Monthly Archives: August 2010

Whipped Brown Butter & Vanilla Birthday Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Now that’s a mouthful, both on the page and in real life.

Our friend Marica had another birthday and, as our tradition goes, we had the pleasure of making the annual birthday cake.  She usually opts for chocolate cake with white frosting and, as such, we have made Devil’s Food Cake or Red Velvet Cake, rotating between the two, for the past many years.  This year, however, she declared that she wanted a white cake.  Say what?  Since I’m always up for  baking something new and different, I was quick to oblige.

She had no thoughts on the type of frosting and left it up to us to surprise her.  We polled our friend Justin, who would also be in attendance, and he voted for chocolate, trying to convince us that this was what the birthday girl would prefer. Turns out that this was his choice and the furthest thing from her mind.  Nice try and no chocolate for you!  It was her birthday after all.

After much deliberation, we decided on white cake with lemon curd between the layers and a lemon frosting.  However, the white cake we chose is so much more than just white cake.  It is made with brown butter that gets whipped forever in my favorite kitchen appliance, the Cuisinart stand mixer.  The recipe comes from The Sweet Life, the Chanterelle dessert cookbook, and honestly is the only white cake that I will ever make.  It is moist, light and fluffy.

I then found a recipe for Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting.  The frosting gets its lemon flavor from lemon curd, which I had never made.  The curd is essentially egg yolks,  lemon zest, juice and sugar and has a bit of a tart, tangy taste with a pudding-like consistency.

So, we baked the cake, slathered the lemon curd between the layers and then finished it off with the lemon swiss meringue frosting.

Each bite of this cake is a taste sensation…a wonderful combination of moist cake, tangy lemon flavor and decadent rich frosting.

Happy Birthday, our dear treasured friend, and we can’t wait until next year.
Here are the recipes…



Filed under Cakes

Summer Borscht

Growing up in the land of take-out and fried chicken, I hated most vegetables. Beets were certainly out of the question. The closest I ever got to them as a child was when my sister used them in science class as an example of natural dyes for fabric.

Well, things  have changed.  I now eat beets often and in a variety of ways.  It’s hard to beat a farm market beet cooked and sliced in a nice summer salad.

Every so often, and especially in the summertime, we make this delicious and refreshing cold soup, courtesy of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, lightening it up where we can by using fat-free sour cream, for example.

Although the entire thing comes together in under an hour, don’t forget to let the soup rest in the refrigerator  for four hours or so for the flavors to fully develop.

Beets aren’t just for dying fabric anymore!

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Filed under Soups

ANZAC Biscuits

M is out of cookies!

He informed me the other day that he had depleted his frozen back stock and asked that I make his now current favorite Almond Spice Wafers. Even though I prefer to try something new, I went ahead and made them. There, happy?

I then starting looking around for something new to make as well and came across this recipe for ANZAC biscuits. The name caught my eye and, after further research, I discovered that these biscuits / cookies were sent to soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I. The ingredients did not spoil during transit and therefore the biscuits could withstand long transit times.

I read a little further and realized that these are essentially an egg-less oatmeal cookie with coconut. I made them and they are fantastic. Crunchy and chewy at the same time.

So, now M’s cookie jar is full, for another week anyway.

Here is the recipe…


Filed under Cookies


Let’s cool off with a nice Italian apéritif, shall we?

A few years back, we purchased a bottle of Campari, thinking we might enjoy the popular Campari and Soda.  It was perhaps a bit too bitter, and the drink didn’t make it into our repertoire.

Then, last winter, we discovered a recipe for this Negroni in the January issue of Gourmet.  We pulled out the dusty bottle of Campari, tried this recipe and liked it right away.  However, we both agreed that it was more of a summer drink than a winter drink.  Well, summer is here!

Don’t be fooled by the color.  This is not a sweet punch-like concoction.  Gin and Campari combine with the sweet vermouth for a slightly sweet, slightly bitter, yet extremely refreshing beverage.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Alcoholic, Beverages