Monday, March 28, 2016

Our Easter Table

This year we were fewer in number and we had a full day of pouring rain but with the two of my grown children, their spouses and five grand children we enjoyed a wonderful and blessed day. There was no yearly Easter Egg Hunt that we normally do outside and honestly I opted not to do it inside. My house would have been turned upside down so we enjoyed a quiet indoor celebration of cocktails, appetizers, later a mid afternoon dinner and ended with our traditional dessert, Cointreau Cake.

The grown ups sat in the dining room with the exception of our youngest grand. She is still a little young to be eating with the other older grand's. She would just want to play instead of eating and still needs to be under our watchful eye.
I set a special setting for Baby Turner, a plate that has characters from Peter Rabbit.
Our table was set very simply with a tablecloth that I had bought many years ago from William Sonoma. It has shades of a cherry red in it which compliment the cherry red of the walls in our dining room. The green water goblets I bought long ago, a sale I came upon and couldn't resist them and the clear etched stem ware I found at my most favorite place to shop, Boxwood Gifts in Atlanta. I always make a point to visit this shop while in the Atlanta area. I have running rabbit napkin rings but this year chose to use my collection of sterling silver napkin rings.
Most of my collection have been bought over the past ten years most often when I am at an antique show. They are all very old, most of which are in the late 1800's and early 1900's. I have enjoyed the "hunt" while adding to my collection and I started the collection when I discovered that a very dear friend had a collection as well. I thought it to be a fascinating item to collect. Most in my collection are European, American and one from Czarist Russia.


I have a natural tendency to gravitate to the more ornate napkin rings most of which are French or English but I do add some from time to time that look a little more masculine to be placed at a gentlemen's place.
Then there is this one that happens to be my husband's favorite so it is always placed where he will be sitting. This is the one from Czarist Russia with it's red enameling and two rows above and below the enameling of tiny seed pearls.
These are but just a few in my collection but a collection that has been an enjoyable one. I often get a little history along with each napkin ring and always wonder who used these rings before I did.
The other grand's were seated on the screened porch just beyond the dining room. We open the doors so they feel a part of our table.
I always have a fresh arrangement that I put together for our Easter celebration.

A few other Easter decorations in the dining room.
And our traditional dessert, Cointreau Cake.
This cake is amazing with an angel food cake type of cake and the frosting does have the Cointreau liquor in it. I found the recipe many years ago in an old Southern cookbook by Camille Glenn. In her book she wrote that she most often made this for debutante parties. I smiled when I read that, times gone by but the cake...............a KEEPER and has become our families traditional dessert for Easter. I most often decorate the cake with pansy's from my garden but this year failed to plant them in time. I did however, have nastiruim's blooming so had to make do with them.

12 to 14 servings

8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Cointreau frosting; recipe follows

 Heat oven to 325 degrees.

 Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another large mixing bowl.Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have thickened and are smooth. Beat in the sugar slowly, then continue beating until the mixture turns a lighter shade of yellow and is smooth. Add the orange juice and blend thoroughly.

 Measure the flour, then sift it twice. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the egg yolk mixture and gently fold it in by hand with a whisk or a rubber spatula, or with the electric mixer on a very low speed. Fold in the Cointreau and vanilla.

Add the salt to the egg whites and beat until they begin to turn white and foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the egg whites hold a stiff peak but are not dry and grainy, about 4 minutes more.Fold a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then add the remaining egg whites to the batter, gently folding them in.

Spoon the batter into a 10- by 14 1/2-inch ungreased angel food cake pan (a tube pan with a removable bottom). The pan should be no more than three quarters full. Place the cake pan on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or until the cake springs back at once when lightly touched, about 1 1/4 hours.

Remove the cake from the oven, turn it upside down on the tube leg pans and allow it to rest overnight before frosting.

Loosen the cake with a thin sharp knife and unmold it. Put the cake on a plate or on a flat surface covered with wax paper or foil. Spread the frosting over the cake.


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 3/4 cups confectioners` sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
6 to 8 teaspoons Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur, or more as needed

 Put the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the confectioners` sugar and salt. Beat well with an electric mixer. Add the egg yolk, then slowly add 6 tablespoons of the Cointreau. Continue to beat the frosting until it is smooth, thick and pliable, about 3 minutes. Add more Cointreau as needed; it usually takes at least 8 tablespoons. This frosting must be thick.

 Frost the cake generously in a swirl design. Allow the frosting to firm for 30 minutes, then lift the cake to a serving platter.
I hope each of you reading had a wonderful Easter Sunday. We did in spite of our continuing rain.

Thank you for stopping by and I do hope you will come again. I'm sharing this post at Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch and Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

This was an arrangement that my daughter put together for her church's alter for Easter Sunday. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, I dearly love to do flower arrangements for any reason.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A new twist on My Favorite Blackberry Cobbler

I know I have posted before my recipe that I have tweaked and used for many years, My Favorite Blackberry Cobbler. Recently I found some delicious looking blackberry's and could not resist buying them since I was craving this cobbler. I don't usually buy blackberry's out of season but these were delicious and made an excellent cobbler.

With summer not far away I thought this to be an excellent time to do a repost of this recipe. Summer not far away meaning that in our area of North Florida we are already experiencing summer like temperatures in the mid 80's. However, we do expect a colder spell after our weekend rains, in the low 30's which will be appreciated.

As I made this cobbler I was reminded of a dear friend who passed this past year after a long battle with cancer. She absolutely loved this recipe and prepared it often even on her camping trips, several times calling me to ask if she had the right amount of baking powder or if it was a misprint. So this post is a tribute to my dear friend Monika.

The new twist on my go to Blackberry Cobbler recipe............ I baked it in a cast iron skillet for the first time. I absolutely love the crunchy sides/bottom and I think it made it even more delicious. I also love the rustic look of the presentation. I really should use my cast iron pans more often, they make everything taste better.

My Favorite Cobbler

1/2 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 cup milk
1 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sliced peaches, blackberries, or blueberries

Preheat oven to 350*.

Melt butter in a 2-quart casserole dish as the oven is preheating. Mix together flour, 1 cup sugar, salt, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Mix thoroughly. Mix 1 cup milk and 1 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and do not over mix. Mix them together just before you are ready to pour in to your casserole dish.

In separate bowl place fruit and 1/2 cup of sugar.

Pour flour mixture over butter; do not stir. Place fruit on top of wet mixture, do not stir. Bake at 350* for about 45 minutes or until bubbly and desired browning. Serve warm with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

My Notes: I put together all three separate entities together prior to mixing all together, dry ingredients, wet ingredients and fruit mixture. Just so when the oven reaches temperature everything is prepped and ready to go together.

This recipe is so quick, easy and yet Simply Delicious. I never tire of it and the good news is that you can substitute any fruit that may be in season or a combination of your favorites. The crust rises up and over the fruit which is why so much baking powder is required.
The combination of freshly grated nutmeg and almond extract is pure heaven if you particularly like those two ingredients which I do.

If you try this recipe you won't be disappointed. I most often enjoy ice cream on top but didn't have any at the time. If you have some heavy cream lurking in your refrigerator, freshly whipped cream works as an excellent substitute. Where is my rolling eyes smiley face when you need it?

This is a family favorite at my house and so easy to whip up. I hope it becomes a family favorite at yours as well. Enjoy!!!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Poulet a' la Creme

One of my favorite cookbook authors is Jacque Pepin and I thoroughly enjoy his cooking program as well. His latest book, "Heart and Soul In The Kitchen" is an excellent book published in 2015. Jacque's newest program goes right along with this book too. The book is beautifully done with not only beautiful photographs of the food but Jacque also shares some of his artwork. It makes for a most interesting and unusual book.
I have found this book absolutely charming and had no idea he was quite the artist.

I had watched him prepare this dish on his program and knew I just had to make it. What's not to like about butter, mushrooms, wine and of course, cream. There are so many different ways to prepare chicken in a cream sauce but I thought this one to be particularly outstanding.

Poulet a la Crème

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), skin removed (about 2 1/2 pounds skinned)
8 mushrooms (about 6 ounces), washed and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the chicken thighs to the pan in one layer and brown over high heat for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle on the flour. Turn the chicken pieces with tongs so the flour is dispersed evenly. Stir in the wine and water and mix well Bring to a boil and add the salt and pepper. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 25 minutes.

Add the cream, bring to a boil, and boil, uncovered, for about 1 minute.

Serve sprinkled with the chopped tarragon, if desired.
Instead of using chicken thighs I chose to use chicken breast tenders and they were delicious. A perfect choice for just my husband and myself since neither of us care for dark meat. I also used baby Portobello's too since I think they add more flavor. Shocking for me but I had no white wine lurking in my fridge but did have a French Rose' I had been wanting to try. It put this dish over the top and from now on I will always use that same Rose', delish and it went well for drinking with this dish also.
It also gave me the opportunity to use a piece from the Mauviel copper cookware set that my husband gave me for Christmas. Which has nothing to do with anything, of course, but I wanted to share my new cookware pieces. I have thoroughly enjoyed cooking with my new toys.

This was a simple but yet elegant dish and I will make it again and again. I do in fact grow tarragon in my garden and it would have been a wonderful addition to this dish but unfortunately mine has died back because of the cold weather. However, it is showing signs of coming back up so the next time I prepare this dish I will definitely use my tarragon. I dearly love the licorice taste of tarragon.

I hope you will try this dish and enjoy it. You won't be disappointed.
I'm sharing my post for Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm. You can click HERE to see other wonderful recipes shared.