My Oh My Oh Myer Lemon Cake

My Oh My Oh Myer Lemon Cake

When life gives you lemons, make THIS cake and give it your fresh take, layer after layer.  Click to skip to the recipe

Meyer Lemon Layer Cake

Back in the day, when you wanted to get your hands on Meyer lemons, you had to know a guy who knew a guy.

Luckily, today, Meyer lemons show up in the produce department in your local grocery store with regularity.

A Meyer lemon is sweeter than it’s sourpuss counterpart and not quite as sweet as its orange blossomy friend. It’s perfect to use in layer cakes, both in the batter and the buttercream frosting. 

I accent this yummy cake with a scoop of orange sherbet because, well cake just has to have ice cream on the side. And, I add some strawberries not only for color, but I sprinkle each one with a bit of cracked pepper for just a little hint of heat to tame down all that sweet.

This cake screams for your invention. Use any citrus, lemon, orange, or lime and layer it up by using three small pans to bake the cake making it three layers tall. It all works!

Remember when life gives you lemons….Reach for the Meyer’s Rum. Is that how that saying goes??

Meyer Lemon Layer Cake
With Orange Sherbet and Peppered Strawberries

Serves: A Crowd

Time:  20 minutes plus baking and frosting and altogether about 1 ½ hours

Ingredients

For cake:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1.2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature

1 ¾ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Zest from 3 Meyer lemons, about 2 tablespoons

Juice from 2 Meyer lemons, about ⅓ cup


For frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks room temperature

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Juice from 1 Meyer lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Orange Sherbet

Strawberries, halved, cut side dipped in coarse black pepper

 

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the eggplants with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place into a colander for 30 minutes to exude excess moisture. Stir together ½ cup olive oil, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Brush both sides of the eggplant with the seasoned olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and roast until the slices are tender and golden, about 30 minutes. The slices can overlap. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.  Cook the onion and carrots until soft and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the lamb to the pan.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  

Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cinnamon stick.  Simmer the ragù for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

Heat the butter in a deep pot over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook until golden and bubbling, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Pour in the milk.  Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.  Season with ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Assemble the casserole by placing a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Top with half of lamb ragù.  Add another layer of eggplant and another layer of lamb.  Finish with a layer of eggplant.  Top the casserole with béchamel sauce.  Bake until the casserole is bubbly, and the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow the casserole to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

 

The holidays are here, and cookies and cocktails are the name of the game as we countdown to Christmas Day!  Check out my favorite recipes with a healthy dose of Yuletide cheer.

Our cookies give new meaning to “tree trimming”, and sparkle with Fancy Sprinkles.  Read On

I came up with a holiday punch idea for my next party: a coconut margarita punch that had me saying Mele Kalikimaka! Read On

These cookies are perfect when you’re looking for just a little something, as Doreen would say.  Pair with a spiked hot chocolate, vodka martini, or a big red wine like a spicy zin.  Read On

Moscow Mules aren’t just for summertime!  Try cranberries and rosemary for a holiday twist.  Read On

These ginger cookies are perfect to stack and pack and safely share.  Read On

Once you make these lovelies, just about any candy or specialty chips work in a batch!  Read On

A Trick for Your Treats: Pumpkin Spiced Melt-a-Ways

A Trick for Your Treats: Pumpkin Spiced Melt-a-Ways

Whether you’re socially distanced, staying at home, or just driving around the neighborhood, make the best of this Halloween weekend. And enjoy the treats of the seasons!

Click to skip to the recipe

 

If you are choosing a Halloween costume and moving on from your sweats and pj’s you may have turned a corner during this crazy 2020. Bawdy parades and close-quarter parties of the past may not be in vogue this year, but, hey masks are all the rage… right.

I’ve seen all sorts of socially distanced candy transfers and in-car Halloween parade plans. Some neighborhoods are allowing door-to-door tricking while others are suggesting at-home treats. 

I for one, feel the young moms out there need some sort of normalcy in the first holiday of this upcoming season. I hope you get it.

Whether you’re socially distanced, staying at home, or just driving around the neighborhood, I do have an easy, delicious treat for you and the kiddos

These simple cookies are easy to make, FUN to decorate, and easily packable for handing out. 

I use my favorite sources for these cookies. Fancy Sprinkles for the colors of the season and The Spice and Tea Exchange for flavored sugars

Make the best of this Halloween weekend. And enjoy the treats of the seasons!

 

Pumpkin Spiced Melt-a-Ways

These cookies are so much fun to make that you will want to make them for any and all occasions. Just vary the spices in the dough, the flavor of the sugar and the color of the sprinkles to make them your holiday go-to!

Ingredients

4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups cornstarch

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cloves

3 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature (that’s a whopping 12 sticks!)

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Sanding sugar (I used Apple Pie Spiced)

Fancy Halloween Sprinkles

Makes: 4 dozen 3-inch cookies

Time:   30-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 300°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a 2-inch ice cream scoop to portion out balls of dough. Place the balls onto the parchment paper about 3-inches apart. Use the tines of a fork to flatten the balls into circles. Sprinkle each cookie first with sugar and then with sprinkles. 

Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch and just beginning to turn golden on the bottom about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Mix and match your guests’ favorite meats, treats, and cheeses and never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home. Click to skip to the recipe

 

There are lots of reasons to entertain family and friends these days, as long as your family and friends have maintained their social distance while trying to live their lives amid craziness!

We’re all living in our reduced social circles these days, but that still leaves us room to gather safely. And gather, we do!

One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set out individual bites onto a lovely charcuterie board.

Now, by its very definition, a charcuterie board is made up of prepared, cured meats (usually pork) and varieties of cheeses.

The very word charcuterie comes from the French words chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked).

But meat and cheese can be boring, so I veer towards combining charcuterie with an antipasti platter. Olives and pickled veggies are so yum.

But then I have a couple of crudité tray ideas and well, before you no it, I create a board full of appetizers that is unlike any other.

Just like I like it!

My recent board was created for my fellow book club pals. It was packed full of individual appys that by themselves would be perfect for a first-course nibble, but when combined could serve a crowd for a cocktail party or game day (stay-at-home) tailgate party.

The appys assembled on my board included roasted shrimp on a stick, chunks of Parmesan cheese, whole roasted garlic, salami and cream cheese “flowers”, margarita sausage on baguettes with lime mustard, gouda and sun-dried tomato “pimento” cheese with candied bacon, hummus and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes and the fan-favorite, seared tuna nachos with roasted garlic cream.

Whew! Sounds like a lot and it was…..but it was also FUN to prepare and wonderful to watch as they were devoured in no time.

Whether you prepare your own fan-favorite appys or arrange store-bought (and there are tons of them) items on your board, the secret is to be surprising. Mix and match your favorites and be creative with your choices. After all, you never want to be bored with your board!!

Seared Tuna Nachos with Roasted Garlic Cream

These nachos are a big hit. You can easily make them in advance, and they look divine on your appy board.

Ingredients

For tuna:

1 (8-ounce) tuna steak:

½ cup rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)

1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

For roasted garlic cream:

Cloves from 2 whole heads roasted garlic, about ¼ cup, mashed

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup heavy cream

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

For nachos:

Large, sturdy tortilla chips

2 cups tender green leave, washed, dried and thinly julienned (I used frisee, baby kale and butter lettuce leaves)

Serves:   A Crowd

Time:   60-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the tuna steaks into a shallow dish. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and ginger.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade.  Pour the rest over the tuna steak.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in the fridge.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove the tuna from the marinade.  Shake off the excess.  Sear the tuna in the skillet turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for very rare.  Remove the tuna to the freezer and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the roasted garlic cloves, sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine into a smooth thick cream. Season with salt and pepper. The cream should be thin enough to drizzle.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.

Place the tortilla chips on a platter. Toss the greens with the reserved marinade.  Place several shreds of lettuce over the tortilla chips.

Remove the tuna from the freezer.  Use a very sharp knife to cut very thin slices (across the grain) of seared tuna.  Place 1 to 2 slices (depending on how thin you can cut) onto each chip.  Drizzle with garlic cream. 

 

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club, Social-Distance Edition. Safely supp over a good read and prepare for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal!  Click to skip to the recipe

 

In the months before COVID, we started posting a once a month book club guide for you to follow with your group. 

I stopped posting because we couldn’t gather.

But, in today’s environment, with some of the restrictions eased and our ability to safely gather in a socially distance approved way, I thought I would bring it back! My book club has gathered over the summer and we will convene again this week.

For those of you who are still staying home, you might consider starting a virtual book club.

A few of my besties did this over the summer as well, and we found that we gathered (virtually) more often than our in-person club.

I have included the full supper club menu here, but if you wish, just a sampling of one or two dishes works just as well.

Either way, if you are looking for a good read to share with friends (or just on your own), this one’s for you!

 

“The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewel

As I read, I had the same feelings that I had when I read The Goldfinch. The abuse of children is never an easy subject.

However, I loved this read because of the development of the characters from childhood to adulthood, the paths their lives eventually take, and The Baby that brings them together.

There are several twists and turns, many of which I didn’t see coming (which to me is the measure of a good suspense novel).

This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club.

Gather your readers, give them the title, and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.

There are three stories woven into the narrative. On Libby’s 25th birthday, she finds out she’s inherited a Chelsea mansion that’s been held in trust.

She soon discovers the house has a dark history based on scant decades-old news coverage. Lucy is living hand-to-mouth in France when her phone reminds her that The Baby is 25.

Without the means or identity, she must resort to some pretty desperate acts in order to get back to England after 24 years. Henry knows everything that happened in the house in the last several years when his family lived there.

He knew why there were so many extra people living there, what happened to the once-opulent residence and its contents, and how and why people were found dead in black robes on the kitchen floor.

I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…

  • Do you think Henry’s lies and violent acts were born out of his need to survive an unimaginable situation, or do you think there is, as Clemency states, “a streak of pure evil” in him?
  • In your opinion, who is the most tragic figure in this novel? 
  • What do you imagine happens to the characters after the book ends?

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club. In contrast to the spartan food the children were given while they lived at 16 Cheyne Walk, this menu celebrates the abundance of the garden with dishes woven into a delicious menu that all your members will enjoy.

Super Supper Book Club Menu

“The Family Upstairs”

 


Fresh Corn, Green Bean and Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette •
Canvas and Cuisine,  page 150

Cauliflower Risotto with Cinnamon-Roasted Butternut Squash • Canvas and Cuisine, page 36

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs (Recipe below) Canvas and Cuisine, page 96

Fresh Fish of the Day in Puttanesca Sauce • Canvas and Cuisine, page 262

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Thyme • Canvas and Cuisine, page 341

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
With Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta & Toasted Breadcrumbs

Best Stuffed Portabello Recipe

Spending quality time in the Farmer’s market naturally leads to veggie-forward main meals. This is one of these. There’s nothing better than meaty mushrooms, with a tangy, crunchy filling! You can serve these mushrooms as a first course, or as a late-night snack. Or you can stuff smaller mushrooms and serve these to your book club! The flavors are fantastic – everyone is a mushroom lover after tasting this dish!

Ingredients

1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 2 more for sauce

1 (3.5-ounce) julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained but save 2 tablespoons of the oil 

4 ounces pancetta, finely diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ cup Marsala wine

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 Portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Yields: Serves 4 for a Veggie Main or 8 as an Appy

Time:   30 Minutes

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a small bowl. Spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet. Toast the buttered crumbs until they begin to crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes into a skillet over medium-high heat. And the pancetta and cook until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta to a platter lined with paper towels. 

Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer until most of the wine has disappeared, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice. Season with some of the salt and crushed red pepper. Turn off the heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a grill pan on high heat. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, turning once, until they are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter. Spoon the sun-dried tomatoes into the mushroom caps. Top with pancetta and toasted breadcrumbs.

Camp Nana: Famous Camp Greystone Scones Recipe

Camp Nana: Famous Camp Greystone Scones Recipe

Summer camp canceled? Enter CAMP NANA! Create a memorable experience for your troop, starting with these scones. Click to skip to the recipe

Camp Greystone Famous Opening-Day Scones

 

There are so many tragedies of COVID 19, serious and heart-breaking tragedies. 

The helplessness of what we can and cannot do to protect ourselves and the ones we love is a full occupation. 

In our hearts, I know we’re all struggling to come up with ideas that make things just a little bit better for those around us. 

My “Nana” moment came when my granddaughter was informed that her beloved camp, Camp Greystone tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, announced that they would be closed this summer.

She and all her fellow campers (and their parents) were devastated.  

In so many ways, summer camps are a rite of passage; The child leaves her family nest and flies to what will become her flock of friends, counselors, and influencers. Growing through this process allows the girls to make independent choices in activities, faith and meditation, what they wish to eat, and most especially the selection of summer friends who are destined to be friends throughout their lives.

Out of this disappointment, Camp Nana was born! 

Just a few of her closest friends were invited to our camp. Our activities included hiking, a ropes course, a thoroughly harrowing tubing trip down a river in a lightning storm (email me for details on that one!), and a fully active haunted house. 

The crafts were candle making, bath bombs creating, jewelry designing, making fresh pasta, and learning to grill pizza. 

After all….It was MY camp! It was an action-packed adventure.

In trying to fit the traditions of Camp Greystone into Nana Camp, I replicated their recipe for Opening Day Scones and offered them to the campers upon their arrival. 

These simple biscuits are light and airy and can be filled with either chocolate chips, berries, or oats.

They are delish and I kept them coming all through camp. 

Perhaps inviting teens for a camp adventure is not on your agenda this summer. 

But, if you dig deep and put on your thinking cap, perhaps you can come up with something special to do for a friend or family member that needs a smile. 

Can you?

Camp Nana 2020

Camp Nana: Famous Camp Greystone Scones Recipe

This is the recipe for the famous Camp Greystone opening day scones. The campers are greeted with these on the first day of camp. The parents are given some to take on the trip home and then hustled out the door. It’s a camp tradition that has met with success for generations.

 

 

Camp Greystone Famous Opening-Day Scones

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon baking powder

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup sour cream

½ cups mini chocolate chips

Yields:  Makes about a dozen 3-inch round scones

Time:   20-minute cuisine (10)

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the cream and sour cream until the dough just comes together. It will be a sticky mess!

Transfer the dough to your floured work surface. Press the dough into a 2-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the dough. Fold the dough over the chips to combine. Press the dough out to a 1-inch rectangle. Use a three-inch round biscuit cutter to form the scones. Transfer these to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. 

Bake the scones until they are just beginning to turn golden on the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes.