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/

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Here’s my take on a little-black-dress dessert, one you can pull off throughout the holiday season from now to Valentine’s day.

The crust is a basic chocolate wafer crumble pressed into a tart pan, and the filling is cocoa-flavored mascarpone topped with glistening cranberries. It manages to be glamorous, festive, and simple all at the same time.

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Yield: 1 9-inch tart

Ingredients

  1. 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  2. 1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  3. ¾ cup sugar
  4. 30 chocolate wafer cookies
  5. 6 tablespoons melted butter
  6. ¼ teaspoon salt
  7. ¼ cup sugar
  8. 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  9. 1 cup powdered sugar
  10. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  11. 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions

  1. For the topping: Sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup water in a small bowl and let soften 10 minutes. Put the cranberries in a saucepan with the sugar and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil; stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to a simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes or so; you want to soften the cranberries but retain their plump shape.
  2. Drain the cranberries over a bowl. Add the gelatin to the juice in the bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the cranberries to the juice, stirring gently. Cover and chill until the mixture thickens, about 8 hours or overnight.
  3. For the crust: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the cookies, sugar and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is moistened and holds together when you pinch it. Press the crumbs on to the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake the crust 10 -12 minutes; cool completely on a rack.
  4. For the filling: Beat the mascarpone, sugar, cocoa and cream together just until spreadable. Spread the filling over the cooled crust and top with the cranberries. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/cranberry-cocoa-cream-tart/

Strawberry Mascarpone Crostata

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I’m in love with this dessert; strawberries piled on top of a simple Italian-style crostata. It has a creamy vanilla mascarpone cheesecake filling baked into pasta frolla, a crumbly, shortbread-like cookie crust.

strawberry mascarpone crostata

Any kind of seasonal fruit would be delicious on this tart. I’m thinking lightly sweetened berries, figs, peaches or nectarines in the summer and sauteed apples, pears or poached dried fruit during fall and winter.

strawberry mascarpone crostata

Strawberry Mascarpone Crostata

Serving Size: 8 servings

Ingredients

    For crust:
  1. 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  6. 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  7. ¼ cup whole milk
  8. For filling:
  9. 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  10. 1 cup Greek yogurt
  11. 2 eggs
  12. 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  13. ½ cup sugar
  14. 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  15. ¼ teaspoon salt
  16. 1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
  17. Sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor 3 or 4 times to blend; scatter the butter over the flour and process until the mixture looks sandy and you can’t see any butter chunks.
  2. Whisk together the egg, yolk and milk; add to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the dough just begins to come together (but not until the mixture forms a ball over the blade which will toughen the dough). Add some ice water drop by drop if it seems dry. Remove the dough from the workbowl and knead it gently to form a ball. Flatten it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour until firm but not hard. If the dough gets too cold and seems hard, leave it out for 15 minutes until it’s workable.
  3. Lightly dust the dough with flour and put it on a lightly floured surface (a smooth countertop is ideal). Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment and roll the dough out to a 12-inch diameter circle. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll over a 9-inch round or square tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, trimming the top edges of the dough flush with the pan by running the rolling pin over the top. Put the pan into the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Beat the mascarpone, yogurt, eggs, vanilla bean, sugar, flour and salt in an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk until smooth. Scrape into the tart pan, place the plan on a baking sheet and bake until the filling no longer jiggles in the center, 35 – 40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack then place in the refrigerator to chill 2 – 4 hours.
  6. Just before serving, toss the strawberries with sugar to taste and either arrange over the top of the tart or pile them up for a more rustic presentation
http://familystylefood.com/2012/05/strawberry-mascarpone-crostata/