Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine's Day: raspberry swirl angel food cake

Just one more day of January and then you can turn the page to the Month of Kristin in the Year of Kristin aka February, 2013 the month I turn 50!  Right?  Exclamation points are allowed for this one.  Pretty excited about it.  Truly.  I love birthdays.  Pretty fond of presents.  Always baffled when someone says I am hard to buy for because I really have no problem doing it.  And I love giving presents with all the possibilities of what might surprise and delight the birthday person.  And if we aren't on the present buying level, I am always up for baking something.  Always.

My grandma on my dad's side lived in Cleveland about half an hour from our house and every birthday would be celebrated around her fancy dining table and every birthday she would serve angel food cake with strawberry whipped cream and extra strawberries.  She'd whip up cream and fold in those delightful boxes of sugared frozen strawberries and serve another thawed box on the side.  Genius.  We all loved every yummy pink bite.  Angel food cake fits nicely into February's heart health month too until you top it with whipped cream.  And don't go all fat free cool whip on me.  If you've been reading you know that frozen whipped non-dairy topping is against all that is right and good.  My grandparents made it all the way to 92 and 95.  Buttered bread crumbs, home made noodles, rich gravy and whipping cream apparently did no harm to them.  Have a little bit of whipped cream unless you are under doctor's orders, and this whipped creme fraiche is worth a heaping tablespoonful.

So before we get all caught up in celebrating my birthday (you have a few weeks to endure), Valentine's Day is two weeks away and this little angel food cake with a pretty raspberry swirl would be a fun treat on your table.  I know it's Valentine's Day and someone should be treating you, but baking is fun and you can maybe have your kids help and this cake takes about 20 minutes to get into the oven.  Get that Kodiak pancake mix I love (all you do is add water and it's got a very whole grain friendly ingredient list) and shape some heart shaped pancakes for breakfast.  Finish the day with a lovely dessert.  You can do it.

You do need a tube pan with a removable bottom for an angel food cake.  They are sticky by nature and I'm not sure you could get it out of a regular tube pan (usually I have to slide a knife around the pan sides and then again across the pan bottom).  You can serve this with homemade whipped cream (buy heavy cream and beat it on high and then near the end add in a confectioner's sugar just a tablespoon at a time to taste), you can whip creme fraiche (found in tubs in the dairy case at Trader Joe's, whole foods and most groceries) or you can make your own.  It seems disturbing to let it sit on your counter without refrigeration, but it really is fine.  I am a big fan of the shelf stable whipping cream from TJ's.  It's in a cute little box and you can always keep one on hand.  Brilliant.

If making your own creme fraiche*, you need to start it 24 hours before serving.


Raspberry Swirl Angel Food Cake with Creme Fraiche

raspberry puree
1 1/4 C fresh raspberries (6 oz. container)
2 T sugar

1 1/4 C flour
1/2 C confectioner's sugar
12 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 C granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla

1 C creme fraiche (homemade or purchased)
2-3 T sugar
1 1/4 C fresh raspberries

homemade creme fraiche
1 C heavy whipping cream
1 tsp buttermilk

Make the raspberry puree:  puree the raspberries and sugar in a blender or a food processor until smooth.  Strain the puree through a fine sieve or mesh strainer over a bowl, pressing on puree with a rubber spatula.  Discard the seeds and reserve the puree for the cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the flour and confectioner's sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

Separate 12 eggs one at a time by breaking egg over a measuring cup and adding the whites to the mixing bowl one at a time so you don't accidentally get some yellow in the mixing bowl say along egg number 10 and have to start over again.  Not that that has ever happened to me :).  Beat the egg whites and salt using a stand mixer or hand mixer at medium speed for about a minute until they become frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat for another minute or so until soft peaks form.  With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream.  Add the vanilla and continue beating for 1-3 minutes until the egg white mixture is glossy and holds firm peaks.

Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold in with a rubber spatula, being careful to keep the air in the egg whites as you incorporate the flour mixture.  Pour in the raspberry puree and fold a couple of times just to swirl.  Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food tube pan with a removable bottom.  Run a thin knife through the batter to remove any large air pockets.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top springs back when gently touched and a tester in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Cool cake completely upside down on legs attached to the pan, over the neck of a bottle or on a tripod of 3 inverted ramekins (because neither of the other choices worked for me in my kitchen).  Carefully slip a slim knife along the sides of the pan to loosen the edges.  Invert the cooled cake onto a serving platter and remove the pan bottom.

Make the topping:  beat the creme fraiche* and sugar together until soft peaks form, adding a little more sugar to taste as needed.  Beat until firm peaks form.  Serve cake slices with creme fraiche and fresh berries.

*Make your own cream fraiche:  combine one cup of heavy whipping cream and 1 tsp of buttermilk in a small saucepan.   Heat over medium heat until warm (100-110 degrees).  Remove from heat and pour into a glass, ceramic or plastic bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours until slightly thickened.  I know that sounds dangerous, but it's just fine.  It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks becoming thicker and slightly tangier as time goes by.


pureed raspberries and sugar

straining puree

frothy whites with cream of tartar
glossy whites with sugar and vanilla
stiff glossy peaks of egg whites
folding in flour mixture
folding in puree

batter in pan in oven

all golden and baked

all cooled and released

sliced for serving

my plate

Monday, January 28, 2013

dinner club favorites: crunchy chopped salad

Hello there.  I am still here.  Still cooking and baking.  Still taking photos.  Just never quite finishing a post.  I really need to move my iMac into the kitchen.  My first little iMac only lived in the kitchen and we were all sad to see it's spinning wheel screen of no return last year.  Such a long and useful life.  I love all the space on my island without an iMac hanging out at the end, but I can feel a little isolated in my office and so I don't find myself sitting at my computer as much as I probably should.  There probably aren't a lot of people who can say that, come to think about it.

We don't have wi-fi at lululemon (although we have been promised backroom wi-fi in 2013), so checking your iPhone news, twitter and facebook feeds on break can be painfully slow and super draining on battery life.  My good friends at Starbucks are very tolerant of me enjoying my packed non-Starbucks lunch in their cozy store with free wi-fi.  But let's face it, I do not have the miniature keyboard skills to tap out a blog post on my blogger app on my iPhone.  And I do not have proofing skills even with my reading glasses on some days.

I bought a nice iPad size wireless keyboard for my iPad, but mine is first generation and ridiculously slow so I don't write posts very often on my iPad which I can take to parts of the house where there might be people or at least the illusion of company when the television is on.  So I'm either going to have to move my computer or just make a better effort to sit here, turn up the Spotify and get posting.

I told you all about my dinner club plans and never posted a recipe.  That will show you!  Actually, I wasn't entirely pleased with the meal.  Just being honest.  Even someone who cooks all the time, can have a miss or a near one from time to time.  I had two trays of try-tip to roast and used my convection oven, but did not adjust the time enough and the roast we served on the table was too medium done for my liking.  It turns out the roast we had as leftovers was actually perfect.  By the time we carved and served the roasts, there were a few too many beverages between Greg and I and neither of us thought to check that possibly one of the trays of roast would be different or better than the other.  We feasted on some roast beast for the better part of a week.  Let me tell you how well red meat goes with hot yoga.  It does not at all.  Painful detox.

The brussel sprout gratin with gorgonzola was good, but needed buttered bread crumbs to elevate it to post status.  I'll work on it.  Polenta and roasted tomatoes are pretty basic and probably already discussed here.  But the salad and the dessert were spot on so tonight I'll write you a little salad post.  The raspberry swirl angel food cake is coming up next because it would be divine for Valentine's Day!

Have to say I didn't think the salad would be my favorite part, so there are not pictures.  You have to know what chopped vegetable salads look like.  I'll make it again and post some pictures for your soon.  Might make it this week.  Much better for the detox than beef.  And what better week to do a little pre-emptive detoxing than the days leading up to the Super Bowl?

This salad recipe originally called for fresh mint and I know it would be good in it, but just not in January.  Too summery.  So it's very optional.  I do like the lime juice, even though citrus is summery.  My blog is titled a squeeze of lime, just sayin'...  The vegetables you use could be anything crunchy you can dice.  Salads are always better chopped.  I do not know why, but try it.  Little bite size diced vegetables are just fun to eat.  I always dice in avocados if I have good ones ready.  And they are definitely not crunchy.  Just good and good for you!  You could add some baked tofu or roasted chicken and make a complete meal out of this salad.  You could even add some cooked and cooled whole grains like wheat berries, quinoa or barley (just double the dressing for the grains).  Toast your sunflower seeds carefully over medium heat in a dry pan on the stove for 5-10 minutes, tossing or stirring occasionally.  Pretty sure the sunflower seeds made the salad for me!

Crunchy Chopped Salad

head of romaine, tough leaves removed, washed and chopped
1 C thinly sliced and diced radishes
1 C small dice chopped little cucumbers
1 C small dice chopped red onion
1 large avocado, ripe, pitted and diced
1/3 C toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 C crumbled feta (ricotta salata or plain goat cheese would also be good)
2 T lime juice
2 T olive oil
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
1-2 T chopped fresh mint leaves, optional

In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables, sunflower seeds and feta.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne.  Pour over salad and toss.  Serve with mint, if desired.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.

So, little Rio here is not a picture of a crunchy salad.
He is, however begging for my attention and playing hockey
with a very expensive camera's attached lens cover.  :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

sunshine from the oven: lemon ricotta cookies

Today is full-on dinner party prep and new recipes are on the menu so new posts are in their draft stages.  I've rubbed 8 pounds of tri-tip this morning(it's an omnivore meal, yoga friends).  I baked a really pretty raspberry swirl angel food cake yesterday afternoon (angel food cake is super easy from scratch, really even if it did take me 14 eggs to get 12 pure egg whites, oops).  And as soon as Greg and I take a sunny and breezy walk (it's very pretty for January in Indy today), I'll start prepping brussel sprouts for a gorgonzola gratin.  I updated some Spotify playlists last night and our awesome Bose sound dock is ready to bump up the tempo in the kitchen.  May have to watch basketball on mute today.  First we will squeeze in a little post time.

Logically, today's post will have nothing to do with the dinner party we are hosting in 8 hours.  In my holiday haze I somehow never finished this post for some fabulous cookies discovered by my friend at work who also follows all things food on social media.  The lovely Amanda found this recipe from a New York Times cookie baking contest.  She had a hunch I would like them.  She was right!  Kelly and I baked them on Christmas Eve and somehow they never found their way into the back room at lululemon (i.e. we ate all of them that were not shared with family).  I might tweek them a bit and add lemon chips and a raspberry glaze next time and deliver them to Amanda so she can taste what all the fuss was about.  These cookies are pillows of lemony goodness.  So amazing.  Who would have thought of ricotta in cookies?  Some brilliant Italian grandmother of the winner apparently.  They suggested fresh ricotta, but I just used the part skim ricotta from Meijer.  I did have Meyer lemons for the lemon juice which was a little luxury (they are a bit sweet, try them).  Make the dough, chill it and bake away!  Winter is coming back to Indiana tomorrow.  Bake and glaze a little sunshine.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

1 C unsalted butter, softened
2 C sugar
1 3/4 C ricotta cheese (15 ounces)
finely grated zest of one lemon
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp sea salt

1 T unsalted butter
4 C confectioner's sugar
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 C milk, as needed

Using a stand or hand-held mixer, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add ricotta, lemon zest and vanilla and beat well.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Scrape down sides of bowl then beat in flour, baking soda and salt until well combined.  Dough will be soft.  Cover dough bowl and chill for at least 2 hours and up to a week (or be in a hurry and chill it in the freezer for 30 minutes or so).

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Shape tablespoons of dough into balls and place 2-inches apart on the lined sheets.  Bake until pale golden on the bottom, about 15 minutes.  Cool completely on wire rack.

Make icing by melting the tablespoon of butter.  Whisk confectioners' sugar to break up any large lumps then whisk in melted butter and lemon juice with enough milk to make a spreadable icing (start small, like 1/4 C milk).  Spread icing on cooled cookies and let set for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Four cups of flour makes a lot of cookies, around 6 dozen.

cookies on parchment just out of the oven

really pale on top, but flip them over and this sheet was almost overdone

guest glazer:  Kelly 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I know I saw this somewhere: Roast Chicken with Green Beans and Artichokes

Seeing as how it is officially the eat out of your pantry/fridge/freezer challenge season at my house, this past weekend was full of football and basketball viewing along with bookmarking recipes in the magazines I never have time to read.  I vaguely remembered seeing a roasted chicken recipe from Art Smith in one of my Oprah magazines so the search was on.  I only subscribe to 3 magazines.  You'd think I could keep up.  That would require the ability to stay awake when I have a magazine in my lap and I'm sitting in front of the fire.  So last Sunday I stacked up my magazines and dog-eared many delicious things, noted some useful things, dozed off a bit and finally found the recipe.

I was super excited to see it was truly a one-dish meal.  Not that I mind browning in one pan, roasting in another and mountains of dishes.  Well, I do mind the dishes but that never seems to stop me.  But this one is a keeper.  I did not have a whole chicken cut-up, but I did have a bag full of chicken legs/thighs from a recent Whole Foods sale.  I bought too many fresh green beans earlier in the week so I had them waiting.  I had a bottle of white wine with a bit left in the refrigerator.  But I so have to admit that I was missing one key ingredient and had to shop for artichokes somewhere other than all the food stores in my house.  But a quick trip to Trader Joe's yielded artichokes and about $40 worth of other good things.   It turned out the football playoff game that day between Seattle and Atlanta was crazy exciting and my trips up to the kitchen to add this and turn that had to be timed with my iPhone so I did not get all caught up and forget it.  But really this is a pretty relaxed recipe.  Get everything chopped and ready and enjoy your Sunday and an hour or so later, your Sunday (or whatever day) dinner.  The sauce this dish makes as it bakes is divine.  Make sure to have a bed of polenta, potatoes or at least good crusty bread to soak up all the goodness.

Turn on your oven and roast chicken in a whole new way!  Your house will smell amazing and your kitchen will be nice and cozy.

Roast Chicken with Green Beans and Artichokes

1 3 1/2 pound whole chicken, cut-up
1 T oregano
1 T kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
3 T olive oil
3/4 C white wine
3/4 C chicken broth
1 pound spicy Italian chicken sausage or chorizo, cut in big chunks
2 C fresh green beans
2 C frozen artichoke hearts
1 lemon, sliced in 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/4 C chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and rub on the chicken pieces to season.  Place chicken, scallions and garlic in a large roasting pan (make sure your pan is large enough to hold everything, but not too large that the wine and broth won't nicely cover the bottom of the pan to cook the vegetables later) and drizzle with the olive oil.  Roast until the chicken starts to brown, about 30 minutes.  Add the wine, chicken broth and sausage pieces to the pan and roast an additional 10 minutes.  Flip the sausages and add the green beans, artichoke hearts and lemon slices, making sure the vegetables are partly submerged (I had to nestle some of them under the chicken).  Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 6-8

ready to bake

wine, broth and sausages added
beans, artichokes and lemon slices added
ready to serve!

served mine over smashed assorted fingerling potatoes
with olive oil and ricotta salata cheese

Thursday, January 10, 2013

birthday treats for a January (read resolution) birthday: chocolate yogurt cakes

It's co-worker birthday time!  Spunky Chicago girl new to the lulu team this fall, Katie, celebrates a birthday today.  Yesterday I quizzed her on just what dessert she might eat because she has joined in on a 21-day clean eating program with many of our fellow lemons that I am pretty sure does not include sugar, white flour and chocolate.  I was assured she might have a little cake to celebrate because she loves cake and it is her birthday.  So I searched for a recipe that wouldn't be too rich and wouldn't make too much because even though I am continuing on with my usual omnivore/everything in moderation program, I do not need a dozen cupcakes staring me down.  Found a French recipe for little chocolate cakes (suspiciously resembling cupcakes) that made just a dozen unfrosted little treats with a reasonable ingredient list.  My pantries, refrigerators and freezers are still full and it's always a mission of mine in January and February to cook through the food I have on hand so this recipe I used some of the lovely Callebaut chocolate I purchased for that amazing Irish Coffee Three Layer Cake I baked in December.

While I was in the kitchen last night I also tossed together a new kale salad, made a tray of raw "oatmeal raisin" bars featuring dates (a quest that will be documented) and cooked some wheat berries for some salad I'll decide on later this week.  All that because I really intended to come home and reorganize my kitchen or some other silly chore that was just too much to take on after my second day back amongst the working and the more or less healthy.  Lacked focus, but somehow got some things done despite myself.

Without further ado, here is my first blog post of the new year.  Make a little batch now or bookmark them for a baking day when you need a little chocolate.  They are not too sweet, but moist and kind of cute with their cracked puffy tops.

Chocolate Yogurt Cakes

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 C vegetable oil, divided
1/2 C plain yogurt (I used fat free Greek yogurt, but the recipe calls for whole milk yogurt)
1 C sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 T King Arthur Flour Cake Enhancer, completely optional
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or lightly spray the pan (I try not to spray my nice new pans, the spray bakes on in a really hard to remove sticky film and that makes me sad).
Melt chocolate with 1/4 C of the vegetable oil in a small bowl in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and then repeat at 15 second intervals until smooth.  In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 C oil, yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cake enhancer (if using).    Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the yogurt mixture.  Stir together a few times and then pour in the melted chocolate and stir, scraping sides, until just combined.
Scoop out batter into muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the cakes are barely set in the center and a tester comes out clean.  I just patted mine lightly and they sprang right back so I did not need to test them.
Turn out onto a wire rack and cool.  Dust with confectioner's sugar.  Or enjoy them warm with some whipped cream and berries.  I imagine that would be the French way.

Makes 12 little cakes

little French chocolate yogurt cakes