Friday, July 30, 2010

The Chocolate Touch Cake (and book) No Adults Allowed!

I am and have been an avid hater of food colorings... I feel that they do not belong in our diet in any way shape or form (maybe on Easter Eggs, but that is about it) I t drives me crazy when my kids or my students have blue tongues, green teeth or purple lips. Yuck...gross! Why? Why? BUT.... and a big but here... part of our eating experience is enhanced by color. Visually, when we slice open a watermelon.... we gasp and are in awe at the amazing design and color of it's glorious red insides. The blinding white flesh of a radish next to it's red skin can be so appealing. We are attracted to color.  We eat with our eyes. So why blame my children when they automatically ask for Superman Ice Cream at the local ice cream shoppe. Of course they want the neon blue, red and yellow ice cream.... it has the most appeal. (by the way... I am the mom that always says, NO... you need to choose another flavor that is less fake and more real). But... I am also the mom that once in a great while, splurges and decorates wildly with artificial coloring. Why? Because...the kid in me surfaces (sometimes) and I can enjoy things without feeling guilty!

Yesterday was my last day of teaching summer school. My wonderful group of ELL's (english language learners) and I read a book called, The Chocolate Touch, by Patrick Skene Catling. The story was a take off of the King Midas myth. However, John, the main character in the book, turned everything he touched into chocolate,(even his mot her )! Oooohhh how I would love that ability for a day! The kids loved the book and it made us think about all the sweets we like to eat. I ended up promising the kiddos that I would make them a chocolate cake and bring it in to celebrate the end of our book. I had to go wild... I had to do food coloring, I had to top the cake with brightly colored M&M's. It just seemed so celebratory and festive to top off a chocolaty cake with more chocolate and bright colors.

I made my favorite chocolate cake, topped it with more than a pound of chocolate cream cheese frosting and topped it again with an entire bag of chocolate M&M's. The pan weighed a lot! The kiddos were thrilled about the cake and we relished in eating this doubly chocolate cake, all secretly hoping we would end up with the Chocolate Touch!

The Chocolate Touch Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrohna preferred)
1 and 3/4 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 stick of melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup hot (not boiling) water

In large mixing bowl whisk together your dry ingredients except your cocoa powder. Sift your cocoa powder into the other ingredients and whisk again. Attach mixing bowl to mixer with paddle attachment. Add butter and eggs and mix slowly until moistened. Add buttermilk and mix for a minute. Add hot water and mix again for about 1.5 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans. I was making a sheet cake here so I just put all the batter into my 9"x13". Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Test for doneness.

The Chocolate Touch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages of room temperature cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter in mixer for a while - at least 3 minutes. You want them very blended, add cocoa powder and begin adding powdered sugar in 1/3 cup intervals. Taste along the way, stop when you think you have achieved perfect chocolate cheese cake flavored frosting. It will taste like that. Add the sugar to your liking. I tend to add no more than 2 cups just because I prefer my frosting less sweet. Spread on cooled cake. Top cake with M & M's just before you are serving the cake. 

This is a No Adults Allowed Cake! Serve slices of cake to happy children!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blueberry Lime Ice Cream and Kamut Crostini

So many food little time! I just want to have some giant meet and greet, where all the bloggers can meet face to face.... food to food. Oh well, keep dreaming for now, I will be satisfied with foodie friends and those juicy comments that give me a thrill every time I read one. Does that make me vain? Comments are now the highlight of my middle aged life. weird Has blogging become my only social outlet? yes My husband says I have left him for my food blog. it's true It's not that bad....well, all I do is dream about tricky fun names for blog posts, creative comments for foodie friends, snap endless photos of food.. in the rain, snow, and extreme heat and wonder what will I name my newest cake creation?  by the way, the newest cake  creation will be called...Blackberry Bramble Corn Cake. (& shhh, you are supposed to keep it a secret until it's posted).

Today, I am really going out on a limb. Shaking things up a bit. I have chosen to write a double blog entry. 2 recipes in one blog, can you stand the excitement? Normally I only try to do one recipe in a post, so things don't become deluded was one of those days where I went cooking crazy..barely spoke to my husband or children and forgot to shower. However, to my credit, I did whip up some fantastic Blueberry Lime Cream and tasty Kamut Crostini topped with Kalamata Tapenade, fresh sheeps milk feta and a heirloom tomato cucumber salad.

Like our children wished we would do... I will start with dessert first! Homemade blueberry lime ice cream. I wanted tart, sassy, lip puckering, purple maddening, stain your white shirt blue ice cream. This ice cream lives up to it's description.

Homemade Blueberry Lime Ice Cream

2 pints 1/2 & 1/2
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 pint of blueberries
Juice of 4 limes
3/4 cup sugar for berry mixture
1/2 cup sugar for cream mixture

Directions for making blueberry lime mixture: Place pint of blueberries and juice of 4 limes into heavy bottomed pan. Mix in the 3/4 cup sugar. Turn burner on and simmer mixture until thickened. You do not want this juicy, that could muck things up for you later on. You want it like a nice jam-like consistency. Let cool completely on an ice bath.
Making the ice cream: Mix heavy cream and half and half along with the sugar in a  large bowl. Whisk vigorously. Place cream mixture into ice cream maker and turn on. Let maker spin for 20 minutes and then pour the berry mixture through the top.  Let machine spin for another 10 minutes, scoop soft ice cream into a freezer container and let freeze overnight.

Part II - Kamut Crostini and Olivada Tapenade

Kamut bread has a wonderful flavor. So making crostini with it only heightens the nutty taste and crunch. I purchased this loaf of bread from a Wood Fired Oven Bakery that I used to work at called, Cress Spring Bakery.
Jeff, the owner of the bakery grinds his own flour every week. There is not a single spec of yeast in his bread, it is all made by sourdough starters. The whole process of this bread making is an art form and a labor of love.

Crostini Recipe
1 loaf of good bread, preferably a crusty bread or a baguette
olive oil
black pepper

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn oven on to 350. Slice bread thinly. Brush one side of bread with olive oil. Srinkle with salt and pepper. Turn slices over, repeat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in oven to toast, Check after 5 minutes. For denser bread it will probably take around 10 minutes for the first side to crisp up. Turn when side is browned a bit. The second side will not take as long. Keep an eye on the bread as it can darken quite quickly. Let cool, if not using right away, keep in sealed container.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade 
1.5 cups pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh basil, 6 large leaves

Place ingredients into the food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Place into serving bowl. Easy right?
The above was topped with fresh sheep's milk feta, olive tapenade and marinated tomato cucumber salad.

Tell me what you think!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Toasted Hickory Nut Butter Cookies

Toasted Hickory Nut Butter Cookies

I was told I would never go back to the Pecan. Slave to the Hickory Nut hence forth. I stopped at a Hickory Nut stand at the local market, the two gentle old souls convinced me that the Hickory Nut put the Pecan to shame! Really? Pecans are so buttery and delicious, how could one dare say that this tinier sibling of the Pecan would be any bit tastier? An older woman piped in from behind..."You will never make a Pecan Pie again! The hickory nut is so much tastier." and then in agreement, the two elderly vendors oohed and ahhed in delight at such a delicious reference. I was sold. How could I argue with 3 people who had been baking for twice as long as I had been living!

$10.00 later, I left with a 1/2 lb of these most delicious nuts. What would I make? Savory, sweet? The nuts sat in their baggie all week long. It wasn't until Thursday night, 5 nights later, that I had a chance to make something. We were in for a long  night of storms. What better thing to do than make cookies. These cookies turned out divine... almost like (heaven for bid) Butter Pecan Ice Cream in a cookie!

Toasted Hickory Nut Butter Cookies - Buttery and Crispy

Set oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place 1 cup of hickory nuts on sheet and toast in oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool and then chop until in small bits. You still want chunks, but not a nut meal! Turn oven down to 325.
In mixer with paddle attachment, blend 2 sticks, 1/2 pound of GOOD Butter. I use Organic Valley Unsalted as they are local and their butter is top notch. Add in 3/4 cup organic sugar, brown or white, your choice. I used unbleached sugar but I am sure brown would be delicious. Toss in 1 tsp. good vanilla and 1 tsp salt. (the salt brings out the maple flavor of the nuts) Add in 2 cups white spelt flour (can use wheat - I subbed spelt for a wheat free recipe). Mix until the dough comes together and add in your nuts. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Take dough ball out of fridge. Cut ball in half with pastry cutter, place 1/2 in fridge. Roll out your dough on a floured surface. It will be thick, roll carefully. You want the dough to fairly thin. Cut with your favorite cookie cutter, I used triangles, and place on cookie sheet. 3 rows of 4 cookies. Leave space as these are very butter spread. If your dough has warmed up too much, place in the fridge for 5 minutes to set up.
Cook for about 13 minutes, check. Pull out at 13 minutes for a more tender cookie. Keep in for 15 minutes to caramelize the butter a bit and get a nutter flavor. 
Try not to eat them all in one sitting!
Loads of Food Love! ♥♥♥ Miss Megan

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stolen from Cuba! Frijoles Negros - Cuban Black Beans

frijoles negros y
cuba libre,
te odio.

 No hay comida!

el rey... nadando en el oro de mi abuela.
ladrón ladrón ladrón
pero nunca me robarás el sabor di mi patria

A life altering experience in the kitchen. Two women on a hot Sunday afternoon, sipping icy lemonade and swapping stories and cooking secrets whilst a large pot of black Cuban beans simmers away. This wasn't a date with Emeril or an afternoon tea with the Queen. This was let's get down and dirty, nitty and gritty and spill the beans about real life in Cuba. There is a lot one can learn while listening to a beautiful Cuban woman tell you her story.

Food Rationing. Only your fair share.   
Cuba’s Ration Booklet: Every Cuban is entitled to the following food allowance each month: 3.5 kilos of rice (7.15 pounds) 2.5 kilos of sugar (5.5 pounds) Half a kilo of beans (1.1 pounds) 230 grams of cooking oil (8.10 ounces) 10 eggs 460 grams of spaghetti pasta (16.22 ounces) 230 grams of soy bean paste (8.10 ounces) 115 grams of coffee (4 ounces) 1 loaf of bread (125 grams) (daily) (4.4 ounces) In addition, adults are entitled to 460 of poultry (16.22 ounces) if available, and children under the age of 7 are entitled to 1 liter (34 ounces) of milk a day, distributed at school. - from

I guess we wouldn't be making omlettes -

Consider ourselves fortunate. I sat and listened as my friend shared the first 9 years of her life, before her family won the opportunity to finally leave and fly  in a US jet 90 miles west to Miami. A family that left behind the only life and all the possessions they ever knew. It was cruel, burdened with hardship and riddled with terror. As a nine year old girl, her memories were shaped and not forgotten. As the plane left the air strip in Cuba.... shouts and cries of joy rippled through the plane. They were going to a new home. Upon landing, dressed in their Sunday finest, many got down on their hands and knees to kiss the new land they would now call home. 

Even though everything was left behind, the recipes were held in their hearts and still survive today. These beans were made on a Sunday afternoon in honor of my friend's Grandmother, Ildefonsa.  This gracious woman left behind all that she knew, her home, her wedding ring, her clothing and her kitchen. I have never tasted such wonderful beans.

How to make Cuban Black Beans

1 lb. black beans
1 onion
1/2 a head of garlic
black pepper
bay leaves
5 slices raw bacon
1 smoked ham hock
  1. Begin soaking your 1 lb. of black beans at 6:00 the night before. Soak in a deep bowl and cover with lots of water. Throw in a handful of salt. I use about 1/4 cup course grey sea salt. Cover and let soak.
  2. The following morning, rinse beans, pick out any odd shaped ones, throw into your slow cooker. Cover with double the amount of water as you have beans. Throw in another 2 tsp. of salt and a smoked ham hock. Turn the cooker on high, get it simmering and let it simmer for the next 6 hours. (I know.....  go read yourself a section of  The Girl with a Dragon Tatoo, it takes a while to get into that book!)
  3. Out of the slow cooker and into a heavy bottomed braiser or some other large heavy bottomed pan. Turn your gas on low and let simmer.
  4. Time to add some more flavor. Take your onion, chop into small pieces and throw into the pot. Take your bacon, chop into small pieces and throw into the pot. Add your bay leaves, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and half a head of garlic, chopped finely (not minced). 
  5. Let beans simmer for another hour. Add in a good TBS of your favorite balsamic vinegar. Simmer for another 45 minutes. Turn off burner and let sit at least an hour before eating. Taste for salt. Take out ham bones, and larger chunks of meat. Separate the larger meat chunks and put back in the pot.
Beans just get better and better as they sit. By the third day they are at their peak of flavor. I served ours with fresh avocado, tomato and a bit of freshly chopped cilantro.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

An Ode to the Blueberry - Blueberry Custard Torte

Yup.. it was good. A shortbread crust, crushed underneath the weight of an uber-rich custard, and topped with fresh blueberry topping. Not much more to say folks. Loads of food love....♥♥♥ miss megan

This recipe was modified after another little gem from the Racine Journal Times "Cook of the Week" Recipes. 1957

1 Cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1 TBS brown sugar
Mix ingredients and pat into buttered 8"x8" cake pan or use a pie plate (my personal favorite)Bake at 325 until lightly brown, around 15 minutes. Let cool

2 Cups heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBS cornstarch or 4 tsp. of arrowroot
Cook until thick, using whisk to stir frequently.... let cool for about 15 minutes and then pour onto your fabulous crust.I used arrowroot in the cupboard.

Blueberry Topping
3 cups FRESH blueberries.. I am a seasonal snob... never frozen, only fresh and hopefully in season.
3/4 cup sugar or less.... depending on how sweet you like things. Maybe 1/2  cup if you want to curb your sugar
2 tsp. arrowroot or 1 TBS. cornstarch
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Mix sugar and cornstarch/arrowroot first with a bit of cold water. Add berries and cook until mixture just starts to thicken. Spread onto custard layer an refrigerate. Serve with fresh whip cream or meringue topping. Watch this while on the stove, you could always mash 1 cup of berries and cook that with the other ingredients for your topping and then, after thickened add in the rest of your berries in order to keep them plump. Depends on your taste buds and how much of the flavor you want to release.

all done!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dane County Farmers Market - Worlds Greatest Market?!?!

Dane County Farmers' Market

Dane County Farmers' Market is one of the 
best. Say it with me.... one of the best. It is consistently ranked in the top 5, if not sitting right there at #1 for all US markets.  In the current issue of Saveur Magazine, Dane County Farmers Market is ranked as one of the top 30 markets to visit in the entire World. Did you hear that Wisconsinites... you don't have to travel to Mumbai to get your hot peppers. Did you hear that foodies.... you are in for a treat if you visit Madison and are lucky enough to be here for our Saturday market.

Get there early.... you will find the local restaurateurs with their wagons trolling the market for the best of the best. Star Chef Tory from L'Etoile will surely be there... in true mo-hawk fashion, scooping up world class cheeses, fresh organic greens, and the best grass fed skirt steaks you have ever tasted. 

Get there early and flirt with World Class Cheese Maker Willi Lehner. A dear friend and a Kick A%#  cheese maker. This man form Blue Mont Dairy takes cheese making to the next which I would call.... deliciously daring. His cheeses are sexy and earthy.  Their award winning bandaged cheddar is the stuff that cheese dreams are made of.... utterly delicious. 

Get there early and visit with John and Dorothy Priske of Fountain Prairie Farms. They will sell out of your favorite cut of meat... right before you get there. Early bird gets the worm as the saying goes. Amazing meat, dedicated farmers. Grass fed, conscious and sustainable farming practices make their meat some of the most flavorful and delicious around.

Get their early and avoid the crowds.... get the best berries and snappiest beans. Do your grocery shopping here, take a wagon, basket or something else to spare your back any pain. You will be laden with all sorts of sundries by the time you leave. 

This market is full of so many wonderful, fresh, organic and tempting delicacies. I always leave with fresh eggs, a chicken or two, grass fed beef and greens. Enough goodness to keep us well fed for the week.

A Berry Good Market Indeed

I invite you to come and visit me in Madison some Saturday. We will do the early market run and then cook up the goods for supper. 

loads of food love ♥♥♥ miss megan

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Green Bean Poriyal.... South Indian Style....

Green Beans. My brother hated them. My mother often found them stuffed into the pocket of his pants (yikes) when she was doing the laundry. How he was able to sneak them into pockets I will never know.  Green Beans, they were the green vegetable of choice in the 70's and 80's. There were ever popular in the "Green Bean Casserole" of my mother's era. Remember that one, made with a can of cream of mushroom soup and fried onions on top?

Today, I find it rare to eat good green beans when eating out. Sometimes, I will come across nicely sauteed fresh beans with a garlic butter sauce.   However, the desire to produce tasty dishes with the humble green bean is somewhat lacking in our culture. Maybe we are all worn out from eating too much Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For over 8 years I have been cooking Poriyals.. (dry vegetable curries) out of a fantastic South Indian Cookbook I found called, Dakshin. This cookbook is the bomb, the real deal. You will be dry roasting spices and making freshly ground spice mixtures and dishes that will rival anything you have tasted. (Unless of course you have been fortunate to head over to India or know someone who cooks South Indian.)

This is just a quick and simple version of one of the recipes from Dakshin, nevertheless, it is fantastic and delicious. A braising of the green beans in minimal water tempered in coconut oil, coconut, mustard seeds, and cumin. Your kids will eat this. Guaranteed... well maybe, you might still find them when doing the laundry.
mustard seeds, cumin, and coconut
Green Bean Poriyal.... short version

1 lb. green beans, clean and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
coconut oil for tempering or ghee or a mixture of both
1 TBS mustard seeds
1 TBS cumin seeds
1/4 cup dessicated coconut... not sweetened
1/2 cup water
5-6 Curry Leaves

1. Clean beans and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Heat 2 TBS coconut oil or ghee in heavy bottomed dish for tempering. I use my Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Braiser. I love the enameled cast iron. Safest cookware for your health and really does a bang up job in the kitchen.
3. Add mustard seeds, when they start to turn a bit gray and begin to pop, throw in the curry leaves and the cumin. Let sizzle for just a bit and then toss in the beans and coconut. Salt, stir, add water and cover. Let braise for 5 minutes, stir and let braise again. Keep up this pattern until the beans are your desired firmness. I like to keep some crunch, beans never taste good when over cooked. Who like mushy beans?

Get creative while you cook, turn up the music, and pour some love into your meal!
♥♥♥ miss megan

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

Dish it Up!
Razzle Me Dazzle Me 
Dish me Up Please!
Mama's got raspberries up to her knees!

Somewhere, somebody is eating fresh picked berries. Standing in their open field, just after the summer rains, gorging themselves on these beauties. Oh how I wish it was me! I am bound and determined to have raspberries at my new house. I have planted these tiny little jewels at several of my past haunts.... and now that I own my own home, it is about time to open the earth and plant these berry making brambles.

Do you remember the last time you picked raspberries?

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

Step 1: Mix 1 pint FRESH Raspberries... (I will not make this with frozen berries, absolutely sacrilege) with 1/2 cup sugar. Let them macerate on the counter for 30 minutes.
Step 2: In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar with 1 cup Half and Half, whisk until nicely combined. Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time- whisk away. Add  2 cups of Heavy Whipping Cream and  1 tsp vanilla...( make it organic if your pocketbook allows). Stir in raspberry juice. Not Berries.
Mash berries with the end of your whisk and stir into cream mixture. Pour into your ice cream maker and cream until ready. Put into freezer container and wait at least 6 hours before eating.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pom Sensuous - The Forbidden Fruit

It wasn't the apple....that's for sure. It only has 5 seeds and has no where near the "new car" appeal that a pomegranate does. Yes... the beloved and sensual Pomegranate. What could be more fecund? Glorious, red and round, she is a beauty to behold. She hangs off the small tree, waiting for hands to grasp her. Slip inside this round world and take a peek at the hundreds of plump seeds - mmm absolutely deliciously divine. This ancient fruit, first cultivated amongst olives, figs, grapes and dates brings us back to a different time. Imagine lovely figs, grapes and pomegranates, all nested in a hand rubbed olive wood bowl. A far cry from the Plastic Pom brand juice bottle that has crept it's way into our local grocery stores and a far drive from the Mesopotamia Valley.  A symbol of life, rebirth and eternal life.... I dare say that the apple pales in comparison with what this babe has to offer.

Waking up from my fig leafed dream of flowing white robes and beautiful people feeding me grapes and  palm wine, I sit in my hot kitchen, sweating, grumpy, two kids in need of attention and a change of mood. I grabbed the large bottle of  Pom sitting in my fridge and toss 1 cup into the blender with 2 cups of ice and blended until I had a crimson slush. Poured it in to the hand etched glass.... something so beautiful, no matter how far removed from it's original beauty, deserves a lovely vessel to transport it's deliciousness into the mouths of the hungry, hot and crabby.

Pom Juice Slushee.....
1 cup Pom Juice
2 Cups Ice

Blend, pour, straw, sip and relax out in your back yard. Swing in your hammock and pretend you are being fed fresh figs drizzled with honey and are being fanned by beautiful people..... ahhhh. One can dream can't they?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dahl and Rice and Everything Nice

I know, I know. I have already posted about dahl.... see recipe here. Damn Good Dahl. I just can't help myself. I love it and it is such nourishing food for the entire family. You can get away for eating this meal for under $5.00 for a family of 4! So stock up your Indian Pantry on the essentials so you can make this healing meal that will leave you feeling satisfied with a smile! Invest once in your ingredients and you can easily include this inexpensive recipe into you rotation. Read more about the healing cuisine of India here. If you have any curiosity whatsoever about the healing properties of Ayurvedic Foods and Spices, please consider reading or purchasing Harish Johari's amazing book, Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine. He was an amazing man who took food to a spiritual level. A fantastic enlightening read.

Indian Pantry Essentials

Split Red Dal/Dahl  5 lbs... $10.00
Basmati Rice, the good stuff. Head to your Indian Grocer - we sacrifice organic for taste with this food. $10-20.. depending on size of bag. We like Tilda brand
Purity Farms Ghee $10.00
Organic Coconut Oil - Whole Foods Brand $6.99
Curry Leaves - Frozen Section of Indian Grocery
Brown Mustard Seeds - I keep 1/2 lb. on hand
Organic Turmeric Powder
Organic Ground Coriander
Organic Whole Cumin Seeds
Good Salt - I use a nice Hawaiian pink salt

You invest $50.00 and you will have the makings for at least 10 meals! All for under $5.00 per meal. Top with fresh cilantro and serve with cucumber and yogurt raita. You won't regret it. Remember, cook with love - pass it on! ♥♥♥

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tart and Tangy Key Lime Pound Cake

Ladies and Gentlemen, get out your bundt cake pans for this tart tribute to the tiny south Florida key lime.Tart yourself up and get baking! Now serving....a deliciously moist, not your typical pound cake, tart and tangy cake smothered in a gluttonous key lime caramel glaze. It is a breakfast, lunch, or dinner cake. Top with fresh cream and those wonderful July berries.

If you are expecting your typical dry pound cake that is ready to soak up the sauce...this is not the cake for you. This cake turned out mmmmmmoist. Very moist.

Key Lime Pound Cake and it's Gluttonous Key Lime Caramel Glaze

3 sticks unsalted butter - room temp... but not mushy
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla
grated lime peel from 1 lime
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup key lime juice - I picked up a bottle of Nellie and Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice and it is really good.
1/4 cup soda like, sprite, 7 up or something light and lemony and fizzy.
2 limes, one for zest and one for decoration

Start you oven - bring it up to 325 degrees. Grease and flour your bundt/tube pan. Whisk your dry ingredients together in separate bowl.Cream butter and add sugar, vanilla and one egg at a time, nice and slow until all mixed in. Don't forget to scrape your bowl and bring up the ingredients that tend to get stuck at the bottom. Add in lime peel and slowly add in your flour salt mixture alternating with your liquid. Scoop your batter into your pan and place in oven. This cake takes a long time, it was around 70 minutes. Get yourself some nice long skewers to test the cake with. Nobody wants a cake that is underdone. It will be nice and brown on top.

Let cake rest for about 10 minutes and then pop out onto your cooling rack, careful as cakes are fragile beings.  Poke holes in cake.

The Gluttonous Key Lime Caramel Glaze
1 Stick of butter
4 TBS of Sugar
2 TBS Key Lime Juice
4 TBS Heavy Cream

Melt butter and sugar and lime juice in heavy bottomed pan. Let boil just until you see the color start to change... it will start to brown a bit. This takes a while, around 5 minutes. We are not going for full on caramel thickness.... but close. Add in whipping cream and continue to stir and boil for another minute or so. Take off burner. Gently pour over your cake. You will want your cake on it's serving tray now so it can sop up the glaze. Top with sliced limes and serve with fresh whipped cream and berries.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

alligators and oranges - Florida's Sanibel Island

We just returned from a week on Sanibel Island in Florida. Wow they like it hot, hot hot and steamy down there. A mere 95 degrees most days with a humidity that is out of control. Seriously... I have never been so fond of air-conditioning. Our entire family went for some island R&R to rejuvenate our exhausted spirits after a trying Spring. The sun, the sea, the sand and the ability to say...."no cooking tonight, let's go out for dinner" helped to make a relaxing time for all.
When mama is happy...everyone is happy!
Island Cow, Sanibel Island

Each family member had a different agenda for our trip.
Daughter - Get a tan and find shells
Son - Swim in the ocean and ride the waves
Papa -Search out Alligators and more alligators
Mama - Avoid alligators and Eat my way through the island

We all got our wish, even papa! 
must find alligators!

      I of course wanted to check out all the island see if I could glean any ideas. And being in Florida...pre-oil-spill-hits-Florida-beaches, we took advantage of all the fresh fish we could. 
     The portions we were served were HUGE! Every time we were out, I kept thinking that maybe they would serve up something on a 10" plate. Nope, no such thing. Our food was always served on a GIGANTIC PLATE, covered with COPIOUS amounts of food. I am not complaining.... I guess I was thinking... Florida...sunny, must fit into swimsuit. And it was more like,.....Florida, Hot, Sweaty, my suit is too tight.

      Sanibel Island Restaurant Reviews -

Gramma Dots - The best on the island if you ask me. We just loved this place. Best key lime pie, hands down. Fantastic grouper and assorted fish baskets. You sit right there in the Marina, fresh ocean breeze blows right in. Great for kids, you will not be disappointed. 

Doc Fords - Fun place for a good Rum drink. They are a Rum bar. AMAZING DRINKS! I am now a rum convert after I was served something so utterly delicious I could barely keep my lips off the straw. Besides their fantastic rum collection, their Yucatan Shrimp was OFTW (out of this world) something in the sauce. Pricey, worth it just for a good rum drink. 

The Lazy Flamingo (Periwinkle Way)- Must visit just for the ambience or the huge bowl of chowder! They also serve their kids food on the back side of their signature Frisbee, very cute idea. A bit pricey and huge portions. Split a meal.

The Hungry Heron - Well..... let's just say... not so great. I did order fresh scallops, but when a restaurant has 250 items on their menu, it is hard to do anything well. Flies, you see where I am going with this one? The dinner quickly evolved into silly distractions with the camera.

Pinocchio's Ice Cream - Nice ice cream. Cute place to take the kids. Do not attempt to take a photo though. I was rudely scolded about snapping a photo inside of their store of this cute flying pig. I say if you do not want photo taken.... make a sign that uses a font size larger than 14 and hang in on the front door!

The Island Cow - We tried this place on their last day. We loved it. Bright, cheery and colorful. Long wait, or sit outside. Portion size huge, but the food was really tasty and fresh. Nice kids plates as well. My husband and son had smiles on their faces, even though we opted to sit outside instead of wait out the crowd for air conditioning.

There is more to Florida than freshly squeezed orange juice and alligators. ♥