May 2009

If you subscribe Gourmet magazine, and have already perused this month’s issue, then you may have seen this recipe.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

This cake took no time to prepare. Some of the online reviews indicate that the cake “came apart” when it was time to take it out of the pan. I didn’t have any trouble, but I was sure to spray the pans with Baker’s Joy. I am not really a fan of the butter and flour of molds before baking routine. Also, I made mine in miniature cheesecake pans. These are the perfect size for two or three people, and I wanted to freeze a couple to see how they hold up.

I plan on making this with frozen berries, likes some of the online reviewers did, and perhaps peaches later this summer. One other change I plan on making is using cake flour. I prefer the texture of a cake made with cake flour versus all-purpose.


This weekend’s menu included ribs, home made barbeque sauce, and even paella. And to finish it up…. sweet, salty, smooth crunchiness.

Creme Brulee Tarts

Creme Brulee Tarts

1 sheet Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations
3 eggs plus 1 egg white
1/3 cup + 3 TB sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split, inside scraped

1. Heat oven to 400. Roll out dough on a flat surface. Cut out 6 – 3 inch circles* and press against the inside of a muffin tin or miniature brioche tarts. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool off for 5 minutes. Brush with egg white, return to the oven for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, place in a cooling rack, and after 5 minutes remove from the molds.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks. Set aside.
3. In a medium sauce pan, bring the whipping cream, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla bean and pod to a slow simmer. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
4. Remove cream mixture and add 1/4 cup to the egg mixture. Add in a slow stream while whisking. This process is called tempering and allows the egg mixture to reach the temperature of the cream without cooking the egg.
5. Now add the egg/cream mixture, to the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture, and return to the stove.
6. Continue stirring until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, or it reaches 160 degrees.
7. Pour the egg mixture in the tart shells baked on step 1. Let them cool off to room temperature, and then put in the fridge for at least one hour.
8. Sprinkle the top of the tarts with sugar, and place under the hot broiler for a few minutes, or caramelize using a small torch.

* Anything from a large biscuit cutter to a glass will do the trick to cut these circles. This time I used small ramekins.

We do a lot of risotto around here from spring to fall; and it mostly happens on Sundays. We simply love it, and Sunday its about the only day when I have time to dedicate time to one dish. Also, our local Farmer’s Market runs on Saturday, and well, nine times out of ten, some of my market purchases ends up in the risotto.

I first tasted Rissotto al Limone a couple of years ago in Florence. It was our first meal after an entire day of train travel from Munich. I found the combination of lemon and prosciutto intriguing, ordered it, and I am glad I did. I have played around a bit with this recipe and now I have an exact replica of Trattoria Za Za’s recipe!

Risotto al Limone

Risotto al Limone

2 TB butter
1 cup prosciutto, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine such as Chardonnay
40 oz chicken stock
juice of two lemons
1 cup half and half
2 TB grated parmessan

1. In a large skillet, melt the butter and sautee the prosciutto for 5 minutes. Take the prosciutto out of the pan and set aside.
2. Add the arborio rice to the pan and stir frequently until golden. Add the wine and stir till the wine is absorbed.
3. Add the chicken stock, one cup at a time and stir frequently. Continue to add the broth as the previously added broth evaporates. In between broth additions, add the lemon juice. This process will take 30 – 40 minutes.
4. Once rice is cooked to “al dente”, add the half and half and stir.
5. Add the parmessan cheese after the half and half is fully absorbed. Garnish with lemon and serve.

If you are in Indiana, and haven’t tried the lamb from Royer Farm, you are missing out.  Every time I cook lamb, I end up making something with a Greek twist to it.  Two years of sharing a dorm room with a Greek roommate will do that to you! And yes, there’s the irony of one of the ingredients listed being “Tuscan Sunset”, however this seasoning from Penzey’s has some of the same ingredients you will find in most Greek blends…. oregano, garlic, bell pepper… yep, it’s all Greek to me!

Greek Style Shells

2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 lb lamb sausage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 TB thyme
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup black olives
pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
12 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz crumbled feta cheese
2 TB Penzey’s Spices Tuscan Sunset seasoning, or a Greek style spice blend
1 TB water

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the lamb sausage, salt and thyme and cook for 15 minutes till browned and you don’t have any large chunks of lamb left.
2. Add the green onions and black olives and cook for an additional 10 minutes in low to medium heat.
3. While the lamb finishes cooking, in a medium bowl combine the ricotta, feta and seasoning.
4. Fill shells with cheese mixture, and place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Add one tablespoon of water and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
5. Bake shells in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, top with lamb mixture and enjoy!

** Be sure to not overcook the pasta, just cook to “al dente”. It will finish cooking in the oven.