Rosemary Pound Cake

When it comes to the list of my favorite fresh herbs to use in the kitchen, rosemary is right at the top.

I love the clean, fresh smell. I love that the leaves are easier to pluck off the stems than some other herbs (looking at you thyme).

Up until today, pretty much all of my culinary uses for rosemary were for savory dishes. I can’t and don’t do without it at the holidays when I’m roasting my turkey. It lends itself so well to braises and stews of all kinds, but especially those with poultry.

For this past year’s 12 Days of Christmas, I baked with it for the first time in savory rosemary and thyme flavored crackers that I really enjoyed.

Today’s post marked the first time I ever baked something sweet using rosemary. I was really intrigued going into it, but also a little nervous. The general concern with using rosemary in whatever you’re cooking, is over seasoning with it. Like lavender, too much rosemary in a dish can make it up tasting like soap. Blegh.

I said in a post a couple months back that pound cake is a blank canvas recipe. That means, that It tastes wonderful all on its own, but the addition of extra ingredients can take those muted flavors and turn them into something even tastier. I’ve tried this concept multiple times with other pound cakes on the blog and I thought that it would interesting to try and see what rosemary could do as a flavor booster.

I was very pleased with how this turned out. The texture itself is just as pound cake should be, but the obvious star is the rosemary. It gives such a unique, but delicious flavor that manages to temper the sweetness of the cake, while also giving a freshness that can almost fool you into thinking it’s “lighter” than pound cake actually is. It almost makes it taste more….grown up, flavor-wise. If that makes any sense.

This is an easy and special dessert and I think you should try it. The End.

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Rosemary Pound Cake

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (make sure it’s not self-rising)
  • 1 tablespoon baking power
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or preferably vanilla bean paste)
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
  • 1 cup milk

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few teaspoons of water or milk

 

Directions

Grease and flour a 16 cup tube pan (Or 2 9×5 inch loaf pans). Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium size bowl combine the flours, baking powder, salt. Stir together with a fork, then set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) cream together the butter, sugar, chopped rosemary and vanilla on medium speed until pale and fluffy (it’ll take about 4-5 minutes).

Add the eggs and the egg white, 1 at a time, mixing just until combined after every addition.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the milk (starting and ending with flour) mixing just until combined after every addition.

Spread the batter into the prepared tube pan (or loaf pans). Tap pan a few times against the countertop to minimize air bubbles.

Place the pan on a sheet tray and bake on the middle rack of the oven, 50-65 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached. (The baking time will be dependent upon which pan you used.) Inner temp of cake should be 195-200F.

Allow the cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes before turning out of the pan and allowing to completely cool.

If desired, stir together both ingredients for the glaze, until it reaches the consistency you want. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle it on top of the cooled cake. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes, until glaze has completely hardened before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #284, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Lemon Bars

Whenever I think of the best summer desserts, lemon bars are right up there at the top of the contenders.

From the ingredients, to the method to the flavors, they’re so simple, clean and fresh. I’m kinda disappointed in myself that I haven’t gotten around to including them on the blog yet. But, better late than never.

I’ve seen lemon bar mixes in the store, but honestly you guys, making it from scratch isn’t that much more work. It really isn’t. In fact, I’m so confident that everyone can pull this off that I’m putting today’s recipe in the “You Can’t Mess this Up, No Seriously” Category.

There’s very little fuss to them at all. The crust is a basic shortbread that gets pre-baked for about half an hour until golden brown. I added the zest of a lemon to the dough just to give it extra lemon flavor.

Lemon curd is typically made over the stove and requires a little bit of extra TLC to ensure that it comes out perfectly smooth and set. I think what I love the most about this recipe is that you don’t have to give the curd that extra TLC. The oven does all the work for you on the second bake.

The shortbread crust of these bars makes for a delicious, lemon scented cookie all on its own. The crisp texture and golden brown flavor pairs great with the smooth, sharp flavor of the lemon curd on top. I didn’t see the need to add the traditional powdered sugar you often see on top of lemon bars. Trust me: these babies don’t need it.

So do me a solid, and don’t bother buying a lemon bars mix with preservatives in it that you can’t even pronounce. Make them yourself, from scratch. I repeat: these are simple. You can’t mess them up. Try them and see.

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Lemon Bars

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar, plus more if desired
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • the zest of 2 lemons, divided
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup flour

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.

In a medium size bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour with the 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, pinch of salt and the zest of 1 lemon. Stir together with a fork.

Use your fingers (or even better, a box grater) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork or your hands until it begins to form large and slightly sticky clumps. If it’s still too dry to hold together, you can add some water or milk (only 1 tablespoon at a time) just until it does.

Spread your fingers or a spatula with cooking spray and press these clumps into the bottom of the pan, forming as level a layer of the dough as you can.. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs with the 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, the zest of the second lemon, and the lemon juice. Whisk thoroughly until the egg yolks have broken up. Add in the flour, whisking again until all of the clumps are smoothed out.

Pour on top of the cookie crust. Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until the lemon curd is set.

Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar if desired before cutting into bars.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #283, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Cornmeal Garlic Herb Bread

My mom once gave me some pretty sage advice about cooking:

Practice, study and get comfortable with a recipe, then do whatever you want to it in order to “make it your own”.

They’re words that I now regularly not only cook, but also bake by when I can.

You want to know what the best part of knowing how to bake bread is?

I mean, apart from being able to eat it afterwards. Nothing tops that.

Once you become comfortable with a particular dough recipe, you can do pretty much ANYTHING you want to do with it.

Remember: baking is essentially, a scientific experiment/reaction of ingredients. So long as the key components get included and mixed together in the proper order and technique, there are certain recipes that will allow for variation and addition of a ‘personal flair’.

Bread dough is one of them. So long as your yeast is proofed, all your ingredients are there, your dough is smooth and given enough time to rest, then you can do practically anything you want to it after that first rise.

You can lump it all together into one, throw it in a loaf pan and bake one standard bread loaf. You can shape it into individual dinner rolls or buns. You can fill it with stuff. You can twist, braid, wrap, sculpt–seriously, just about anything you want or could think of.

That’s really kinda what we’re doing here today.

I first used this bread recipe to make standard, simple round cornmeal dinner rolls. Then, when I got more comfortable to it, I umped the ante with the recipe to shape them into pretty flower buns. This third iteration has me shaping it entirely differently, and filling it with a delicious herb butter that I made from scratch.

Don’t be intimidated by the finished product: I promise that it isn’t as nearly complicated to make as it looks. And like the first two versions, it’s really delicious.

Cornmeal Garlic Herb Bread

Recipe Adapted from a Previous Recipe by Jess@Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (That’s 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°-115°)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour

For Herb Butter

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
  • About 1 heaping tablespoon  of your blend of favorite herbs, finely chopped (I used rosemary and thyme, but basil, parsley, or chives are also great options as well)
  • 2-3 finely minced garlic cloves (depends on your taste for garlic)
  • A pinch of both salt and pepper

 

Directions

Combine the milk, cornmeal, butter or margarine, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and allowing to cook until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Soften active dry yeast in warm water (110 degrees F). Sprinkle the 1 tbsp of sugar on top and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is frothy and activated.

Combine cornmeal mixture, yeast, and 2 well-beaten eggs together in the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment to combine together.

Then, using the dough hook attachment, add 1 cup of flour, mixing to combine completely. Continue to add the flour in about 1 cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. (You may not need to use all the flour, this is dependent upon the time of year and your location).

Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour..

Place the dough in another greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm place for about an hour.

Meanwhile make the Herb Butter: Combine all of the ingredients together and stir briskly with a fork until it is smooth and easy to spread. Set aside until bread has finished rising.

Generously grease a 9 inch square or circle cake pan or general baking pan.

Sprinkle flour on your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Roll out the dough to a rectangle, around roughly 10 inches wide and 12 or more inches long.

Use a spatula to spread the herb butter generously and evenly over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of open space around the edges.

Starting from the shortest end closes to you, carefully roll the dough into a log. If any filling falls out, just tuck it back in. If the dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to gently pry it up. When done rolling, pinch the dough to seal it closed. Dip a very sharp knife in water and gently, but swiftly, slice the log down its entire length, creating two halves with lots of layers (kitchen shears will work for this too.)

Turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at the top, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral. Press the halves together again at the bottom. Wrap the braid into a round, courounne shaped loaf.

 Carefully lift the loaf into the center of the greased cake pan.

Cover it with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until puffy and risen, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spray the top of the loaf with cooking spray. Place it on top of a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven, about 45-50 minutes, covering with foil if it browns too quickly.

(Bread is done at an inner temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit, and because this loaf has so many layers, I HIGHLY recommend using an instant read thermometer to gauge when it’s done.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #282 cohosted this week by Angie and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Coconut Beef Curry with Garlic Naan

Today’s recipe is about taking a shortcut, but also going the extra mile.

That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

It’s also become my cooking lifestyle.

Once you start cooking and baking things from scratch, it can be hard to go back to taking certain shortcuts. When I was a kid, I loved eating canned stews–nowadays if I want stew, then I’m going to just make one myself that will have five times the flavor and ten times less sodium. I literally cannot eat box mix cake anymore. Break and bake cookies are a HARD pass. I admit that the biscuit dough you can buy in a can aren’t awful ….but mine are still better.

On the other hand–sometimes, I’m not above taking a shortcut in the kitchen. For example, (in full disclosure) making rice is a stumbling block of mine. I just cannot get it right. Minute Rice is my remedy for that. Whenever I get a craving for sweet potato waffle fries, do you think I’m above going to the frozen foods section and picking up that bag? Tuh. Sometimes the shortcut is just the way to go.

A traditional curry recipe will likely have up to ten or fifteen different spices in it that are also usually freshly ground. It’s then cooked and stewed for HOURS. I’ve seen some that take all day long. On the day that I made this dish, I didn’t have all day long. I also didn’t have ten to fifteen spices that I ground up from scratch. I took a shortcut.

Instead of 10 to 15 spices, I used jarred, pre-ground curry powder. Quite a lot of it, since we’re trying to make up for the loss of flavor from the fresh spices. Mine also won’t take you all day long to cook–a slow braise in the oven for bout 90 minutes to two hours is all you should need. That’s the shortcut.

Now for the extra mile.

There are a lot of stores and delis that sell pre-made naan bread. I’m not above buying Trader Joe’s brand myself. But the truth is, I’ve never had naan bread that I enjoyed as much as when I made it myself, from scratch. I just haven’t. So far as bread baking goes, the difficulty is on the lower end of the ladder. Because it is so easy, if you have the time and the inclination I STRONGLY recommend you go the extra mile and make these naans. You’ll taste the difference.

I’ve got to say, the shortened cook time and curry powder did nothing to skimp on the flavor or tenderness of the beef. Having the freshly baked, fluffy naan bread to dip into the sauce was the perfect accompaniment. I may or may not have *completely* cleaned the plate.

This meal is worth both the effort and the shortcut–so take both.

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Coconut Beef Curry with Garlic Naan

Recipe Adapted from Epicurious and Cook with Manali

Ingredients

For Beef Curry:

  • 2 lbs beef chuck, chuck roast or tri-tip, cut into large chunks
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion, thickly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons of finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup curry powder (preferably Indian)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 32 oz low sodium chicken broth (like TJ’s)
  • Rice, for serving

For Naan:

  • 450 grams (About 4 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, plus more if needed for kneading
  • 2 large garlic cloves (grated or extremely finely minced)

For Garlic Butter to Brush Over Naan:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or ghee)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Directions

For Beef Curry:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the beef chunks on a sheet pan. Sprinkle both sides of the beef with a thin coating of soy sauce and use your hands to rub it into the surface. Sprinkle an even coating of pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder on top of the meat on both side.

Melt a few tablespoons of canola oil, or ghee in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over high heat. Sear the beef on both sides until deeply browned all over, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Deglaze the pan with a little bit of the chicken broth if need be, then add the sliced onion. Cook until softened and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger cook just until fragrant. Add the curry powder and stir it together until it begins to stick to the pot, about 3 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, coconut milk and about 2 1/2 cups of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

In a small bowl dissolve about 3 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour in 1 cup of the chicken broth, stirring with a fork until smooth. Add it to the pot.

Season the sauce with additional pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and curry powder to taste. Allow it to cook for about 5-10 more minutes, until it reaches the consistency you like.

Add the beef back to the pot. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven for 1 1/2-2 hours, until the beef is fork tender. Serve curry spooned over white or brown rice.

For Naan:

Place the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer or another large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the sugar on top of the yeast. Allow it to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Place 3 1/4 cups of the flour in a medium size bowl with the salt and stir together with a fork.

When the yeast is proofed, add the vegetable oil and grated garlic to it and stir together with the dough hook (or a large spoon). Add the flour in about 1 cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. (You may not need to use all the flour, this is dependent upon the time of year and your location). Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

(The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours.

Turn dough out onto your clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles. Divide it into 8 equal parts. Loosely cover them with plastic wrap and leave on the countertop to rest for about 10-15 minutes.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add minced garlic to it. Set aside for brushing on top of the naans later.

Oil your hands and a rolling pin to gently stretch and roll the dough balls out into oval shapes (they don’t have to be completely flat like tortillas, these are meant to be a tad thick).

Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. (Cast iron is best, but not completely necessary) Lightly coat with ghee (or butter).

Cook until lightly blistered, puffed, and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Immediately brush with garlic butter when you remove from the skillet.

Keep naans on a rack in the microwave or the oven to stay warm while you cook the rest.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #281.

Browned Butter Vanilla Biscuits

I think I’m starting to develop a problem. I cannot stop making and finding uses for browned butter. Literally cannot do it. I’m addicted.

The way things are going, I think I’m going to have to add a completely separate category to the Recipe Index JUST for browned butter recipes.

If you’re new here, then there are probably two things that you should know for the purposes of this post: first, browned butter is a sauce. Butter gets melted over low-medium heat until it separates into butterfat and milk solids. The solids sink to the bottom of the pan and toast over the heat until golden brown; that is browned butter. It is one of the greatest culinary inventions, ever.

Second, I have been experimenting with it on and off on this blog for the past two and half years on this blog. Take practically any baking recipe you want that uses butter, and you can substitute the regular stuff for browned butter to kick up the flavor and taste 1000 notches. It works. Believe me, I’m on a personal mission to test and keep retesting the theory in as many different uses as I can and haven’t been disappointed yet.

Butter is truly the essence of a good biscuit. The quality of the butter, but more importantly, how you handle it, can literally be the difference between success or failure. I learned that lesson the hard way. I’ve also been pretty transparent on here about my journey with learning how to bake good biscuits and finally reaching a place where I felt confident in my abilities. I have a tried and true method that I know works. I don’t like messing with it.

But, because I had seen the wonders that browned butter had done for so many other recipes I’m comfortable with–and how it had actually improved them– I decided to make an exception and depart from my normal routine of biscuit making just enough to swap out regular butter for browned.

Spoiler alert, it went marvelously.

So what did I do differently?

Well, obviously there was an added step of browning the butter before doing anything else. If you’ve seen or used any of my previous biscuit recipes, you’ll know that I insist upon freezing butter for biscuits as well. So that kinda created 2 additional steps: making the browned butter, then placing it in the freezer to give it enough time to completely harden to be cold enough to use in the dough.

The second change I made was to use self rising flour rather than all purpose. This was a change that I had actually been meaning to test out for a while. Self rising flour is flour that already has leavening agents (baking powder and salt) sifted into it. I wanted to see if making the swap would result in a higher biscuit rise. After making those adjustments, I pretty much kept things the same.

I’m sitting here trying to adequately describe what that first bite was like. I’m really trying, y’all. But honestly, words just don’t do it justice. The depth of flavor that browning the butter gives to the biscuit is unbelievable. They taste like…warmth. Not the temperature. The flavor. Rich, golden, savory warmth. The texture is flakey and soft.

They make me want to dance. I really can’t be much more clear about it than that.

If you don’t bake with browned butter, please change that. Please.

Browned Butter Spice Cake

Browned Butter Spritz Cookies

Browned Butter Banana Bread

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Browned Butter Vanilla Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Taste of the South

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 cups self rising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (plus more if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

 

Directions

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Let it cook and watch it closely until 3-5 minutes until the butter begins to foam, forms a golden brown color and browned bits form on the bottom. (It will have a sweet, nutty smell). Immediately remove it from the heat. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then place butter in a small bowl, and freeze until solid, about 2 hours.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and brown sugar and stir together with a fork.

Tap the small bowl of butter on the counter to shake it out (it should be in one large block) Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk with the vanilla.

Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #280, cohosted this week by Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Angie@FiestaFriday.

Strawberry Pound Cake

In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel like I should give this post a theme. Let’s call it “When Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You Want Them To, But It’s Okay.”

This cake didn’t turn out the way that I wanted it to. But it’s okay. So, I’m sharing it anyway.

A Poke Cake is a dessert where a baked, still warm cake gets holes poked through it while it’s still in the pan, then a warm liquid (usually a custard or curd) gets poured into the holes. Once it’s given time to set up, the liquid in the poked holes forms a pretty streaky filling in the cake.

That’s how it’s supposed to work.

But, as y’all can see: there is no streaky filling in my cake.

Those of you who are bakers know how this story goes. You try out a new recipe and hope for the best…and sometimes the best just doesn’t happen. It’s not the worst–but it’s not best either.

Had everything with this cake gone exactly according to my plan, then you guys would currently be able to see pretty strawberry streaks running up and down, all the way through it. Y’know, the way a Poke Cake is supposed to look. But unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. The cake itself baked up beautifully. The strawberry filling came together easily. But when it came time to poke the cake full of holes and pour the filling over the top so that it could seep inside, for some reason it just didn’t budge.

Bummer.

Some of you may be wondering, if the Strawberry Poke Cake didn’t work out, then why are you still posting the recipe, Jess?

Well first, it was still an absolutely delicious pound cake.  Second, although it may not qualify as a Poke Cake,  there was still a delicious strawberry filling on one side, and an equally delicious strawberry icing on the other. In light of that, I saw no reason why it couldn’t qualify as a Strawberry Pound Cake.

Third, I thought that maybe I’d go ahead and post the recipe anyway to see if one of you wanted to try it and might have better success than I did. Then maybe, you’ll come back here and post a comment to let me know how it turned out, and I can try to gauge where the heck I went wrong 😉

Regardless, this one of those”When Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You Want Them To, But It’s Okay.” recipes, and I hope that it’s enjoyed.

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Strawberry Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from MyRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a Bundt pan or tube cake pan (at least 10 cup capacity).

Combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt together in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Cream together the butter and 3 cups of the sugar together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed (or use a handheld mixer and a large bowl).

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed just until combined. Add the extracts.

Add to butter mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat on low speed just until combined after each addition.

Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Pound cake is done at an inner temp of 195 degrees Fahrenheit)

Meanwhile, during last 20 minutes of the cake’s baking, pulse strawberries and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor until smooth, about 45 seconds. Use a spatula to press the mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Set aside 1/2 cup strawberry mixture.

Whisk together water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Combine cornstarch mixture and remaining strawberry mixture in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, just until mixture begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Using a long wooden skewer, poke holes about 1/2 inch apart into bottom of cake, wiggling skewer slightly to make holes about 1/8 inch wide. (Do not poke skewer all the way through top of cake.) Pour warm strawberry syrup over cake. Let stand until syrup is absorbed and pan is still warm but cool enough to handle, about 45 minutes.

Lay a piece of aluminum foil on top of a wire rack and lightly spray with cooking spray. Invert cake onto rack, and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Whisk together powdered sugar and reserved 1/2 cup strawberry mixture in a medium bowl until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle evenly over cooled cake. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes to allow the icing to harden.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #277, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Chimichurri Meatballs

As the Spring winds down and we get geared up for summer, I start getting craving for certain flavors that I associate with summer. The flavor of fresh herbs reminds me of summer.

A few months back, I made chimichurri for the first time. I absolutely loved it.

It’s bright. It’s fresh. It’s sharp. It’s one of those condiments that I just want to put on everything.

So y’all know me: I’m definitely going to try.

My first chimichurri had a basil base. This one has a parsley and cilantro one. I know some people have a real hate-hate relationship with cilantro, so I actually think that you can use whichever combination of those herbs that you want and it’ll still turn out fine. But I do have to insist on the herbs being fresh, especially since they’re going in both the chimichurri and the meat itself.

One of the things I like most about this is how easy it is to put together. I even feel fairly confident about putting it in the “You Can’t Mess This Up. No, Seriously” categories on the blog. If that and the yummy pictures doesn’t give you enough incentive to try this out, I don’t know what will.

The base for the chimichurri actually doubles as as a seasoning for the meatballs themselves, which  means that you’re going to get double the chimichurri flavor in one bite. The herbs get blitzed together with some garlic in a blender, then half gets set aside, while half goes into the ground meat. (I’ve made this with both beef and turkey and it’s turned out great either way, so don’t worry about swapping out one for the other if you’re not a red meat person).

I prefer to bake my meatballs in the oven for a more even cook. To minimize the mess, I usually line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, then place a baking rack on top of that, sprayed with PAM. It makes for a pretty easy clean up. However, these can be cooked in a skillet. They probably won’t be as round by the end, but that definitely won’t affect the taste.

I actually made a double batch of the chimichurri sauce to have on the side with these. It’s just that good. The bright, fresh and zesty flavors lend themselves so well to the seasoning of the meat, and when it’s added as a condiment I wanted to have a bit of it with every bite. It tasted like summer and I couldn’t wait to share it here. Enjoy.

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Chimichurri Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • onion powder
  • 1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Puree the parsley and cilantro with the garlic cloves in a blender.

In a large bowl, combine half of the garlic-herb mix with the ground beef. Season generously with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Add the beaten egg. Add the breadcrumbs. (Try to stir with your hands as quickly as possible, the more you stir, the tougher the meatballs can be)

Shape into meatballs (about 2 tablespoonfuls each). Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased rack on an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until browned.

Pulse the remaining herb mix in a blender with the olive or vegetable oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve with the meatballs.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #276, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats & Greens.