Category Archives: Cakes

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe“Who doesn’t love cake?” Thus my introduction to Holly Farrell began, when I called her at her gardener’s cottage on an estate in the UK, near the Shropshire/Herefordshire border. Farrell is a serious gardener, mom of a toddler, and the author of Grow Your Own Cake: Recipes from Pot to Plate, a genius book that is both a backyard gardening guide and cookbook. The beautiful, inspiring photos are by Jason Ingram.

 

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeFarrell has a delicious twist to her cake recipes, though – she has a vegetable garden devoted to all things cake. How did this come about?

In college, Farrell majored in history. Which led, curiously, to gardening. What? Yes, well, love entered the picture, too, as you’ll find out in a moment. She got the growing bug working at a chili pepper farm, after which she trained at RHS Gardens Wisley, where she gained the Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture and the RHS Certificate and Diploma, both with Commendation – and met her husband! They now live on the country estate where he is the Head Gardener.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread RecipeSoon, she started writing garden books – and freelancing on kitchen gardens for private clients. Now one thing that’s a bit unusual, you’d think, for gardeners – sometimes the accommodations where they lived didn’t have big gardens, because the estate had such extensive gardens! So, she has been growing her own fruit and vegetables for many years, in a variety of settings, from allotments to container gardens. I think for Farrell, gardening is like breathing – something you do no matter where you are. It was amazing to hear her clear passion for gardening –  and her love of teaching how to grow things – from across the pond.

Farrell has always cooked, and always liked cake. This book is a glorious combination of the two, where ingredients you never thought would be in a cake are the stars – or the firmament.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
lavender shortbread cookies

She hopes to inspire people to expand their gardens – and palates. This book will appeal to gardeners who are already growing, and bakers who have never gardened, too. Using freshly grown ingredients (including herbs and flowers) – especially from your own hand and land – makes such a difference. Can’t grow much? Start with herbs in pots on your windowsill, and get the rest from local farmers at your farmer’s market.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Rose cake

I love this book, for it teaches much in both the garden and the kitchen. If you know one, skip ahead to the other. But the recipes (50 of them!) shine, I will be honest. Her chapters include spring and summer cakes, autumn and winter cakes, afternoon tea, pudding, and savory bakes. When I asked what readers might be surprised about her book, Farrell mentions that she while she loves gardening, she doesn’t grow her own wheat, or raises cows and chickens – and the recipe that raises the most eyebrows is the savory cheesecake (you know I flipped right to that page after our afternoon chat, and indeed, I was both intrigued and impressed. Making soon!).

As a mom, I asked Farrell for tips were to get kids started baking (and gardening) early. She said to start early by baking sweet stuff! And while plenty of people are great at hiding vegetables in a cake, that’s not what she’s about. She prefers getting kids to appreciate growing things, picking, and then cooking them. Their time and efforts are rewarded and they’ll want to try it again (and again).

I was impressed with Farrell’s philosophy on gardening, eating, and life. She noted that, “so much goes into the experience of eating – where you are, who you’re with, if the sun is shining, etc. The cakes in the book will taste good, but hopefully you’ll be in a good place, a garden, and the satisfaction of having grown it yourself will make it better.”

To that end, she’s shared two recipes to inspire you.

Questionnaire, with a nod to Proust:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Cake! Or anything involving cheese.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter and eggs, and parmesan cheese (see above).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I’m terrible at deciding between dishes in restaurants, so it’s always nice when they order the other choice so I can try both!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Poor table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Too many to choose, but for the writing, Nigel Slater and recently Ruby Tandoh.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My silicone spatula.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Anything sweet – pudding, dessert, cake…

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken, but I couldn’t live without pancetta for ragu.

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Pea Cheesecake (told you. Make one!)

Favorite vegetable?
Broccoli – it’s what I crave when I’m under the weather, but for baking with, carrots.

Chef you most admire?
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall do great work with their campaigns for better food.

Food you like the most to eat?
I couldn’t live without chocolate.

Food you dislike the most?
Visible fat on meat – I just can’t stomach chewing it. Or semolina and rice puddings, a school-dinner legacy.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Gardening.

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Pollan writes so well, and his Food Rules is brilliant.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At the kitchen table with my husband and daughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
The best meals I’ve ever had out were at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, and at a little place called Da Enzo in Rome.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Hah! No, sorry, I’m not nearly rock and roll (or brave) enough for tattoos.

Growing Carrots & Carrot Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
Grow your own carrots…

G R O W CARROTS
When I first started growing my own vegetables, I had a friend who thought carrots is carrots is carrots. I presented him with my home-grown roots for dinner, pulled from the soil that afternoon. ‘Oh’, he said, ‘so that’s what carrots are supposed to taste like.’

BEST VARIETIES
For recipes that call for blended or grated carrot, sweet, juicy, long, blunt-ended varieties are best, such as ‘Sugarsnax 54’, ‘St Valery’,
any of the ‘Nantes’ type or the shorter ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ for growing in pots. When using whole carrots, as in Root veg
tarte Tatin, baby carrot varieties such as ‘Paris Market’ are a good choice, and also suitable for growing in pots.

PLANTING
Sow carrots in a sunny spot in spring, and again at intervals until late summer. Scatter the seed thinly in a drill in well-prepared soil free from large stones. Small carrots can be grown in pots, and this is actually preferable to growing them in heavy clay soils.

MAINTENANCE
Carrot flies are attracted by the scent of the foliage so avoid brushing it while tending the plants. To protect the crop from such pests, cover with horticultural fleece or fine mesh. Clear plastic tunnels can also be used if aired daily. Check the edges and folds regularly for slugs and snails. Thin the seedlings once the roots have grown to a usable size, leaving one plant every 10cm/4cm or so.

HARVEST
Satisfying as it is to just pull up carrots using the foliage, this should be avoided so the root does not break; instead use a fork to lever them out of the ground. Carrot thinnings provide the first harvest, while the main crop will be ready around four months after sowing.

Recipe: CARROT CAKE

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe
for this amazing carrot cake!

Perhaps the most well-known of all the vegetable cakes, and with good reason, carrot cake comes in many guises. This sponge version is lightly spiced, moist and includes a zesty buttercream. It is light enough for baking with fresh, sweet carrots in summer.

MAKES A TWO-LAYER CAKE
YOU WILL NEED
2 x deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
200g/7oz peeled carrots
2 tbsp natural yogurt
1 tbsp orange juice
330g/11oz plain flour
300g/10oz light brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tbsp baking powder
180g/6oz unsalted butter
3 eggs

Candied carrot:
1 peeled carrot
70g/2½oz caster sugar
70ml/2½fl oz water

Buttercream:
300g/10oz icing sugar
150g/5oz unsalted butter
3 tsp lemon juice, to taste

Decoration:
1 lemon, zest
75g/2½oz walnuts and/or pecans, toasted

METHOD
• For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grate the carrots, then blitz in a food processor or blender with the yogurt and orange juice to form a rough purée. Set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, spices and baking powder into a large bowl, then beat in the butter until it has coated the dry ingredients and the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Beat in the eggs until just incorporated, and then the carrot purée for 2–3 minutes. Divide between the two tins. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Then remove from the oven and turn out the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
• For the candied carrot, using a zester or small knife, pare long, thin strips of carrot into a small saucepan. Then add the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until a thin syrup has formed. Hook out the carrot strips and leave to cool on a wire rack.
• For the buttercream, sift the icing sugar and beat with the butter to combine, then add lemon juice to taste. Beat for 5–10 minutes until light and fluffy.

TO ASSEMBLE
Use half the buttercream to sandwich the two layers of cake together, and the other half to cover the top. Grate over the lemon zest and finish by sprinkling over the toasted nuts and candied carrot.

 

Recipe: PUMPKIN SODA BREAD

i8tonite with Grow Your Own Cake Author Holly Farrell & her Pumpkin Soda Bread Recipe

Soda bread, which is created using baking powder rather than yeast, requires no kneading and no proving. It is best served warm, making it an ideal choice for a quick weekend lunch. Tradition has it that the cross sliced into the top of the bread is to ward off the devil, but whatever the origin it makes each loaf easy to tear apart into
chunks to share.

MAKES 2 LOAVES

YOU WILL NEED
1 × baking sheet, dusted with flour

INGREDIENTS
500g/1lb 2oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
4 tsp baking powder
150g/5oz grated pumpkin
100g/3½oz grated
gruyere cheese
300ml/½ pint buttermilk

METHOD
• Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Mix the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, pumpkin and three-quarters of the cheese quickly and thoroughly in a large bowl. Then make a well in the centre.
• Pour in the buttermilk and stir until it comes together as one ball of dough. Work as quickly as possible until the ingredients are all incorporated, but do not mix for longer than necessary to do this.
• Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Put on to the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Cut a deep (almost to the base) cross in each ball, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dust with a little flour.
• Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

TO SERVE
Serve warm or cold. The loaves will last 2 days at most, and are best eaten as soon as possible after baking.

 

Inspiration, indeed. Spring is here – what are you planting, with a mind to bake and eat?

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeNiya Sisk is an editorial illustrator, designer, and author. She is happiest in the with either a wooden spoon or pencil in hand. Niya was raised in Northern California, where she built tree forts to host pretend dinner parties for the kids in the neighborhood. Luckily, she now has a real kitchen for real dinner parties.  She recently created a gluten free cake cookbook, Cakes of Color—a purse size portable gallery of cake art with modern organic cake recipes. Cakes of Color: Gluten free recipes, illustrated and catalogued by color, was inspired by the Food and Wine section of The Art of Daily Cultivation. They Draw and Cook features  her Green Tea Cake recipe in their wonderful world of food illustration.

Cakes of Color is a gorgeous cookbook, full of inspiration, joy, and, of course, color. Cakes of Color was approved to retail in 5 Whole Foods stores in the Bay Area in 2015. She’s currently illustrating a coloring book featuring food & wine and a portable gift book featuring her favorite recipes for clients and friends. Find more colorful inspiration at Niya’s Instagram.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I have a few of those.
Native American Crab & Corn Cakes with Abodo Sauce comes to mind immediately. I learned of this dish while in Sedona at the Enchantment Resort Mii Amo Cafe. The cookbook is simply exquisite. I brought it home with me, along with a beautiful wool cape. The cape has nothing to do with how good the food turned out. Well, who knows, maybe it did. Food and ritual are so closely tied. The Crab and Corn Cakes are very authentic and so delicious with the Abodo Sauce. I love to serve them with Champagne and arugula salad.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeAnother favorite is a simple comfort food recipe my mother taught me growing up – rosemary chicken. It’s such a flexible recipe. The staples are rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. But I will add ingredients like a bit lemon or olives and roast some red potatoes.
And I haven’t even begun to talk about Salmon. That’s nearly a staple in my home.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Carrots with parsley for my pet rabbit.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Slow eating, passion for the art of conversation, and a love for red wine. Okay that was 3 characteristics. But they all go together in a person who loves life.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
That’s easy. Mobile phone at the table. Looking at a person while enjoying amazing food is such a luxury these days. I’m a redhead. A statistic when it comes to all that means. Fiery and quirky, often unpredictable. If a mobile phone is on the table, I simply can’t take responsibility for my actions after that. ; D

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeBeer, wine, or cocktail?
A full bodied Spanish wine. Smooth, complex and opens up in rhythm with the conversation in play.

Your favorite cookbook author?
This is the hardest question yet. Alice Medrich is right up there. She has a gift for bringing history alive with her use of flours in baking. Baking is my main passion. I’ve learned so much from her. She’s such a master at gluten-free she’s removed the word from her taster’s vocabulary.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My bright lime green spatula. I swear it’s my new power tool.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Salads, Cakes (desserts), Seafood.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken.

Favorite vegetable?
Jicama. But my rabbit is convincing me (with his abundant enthusiasm) that kale is best thing on earth.

Chef you most admire?
Maggie, the chef at Omnivores Cookbook, is amazing. She has recently captivated my imagination with how authentic, fresh and accessible her Chinese cooking recipes are. And her photographs are stunning. I’ve always been afraid of cooking Chinese but she makes it so captivating and easy. So delicious.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe
coffee on the beach (SF)

Food you like the most to eat?
Unfortunately, I’m crazy about CAKE. Luckily I also mountain bike and swim. ; D

Food you dislike the most?
No matter how amazing and awesomely cooked a beet is, I still can’t like it. People have tried. Oh, have they!

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Paint on a large canvas to loud and gorgeous music. Or illustrate whatever book I have in process. Coloring books, art books, cookbooks have been the theme the past 4 years.

Who do you most admire in food?
Deborah Madison, Greens Cookbook San Francisco. I have admired her for 20 years. I’ve worked through most of the recipes in Greens Cookbook. I have to say, I think she is a genius. Her meals, like Eggplant Gratin with Saffron Custard, could save the planet. So good.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
France. So creative and delicious. So much history. I never worry, I’m always up for all food adventures in France. Especially Paris and a few tiny village towns in the South of France.

What is your favorite restaurant?
That changes every month. I’m always food adventuring wherever I am. Right now, it’s Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon. I was blissed out for days after just one meal there.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
All my tattoos are on paper. I love to sketch, watercolor, monoprint the many colors and shapes of food. Food illustration is big passion.

Salmon and dinner party prep. Salmon recipe included. Illustrated for the Food & Wine section of The Art of Daily Cultivation by Niya C Sisk.

Recipe: Salmon with Lemon and Dill
Recipe adapted from Shauna Prince, Portland, Oregon

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe
Illustrated for the Food & Wine section of The Art of Daily Cultivation by Niya C Sisk.

Ingredients – serves 8

Two whole fillets of salmon (skin on/or skin off, ideally wild, around 2 ½ pounds each fillet)
Four medium lemons – two sliced in rounds (with skin on), one juiced, one sliced in wedges for garnish
1½ oz butter
Half a medium white or brown onion, cut in thin slices or wedges
3 tablespoons of white wine (optional)
1½ teaspoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of fresh dill – chopped. Plus sprigs for garnish
Salt (approx. ¼ tsp Kosher salt)
Freshly ground pepper (approx. ¼ tsp)
1½  tablespoons of olive oil

Method

Lightly sweat onion in butter until soft, but not browned. Add white wine, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Stir together and cool.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeFor each fillet, cut a piece of aluminum foil and a piece of parchment each slightly more than twice as long as your piece of fish. Be sure it’s large enough to fold over and seal your fish lengthwise. Lay the foil on the counter, then add the parchment paper on top of the foil. Place the fillet on top of the parchment – near one of the ends, skin side down. Repeat with the second fillet.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe
For the love of Olive Oil

Brush the top and bottom of each fillet lightly to coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour half the butter/wine/mustard/lemon juice mixture evenly over each fillet. Lay round slices of lemon, and chopped dill on top of the fish. Close up the foil packets to seal.

Heat up barbecue to 350F or medium-high heat (or your oven to 350F). Place fish packets on grill. Cook until the fish flakes lightly (be careful not to overcook it). Timing will depend on how thick your fish is – likely 10+ minutes for 1½ inch thick.

Serve with additional lemon wedges and dill sprigs. You can also make an easy accompanying sauce with good mayonnaise mixed with a small amount of lemon juice and salt. Add chopped capers and dill to the sauce if you like.

* Leftover salmon makes amazing fish cakes. Flake the fish, add 1- 2 lightly beaten raw eggs, any herbs that you want (e.g. dill, tarragon, sorrel), and enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together (panko works well). Add additional salt/pepper to your taste. Form into balls, and cook in a lightly oiled or buttered frying pan until brown. Turn and brown on the other side, and serve with lemon aioli.

 

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Abby Dodge, Pastry Chef and Cookbook author … and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés

What began as a love for baking at a young age, developed into a i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffléspassionate and successful career for Abby Dodge. A widely respected, award-winning expert in baking and cooking for both kids and adults, as well as a popular food writer, instructor and media personality, Abby has a simple mission: To streamline baking and cooking for home cooks of all ages.

She studied in Paris at La Varenne and worked under superstars Michel Guerard and Guy Savoy, specializing in pastry. She has held food editorial posts at Parents and Woman’s Day, and has contributed to over seven dozen special-interest publications focusing on baking and family cooking. Abby is currently a contributing editor at Fine Cooking magazine, where she has been on the masthead since its first issue in 1994. She founded the magazine’s test kitchen, has written and contributed to over eighty articles to date, and serves as the magazine’s guru for all things baking.

In addition to her regular blog postings, Abby hosts a Baking Boot Camp video class on the popular site Craftsy.com, where she teaches and encourages an international group of bakers of all skill levels to become better bakers.

The Everyday Baker. Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby DodgeHer tenth book, The Everyday Baker ~ Recipes & Techniques For Foolproof Baking (The Taunton Press, Dec. 2015), has just been released to much critical praise – including my own! I love this book – and have recommended it far and wide. It’s the most comprehensive – and interesting – baking cookbook I’ve ever seen (and I own more than 5,000 cookbooks). I love the detailed instructions (with photos), as well as the creative, intriguing recipes (176 of them!). I’ve reviewed many of Abby’s cookbooks through the years – they are all amazing, and keep getting better. Highly recommended.

Abby’s  Ten Popular and Award-Winning Cookbooks:

  • The Everyday Baker ~ Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking, 2015 (Washington Post Top Ten Cookbooks of 2015; Dorie Greenspan Top Baking Cookbooks of 2015)
  • Mini Treats & Handheld Treats ~ Delicious Desserts to Pick Up & Eat (September, 2012)
  • Desserts 4 Today – Flavorful Desserts with just FOUR INGREDIENTS , 2010 (a viral & critically acclaimed sensation)
  • Williams-Sonoma Mini Pies, 2010
  • Around the World Cookbook, 2008 (Good Morning America Top 10 Cookbooks of 2008; Parents Choice Recommended Award 2008; Cordon d’Or Culinary Academy Award 2008)
  • The Weekend Baker, 2005, reprinted 2008 (Food + Wine Top Ten Cookbooks of 2004; IACP Cookbook Award Finalist)
  • Kids Baking, 2003 (Over 347,000 copies in print, translated into Spanish)
  • Williams-Sonoma Dessert, 2002 (Over 300,000 in print, translated into Spanish)
  • The Kid’s Cookbook, 2000 (Over 368,000 copies in print)
  • Great Fruit Desserts, 1997 (Translated into six languages)

Abby has also contributed or co-authored many cookbooks, including:

  • Baking Out Loud (Hedy Goldsmith, Clarkson Potter 2012)
  • B. Smith’s Southern A to Z (Scribner, 2008)
  • The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition, 2006
  • Savoring America, 2002 (James Beard Award finalist; Ben Franklin Award winner)
  • Cookies for Christmas, 1999
  • The All New Joy of Cooking, 1997

 

Banana Rum Truffle Tart. i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés
Banana Rum Truffle Tart

 

Food Questions (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Eggs. Easy & options abound.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Unsalted butter.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Keeping it real – no posers at my table.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Open-mouth chewer.

Beer, wine or cocktail?
Yes, please.

Maple Pear Slab Pie. Banana Rum Truffle Tart. i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés
Maple Pear Slab Pie

Your favorite cookbook author?
I’m promoting a book so.. me.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My Oxo kitchen scale

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French… Italian… Greek… Spanish… don’t make me chose.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Easy: Chicken

Favorite vegetable?
Brussel sprouts but ask me again tomorrow, I happily bounce all over the veggie aisle.

Chef you most admire?
Alfred Portale – insanely gifted, a bear to work for & surprisingly shy.

Food you like the most to eat?
Cake. Make mine chocolate and in big pieces, please.

Food you dislike the most?
I’ll take some heat for this one but… beets. Chalk it up to a bad childhood experience.
Don’t ask.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Watching RHOBH with my darling daughter- a guilty pleasure.

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Rulhman. A straight talker and brilliant writer worth listening to.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
On a warm day, I’ll be sitting at an outside table, preferably by the water. Please pass the Rose.

What is your favorite restaurant?
See above.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
My Motto: Don’t answer questions that you don’t want your kids to read.

Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby Dodge
Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle

Recipe: Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés from The Everyday Baker

Serves 6

These light, billowy individual soufflé-like mousses are a variation on a pie filling in my book, The Weekend Baker. Instead of adding heavy cream to the mousse, I use puréed ricotta (for a smooth texture) to add richness without heaviness. The lemon and fresh ginger make for a refreshing flavor profile, but it’s the ginger cookies hidden inside that are the surprise ingredient. Softened by the mousse, they bring texture and a burst of ginger flavor.

Adding a collar of parchment adds additional height to the ramekins. This way you can mimic the impressive height of a baked soufflé without the need for any last-minute fussing.

Neutral oil (safflower, canola, vegetable, or corn), for the
ramekins

For the mousse
3⁄4 cup (180 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 envelope (1⁄4 oz./7 g) unflavored powdered gelatin
11⁄4 cups (111⁄4 oz./319 g) ricotta (part skim is fine)
3⁄4 cup (51⁄2 oz./156 g) granulated sugar
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
Pinch of table salt
4 whites from large eggs (4 oz./ 113 g), at room temperature
1⁄2 tsp. cream of tartar
1⁄2 cup (2 oz./57 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy

12 gingersnap cookies + more for the crushed cookie topping
(I use Nabisco or homemade molasses cookies)

Blackberry Compote (recipe in the book) or other berry sauces, optional

Have ready six 6-oz. (180 ml) ramekins (31⁄2 inches wide and 12⁄3 inches high/9 cm wide and 4.25 cm high) arranged on a flat plate or quarter sheet pan. Cut parchment into six strips 21⁄2 inches (6 cm) wide and 12 inches (30.5 cm) long. Wrap one strip around each ramekin so that the paper covers the ramekin and stands 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the rim; secure with tape. Lightly grease the inside of the paper rim (I use a paper towel dipped in a bit of neutral oil).

Make the mousse
1. Pour the lemon juice into a small heatproof ramekin (or keep it in the measuring cup) and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Set aside to soften. Once the gelatin has absorbed the liquid and is plump (about 3 minutes), microwave briefly until it is completely melted and crystal clear, 1 to 2 minutes. This can also be done in a small saucepan (instead of the ramekin) over low heat.

2. Put the ricotta, granulated sugar, lemon zest, ginger, and salt in a blender. Scrape the lemon–gelatin mixture into the blender, cover, and process until the ricotta is smooth and the mixture is well blended, about 11⁄2 minutes, scraping down the sides once or twice. Pour into a medium bowl and refrigerate, stirring frequently, until the mixture is cooled and thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. It should be as thick as unbeaten egg whites. For faster cooling, set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice, stirring and scraping the sides frequently until cooled.

3. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium bowl and using an electric handheld mixer fitted with wire beaters) and beat on medium speed until the whites are frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites form soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue beating while gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat until the whites form firm and glossy peaks when the beater is lifted.

4. Scoop about one-quarter of the whites into the thickened lemon mixture and, using a silicone spatula, gently stir until blended. Add the remaining whites and gently fold in until just blended.

Assemble the mousses
Arrange one cookie in the bottom of each ramekin. Using a large Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby Dodgespoon, fill the ramekins halfway with the mousse. Arrange a cookie on top of the mousse and evenly portion the remaining mousse on top of the cookies. Using a small offset spatula, smooth the tops.

Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffles. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby DodgeCover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 day.

 

 

To serve
Using a sharp paring knife, carefully peel away the parchment from the ramekins (up to 3 hours ahead). Just before serving, place each ramekin on a small plate and top with some of the crushed ginger cookie or a little of the blackberry compote, passing the remainder at the table.

MAKE AHEAD
The soufflés can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving.

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

Recipe and author photo courtesy and copyright Abby Dodge. Recipe photos courtesy and copyright Tina Rupp  [finished dishes] and Sloan Howard, Taunton Press [how-to photos]

I8tonite: Food from “Kitchen Sense” by Mitchell Davis

I stopped writing on “i8tonite”. It wasn’t going anywhere and truthfully, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to take it. It started because I love cooking. We know that. Truthfully, the sheer act of it (and craft) saved my life. I’m forever indebted to the stove, the fridge, farmer’s markets, and washing dishes. It will have been almost four years since I took on the name of “i8tonite” and the whole thing was a lark. Really. I just needed something to occupy my mind while I gave up a business, a partnership, a dog and the home that I had for more than decade.

Writing out what I was cooking on social media gave me something to look forward to while I was crying about the state of my life as it became unhinged. Then came the requests for photos. Taking the images, a little food styling, along with the hazy images became an extension. My life, as a whole, began to come together again. Then, I started this blog which has had fits-and-starts. Partially, because I only wanted to cook and I wanted to show to prospective clients that I knew about the culinary world, from a sophisticated and well-traveled home cook.

Candidly, I’m not really that interested in creating my own recipes. There are so many great chefs and home cooks out there that I just don’t feel that creative need. However, I do love reading cookbooks. I like understanding the ingredients and how they going to be appealing. I can taste the ingredients before beginning the process. It’s also important to note whether each recipe is laborious or fun. Puff pastry is laborious, making a cake or pie is fun.

I’m also not interested in reviewing restaurants. If I did, I would want to pay for my own meals and try the experience several times over. That would be a costly endeavor and I don’t think many restaurants are worthy of going to 3 or 4 times in a year, much less in a single month. (I’ve been called by friends “extremely picky” in my restaurant choices.) No, I leave that to the food bloggers and newspapers.

Therefore, I’m beginning this endeavor with a new verve with a fresher eye about food and cookbooks. My plan is over a calendar month to attempt at least 4 recipes from one single book. The idea is really to try cooking them. It’s not to review them so much as to just cook from them and then maybe add something with my own thoughts. I do own quite a few cookbooks and I’ve never used one recipe from about three dozen. I’ve read them…but never cooked from them. This will give me the impetus to execute something. Selfishly, I also want to expand my food repertoire and hopefully to whoever reads this blog…if anyone does.

For the first book, I’ve chosen Mitchell Davis’ “Kitchen Sense: More Than 600 Recipes to Make You a Great Home Cook.” Davis is also the executive vice-president and director of communications for The James Beard Foundation along with being an adjunct professor of Food Studies at the venerable New York University. His pedigree about food is astounding. It’s not a new book as it was originally published in 2006 by Random House.

It’s a vast collection around such culinary pantheons as Chinese, American, Italian and Greek and so on. Mr. Davis provides also great tips such as how to make a compound butter or “flavored butter” in a small area on various pages called “kitchen sense” or “basics”, small guidelines for executing simple home cooked gastronomic pleasures like roasted garlic or a compound butter. If you are a professional or have worked in a kitchen, you know some of these recommendations but if you haven’t, some of them are very handy to have.

There also aren’t any photos so I have to think with my tastebuds in order to pick the recipes. I want all my senses to be used as each recipe is made. Can I smell that it might need more seasoning? How does it look? Should I have used the richer Dutch processed chocolate or no? These are the things that I hope to learn as well as a little bit about myself.

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Devil’s Food Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from “Kitchen Sense” by Mitchell Davis, 2006, Clarkson Potter).

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting (NOTE: I had to double the recipe to cover the two layer cake. Although delicious and rich, the caramel flavor was very subtle. Next time, I make it I will double the caramel portion. Regardless, is was still delicious and I’m now running four miles every other day to remove it from my body.)

½ cup cold water

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups (24 ounces) cream cheese (room temperature)

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)

Place water and sugar into a medium sauce pan. Using a medium high heat, melt sugar by stirring constantly. As the syrup develops, it will thicken into a sauce and begin to darken. This will take roughly 8 – 10 minutes. (You will notice of the water to begin to darken as the sugar stiffens.) Watch carefully as the sugar can become burnt quickly. Swirl until the color of caramel. Remove from heat.

Slowly add the heavy cream and stir constantly. Replace saucepan on very low flame until all the cream has been incorporated. Add the salt.  Keep stirring with a spoon or wooden spatula (do not use a whisk) until a beautiful, rich caramel sauce has developed. (You can always use this for ice cream or pour over cakes.)

In another bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese until frothy. Making sure you scrape the sides of the bowl, slowly add the caramel sauce until completely merged and, viola, you have made your frosting.

You can chill but bring to room temperature before frosting the cake. It will make spreading so much easier. It’s still delicious even though it’s a subtle caramel flavor. I think I wanted it to be overpowering like a caramel latte from Starbucks but it’s more like a European subtle instead of an American-beat-me-until-I’m-black-and-blue.

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Devil’s Food Cake

Honestly, this maybe the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made.  It was densely, moist with a very light crumb and an intense lovely chocolate flavor. (Will make two 9-inch layer cakes).

Unsalted butter for greasing the pan

Parchment paper

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Use the good stuff. I like Dutch-processed as it creates a darker, fudgier cake)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup strong coffee

½ cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. (We do this first so the oven pre-heats while we gather our wits.) Butter the pans and then line with parchment. Butter the parchment. (We do this so we keep our gathered wits about us instead of the cakes sticking to the pans. Trust me on this step….it’s a life-saver.) Once we remove the cakes from the pans, they aren’t that pretty… yet. We will do a little trimming of rough edges using a LOT of frosting to cover up the wrinkles left by the parchment indentations.

In a large mixing bowl, we will sift all the dry ingredients together (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, both sugars and salt).

In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together (coffee, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla). Mix with a whisk.

Using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer on low, merge the wet with the dry.

Pour into your buttered cake pans. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven once a toothpick comes out cleanly.

Take cakes out and cool on a wire rack. Frost. J