Thursday, May 31, 2012

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

This is a recipe that was shared by a friend on a foodie message board. It sounded very similar to a recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cake by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Anna Pump that I have made many times. It is similar but yet different. Anna Pump's recipe is made in a tube pan but I have made it in smaller bundt pans but this little cake is the perfect size for a breakfast cake.

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Serves 6-8

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk

* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons

** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top

 Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

 Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

 Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

 Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

I love anything made with buttermilk which was the first thing in this recipe that got my attention and also love the combo of the taste of lemon with the blueberries. It is early yet for our blueberries at our farm in S. GA to be ready for picking but when they are ready I will definitely make this cake again and again. It is very moist and a perfect little breakfast cake or for that mid afternoon snack with a cup of tea. What's not to like about anything having blueberries in it?

It was such an easy and simple cake to put together and it didn't last long in my house. It was absolutely delicious!!!!!

I appreciate my friend sharing this recipe and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again. I am linking this post to Foodie Friday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A delicious Summer Salad

I've had many Cucumber Salad's but I want to share my version . It is light , delicious , and goes well with so many summer dishes . It also makes a perfect picnic salad as well since there is no mayonnaise .

Cucumber Salad

2 seedless cucumbers, unpeeled and thinly sliced (English of hothouse varieties)
3 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1 small red onion or half a large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the sliced cucumbers , sliced tomatoes , and sliced red onion in a bowl . Salt to taste . Set aside for 15 minutes giving them an occasional stir to distribute the salt .

Combine the vinegar , dill , sugar , and pepper in a bowl . Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved . Add the vinaigrette to the vegetable mixture and chill for at least 15 minutes or up to two hours . Transfer to a serving bowl .

I love the combination of these flavors and the fresh dill is a key ingredient . Whether you have it growing in your herb garden as I do or most grocery stores these days have fresh dill as well but fresh dill is a "must" flavor ingredient . The unpeeled cucumbers gives this salad a nice fresh color along with the dill . 

I always place this salad in a clear glass serving piece so one can see the beautiful combination of colors . This pedestal piece is very old and belonged to my mother . I served it this past weekend with some Bar B Que Pulled Pork Sandwiches and this made for an excellent side . You know us Southerners , we have to have our Bar B Que anytime .

If you have never had a Cucumber Salad you will enjoy this one . So easy and it pares nicely with so many summer foods . I hope you will try it and Enjoy .

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Baked Tomatoes and Artichokes

I am a cookbook addict , there really needs to be some kind of program for obsessively buying cookbooks since I am fast running out of room to house them . However, with each new purchase I do try to cook from each book . One of my most recent purchases was The Tuscan Sun Cookbook written by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes . I had never heard of this book before but on a recent visit to Books a Million it caught my eye . I am immediately drawn to Italian cookbooks since it is my favortie type of food .

This is a wonderful book filled with more recipes that I would like to try . The first recipe that caught my eye though was Baked Tomatoes and Artichokes .

Baked Tomatoes and Artichokes

serves 6
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into thin strips
2 9-ounce boxes frozen Artichoke Hearts, thawed
4 tomatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, minced
3 tablespoons capers

Preheat the oven to 350* F.

In a large bowl, toss together the pepper strips, artichokes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil . Season with half of the salt and pepper, and all of the thyme . Empty this into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish . Roasted uncovered in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the onions and peppers are tender .

In a small bowl, mix the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil with the vinegar, the rest of the salt and pepper, and the parsley and capers to make a dressing .

Remove the vegetables from the oven, and pour the dressing over them . Return the dish to the oven to warm for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature .

This was absolutely delicious and a recipe that I will definitely prepare again and again . I had made this to go with a Family Meatloaf recipe since I thought it would pare nicely and meatloaf does need something special to make the menu special . This was it!!!!!

I had never used frozen artichokes and was pleasantly surprised at the flavor . I used medium sized tomatoes and their juices went right in too . Since my husband and I were babysitting some of our grands that evening so their Mom and Dad could go to a Kentucky Derby party I thought it would be a "good thing" to bring this dinner . They all absolutely loved this vegetable dish and are still raving about how good it was . I thought so and I was very pleased that everyone else thought so too . Thats always an ego booster when you please everyone at the table .

This is a vegetable dish that would be wonderful when entertaining friends, on a buffet since it can be served at room temperature and the combination of flavors were excellent . I used fresh thyme and parsley from my Herb garden, such a "feel good thing" when you can snip herbs for a dish from your own garden but I feel quite certain that the dried thyme would be just as delicious .

I am sharing this recipe on Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum .

I hope you will try this vegetable dish, you won't be disappointed . A simple dish but oh so very good .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Passion for Orchids

A few weeks ago in our area I attended the annual Orchid Show. At this show there are flower arrangement displays but also vignettes to show the many varieties of orchids and some assembled in the way they would grow in the wild.

A beautiful arrangement done with nothing but orchids. Unfortunately my photo had a lot to be desired and did not do it justice.

I was surrounded by the natural beauty of these amazing plants.

This was the most incredible orchid I had ever seen, a cymbidium. What many of us remember fondly as a corsage orchid but this color was just stunning.

There were also some for sale and me, wellllllllllllll I couldn't resist adding to my collection. Some of my favorites that I saw displayed were not available for sale so this one above didn't come home with me but certainly one similar.

This particular one I placed beside my husband's morning chair where he reads his morning paper. It is sitting on an antique English Pub table that I have had for many years and this is my husband's favorite table. If only this table could talk for I'm sure it would tell of many rousing tales.

This one came very close to my favorite orchid on display at the Orchid Show. It too is a cymbidium, not as deep of a raspberry color but close and it also extremely fragrant.

I am also very fond of those pansy faced orchids and two of those came home with me. This one in the same room.

In another room a darker version of the pansy like orchid. Sitting atop an antique English Pie Crust table.

Behind the couch, a phalanopsis.

   When my daughter saw them she said to me, "WOW, it looks like you had a good time at the Orchid Show." Yes I did.

I am linking this post to Tabletop Tuesday hosted by Marty at A Stroll through Life. Thank your for visiting my blog and I appreciate each and every comment.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lidia's Mac and Cheese

I dearly love a good Mac and Cheese (truthfully I am addicted) and I am always looking for that recipe that is different, unique but yet delicious. One of my favorite chefs and cookbook authors is Lidia Bastianich. Now Mac and Cheese is not Italian but truly American comfort food but Lidia's most recent book takes you to different parts of our own country in our Italian/American communities of our cities.

It's a great book that takes you to the Italian communities of New York,  New Orleans, Chicago, Philly, California and many others, all rich with the culture of Italian immigrants and their influence of Italian cuisine. This particular recipe for Macaroni and Cheese, Maccheroni al Formaggio, Lidia says it is made the way an Italian would make it. So, it got my attention.

Macaroni and Cheese, Maccheroni a Formaggio

3 cups grated fontina
5 cups grated cheddar
4 cups milk
Kosher salt
1 pound pipette (elbow macaroni is commonly used for this dish in America, but I suggest using pipette, a pasta that looks like a bent pipe)
3-to-4- piece day-old Italian bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
2 cups grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 large fresh sage leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the fontina and cheddar in a large bowl. Pour the milk over the cheese, and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, until the cheese begins to break down and dissolve into the milk.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. Once it is boiling, pour the pipette into the water and cook until just al dente (3 or 4 minutes shy of package cooking time). Drain, and return the pasta to the pot.

Grate the bread on the coarse holes of a box grater to get about 1 1/2 cups coarse crumbs. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When it is melted, stir in the bread crumbs, and toss until crisp and toasted, about 3 minutes. Scrape the crumbs into a bowl, and let cool. Butter a 15-by-10 inch baking dish, and coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of some of the crumbs. Stir 1 cup of the grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano into the remaining crumbs.

Pour the cheese and milk into a pot set over medium-low heat, and whisk in the sage leaves. Cook until the cheese melts, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated cheese.

Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta pot, and stir until all of the pasta is coated with the sauce. Scrape the pasta into the baking dish, and sprinklw the remaining bread crumbs with cheese over the top. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.


A simple recipe but the biggest difference in this recipe, of course, is that the cheese mixture is soaked in the milk. This really intrigued me since I have always made a bechemel sauce. The cheese did in fact break and because of that I was more than a little concerned when putting everything together.

I thought to myself, "Well, this is one of Lidia's recipes that is NOT going to turn out well."

Just before popping in the overn.

I was so wrong. Instead it came out one of the creamiest if not THE creamiest Mac and Cheese I have ever prepared.

Oh how I wish you could smell this special treat.

It was rich and creamy and I will definitely prepare this recipe again. I vow now never to under estimate Lidia or maybe I should say under estimate taking an American recipe and preparing it as the Italians would as Lidia wrote.

 As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a Good Thing."

I am linking this post to Designs by Gollum, hosted by Michael Lee West at Rattlebridge Farm. To see other fabulous recipes shared click HERE.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and I welcome and always appreciate your thoughtful comments.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Morning Indulgence

First let me say, about a month ago I deleted my blog. I don't know, it seemed I was becoming so busy with my grand children and wasn't taking enough time for me. Meaning that I do enjoy blogging but wasn't finding the time to devote to it. There are times when I don't have too many people appearing here and that is sometimes discouraging but just a couple of days ago another blogging friend emailed me to ask where my blog was??? It made me stop and think about why I began blogging in the first place, it was very theraputic and I looked at it as journaling. The email from my friend helped me to put it in it's proper prespective so I brought my blog back up.

Having said that with this post I am joining A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday, a most interesting blogging party.

One of my favorite joys is to have the time to enjoy my morning coffee on my patio. It is a relaxing and theraputic way to begin the day.

Here in N FL we are already experiencing temperatures in the 90's but in the early morning it is comfortable. I usually take out a couple of magazines to read with my coffee and always enjoy the antics of many varieties of birds.

I have always kept quite a few potted plants which only enhance the ambience. This particular geranium was a new "find". It is the most gorgeous raspberry color.

A nearby water element only enhances the experience, truly relaxing.

  Beginning my day with coffee on the patio is a joy and I savor each moment when time permits. I just feel better about the day ahead. It is a wonderful way to begin the day.

You can see other interesting posts for Outdoor Wednesday by clicking HERE. Thank you for visiting my blog.

I am also linking to A Delightsome Life's, Home and Garden Thursday. Click HERE to view other beautiful posts. This is my first time joining in this blogging party.