Tag Archives: orange 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!

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!

Chocolate-Orange Biscotti

Last night I asked Ritchey what sweet he would like.  His response – “My biscotti jar is empty!”  I like biscotti as well as he, so our only choice was what kind?  Almond and orange is a big favorite – but I felt the need for a little chocolate – so added chunks of bittersweet Ghirardelli.  And to push it just a little over the top – some Grand Marnier!  Let’s just say it was very good!

Chocolate-Orange Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks

Place nuts on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Let cool.  In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, Grand Marnier and orange zest.  In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture, mixing until blended.  Cut almonds into halves or thirds and fold in, along with the chocolate.  Pour onto a floured surface.  Divide dough in half.  Form into two logs about 1/2 inch thick, 1 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long.  Place on cookie sheets.  Bake in the middle of a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 minutes or until a light golden brown.  Transfer to a baking rack – cool 5 minutes.  Place on a cutting board and slice diagonally at a 45 degree angle about 1/2 inch thick.  Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 10 minutes, turning them over once, to dry slightly.  Let cool on rack.  Store in a tightly covered container.  Enjoy!


Date and Nut Cake

Would anyone like a little cake with their dates and nuts?  This is the cake my mother made every Christmas!  I don’t believe we had it any other time during the year – perhaps that’s one reason it was so special!  I have added my own twist with the orange zest and orange juice!

My job as executive assistant to the superintendent at the school board has included many different duties!  The first 18 years we had a small Christmas open house for the staff.  My mom would help with making cakes – this one was always the favorite! – along with mountains of country ham and chicken salad on bakery buns, pasta salads, potato salad, veggie trays, fruit trays – and always my hot apple cider!

Mom has Alzheimer’s now and could not follow even the simple instructions of this recipe.  I’ve gone from the role of child to parent – quite an odd experience.  Mom still knows us – the Date and Nut Cake I’m not so sure she’ll remember.  But, since it is a memory from long ago it may strike a chord with her and bring this cake to the forefront.  If not, we’ll just enjoy it as a new experience!

Date and Nut cake

  • 4 cups whole walnuts
  • 1 pound chopped dates
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of two large oranges
  • juice of one orange – about 1/2 cup

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a bundt pan.  Layer nuts and dates in pan.  Beat eggs on medium speed for two minutes.  Add sugar.  Turn mixer to low and add flour, baking powder and salt.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Add vanilla extract and orange zest.  Slowly add orange juice.  Mix well.  Pour over dates and nuts.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Cool for about 15 minutes before carefully taking cake out of pan.  Enjoy!

Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Oranges

Note by Phyllis Brown:  This was one of those nights – something just told me it would be – Ritchey came in early – hot, tired and starved!  My pork chops with sweet potatoes and oranges was already in the oven – and the smell was wonderful!  I just had to make a casserole of our last zucchini and yellow squash – tomorrow’s blog!

I love all the flavors in this recipe!  And the colors!  It’s one I’ve made for years.  The pairing of the oranges and sweet potatoes is succulent!  And with the large sprig of fresh sage and a touch of brown sugar, that was just enough to send it over the top.  Just remember to remove the sage before serving.

Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Oranges

  • 4 pork chops
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 1 large spring of fresh sage
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • one orange, peeled and segmented

Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of your pork chops.  In a skillet over medium high heat, drizzle a little olive oil, then add pork chops.  Brown chops on both sides.  Remove skillet from heat.  In a medium casserole dish add sweet potatoes.  Place two pork chops on top and arrange the sprig of sage in the middle.  Zest your orange over the dish, then add orange segments.  Top with remaining two chops.  In a measuring cup add the brown sugar to the orange juice and stir well.  Pour over chops.  Cover dish with aluminum foil.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for thirty minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Enjoy!