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We bought a truck load of grapefruits from Costco the other day, and I finally had my excuse to make this cake that I saw on another blog not too long ago.  I find grapefruits to be hit or miss, so as I sliced one of the many, in half, I hoped that it would be a sweet one. The recipe calls for pink grapefruit, and although my grapefruits were not especially pink, they still gave this cake a citrusy punch. 

I have seen variations of this cake floating around out there, but this one also called for yogurt, which I still had remaining from previous recipes (and which was about to be past its due date shortly).  This cake was very easy to put together.  I gathered all my dry ingredients and whisked them up.  I smashed grapefruit zest and sugar together with a fork to produce a “fragrant sugar”, as promised by a fellow food blogger.  This zest and sugar combination was my favorite thing about making this cake.   I beat eggs with this beautifully scented sugar concoction, until pale yellow and thick. I added whole milk yogurt, oil, and vanilla to the pretty yellow liquid and stirred it up. I poured the dry ingredients into the wet ones, and combined.  Perfectly simple.  My batter went into a Bundt pan, although a springform pan or loaf pan would work too, and cooked for 30 minutes.

When the timer went off at 30 minutes, I tested the cake with a wooden toothpick.  The toothpick came out clean, but the top of my cake did not look done-it was white in color (not golden by any means), and it looked a bit wet.  I believe the toothpick doesn’t lie, so I pulled out the cake and let it cool completely.  Once cooled, I turned it over and plopped it onto a dish.  The top, which is now the bottom of the cake, was so sticky that the cake refused to move on the plate, but this sticky top now bottom added texture to this cake.  I totally recommend letting it stay a little sticky on top and remove before it turns golden brown for three reasons.  One, the cake was extremely moist throughout and I fear that any additional time in the oven would have resulted in a dry cake, which commonly occurs with these citrus based cakes.  Two, the rest of the cake is a perfect golden brown.  Third, the sticky bottom of the cake has a great consistency-chewy and light, and it nicely contrasts with the rest of the cake’s texture.

Now that I have overly explained the aspects of this cake, it is necessary to discuss the glaze.  I would not call this a glaze by any means, although it did make the cake glisten.  You boil juice from one grapefruit and three tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar, then let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Sounds easy enough, but the liquid never got very thick.  The juice continued to reduce, and I was afraid that I would be left with very little to glaze with, so I removed it from the heat and poured it over the cake from the saucepan.  This was a slightly messy process, so I recommend pouring the glaze into something like a small pitcher to pour over the cake or use a brush to brush it on.  Although the glaze did not resemble your typical glaze, it brightened up the cake and provided a lovely sheen as well as a strong citrus sweetener. 

When I took a bite of my cake I had two thoughts-that I couldn’t really tell that it was grapefruit, but it definitely tasted like a citrus fruit and that it would be a great breakfast cake (yes, you can have this cake for breakfast since it has fruit in it 🙂 )   

 Pink Grapefruit Yogurt Cake (replicated from JoytheBaker, The Greyston Bakery Cookbook)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Juice and zest of 1 pink grapefruit.  (1/2 cup of juice and 1 tablespoon of zest) 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a Bundt pan (springform pan or loaf pan)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  On a plate or medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and zest.  Using a fork, rub the zest into the sugar. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and grapefruit sugar until the eggs are thick and pale yellow.  Add the yogurt, oil, 1 tablespoon of grapefruit juice and vanilla extract.  Stir well to combine.  Add the flour mixture and stir to combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool, then remove cake from pan. 

In a small saucepan, combine the powdered sugar and the remaining grapefruit juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes while stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, pour glaze into a small pitcher to pour over cake or use a brush to brush onto cake.

Who doesn’t love latkes?  Well maybe you are not a fan, but we especially love potato pancakes when they are hot, crispy and dipped in sour cream and/or applesauce.  Something about zucchini replacing potato convinced me that these are a healthier version of the beloved potato pancake.  However, this is a lie since they are also fried in oil, and there is some potato still involved. 

I revised Ms. Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, removing the baking powder, replacing red onion with shallots, and adding feta cheese, which melts into the pancake and adds a salty kick.  These were definitely lighter than the potato version, but be sure to squeeze out any extra liquid from each patty before cooking so that they will stay together better.

 

 

Zucchini and Feta Latkes (adapted and revised from Barefoot Contessa)  

3 medium zucchini

1 small potato

1 shallot

2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup feta cheese crumbles

5-6 tablespoons vegetable oil  

Peel zucchini, potato, and shallots.  Shred zucchini, potato, and shallots against the large grating side of a box grater into a large bowl.  Stir in eggs. Then stir in flour, salt and pepper. Stir in feta cheese.

Roll vegetable mixture into small patties.  Add vegetable oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat..  Once the vegetable oil is hot, carefully place in latkes and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until brown and crispy.  Remove latkes from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Serve hot with sour cream or applesauce.

Apple Galette

An apple galette sounds very dainty, but it is very similar to good old-fashioned apple pie.  The flavors are familiar and comforting.  I may have even equated the galette I baked to a McDonald’s apple pie.  I have now really brought this thing back down to earth.

I found this recipe on Martha Stewart with a beautiful photo attached.  The reviews, as well as myself, agreed that the recipe next to the photo will not yield the baked good in that photo.  What you do get is a wonderful warm apple cinnamon dessert. 

I would recommend making more filling than topping.  Although the recipe below does not reflect that recommendation, I would use three apples for the filling and only two for the topping.  The filling is the best part.  It is warm and gooey.  While the top is also nice, three apples was too many as they did not all fit on the top.

I like to combine recipes, and sometimes it really works for me.  This time it did not.  I saw a galette on another site that had these pretty folded edges around the pastry, and I wanted to replicate that.  However, I followed Martha’s recipe, and cooked my pastry dough for a few minutes before folding the edges, and when I eventually tried to fold the edges after the pastry came out of the oven, it was no longer malleable enough to do so.  However, I did it anyway, and that is why my galette is not perfectly round and has some cracks in it.  I made up for it with my spiral of apple slices which I think made this dessert much more upscale. 

Apple Galette (adapted from Martha Stewart)

1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into pieces

5 red apples (I used Gala)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pastry Dough:  Add flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt into a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add butter and pulse until mixture looks like coarse meal.  Continue to pulse while adding 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water, until the dough it combined and clumpy.  Remove dough and press into a disk shape.  Wrap it plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Apple Filling: Peel, core, and roughly chop 2 apples. In a medium frying pan, over medium heat, add the chopped apples,1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very tender.  About 15 to 20 minutes.  Remember to stir because they can burn easily once they get tender.  Add water, 1/4 cup at a time, if the pan gets too dry while the apple mixture is cooking.  Then, remove apple mixture from heat and transfer to a bowl.  Allow to cool.  Once cooled, stir in 3 tablespoons lemon juice.  Set aside.

Cooking Pastry Dough:  Throw some flour on a clean surface and roll out the dough disk into a 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.  Sprinkle with sugar and prick the dough with a fork several times to prevent puffing.  Gently fold edges of dough ½ inch to 1 inch toward the center to create a folded design around the outside of the galette.  Bake on a baking sheet for 8 minutes, until it just starts to harden or set.  Allow to cool.

Apple Topping:  Peel, core and slice 3 apples in 1/8-inch wedges.  Place in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. 

Putting it all together:  Pour apple filling into center of dough, leaving a 1 to ½ inch border.  Arrange apple slices over mixture in a spiral pattern, slightly overlapping each piece. Sift confectioners’ sugar over galette.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

 

I am always looking for the best tomato sauce.  I love tomatoes and I love pasta.  Finding the perfect sauce can be difficult.  There are so many bad sauces out there.  I really do not like tomato sauce in a jar from the supermarket.  There is one brand that I can somewhat tolerate…if I add onion, garlic and wine to it, but most of them are either bland or entirely too salty.  I try new things while making sauce all the time.  Sometimes I add carrots to make the sauce more sweet, sometimes cheese to thicken it up, and sometimes good red wine to give it a lot of flavor.  And of course, I always add onion and garlic.  When I came across this recipe for tomato sauce and saw all the rave reviews and how simple it was too make, I was sold .  The recipe calls for butter, which is what probably makes this sauce so tasty, and although I do not think I can make this my regular tomato sauce, due to all the calories, I really really enjoyed it.  It is the best sauce that I have had in a long time.

Now what to make with this sauce…  My husband likes turkey meatballs.  I load them with garlic, onion, parmesan and parsley, and cook these massive meatballs in a pan with no oil or butter.  Turning to mini-turkey meatballs sounded like more my style. I love how they were bite-sized.  Adding flour to the meatballs provided a nice golden crust when cooked that I really liked too. 

The finished product is a satisfying home-cooked meal.  The tomato sauce tasted just how tomato sauce is supposed to taste (without the added saltiness and fake basil flavors), and finding the mini meatballs hiding among the ziti was delightful.  The melted pecorino was a nice addition, but I do not think it was really needed.  Just adding some grated parmesan on top is good enough.

Baked Ziti with Tomato Sauce and Mini-Turkey Meatballs

(Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking and Smitten Kitchen)

Meatballs:

1 pound ground turkey

1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 garlic cloves chopped
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup Parmesan
1 egg
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground Black pepper
1 cup flour, spread on a plate

Tomato Sauce 

34 ounce (approximately) whole or plum peeled tomatoes from a can

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion

1 box ziti

1 ½ cups freshly grated pecorino cheese (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Tomato sauce

Peel onion and cut in half.  In a large sauce pan, add tomatoes, butter and onion.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Then, crush the tomatoes against the sides of the pot with a wooden or silicon spoon.  Cook another 15 minutes.  Remove onion and set aside.

Meatballs

Heat milk and add to bread crumbs.  Let soak for 5 minutes.  Chop garlic and parsley.  Place in a bowl with egg and parmesan cheese.  Add ground turkey and bread crumbs to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper.  Mix meat with other ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Spread flour out on a plate, and set aside another plate to collect the meatballs.  Roll meat into cherry-sized balls.   Roll the meatballs in the flour.  Then place as many meatballs as can fit in a colander at a time and shake well so that the excess flour is released.  Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a skillet, or spray with Pam, and place skillet on medium heat.  (My skillet is non-stick, and I did not use anything to coat the skillet and the meatballs still cooked with a nice golden crust).  Place as many meatballs in the pan as can fit and still cook evenly.  Cook meatballs, turning them on all sides.

Boil pasta while you are cooking the meatballs.

Once the meatballs and pasta are done, place ziti in a large casserole dish, pour tomato sauce on top and add ¾ of the cheese.  Mix through with a large spoon.  Then add ¾ of the meatballs, and mix them through as well.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and slightly golden.  You can use all the meatballs if you would like, but the recipe makes many many meatballs and I thought that adding all of them would be overkill.  So I saved the rest for future meals and snacking.

 

After purchasing the jumbo bag of walnuts from Costco, I went in search of things to bake that included walnuts. One of my favorite sites had a walnut cake that sounded perfect.  After making the goodies for the bake sale, I wanted to bake something a little different.  Something that was a little more refined.  When I saw this cake, I thought…this looks like a grown-up cake.  Something to have with your coffee, while reading the paper.  For some reason, I didn’t think that it would be too sweet, and for some other reason, my husband was convinced it should have honey in it.  No honey, but it was actually really sweet.  I believe that this cake is best served in small slices because of the incredible sweetness each bite contains. 

 

After I removed the cake from the oven, it deflated as it cooled.  The top also got very sticky.  When I flipped it out of the cake pan, I placed it on a sheet a wax paper so that it would not stick to the plate.  The cake looks very dainty, small in height, and once the wild blueberry jam was spread on top it looked very dressed up.

 

 

Walnut Jam Cake with Whipped Topping (replicated from SmittenKitchen, adapted from Gourmet.com)
1 1/4 cups walnuts
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

½ cup jam of your preference (we chose wild blueberry preserves, but I think fig jam or raspberry would be great too)

Whipped topping (purchase cool whip like we did, or make your own)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place rack in middle of oven. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. First, toast walnuts by placing them in a shallow baking pan at 350°F for 10 minutes.  Allow walnuts to cool.  Then add cooled walnuts and sugar to a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped.   Add butter and process until combined.  Then add eggs and vanilla and process until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse just until incorporated.

Pour batter into your prepared cake pan.  Band the cake pan against the counter a few times to remove any air pockets.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, and then remove from pan.  Then allow to cool completely before spreading jam on top of cake, and adding the whipped topping.  Refrigerate.

When we were in Paris last year, we had the best beef bourguignon at a small restaurant where the tables were so close together that it felt like you were actually eating dinner with the strangers next to you.  I have always been a fan of beef stew.  I have memories of my aunt’s beef stew, but unfortunately I do not have the recipe. I remember how tender everything was and how each bite was just delicious. I often try to replicate my memory of it, but it never comes out quite right. 

The beef bourguignon was nothing like my aunt’s comforting stew.  It was much more refined with much stronger flavors.  Although I really love beef stew in all its forms, I rarely finish all of the meat in the dish. I much rather have a little piece of meat with lots of veggies that have borrowed flavors from the meat.  When I came across this recipe for Mushroom Bourguignon I thought that it was a fantastic idea.  When I explained what I was cooking to my husband, I believe that he was a bit confused that there was no meat.  The sauce was very tasty, and although I used regular white button mushrooms instead of portabella or cremini, it turned out well.  I especially liked the pearl onions, which gave the sauce a sweeter taste.  However, I must admit that while we were eating, I did say…this is good, but would be great with a little beef in it.

Mushroom Bourguignon (adapted from SmittenKitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 pounds mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices

1/2 carrot, finely diced (or handful of baby carrots)

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup full-bodied red wine (I used Malbec)

2 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

¼ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper

Pinch of salt

Egg noodles

In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Throw the mushrooms into the pot, but do not crowd them.  Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken.  About three or four minutes. Remove mushroom and set aside. 

Then add a tablespoon of olive oil, and sauté the carrots, onions, thyme, a pinch of salt and ¼ tsp of fresh ground pepper until onions are slightly browned.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the wine.  Turn the heat on high, and reduce wine by half.  Then add tomato paste and beef broth and stir until combined. Add the mushrooms with any juices that have collected.  When the liquid begins to boil, reduce temperature to low, so it simmers for about 20 minutes.  Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more. 

 In a small bowl, combine butter and the flour with a fork.  Stir it into the stew. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Boil egg noodles.  Serve mushroom sauce atop a bed of egg noodles.

Swiss chard seems to be sweeping the food blog world.  Everyone is using it in everything from eggs to pasta.  What is this Swiss chard phenomemon you ask?  Although it is typically in season from June to August, swiss chard looks great right now in the local grocery stores and it is incredibly cheap.  It is another bitter-tasting green that is usually eaten with many other ingredients surrounding it. 

 

With my left over gigantic sweet potatoes that I had from a few weeks ago, I decided to try this recipe.  In my opinion, this dish really seems to belong to Thanksgiving, with the sweet potatoes and nutmeg and all, but I found it to be a delightful springtime side dish or meal as well. 

 

I did a little revising to this recipe for several reasons.  First, I did not use enough greens.  One bunch looked like plenty to me in the store, but once the greens cook, their bounty decreases.  So I would add another bunch of chard.  I used skim milk instead of whole milk my first time through, but I would recommend the whole milk because I felt like the sauce sort of disappeared while the gratin was baking.  A thicker sauce may have more staying power.  I got rid of the parsley and thyme because I wanted to actually taste the chard and sweet potatoes and not have the dish be over taken by thyme, which I feel thyme has a tendency to do.   Also, and most important I believe, add more cheese.  The original recipe calls for 1 ¼ cups cheese, which I felt was too little.  It did not cover the layers at all, and after baking, the only cheese you could taste was the cheese sprinkled on top of the dish.  I chose Emmentaler cheese because I tend to really like this cheese in general.  But I think you could use any type of Swiss cheese or gruyere.  I would avoid cheddar and parmesan though, just because I don’t think cheddar would necessary compliment the sweet potatoes and the parmesan does not have the right consistency for melting in this gratin. 

Once the gratin is prepared you have this pretty multi-colored dish, and once it is cooked, the golden top accentuates the purples, oranges and greens which have now taken on deeper tones.

 

The sweet potato definitely steals the show in regards to flavor.  The combination of the sweet potato, greens and cheese make the dish a comfort food.  I also enjoyed finding the pops of Swiss cheese throughout.     

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin (adapted from SmittenKitchen)

1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 bunches Swiss chard

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely grated Emmentaler cheese (or Swiss cheese or Gruyere)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  First, separate leaves and stems of the chard.  Cut leaves and stems into 1 inch pieces.  Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot over moderately low heat until softened. Add chard stems, pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper and cook until tender. Turn heat to medium-high, and add the leaves and cook until wilted.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Place greens in a colander to drain.  Make sure to press as much liquid out of the leaves as possible to avoid sogginess.

 Peel the sweet potatoes and then cut into slender 1/8 inch thick rounds.  Then, place milk and garlic in small saucepan and bring to simmer.  Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat and stir in flour, and whisk for one minute.  This is the roux, as my Husband always loves to point out.  Add the milk/garlic and continue to whisk for about 2-3 minutes, until thickened. 

 Butter a deep baking dish.  I used a glass rectangle Pyrex dish.  Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish.  Add a ½ cup of the cheese. Spread half of the greens mixture over the cheese.  Again add a ½ cup of the cheese over the greens. Pour half of the sauce over the layers.  Then spread the remaining sweet potatoes, ½ cup cheese, and remaining greens.  Pour remaining sauce over those new layers.  Add ½ cup cheese to top. 

 Cover the dish with aluminum foil, but be careful to not press the foil down near the cheese or it will cook to the foil.  Bake for 1 hour, until most liquid id absorbed, and then cook another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.