Lemon Coconut Chiffon Cake

IMG_3659There is something very special about a light and fluffy chiffon cake.  Usually they are fragrantly laced with citrus, and are beautiful when served simply with some fresh macerated fruit with the juices wicking into the crumb.

They also work really well when you want to make a great presentation cake.  This recipe uses coconut right in the batter.  Once cooked, it is cut into layers and filled with lemon curd.  Top it off with a light and fluffy coconut icing (with a built in stabilizer), and it has become an amazingly pretty cake, that is light and not too filling.

There may seem to be a lot of instruction, but just read it through first, and you’ll see that it really is a very basic cake, and not hard to succeed at!

Find a small glass or jar to fit into the center hole of the cake, to put in a small posy or a larger blossom.  Just wrap the stems in damp paper towel, and put the flowers in the glass.  Slice the cake with a serrated blade to make a tidy cut. Continue reading

Potato Crusted Quiche

IMG_6332I’ve been methodically going through my cooking files.   Everything is kept in legal sized hanging files, where I can jot things down on the folders themselves, such as cookbooks that offer a recipe that I use often, idea notes can be tossed in indiscriminately to a parent file.   I moved away from a recipe card box a long, long time ago.  I still have the recipes; they’re just in larger folders now.

As I work through the files, it gives me a chance to look at the whole of an idea, instead of a recipe standing on it’s own.  Sorting through my “breakfast” file, I’m reminded of the amount of milk to egg, for quiche, that works.  Little things like ratio are actually really important building blocks in developing a recipe.  If I know these things, then I’m able to be creative without messing with the core.  Of course, the ingredients you mix with the core can have an effect on the finished product, but it’s usually best to start with what you know.  It just makes for better science!

For this quiche, I use the core of ¼ cup of milk to each extra-large egg.  It has a good ratio of cheese to the other filling.  Which gives a recipe that is easy to switch some of the ingredients to create something new, or simply to make use of what you have on hand.

This quiche is an excellent meal.  It can easily be converted to a vegetarian version, and is naturally gluten-free.  The mashed potatoes that are used for the crust work best if they are a day old. Just make some the day before, if not using leftovers. Continue reading

Frozen Espresso Nougat with Pistachios & Bourbon

IMG_6179Frozen nougat is a lovely way to end a meal.  It is so light, and a half–cup serving is all that’s needed.  If the dinner has been a full one, it’s nice to serve something light and cool for dessert.  Remember that dessert is the last thing on your guests’ palates.  It needs to be memorable, in a good way!

I’ve served this many times over the years, but in a very simple version.  It was a bit of an epiphany for me to add in the espresso & bourbon, and switch the nuts to pistachio.  When I was making this batch, I was making enough for twenty.  After preparing the nuts (which I did the night before), it took me just over an hour to have all twenty covered and in the freezer, ready for a dinner in a couple of days’ time.

I served them with a tray of small mixed cookies, an easy but special finish to a great evening.  Continue reading

Shallots with Sherry Reduction

IMG_5691Back in the day, I used to make pickles, lots of pickles of every sort.  One fall I made many pints of pickled onions, and thought it would be a good idea to top each jar with a small chili.  Unfortunately I used Bird’s Eye Chilies.  There they sat, for several months, infusing my cheerful little onions with their heat.

We opened a jar one night, to sample these wonderful treats, so carefully preserved earlier in the fall.  One bite, and our eyes were streaming, and our throats were on fire.  So much work to create an inedible pickle!  Fortunately for us, we had a friend who’d grown up in Indonesia eating foods far spicier than our palates are used to, and she happily tucked into them.  She graciously accepted the remaining pints.  I’ve never made pickled onions since.

However, I do enjoy the sweet & sour of pickled onions, and this recipe is a worthy substitute.  I love the colour of shallots, from their raw bright purple to their delicate pink when cooked.  Their flavour is sweet and oniony, and when cooked this way, makes an excellent addition to a buffet dinner, or as a garnish on a plated meal, and there’s no unintentional heat. Continue reading