Kerry Gold butter for this
  • 1 T oil
  • Salt and Pepper or Drew’s salt
  • ½ C White wine

So in a sauté skillet, heat the butter just to the point where it starts to brown and add the oil.  Add in the shallots and cook for about a minute before adding the snow peas and the seasoning & sauté for 3-5 minutes—you don’t want to overcook them.  You need you skillet quite hot–even if a few of the peas start to brown–that’s a good thing.  Cook another minute or so and add the wine. Cook until the wine is nearly dissipated and serve immediately.