fresh ginger-lemon cake

Ginger-lemon cake
January seems to be the month people flip their internal switches from out-of-control, wild bingers of rich food and drink to wholesome souls sucking down juice meals, promising to spend each and every day at the gym sweating out their toxins.

Or so that’s what some major retailers want us to think, according to the huge display I saw at Whole Foods on January 2. It was a tower more than 15 feet high, precariously constructed out of crates of lemons, bottles of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and jugs of maple syrup; all the ingredients necessary for the Master of Cleanses.

lemon ginger sugar fresh ginger

Post-holiday detox probably isn’t a bad idea, considering the amount of wine corks that pile up around me, but I’ve never submitted to a juice fast, for 2 reasons:

1. I’m afraid I might perish from hunger and then get very, very cranky; which is what tends to happen when I don’t eat in regular 3 hour intervals.

2. I associate the word “cleanse” with “not clean”.  As in dirty. You can take it from there.

My approach is a little gentler and keeps the tremors at bay. I just stick to eating all the real, fresh food I usually do and drink lots of water. The sugars and alcohol get pushed back into careful moderation.

I believe moderation includes a slice of cake, and my very favorite kind of cake is plain and simple, one that I can toast for a snack with some really good apricot or raspberry jam.

This is the most basic of pound cakes,  hit with enough ginger and lemon to freshen your inner being. Way better than drinking juice, I think.

fresh ginger lemon cake

Fresh ginger-lemon cake

Serving Size: 10 - 12 servings

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon plus 2 sticks butter at room temperature
  2. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest
  4. 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  5. 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  6. ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  7. 2 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 325; butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 –inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon butter.
  2. Put ¼ cup sugar in a pie dish or shallow bowl; add the lemon zest and ginger and massage the two together with your fingers. You can also use a small wooden spoon or a fork, but you will miss the aromatic therapy.
  3. Beat the 2 sticks butter in a heavy-duty standing mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Add the ginger-lemon sugar and beat for a few seconds before adding the remaining 1 cup sugar; beat 2 minutes, until lightened and fluffy.
  4. Lower the mixer speed and drizzle in the eggs and salt; beat on medium-high speed for 2 more minutes – the mixture might look curdled but don’t worry. Slow the mixer to stir, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half the flour; mix 15 seconds before adding the remaining flour. Mix just until there’s no more flour visible.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 1 hour; insert a toothpick or skewer into the middle of the cake. If wet crumbs cling to the skewer, bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack 15 minutes before carefully loosening the sides with a knife. Turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/01/fresh-ginger-lemon-cake/

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

It’s late fall again and the beginning of my favorite time of year for cooking. There’s such a great variety of produce piled up in the markets having their “it” moment right now it’s almost overwhelming. I want to gather everything up and devour it all before it’s gone.

I’m thinking of the fruits that were recently harvested – apples and pears that haven’t been in cold storage for months and months; the last of the late season figs, and the fleeting appearance of big, beautiful jeweled-red pomegranates.

Ever since I first made this recipe for Pomegranate Relish from chef Suzanne Goin’s cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques it’s been a favorite. I made it this time around with some dried cranberries to top some creamy ricotta-topped flatbread.

This month I’m sharing a few other favorite recipes and ideas for Thanksgiving entertaining at the Wisconsin Cheese blog - go check it out.

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

  1. ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  2. ½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries; roughly chopped
  3. 1 shallot, finely chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  6. 1 tablespoon honey
  7. 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  8. 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest strips
  9. Pinch salt
  10. 1 oval pre-baked flatbread, such as naan or pocketless pita
  11. 8 ounces Bel Gioioso Ricotta con Latte
  12. ½ cup baby arugula

Instructions

  1. Combine pomegranate seeds, cranberries, shallot, oil, vinegar, honey, parsley, orange zest and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place flatbread on a preheated grill rack or baking stone in a 450-degree oven; toast until warm and edges are lightly toasted, 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Spoon ricotta over warm flatbread and spread lightly. Arrange arugula over ricotta; cut into serving pieces. Top each slice with salsa.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/ricotta-flatbread-with-pomegranate-salsa/

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Serving individual desserts is a nice way to make the people around your table feel special. Especially after a big, family-style dinner when everyone is sharing large platters of food, a little something sweet plated just for one is a nice touch at the end of a meal.

I love the simplicity of this apple tartlet – it looks bakery-special, but it’s easy to put together. I like to use a high quality prepared all-butter puff pastry that I can buy frozen at Whole Foods, but use whatever pastry dough is your favorite.

The only real project with this recipe is making the caramel, which can be made days – and up to 2 weeks – ahead. It just needs to be warmed to a pourable consistency just before serving.  (You could (shhhhh) use a prepared caramel sauce to make life even easier)

But do try to use flaked salt such as Maldon - it adds a delicate crunch that doesn’t really happen with regular or coarse salt.

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Ingredients

    Caramel Sauce:
  1. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  2. ¾ cup heavy cream
  3. ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  4. 1 tablespoon butter
  5. For tart:
  6. 1 sheet all-butter frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted in the refrigerator (I like Dufour brand)
  7. 2 apples, peeled
  8. 1 tablespoon melted butter
  9. 4 teaspoons sugar
  10. Flaked sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a 2 -3 quart heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook the sugar until it melts into syrup, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (NOT a metal spoon, which will get very hot and burn your hand).
  2. Once the sugar is completely melted, let it cook undisturbed until it’s amber-colored. Lower the heat and very slowly dribble the cream into the pan. The mixture will bubble up intensely so be careful. When the bubbling subsides, bring the caramel to a simmer, whisking until any hardened lumps melt back into the sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and butter until smooth. If you end up with a few stubborn pieces of hardened sugar, you can strain the sauce into a heatproof glass measuring cup.
  3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten slightly. Cut out 4 5-inch diameter circles with a pastry cutter or use the upside-down rim of a small bowl.
  5. Transfer the circles to an ungreased baking sheet. Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Slice each half crosswise into thin slices, keeping them together as you slice. Unfurl the slices onto each pastry circle, fanning them in a circular pattern to cover the dough. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.
  6. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the edges of the tarts are puffed and golden.
  7. Reheat the caramel to pouring consistency if has cooled, and spoon some sauce over each tart. Sprinkle with a little flaked salt and serve warm.
  8. You’ll have more caramel sauce than you need for the tarts, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks to use in any way you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/10/apple-tartlets-with-salted-caramel/