Apr 30 2011

key lime pineapple citrus martini

Do you ever have that perfect storm when you have random ingredients that you don’t normally have and it suddenly hits you that you can make something fabulous by combining them? Last Sunday afternoon we sitting around taking it easy and enjoying the nice spring weather.  Joseph suggested a drink on the porch, thinking of the bottle of Gremona Gessami Bianco we had picked up the day before.  But I was thinking of the pineapple juice we had.

When I was a kid, I loved pineapple orange banana juice, but almost never got to have it. I had forgotten all about that, but was reminded when I was looking for pineapple juice at the store to use for our Easter ham in pineapple mustard sauce. There was pineapple peach mango juice and pineapple orange banana, and oh man, I wanted to try them. But our fridge was already bursting, so we just got what we had come for.  All this came back to me when Joseph suggested the drink on the porch.

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Apr 27 2011

glazed vermont ham with pineapple mustard sauce

True to form, I’ve told you about dessert before dinner.  What can I say, I was really excited about that key lime coconut cake! But the dinner definitely held up to the dessert that followed. We didn’t really have any plans for Easter dinner, but wanted something that was easy and celebrated spring. We had planned to make an asparagus and bacon quiche with a goat cheese and strawberry topped salad, but things took a turn when we got to the Whole Foods and saw that Vermont Smoke and Cure had a table set up with a bunch of different samples. We love their pepperoni but had never tried any of their other products. We both tried the ham, took one look at each other, nodded, and I picked out the smallest ham they had while Joseph returned the quiche ingredients that we no longer needed.

I hadn’t even known that ham was a classical Easter dish until about a week ago. I have no real memory of Easter dinner growing up. My Easter memories revolve entirely around the chocolate cake with green coconut grass and peeps that my mom made, and the absolute best Easter egg hunt you could imagine. Our good family friends had a cabin in the Shenandoah’s and we would all head out there for the weekend. After a hearty scrambled egg breakfast, we would venture out into the woods where the “Easter Bunny” (aka our fathers) had hidden eggs. As the youngest, Stanley and I would get a head start before our older sisters raced past us and got all the eggs in the higher branches.

The eggs were a mixture of hard boiled eggs that we had dyed the day before and plastic and metal (yeah, really old school) eggs filled with candy.  After we scoured the woods for eggs, we would sit on the floor, decide who had won the biggest loot prize, and commence trading of candy for our favorites.  Every year there was a “winner” of the special egg: a plastic egg with a carrot or piece of broccoli in it to the great delight of our mothers.  We were considerably less amused. Continue reading

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Apr 26 2011

key lime coconut cake

When we were planning our little Easter dinner (just for the two us), I was most excited about picking out a dessert (surprised, anyone?). I scoured recent posts on tastespotting and foodgawker, I checked out Epicurious and the Food Network, and while there many lovely, tasty looking desserts, nothing was jumping out as quite what I was looking for. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I wanted it to be a little bit different, light and spring appropriate, and not too big since it was just the two of us. Then I went to Smitten Kitchen, clicked on the the cake recipes, and there it was: lime coconut cake.  I don’t know what it was about the lime coconut cake, but it just felt right.  It conjured pictures of tropical beaches with crystal clear blue seas and I wanted to go to there.

The cake may not actually transport you to Fiji, but it is exactly what I was looking for. It’s light and moist and the coconut adds a really nice, delicate crunch. Also, I’m just obsessed with lime.  I just love it and I’ve been on a total lime kick lately (I’ll be sharing another lime treat with you soon…).  It’s just so refreshing!

I like coconut, so I don’t know why I never cook with it. In fact, making this cake brought back memories from my bakery days when I worked at Cake Love because that was the last time I worked with coconut (5 years ago!).  I was a prep assistant and one of my jobs was to toast the flaked coconut. My boss was always giving me a hard time about leaving the oven door open too long and letting heat out while cakes were in there baking, while I was just trying to stir a huge, hot sheet overflowing with coconut without spilling it all over the place. It always stressed me out, but man it smelled good. Continue reading

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Apr 19 2011

chocolate angel food cake

I love baking for other people.  There’s just so much satisfaction in giving someone one of your favorite treats, like chocolate glazed gingerbread cakes, chocolate raspberry cake, apple cider cake, or a cranberry upside-down cake (can you tell I like cake?). But what about when that person is on a diet?  You’d hardly be a good friend if you showed up with these sinfully delicious, rich, gooey, brownies.

This chocolate angel food cake has become my answer to that.  It’s light and and airy and chocolatey and oh so very good, and the best part? There’s no butter, no egg yolks, no oil, and hey, it’s half air! How bad can it possibly be? It’s a much healthier alternative but it’s still so good, especially served with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.

So when I said I’d bring dessert to a dinner party to celebrate the birthday of a friend that has lost over 30 pounds through several months of hard work and dedication, this is the dessert I immediately thought of.  But I was still pretty wobbly after knee surgery and was a little nervous to committing to that much time standing in the kitchen. What if I got halfway through and just couldn’t stand long enough to finish it? Continue reading

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