Tag Archives: lemon zest

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!


A Cup of New Year’s Eve Soup

A Cup of New Year’s Eve Soup!

Last night was a wonderful evening – spent in the same way as the previous 25 years or so!  Fondue with good friends Debbie and Dennis!  One new addition to our meal was this New Year’s Eve Soup.  It made a delightful palate cleansing between the spinach-artichoke dip and the fondue!  This is a simple soup that just needs a gentle heating – no boiling for this one!

  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can tart red cherries
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can chunky fruit cocktail
  • 1 large navel orange, peeled and cut into sections (no pith)
  • strips of zest from one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients into a small pan over low heat.  Cover.  Heat through but do not allow to boil.  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!

Lemon and Garlic Green Beans

Lemon and Garlic Green Beans

This is a very easy, but delicious recipe from Everyday Italian.  Sometimes the simple recipes are the most satisfying!

Brown a handful of pine nuts in a hot skillet.  Remove to a small bowl.  In the same skillet saute 3 or 4 cloves of garlic in a drizzle of olive oil for just a minute.  Add 1 quart of canned green beans, drained, or a pound of fresh green beans.  Canned green beans just need to heat through; cook fresh green beans until tender but crisp.  Zest a lemon into strips.  Add roasted pine nuts.  Season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Chicken

I’m not sure what path I took today, but the thought of roasted chicken and dressing would not leave me alone!  It was almost an obsession!  My Grandmother Carrico made the VERY BEST chicken and dressing – cooked in a large cast iron skillet.  Grandmother’s chicken was always perfect – it was wonderfully brown, yet so very tender.  Sadly, I do not know exactly how she prepared and cooked her chicken.  The last time I enjoyed her cooking was about 45 years ago – but I remember exactly how it tasted, how tender it was and that it just melted in your mouth!  Grandmother baked her dressing in the skillet beside the bird – and she always added raisins!  Just too good!

My chicken and dressing is similar to Grandmother’s – but with my own twist!  I do believe this time it came closer to the desired succulent tenderness that I have been seeking!  I loosened the skin at the top and bottom of both sides of the breast – very carefully!  Making a paste of melted butter, chopped rosemary, lemon zest, chopped garlic and just a little white wine, I first basted under the skin, then the entire chicken.  I also added chopped apple in my dressing  – a little salute to fall!  Some brussel sprouts roasted with olive oil and balsamic vinegar completed the meal!  These two recipes will be posted in the next day or two.

Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Chicken

  • 1 small chicken, about 3 pounds
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place chicken on an open roasting pan.  Gently loosen skin at top and bottom of both sides of the breast.  Insert lemon wedges and rosemary sprigs into the cavity of the chicken.  Tie legs together with cooking twine.  In a small bowl mix melted butter, rosemary, lemon zest, chopped garlic, white wine, salt and pepper to make a thick paste.  Baste underneath the skin on the breasts of the chicken, then baste entire chicken.  Roast chicken for about an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.  Baste again about every 30 minutes.  Using an instant meat thermometer chicken will read 180 degrees and will be nicely browned when done.  Enjoy!

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Note by Phyllis Brown:  Chicken cooked with lemon and rosemary is Ritchey’s favorite chicken dish!  He loves to tell me the story of the first time he had it.  His family had just moved to Switzerland and were living in an apartment above the Lindt Chococlate Factory in Kilchberg.  Let’s pause for just a moment – living above a chocolate factory – and more importantly, the Lindt Chocolate Factory!  They’ve had such a hard life!  This could be why we always keep a stash of Lindt chocolate bars in the pantry – dark chocolate with black currant is one of our favorites!  Back to the story.  A French guy who lived in the apartment below them invited them for dinner and served lemon rosemary chicken.  Ritchey doesn’t remember how it was cooked – he just remembers the lovely pairing of lemon and rosemary with chicken!  I have fixed this for him many times throughout the years – or at least a similar version – and it always brings back happy memories for him!  If just using chicken breasts with skins, I will loosen the skin and massage the lemon and olive oil mixture under the skin, inserting a sprig of rosemary before roasting.  Sometimes I slice my lemons paper thin and add them with the rosemary.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces
  • zest of two lemons
  • two large stalks of rosemary, leaves chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Arrange pieces on a large cookie sheet.  Add lemon zest, chopped rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper into a small bowl.  Mix well.  Brush mixture on chicken.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Baste chicken again.  Turn oven to 435 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes or until chicken is nicely browned.  Enjoy!

Dressing Mounds

Note by Phyllis Brown:  Supper tonight was a new twist on an old favorite – dressing mounds.  They are a lovely staple of what to do with leftover turkey or chicken.  Instead of the usual dressing I jazzed it up a bit with lemon and olives.  Generally when this is served the mound is covered in a thick gravy – which I felt would be to heavy.  I made a lemon and wine reduction with garlic and a little fresh dill!  Our second batch of dill is finally coming on – I thought it was a lost cause since we had seen not one plant peek through in several weeks.  The heat must have deterred the growth until now.  The lovely Oven Crisped Potatoes are from Katherine and Greg at Rufus Food and Spirits Guide.  Visit them for the recipe!

Dressing Mounds

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, cubed
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • one handful sage
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 small stalks celery, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 14 ounce package stuffing bread crumbs
  • 8 or 10 large green olives, quartered
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup white wine
  • strips of peel from one lemon

Place turkey, broth and sage in a saucepan.  Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes.  In a small skillet over medium high heat add a drizzle of olive oil, the onion and celery.  Saute for about ten minutes.  Add just a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  In a large bowl add the bread crumbs, olives and lemon zest.

Add cooked onions and celery and turkey.  Add about half the both.  Slowly stir, mixing all ingredients, continuing to add broth until everything starts to stick together.  Using a 1 cup measuring cup, dip out a cup of dressing and put on a greased cookie sheet.  It should make about 6 dressing mounds.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.  After the dressing mounds have baked keep them warm on the stove while you make the sauce.  In a small skillet over medium high heat drizzle a little olive oil.   Add the butter and allow to melt.  Add the garlic and saute for just a moment.  Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Add the wine, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer and thicken just a bit.  To serve plate the dressing mound, spoon a little sauce over and top with lemon peel strips.  Enjoy!