Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chef's Table Cooking Club~May Luncheon

As hostess of our most recent cookbook book club I chose the book from which each of us cooked from. Yesterday I hosted this group in my home for our May luncheon and as always we thoroughly enjoyed all the food shared. When trying to decide which cookbook to cook from my thoughts were to choose a book that I thought each one in our group would enjoy. I instinctively would have chosen a book by Lidia Basitanich, Jacque Pepin or Frank Stitt but I don't necessarily think our members would care to cook from these books. Julia Reed's, "South" was my choice and I think our members really enjoyed cooking from this book. It's a fairly new book published at the end of last year, 2016 and I've seen it not only in the larger book stores but also in a couple of gift shops, decorator type shops. All the food shared yesterday was excellent.
As always I love to play with my dishes and this time I had just recently purchased a new china pattern. I have wanted a blue and white pattern for such a long time. I had pondered over this for a while and had been to Atlanta recently and had seen the blue and white Arte Italica pattern which is a stunning pattern. That threw me a curve but since I already had some serving pieces from the Spode Blue Italian pattern that was my choice. I am very happy with my purchase and this was the starting point of my tablescape for our May luncheon. I am a little late in getting on the band wagon of everything blue and white but I am really enjoying this pattern.
It was a rainy muggy day which is why I had the lights on but we didn't care. What a great way to spend a yucky afternoon than with good friends, good food and good wine. Doesn't get any better than that.
 Of course, every pretty table needs a table arrangement, some flowers bought but most were cut from my own garden.
I had made the Bourbon Balls from this book, placed in little bags and tied with blue and white ribbon as a take home "happy" for each guest.
White damask tablecloth, blue woven placemats, April Cornel napkins, cobalt blue water glasses, Hotel silver flatware and Waterford balloon wine glasses.
Antique salt and pepper cellars. I have two, one for each end of the table, they are sterling silver and they came from a plantation near the Savannah area.

I always enjoy using my collection of sterling napkin rings. These are just a few from my collection.

In my collection I have some from England, France, a few American made and one from Czarist Russia. I often wonder who enjoyed these napkin rings before myself or who also held these in their hands. The stories they could tell.

All of the recipes brought to this luncheon were amazing. Some may not sound terribly interesting but they were delicious and different from same ole same ole Southern recipes. The one thing each dish had in common was how easy each were to prepare.
Marinated Shrimp on Baked Saltines

Mini Corn Muffins with Smoked Salmon and Dill Crème Fraiche
Jason's Spinach
Summer Squash Casserole
This truly was a really good Squash Casserole, a little different to most. Our conversation around the table was that if we changed it at all it would be to slice the squash in rounds rather than chopping it. I really liked the texture of the squash being chopped and I saved some for my husband to try. He whole heartedly agreed. It was excellent and my husband wants me to make this again soon.
Mushroom Bread Pudding
Another really good dish and I definitely want to make this myself.
And my contribution from this book, Frozen Whiskey Sours.
I debated about making this because I thought they might be a little over the top for a luncheon, they were a little stout. However, this makes a party size amount, can be made ahead and placed in the freezer so it's a perfect cocktail for a large party. For this occasion I halved the recipe and trust me when I tell you they were very well received, absolutely divine and worthy of testing the recipe.
"Frozen Whiskey Sours"
Serves about 32
3 fifths bourbon whiskey, such as Maker's Mark
2 quarts fresh orange juice
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar
Four 10-ounce jars maraschino cherries
1 orange, thinly sliced, for garnish
Place the whiskey, orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a large bowl (I usually have to resort to a stockpot) and stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar. Dump in one jar of the cherries with their juice and mix well. With a strainer over a medium bowl, strain the rest of the cherries and reserve the juice. Add the cherries to the whiskey mixture and sweeten to taste with the remaining cherry juice.
Mix well and pour into a large plastic container (a big Tupperware bowl, a couple of pitchers, or the aforementioned Ziploc bags will work). Cover and freeze until slushy (it actually never freezes hard).
Serve the mixture in a punch bowl, making sure some of the cherries rise to the top. Float a few orange slices on top as well, dotting them in the center with a cherry.
On a rainy and muggy day they were quite refreshing and most everyone went back for seconds. OOPS
I failed to get a pic of the Green Goddess Soup with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, this was served cold and used lots of fresh herbs. A very simple soup recipe and was amazing. The other recipe I failed to take a pic of was our dessert, Chess Pie Squares and our friend that brought these also made Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. I loved these bar cookies and it too was a very simple recipe.

I think it's fair to say that a good time was had by all, each of us really enjoyed the recipes shared and this book is a keeper of a  cookbook. I was pleased with my choice of books. I had marked most all of these recipes so it was nice to have a taste test of recipes that I plan prepare myself and will use this book  over and over again. We also missed three others in our group, I know they would have enjoyed it.

I am sharing this post at Tablescape Thursday hosted by Susan at Between Naps On The Porch and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee West at Rattlebridge Farm. Sharing also at Marty's blogging party Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Berry-Ricotta Cake

A few weeks ago a blogging friend, Julie at Accounting For All My Blessings, posted this delicious little cake. I thought it sounded so yummy, not too sweet but would still satisfy that need. I couldn't wait to try the recipe. Julie posts many dessert recipes among so many other things, she is so very talented and I have never been disappointed when I have made any one of her recipes. This recipe was no exception, it's quite simply excellent.
 The use of the Ricotta gave it a rich moist texture. You can use any seasonal berry but I used raspberries since they were available and I love them. This cake went together quickly with all my ingredients prepped.
It is suggested to use a 9-inch round cake pan with a liner but I chose to use a fluted pan with a removable bottom. I loved the way it looked and it came out of the pan beautifully. I also used fresh berries but it's good to know that this little cake can be made anytime of the year working just as well with frozen berries.

Berry-Ricotta Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup frozen boysenberries, blackberries, or raspberries, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees  Line a 9-inch diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by 3/4 cup berries, taking care not to crush the berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 cup berries over top.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Top with whipped cream, if desired.
This cake did not last long in our house, my husband loved so much and he definitely has a sweet tooth.  I gave it a sprinkle of powdered sugar but he insisted on a topping of fresh whipped cream as well. He likes to gild the lily.

It was a delicious cake with a crunchy top as you take a bite and this is a great quick cake to have in your recipe file. Certainly would be a wonderful cake to serve as a dinner party dessert with a scoop of ice cream too, YUM. Thank you Julie for sharing this recipe.
Try this recipe, it's a KEEPER!!!!!
I am sharing this post at Foodie Friday.