Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Just in Time for 4th of July - Strawberry Shortcake!

I just got back from my Texas road-trip to my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, just in time for 4th of July! After seeing fields, and fields, and fields of strawberries growing along the gulf coast, I just had to make my absolute favorite, "Long-on-Strawberry Shortcake!" I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but I love it! Instead of a biscuit, it is a moist, light cake, made with cake flour, poppy seeds, crushed strawberries, and even some almond extract! Topped with sliced berries and whipped cream, it makes a nice presentation and tastes fantastic! In addition, it only takes 30 minutes, start to finish! It is a nice variation of a true American classic!


Long-on-Strawberry Shortcake

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
For the Cake
2 cups cake flour (like Swan's Down)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup crushed (with a fork), ripe strawberries
1 teaspoon almond extract
2, 9" round cake pans and parchment paper

For the Topping
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 pints fresh ripe strawberries, sliced
3 pretty, small, whole berries, for garnish

Directions:
For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9" round cake pans. Cut parchment circles to fit the pans, place in the pans, grease the parchment, and flour the entire inside of the pan. Tap out any excess flour.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a bowl.

With an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine 3/4 cup water and the almond extract with the crushed strawberries. Add the fruit mixture in thirds, alternating with the dry ingredients. Continue beating until all the ingredients are well incorporated.

With the mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the batter.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the layers for 5 minutes in the pans. Remove the layers from the pan and continue to cool on cooling racks.

For the Topping
While the cakes are baking, whip the cream and 1 tablespoon of the confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine the sliced strawberries with the remaining confectioners' sugar, a tablespoon or two at a time, until desired sweetness.

Assembling the Cake
Remove the parchment rounds from the layers. Transfer one layer to a serving plate. Top with half the sliced berries and spread 1/2 of the whipped cream over the berries. Top with the remaining cake layer, the rest of the sliced berries, the remainder of the whipped cream, and garnish with the 3 remaining whole berries. Pretty and Yum!

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Feeling Ugly? Eat This!

We all know that we should incorporate more fruit in our diets. Not only is it good for your overall health, it's also good for your skin! Fruit contains high water content, which is good for hydration, and is loaded with vitamins and minerals needed to make you feel healthy and energized. And because fruit contains high levels of vitamin C, it will help boost collagen production, repair tissue damage, and protect your skin against free radicals! Now that's super food!

Honey has been used to enhance beauty since the dawn of time. Although the beauty benefits of honey are usually topical, incorporated into face masks, hair masks, and baths, etc., ingesting it will help you from the inside out. After all, you are what you eat! Right? The ancient Romans gave honey to their Olympic athletes to boost performance and endurance. Honey also has antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties, which helps boost your immune system and prevent disease. In addition, honey is good for hangovers, sore throats, and a teaspoon before bed helps you sleep! No wonder Aristotle called it the nectar of the gods!

Now that we understand that fruit and honey is good for the skin, so is mint! Mint is a popular herb used in shampoos, lip balms, and mouth rinses. But it is also found in many beauty products to sooth itching and infections, look for "menthe" on the labels. Mint has a high salicylic acid content, which is good for loosening dead skin cells, resulting in clearer skin. Mint can also help with digestion problems, such as bloating, and is also good for headaches, nausea, colds, and even the flu!

Want to feel better and look better, too? Try this "Fruit Salad with Honey, Lime and Mint!" This is the perfect refreshing summer salad! In fact, it's the only way I can get my fruit-phobic husband to eat his fruit! I recently served this along side chiles rellenos, instead of the typical beans and rice. It was delicious and kept the meal from being heavy or unctuous. Feel free to use any fruit you prefer or have on hand, e.g., berries, kiwi, honeydew, etc. Add this simple recipe to your repertoire and you will have no problem eating your way to healthier skin!


Fruit Salad with Honey, Lime, and Mint

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
5-6 cups fruit, cut into bite-size pieces (I use 1 whole cantaloupe and 1 pint strawberries)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Directions:
Place all the fruit in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until just before serving.

In a small bowl, mix the honey, lime juice, lime zest, and chopped mint together. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the fruit and gently toss to combine.

Recipe slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Celebrate Father's Day with Michael Symon's Grandma

Father's Day is almost here, and I don't know of one dad who when asked what he wants for Father's Day doesn't reply, "Nothing." I guess I can understand getting a gift that he probably doesn't want and probably pays for isn't that exciting. Unless your dad's a golfer, a sci-fi collector, or is really into ties, it makes celebrating them difficult. While dad doesn't want to pay for a trip to the Mediterranean, he would love a manly meal from the grill with some Greek flair. I've got the recipe for you - Michael Symon's "Yiayia's Smoked Pork Ribs!"

While I love my recipes for Memphis-Style Spare Ribs and Best Barbecue Ribs, these Greek-style ribs seem a little "lighter" and provide a new twist on classic barbecue. While Michael recommends cooking the ribs wrapped in foil, I think it's easier to cook them over a drip pan, rotating them occasionally. In addition, the combination of spices, herbs, and honey make these ribs truly memorable. I like to serve them with a Greek salad, loaded with tomatoes, olives, cucumber, and feta cheese. Yum! A wonderful starter (although not Greek) would be Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Wrapped Shrimp. After all, you'll have the grill going anyway, and I guarantee any dad will flip for these spicy/cheesy shrimp!

Yiayia's Smoked Pork Ribs

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Rub
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons toasted and ground coriander seeds
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 racks spare-ribs, preferably St. Louis style cut, if possible (I cut them in half so they fit on my Weber.)
Juice of 1 lemon

For Barbecuing
3-4 handfuls applewood chips, soaked in water
1 aluminum roasting pan, to go under the ribs while on grill

For the Glaze
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

For the Garnish
1 lemon, cut in half
Sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle of honey

Directions:
The day BEFORE you plan on cooking the ribs:
Mix together the dry ingredients to make the rub. Squeeze the lemon juice all over the ribs and then coat all sides with the rub, making sure to distribute evenly. Cover the ribs and refrigerate overnight.

When you're ready to barbecue the ribs:
Whisk together the glaze ingredients, set aside. Prepare a charcoal grill for barbecuing over medium-low heat (300-350 degrees).

Place an aluminum drip pan half full of water in the center of the fire bed. Sprinkle some of the wood chips on the coals. Place the ribs on the grill rack over the drip pan.

Cover and grill and smoke the ribs, rotating them every 30 minutes or so (the ribs along the outside will cook faster, so it's good to rotate to the inside, etc.) and adding more wood chips, more coals, and more water to the drip pan as needed.



After the first hour, brush the glaze on top of the ribs. Continue to cover, grill, and smoke the ribs until they are tender and a toothpick can easily be inserted between the ribs, about 2 1/2-3 hours. 

Just before the ribs are done cooking, grill the lemon halves flesh-side down until nicely marked and slightly soft, 3-5 minutes.

When the ribs are done, let them rest on a cutting board, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes. To serve, cut the ribs between the bones and garnish with the grilled lemon, sea salt, oregano, olive oil, and honey.


Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.