This explosion of color will like blow your mind! Fruit trays are simple and delicious, so take the time to arrange your fruits in an visually pleasing display. When you get the chance to sign up for a school banquet dessert, this is a ‘gram worthy choice.
Strawberries- washed & sliced
Seedless Grapes- washed
Kiwi- peeled & sliced
I bought the $7 galvanized tray from Wal-Mart in the vain hopes of getting to enjoy my coffee and breakfast in bed- this has yet to happen. It was however perfect for my fruit tray.
Eat like a royal! Meghan Markle Royal Wedding Cake recipe
I loved watching the elegant ladies & gents who attended the royal wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle. Alas, my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail (yours too?). No worries! You can now celebrate the royal couples nuptials by enjoying your very own slice Elderberry & Lemon Wedding cake. I just made this and it is beyond delicious. It so EXTRA.
From Voraciously lead writer Becky Krystal, based on recipes from “The Violet Bakery Cookbook,” by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press, 2015)- Revised by Melanie Knight 2018. Servings: 16- you can half the recipe to make a 1/2 cake
For the Filling
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon; reserve the juice for the frosting)
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
7 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub the inside of the pan with butter and dust with flour. Set aside.
Mix the sugar and lemon zest on low until blended and fragrant. Add the butter; beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and almost white. Meanwhile, lightly whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and salt in a liquid measuring cup. Reduce the speed to low; gradually add to the butter-sugar mixture until fully incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, then add half of it to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined, then add the milk and the elderflower liqueur, if using. Beat on low speed, until combined. Add the remaining flour; beat on low speed until no trace of dry flour remains. Divide equally among the cake pans and smooth the top with an offset or flexible spatula. (If you have a kitchen scale, each portion of batter should weigh about 300 grams, or about 10 1/2 ounces.)
Bake (middle rack) for 15 to 20 minutes (mine took quite a bit longer), until the top of the cakes spring back to the touch. The edges will be lightly browned and starting to pull away from the sides of the pans. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes ( I set mine int he freezer), then run a round-edged knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to release the layers. Use a pastry brush to apply the elderflower cordial a total of four times, allowing a few minutes in between so the liquid is absorbed.
If you need to reuse the pans to yield a total of three layers, wash and dry the pan(s) and repeat the baking and brushing with cordial.
For the filling: Pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with balloon-whisk attachment (I used regular mixer paddles). Beat on high speed until it can hold a firm peak. (Pull off the whisk attachment or beaters out and see how the cream in the bowl and on the equipment looks. If it flops over, it needs more time; if it holds its shape, you’re set.) Fold in the lemon curd on low mix speed.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fill the cake.
For the frosting: Combine the butter and 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on low speed and then increase to medium-high. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On medium-low speed, gradually add the milk, beating until combined.
Add 2 more cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed for at least 3 minutes. The mixture should be smooth. Add the lemon zest and juice and St-Germain, if using; beat on low speed until incorporated. Continue adding more confectioners’ sugar until you get the right consistency (this can vary somewhat depending on the temperature of your kitchen and how soft the butter was initially); the frosting needs to be thin enough to spread but thick enough to not run off the cake. It’s perfectly fine to let the frosting chill for a bit in the refrigerator; you may need to briefly beat it again to smooth it back out.
To assemble the cake, place a dab of frosting in the middle of a 9- or 10-inch cardboard cake round (you could also just place the cake directly on a large plate, ideally with little or no rim). Place one cake layer in the center, with the cordial-soaked side face up.
Use a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip or zip-top bag with one corner cut off to squeeze a border of frosting around the top of the cake, just inside the edge. This will serve as a kind of dam to hold in the filling.
Use an offset spatula or spoon to spread half the filling inside the ring of frosting. Place the next cake layer on top, also cordial-brushed side up. Repeat with another ring of frosting and the rest of the filling.
Lay the final cake layer on top. Place a small amount of frosting in a separate bowl for the crumb coat, which is your base layer of frosting that will help seal in the crumbs and give you a smooth surface to which you can apply the rest of the frosting. Use an offset spatula or table knife to apply the thin crumb coat all over the top and sides of the cake. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, to let the crumb coat set.
Apply the remaining frosting to the cake, and decorate the top with crystallized and/or fresh flowers, if using. Return the cake to the refrigerator to let the frosting firm back up, another 20 or 30 minutes.
Because the filling and frosting are soft, the cake is easier to cut when it’s still a bit chilled; by the time everyone eats the cake, its temperature will be just right. Let the cake sit at room temperature for just a few minutes before cutting into slices and serving.
For me, cooking is a inexpensive way to take a culinary excursion to an exotic land and savor their delectable cuisine in the comfort of my own home and without the hassle and expense of travel. Yeah, I’m a cheap date. If you are game for an adventure, I dare you to try this famous dish from Spain, Paella.
According to Damian Corrigan, Spain travel advisor for http://www.about.com/, “Paella comes from the Latin ‘patella’ The Latin word ‘patella’ means ‘pan’ and it is from this word that the Valencian word ‘paella’, which also means ‘pan’, is derived.” Paella is traditionally a rice dish cooked by laborers in a low flat pan, much like a frying pan, over an open fire. From here, there are several variations and everyone has their favorite version. Every recipe calls for a different list of ingredients- like lobster, clams, chicken, pork, rabbit and even squid and snails. But every paella dish has saffron, the spice that gives it a distinct flavor and its yellow color.
¡No lo imagine, disfrútelo! (Don’t imagine it, enjoy it!)
The paella we are going to explore is Paella de Marisco, or seafood paella. The shrimp are cooked in this dish with the shell on, this seals in the flavor. Your guests will peel their shrimp as they get to them when they are enjoying your masterpiece, so have a few empty bowls on the table for the shrimp and mussel shells. If you really want to set the mood, eat our doors with a couple of tiki torches, a red table cloth and have Spanish guitars playing flamenco music in the background. Just get an mp3- don’t actually hire a band.
Paella de Marisco (Inspired by Emeril Lagasse’s Paella)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into small pieces salt & black pepper ½ lb. country ham chunks
1 medium/large chopped yellow onion1 chopped green bell pepper3/4 cup chopped celery (2-3 stalks)4-6 tablespoons minced garlic (your choice)3 cups uncooked white rice 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled tomatoes or 1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon hot sauce 9 bay leaves 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (very expensive seasoning, but worth it)6 cups chicken stock (OK to make with chicken bullion)1 lb raw shrimp in their shells
36 mussels (Wal-Mart frozen seafood section- they are already scrubbed and debearded)
1-Cut up the chicken and chop onion, bell pepper, celery, tomato and garlic. These items get added 1 after another, so save time by having them all ready before you start.
2-Heat olive oil over high heat in a large deep saucepan. Olive oil smokes at high temperature, so make sure the chicken is ready when the oil gets hot. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt & pepper, then add to hot oil carefully (cook 8-10 minutes). Cook chicken until brown on all sides, then add ham chunks (cook 3-4 minutes).
3-Add onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic and rice (cook 2-4 minutes).
4-Add tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, bay leaves, Creole seasoning and saffron. Cook 2 minutes.
5-Add chicken stock and stir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 12 minutes.
6-Add shrimp and mussels on top of rice mixture. If rice mixture starts to look dry, it is OK to add another ½ cup water and stir. Cover and cook 4-6 minutes. Shrimp shells will turn pink when cooked and the shrimp meat will be white. The mussel shells will open when cooked. Throw away any mussels that do not open.
Scoop your paella into a big bowl and arrange the mussels on top in a circular pattern. Hey, it’s your paella, make any shape you want. I don’t actually eat mussels, but in my house, it’s not paella without them. Place the bowl in the center of the table and let your guest help themselves- ¡Olé!
It’s the only day you get to sleep in, so skip that early breakfast and enjoy a champagne brunch.
Crunch-atize Me Cap’n!
It’s the new rebel yell of anyone who caught the Comfort Food episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. This episode featured a decadent double stack of French toast that had been dipped in Cap’n Crunch before it was grilled in butter, then topped with an avalanche of whipped cream and berries. Anyone who can capture the crunchy sweetness of a cartoon Saturday morning and serve it up on a plate is pure genius. They gave out ingredients on the show, but not quantities. Here’s my version of the Baltimore’s Blue Moon Café Cap’n Crunch French Toast.
Cap’n Crunch French Toast Melanie Knight- inspired by Blue Moon Café
4 cups Cap’n Crunch original cereal (no Crunch Berries)
10 slices Texas bread (thick sliced bread)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
10 tablespoons butter
Whipped cream for topping
1 pint strawberries
½ pound seedless grapes
Place the cereal in a casserole dish and crunch it into crumbs with the bottom of a glass.
Mix the eggs, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon together and place in a shallow dish. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Take 1 slice of brad, dip both sides in the egg mixture, then coast with the Cap’n Crunch crumbs. Cook each side 2-3 minutes until light brown. Repeat for the other 9 slices of bread.
Stack 2 French toasts on the center of the plate. Top with a generous helping of whipped cream and strawberries and grapes.
Makes 5 servings.