Tag Archives: butter

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!


Gruyere Grilled Grandeur

A simple grilled cheese sandwich – or is it a ‘not’ so simple grilled cheese sandwich?  Everyone has enjoyed the offering of bread and cheese – with a little butter! – such goodness!  Our mothers fixed us grilled cheese for lunch, a snack, when we needed comforting – it was the be all and end all of mothering!  Grilled cheese goes great with soup – especially perhaps a tomato soup – and the sandwich is used for dipping!  It can be that late night meal when we need something quick and easy!

Gruyere is our cheese of choice when it comes to making ‘the’ grilled cheese sandwich!  Yes, this lovely cheese was just featured in the fondue blog!  But around our house it serves in many capacities!  Scalloped Potatoes made with Gruyere have such a depth of taste.  Shredded and used for salads, added to any sandwich, the list goes on and on.  This cheese works wonders no matter how it’s used!

Everyone knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich!  I use a nine-grain bread, spread a little butter on the outside slices – well, perhaps more than a little – and fill the middle of the sandwich with good Gruyere!  I also add a little butter to my skillet.

Turn the sandwiches several times – to brown both sides and allow the cheese to melt into utter gooey goodness!  Good bread, butter and cheese – what more could you want?  Enjoy!  What cheese do you prefer for your grilled cheese sandwiches?

Shakertown’s Johnny Cakes and Country Ham

For a plate of simple goodness, I followed the philosophy of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill – in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.  Shakertown, as it is called by the locals, is one of our favorite places on earth – and it’s only seven miles from our home!  We take advantage of that quite often, stopping by after Sunday church for lunch, a Saturday afternoon walk or one of the special events that are held throughout the year.  This weekend Shakertown is hosting The Simple Gifts of Christmas.  The village is decorated for Christmas in the style of the Shakers – greenery, red ribbons and candles.  There will be musical performances of traditional Shaker songs, candlelight tours of the buildings, children can make ornaments.  There will be wagon rides and in the evening caroling.  And food!  No trip to the village is complete without at least a Shaker dessert!  Lemon Shaker Pie and Bread Pudding with Bourbon sauce are among the favorites!

This is a very easy recipe – it’s almost a matter of just assembling!  Four slices of very good, fully cooked country ham are used in this recipe.  My personal choice is Clifty Farms.  The ham is julienned.

One large, sweet onion is thinly sliced, then sauteed in 3 tablespoons of butter until soft.

Add the ham and 1/2 cup of white wine.  Cover and simmer on low, just allowing the ham to heat through, while making the Johnny Cakes.  For six cakes I used one cup of jalapeno cornbread mix and 3/4 cup of milk.

In a skillet, on medium high heat, drizzle a little olive oil, and make three cakes, spreading the cornmeal mixture to flatten it.  Let the cakes brown on both sides.  Arrange three cakes per plate and cover with the ham mixture, including the wine/butter sauce.  Enjoy!

Sweet Potatoes for a Crowd

Thanksgiving dinner at mom’s today – my dishes are the Cranberry- Ginger Chutney from yesterday’s post, green beans cooked with country ham, and sweet potatoes.

My sweet potatoes would be in the tradition of my grandmother, but dressed up just a bit since it was a special occasion!  When Grandmother Carrico made sweet potatoes she cut them in half, melted butter in her dish, placed the sweet potatoes cut side down in the melted butter and baked them until they were soft and tender.

I did primarily the same thing except these sweet potatoes were rather large so I quartered them.

And in addition to the melted butter I sprinkled a good amount of dark brown sugar into the pan.  Next, cinnamon and nutmeg.  A drizzle of honey – a serving spoonful for each pan.  I added my sweet potatoes next – cut side down.  And over everything some orange juice.

The dishes were covered with foil and placed in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes.  I removed the foil and cooked the potatoes for an addition 15 minutes – or until tender.  Serve cut side up with all the delicious toppings presented in all their glory.  Wow!  They turned out beautifully!  Now just getting the hot pans into the car!  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!

Turkey Perfection!

I must say I was very pleased with my turkey this year!  It came out of the oven nicely browned, very tender and moist – and most of it soon disappeared!  Since there were only 5 of us I chose a small bird, about 15 pounds.  In the preceding years I’ve tried several different roasting pans, but always come back to the simple pan that is included when you buy your stove!  With the entire turkey being on top of the pan – rather than several inches deep in the pan – every part browns evenly.

My turkey thawed in the refrigerator for 5 days – and by Saturday it was easy to remove the neck and giblets and prepare for cooking!  A small handful of sea salt was rubbed inside the turkey.  To keep the turkey moist and flavorful I cut a lemon and a large orange into wedges and inserted in the turkey cavity, along with three large sprigs of fresh rosemary.  A stick of butter was melted in the microwave, allowed to cool a bit, and liberally brushed all over the outside of the turkey.  A sprinkle of black pepper and sea salt and the turkey was ready to go into a 325 degree oven.  I cooked my turkey for about 4 1/2 hours – the last half hour or so with dressing and other vegetables also in the oven.

Every 45 minutes I basted the bird with more butter.  When done, I let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes or so before carving.  The drumsticks and wings were so tender I almost didn’t need a knife!  The carving was soon finished and all dishes were ready for the feast!  It was time to sit down with my family and be thankful for our many blessings!  My wish for all of you is a Happy Thanksgiving with those you love!  Enjoy!

Sweet Potatoes Supreme

This great sweet potato dish was on our table Saturday when we celebrated Thanksgiving!  It is a refreshing change to the usual candied sweet potatoes – usually with marshmallows that are browned just before serving.  My daughter Kate did not agree – little marshmallows on her sweet potatoes just mean Thanksgiving to her.  If I had known the trauma it would cause, I would have made a small dish – marshmallow topped – just for her!  Can’t have a child scarred for life!  Strange, Christmas is not sacred when it comes to food – just Thanksgiving!  Well, we have next year to return to tradition!

Sweet Potatoes Supreme

  • 7 or 8 sweet potatoes
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 2 handfuls of brown sugar
  • 2 small handfuls of cinnamon
  • 1 small handful of nutmeg
  • 1 cup of orange juice


  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup of pecans
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Earlier in the day cook the sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 1 hour.  When the sweet potatoes have cooked, remove skins and add in a large bowl.  Add the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and about half the orange juice.  Mash until well mixed, adding more orange juice if needed.  Taste and add additional spices or brown sugar.  Spread mixture in a 9 x 13 glass dish.  Mix topping ingredients together in a small bowl.  Spread over sweet potato mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot, in a 400 degree oven.  Enjoy!