Tag Archives: baking

Italian Fresh Purple Grape Cake

I was so excited earlier in the week – I found a lovely recipe for grape cake – a simple cake, with fruit, and just a touch of powdered sugar on top.  My kind of cake – no icing!  I bought my grapes and was prepared to make it this weekend – and couldn’t find my recipe!  Where did it go?  I thought for sure it was in the new Mediterranean cookbook I paid full price for at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at the end of December.  Let me just say, it was worth the money!  But it did not have the grape cake recipe.  I checked through a few of my other cookbooks at home – no luck.  Where did I see it?  I remember well the beautiful picture – my mouth salivated at just the thought of a tiny piece!  I thought perhaps it was in one of the two cookbooks I bought at the half-price bookstore last week – when my sister said, I’m sooo glad you got a cookbook, since you don’t have any.  Did anyone recognize the sarcasm dripping off that sentence?  Okay, so I have a few cookbooks!  But to the pressing matter at hand – I don’t have one with a grape cake recipe!  So what else was I to do – I went to the internet!  Found a great recipe at allrecipes.com!  This cake was just as good as I imagine – better, actually!  The lemon and orange zest gave it an over-the-top flavor – and the grapes were soft and warm.  I added a dusting of powdered sugar – since that was a completion of the picture I had carried around with me all week!  Try this recipe – you will love this cake!

Italian Fresh Purple Grape Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 – 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 10 ounces small purple grapes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter and flour a 9 inch springform cake pan, tapping out any excess flour.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes.  Add the butter, oil, milk and vanilla extract, and mix until blended.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Add the lemon zest and orange zest, and toss to coat the zest with flour.

Spoon the flour mixture into the bowl of batter and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more.  Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquids.

Stir in about 3/4 of the grapes into the batter.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.

Place the pan in the center of the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining grapes.  Bake for about 40 minutes more, until the top is a deep golden brown and the cake feels quite firm when pressed with a fingertip.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  After 10 minutes, run a knife along the sides of the pan.  Release and remove the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the pan base.  Serve at room temperature, cut into thin wedges.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!


Orange, Olive and Onion Pizza

After having such success with my very first homemade pizza Friday night, I decided to branch out a little with the second one!  The recipe for pizza dough from Linda at Savoring Every Bite makes two pizzas.  For the second one, a few nights later, I couldn’t help but remember the orange salad I made the other day.  The sweet, flavorful oranges mixed with thinly sliced red onion and salty green olives was so tasty I thought it should be made into a pizza!  Who knows, perhaps it will become a classic!

After preparing the dough according to Linda’s recipe, add some shredded mozzarella and pecorino romano cheeses.  Peel two large oranges with a sharp knife, leaving no pith.  Slice and add to the pizza.  Add a generous handful of roughly chopped large green olives and some thinly sliced red onion.  I added just a bit more of the pecorino.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 18 to 20 minutes.  A very different taste for a pizza, but one I think you will enjoy!  Ritchey loved it – and so did my sister!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!!!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!!!

I am so excited I’m actually giddy – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Samuel Adams lager I’m polishing off at this very moment!  It went quite well with the pizza you see in this photo.  This, my very first homemade pizza!  A very foreign admittance to many of you – especially Linda at Savoring Every Bite since she makes pizza every Friday night!  It was her pizza dough recipe I used!  It was so easy, Linda, I believe Friday night will be pizza night for us, too!

The directions for pizza dough can be found at Linda’s website.  Her Roasted Cauliflower Pizza looks so very good, but I didn’t have the ingredients at home.  So my pizza has a different look – but the same good crust on the bottom!  Linda’s recipes always turn out exactly as the photos on her blog – I’ve tried many of them!

I used some of my frozen tomatoes to make my marinara sauce.  In a sauce pan over medium heat I cooked the tomatoes until they thickened.  A pinch of salt, a little black pepper, oregano and basil helped give it a good flavor.  My other ingredients were thinly sliced red onion, slivers of red pepper, pepperoni, about 4 ounces of shredded mozzarella, 1-1/2 cups of finely shredded Pecorino and a sprinkle of parsley.  The pizza was baked at 425 degrees for about 18 to 20 minutes.  I can’t wait to try another one next week!

Now to my second reason for excitement!  Cecilia at thekitchensgarden has nominated me for the Reader Appreciation Award!  You can only imagine my surprise and delight!  Cecilia has a lovely blog that is filled not only with lots of humor, recipes and farm animals, but many thought-provoking topics  that make us stop and think – and realize ways in which we can share our blessings with those around us.  Her lovely ideas of teaching children to cook and helping others grow their own gardens – even if it starts as one plant – truly speak to my heart.

Now comes the difficult part of nominating six readers for the award – but it cannot be anyone who has already received the award – including Cecilia.  Very difficult since so many of you have received this award.  So I give it out to all my readers – from me to you with a sincere thank you for going along with me on my cooking adventures and our little side trips to the garden or Shaker Village or a tea room.  I started this blog with no idea I would meet such wonderful, interesting people – and that they would become my friends!  I do heartily thank you for including me in this blogging world of food and fun!  And since John at from the Bartolini kitchens has such faith in me, I may try homemade pasta tomorrow!

Christmas Gingerbread Muffins

Is there any better smell than fresh gingerbread baking in the oven?  Gingerbread muffins are a marvelous treat no matter what your age!  Mine are made with lots of ginger and cinnamon and sorghum molasses!  And for just a hint of freshness, thin strips of orange zest added on top before popping into the oven!  I couldn’t wait to try them!  Such a delightful gingerbread taste – with a hint of orange!  How appealing to sit by the Christmas tree and have a muffin and tea!  Pure bliss!

Christmas Gingerbread Muffins

  • 1 – 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 – 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 – 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup sorghum molasses
  • orange zest

Add flour, baking powder, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Stir well.  Add the milk, egg, cooking oil and molasses.  Stir until ingredients are well mixed.  Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full (my batch made 15).  Top with orange zest.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Enjoy!

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

It has rained all day – not just rained, it has been a down pour!  When the water reaches from the bus garage to the handicap ramp at the board office, things are getting serious.  I start thinking about a boat.  This morning there was a 24 inch leak in the ceiling, from the wall near the copier towards the light fixture.  There was a constant drip, drip, drip into three trash cans all day!  It was so bad I opted to stay in at lunch!  Now, twelve hours later, it’s still raining!  Tonight’s supper had to be good, had to make up for the lousy weather!  I think it did!  Our main dish was country ham, julienned, and cooked with onions sauteed in butter and white wine, atop three corn cakes.  That will be tomorrow’s post!  And dessert was this lovely crisp – apples and cranberries topped with a flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, butter and spice mixture!  And a dollop of ice cream – just to make things a little more interesting!


Apple-Cranberry Crisp

  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • ice cream, optional

Place the apples and cranberries in a greased 8-inch square baking dish.  In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and all-spice; cut in butter until mixture is soft and crumbly.  Sprinkle over apples and cranberries.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until apples are tender.  Serve warm, with ice cream!  Enjoy!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

In my quest for the best fruit and cheese muffin, I have taken a different approach.  Instead of mixing the cheese into the batter, I wanted a muffin in which the cheese was more pronounced.  I wanted you to say, “Wow!  It IS cheesy!” when you took your first bite!  I decided to soften cream cheese and add lemon zest for the goodness in the middle. When filling the muffin tins I put in half the amount of batter, added a dollop of the cream cheese and lemon zest, and topped with the rest of the muffin mix.

I didn’t try the muffins until after taking my photos of the one muffin, halved, to show the goodness on the inside!  It was wonderful – the muffin soft and tender – full of blueberries!  And the warm cream cheese center with the hint of lemon!  Can’t wait for you to try these!  After they cool just pop them in the microwave for 15 or 20 seconds if you want that warm from the oven taste!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

  • 1 – 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 well-beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • zest of one lemon

Stir together thoroughly the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix the egg, milk and cooking oil together in a measuring cup.  Stir the frozen blueberries into the flour mixture.  Add the milk, egg and oil.  Stir just until moistened.  Grease your muffin tin with butter.  Fill muffin tins with one half the batter.  Add a dollop of the cream cheese and lemon mixture.  Cover with the remaining batter.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Divine Apple Crostata

Nothing tastes better than apple pie – except perhaps if it’s an apple crostata!  A crostata is a more rustic way of making a pie – and certainly much easier!  The crust is whirled in the food processor – cold butter, flour, sugar and salt – until the butter is coarse and small.  Add a few tablespoons of ice water until the dough forms a ball.  The dough chills in the refrigerator until the apples are peeled and sliced.  Roll dough into a large circle on a floured surface.  When you start, roll your dough a couple of times.  Turn over, adding more flour to the surface if necessary.  Do this a couple of times – the dough will not stick and can easily be moved to your baking sheet.  Place apples, cinnamon and sugar in the center of the circle of dough.  Wrap the dough over the apples – leaving a center circle of apples showing through.  With an egg wash and final sprinkle of sugar your crostata is ready for the oven!  Now you can enjoy the wonderful aromas that will come from your stove!  Apples, spices, pie crust!  Perhaps this will give the traditional pumpkin pie a run for its money!

Apple Crostata

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice water
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for the egg wash

Make the crust in your food processor.  Add the flour, sugar and salt – pulse a time or two to mix dry ingredients.  Add the butter.  Pulse until the butter is coarse and small.  Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time – down the chute of the food processor – until the dough clumps and starts to form a ball.  Wrap dough in plastic and leave in refrigerator about 15 minutes – enough time to prepare your apples!

Combine the apples, 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon.  Stir.  Flour your surface.  Roll dough into a large circle, about 12 inches in diameter.  Place your crust on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Add the apple mixture to the center of the dough, leaving at least two inches.  Fold the dough over the apple mixture, pinching sides together when needed.  Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the crostata.  Bake in a 400 degree oven until crust is golden, about 40 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

Cherry Cheese Muffins

Last night was a red letter day in our household – there was no dessert!  Perhaps that should be black letter day.  The recent Chocolate-Orange Biscotti and Apricot Almond Cookies are a distant memory.  I couldn’t disappoint the hubby two nights in a row.  Even though a pumpkin pie is just around the corner, I thought some good muffins would be the way to end a very busy work week.  Which ones?  Cherries and Cheese came to mind – I love Danish with these two ingredients – but how fattening is that?  These muffins are made with whole wheat and white flour – much better for you!  Well, if you can say that about a sweet!

I microwaved the dried cherries for one minute.  It plumped them a bit, and helped bring out the flavor.  Adding almond slices on top of the muffins gave them time to toast while in the oven.  All in all, I was highly pleased!  I hope you will be, too!

Cherry Cheese Muffins

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 well-beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup dried cherries, microwaved for 1 minute
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded asiago cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Stir together thoroughly the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix the egg, milk and cooking oil together in a measuring cup.  Stir the cheese into the flour mixture, then add the cherries and egg mixture.  Stir just until moistened.  Grease your muffin tin with butter.  Fill muffin tin with batter.  Sprinkle sliced almonds on the muffins.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Biscuits – Just Waiting for Some Sorghum Molasses?

Friday my step-father teased me at lunch that he didn’t think I could make homemade biscuits!  Fully aware of what he was doing, I promised him the best homemade biscuits he’d ever had when we came for supper Sunday night.  This has been our routine for several years now – my sister and I cook and take Mom and Virgil supper every Sunday night.  They like the old tried and true recipes – I don’t experiment with them!  I leave that for Ritchey!  So even though I used Ina Garten’s Chive Biscuits recipe, it was sans chives!  These beauties lived up to their reputation when I made them – and Virgil had to eat his words, uh, biscuits – with sorghum molasses – just the way he likes them!

Rising in the oven!

Chive Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives or fresh parsley
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.  With the mixer on low, add the half-and-half and beat until just mixed.  Add the chives and mix until just combined.

Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and knead lightly into a rectangle 3/4 inch thick.  Cut out rounds with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are firm.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

A ‘Never Frozen’ Chicken Pot Pie!

It’s another leftover supper tonight!  A bit of chicken from Sunday supper.  A few green beans, carrots, potatoes and red onions cooked together.  This will make a delightful chicken pot pie!

Since the potatoes were few and far between I added an extra one to the pot.  My last two leeks went into the dish – oh how we will miss them until next season!  A handful of fresh dill, just a bit of added salt and pepper.  Lastly, half a cup of white wine with two teaspoons corn starch, whisked together.  All that was needed was a luscious pie crust!

Pie crust sounds daunting, but is very easy.  Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder in your mixer (or food processor – either will do!).  Mix just a moment to combine dry ingredients.  Add 1 stick butter cut into small pieces.  Mix until butter is about the size of small peas.  Add 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water, one at a time, until a moist clump forms.  Gather dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes.  At that time take half the dough and roll out for your bottom crust.  Arrange in dish.  Roll out top crust.  Add chicken mixture to dish and cover with top crust.  Using 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water beaten together, brush on top crust.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.  Enjoy!

Today I present to you my 125th post for Food Flowers Herbs and Life!  And I also present my 350th post for Kentucky Kindred – my genealogy blog, for those of you who have not heard of my other love!