Lemon Curd Cake

Wednesday Noon Service lunch is a great time for us to try a new recipe. Since we serve average of 65 people for lunch, a much smaller crowd than our Sunday evening dinner crowd of 275, we get a little daring trying a recipe that we have never tried before. This Lemon Cake recipe was little involved, making the curd, cake, and egg white-based icing took a little longer than we thought but it sure worth it!

We needed 4 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice; that is quite bit of lemons to squeeze. Well, my biceps and triceps got a good work out.

Though we love to make pretty round cakes, for practical reasons we make rectangular cakes. Lemon curd and cake should be completely cooled before layering.

White icing must be cooked and then whipped to a stiff peak. See how the icing keeps its shape when it is stiff?

Hannah always makes a few cupcakes with remaining batter.

Recipe Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Lemon Curd Filling
1 cup fresh lemon juice from about 6 lemons
1 teaspoon gelatin (powdered)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs
6 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for cake)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus extra for pans
1 cup whole milk , room temperature
6 large egg whites , room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened but still cool

Fluffy White Icing
2 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon corn syrup

1. FOR THE FILLING: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.

2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line with parchment paper. In 2-cup liquid measure or medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg whites, and vanilla.

3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs with no visible butter chunks. Add all but 1/2 cup milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer running at low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture; increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds longer. Divide batter evenly between cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops.

4. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto greased wire rack; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again; cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

5. TO ASSEMBLE: Following illustrations below, use serrated knife to cut each cake into 2 even layers. Place bottom layer of 1 cake on cardboard round or cake plate. Using icing spatula, spread 1 cup lemon filling evenly on cake, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge; using cardboard round, gently replace top layer. Spread 1 cup filling on top. Using cardboard round, gently slide bottom half of second cake into place. Spread remaining cup filling on top. Using cardboard round, place top layer of second cake. Smooth out any filling that has leaked from sides of cake; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making icing.

6. FOR THE ICING: Combine all ingredients in bowl of standing mixer or large heatproof bowl and set over medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and transfer mixture to standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 minutes longer. Using icing spatula, spread frosting on cake. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before serving.)

Note: Since we assembled the cakes in the morning, our cakes and curd did not have sufficient time to chill before we could put the icing. So we piped our icing on top of sliced cakes and cupcakes.


Sausage and Rice Casserole

After running around town for my children's music lessons, swim lesson, grocery shopping, and taking my sick cat to the vet in between, this one-pot meal was a life saver!

Thanks to Jerry and Debbie at Life Is Good Farm, now I have a wonderful source for delicious local pork sausage. This fresh, mild sausage had a great flavor with fine texture.

If you have a picky eater as I do, omit some of "dislike" veggies. Often, I make homemade chicken stock with lots of veggies so my children will still get the vitamins they need.

Sausage and Rice Casserole
Serves 8-10

1 pound mild pork sausage, browned, drained

2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
1 Red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 Cup Celery, finely chopped
2 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4 Cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 Cups of uncooked long grain rice, rinsed and drained
¼ Cup of wild rice blend, rinsed and drained
6 Cups of Chicken stock, homemade or Swanson’s low sodium

1 ½ Cups of Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (or Mild or Sharp Cheddar is fine, too)
½ Cup Shredded cheese for topping

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
1. Brown and drain pork sausage. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a 3-1/2 quart Dutch or French oven and sauté onion, bell pepper, celery, and Jalapeno peppers 3-4 minutes until onion is transparent. Add garlic and sauté a minute more. Add rinsed, raw rice and sauté until fragrant (2-3 minutes more)
3. Add chicken stock and bring it to boil, about 8 –10 minutes. Add cooked sausage and cheese, stir.
4. Cover Dutch oven with a lid and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Carefully lift the lid and gently fluff cooked rice. Add remaining ½ cup of cheese and bake uncovered until cheese is melted, 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: Use pepper jack if you want more heat. For serving children, omit Jalapeno peppers.


Greek Salad

Usually on Sunday nights, I go home and eat of bowl of Kashi cereal. After cooking, tasting, smelling, and handling food all afternoon, my olfactory receptors are overloaded and my tummy refuses to receive any of that yummy food I cooked.

But this past Sunday, I took home some of this refreshing Greek salad. It was so delicious even though the Romaine lettuce has lost some of its vigor.

This would be a perfect warm weather supper, topped with grilled chicken or salmon!

Greek Salad Dressing
Makes 2 1/2 cups

1-1/3 cups red wine vinegar
2-3/4 teaspoons garlic powder
2-3/4 teaspoons dried oregano
2-3/4 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sugar
1 cup olive oil

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients first eight ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk vigorously 1 cup of olive oil into vinegar mixture until well emulsified. Add salt to taste.

About 15-20 minutes before serving, toss with

Chopped Romaine Lettuce
Sliced Red Onions
Tomato slices
Thinly sliced cucumbers
Artichoke Hearts
Crumbled Feta Cheese


Spaghetti Bolognese for 250

Spaghetti with meat sauce seems simple enough to make, but not so if you are making it for 250 people. Sauce was fairly easy, but my main challenge was the pasta. Since 250 hungry diners stream down the serving lines all at the same time, I could not cook the pasta last minute. So it had to be done ahead. But how do I keep the pasta firm to bite and piping hot? Well, here is what I found out and it works beautifully.

Cook the pasta in boiling water with salt (about 4 tablespoon of kosher salt per gallon). Make sure water is in "rolling boil" when dry pasta is put into the pot. Stir immediately to avoid sticking. Cook until the pasta is firmer than al dente. As Itialian definition goes, "to the tooth", you should feel some resistance when biting into the noodle. 24 pounds of spaghetti noodles was cooked for my church family.

Have a metal colander with a large metal bowl underneath. When pasta is cooked, pour the entire pot of cooking pasta into the colander, lift the colander into another sink and run cold water to cool pasta quickly. You can also use ice water if cooking in smaller amount. Pour back the reserved pasta water back into the pot, add more water and back on the burner.

When the pasta is completely cooled, add 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil to keep pasta from sticking. Keep pasta in colander, cover loosely until ready to reheat. Can be made up to 3 hours in an advance.

When ready to serve, place colander with pasta in a large bowl, boil the reserved pasta water, and pour the boiling water over the pasta to rewarm, gently stir, about 1 minute. Drain the pasta and put another tablespoon of olive oil. Serve immediately with sauce.

This seems like a bit of trouble to have firm pasta, doesn't it? But I vowed that my church family will not be eating overcooked, mushy pasta!

Recipe Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Bolognese Sauce
Makes 3 Cups enough for 1 pound of pasta

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced carrot
2 tablespoons minced celery
3/4 pound meatloaf mix or 1/4 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoon of dried basil
2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
(28 ounce) can whole tomatoes , packed in juice, processed, with juice reserved

1. Heat olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add ground meat, teaspoon salt, garlic, basil, and organo. Crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.

2. Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste and serve.

Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before serving.

To serve 250, I multiplied this recipe by 42, adjusting oil and other liquids. If you are a church cook and will be cooking this recipe in large volume, email me! To reheat this sauce, sauce was placed in deep steam pans in low heat and simmered for 5 hours.


Cooking Tip - Pork Loin

Pork loin is great tasting meat and can feed a large crowd very inexpensively. But because this is such a lean cut, it is very easy to over cook and could result in hard and chewy meat.

Here is a happy, colorful chart of pork cuts. See where the loin is? Not much fat there so meat cannot be in the oven too long.

Loin has uneven thickness so when the thickest part of the loin reaches the temperature close to 145 degrees F, take out the meat and let it rest.
Larger the volume of meat, the longer it needs rest.

Here are some helpful tips for baking pork loin:
  1. Bring meat close to room temperature before cooking
  2. Use thermometer to check internal temperature close to 145 degrees F but not over before taking the meat out of the oven
  3. Lightly tent the meat with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.


Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

Hannah, our artistic baker was off today and left me fending for myself with the dessert department for Wednesday noon service. So I turned to one of my trusted cookie recipe. I could not go wrong with these scrumptious chocolate cookies: slight crunch to the bite and then intense chocolate flavor....8 dozens were not enough for our crowd today.

Print This Recipe!

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (1.5 oz)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt

16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

Beat together:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks or 5 oz), softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)

Powder sugar for dusting.

1. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat. Beat eggs and vanilla lightly with fork, sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.

3. With a hand mixer, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; mixture will look granular. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add melted chocolate in steady stream and beat until combined. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix!!

4. Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1 ½ inches between each ball, scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with 1¾-inch ice cream scoop. Lightly dust dough balls with powder sugar. Let sit room temperature for 15 minutes until dough balls cool to room temperature.

5. Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until edges of cookies have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets about 10 minutes, slide parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated


Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

This past Sunday's dinner menu for 260 was:
Pork Loin with Parsley Pesto (50 pounds)
Sweet Potato Casserole (55 pounds)
Sauteed Green Beans with Shallots (35 pounds)
Yeast Rolls (240)
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (5 Full pans)

I thought I would share with you how much volume of food the kitchen staff and I prepare for a typical Sunday night. And you wonder how we stay so lean and fit! Yep, you lug around 40-50 pounds of boiling sweet potatoes in a pot or a full sheet pan of pork loin, you will feel like Mrs. Brawny, too. And my doctor say this doesn't count as exercise! Bet, he never worked in a commercial kitchen in his life!

Pecan-Oatmeal topping to give a little crunch to sweet potatoes.

Don't you just love the beautiful color of freshly cooked sweet potatoes?

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oatmeal, old fashioned
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned.
Serves 6 to 8.


Birthday Carrot Cake

A simple carrot cake with cream cheese icing is so delicious. Since half of the crowd we serve on Sunday night dinners are children under 18, we have omitted the nuts and raisins to make it simple but tasty.

Frankie, who is our Missions Director at our church, and kitchen staff's dearest friend, turned fifty-something today. And Hannah did a beautiful job making a cake big enough to feed hundreds and decorating the cake.

Grate the carrots, instead of chopping them in your food possessor. It will give you more consistent texture.

Carrot Cake
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled, grated
1 Cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
1 Cup of raisins (optional)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

3. In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor workbowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. DO NOT OVER MIX! Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

4. For the frosting (See below for mixer method): When cake is cool, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in clean food processor workbowl until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.

5. Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. (Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

NOTE: If you are making a large batch as we did, use a electric hand mixer to beat sugar and oil mixture, instead of using a food processor. Then stir in carrots (nuts and raisins if using) and flour mixture. DO NOT OVER MIX!


Long-Stem Strawberries With Grenadine Cream

Each April, my neighbor, Mr. Waller grows the most glorious strawberries. And I love to pick them with long stems and serve with fruit dip.

Ottowa Farm's five acres of berries are plentiful this year. Go and visit Ottowa Farms with your family. Your children will have so much fun petting the goats and doing rubber ducky races using an old timey hand water pumps! And of course, picking berries, too!

Mr. Waller built a brand new building with a general store feauturing Georgia produce and specialty items. Grenadine Cream was made with 40% heavy cream from Georgia dairy company, Southern Swiss Dairy.

I'll have to cook up something fun with Mayhaw Jelly!

Grenadine Cream with Poppy Seeds

1 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream, chilled

1 Tablespoon of Grenadine Syrup

1 Heaping tablespoon Confectioner sugar

1/2 teapoon orange extract

2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. With an electric hand mixer, whip until soft peak forms. Gently mix poppy seeds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.


Turkey Burger with Spinach

Anytime you make "burgers" using ground meat or seafood, I find that it is best to use panade. If you have never heard of this word before, don't fret, let me fill you in.

Panade: puh-NAHD (Fr. ) is paste made with bread and milk used to help hold shape and moisture for any type of ground meat or even seafood, like salmon burgers. Though it may sound very strange but there is a scientific reason how it works. Cooks Illustrated explains it well:

Starches from the bread absorb liquid from the milk to form a gel that coats and lubricates the protein molecules in the meat, much in the same way as fat, keeping them moist and preventing them from linking together to form a tough matrix.

Bottom line, use panade and you will have moist, tender burgers, every time!

This is slightly different recipe than one posted before.
You can omit the bacon in caramelized onion mixture and saute the onions with olive oil.

Panade Mixture:
2 slices of white bread
1/2 cup whole milk

Cook bacon for 8-10 minutes, then add onions until well caramelized (light brown color)
4-6 slices of bacon, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely grated
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound lean ground turkey (chicken, salmon, just about ground meat)
Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Soft Hoagie buns
Red Onion
Spinach Leaves
Remoulade Sauce (see previous post for recipe)

In a large bowl, add milk and torn bread slices, mix well. Let soak 5 to 10 minutes. Add, bacon and onion mixture, and remaining six ingredients. Add ground turkey and mix.

Form into 4 patties. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Cook burgers to until center registers 165 degrees F with your meat thermometer. 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of burgers.

Serve with spinach leaves and garnishing of your choice.

NOTE: Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce give the meat nice dark coating when cooked. You can sear the meat on a frying pan and finish the burgers in oven at 375 degrees F. about 8 minutes if you are cooking in large volume.


Lady Baltimore Cake

This is my most favorite cake! And Hannah improved the recipe by adding orange emulsion, our latest fav in our kitchen. I just love the hint of orange flavor with crunch of seven-minute icing blended with toasted pecans and raisins. Perfect with a cup of hot tea in the afternoon.

It is not clear how and when this cake originated, but Owen Wister (1860-1938), a popular novelist wrote a fictional book with a central character named Lady Baltimore. In the novel, this cake was mentioned as this:

"I should like a slice, if you please, of Lady Baltimore," I said with extreme formality. I returned to the table and she brought me the cake, and I had my first felicitous meeting with Lady Baltimore. Oh, my goodness! Did you ever taste it? It's all soft, and it's in layers, and it has nuts - but I can't write any more about it; my mouth waters too much. Delighted surprise caused me once more to speak aloud, and with my mouth full, "But, dear me, this is delicious!"

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12.5 oz)
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar (10.5 oz)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup (minus 2 Tablespoon) orange juice
2 Tablespoon Orange Emulsion

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 inch round layer pans or use parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light, pale yellow. Add oil and then orange juice until well combined. Put flour, salt, and baking powder into wet mixture and gently fold with rubber spatula until just combined.
3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Do not over bake. Cool.

White, fluffy "seven minute" or boiled icing is quite beautiful on a cake.

If you want all-white frosting for outside of cake, reduce the nut and dried fruit. Reserve 1/3 frosting to add the nuts to put in the middle layer of cake.

2 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar (10.5 oz)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup of toasted pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup of raisins, cranberries, candied orange, or other favorite dried fruit, finely chopped

1. For frosting: Whisk the egg whites, sugar, baking powder, orange juice, and zest together in the top of a double boiler. Cook over boiling water, beating constantly, using hand-held mixer for about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. The frosting should be satiny and fluffy. (This is the hardest part, I promise!)
2. Gently fold the pecans and dried fruit into the frosting.
3. Spread about one third of the frosting over one cake layer. Place the second layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the tops and sides of the cake.


Oven Baked Chicken with Apricot-Ginger Glaze

OK, I am very excited about fresh ginger lately as you can tell. My Senior Pastor accuses me of sneaking in Asian ingredients in ALL our foods. I can't tell if that is a compliment or a rebuke, but he may be partly right. Oh yes, my mission at IPC kitchen is to make healthy and tasty foods, even if I am called the "Sneaky Asian Cook"!

Brush on the glaze when chicken is almost done. Putting glaze too early will result in burnt crust before the chicken pieces are cooked through.

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Or you can use thighs, drumsticks, or breasts,
Chicken should be skin on and bone-in

Teriyaki Marinade :
Makes 1-1/2 Cup

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine, any drinking white wine
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 minced shallot
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
1/2teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Apricot Glaze
1/2 cup Apricot preserves
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 minced shallot
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
Fresh Ground Pepper
*add 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar if you like glaze sweeter.

Toasted Sesame Seeds, black or white, for garnish (optional)

Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl. After chicken parts are rinsed and dried with paper towel, combine chicken with marinade, put them in a container, cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.

Take the chicken out of refrigerator an hour before baking to bring it to room temperature before baking. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a baking dish with 2" sides, layer the chicken parts and pour in any remaining marinade.

Bake until meat thermometer reaches 150 degrees for white meat and 165 degrees F for dark (about 10 minutes before meat is done), this may take 30 -45 minutes depending type of oven you have.

Brush on the glaze and finish baking until meat reaches the correct internal temperature. Another 10 minutes.

White Meat 160 degrees F.
Dark Meat 175 degrees F.

Serve with rice.

Note: I know I am being a stickler for using meat thermometer to check the meat but this is the only way to ensure your chicken will be done perfectly and not over cooked, which is a common mistake for most cooks. For meat thermometer see Equipment post.


Free Range Chickens and Boys

There is something good about having room to grow, for chickens and boys. I have a dozen hens and three boys. To have fields and woods to run freely is truly a blessing indeed.

Wild flowers so beautiful this spring. This is a view from our front yard.

Our young hen, Ruby.

These hens were purchased from Life Is Good Farm, in Ellabell. By summer, these young hens will provide us with fresh eggs.


Lemon-Ginger Pound Cake

Hannah is a young lady who works part-time in IPC kitchen. One thing about working with young, creative person (she will be in graduate program at SCAD in animation this fall) is that she keeps me on my toes, especially in baking. With her new found love of baking and her artistic nature, she has become quite a baker.

This dessert by far is the best she has made. She substituted part of lemon juice in the recipe with lemon emulsion. The result was delicate buttery pound cake with intense lemony flavor and hint of refreshing ginger. Great work, Hannah!

Lemon Emulsion is water based instead of alcohol based like lemon extract. Many professional bakers use emulsion in their cakes and cookies for their intense flavor.

LorAnn Lemon Bakery Emulsion, 4-Ounce Bottle (Pack of 4), sold at Amazon.com $15.88

For cake

3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (see previous post on how to)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 oz)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup, or 4 oz)) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon emulsion

For glaze
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon emulsion

Lemon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp lemon emulsion
1 Tablespoon confectioner sugar

Special equipment: a 4- to 5-cup nonstick bundt, kugelhopf, or loaf pan

Make cake:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter pan, then flour it, knocking out excess. Chill 10 minutes.

Finely grind together fresh ginger and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor (mixture will be wet).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt.

Stir together milk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Beat together butter, remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add flour and milk mixtures to butter and eggs in 4 batches, beginning with flour and mixing at low speed until each batch is just incorporated. Mix in ginger sugar until just combined, then lemon juice and lemon emulsion.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, and bake in middle of oven until golden brown on top and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (about 1 hour for loaf pan). Carefully loosen edges with a knife and immediately invert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make glaze:

Gradually add confectioners sugar to 1 tablespoon lemon emulsion, whisking until smooth and adding more emulsion, 1 drop at a time, if glaze is too thick. Drizzle decoratively over top of cake.

For Lemon Whipped Cream
In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.


Fried Oyster Po' Boy

Fried oysters are so delicious when they are prepared well. Living in Savannah, I have tasted a good amount of fried oysters : a few good ones but mostly not so good.

Batter coating that is too thick seems to be the most common problem, and over frying is another. Here are some helpful tips you can apply to achieve crispy and tender fried oysters at home.

Fried Oysters on Salad with Pacific Rim Caesar Dressing (Will post this recipe soon)

Dredging oysters in flour/cornmeal mixture absorbs any exterior moisture. And since Panko bread crumbs are much airier than regular bread crumbs, coating stays crispy longer. A good thing when you are frying 8 pounds of oysters!

* 1 pint “select” oysters (yields about 2 dozen)

Mix #1
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup cornmeal
*1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning or Dry Rub (See previous post)
* A pinch of Salt and pepper

Mix #2
* 2 large egg
* 4 tablespoons buttermilk
*1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning or Dry Rub

Mix #3
* 2 cups panko crumbs (can be purchased in Asian Store or Asian food aisle)
*1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning or Dry Rub

* Canola or vegetable oil for frying, about 3 cups

Drain the oysters well in a colander. Pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, seasoning, salt and pepper on one shallow pan. Place the egg, seasoning, and buttermilk in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the panko crumbs and seasoning on another shallow pan. Set a rack on a small sheet pan.

*Make sure oysters are well dried

Dredge the oysters first in the flour, then the eggs, then the panko, shaking off any excess. Place on the wire rack. When all of the oysters are coated, place the pan in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This step is important since chilling the oysters before frying ensures that they won't be over cooked.

Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a heavy duty frying pan to come up about 2 inches. Heat over medium-high until hot, about 370° F. Use a thermometer to check the oil temperature.

Fry the oysters in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, until light golden, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Do not over crowd the pan or the oil temperature will lower too quickly and you will have soggy fried oysters. Terribly Sad it will be!

Remove oysters and place on wire racks to drain. Serve immediately on a soft hoagie bun or salad as shown with Remoulade sauce.

For additional help on frying see "Cooking Tip : Frying".


Asian Slaw

City of Savannah is at its absolute glory clothed in azaleas, dogwoods, and wisterias in full bloom. As the weather is getting warmer quickly, here is a refreshing side dish inspired by Thai cuisine.

To avoid having fibrous strands, fresh ginger should be sliced thinly in round discs before chopped in food processor. If you need only a small amount of fresh ginger, you can use Microplane grater, going against the grain or fiber.

All vegetables and sauce can be prepared up to two days ahead. Refrigerate separately until ready to toss.

Print This Recipe!

Asian Cole Slaw
Serves 6-8

6 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoons grated garlic

5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 large bell peppers, red and yellow, julienne cut (do not use green bell pepper)
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
4 large green onions, cut into matchstick-size strips
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Whisk in a bowl first 8 ingredients in small bowl to blend. (Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Stir well before using.

Prepare the vegetable.  Can be made two days ahead.  15-20 minutes prior to serving,  in a large bowl, toss the prepared veggies with the dressing

Adapted from Epicurious.com