It’s all about Paul

Nooooo baking today – too hot!  We did have a great day.  Luna and I did our usual walk in the early a.m. then came home to see Paul roasting away in the sun getting a little boat he built for a customer ready to go.  This person has decided they want to take her to the Mystic Boat Show the end of June. 

This first picture Paul is fitting the mast.

His Lucky Feather!  He said as he was leaving Arkansas this feather fell out of the sky and landed on his head…no birds in sight.  He took it as an omen he was going to have a safe flight home.  Whatever! He did.

He’s pretty handy at sewing – he’s leathering the mast.  I see him doing this with oars but can’t remember having seen him leather a mast before.  He does nice work.

At the end of the day I found what looked like it could be one of my frozen pizza crusts in the freezer – it was (it looked suspiciously like a pie dough, but it wasn’t).  So I dug out of the fridge what was hanging around, some olives & broccoli was about it then some feta, cheddar & parm.  Prior to baking:

Absolutely yummy but really who knows?  As it was baking I made us some holiday drinks…..a Margarita for me, 3 oz. cointreau, 3 oz. taquila and 3 oz. lime juice….oh my, it was fab.  Paul had a gin and tonic and then my second margarita (the above makes 2).  I barely remember eating the pizza.  That stuff is potent.  I don’t know how people can drink in public and drive home, walk home, or even think about talking to another human being.  I went to bed.

But, it was interesting; we were talking about taste memories.  Paul sipped his drink and it brought back really fond memories of Samoa where he was for a year when he was 26, building a boat of course.  He said every time he has a gin & tonic – which is perhaps 2x a year he is right back there at Aggie’s Bar in Pango Pango (spelling?).  My food memories are of heftier stuff: my grandmothers pot roast, corned beef & cabbage, cocoa cola and Uneeda biscuits.  Weirdo.  But, what I’m getting at is this morning on NPR they had a discussion of food tastes and memories and how people don’t remember what they ate or what it tasted like.  There are all these chefs doing molecular experiments with food and bringing DRAMA, into the act now with actual plays, music, etc. while your eating so you might remember the food.  Doesn’t that seem weird?  Do we have to be stimulated all the time? I think my food memories were actually quiet moments when you could concentrate and really think about what you were eating.  When food, good food, was served at my grandmothers everyone shut up and ate.  It was extremely peaceful.  Perhaps that is what triggers your taste buds for memory.  But, what do I know?  As usual, I have the opposite of the current popular thoughts.

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Chocolate Raspberry Cakes

Baking….of course on the hottest day so far!  Always when I’m dying of heat I’m in the middle of making jam or chocolate something. TYPICAL.   So I started with this:

I did drink this throughout the day….my favorite beverage these days.  It’s just ice water with a huge piece of pineapple in the glass.  I put any fruit in then when I’m done I’ve gotten a substantial piece of fruit in me…really cold! 

While the cakes were cooling I cut some Rhubarb for a cobbler.  I figured what the heck, crank up that oven some more it’s already hot.

I had some peaches and blueberries to add.  I thought about the pineapple from my water source but ate that instead.

Enough of that….the end result – my beautiful cakes.  The large one was ordered for a customers surprise Birthday Party.  The smaller one I thought I’d throw in so the birthday girl has something fun to eat the next day with her family.  Keep that birthday going!

I love making those tops but they are a bear to cut slices from – everything kind of goes crazy.  The topping and frosting – Butter, Heavy Cream and Chocolate.  The cake – Chocolate, Eggs, Butter & Flour.  All bad for you, supposedly but so good for you mentally.  I love making cakes.

I’m thinking a white almond cake with fluffy white stuff all over may be in my future?  My friend Nancy Wilson said “call me anytime you make a cake, we need to eat cake soon”.  I’ll be calling her and maybe a few others, make a party of it, wine, cake, warm evening with feet in the grass.  Bliss (ah, rapture or does that word have a bad connotation now).

Summer Salads

Yesterday was the perfect day for some summer salads.  I’m still cleaning the pool….it’s up to 72 degrees.  For some reason it just hasn’t been coming clean but it’s close now.  I’ve changed everything possible, filters, clay, hoses, etc.  Of course I’ve owned it three years so it’s going to crap out now.  Anyhow, as I passed the herb garden I picked some marjoram.  It’s such a beautiful word; what do you do with it?

Then I found all this other stuff in the kitchen to go with the marjoram.  The potatoes are yellow finn, kind of soft for this application I wish I had used red potatoes.  I added some celery greens, marjoram, fresh lemons, my fav: lemon olive oil, Bermuda onion, mayo., boiled eggs, s&p.  I steamed the green beans and used a Heidi Swanson idea with zests of lemon and limes then added the lemon olive oil, marjoram, lots of lime juice and pomegranate seeds.  I love adding those to stuff.  They remind me of my granddaughter, Colbie, who is three years old.   We went to the farmers market in Oakland, CA, The Temescal Market.  We decided to try pomegranate seeds and ate the whole container in one go.  It was awesome.  She’s pretty adventuresome and is fun to share odd foods with. 

Speaking of Farmer’s Markets; the one in San Fransisco is always on my list of stuff to do when I’m out there.  It is so awesome, huge, lots of vendors selling quirky stuff, great “side shows”, on the San Fransisco Bay overlooking the bridge, actually lots of bridges.  It’s great.  I’ll be going back out in July to see those pumpkins and hit the markets.  Little Zo, Zo is coming up on two now and starting to eat and LOVE cool food so she’ll be fun to eat with also. 

You know how most people moan and groan how they hope their kids stay close to home – no way, I just want my kids to live cool places so I can get out of here!  I love it here but I love visiting there!

Lemon Balm & Chocolate Chip Baking

Yesterday a friends daughter, Madeline, came over to help me bake.  She loves to cook!  I have an order for two tea breads so we made a Lemon tea cake with lots of fresh lemon balm from my garden.  Besides the bread we made a few muffins so we could taste.

Amazing cake!  Soaked it while hot with Limoncello, Sugar & Lemon juice….wicked.

In a small bowl whisk together:

3 C. Flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

Large bunch of Lemon Balm, chopped fine

In another larger bowl whisk:

1 C. unsalted butter, 2 sticks melted

2 C. sugar

4 eggs

1 C. buttermilk (or, any milk soured with a teaspoon or so of white vinegar)

1 Tbs. lemon oil (not olive like I use tons of) or extract but the real lemon oil is best

Zest of a lemon or two, but not necessary

After you blend the wet, make a well in the dry and add the wet.  Scrape into a greased bread pan or two or make a bread and some muffins. 

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or so for muffins and longer for the cake.

Blend in a small bowl:

¼ C. Limoncello

½ C. sugar

big squeeze of lemon juice

whisk then pour over hot muffins & cake and let sit.  It will soak in and give it a nice crusty glaze.

Nasty pans but yummy cake!

This same recipe is great using Lime or orange instead of lemon or any kind of herb.  I use Anise Hyssop quite a bit; Basil would be yummy.

This is Madeline…..waiting for those Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins.  We did make a coffee cake bread out of half the recipe.  This recipe makes a bread and a dozen muffins with streusel to spare.  This is a Lora Brody recipe.  She always has cool stuff.

Streusel:

1 C. flour

2/3 C. brown sugar

2/3 C. toasted chopped pecans

3 Tbs. cocoa powder

6 Tbs. coconut

1 stick unsalted butter, cubed, soft

Blend all this together with your fingers.

Whisk in a large bowl:

4 C. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 C. chocolate chips

In a smaller bowl whisk:

2 sticks melted butter

2 C. sugar

4 eggs

4 tsp. vanilla

2 C. sour cream

Add the dry to the wet, mix well but don’t beat to death.  Pour some into a greased baking dish, top with lots of streusel.

Scoop the rest into muffin tins & top with streusel. 

You may want to bake these on parchment lined sheets as they could goop over.  Bake till done….45 minutes for the muffins, hour or so for the bread.

These are yummy, very sweet, not really a breakfast type food around my house but Madeline thought they were just awesome and perfect for anytime!

Almond Scones

I have a huge order for Scones from various customers so I finally tackled them all.  Yesterday I made lots of Almond Scones….I usually make them up & freeze them raw.  I sell them by the dozens.  The customer keeps them in their freezer then bakes them up as needed.  Pretty handy.

Recipe for Carla’s Almond Scones:  Makes 16

5-1/3 C. Flour

1/3 C. baking powder

1/3 C. sugar

2.5 sticks butter, cubed

7 oz. almond paste, cubed

handful of sliced almonds

Put the above in a cuisinart and pulse till blended well.  Dump out into a large mixing bowl.

Place in a smaller bowl & whisk:

2 C. Buttermilk

4 eggs

1 Tbs. almond extract or essence

Make a center in the dry, add the wet saving a bit of the wet for glazing.  Lightly pull together with a large spoon.  Dump out on a board and carefully pat and roll into a ball.  Slice ball in half.  Form each half into a thick disk, flat on top.  Cut each disk into eighths.

Brush egg glaze over the tops of each scone & garnish with almonds.  Cover and freeze on parchment lined sheets. 

After a day, when frozen, take out and place in freezer bags.  When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 and place the frozen scones on a sheet and bake till done – usually 30-45 minutes.

I made Oat Maple Scones also.  These are Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.

For years the Almond Scones were all anyone ever wanted.  I started making them for a Farmer’s Market and couldn’t make enough.  Then when I had the Cafe we still couldn’t keep up.  I introduced the Oat Maple after a few years and those took off so we had a break from making so many Almond ones.  But, I still get orders for these.  I’ve been asked allot if I would consider going into Production making just these…freezing & shipping all over the place.  SHOOT ME.  I get bored.

While in the kitchen I found another left over from Saturday – some Corn Tortillas so I made chips.  I cut them, swabbed them with lemon olive oil and crushed lemon pepper.  I did hit them with a bit of salt although I had every intention of not doing that…just a teeny bit.

This afternoon I took some stuff down to Paul at the Gundalow and got this shot.  They are just starting to actually assemble boat parts.  There were a zillion little kids, we think about 6 or 7 years old running around.  One of those school trips, at least 10 buses worth.  It was fun to hear all that laughter and see all those blurry colors flying around – boy those kids are fast! Anyway, this picture is a Bow Frame.

I believe it’s up by the deck and the boat will be built underneath it.  What do I know?

Futzing

Yesterday was a day of rest from the kitchen scene.  I did make leftover soup with the brunch food from Saturday – greens, spicy home-fries, grilled corn, beans, roasted red peppers, bacon & stock.  Easy, hot, garnished with a handful of Parmesan.  I had some biscuits left over so I broiled them with some parm….slightly blackened, boy that charring was fast!   Perfect dinner.

In the morning when I went out to the porch there was this sitting on the table:

My husband either needs a guy friend or some more kids.  He pestered me all day to “throw ball”.  Our three kids were brought up throwing the ball at night.  Poor Ruth when she started playing softball in school she had no clue how to throw “like a girl”.  She would overhand, deck them big time.  We called her slugger Ruth for years.  She would hit the ball into la la land.  Growing up with two brothers and a dad – she was right there and on it.

I think the baseball fever my hubcap is going through is the fact that he’s reading a great book right now: Blockade Billy by Stephen King – he loves it!; he’s always laughing perhaps at Stephen King’s cleverness, not sure but he sure likes the book.

In the afternoon I broke down my hydroponics system and planted the lettuces and arugula starters in the garden.  As I came around the corner this is what was happening:

This actually, a la Paul Rollins style, is ready to drive to Portsmouth.  It’s for setting up the big boat he’s building there.  As usual I was horrified – can you imagine this driving down the road?  When I suggested a modification……

This red flag was it!  I know better than to push it – he definitely goes to his own tune.  The front of this contraption is as long as the back and almost touching the ground too.

He took off this morning at 5:45 a.m. (he says the cops are not out yet) and actually made it there unscathed and hopefully nobody drove anywhere near him either.  I imagine it takes a wide swing around the corners!  Funny boy.

Pastries

Ah ha, found the photos.  How about some Key Lime Squares?

This is a giant recipe which will make what you see in the photo so you may want to cut it in half.

Base:

3 C. Flour

1.5 C. Confectioner’s Sugar

3 Sticks unsalted butter

Put the above in the cuisinart (or in my case cheap kitchen Aid), mix till fine, spray 10×13" pan, pat the chopped up mixture in – not too hard, just lightly pat down.  Bake at 350 till slightly cooked – 20 minutes or lightly browned.

Filling:

14 Eggs

4.5 C. sugar

1- ¼ C. flour

2-¼ tsp. baking powder

1.5 C. Juice (I use ¾ C. lemon juice, ¾ C. lime juice – hence the key lime idea)

Mix with a whisk, pour in lightly done crust, bake another 20 minutes.

In the Kitchen Aid make a streusel topping:

¾ C. flour

½ C. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

½ stick unsalted butter

Crumble over the semi baked mixture and bake another 10 minutes or so.

You don’t want to over bake this so slightly jiggly is o.k. it will set as it cools.

And, a picture of Amanda’s Dream Bars:

No recipe needed as it’s a brownie on the bottom (I make Barefoot Contessa’s Outrageous Brownies) and my own BLUE RIBBON chocolate chip cookies for the top batter.  And, Marj….I had some raw just to think of you!  A little mini Marj celebration.

Yesterday I had my Paladaire open for a few special customers and a pre wedding brunch for a group of ladies.  It was fun – working on my line cook skills.  I made this yum of a Blueberry French Toast:

Grease a medium sized dish.  Slice french bread in rounds and stack in tightly – I usually get two full rows sliced about 1.5" thick each.

In a bowl whisk:

7 eggs

6 Tbs. sugar

2 Tsp. vanilla

4.5 C. milk (I use almond milk, unsweetened)

Pour over the bread, cover with wrap and chill overnight.

In the morning cover with lots of blueberries (I use frozen), probably 2 Cups?

Made a streusel either in a cuisinart type thing or by hand:

¾ C. flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 C. brown sugar

6 Tbs. butter, softened

Cover the top of the blueberries with the streusel.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or so. 

If it’s really full put the pan on a parchment lined sheet as it will puff up a bit.

I love this recipe as it’s all made ahead of time.  You can make the streusel and keep that in the fridge a day or more ahead.

We serve this with fresh blueberries and Maple Syrup.

The recipe came from The Buttonwood Inn on Mt. Surprise in New Hampshire. 

Now that I’m all ramped up in my cooking season I’m thinking of having a conga line dinner party some evening, when it’s WARM.  Conga line as I want to set a bunch of long tables in a line outside;  have pretty linens, flowers, candles, bring your own wine, I’ll cook.  No seating arrangement we’ll just have a big party with all sorts of friends of ours.  The flowers here will be happening around June 10th. ish so be thinking of it, everyone (even if I don’t know you) is invited…..if your in, let me know!