Monday, July 16, 2018

Cookbook Book Club

Several weeks ago I hosted my cookbook book club. Since it was just a week before the Fourth of July that's what I chose as my theme. As hostess I chose the book from which we cooked also. It had just come out the month before so I thought there would be a great deal of enthusiasm about cooking from this book.
I was right, everyone enjoyed cooking from this book and I must add that each and every recipe cooked from this book was outstanding. I would cook any one of them for my own family. Now we probably should have thought through all the cheese that was in each recipe, there was cheese in each and every one of them with only one exception. They were all delicious just the same.
I used a vintage floral jacquard tablecloth that I had gotten some time ago from William Sonoma with my blue and white dinnerware in mind.

I used my blue Spode Italian, hotel silver, cobalt blue wine glasses and water glasses and at each place setting I had a small African violet in a wee blue and white container. A "take home" for each guest.
I love using birds on most all my tables and these napkin rings I picked up a long time ago and each one are different. I even used my little bird salt and pepper cellars.
I used in my arrangement blue hydrangeas, whitish pink roses, and added in the flags for a more patriotic theme. 
I prepared the main dish which was what Joanna called, Dedication Casserole. It basically was a chicken and wild rice casserole but the BEST one I have ever prepared. One thing I thought was super terrific was that it called for your favorite rotisserie chicken which that's a no brainer, Costco's is the absolute best. It also called for a jar of marinated artichokes and you add in the liquid from those artichokes and for creaminess it called for cream cheese. Not using cream of mushroom soup which I liked that much better. It called for 4 cups of cheddar cheese but if I were to prepare this dish again I would definitely use much less. Since it was for my cookbook group I like to prepare the dish as it reads. It was excellent and I think everyone else thought so as well. It could feed an army there was so much of it but most of the time my friends take home enough to feed their husbands that evening as they should.

Not sure why I can't get this pic to straighten but I can't.

I also made an appetizer since I had made a rather stout Sangria. I didn't want them sipping on the Sangria without something going in their tummy's while everyone was arriving. It was a great excuse to try this recipe as well and it is excellent.
Joanna calls it Last-Minute Party Dip, the ingredients most people would have in their pantry and everyone just raved over it. It was quite good and one I will make again.

Last-Minute Party Dip

Two 8-ounce blocks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
One 7.5-ounce jar marinated quartered artichokes, drained and chopped
1 cup minced green onions (light and dark green parts)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
Bagel crisps or crackers, for serving

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, green onions, garlic powder and kosher salt until well combined.

Transfer half of the dip to a small serving bowl and top with half of the pepper. Store the remaining dip in the refrigerator and refill the bowl as necessary, topping with additional pepper before serving. Serve with bagel crisps or crackers.

Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes about 4 cups

One of my favorite dishes brought was the Peach Caprese Salad. This was a delightful different take on the traditional Caprese Salad especially since peaches are in season right now. It was light, refreshing and pared well with the fresh mozzarella.
Other dishes that were brought were,
Three Cheese Quiche
Stuffed Broccoli Casserole
Creamy Squash Casserole

 Dutch Oven Cabbage and Bacon
There were two desserts brought and both were excellent. 
 Blueberry Buttermilk Puff
Aunt Opal's Banana Pudding
This was such a different take on most Banana puddings in that it used creamed cheese and sweetened condensed milk. It's not something I would make every week but I must say it had WOW factor.
I think it is fair to say that a fun time was had by all and the book we cooked from was a winner.
I will be sharing this post on Susan's Tablescape Thursday. To see others shared post just click HERE.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Blueberry Season

Blueberry season is upon us and we are fortunate to have several blueberry bushes at our farm in N GA.

This year we have an abundance of blueberries with more coming. I have already spent a morning there getting all I can manage at one time. The unfortunate thing is that it is so darn hot in our area when blueberries come into season so it's a MUST to pick in the early hours of the day.
I have lots of recipes using blueberries but one of my favorite is a Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake. It is rich, buttery, and I love any kind of cake that has the tang of buttermilk.
It's important to begin by gathering all of your ingredients.
This little cake goes together very quickly.

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Serves 7-8

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon zest or more (zest of one lemon)
7/8 cup* plus 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup buttermilk

*7/8 cup = 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
*this 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350*. Cream butter with the 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 1/4 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. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or coat with a non-stick baking spray. Spread the batter into the pan, the batter will be thick. Sprinkle the batter with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Note: 2 cups of blueberries sounds like a lot but you will be happy you used the full amount.

As you can see, it only becomes lightly browned and while this is called a breakfast cake it can also be served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream for a delightful dessert as I did. This did not last long at my house. This was all that was left for breakfast the next morning.
Every morsel was eaten though, delicious. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing other favorite blueberry recipes. Do you have a favorite to share?