Thursday, February 23, 2012

Better by the Pound: Grapefruit Pound Cake

Now I know you have all been wondering- exactly how did some cakes become "pound cakes"!  Is it that they weigh a pound (or several pounds)? Or maybe that if I sit and eat an entire cake I'll be a several pounds heavier?  Well actually there is a simple explanation- an explanation that dates 300 years ago.  The pound cake dates back to the early 1700s in Britain.  And I might remind you that most women (who of course were doing ALL of the cooking at that time!) could not read, so recipes had to be easy to remember- and easy to pass along to a neighbor- or a daughter.  So a pound cake was just such a cake:  a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of butter and a pound of eggs!  Now how complicated is that.  As did other things British, the pound cake made its way to the New World.  Two variations were included in the very first cookbook printed in the New World in 1796, American Cookery: or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and all Preserves, and all kinds of Cakes, from Imperial Plum to plain Cake by Amelia Simmons. Obviously some of the women in the New World could read!

Well pound cakes have survived!  You're going to love, love, love this cake!  In fact, you'll love it even if you don't love grapefruit!  But just in case you don't believe me I'll give you some ideas for minor alterations that change this cake into an orange pound cake or lemon pound cake or lime pound cake or maybe just a simple elegant vanilla pound cake.  I do have to warn you in advance that you'll need a pen and paper though- this recipe is just a bit more complicated than a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of butter and a pound of eggs!

Now I happen to love grapefruit- I'll even eat them unadorned.  And it's not hard for Florida (where more grapefruit is grown than any other place in the world) to send its grapefruit my way.  This cake was perfect me!

So let's gather the ingredients and get started!

Grapefruit Pound Cake

8 ounces of Butter (it is REAL important to use butter- not margarine!)
8 ounces of Cream Cheese
1 1/4 cup of Sugar
Zest of one Grapefruit (May substitute other citrus or leave out if making Vanilla pound cake)
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon of Vanilla

2 cups of Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon of Salt

1/4 cup Grapefruit juice (May substitute other citrus or just increase Half and Half to 1/2 cup for vanilla pound cake)
1/4 cup Half and Half

1/2 cup of Grapefruit reduced to 3-4 tablespoons
1 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  

Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. 
Mix the grapefruit juice and the half and half.

Using your fingers mix the grapefruit zest and the sugar until no clumps of zest remain.  In a stand mixer beat the sugar, butter and cream cheese on high speed 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Add the teaspoon of vanilla.

Turn the mixer to a slow speed and alternately add the flour mixture and the juice/half and half mixture ending with flour mixture.  Do not over mix!

Pour into the pan and place in the oven for 45-55 minutes. Remove when toothpick comes out clean in the middle of the cake.  Don't over bake! Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes and then turn onto cake plate.

For glaze:  Bring grapefruit juice to a boil and cook until only 3-4 tablespoons remain.  Stir in powdered sugar until reach desire consistency.

This cake can be dressed up with Madisono's Pistachio Gelato and raspberries:

Or makes a perfect "tea time" treat when toasted then topped with a marmalade and served with a cup of tea:


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winter Food: Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Lemon Brown Rice

Don and I arrived for our sojourn in San Francisco in the fall of 2007.  The difference between how we had been eating in Cincinnati- and how we learned to eat in San Francisco was drastic!  It was if we suddenly lived in a different world!  After just a few months we had each lost over 20 pounds - and this while indulging ourselves on a daily basis.  We were now living in "food" heaven!  There is the obvious difference in "portion" size when we dined at restaurants.  In San Francisco I usually finished all the food on my plate- in Cincinnati I seldom do.  In fact I sometimes think that a "serving" size in Cincinnati is really portioned for a family of 4!  And then of course since you couldn't possible find a place to park we walked most everywhere.  And of course this being San Francisco this included a lot of hills!  

San Francisco is also the birthplace of the "locavore"!  The word locavore was coined on Earth Day in San Francisco in 2005 and found it's legitimacy in the Oxford Dictionary in 2007.  To be a locavore one must eat food from local sources rather than eating foods from far off places. While living in San Francisco eating locally was certainly no challenge given the climate with its long, long, long growing season.  But Cincinnati is NOT San Francisco.  We have winter- a long winter- and not much grows in the winter.  It was about this time that Barbara Kingsolver wrote a book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life about the experience of her family eating almost exclusively local foods (they made exceptions for coffee and chocolate!) for an entire year.  Ms. Kingsolver and her family lived on a small farm in northern Virginia.  This climate is not a lot different from ours in Cincinnati.  In this book was the truth of what "eating winter food" would be in Cincinnati- rather than in California with it's year round growing season

If you wander into any produce department in Cincinnati (or any other place for that matter) you'll be immediately shocked with the abundance of choices during these bleak winter months.  

A field trip to Whole Food suggests that perhaps winter isn't so bleak after all.  But here's the catch- this food isn't local- this food is shipped in- often from places as far away as South America or even Asia.  

So what choices might we have if we're eating "local" in Cincinnati. To begin with, there are all the foods that are harvested in late fall and "keep" in a cellar to be used during the winter.  These include all the potatoes, the winter squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti), onions, turnips, beets to name a few.  But there is one vegetable that actually likes to GROW in the winter climate.  KALE!  Until the middle ages it was actually the most common green vegetable eaten- and was nicknamed the "hungry gap" because it thrives in the cold climate.  In fact it tastes sweeter if it's a bit "nipped" by the frost!  

The argument for eating "local" is three pronged.  Food that is grown- and harvested- closer to where it is actually eaten tastes better.  Eating" local" food supports small businesses- the small farms that grow this "local" fare rather than industrial farms with their heavy use of pesticides and dismal working conditions (think here- "illegal immigrants"). And finally eating "local" reduces the use of fossil fuels in transporting foods from places so far away.  I would certainly be remiss if I suggested that Don and I eat mostly "local"- we don't. That said when given choices, we most often reach for foods that are more "seasonable" for our table.

Time for a bit of self disclosure here- Don does not like Kale- not a bit- in fact he eats around it so most of his Kale eventually goes to our dog Brutus after the table is cleared!  But I do like Kale- And I thought having a "food blog" would be the perfect excuse to prepare and eat all the foods I love with only "nods" in Don's direction when it suits my fancy- don't tell Don.

So gather the ingredients and let's get cooking!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Lemon Brown Rice

1 Butternut Squash- This is really the hardest part- peel and slice the butternut squash- takes REAL MUSCLES!
1 Bunch of Kale- Tear the leaves off the stalks and tear into smaller pieces- Rinse!
4 Shallots- Sliced
10 Cloves of Garlic- Leave the cloves whole.
2 Lemons- Zest both Lemons and then juice- Zest from one lemon will be used in the rice.

2 Tbsp of Coriander Seeds -may substitute 1 1/2 tsp of ground coriander
1 1/2 Tsp of Cumin Seeds- may substitute 3/4 tsp of ground cumin
1/4 Tsp of ground Allspice
1/4 Tsp of ground Cloves
4 Cinnamon Sticks
4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss Butternut Squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and seasonings. Place on edged cookie sheet - I cover the pan with aluminum foil.  Roast for 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes

Toss Kale with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, zest and juice from one lemon.

Roast Kale for 15-20 minutes- toss after 10 minutes.  It's okay if it gets slightly brown on the edges. 

Combine squash and kale (with seasonings) in large bowl.  Toss with juice from second lemon.
Note: You may substitute sweet potatoes for squash (easier to peel and cube) and may also substitute Swiss chard or spinach (sauteed rather than roasted- only kale is a green sturdy enough for roasting) for the kale if you have a "Don" in your house.

Lemon Brown Rice

1 cup of brown rice
2 cups of broth- I use vegetable broth but chicken would work as well.
Zest from one lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot.  Add brown rice and cook until begins to "pop".  Add in lemon zest and then the 2 cups of broth.
Bring to boil and then lower temperature until very soft simmer.
Cook until all the liquid is gone and rice is "dry".


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Amber Left for Spain to Study... And Returned with a New Love: Nutella (Nutella Rugalach)

I'm not sure we"ll ever be really sure whether Amber went off to college to study (ultimately history)- or rather that college was just the perfect route to her ultimate goal: THE STUDY ABROAD SEMESTER!  Fortunately she did both.  And certainly her study abroad experience was every bit what she had imagined- and more.  Now for sure she made some friends for life... And learned some Spanish...

And as she traveled with these beautiful girls across Europe she found her "new love"- Nutella!  In fact, Amber and her friends discovered that all they really needed to eat as they traveled across this exciting new world was a jar of Nutella and a baguette.  I'll never see a jar of Nutella without thinking of Amber's Grand Adventure!

Nutella actually originates from Italy.  It was created in early 1944 by Pietro Fererro because of the severe shortage of chocolate in post war Europe.  He mixed the cocoa with hazelnuts and the magic began.

Rugalach heralds back to a much earlier time- probably sometime during the medieval times in a Jewish community in Eastern Europe.  The name Rugalach comes from the Yiddish and means "little twist".  Though Rugalach is eaten any time of the year it is especially popular during Hanukkah.

So what could be more perfect to take on our first visit to see the newlyweds?  NUTELLA RUGALACH!

So we gathered the ingredients:

Now it is perfectly appropriate to mix the "dough" in a food processor but I elected to use my Kitchenaid Mixer instead- more fun to watch the process this way...

We started with the Nutella Rugalach:

But also decided to have some Raspberry Preserve Rugalach as well...

I must tell you these Black Raspberry Preserves by Clearbrook Farm are the best!  And just to "keep things in the family", Clearbrook Farm is the the family business of Jenn, Amber's Maid of Honor!

We couldn't wait for the first ones to come out of the oven so we could "sample" them before taking them to Chicago to see Amber and her true love!

Nutella Rugalach: (Adapted from several recipes found on the internet)


2 sticks of unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoon size pieces
8 ounces of cream cheese
2/3 cup of sugar
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of flour (you'll also need some flour on the work surface when you're rolling out the dough)
3/4 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of cocoa powder (Because I only used the chocolate dough for 1/2 of the rugalach I only used 2 tablespoons)

Nutella (You can add nuts to the Nutella if you wish but I didn't)
Black Raspberry Preserves

Egg White


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar together in the mixer. (You may use a food processor as well.)  Add the vanilla.  Combine the flour and salt together and then add to the mixer.  Mix just until combined -don't overdo this step.  (It was at this point that I removed half of the dough, wrapped it in Saran Wrap and placed in the freezer to chill for the raspberry filling.) Add the cocoa powder and combine.  (If you are only making the Nutella Rugalach and not also the Black Raspberry Rugalach then combine the cocoa powder to the flour and salt rather than saving for the last.) Wrap this dough in Saran Wrap and place in freezer for 20 minutes. (If only making Nutella Rugalach divide the dough into two pieces and wrap separately.)

Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into wedges like you would for a pizza. Place the filling on the wide end and roll up. (I used a biscuit cutter and filled the circles instead.)

Paint each "cookie" with whipped egg white and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20-30 minutes and then cool on wire rack.


A perfect match don't you think!