Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pureed Cauliflower Soup

This soup was a big hit in our home. It is creamy, and delicately spiced. My boys all loved it, even though I used turkey broth that was really too strong for such a delicate soup flavor. We had it with the escarole salad, and it was a wonderful soup & salad dinner. Very filling and delicious. Another great reason to love it is how fast it is to put together! Wonderfully simple & delicious. Mmm. :)

Pureed Cauliflower Soup with Coriander
(From Cooks Illustrated)

Either chicken or vegetable broth can be used in this recipe.

Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , or the same amount of vegetable or olive oil
1 medium onion , 3 medium shallots or 1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), chopped
2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine (or substitute)
1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), stems discarded and florets cut into bite-sized pieces (about 5 cups)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon table salt
ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2–3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives , or minced parsley

1. Heat butter or oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add sherry and cauliflower; stir-cook until sherry evaporates, about 30 seconds.

2. Add stock, salt, pepper to taste, and coriander to saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 12 minutes.

3. Ladle cauliflower mixture into blender. Add 1/2 cup milk; blend until very smooth. Return soup to saucepan; cook over low heat until warmed through. If soup is too thick, stir in additional milk to thin consistency. Adjust seasonings. (Soup can be refrigerated for 3 days and reheated just before serving.)

4. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish with minced chives and serve immediately.


Escarole & Orange Salad

I had a lovely head of Escarole in my produce co-op box this week. We used our last set of bitter greens (kale) in a wonderful soup, so I wanted to try something different if I could this time. Escarole is often used in salads or served as a side dish, I chose this recipe from Cooks Illustrated because I love orange segments in salads, and the vinaigrette intrigued me. It did not disappoint, the flavor was wonderful. You need to eat an escarole leaves with an orange segment, some almonds & some olive pieces in the vinaigrette all in one bite to get the full effect of all these wonderful flavors mixing in this salad - the olive & orange offset the bitter flavors of the escarole in a delicious way, and the crunch from the almonds was wonderful. I served it with a cauliflower soup and it was a fantastic dinner. Yum.
Escarole and Orange Salad with Green Olive Vinaigrette
(From Cooks Illustrated)

In this salad, when arranging the orange segments on the greens, leave behind any juice that is released; it will dilute the dressing.

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (basalmic is a fine substitute)
1/2 cup chopped green olives
3 medium shallots , minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium clove garlic , minced
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/3 cup olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 large head escarole , washed, dried and stemmed (about 9 cups lightly packed)
2 large oranges , segmented
1/2 cup slivered almonds , toasted in small dry skillet over medium heat until golden, about 7 minutes

1. Whisk vinegar, olives, shallots, garlic, and orange zest in large bowl; whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add greens; toss to coat.

2. Divide dressed greens among individual plates, arrange a portion of orange segments on greens, and sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lemon Layer Cake

I guess I've been interested in meringues lately...this cake asked me to make it! It was a lovely delicious Easter dessert. While mine is not as pretty as the Cooks Illustrated photo, it was very tasty. Almost like a lemonade pie filling between cake layers with a soft meringue frosting. Tart & sweet, full of lemon flavor. It was so delicious, I didn't think to take a picture until it was half gone! :)

Lemon Layer Cake
(From Cooks Illustrated)

The filling can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, but it will become quite stiff; fold it with a rubber spatula to loosen it before spreading onto the cake. For neater slices, dip a knife into hot water before cutting the cake. Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator, with the cut side of the cake covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

Serves 10 to 12

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.)


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