Lemon Lovers’ Pound Cake

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“Remember, despite all the current events, there is no crying in baseball.” — Actor Tom Hanks, recovering from coronavirus in Australia.

As we face down the coronavirus pandemic, it may seem frivolous to be posting a recipe for a lemon pound cake.  When living through frightening events out of our control,  nurturing those you love and hanging on to a semblance of normalcy helps to Keep moving forward.  Trying out a new recipe for my family and baking this cake brought us a lot of joy and for a few moments, helped us forget the reality of these times and cling to hope about the future.  The first daffodils were emerging in the garden and they graced the cake with their cheerfulness, beauty and promise of better days ahead.  My son dubbed it the Corona Cake and we even shared a laugh.  

This classic pound cake punches a triple dose of lemon:  made with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in both the cake and the glaze and lemon essence in the batter, it is sunshine in every bite.  Moist with a perfect density, this easy cake is truly delicious.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay home.   Show your family some love. Get creative in your hunkerdown.   And bake something: it will help you experience a calmer state of mind. Sending you and your loved ones fortitude and solace in these difficult and uncertain times.

Lemon Lovers' Pound Cake

recipe courtesy of Taste of Home Magazine

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups sour cream
ICING:
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Directions

Preheat oven at 350F

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in lemon juice, zest and extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat just until combined.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For icing, in a small bowl, beat the sour cream and butter until smooth. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Beat in lemon juice and zest. Drizzle over the cake. If desired, top with additional grated lemon zest. Store in the refrigerator.

 

Double Streusel Peach Cobbler

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“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is.”

Alice Walker

When my neighbor Marty offered some of his homegrown organic peaches this week, I knew exactly what I’d be making with the gorgeous, tree-picked gems. My friend Maria Lorraine Binchet’s Double Streusel Peach Cobbler recipe was recently featured  in Betty Teller’s column in the Napa Register and it looked as beautiful as delicious.  The peaches are tossed with peach preserves and orange zest and  baked between two layers of a pecan-oats streusel in a springform pan.  The springform is a genius idea to elevate an ordinary cobbler to company-worthy status.  The streusel can show off its juicy peaches nestled between the 2 golden layers of its pecan-studded crust and it can be sliced elegantly, rather than scooped,  into serving dishes.  If your reason for eating cobbler is the streusel, then this is the mouth-watering recipe for you!  With gorgous stone fruit in season, you can substitute plums or nectarines for the peaches.

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Homemade Ricotta

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“Thinking about making ricotta is only marginally easier than actually making it.”  The New York Times

I have been thinking of making my own ricotta for years.  Whenever fresh homemade ricotta is on a restaurant menu, we order it and usually swoon while enjoying it.  Well I finally took the plunge.  I recalled reading it was so easy to make:  milk, vinegar and salt. Continue reading

Fabulously Fragrant Fringe Tree

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“The beautiful spring came, and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”

Harriet Ann Jacobs

Every spring, just as the lilacs in my gardens fade away, my beloved fringe tree comes to life.  It is my most eagerly anticipated garden show.  The fringe tree,  Chionanthus virginicus, from the Greek chion and anthus meaning “snow flower”,  is a native tree and does well in zones 3 to 9.  It grows slowly from 12-20 feet high and equally wide.  Because it has a beautiful curvilear form with branches that appear to spread and curl similarly to a willow, it should be planted as a specimen tree with plenty of space for it to stretch out its limbs.

You can see a lilac peeking behind the fringe tree which has just started to go into bud stage.

The graceful, delicate branches of the fringe tree in early spring budding stage.

Come May, its green buds open up to the most magnificent feathery fringes of white flowers that are suspended beneath the branches.

 And the fragrance!   Intoxicating!  I have been known to throw impromptu gatherings when the fringe tree is blooming.  I find the fragrance is more pronounced at night and with its white flowers, this is the perfect ornamental tree for a garden space you enjoy in the evening.  If you are lucky to have a breeze blowing when the fringe tree is at peak blooming, the swaying of its fleecy clusters of flowers is just mesmerizing.  This beauty requires little maintenance once established.  It should be planted in well-drained soil in a sunny location  but it can tolerate part shade.  I have never pruned my 17 year old tree other than occasionally cutting a sucker-type of new growth near the soil.  In the fall, its leaves turn a soft golden color.  It is truly a remarkable addition to any garden space.  Photos do not do it justice.  I hope you can find a fringe tree blooming near you and stop and smell its jasmine-like perfume!

 

Recipe Round-Up: Gluten Free Desserts

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Whenever I have guests who are  gluten-free coming to my home, I tend to panic and worry about what I can prepare for a sweet treat.  I shouldn’t because I have made many delicious gluten-free desserts over the years.  I thought it would be easier to find these recipes if they were all corralled in one place, hence this 16-recipe round-up.  From virtuous pistachio-encrusted chocolate-dipped dried apricots, to a decadent, show-stopping flourless chocolate torte, these desserts have been tested and are crave-worthy.  Click on the highlighted link to access the recipes.

1-  Frozen Banana Cherry Ice Cream

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Pistachio-Lime Squares

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“The lime trees were in bloom. But in the early morning, only a faint fragrance drifted through the garden, an airy message, an aromatic echo of the dreams during the short summer night.”  Isak Dinesen

Citrus desserts are my favorite.  Key Lime pies, Lemon tarts, lemon squares, yes please! When I came across these lime squares made with a pistachio crust, I knew I’d have to make them.  With triple layers of lime flavor, they have a satisfying tartness.  Not too sweet with a lovely nuttiness to the crust and a silky smooth filling, they were delicious albeit a bit crumbly.   Continue reading

Kaleslaw

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“It is spring again.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” Rainer Maria Rilke

This recipe comes from one of Canada’s most popular cookbook authors, Greta Podleski, from her cookbook, “Yum & Yummer: Ridiculously tasty recipes that’ll blow your mind but not your diet!”.  The salad has a cult following and it is easy to see why:  it has color, crunch, mega nutrutious creds, great fiber and tons of texture in a super flavorful apple cider vinaigrette with maple and mustard.  It is gluten free, vegan, raw and vegetarian to satisfy today’s dietary needs.  I was treated to the salad at a recent dinner at my niece Vanessa’s, a gifted cook.  In a delicious meal, it was this salad that we were all swooning over!  It has become her go-to potluck dish.  The massaging of the kale with your fingers might seem weird but Podleski insists it is a necessary step to tenderize the kale.  Use organic kale if you can find it. Continue reading