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/

Cherry Mostarda

Cherry mostarda

Cherries are the It fruit right now, and I know you could easily just kick back on a hammock and eat a bowlful of them on a summer’s day, but why not jazz up your life a little and make a mostarda?

Making condiment sauces with seasonal, ripe fruit can a creative way to use up what doesn’t get eaten straight out of the fridge. Fresh fruit mustards taste so much better than the usual mustard or ketchup you can buy and squeeze out of a plastic bottle.

This recipe is a riff on a traditional Italian condiment, mostarda di frutta, a sweet-hot-tangy preserve. Most versions of a mostarda, like Mostarda di Cremona, tend to consist of whole pieces of fruit in a mustard and vinegar-laced sugar syrup, served with meats in northern regions of Italy like Tuscany and Piedmont.

cherry mostarda

My recipe is very much inspired by Madeleine Kamman, the amazing French cooking teacher and food scholar. Her book In Madeleine’s Kitchen includes some recipes for “Italian-style fruit puree mustards”.

Here are some ideas for what to do with your Cherry Mostarda (because believe me, after pitting a few pounds of cherries you will not want to waste a bit!) :

  • Use cherry mostarda in place of Dijon mustard in a salad dressing to make a cherry vinaigrette.
  • Spread a charcoal-grilled burger with mostarda – I seasoned chicken burgers with fennel and fresh rosemary and topped them with goat cheese and mostarda. Yum.
  • Glaze a pork tenderloin or some chicken wings with mostarda.
  • Put some on a ham sandwich.

** Thanks to Ruthie from The Twice Bitten for her idea of another way to enjoy this mostarda – on a cheese board. Yes!

Cherry Mostarda

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound Bing cherries, pitted
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 1/4 cup full-bodied red wine, such as zinfandel or malbec
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  8. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Combine everything except the Dijon in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer then lower heat and cook until reduced to a thick puree with the consistency of ketchup, about 1 hour over low heat. Stir in the Dijon off the heat and season if needed.
  2. Crush the cherries with a potato masher or pulse in a blender or food processor if you prefer a smoother texture.
  3. Keep in a covered jar in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/06/cherry-mostarda/