Pumpkin Spice Cake- Let’s Eat CAKE!

 Let’s Eat CAKE!

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Just in time for Thanksgiving, this delicious Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting is quick and easy to make.

The aroma of this Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake while baking filled the house with that lovely scent of the season - cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The pumpkin gives it a nice moist consistency and blends nicely with pineapple, coconut, and currants. The batter seemed a bit stiff, similar to a muffin mixture, but the cooled cake layers were so tender, they started to break when handled (wrapping it for the refrigerator overnight).Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting is lovely with a dollop of pumpkin giving it a light off-white color and delicate – almost imperceptible – pumpkin flavor. I especially like this frosting recipe for being less sweet than most cream cheese frostings. It has only 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar for the 1 cup each of butter and cream cheese and doesn’t overpower or dominate the rich cake. Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Too rich for large slices, the moist density allows for smaller slivers of slices to be served.

Let's Eat CAKE! - Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This lovely Pumpkin Spice Cake was served at our pre-Thanksgiving family dinner and was the hit of the dessert options!

 

Get the Epicurious.com recipe here

Beignets & Coffee

Beignets & Coffee at World Famous Cafe du Monde

Are THE BEST in New Orleans

 

Beignets & Coffee Having Beignets & Coffee at Cafe Du Monde is a MUST when in New Orleans! Beignets & Coffee

 A traditional coffee shop in the French Market of New Orleans, the Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand is World Famous for its Beignets and Cafe’ au Lait…. and in my opinion, they offer the BEST in New Orleans! The Cafe, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — closing only on Christmas Day and  “on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans” –Beignets & Coffee also offers the  opportunity to people watch and is a wonderful spot for the entertainment of the iconic street musicians.

Beignets & Coffee

 Beignets are square French-style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar. The square pieces of dough are fried then dusted with powdered sugar. Coming from the Southwest, they remind me of Mexican Sopapilla’s served with honey or cinnamon/sugar.

As a youngster, I enjoyed ‘Fry Babies’ as a treat on the days my mother made bread.  Saving aside small pieces of dough, she patted and stretched them into circles, then deep-fried them. But ‘Fry Babies’ were more like the Indian Fry Bread of the Southwest than Mexican Sopapillas or the French Beignets. Sapapillas are more of a ‘quick’ bread using a leavening agent like baking powder rather than yeast. Beignets have a unique flavor of their own and the dough itself is a ‘choux pastry’, containing only butter, water, flour, and eggs. Instead of a raising agent, it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry.   

Beignets & CoffeeJust as Sopapillas with honey are sticky eating, the Beignets –buried under a mountain of snowy white powdered sugar– are fun to eat, with the  super fine powder poofing off into the air and getting everywhere!

Beignets and COFFEE

Beignets & Coffee The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand has been serving dark roasted coffee with chicory since 1862.  The rich dark coffee is served ‘black ‘ or ‘au Lait’  (mixed half and half with warm milk).

 Nothing goes better with Beignets than cafe’ au lait! And of course, they both taste BEST when eaten IN New Orleans AT Cafe’ du Monde!

Images: Gail H; Vicki L; Great Food Fun Places

de’Medici Cucina Italiana

de’Medici Cucina Italiana

“Fine Italian Dining”

in San Diego’s Downtown Gaslamp District

Out on the town for an evening of dinner and a concert, we chose a restaurant in the Gaslamp district of San Diego.  de’Medici Cucina Italiana is only a couple blocks from the Balboa Theater, the Lyceum Theater and a parking garage near Horton Plaza in the Gaslamp District. Great location and SO easy to get to!!

de' Medici Cucina ItalianaThe owner, Salvatore Vitale – “just call me Sal!” – posed for a photo.  Very friendly and very solicitous, Sal went around to the tables several times checking on his patrons, all the time keeping an absolute eagle eye on the servers and the kitchen.

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

de’Medici offers alfresco dining and on this  beautiful balmy evening their alfresco area was packed!    The interior has a lovely ambiance and we want to eat in there next time, but this evening was too beautiful to be eating inside and we joined the others dining in the open air – alfresco!

 

First, we were served a kind of garlic bread that had a kind of pesto spread on it (really delicious). Sorry, I didn’t think to find out more about it, nor did I think to take a picture!

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

Our Caesar salad (Fabulous!) was made table-side by our delightful waiter, Antonio.

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

In between the salad and the entree we were served lime sorbet — to cleanse our palate!

Even though it’s fine “Italian” dining – and we do want to go back and eat our way through the Pasta list! – we both ended up getting the filet mignon and lobster tail combo.  Wow! The filet mignon had a port wine-reduction sauce and cut like butter. The lobster tail was done to absolute perfection.

And for dessert? Tempting choices of  Tiramisu, Cannoli, Profiterolls, Gelato Berries, Cream Brulee, Floating Island….the list goes on…  Sadly, we weren’t able to sample (or even get a look at) any of these delectable desserts as we had to leave for the concert. Another return engagement is required to eat our way through the desserts along with the Pasta List

de' Medici Cucina Italianade’Medici Cucina Italiana has an “Excellent” rating from Zagat. I never thought I’d ever have the chance to eat in a Zagat “Excellent” rated restaurant – that’s heady stuff!    And yet, we found de’ Medici to be very reasonably priced for such a fancy restaurant.

“From the Spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco to the award winning Sole Portofino, de’Medici signature dishes are a feast to be remembered.”

Visit the website of de’Medici Cucina italiana 

 Thanks, Alice P, for this fun post!

It’s NOVEMBER – Pie Time!

Get Ready for PIE – It’s NOVEMBER!

And That means: Pie Time!

Anytime is Pie Time … but especially as we head into November with Thanksgiving plans being made, thoughts of Pies – lots of pies – fill our heads!!

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Traditional is good . . . but little change-ups are fun.

Here are some simple and easy ways to ‘fancy up’ your favorite pies:

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Leaves: Roll your top crust to 1/4-inch thick. Use a real leaf as a guide, or freehand it, to cut out leaf shapes. With a toothpick or skewer, lightly etch a vein design into the top of each leaf. Starting from the outside edge of the pie, layer your leaves (overlapping them slightly) over the pie filling in concentric circles.(above-center)

Lattice: If you want to tackle lattice, roll out your top crust to 1/4-inch thick. Using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cut long, even strips of dough (I like to make mine about 1/2-inch wide). Continue until you’re out of dough. Place half of the strips horizontally across your pie filling with a 1/2 inch between each strip. Fold back every other strip halfway, and place a strip vertically down the pie (right up against where you’ve folded the strips back). Then swap the horizontal strips: unfold the folded ones, and fold back the others. Repeat, placing down another vertical strip, leaving 1/2 inch between each vertical strip, and fold and unfold the horizontal strips in the same way. Repeat, working outwards, until 1/2 of the pie is latticed. Then rotate your pie and do the same on the other half. Trim the edges of the crust. (above -lower left)

 Circles: Roll your top crust to 1/4-inch thick. Using the a pastry tip (substitute with a small cup or round object), cut holes all over the crust. Place the crust on top of the pie and seal the edges. (above-lower right)

Cut Out Double Crust Pie: Roll out pie dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes from the dough. Working from the outside edge to the center, layer the dough pieces on top of the the pie filling, overlapping slightly. This is a simple and eye catching alternative to a standard double crust pie — and is far easier than lattice work. (not shown)

 Ruffled Phyllo Crust: Place a piece of phyllo onto a work surface. Brush with melted butter, and top with another piece of phyllo. Place the second piece slightly off kilter, so the edges don’t match up, and the points of the dough are askew from the first piece. Repeat until you’ve layered 7 pieces of dough. Transfer the dough to a pie plate, and crumple the overhang around the edge. From here, the crust can be blind baked or paired with a filling and baked. (center- top photo)

 Fancy, Fun, & EASY Edges:

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Braided Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick — it’s best to keep the piece of dough as long as possible. A standard pie 9″ pie pan is slightly more than 28 inches in circumference, so either go for it and roll out your dough to be about 29 inches long and make a single braid, or take a more sensible route and roll it out in two 15-inch sections to make two braids. Cut three long, thin strips (about 1/4 inch wide) using a chef’s knife or pastry wheel. Pinch three strips together at the top, and braid together. (above -top left)

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

When the pieces are almost fully braided, pinch the ends together to seal. Hold the strand at both ends and stretch gently. Brush the edge of the crust lightly with water and press the braid (or braids) into the edge (if you made two braids, overlap the pieces slightly to achieve a seamless effect). This technique also works well with just two pieces of dough, twisted together.

Rounded Crimped Edge: You’ve mastered the classic crimped edge, which makes a fluted edge with points. With this new technique, the bowl of a spoon guides the finishing of the edge, making a slightly rounded, more fluid edge. (above-lower center)

It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

The larger the bowl of the spoon, the bigger the waves will be. Dip the bowl of the spoon lightly into flour and press it gently into the crust, moving outward and using your fingers to guide the outer edge. Repeat all the way around the crust.

Dotted Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick. Lightly flour a small circular cookie cutter (in a pinch, you can use a shot glass or even a bottle cap), and cut out enough circles to cover the entire edge of the pie. (above-top right)It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

Brush the edge of the crust with water, and lay the circles around the edge, overlapping slightly. Any shape can be used, just remember to keep the dough pieces small. Pieces that are too large are more likely to become misshapen in the oven.It's NOVEMBER - Pie Time!

and My Favorite change-up?

Toasted Marshmallow:  Try an easy (and delicious) alternative to meringue — marshmallow topping! Cook 1 1/3 cups sugar and 2 cups water in a small saucepan until it reaches 250 degrees (measure with a candy thermometer). In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the cooked sugar and water to the stand mixer, and whip the heck out of it until it gets fluffy and triples in size. From there? Mound it on the top of your favorite pie and toast to perfection in the oven or with a torch. (top photo- lower left) .

Make it a  “S’Mores Pie” –  Use a graham cracker crust with the chocolate filling and Toasted Marshmallow ‘meringue’!

 

 

Adapted from Food52: 9 Ways to Fancy Up Your Pies

Easy-to-Eat Pumpkins and Ghosts

Happy Halloween!

These Easy-to-Eat Pumpkins and Ghosts are perfect for anytime during Halloween Fun. Easy-to-make and Healthy, too!

Easy-Eat Pumpkins and Ghosts

Elegant Entrée of Poached Salmon

Attractive, Delicious, and Healthy too!Elegant Entrée of Poached Salmon

This elegant entrée of Poached Salmon with Broccoli Rabe and Pea Shoot Coulis was just what I was looking for and it satisfied my taste buds perfectly!

I already had a couple of lovely Salmon filets and was wondering how to prepare them.  The Broccoli Rabe and Pea Shoots, both looking very fresh and ‘green’ at the market, had already tempted me and were awaiting their turn at the table. Not intending to use them all together initially, when I came across this recipe, I was intrigued as well as delighted. I just needed the mushrooms and I was ready to make this elegant entree of poached salmon for an attractive, delicious and healthy meal!

Here is the recipe. It might seem intimidating at first, but follow it through and you will be rewarded! (By the way… I puréed the pea shoots so had a thicker coulis and I used less than 2 cups of oil for the salmon – I think my results were delicious!)

Elegant Entrée of Poached Salmon

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 Fresh salmon filets, skin on
  • 6-8 cups Olive oil
  • 10 ounces Broccoli rabe
  • Mushroom jus
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • Pea shoot coulis
  • For the Mushroom Jus
  • 2 cups Crimini mushrooms, slices thinly
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Shallots, minced
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup White wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 tablespoons Sherry wine
  • For the Pea Shoot Coulis
  • 8 ounces Pea shoots
  • 1/2 cup Chicken stock

Instructions

    First make the Mushroom Jus
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan with a lid. Add the shallots and cook on high until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook at high heat until the mushrooms become browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Once the mushrooms are cooked down, add the water and both wines. Stir and cover. Allow the mixture to cook, covered, at a simmer for 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. While the jus is cooking, prepare an ice bath. Set a bowl in the ice bath and put a strainer over the bowl.
  5. After the mushrooms have finished cooking, strain the liquid into the bowl in the ice bath and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring frequently. Add salt to taste. Discard the solids. After the jus has come to room temperature, place covered in a fridge.
  6. Next make the Pea Shoot Coulis
  7. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Set a cold water bath aside with a strainer submerged in the water.
  8. Once boiling, add a generous pinch or so of salt. Set a few pea shoots aside for garnishing. Add 1/3 of the remaining pea shoots to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shoots are tender.
  9. With slotted spoon, remove the shoots from the boiling water and place into the water bath. Add the remaining pea shoots in two separate additions.
  10. Once the shoots have cooled, raise the strainer out of the ice bath and squeeze them gently to remove excess water.
  11. Place the shoots into a bowl and add the chicken stock. With an emersion blender (or a regular blender) liquify the shoots.
  12. Run the liquid through a fine sieve into another bowl.
  13. Place the bowl, covered, in the fridge.
  14. For the Salmon
  15. Preheat an oven to 225 degrees. Measure the height of the salmon to determine how high the oil needs to be to cover the filets (6-8 cups). Fill a cast iron skillet (or any ovenproof pan) with oil slightly over the height of the salmon.
  16. Heat the oil to 120 degrees on a cooktop and add the filets to the oil, making sure they are covered completely.
  17. Place the skillet or pan into the oven and allow to cook for approximately 25 minutes, until the white fat from the salmon begins to come to the surface.
  18. For the Finish
  19. When the salmon has 12 minutes to go, add 1/2 cup of the mushroom jus to a saucepan and bring to simmer on high.
  20. In a separate saucepan, add the coulis and bring to a simmer.
  21. Add the broccoli rabe and the 2 TB butter to the jus and cook on high, basting to broccoli often, until the stems are tender, but still crunchy, about 8 minutes. At the same time, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to the coulis and allow to melt. Salt to taste and set aside.
  22. Once the broccoli rabe is cooked, place in a dish and cover with foil. ( The salmon should be about done in the oven).
  23. Add another 1/4 cup of the jus to the saucepan and bring to a simmer at medium. Bring the salmon out of the oven and place it into the pan, skin side down.
  24. Cook the salmon skin side down lightly for a minute or so, basting the top with the jus. Flip the salmon and allow to cook briefly, until the top has a nice golden brown color, about 2 minutes. Remove the skin and set the filets in a dish and cover. Season with salt to taste.
  25. To Serve
  26. Add the coulis to a plate and allow to spread around. Place the broccoli rabe down, about 8 per person. Place the salmon on the broccoli and garnish with the leftover pea shoots. Enjoy!
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This recipe is adapted from Food52′s recipe for Olive Oil Poached Salmon. See their recipe here.

 

 

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Let’s Eat CAKE!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Apricot Almond Layer Cake  Apricot Almond Layer Cake is a rich, elegant dessert or ‘sweet treat’ to serve with tea.  At first, I described it as just  ‘good’ . . . but not ‘wow’.  The  second day it was a little better, even though the meringue gets a bit soft (mine was soft and chewy to begin with).  Overall the flavors blend together nicely, especially the second day. Even after a few days (yes – it lasted that long….quite rich so serving slices were small) it was still attractive to serve and tasted good. Apricot Almond Layer Cake

The photo accompanying the recipe shows a bright orange ‘apricot’ colored layer.Apricot Almond Layer Cake Since I used non-sulfured apricots, so they were dark to begin with.  I think the bright orange apricots might turn dark after cooking into the compote anyway, so would not maintain the pretty bright orange as in the photo! (as in so many published recipes, the photo was probably photo-shopped or un-cooked apricots were used). The flavor is subtle and very nice. I think I might use the ‘compote’ for other recipes such as with waffles, pancakes, or even French Toast; or possibly paired with cheese and crackers!

The Almond-Crunch was a fascinating process and works really well. Apricot Almond Layer Cake I recommend it for any recipe with ‘nut-crunch’ or ‘praline’ type additions or toppings!! I’m also thinking topping for ice-cream or perhaps lovely pumpkin pie?

The recipe seemed to make a large volume of meringue. Even after carefully drawing out the circles and piling on the fluffy meringue, I had lots left, so I daubed on some smaller circles. Another idea for this dessert – making individual servings!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Get the recipe: Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

 

Scandinavia Baltic Cruise Conclusion

Scandinavia -Baltic Cruise

Conclusion

We were so fortunate to be able to take our Baltic cruise, spend time together and see things we had only read about in history books or seen on the travel channel.

Here are a couple of pictures we purchased . . .

Scandinavia-Baltic Cruise Concluded

  A picture of Stockholm at Sunset

and the magnificent Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.

Scandinavia-Baltic Cruise Conclusion

We wish you all the vacation of your dreams

Guest Author: Vicki L

Last Stop: Belgium -Cruising Scandinavia

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise

Belgium  - Our Last Stop   

 

Our Scandinavian-Baltic cruise concluded with a stop in Belgium.

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium We spent the morning of our final destination, Belgium, visiting Flanders Field, near Eiper (or Ypres in French). This town is so old it was destroyed by the Romans in the 1st century AD. It was again reduced to rubble during WWI. This area was a crucial battle sight between Germany and France. Almost 12,000 soldiers are buried in Tyne Cot (just one of many cemeteries here).

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

The afternoon was spent in Bruges – probably my favorite of the medieval towns. Even the rainy day couldn’t spoil this treasure! The chocolate we purchased did not make it back home -we knew it would melt!

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Author: Vicki L

Copenhagen Denmark – Cruising Scandinavia

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Our trip was winding down by the time we got to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

What a beautiful city. It was so clean.  I think the reason is that there is such a huge tax (50-100%) on private vehicles, so most people walk or ride bicycles. There are around 550,000 people in Copenhagen and over 680,000 registered bicycles!!

 We passed the 370 year old Stock Exchange building on our river cruise and saw some other beautiful buildings and fountains.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

On our city tour, we saw Amalienborg – the quartet of palaces (really fairly small ones) that house the Queen, her 2 sons and their families and the guest palace.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

 And, no visit would be complete without seeing the statue of the Little Mermaid in the harbor.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

        Guest Author: Vicki L