CHERRY CLAFOUTI . . . CLAFOUTI AUX CERISES

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One has a rather small window to make this classic French dessert.     It’s a bit of a waiting game.  First you wait patiently for the first of the dark, sweet cherries to make their grand appearance.    I shop almost daily in our lovely, quiet and delightfully old-fashioned village.  We have a wonderful locally owned  grocery store in Ladner.  JARRY’S feature local and regional products.       I have been buying shiny, ruby red cherries every day for a week or so, and today the cherries were deeply rich and sweetly ripe.   This is where the waiting and tasting game pays off.  The cherries are perfect for  clafouti.

Clafuti is a crepe like batter poured over cherries and baked in a very hot oven.  There are many recipes for this seasonal dessert and they are all variations of melted butter, flour (not much) a bit of sugar, several eggs , milk and ripe, plump cherries.   It is traditional to leave the pits in the cherries.  It adds to the flavour of the clafouti.    Just  remind your guests about the pits.

CHERRY
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: Dessert
Cuisine: Frrench
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A quick and simple to make classic French dessert. A crepe like batter is poured over fresh cherries and baked in a hot oven. Serve warm or cool.
Ingredients
  • 3½ tbs(1¾ oz) unsalted butter melted, plus more for the cake pan
  • 1 pound cherries, stemmed (do not pit)
  • A scant ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A generous ¾ cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F / 200C
  2. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan or ceramic dish. Arrange the cherries in the bottom of the pan stem down.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking power and salt.
  4. In a second bowl whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk and vanilla, and finally whisk in the butter.
  5. Make a well in the flour mixture and whisking gently add the milk/egg mixture and mix until you get a smooth batter.
  6. Pour the batter over the cherries.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or so until the clafouti has puffed up and is beautifully browned.
  8. Let cool on a rack and set for at least one hour. Just before serving sift a generous amount of confectioners' sugar over the cake.

This very, very French dessert is easy to whip up and pop into the oven about two hours before you want to serve it.   At the last minute I dust it with a little icing sugar.  You can serve it warm or cool.

 

 

 

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LEMON BUNDT CAKE . . . A STUNNING CAKE WITH THREE LAYERS OF LUSCIOUS LEMON

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If dreams were make of cake it would be this stunning  LEMON BUNDT CAKE.   I love any dessert made with lemon  – tarts, bars, loaves, cookies.   This cake is at the very top of my list of favorite lemon desserts.  It’s a Canadian Living recipe with a couple of adjustments.  This heavenly creation has three layers of fragrant lemon –  The tender delicate cake. The lemon glaze.  And the lemon icing.    Indeed,  an unforgettable citrus-infused show stopper of cake.     It’s spectacular in its simplicity and generous size.  It is the cake to serve at a big family gathering.  It cuts beautifully into twelve generous slices.   For a beautiful presentation one could add fresh berries in season.  And to really put the icing on this cake a great dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

This cake can be whipped up a day or two before serving.  The lemon glaze and lemon icing keep the cake beautifully moist.

LEMON BUNDT CAKE . . . A STUNNING CAKE WITH THREE LAYERS OF LUSCIOUS LEMON
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: bundt cake
Cuisine: North American
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: 12
An easy to make cake with three layers of lemon infused flavour. Serves 12 generously.
Ingredients
  • 1 tb unsalted butter softened
  • 1½ tsp all purpose flour
  • CAKE
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • Zest from three lemons
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened,
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 2¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • LEMON GLAZE
  • 1 cup icing sugar sifted
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • LEMON ICING
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Blend butter with flour to form paste and brush all over inside of a 10-cup Bundt pan. This is the preferred method of buttering any pans with groves.
  3. CAKE
  4. In a large bowl using fingers, rub sugar with lemon zest.
  5. In a separate large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Using stand mixer on medium speed beat butter until fluffy then add the sugar and mix for about 3 minutes.
  7. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  8. With the beaters on the lowest speed add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with two of the buttermilk. Scrape down bowl with each addition.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan smoothing top.
  10. Bake cake in the center of the oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean., 40 to 45 minutes.
  11. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto rack and remove pan.
  12. Transfer cake to cake plate and cover with lemon glaze immediately.
  13. LEMON GLAZE
  14. In a microwaveable bowl whisk together sifted icing sugar and lemon juice.
  15. Microwave on high until warm (about 30 seconds).
  16. Brush over WARM cake and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
  17. LEMON ICING
  18. In bowl whisk icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
  19. Drizzle over cake and let stand until set, about 15 minutes
  20. Beat in lemon juice

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CLASSIC SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE

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  This is the type of sour cream coffee cake you’ll make over and over again.  You’ll love the way it’s heavenly cinnamon  smell will fill your kitchen.   It has a beautifully  tender and fine crumb.  It keeps very … Continue reading

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HUMMINGBIRD CAKE

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This is a dream of a cake to make.  Just two bowls, one for the wet ingredients and one for the dry.  If you don’t have a standing mixer you can make the out-of-this world cream cheese icing in your … Continue reading

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THE OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL COOKIE . . . with walnuts, dried cherries and chunks of chocolate

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There are those days when you want to bite into an oatmeal cookie that’s a little over the top.   A  superlative chewy cookie with just the right amount of  old fashioned rolled oats, nuts, chocolate and fruit.  A cookie with deep molasses flavor, light and crisp on the outside and chewy, dense and soft in the center. A cookie of such divine decadence that just one cookie is simply not enough.  This may just be the ultimate, outrageous oatmeal cookie.

This is an oatmeal cookie recipe you can claim as your own.  Substitute pecans or hazelnuts for the walnuts or dried cranberries for the cherries.    Quick oats can be substituted for the old-fashion oats, but they will yield a cookie with slightly less chew.   Other than the options be sure to follow the remaining ingredients to the letter.  It is the extra moisture found in brown sugar and the combination of baking powder and baking soda that produces a cookie  that is thin,  light and crisp on the outside, and chewy in the middle.  These cookies really spread so be sure to allow a generous  2 to 2 1/2 inches between cookies.

THE OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL COOKIE . . . with walnuts, dried cherries and chunks of chocolate
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: cookie
Cuisine: regional
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: 16
A perfect combination of old fashioned oats, nuts, chocolate and fruit. A cookie that is both crisp and chewy.
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups (6¼) ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1/12 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ cups (3¾ oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup(4 oz) dried sour cherries or cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped into generous chunks the size of large chocolate chips. Err on the side of large chunks. Small pieces melt quickly and disappear into the cookie mixture.
  • 12 tbs (6 oz) unsalted butter soft room temperature
  • 1½ cups packed (10½ oz)light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Set your oven rack to middle position of the oven and the temperature to 350F.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In medium sized bowl whisk flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt together.
  4. In a second bowl stir oats, walnuts, cherries, and chocolate together.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no lumps remain, about 2 or 3 minutes,scraping down bowl as needed.
  6. Add egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated (about 30 seconds or so) scraping down bowl as needed.
  7. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture mixing until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  8. Gradually add oat mixture until just incorporated ( do not over-mix).
  9. Using a sturdy wooden spoon give dough a final stir by hand to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
  10. For these outrageously large cookies work with ¼ cup dough at a time roll in to balls and space them 2½ inches apart on prepared sheets. THESE COOKIES REALLY SPREAD!
  11. Dampen your fingers and press each ball to 1 inch thickness.
  12. Follow the instructions carefully for baking the cookies to ensure your cookies are both chewy and crisp.
  13. Bake cookies for 20 to 22 minutes until medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft. Cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone.
  14. Half way through baking rotate cookie sheet from front to back.
  15. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack, and let cookies cool completely before serving.

 

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CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER . . . a.k.a. Picnic Chicken . . . POULET GRILLE A LA DIABLE

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My recipe for CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER is a riff on a recipe by Patricia Wells.  Her book, THE PARIS COOKBOOK.  To read or cook from it  is pure delight.   I use French Dijon and coarse-grain French Dijon, a whisper of cayenne pepper, a dusting of red pepper flakes .  It goes together quickly.  Almost before you finish singing La Marseillaise you  top it with a little butter and pop it in the oven and bake it (despite the name).     This simple dish suggests a sauvignon blanc or a  young Côtes-du-Rhône.  Pour yourself a glass of wine  and voila!   That’s it.

Here’s the very, very best part of this recipe.  I think it tastes better the next day.    You can double or even triple the recipe for a crowd.  Don’t be concerned about the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne called for in the recipe.  For some wonderful and unexplained reason they become just a hint of spice.   This is the chicken recipe to serve again and again and call it your own.  Tweak the spices.  Add a little more of this.   A little less of that.  To go with the chicken I roast chunks of  Yukon Gold potatoes tossed in a glug of extra-virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  This chicken recipe is known in our home as PICNIC CHICKEN because it is so delicious eaten cold the next day.  The flavours absolutely sing.

CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER . . . a.k.a. Picnic Chicken . . . POULET GRILLE A LA DIABLE
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: Chicken
Cuisine: French
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In French cooking, any meat or poultry seasoned with mustard and hot pepper then coated with bread-crumbs is called a la diable. This version of a classic Bistro dish is easily prepared and delicious served hot or cold.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons French Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grain French Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 large egg
  • 8 chicken thighs (bone-in with skin) or 4 chicken legs, thighs attached
  • 1 generous cup fine homemade breadcrumbs (do not use Panko)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into 8 cubes)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Line a shallow baking pan or roasting pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl combine the two mustards and the peppers and stir to blend.
  4. Place the egg into a medium sized shallow bowl and whisk lightly with a fork to blend.
  5. In a large bowl combine the homemade breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix to combine.
  6. (Have your sink filled with hot, soapy water with a bit of bleach (Oxygen Bleach preferably). You are handling raw chicken and it is important not to cross containment anything in your work space. Wash your utensils and dishes in the "bleach water" before loading them in the dishwasher. )
  7. Have a large platter at hand and using a pastry brush, brush the mustard mixture all over the chicken pieces and place in one layer on the platter.
  8. Dip them in the eggs coating evenly on all sides.(discard any left over eggs)
  9. Sprinkle with the bread-crumbs coating as evenly as possible. (discard any left over crumbs)
  10. Place the chicken pieces in the pan about 2 inches apart.
  11. Dot the chicken pieces with the butter cubes.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, basting frequently. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
  13. Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer the pieces to a wire rack to help firm up the coating, about 5 minutes.
  14. Serve hot or cold.

 

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OLD FASHIONED CHERRY ALMOND CAKE

 

The most loved, most used  of all my many baking cookbooks is tattered, torn, mended and scribbled.  More than fifty years ago it came free with a bag of Robin Hood Flour.     I adore anything  baked with cherries.  This recipe for Cherry Almond Cake is literally bursting with big, bright cherries.  It makes a generous cake.  Wonderfully generous.  You can cut, slice and slice and nibble away to your hearts content.  It is a splendid cake for entertaining.  Large enough for second or even third slices.  What could be more perfect.

 

This is very straight forward recipe.  Have all your ingredients at room temperature and follow the instructions carefully.  You will be rewarded with a rich cake with a fine crumb.

 

CHOP about 3/4  cup of the cherries in half.  Combine all the cherries and the chopped almonds in a medium sized bowl.

 

ADD the 1/2 cup flour you set aside and mix well.

 

COMBINE the remaining 2 cups of flour, add baking powder and salt and stir thoroughly.

 

CREAM butter and margarine until fluffy.

 

Gradually add sugar mixing until creamy.  Add flavourings.

 

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in milk.

 

MIX IN all the dry ingredients until completely blended.  Don’t over mix.

BAKE in 300°F (slow) oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

Allow to stand in the tin for five minutes.  Turn out on a wire rack and cool thoroughly before storing.  You can sift a little icing sugar over the top of this delicious old fashioned cake.

 


OLD FASHIONED CHERRY ALMOND CAKE
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This recipe for Cherry Almond Cake is literally bursting with big, bright cherries.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup blanched almonds coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups glace or well-drained maraschino cherries
  • 2½ cups All purpose flour (set ½ cup aside for cherries and almonds)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup shortening such as Crisco
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1½ tbs. lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Preheat your to 300°F. (slow)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your to 300°F. (slow)
  2. GREASE and line a 9 or 9½ inch spring form pan with two layers of parchment paper. Grease again.
  3. CHOP about ¾ cup of the cherries in half. Combine all the cherries and the chopped almonds in a medium sized bowl.
  4. ADD the ½ cup flour you set aside and mix well.
  5. COMBINE the remaining 2 cups of flour, add baking powder and salt and stir thoroughly.
  6. CREAM butter and margarine until fluffy.
  7. Gradually add sugar mixing until creamy. Add flavourings.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in milk.
  9. MIX IN all the dry ingredients until completely blended. Don't over mix.
  10. BAKE in 300°F (slow) oven for 1 to 1½ hours or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Allow to stand in the tin for five minutes. Turn out on a wire rack and cool thoroughly before storing. You can sift a little icing sugar over the top of this delicious old fashioned cake.

 

 

 

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CHEDDAR AND GRUYERE CRACKERS . . . Frozen assets for holiday entertaining.

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I like to make a splash  with holiday hors d’oeuvres.     Step out of the ordinary.  Conjure up the unexpected.   There is nothing more wonderful.  Nothing more special than freshly baked homemade crackers.  These are a snap to make.    A double dose of sharp cheese makes addictive crackers then don’t even need a topping.  Just whip up a handful of ingredients.  Pop them in the freezer and  slice off rounds whenever you want to serve freshly baked crackers.

They may seem like the last thing you have time for during the holidays but the dough for these savory slice-and-bake comes together in minutes.  Make a batch or double the recipe for a bigger stash.  You won’t regret it.

Dear friends, you know how I love to gild the lily.  These crackers take beautifully to hits of hot red pepper jelly or pungent blue cheese.  A little Brie or Gouda topped with a wafer thin slice of Granny Smith apple would go down treat.

Serve your wondrous cracker creations with glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve.  You’ll be the toast of the town!

 

CHEDDAR-AND-GRUYERE CRACKERS
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: crackers
Cuisine: Sophisticated
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Homemade crackers are an extraordinary treat! You can make them ahead then slice and bake them for on the spot holiday entertaining. The dough keeps in the freezer for 3 months.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (4¼ oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp poppy seeds plus more for topping
  • 2 tbs (1 oz.) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup (2 oz) FINELY grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup (2 oz) FINELY grated Gruyere
  • ¼ cup (or more) whole milk
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard.
Instructions
  1. Whisk together milk and mustard and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and poppy seeds.
  3. Work in butter with fingers until crumbly.
  4. Add the cheeses and mix with your fingers, breaking apart any clumps of cheese.
  5. Stir in the milk into the flour mixture with a fork until dough comes together.. Depending on the humidity you may require a little more milk to completely bind the mixture together.
  6. Shape the dough into a 2-inch-wide log.
  7. Wrap in the plastic and gently roll back and forth to shape it.
  8. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes then freeze for 1 hour or up to 3 months. If your crackers have been in the freezer for any lengthy time allow the frozen dough to stand at room temperature for around 30 minutes or so before slicing.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F.
  10. Cut log into ⅛-inch-thick rounds and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets.
  11. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  12. Bake rotating sheets front to back once until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes. You want the crackers to be on the crispy sides so do not underbake.
  13. Let crackers cool on a wire rack.

 

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EASY AS PIE . . . a no-fail pastry recipe

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It is every baker’s dream.  The ability to whip up the perfect pie with a crust so  light and flaky and  delicious you chase the last crumbs around your dessert plate.    There’s more than a baker’s dozen way of making pie crust.     They all require a certain level of skill and more than a modicum of knowledge of the various types of pastry required for specific pie fillings.

Here is “the little black dress” of pie crusts.  It is suitable for almost every filling.  It is superb for savory pies and fruit pies.   Single crust pies like lemon meringue.   Chicken pot pie or steak and kidney pie.  Hand pies and tarts.  And best of all follow the recipe faithfully and you should be rewarded with perfect pie crust!

This is the secret to perfect pie crust every time.  The flour, butter, shortening, and water most all be VERY cold.  Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or longer before rolling.  And  finally,  don’t stretch the dough when you’re placing it into the pan.

One of the most popular fruit pie to make is apple.  The secret to eliminating the  gap between the apple filling and the baked pie crust is to toss your sliced apples with sugar and let it macerate while your pie crust rests.  Then add the thickener, spices and butter before putting your pie together.

You can prepare the dough ahead.  Form it into two balls, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.  Defrost in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes two  9-inch crusts.

Bake according to your pie recipe.

 

PERFECT PIE CRUST.
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Ingredients
  • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) VERY COLD unsalted butter cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2½ ounces (1/3 cup) VERY COLD vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, diced
  • 3 cups VERY COLD all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (eliminate for savory pies)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup (or more if needed) ice water
Instructions
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (I like to put the steel blade in the freezer ahead of time). Pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Ad the butter and shortening and pulse 10 to 12 times until the butter is the size of peas(fat peas).
  3. With the machine running pour the water down the feed tube and PULSE the machine just until the water is mixed into the flour. Depending on the humidity you may require a little extra water.
  4. Turn the loose dough out onto a lightly floured board and using a bench scraper or your hands, gather it into a ball.
  5. Cut the ball in half and pat it into flat discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Roll each piece out on a well-floured board into a 12 to 13 inch circle. Roll from the center to the edge, turning a quarter with each roll, flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. A long metal spatula slipped under the pastry is very useful for this maneuver
  7. Roll half the dough over your rolling pin and position it on the pie plate.

 

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SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE

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It is the attention to detail.  The little extra that pushes something over the top that take it from very good to extraordinary.    And when that extraordinary itself is truly magnificent you have pure gold. During our restaurant years every … Continue reading

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