Green Sauce ~ Three Saucy Babes ~ Part 3

Green Sauce

Awwww…Green Sauce, you beautiful babe you!  You’re pretty, smart and voted most likely to succeed!  Dinner parties are more interesting when you’re invited as you simply light up the table!   Vegetables are more vibrant when you’re around.  Even the humble grilled cheese breathes a breath of fresh air when you come to call.

Green Sauce is relatively new to my kitchen but has quickly sprung to the top of my “must have” list.  Although this saucy babe shares similar ingredients with Salsa Verde, Chimichurri or Pesto (all of which I greatly enjoy), I find Green Sauce to be something quite different and delicious in its own right.  The parsley and basil swim around beautifully in the most perfectly salty/citrusy bath, lending a freshness to almost anything with which its is paired.   My “go-to” for a quick dinner party is Seared Steak with Green Sauce.  It’s fancy without being snobby,  never takes itself too seriously but always completely consumed to the great delight of my guests.

Grilled Steak, Roasted Carrots, Purple Sweet Potatoes, Corn and Green Sauce
Pan Seared Steak with Roasted Carrots and Purple Sweet Potatoes finished with Green Sauce.  Green Sauce pairs as beautifully with the vegetables as it does the steak!

I’m a big believer that sauce should enhance the food…not smother the food. It should be a compliment to the dish…not overwhelming to it. I find this sauce always delivers!

I recently dined at a fantastic New Orleans restaurant, Peche Seafood Grille, on Magazine Street.  One of the dishes we ordered that evening was whole Red Fish, the quintessential fish of choice for locals. Upon arrival to the table I was delighted to find that the entire top of the fish was covered with their version of Green Sauce!  What a compliment to this beautifully prepared dish!  I have also recently noted that one of Nashville’s acclaimed restaurants, Husk, also serves their version of Green Sauce with beef dishes.

Husk
Photo courtesy of HuskNashville.com
Grilled Provolone Cheese with Green Sauce
A break from blogging for a quick lunch.  Green Sauce and Provolone Grilled Cheese!  Hello versatile sauce!!!  Taste-y sammy!

GREEN SAUCE

  1.  Two cups packed flat leafed parsley leaves
  2. One cup packed Basil leaves
  3. One garlic clove
  4. 2 tsp. capers
  5. 2 anchovy fillets
  6. pinch red pepper flakes
  7. 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
  8. Juice of one lemon
  9. Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor or blender (blender will produce a Green Sauce Eclipsesmoother sauce and this is what I prefer) and pulse until leaves are broken down.  Stream in the olive oil, more for a loose sauce, less for one that is more dense.  Do not over puree’ but, instead, keep it a bit course in nature.

Serve atop meat or vegetables on a large platter or in a bowl for passing.

Recipe compliments:  Food 52  (my favorite food blog!)

Try your own variations with all three of these versatile sauces and share your results in the comments!   I just love hearing from you guys!!!  Cheers!!!

Three Saucy Babes
Three Saucy Babes; Salad Sauce, Good Gookamookee Sauce and Green Sauce

 

Good Gookamookee Sauce ~ Three Saucy Babes ~ Part Two

Good Gookamookee Sauce (pronounced; goo-ka-moo-kee) is HANDS DOWN my most often used and requested barbecue sauce.  But let me be clear…this is my dad’s prized sauce and he deserves all the credit!   When he first made it for our family, he declared “good gookamookee!” the name stuck, and a craze began!  For a lotta folks…it’s barbecue crack (beware people!…highly addictive!).  Just don’t let my dad see you put it on his smoked brisket!  By his rules, he decrees Good Gookamookee can accompany anything but brisket!  (Hmmm…I humbly disagree!…this sauce would taste good on a rock!  Love you dad!)

Good Gookamookee Sauce
I’ve heard the southernism “Good Gookamookee!” all my life.  My dad uses it anytime something is really tasty!  

Please allow me to “break it down” for a moment and elaborate on Good Gookamookee Good Gookamookee Pork Slider Anyone?Sauce and all its many culinary attributes.  It’s a mustard based sauce, highly reminiscent of those made famous in the Carolinas.  It’s wet.  You get me?  Wet!  Not thick and sappy sweet…but liquidy and slightly sweet with a nice little peppery kick and a pleasant vinegary burn. Because of the spiciness and acidity of the sauce, it also plays the role of marinade,finishing sauce, dipping sauce and dressing! Yep. This sauce is kick ass (sorry mom). I have used it in so many dishes I couldn’t possibly be able to account for them. However, it is most obviously and frequently used when barbecuing (my friend Trey swears by his Barbecue Grilled Chicken Thighs with Good Gookamookee Sauce) while my husband puts a little in pasta dishes! It’s delicious mixed in with hamburger meat before grilling with a continuous basting or as that “special something” in your favorite homemade soup. The Peach and the Willow Slaw that accompanies the pulled pork sandwiches in this blog uses Good Gookamookee Sauce as its slaw dressing! So you see…no other barbecue sauce pulls this much weight in the kitchen or at the grill. Without further adieu…I present to you the recipe for Saucy Babe #2…

GOOD GOOKAMOOKEE SAUCE 

  1.  2 cups Cider Vinegar
  2. 1 cup Brown Sugar; packed
  3. 1 cup yellow prepared mustard
  4. 3 tbsp Hot Sauce (I use Louisiana)
  5. 2 tbsp Black Pepper (I use course ground)
  6. 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  7. 1/2 tbsp Season Salt

Mix together and store in a jar or squirt bottle.  Gets better as it ages!!!!  I usually double this recipe because of how often I use it!

Pulled Pork Sliders with Good Gookamookee Sauce and Peach and the Willow Slaw.PNG
Pulled Pork Slider with Good Gookamookee Sauce and P & W Slaw

A Pulled Pork Slider is the ultimate summer crowd pleaser!  Poolside, lakeside, beach picnics or just a great lunch or supper at home, this is the ticket!  And EASY!  The only thing the pork requires from you is patience.  Here’s your step by step guide for Pulled Pork and Peach and the Willow Slaw.

PULLED PORK

Buy a pork butt or shoulder just big enough to fit in your Dutch Oven.  You will want a big Seared Pork Shoulder‘un cause you’ll want as much pulled pork as possible!  Turn stove burner on high and pour 2 – 3 TBSP of Vegetable Oil in the bottom of your pot, bringing up to high temperature but not smoking.  Generously salt and pepper your roast on all sides and sear the meat on high a couple minutes per side.  End with the fatty side on top (you want the fat to seep down into the meat).

Next, douse in 3 – 4 Tbsp Worcestershire over the top of the roast…Seared Pork Shoulder with Worcestershire

Cover pot, turn burner to low heat and walk away!  The secret to good stovetop pulled pork is cooking it low and slow.  I cooked mine a little over four hours but it could have withstood longer.  Check your pot every hour or so to make sure you have liquid at the bottom of pot…adding water as needed.  I didn’t add any water during my cook time.

Once done, remove roast to a cutting board until cool enough to handle.  Using your fingers, pull the pork into strips.  You will have a mound of beautiful pulled pork like this…

Pulled Pork

Some folks sauce their pulled pork at this juncture.  I find that my family likes to sauce as they go…some want more, some less.  This is totally up to your preference.  When the pork has been pulled, it’s ready to be stacked onto a slider bun, splashed with a little Good Gookamookee Sauce and topped with Peach and the Willow slaw…

Good Gookamookee Pork Sliders.PNG
Pulled Pork Sliders with Good Gookamookee Sauce and Peach and the Willow Slaw

Pulled Pork and Good Gookamookee Sauce go together like peaches and cream but if you want a truly elevated Pork Slider, add my Peach and the Willow Slaw.  I would say my slaw is like a classic vinegar slaw, but it’s not.  I would say it’s like Asian slaw, but it’s not!  So it’s simply “Peach and the Willow Slaw” and it’s my original.  Because this slaw is crunchy, spicy and sweet, it is a perfect pairing with the meat and soft bun.  And, since there is no mayo involved, it packs beautifully for any outdoor dining situation.  And let’s talk about the colors!  Don’t they say we eat with our eyes????  Check out these gorgeous slaw ingredients!

P & W Slaw
Gorgeous ingredients for Peach and the Willow Slaw

PEACH AND THE WILLOW SLAW

  1.  1/2 head of red cabbage, julienned
  2. 1/2 jicama, shaved into strips or julienned (if not available…no worries)

    Julienned Slaw Veggies
    Julienned Slaw Veggies
  3. 1/4 large sweet onion, julienned (I almost exclusively use sweet yellow onions in everything I cook…just my preference)
  4. 1 white carrot, shaved into strips (orange works…I like these better)
  5. 1/2 of granny smith apple, julienned
  6. 1/2 jalapeño, minced (Good Gookamookee is pretty spicy on its own so if you can’t tolerate a little heat, forego the jalapeño.  That said, most of my folks want it in there!)
  7. 1/4 to 1/2 cup Good Gookamookee Sauce
  8. Salt to taste (you will not need pepper…there’s plenty in the sauce)

Mix all together.  Done!  Yields 8 servings or enough toppings for  16 sliders.

Peach and the Willow Slaw
Peach and the Willow Slaw

All that’s left to do is pack your cooler with Pulled Pork, a jar of Good Gookamookee Sauce and your Peach and the Willow Slaw and head outside to play, eat and enjoy!  Pack your pulled pork in aluminum foil and throw the foil package on a hot grill to warm before serving.  It’s also fine room temp.  Assemble your sliders at your outing!  Super fun and easy!

Good Gookamookee Pork Sliders Lakeside
Pulled Pork Slider with Peach and the Willow Slaw – Lakeside!

Happy Summer Everyone!  Cheers!!!

Three Saucy Babes You Can’t Live Without ~ Part One

Three Saucy Babes
Portrait of Three Saucy Babes

Sound like rock stars, don’t they?  That’s because these Three Saucy Babes are culinary rock stars!!!  And with not a single “walk of shame” between them!  They bring the kind of giddy “sauciness” to my cooking life that I simply can’t live without in my kitchen!  Spiciness, sweetness, piquantness, freshness…each one adding their own fascinating and lively taste to the food I serve.  And with such great variation!  Are you in love yet?  You ready to turn them up to 11 and rip off the knob???  (Ha!…my attempt at humor has me cracking myself up.)

Introducing Three Saucy Babes:

  1.  Salad Sauce (aka, my go-to salad dressing)
  2. Good Goo-ka-moo-kee Sauce (aka, my favorite BBQ sauce that also doubles as a marinade)
  3. Green Sauce (aka, “Holy Moly that’s awesome sauce”…not to be confused with Chimichurri Sauce)

PART ONE (of a 3 Part Mini Series)

SALAD SAUCE – The “salad sauce” is really a beautiful vinaigrette especially designed for a Greek Salad.  I first became obsessed with it after seeing the recipe on the “How Sweet Eats” blog (her post is here) and have made it a staple in my fridge ever since!  Hear me loud and clear when I say this is EVERYONE’s favorite salad sauce in my circle of friends and family!  I’m always asked about it…by children, adults, parakeets…all walking and talking things really.  So make it tonight…and “I told you so!”

There are nine very humbling, very beautiful ingredients in this salad sauce (aka, dressing) that will elevate ANY salad you make from here until eternity.  Sure…you’ll wander off and flirt with the Green Goddess Buttermilk Dressing or dance with the Caesar Dressing…but you’ll never make those dressings your “go-to” salad sauce…your main squeeze…and this one, you will…

Dressing Ingredients
Salad Sauce Ingredients

 

Salad Sauce Ingredients:

  1.  1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  2. Juice of one large lemon
  3. 3 tbsp. good honey
  4. 4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  5. 1 tsp fresh dill weed (it’s ok to use dry dill if you don’t have fresh)
  6. 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 tsp pepper
  9. 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except olive oil.  Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil at the end.  I have also been known to pop the ingredients in a bottle and simply shake them up.  The salad sauce will be good to go sealed, in the fridge, for a week or so.

Salad Sauce
Salad Sauce will separate…but no worries!  Just stir it or shake it before serving.

Use it with any salad combination your heart desires.  I love the simplicity of this one made up of butter lettuce, radishes and shaved white carrots.  This salad literally “sings” when combined with my salad sauce!  Fresh, crisp, light and full of flavor!!!  Think about it?  Lemons, garlic, honey, a little vinegar and good oil and spices are the perfect summer playmates for your favorite bouquet of garden greens  and veggies.  Not to mention how quick and easy it is!

Simple Green Salad
Beautiful and Simple Salad – Undressed

You may recall that I declared this dressing as a staple or “go-to” for me?  You might even call it a building block in my kitchen.  Almost every salad variation I make like my Orzo Salad (my niece, Cally’s, favorite) or my Shrimp Salad, uses this dressing as its “sauce”.   What about grilled veggies mixed with crisp greens and crumbled candied bacon?  Marinate the cut grilling vegetables like onions, squash and red peppers in some of the salad sauce before putting them on the hot grill; after grilling, toss them in more sauce and add to the crisp greens and bacon!  I do this all summer long!!!!  Don’t worry, I’ll share some of these salads recipes, as well as others, in upcoming blog posts…

Up next?…Saucy Babe #2!  Good Goo-Ka-Moo-kee Sauce!  Your barbecue will never be the same!!!!!  This sauce will make sure of that!!!Three Saucy Babes

Cheers everyone!

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!!!  Insta:  @peachandthewillow

Pinterest: @peachandwillow

 

 

 

Sweet Lavender For a Sweet Mom ~ A Fragrant and Tasty Gift

Lavender Shortbread Cookie and Lavender Plant Gift Idea

A Lavender Themed Gift Basket is not only a unique and tasty gift idea for your mom this Mother’s Day, it can also be used for birthdays, housewarmings, retirements, thank you’s or any moment in life that deserves celebrating.  My mom loves shortbread, so shortbread sprinkled with Lavender buds should really pique her interest!!!!

As the years ramble by, I reflect more and more on the love and generosity my parents have always shown to us kids.  Their care and concern extend far beyond the years that we shared within the safe confines of our childhood home and this love remains steadfast today.  Mother’s Day is a time of reflection for me…and gratitude, of course.  As mamas go…I KNOW I have it good…the best!   I always try to find the perfect words to write or speak that will convey this to her.  For me, they always fall short.  Suffice it to say…although I am grown and  now a mother myself, my mom will always be THE MAMA BEAR.  We all know it…it’s all good.  So I celebrate her today and every day…for being loving, strong, compassionate, smart, tough, funny, blunt and beautiful.

If your mom is like mine, she already has EVERYTHING!  Not just a little bit of everything but a lot of everything!  So for many of us, finding the perfect token of our love and appreciation is not easy!  A Lavender Gift Basket is thoughtful and handmade (which she will love!)…even if you sneak and buy the cookies from a local bakery, a Lavender Themed Gift Basket is an unexpected treat!!!  My basket includes a potted Lavender Plant and homemade Lavender Shortbread cookies, but you could also take the theme further and include a Lavender Bath Bar or Body Scrub.  I love everything about this…and so will she!

A Lavender Themed Gift

The gift basket starts with none other than the basket!  You probably have one hiding in a closet right now that needs to be put to good use.  I liked how this one was lined with a linen cloth and outfitted with a chalkboard tag.  The fragrant and beautiful lavender is a potted plant I bought from my neighborhood grocery (Publix for me…but all big grocery stores seem to carry them).  Next, Lavender Shortbread gets lovingly stacked into a cone that I made out of brown kraft paper, then wrapped again in cellophane and finished with a pretty ribbon.  A personal sticker lets the recipient know what kind of treat they are receiving!  (Let’s face it, you don’t see Lavender Shortbread every day!)  For those that love this idea but have no time to bake shortbread, I have learned that The Nashville Cookie Bar bakes Lavender and Lemon Shortbread Cookies and I’m sure they would love to oblige.  You will find their website here.

The homemade Lavender Shortbread I baked is from a recipe found in a favorite cookbook that my mom gave to me.  Check out the following inscription.   It came on a random March day (no holiday involved…So my mom) with the following super sweet message…

To My Darling Daughter Sabrina  ~  Given to you by your mama on 3 – 14- 12.  May the sweetest lady in the world bring deliciousness to all who surround her table for the delectable treats she will create from this fabulous book.  If you do’t send some lavender shortbread my way, I must take this book back.  Much love to one who I love so very much.  Your Mom…Mama

If that’s not a hint…I don’t know what is!!!   Now…to be completely honest…I’ve never made these cookies for my  mom!  I gasp just thinking about the travesty!  The cookies and gift basket shown in these photographs went to a dear friend on her birthday.  So I have some splainin’ to do.  However, I can vouch for the deliciousness of these lavender shortbread cookies as the unique and most unexpected addition of the lavender is a perfect pairing with a cup of hot coffee or tea.  A cookie with floral notes?  Yes and yes!!!

Lavender Shortbread Cookie Dough
Lavender Shortbread Cookie Dough…just before they are popped into a 350 Degree Oven
Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Fresh from the oven, lightly golden, with flecks of lavender and glistening with dusting sugar
Lavender Shortbread Cookies on Pedastal
You know I had to keep a few for my family to enjoy.  How pretty they look sitting atop a white pedestal dish.

LAVENDER SHORTBREAD

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temp
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender (I bought mine from William-Sonoma)
  • About 1/4 cup granulated sugar for dusting (I love using the white decorating sugar, also from William-Sonoma)
  1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), beat the butter, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.  Turn the speed down to low, add the confectioners’ sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the flour in thirds, beating until just incorporated. Sprinkle in the lavender and mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  3. Take out paddle attachment and finish by mixing by hand to insure that the dough is thoroughly mixed.  The lavender should be evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  4. Use a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies, about 1 rounded tablespoon each, and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch between the cookies to allow for spreading.
  5. Flatten each cookie with the palm of your hand or a cookie stamp dusted with granulated sugar.  Dust the tops of cookies with sugar.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours, before baking.
  6. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 – 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the edges are lightly golden.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Variation:  Lemon Shortbread:  Substitute the grated zest of a 2 lemons for the lavender and 2 teaspoons extract for the vanilla extract.

Recipe courtesy of “The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook” by Cheryl and Griffith Day, Published by Artisan.

Lavender Shortbread Cookie
Hello Gorgeous!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mama’s out there!!!!!  You are special every day of the year!!!!

Roasted Pork with Whiskey Plum Sauce

My mama makes a MEAN Pork Roast.  It’s “slap your mama good”..pardon the pun!  My family and I grew up eating her roasts on Sundays and holidays, and the taste always conjures up those memories.  Lavish, over-filled plates of roasted meat, rice and gravy and fresh from the garden vegetables or ones pulled from the freezer from last summer’s harvest.  It conjures family and community and glorious chit chat that I long to remember and revel in my heart and mind.  No matter how many times I make Roasted Pork, it seems I always find myself dialing her number and asking the specifics of her recipe yet one more time.  Her tips no doubt change with each call…and that’s probably on purpose, don’t you think?  I mean, the magic she’s putting into her roast is her magic…the love and pixie dust she puts into her food is hers alone.  That magic is hard to communicate on a recipe card or pinterest board, or even in a phone conversation.  But still…I call, I ask, I attempt.

My Roasted Pork is a “riff” on my mama’s roast.  She would say, “well, you’ve gone and messed it up” but au contraire!  “Mama…wait ’til you get a load of this…and a taste!”  ROASTED PORK with WHISKEY PLUM SAUCE .  The sauce may change your life!  The tanginess of the plums marries so beautifully with the richness of the pork.  The faint sweetness of the whiskey is a delicious and unexpected note.  Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables as you serve or on the side as I have done and then make sure you have nice bread on the table to help clean the plate of all the saucey goodness!

Roast Table View
ROASTED PORK WITH WHISKEY PLUM SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 – 4 pound pork butt roast
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Plums, pitted and quartered
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, quartered
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Couple Splashes of Worcestershire
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh Rosemary
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 6 – 8 Red Potatoes, diced
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • All purpose Flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 shot of Whiskey (optional and I used Jack Daniels)
  1. Turn oven to 325 Degrees F.
  2. Place 2 Tbsp EVOO into Dutch Oven.  Turn stove top on high and heat oil (watch carefully…don’t burn the oil).
  3. Salt and Pepper your Pork Butt on all sides.  Don’t skimp…the roast can take it!
  4. Now sear the meat on all sides.  Make sure you end with fatty side up.  This way, the fat flows down into the meat while it’s roasting.  Juicy!!!
  5. Once the meat is seared, throw in your onion, minced garlic, plum and chopped rosemary… turn heat to med. high.
  6. Now douse with two or three splashes of Worcestershire Sauce over meat, plums and veggies.
  7. Pop into the 325 Degree oven…UNCOVERED.  It should look something like this going in…Roast Into Oven
  8. Walk away and cook for two hours.  Your home will be filled with the most delicious aromas.
  9. At the two hour mark, add your carrots and potatoes to the dutch oven.  I like to make sure I salt them as I layer the vegetables.  I also put a bit of the cooking liquid over the potatoes and carrots before returning to the oven.
  10. Set your timer and cook uncovered, one additional hour.  At the end of that time, your pot should look like this…Roast Out of Oven
  11. Turn off oven.  Remove the roast, potatoes and all but TWO carrots from the Dutch Oven onto a Serving Platter to rest.  Cover lightly with foil.
  12. The broken down bits of heaven that are left in the dutch oven should look like this and you are about to make sauce magic out of them.The Makings of the Plum Sauce
  13. Dump this mixture into a blender, reserving 1/4 quarter cup of the liquid drippings and leaving in the dutch oven.
  14. Pulse the roasted veggies and plums until pureed.
  15. Meanwhile, heat the reserved roasting drippings over a medium high heat.  Once bubbling, scatter a couple Tbsp flour into the reserved liquid and make a roux.  The flour will ball up immediately and at this point you will need to whisk in the chicken stock slowly.  Whisk out any lumps as it begins to cook and thicken, about 3 – 4 minutes.  It should look like this…Roux
  16. Return the roasted plum and vegetable puree’ back into the pot and cook on medium, stirring to heat through.
  17. Add the shot of whiskey and stir (optional).  Wait for the alcohol to cook out, about a minute, and then taste for salt and pepper.  Add as needed.  You may not need very much, if any, because you layered with salt as you added the vegetables to the roast.
  18. Simmer on low for about five minutes or until ready to serve.

Enjoy this meal anytime but it’s especially great for Sunday Suppers, Holiday Celebrations and Friends and Family Gatherings!  And one more thing!!!…Roast Pork leftovers make excellent Pulled Pork Sandwiches later and I will be sharing my crave worthy BBQ Sauce in an upcoming post that you will want to make again and again!

Until then…Cheers!!!  XOXO

Roasted Pork and Sauce
ROASTED PORK WITH WHISKEY PLUM SAUCE

My Favorite Pound Cake (Dressed up for Easter!)

Mandarin Orange Pound Cake - Half

When you grow up in the South as I did, you find that pound cake is in a food group all to itself.  You’ve had pound cake with strawberries and cream, pound cake with peaches and cream, with blackberries and cream, just whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.  You’ve had dry pound cake, melt in your mouth pound cake, TOO buttery pound cake (yes…there is such a thing), too dense pound cake, toasted pound cake, week old pound cake and on and on!  Pound cake is not seasonal for southerners, although we oftentimes pair it with fruits of the season as mentioned before.  And it always shows up on the Easter buffet…right along with the deviled eggs and potato salad seasoned with bacon fat.  My table will be no exception…but this year My Favorite Pound Cake will be getting “dressed up” in Easter finery with a flowery adornment of halo mandarins…an Easter Bonnet, if you will!

Reminiscent of the pineapple rings on a pineapple upside-down cake, the slices of fresh mandarin orange give this cake a sort of old world charm.  It’s rustic but beautiful…with the look of sunny spring flowers.   And the taste??!!!  A nectarous cake that is super moist and laced with a hint of citrusy sweet bitterness that comes across as very…hmmm…the best way I can describe it is sophisticated and clean.  Not too fussy…not overdone…not trying too hard cake.  Just simple and delicious.  And the look of the cake is stunning.  Halo mandarins are in season until April so including this particular pound cake for Easter should be no problem!  If for some reason you don’t like halos, just don’t include them in the recipe.  This pound cake is delish either way.

Mandarin Orange Pound Cake
A Cake as Pretty as an Easter Bonnet

The recipe for My Favorite Pound Cake is adapted from a Southern Living recipe published in 2006.  However,  I have tweaked it over the years using tricks of the trade handed down by friends and relatives who are GREAT pound cake bakers (Shannon Lollie and Connie Melzer to drop a couple names).  It is fail proof and amazing!!!

SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened (hint…throw in a dollop more)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour ( I use organic and unbleached)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I add a pinch more)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • (If making the mandarin orange version, include a couple Tbsp. of Cointreau Liqueur if you have it on hand)
  1. If making the Halo Mandarin Version of cake…start by slicing halos in four thin slices and assembling at bottom and side of greased and parchment lined tube pan.  You will use from 8 – 10 halos.  See picture for assembly tips. If you are making “My Favorite Pound Cake” without fruit…forego step one.Mandarin Orange Placement in Bundt Pan
  2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears.
  3. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture (this is important).  Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition.  Stir in extracts.  Pour into a greased  12-cup tube pan.  I also line the bottom and part of side with parchment to assure that the cake will come out clean.
  4. Bake at 325 Degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
Pound Cake in Bundt Pan
MY FAVORITE POUND CAKE fresh from the oven!

Should you want a nice whipped cream to accompany the Mandarin Orange version…this one would be perfect!

WHIPPED CREAM

Makes about 2 cups (Prep:  5 Min.)

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. orange Liqueur

Beat whipping cream at low speed with an electric mixer until foamy; increase speed to medium-high, and gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form.  Stir in Liqueur.

Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Slice
Buttery…Moist…Crunchy on the Bottom…Fruity on the Top

 

Mandarin Orange Pound Cake - Half

Fig and Walnut Crackers…The Perfect Cracker (Really!)

 

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I am arriving upon the seven year anniversary of my perfect cracker discovery.  It happened on a girlfriend trip to Chicago in ’09 where one of the four girlfriends was living at the time.  I arrived, sick as a dog, dosed up on God knows what and a steroid pack (great house guest, huh?) ready to hit Chi-town and have an adventure with my besties!   There was no way I was going to miss a long weekend full of laughter, museums, speakeasy’s, shopping, wine, food and friends.  Oh!  And the perfect cracker!  But I hadn’t discovered that yet…

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As we strategized the next few days around Nancy’s dining room table, glasses of red wine in hand and enough crazy chatter to require a translator,  Nancy served to us what would become my cheese board cracker obsession from that moment on.  I can still hear her announcing to us like it was yesterday, “I found these fantastic little fig crackers at Whole Foods and can’t get enough of them!”  The crackers were indeed the perfect vessel for the Cambozola Cheese and Fig Preserves that sat happily upon them.  They were nutty and rustic; sweet and savory.  I may have been doped up on antihistamines and the like, but my girlfriends and I savored every delicious bite of a new found food crush.  We went on several culinary explorations that weekend, but besides my always beautiful friends, it was the cracker that left the lasting impression.

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When I returned home and headed to the market to find my cracker obsession, what I found was sticker shock!!!!  Granted, I’m not a “cheap” person by any means but wowzer!…Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps think very highly of themselves!  No wonder I love them…they’re crazy EXPENSIVE!!!   The crackers came in a teeny tiny little package and sported a price tag of about 8 bucks for twenty or so crackers!  Every time I would purchase them (and believe me, I’ve purchased them over and over for my cheese boards for years now), I would think to myself, “surely I can make these at home!”

It was last year that a magical thing happened.  I bought a wonderful cookbook by blogger turned cookbook writer, Izy Hossack.  The book, and subsequently the blog, is entitled Top with Cinnamon and both are wonderful.  Check them out here.  Anyhoo…I was reading through her beautiful book and there they were!!!…Fig & Walnut Parmesan Crackers!!!!  Izy had unlocked the secret to my cracker obsession!!!  I vowed to make them the next week to find out if they stacked up to my “perfect cracker.”  Suffice it to say, about eight months later I got around to making the recipe and BOOM!  There it was!  A beautiful, rustic, sweet and savory cracker that I could make at home for a ton less money than the ones I was buying at the market!…plus they are homemade!…plus they are healthy…plus they are delicious!!!  So many wins!

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In my home, these Fig and Walnut Crackers must be invited to every cheeseboard party!!!  My favorite combination is the way Nancy served them…with a bit of Cambozola Cheese, a beautiful cow’s milk cheese that is a combination of a French triple cream and an Italian gorgonzola, and topped with fig preserves.  Even if you’re not a gorgonzola fan, the triple cream and the sweet preserve will soften the saltiness that the gorgonzola can deliver, so I hope you’ll try it.  It is heaven in a bite!  I also love my perfect cracker served with just a plain triple cream brie as in my photos.  Or with my Rosemary Goat Cheese that I will post in an upcoming blog (friends always beg for the recipe).  Garnished with a slice of plum and voila!  Cheese Board perfection.

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The following is my adaptation of Izy’s recipe.  Great news!!??  The recipe is SIMPLE to make!  I dropped the parmesan from Izy’s original name since I couldn’t plainly detect it’s taste influence.  I also plan to tweak the recipe a bit more and introduce fresh rosemary to my next batch!

FIG AND WALNUT CRACKERS

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Grease two loaf tins with butter.  In a large bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients.  Add 12 1/2 fl oz water and the honey and stir until well combined.  Stir in the walnuts, pumpkin seeds and dried figs.  Divide the batter between the loaf tins and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the edges have started to shrink away from the tins and the loaves are dark on top.  Leave to cool on a wired rack and then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 3 – 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Unwrap and thinly slice the frozen loaves into roughly 1/8 in. thick slices.  Allow them to thaw a little then place the slices on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.  Watch the crackers very carefully during this stage as you may want to bake a bit longer if you desire a crunchy cracker.  The crackers will crisp as they cool…but I found that I had to increase my bake time from the original recipe because I don’t like a “chewy” cracker.  Needs a definite “crunch”!  You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week.                                                  Recipe adapted from Top with Cinnamon; Izy Hossack                                                                                        

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do and serve it soon!  Remember to savor life every day!…regardless if a cheese board is involved or not!   Love on your family extra hard and let your friends know you cherish and adore them!  Cheers everyone!!

Chicago Trip
Girlfriends in Chicago…Nancy, Robyn, Me and Teri

Weeknight Glazed Salmon and a “Killer” Rice Salad

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I remember the moment I started seriously paying attention to salmon and adding it to my diet.  No…it wasn’t because I heard it was loaded with Omega-3s and super charged proteins that fight off disease and increase brain power.  It was because I read that salmon was a serious part of J Lo’s beauty regimen (listen to Jenny From the Block here..oh yeah!) and how she achieved flawless, glowy skin (sigh).  Yep…vanity got the best of me!  And every time I would eat salmon I thought, “Bam!  Take that epidermis! Bam! Take that pesky crow’s feet!  Take that plain ol’ yucky wrinkles!”  Hmmm…I eat plenty of Salmon but alas, the skin is, shall we say, “doing it’s thang” and father time stops for no one, not even salmon.  But I digress…

I now eat Salmon, not for it’s beauty attributes, but because it’s just down right delicious and am thankful that something I love to eat so much is so stinkin’ good for me!  Another bonus…my son and hubs love it more than I!…so it’s a simple and tasty “go-to” menu for a weeknight supper.  In fact, I created this recipe last week while perusing my frig and cupboards for what I had on hand (this is pretty much the way I roll, cooking wise).  The first thing  I spied was a lone butternut squash…and what was to follow turned into Glazed Salmon with Brown Rice Salad of  Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale and Pecans.  Guys…this Salmon dish is ridiculously good and your family will not realize that they are eating Super Food Champions.  Salmon?  Kale?  Wholesome grains?  What’s even better?  My twelve year old son gobbled it up!!!!  Score!

Winter will soon be over and we’ll be enjoying more grilled meets and salads with juicy, vine-ripe tomatoes, so enjoy the winter vegetables like this Butternut Squash and be glad they’re still readily available.  And the next day…when you have some salad leftovers and you want to eat them for lunch…add some edamame to the dish and you’ll be even happier!

IMG_2391                        GORGEOUS INGREDIENTS

You’ll start by making the dressing which also doubles as the salmon marinade.  I use this simple dressing for a ton of applications  and therefore I keep it around a great deal.  It’s a sweet dressing that rocks out this salmon and gives it a beautiful, sweet, brown glaze.  Also works well with ribs, pork tenderloin and chicken…

Sweet and Sour Dressing

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tbs soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients.  I personally like to shake it in a bottle.  This will yield about 2 cups dressing, so you’ll have some left over for other applications.

Glazed Salmon with Brown Rice Salad of Butternut Squash, Kale and Pecans

2 – 4 Salmon Filets (1 – 2 lbs)

1 cup uncooked Brown Rice (cook according to package)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup Butternut Squash; cut into 1″ dice

1/2 cup sweet onion; diced

1 clove garlic; minced

4 – 5 large Kale leaves; remove ribs and coarsely chop

1/2 cup pecans; chopped

1/2 cup cranberries; chopped

2 stalks celery; chopped

2 Tbs Butter

  • Marinade Salmon in about 1/2 cup Sweet and Sour Dressing while preparing the salad
  • Prepare brown rice according to package and cool
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add Butternut Squash, Onion and Garlic.  Mix together with a dousing of EVOO (2 -3 Tbs) and remember…do not overcrowd the veggies or you will steam instead of roast them
  • Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, saute’ the chopped kale and olive oil in a hot saute’ pan for about one minute.  Salt and pepper Kale to taste.  The Kale will break down fast and you want to maintain the beautiful green color.  Set aside to cool.
  • When the roasted Butternut Squash, Onion and Garlic have cooked for thirty minutes, add the pecans and cranberries to the baking sheet and toss slightly.  Cook for 5 – 7 minutes longer, being careful to watch the cranberries as you do not want them to char.  Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Prepare frying pan with 2 Tbs butter and place on medium high heat.  Once the butter is melted and bubbly, place salmon filets in hot pan, pouring marinade into the pan with the salmon.  Salt and pepper.
  • Watch your salmon for doneness…about two minutes per side for a gorgeous salmon that is not overcooked but velvety soft in the middle and brown on the outside.  Continue to baste with marinade from the pan as you cook.  Place into a 175 degree oven (if frying pan is oven safe), to keep warm while you combine salad
  • In a large bowl, combine rice, roasted vegetables, nuts and fruit and chopped celery.
  • Dress with Sweet and Sour Dressing to taste…start with about 1/4 cup…toss…taste…salt and pepper if needed…

My mouth waters just looking at this “killer salad!”  The crunch of the pecans and celery, the sweetness of the squash and cranberries and the slight salty bitterness of the kale make this a delectable salad…and the color is SO pretty!  Feel free to interchange the rice with quinoa or wild rice…any grain, really.  I serve it room temperature, alongside fish, pork and chicken.  Would pack well for a picnic or potluck!  Serve the Glazed Salmon over a bed of the rice salad.

IMG_2419GLAZED SALMON WITH BROWN RICE SALAD OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH, KALE AND PECANS

Bon Appetite!!!!

And please tell me what you think of this dish!  I love your feedback!!!  xo

Sexy Eggs | Valentine’s Breakfast in Bed

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I know, I know! I can hear you thinking it from here! “What could possibly be sexy about eggs?” Well, dear ones…I’m about to blow your mind with this simple, sexy and mouth watering five ingredient omelet (six if you count the garnish) that will have your lover, your friends, heck, even your pastor! (gasp)…rolling their eyes back in their head with delight and longing for more! Serve these gorgeous eggs in bed (minus the pastor…duh) with a bit of dark chocolate (my fav is this one) and your favorite Prosecco and you’ve got yourself a (fill in the blank)! I’ve even put together your Sexy Eggs playlist with Paula Cole’s “Feelin’Love” at the top of the shuffle and on heavy rotation!

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Sexy Eggs start with a simple omelet recipe. The Frugal Gourmet taught me how to make the perfect omelet when I was in college and you can find his tutorial here. That said, I use cream in my eggs for the richness…he uses water. The only prep you will need to execute in order to speed up the “sexy egg” process is roasting one red pepper under a broiler ahead of time and storing in frig until use. I cannot stress enough that a RED (or orange or yellow…not green) must be used and it MUST be roasted. Otherwise, you’ve made yourself a nice western omelet sort of thingy and, although it might be tasty, it will not be sexy.

Even the making of Sexy Eggs is sexy because you use your hands…yes…your hands.

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The warm eggs are soft and pillowy (sexy), the butter is buttery (sexy), the roasted red pepper is sweet and surprising (sexy) and the cream cheese is rich and decadent (sexy).  And the darn thing is so easy to make (sexy).

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SEXY EGGS     (makes two omelets)                                                                                                                                      

4 eggs

1/2 cup half and half

4 tablespoons butter

About 3 oz cream cheese

1/2 a roasted red pepper – skinned, deseeded and torn into strips

Salt and pepper to taste

Snipped chives for garnish

  • Whip together eggs and half and half
  • Place 1 – 2 tablespoons butter into hot skillet on medium high
  • Pour half of egg mixture into prepared pan and proceed to make an omelet
  • Place small dollops of cream cheese and roasted pepper strips on half of omelet
  • Salt and pepper all
  • Cook until done
  • Fold onto plate
  • Repeat for 2nd omelet

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SEXY EGGS PLAYLIST:

1. “Feelin’ Love”   –  Paula Cole

2. “I’m Your Man”   –   Michael Buble’

3. “All of Me”   –   John Legend

4.  “Theme from A Summer Place”  – Percy Faith Orchestra

5. “Drunk in Love”   –  Beyonce’

6. “I’m in the Mood for Love”  –  Julie London

7. “Speakers”  –  Sam Hunt

8. “Like I Love You” –   Justin Timberlake

9. “At Last” –  Etta James

10. “Gorilla” –  Bruno Mars

11.“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face  – Roberta Flack