SECRET RECIPE CLUB: BUCKLE UP FOR RASPBERRIES

First Monday of the month, it’s time to share with my readers one more post as part of The Secret Recipe Club. If you don’t know what it’s all about, the club joins two food bloggers in secret, one is the stalker, the other the stalkee… When Reveal Day comes, everyone blogs about a chosen recipe at the exact same time. A virtual thrill like no other, right?  The blog I was assigned to this month was Things I Make (for Dinner), hosted by Sarah from Ontario. I’ve only been to Canada once and fell in love with it and its people, although the snowstorm in the middle of the summer trip was a bit uncalled for. I am sure I told this story before, but for newcomers, here we go with the short and sweet of it: the late June snowstorm caught me wearing shorts and a tank top. My mood dropped to what in temperature would be approaching zero Kelvin. Anyway, I digress. Sarah has a great sense of humor, her posts are a delight to read. I found myself smiling and nodding my head all the way through the lengthy stalking process. Keep in mind she’s been blogging since 2007, so there’s a ton of stuff to choose from in her fun site. Obviously, I had a hard time settling on a recipe.  Take a look at my “short” list: Chicken Tikka Kebabs, Soft Pretzels (I cannot believe I still haven’t try to make those, they’ve been on my to make soon list for a decade!), Spicy Chicken Skewers, Thai-Style Steak Salad,  Lemon Bonbon Cookies (I actually bought all ingredients for it), Blueberry Cheesecake, Nutella Ice Cream (triple sigh of pure desire), Upside Down Black Forest Cake (yes, you read that right). So, what do I have for you? A Raspberry Buckle. Love the name.  Buckle is a dessert that has been around for centuries, very popular in New England. It refers to a coffee cake in which fresh fruit is mixed with a yellow cake batter. Very easy to make and I tell you it was a huge success in one of the several receptions we hosted last month. Believe it or not, I made it after arriving home from work, still had time to clean up the kitchen and serve it for the reception at 8pm. I felt like Super Woman after a successful mission. And, that – quoting Martha Stewart – is a good thing.

Raspberry Buckle1

RASPBERRY BUCKLE
(from Things I Make for Dinner)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pint fresh raspberries
Heat oven to 350F. Grease a 9″ square baking pan. Clean raspberries. Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture, being careful not to over mix. Spread in prepared pan, and scatter raspberries over the surface. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Cool 20 minutes, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

bucklecomposite

Comments: Life has been busier than ever for us. For those who do not know, when we moved from OU to KSU four years ago, Phil became the Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. With that, commitments and challenges intensified more than we anticipated. Not only he has our research lab to consider in his professional life, but all the other things associated with running a department, from budget problems to teaching issues, from hiring new faculty to personnel evaluations. The list is huge, and the deadlines and pressure just keep building up. It is challenging for both of us, but I must say we enjoy it all.  The underlying feeling that we are trying to accomplish something on several fronts pump us up, keeps us on our toes. Recently he went through an intense process to hire a director for a particular center at KSU. Every candidate’s visit involved a reception in our home. I wanted to prepare something special for each of the three candidates, and this Raspberry Buckle was my best choice ever. If you need something simple and delicious, look no further. Sweet, tart, melt-in-your-mouth good…

Sarah, thanks for a great recipe that pleased all the guests who had a chance to try it. Nothing was left next morning to take to the department, which is a huge compliment to your Raspberry Buckle!

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As usual, I invite my readers to click on the smily blue frog at the end of this post. She will direct you to a list of blog posts published by my virtual friends at The Secret Recipe Club.  Enjoy the ride!

Raspberry Buckle

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Seafood Gratin for a Special Dinner

TWO YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

THREE YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

FIVE YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

SIX YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

 

CLEMENTINES IN CINNAMON SYRUP

Three ingredients.  Four if you count water. It was one of the best things I’ve made in the last few months, though.  Slices of clementine soaking in a light caramel infused with cinnamon.  First, let me assure you it is not going to be too sweet. It is a perfectly balanced mixture, the clementines lose any of that harshness often found in the raw fruit, and the syrup is so good that I drank what was left in my small bowl after enjoying the fruit. Yes, I grabbed the bowl and drank from it as if it was a glass. What’s more amazing, I did it in the presence of members of our department gathered in our place for a get-together with a guest speaker. That should give you an idea how irresistible it was. I found this gem of a recipe on the fun blog hosted by Zach and Clay, The Bitten Word. If you don’t know about their site, make sure to stop by, you will become a regular visitor… 😉

ClementinesCinnamonSyrup
CLEMENTINES IN CINNAMON SYRUP
(seen at The Bitten Word, original recipe from Martha Stewart)

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
8 clementines, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise

Bring water, sugar and cinnamon to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.

Arrange clementines in a large bowl. Pour warm syrup over top, and let stand for at least 30 minutes.

Divide clementines and syrup among 4 bowls.

 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I hope you won’t let the simplicity of this “recipe” prevent you from making it, telling yourself that it cannot be worth it.  If you like fruit and a dessert that makes you feel light as a feather and pretty energized (must be all that vitamin C, and the cinnamon oils), this is it.  Maybe some might feel tempted to serve it as a topping for ice cream, but for my taste, nothing else is needed.  Just make sure you have enough caramel sauce to soak the slices, and to satisfy your desire to drink every single drop of it.  Slurping is optional, depending on the audience. 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2013 

TWO YEARS AGO: Thrilling Moments (CROISSANTS!)

THREE YEARS AGO: Maple-Oatmeal Sourdough Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Trinity: coffee, mushrooms, and curry

 

 

ALMOND BUTTER CAKE

My dear friend and baker extraordinaire Heather wrote me an email a couple of weeks ago saying that she baked a delicious cake and thought I should give it a try because it was simple (in other words: Sally-proof) but quite flavorful.  What is simple for Heather, is not necessarily simple for me, but when I read the recipe, I noticed that it did not have that scary “cream sugar with butter”  step.  Cautiously optimistic, I gave it a try. Indeed, this was one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made, and each bite seemed to taste better than the previous one.   Heather adapted the  recipe  from the winning entry in a C&H Sugar Baking Contest years ago.

ALMOND BUTTER CAKE
(from Heather’s kitchen)

½ C butter, melted
1 + ½ C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 + ½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 + ½ C flour
¼ C sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9” round pan.

Beat sugar and melted butter together, add eggs and flavorings and beat well. Add salt and flour and mix just until blended.  Spread in pan, sprinkle with sugar and almond slices.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes – it is better not to over-bake, so use a toothpick to test it, and as soon as it comes out almost clean, the cake will be ready.  Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before unmolding it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I served this cake next to strawberries and blueberries macerated with a small amount of sugar, and a dusting of powdered sugar on top, as suggested by Phil. Perfect indeed, the fruit went very well with the almond flavor and the tenderness of the cake. Sorry, no pictures of the sliced cake, often when we have guests I don’t feel like grabbing a camera and taking photos. Even served plain, this cake would shine next to a cup of tea on a sunny afternoon.

ONE YEAR AGO: Taillevent (a meal that shall never be forgotten…)

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THE ULTIMATE APPLE CAKE

Cover of "Around My French Table: More Th...

Cover via Amazon

For someone who’d rather go to the dentist than bake a cake, making the same cake two weeks in a row means:

– the cake is fool-proof;

– the cake is awesome.

Awesome indeed! It’s a bunch of diced apples surrounded by a few dollops of cake batter, that puffs and gently envelopes each piece of fruit, resulting in a dessert that’s a cross between cake and clafoutis.  Very French, very elegant, just enough decadence to turn your afternoon tea into a four-star event.

The recipe comes from a cookbook that’s been on my wish list at amazon.com since it’s released: Dorie Greenspan‘s Around my French Table.   It’s just a matter of time until I move the book to my shopping cart, the reviews are stellar!

MARIE HELENE’s APPLE CAKE
(from Dorie Greenspan)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (110g)
3/4 tsp baking powder (about 3.75 g)
pinch of salt
4 large apples (any kind you like, mix and match)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar (145g)
3 Tbs rum (or apple schnapps, or Calvados)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted and cooled (115g)

Heat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 8-inch springform type pan with butter and set aside.

Peel and core the apples, cut them roughly in 1 inch chunks. Reserve.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.   In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisker until frothy, add the sugar and whisk until smooth.
Add the rum, vanilla extract, and mix well.  Add half of the flour mixture, mix until fully incorporated, pour half of the butter and whisk to combine.   Add the rest of the flour, then the rest of the butter.

Pour the thick batter over the apples, and use a silicone or plastic spatula to mix them gently, trying to cover each piece with some of the batter.   The mixture will seem too thick, and you will be tempted to use less apples.  Do not.  Trust Dorie. Pour the mixture in the prepared pan, use a fork to level the apples as much as possible, but don’t worry too much about it.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted at the center of the cake.  Remove the pan to a rack and let it cool for 5 minutes before opening the sides.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The first time I baked this cake, I didn’t use all the apples because it seemed impossible to coat them all with the batter.  I realized my mistake when I witnessed how much the batter puffed up during baking.  On my second attempt, I used all the apples, and substituted apple schnapps for rum. We both liked the schnapps version better.  A friend of mine used Calvados and also preferred it to rum.  Either of those liquors reinforce the apple flavor. Next time I might add a little cinnamon to the batter, but this cake is pretty close to perfection as it is.

ONE YEAR AGO: Trouble-free Pizza Dough

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LEMON CUSTARDS WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS

This dessert is a lemon-lover’s dream come true. It is also simple to prepare and  perfect to end a substantial dinner, so keep it in mind as an option for your next dinner party.  We served it after a delicious vegetarian lasagna (recipe coming soon).

LEMON CUSTARDS WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS
(slight variation from Emily Luchetti’s Classic Stars Desserts)

3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/ + 1/3 cups heavy cream
grated zest of 1 lemon
fresh pomegranate seeds
powdered sugar

Whisk the egg yolks, egg, and sugar until blended. Whisk the lemon juice and reserve.

Prepare an ice bath (large bowl or sink with cold water and ice cubes to keep the temperature very cold). Heat the oven to 300 F.

Combine the cream and lemon zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat until bubbles start showing on the edges of the pan. Remove from heat. Pour the cream while whisking constantly over the egg/lemon mixture, in a slow stream. Place the bowl on the ice bath and cool it, mixing gently. When it reaches room temperature, strain the cream through a fine sieve, discarding the lemon zest. Pour in 6 individual ramekins (5-ounce size). Place the ramekins in a baking dish, fill it halfway up with very hot water, cover the whole dish with aluminum foil, leaving a corner open.

Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, and gently jiggle one of the custards – if it’s set on the edges but still wavy at the center, remove from the oven, take them out of the baking dish, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

When it’s time to serve, place some pomegranate seeds over the custard, sprinkle a little powdered sugar, and….

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: My only modification to the recipe was the addition of pomegranate seeds, and they were a hit, providing a nice contrast of color and texture to the creamy custards. Because pomegranate can be a bit tart, I sprinkled a light coating of powdered sugar just before serving.

To get the seeds out of the fruit, I followed a tip given by Nigella Lawson in one of her shows at the FoodTV Network years ago: cut the pomegranate in half, invert it over a large bowl and hit it several times very hard with a wooden spoon. The seeds will fall inside the bowl, no mess, no fuss. Works great, and releases stress at the same time… 😉

Note to self:  Make these custards again soon.   Very soon.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cauliflower Soup, All Dressed Up

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THE RHUBARB BROUHAHA: REVELATION COMPOTE

May 2009.   While browsing  at Tea and Cookies I became smitten with a recipe.  Her description of its texture and flavor, plus the fact that she called it a “revelation,” made me crave for it, even though I’d never had it before.  I even left a comment on the site with a commitment to make that dish the following weekend.   Why did it take over a year to finally do so?    I simply couldn’t find any fresh rhubarb!   I’ve been on a quest for it ever since.

A few weeks ago I stopped by a Homeland supermarket that I don’t normally shop, and while walking through the produce section I saw, in all its glory,  fresh rhubarb!    I heard myself saying aloud: “OOOOOH!  RHUBARB”! A lady standing nearby gave me a strange look and moved away, taking her child by the hand, in that protective mode that Moms often display in the face of a loony. Too excited to care, I grabbed a full bunch and left the store with THE biggest smile ever.  My husband finds it unpalatable, but I’m not so predisposed!

REVELATION RHUBARB COMPOTE
(from Tea and Cookies)
2 Tbs butter
1 lb rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
2 TBS orange liquor (optional)

Trim the rhubarb of the ends, and split it lengthwise. Cut across in 1/4 inch pieces, forming  small cubes.

In a large bowl, toss the rhubarb with the sugar and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the sugar-coated rhubarb and the orange liquor, if using. Let this cook over a medium heat, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. When the rhubarb has started to release juices, gently stir.

Continue cooking the compote over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices are all released, then begin to thicken. Cooking time is about 10 to 15 minutes total, until the compote looks thick and the rhubarb is tender.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I could ‘t help but think of  “Happy in the Kitchen”  by Michel  Richard.  No, the book doesn’t have a recipe for rhubarb, but Happy in the Kitchen described me to a “T” while making this compote.  Maybe it was the long wait to finally get my hands on the plant, or maybe the anticipation of how it would taste.  It is indeed delicious!   My beloved stayed true to principles and didn’t care for it.    But I loved it:   by itself, with yogurt, with a swirl of honey, or… best of all,  over my homemade fromage blanc with a bit of agave nectar.  Each bite was unique in its own combination of flavors, and a perfect way to either start or end a day.

ONE YEAR AGO: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

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