Sunday, September 25, 2011

Parmesan Pound Cake

i know i've said this more than a few times lately..but...

this is another one of my new favorites


i agree, this does sound a bit odd, but it totally more than works
it's moist, it's dense...very surprisingly light in flavor and...


this fabulous recipe was impressively obtained by a fellow blogger after she tried it at the restaurant Metrovino in Portland Oregon.  many kudos out to Susan S. Bradley at the chef that handed over the recipe.  sometimes we just get to enjoy the food at a restaurant never  to have it again, but she loved it so much she begged the owner for the recipe.  i was so happy she did. ..AND so kind of Chef de Cuisine Gabrielle Quiñónez  because there are many many chefs out there who covet their recipes so that no one can duplicate it.
i am quite sure that i, in no way, have duplicated it, but mine DID come out quite spectacular.  it reminded me of these little muffin cakes i made a while back called "Quesadillas" or Sweet Cheese Bread.  did i post about those?...i don't think so.  i should have...they were eaten too fast.  this recipe intrigued me because not only were these little cakes called "quesadillas", but they also had a sweet and savory factor.   these cheesy muffins  are also made with Parmesan AND loads of butter!...a breakfast staple and any-time treat that is very popular in El Salvador.

on with THIS cake...did i mention i LOVE it?!...really a must try.  the recipe is pretty easy and the original with comments can be found here.  i chose to add just a touch of lemon zest for a little zip and acidity. for service?...this is a pound cake!...pound cakes go with just about anything and can be eaten any time.  it's absolutely at it's peak a few hours after baking, but can be kept out covered over night or in the fridge for a few days and brought to room temp for service. sliced very clean with a little chill on it (for presentation purposes)

recipe from Metrovino Restaurant in Portland, 

preheat oven to 350 F.  butter and lightly flour two 8 x 8 metal cake pans or one  9 x 12 or 9 x 13 metal baking pan...i used a 9 x 13

2 cups unbleached AP flour (10 oz.)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese...fine NOT shredded
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups creme fraiche, room temperature (or substitute 1 cup cream and 1 cup sour cream combined)
1/2 cup cream cheese
zest of 1 add in...optional, but delicious

sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl
whisk in Parmesan.  set aside
cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer for about 5 minutes
add eggs one at a time at medium speed, mixing well after each addition
add cream cheese and zest of 1 lemon...mix until smooth
on slowest speed, alternate adding the creme fraiche and flour mixture, ending with the flour not over mix
pour the cake batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.  tap the pan down sharp;y on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles
bake at 350 F for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick come out clean. i used NON confection at 350F and it was done at 45 minutes.   let cool

invert the completely cool cake onto cutting board...i let it sit there for a while to completely...i say completely cool.  you don't want the cake to sweat if you are storing it in the then i flipped it right side up onto parchment paper and back into it's cleaned out baking pan...i knew it was not going to be eaten up that day.  my baking pan has a nice cover and i LOVE parchment.

this recipe is pretty large and goes a long way.  what you don't eat will keep very well in the fridge for about a week...just let it come back to room temp because it's quite dense when cold.
serve as-is or with fresh berries, ice cream, creme anglaise, a little sprig of basil was nice...
how ever you serve it, i'm sure this will be a big winner.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

lemon and lavender is a fabulous combo. this lovely simple pound cake shows it well.
bright fresh aromatic flavors really pop with this easy recipe.
just get ahold of some organic dried lavender and the rest is probably in your pantry and fridge.  
Organic you might ask?...
i DID happen to have some that i had bought a while back, BUT i have used lavender from the garden and i'm not dead yet! if that's what you've got, or your neighbor (thanks Wendy) has some in the yard...
i don't think the lavender police will be knocking anytime soon.  wash it well or look up some safe methods for drying lavender...maybe you can just use the buds straight from the stem.  we're pretty pesticide free here at this house.

with a nice cuppa tea for a quite afternoon break...

or sliced and presented for that last late summer brunch...
everyone enjoyed this cake.
it's not dense and heavy like some pound cakes and it's not too light like a regular cake.  it's right between the two.  the texture is smooth and the flavor is sweet and tart from the pop of lemon...the slight hint of lavender just gives you a nice calming effect.  be careful and don't get heavy handed with the lavender...more is not better.  you want just a slight..."hmmmm, what is that?" aroma to hit the you and your guests fight for the last crumb.


preheat oven to 350 F.  grease 9 x 5 loaf pan

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large lemon, zested and juiced...keep seperate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 lemon extract
1/4 tsp lavender extract (if you have it)
2 Tbsp dried lavender (if no extract use a little more dried lavender)
2/3 cups milk

GLAZE...squeeze 3 Tbsp of lemon juice into a small bowl.  stir in 3/4 cups powdered sugar until there are no lumps.

in a small bowl combine the flour baking powder and salt...stir in zest of 1/2 lemon...set aside.  in another bowl, beat butter and the 2 Tbsp of lavender with mixer...gradually add 1 cup of sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  add eggs 1 at a time.  then vanilla, lemon, lavender extracts and slowly add the milk.  it will look kind of curdled...that's OK.  Hanna, the original poster, says to do the rest with a wooden spoon...Momma knows best so i did as i was told.  stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon just until well combined.  don't over mix.
pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for approx. 55 minutes or until golden brown and tooth pick comes out clean.
when the loaf is done put pan on a rack and get a skewer to poke holes in the top while the loaf is hot.  drizzle or brush half of the glaze over the top.  let cool for about 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan.  turn the loaf out, then right side up and drizzle the remaining glaze...finish with a little more lemon zest.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Barbacoa Beef Cheeks - Slow Cooker Style

well i thought i better throw the dog a bone and serve you all up some MEAT
did you think i forgot about all my carnivorous friends and followers?

here, for those of you still on the fence about "nose-to-tail" cooking, is a tasty and safe introduction to a less common cut of meat.
BEEF of those illusive parts that you might be introduced to in fancy restaurants (or an authentic taco stand IN Mexico), but never see or hear about anywhere else.

i finally found some in my Mexican market here in So. California.  soooo happy...

beef cheeks are the definition of unctuous....
go ahead look it up... 

i think it's a cross between Mom's (Momacita's) all day pot roast and slow cooked oxtails...a wonderful rich beefy flavor with a little sticky gooey texture you find with the oxtails.
the recipe i found has a wonderful blend of flavors... with a hint of lime citrus and warm undertones from the cumin and oregano.  the broth was like none i had had before.  i think the fact that there were NO onions or other vegetables in the slow cooking process really set this one apart from my other crock pot recipes...

i will definitely use this base recipe again and again.

BUT i gotta tell ya...this is the ugliest, most difficult piece of meat i have ever had to butcher.

note to self and more than you need because by the time you trim away the chunks of fat and grizzle AND veins and silver skin you will have about 1/2 of what you purchased.
i suggest buying it already trimmed or ask the butcher.

luckily i knew i didn't have enough to fill the crock pot so i bought 4 large short ribs to add in.
so, by all means if you can't handle beef cheeks, or just can't find them, use short ribs or another choice of fatty meat that works well for slow cooking.


the recipe calls for 6 pounds beef cheek meat
1 bought a package that read 2.65 pounds (that's all there was)...after trimming what ever i could i was left with 1 1/2 pounds so i supplemented with 4 large beef short ribs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp Mexican oregano (Mexican is best...get some)
2 tsp garlic powder
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 whole bay leaf
2 whole limes
1 cup beef broth...homemade, rendered form roasted beef bones is best
2 tsp Mexican chili powder, optional
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne, optional
i think a little heat is always necessary...

rinse cheek meat and trim away as much fat, gristle and silver skin as possible...good luck with this.  it ain't a pleasant job.  cut into large pieces.
put meat into large crock pot (i think mine is a 5 1/2 qt.) and season well with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and garlic powder.
add bay leaf and squeeze lime juice all over (pulp is fine)
add the beef stock.
stir slightly, cover and cook on HIGH for at least 6 hours...mine was in for a little over 7 hours.
i checked on mine after a few hours and gave it a little stir.
if the meat is fork "butter" tender you're good to go.

take the meat out with a slotted spoon and strain the broth.  the broth might come in handy to remoisten the meat if necessary...and the broth might just make a delicious soup base.  shred the meat and discard any solid fat or grizzle you might have missed in the lovely trimming process.  taste and season as you see fit.  try not to eat it all yourself while shredding and seasoning...

serve with your favorite tortillas, avocado, cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, fresh salsa, diced radish, etc etc etc...dress it up or just keep it simple....OR make little Tostaditas as i did for an interesting Mexican hors d'oeuvre...
maybe a fun amuse bouche for your next Mexican fiesta.

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