July 2012

be back soon … in wedding cake land

Posted on July 26, 2012

Thanks to a kind of crazy twist of fate and two very trusting friends, I am baking a wedding cake. My friend Katie is getting married to her sweetheart this Friday in Sacramento. I’ll be there, wedding cake for 165 people in hand, praying to the sugar and butter gods that it turns out perfectly.

Over the past few days, I’ve been very busy with the prep work for my wedding cake debut. Seeing as I work full-time (not baking!) and my kitchen is 40 square feet, it’s taken a lot of planning to produce the required amount of cake. I’ll be back to tell you all about it soon, but here are some photos of the progress thus far to tide you over.

If you’re insanely curious about how this whole thing goes down, I’ll be sharing as I go on Instagram. Find me @emilyvoigtlander.

Wish me luck!

-Emily

pasta with ricotta and marinated tomatoes

Posted on July 25, 2012

This is one of my absolute favorite summer dinners. I’ve shared the recipe before, but recently made a few improvements and thought I’d share it again. It is quick, light and you don’t need to turn on the oven—beneficial pretty much everywhere except San Francisco. It also features one of my favorite summer ingredients—tomatoes.

Like all simple dishes, the better the ingredients you put into the dish the better it will turn out. I recommend using a decent fresh ricotta over your typical dairy section fare and cherry tomatoes because they are more flavorful and less watery than other varieties.

Pasta with Ricotta and Marinated Tomatoes
1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 T olive oil
2 T each of fresh parsley, basil or chives, chopped (use any combination of herbs you have on hand)
1/2 T fresh thyme, removed from the sprig
1 lb pasta (shells or tubes are prefered)
1 clove garlic, grated
2 T olive oil
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Slice the tomatoes and put them in a medium bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. The longer you let this sit and marinate, the better.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Just before you drain the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the olive oil and grated garlic clove. Stir. Add the ricotta and parmesan. Stir just to combine. Plate a mound of pasta and top with the tomato-herb mixture. Enjoy!

-Emily

raspberry buttermilk cake

Posted on July 23, 2012

Oh, I love this cake. Discovered on Smitten Kitchen a while back, I’ve already made it several times this berry season. Deb calls it an everyday cake, and she’s right, it is the perfect cake for breakfast, for a BBQ, for a light dessert. And, it’s easy to throw together. I’d advise you to double the recipe and bake two if you plan to bring it somewhere—it’s so good you’ll want leftovers just for yourself when you get home.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake, from Smitten Kitchen, originally adapted from Gourmet 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries (or any other berry you please)

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Butter and flour an 8″ round pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixture, beat butter and 2/3 cup (146 grams) sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk and mixing until just combined. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Place the raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

 

Bake until cake is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Enjoy!

And a fabulous tip from Deb of Smitten Kitchen—if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes until it clabbers. Instant buttermilk!

-Emily

seared salmon over creamed corn

Posted on July 20, 2012

Creamed corn is a good idea, especially when summer corn is at its best and you follow a Thomas Keller recipe. That guy, he knows what’s up.  As a relevant aside, we have all three of Thomas Keller’s cookbooks, but Ad Hoc at Home is the only one we really cook from. The recipes from Bouchon and The French Laundry Cookbook are daunting, to say the least.  Ad Hoc at Home is much more accessible and every recipe we’ve made has been wonderful—homestyle cooking with serious finesse. It is becoming one of our favorite cookbooks.

Seared Salmon with Creamed Corn, adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
2 ears of corn
1 T butter
1/4 cup cream
1 lime, zested and juiced
salt
pinch of cayenne
1 small salmon fillet
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the corn off the cob and scape the cob with the back of the knife to get all the juice. Zest the lime. In a medium saute pan, melt the butter. Add the corn and juice of one half of the lime. Cook the corn over low heat until the liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt.  Add the cream, cayenne and lime zest. Cook another 5 – 8 minutes, until the cream thickens. Season again with salt and turn of the heat.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a nonstick pan, heat some olive oil over low heat. Add the salmon, skin side down. Cook for four minutes. Flip and cook an additional two minutes. We like our salmon pretty rare so just seared for a few minutes on each side is perfect. Spoon a bed of creamed corn on the plate and top with the seared salmon fillet. A nice side salad never hurts—this one was orzo with arrugula and cherry tomatoes.

-Emily

grits with grilled shrimp and zucchini

Posted on July 16, 2012

You may remember a few months back when I extolled the virtues of grits. Well, we decided to give a lighter, more summery version a try last week. Verdict: still really, really good.  Certainly makes the mounds of zucchini you undoubtably have crowding your fridge go down easier.

Grits with Grilled Shrimp and Zucchini
For the grits
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 t salt
1 cup grits
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
2 T butter

For the zucchini
3 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
salt, pepper, chili flakes

For the shrimp
1/2 lb shrimp, shell on preferred
1 lemon, juiced
2 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
salt, pepper, chili flakes

In a large bowl, marinate the sliced zucchini in olive oil, garlic and seasonings. In a small bowl, marinate the shrimp in  lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and seasonings. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the milk, water, and salt to a boil. Once boiling, whisk the grits slowly into the milk mixture. Turn the heat to low and cover. Cook the grits 20 – 25 minutes, whisking every five minutes or so to avoid clumps. Once they are thick and just before serving, whisk in the butter and grated parmesan. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

While the grits are cooking, heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the zucchini, 4 – 5 minutes per side, until browned. After you’ve cooked all the zucchini and the grits are nearly done, cook the shrimp. They only need about 2 minutes per side.

Serve a mound of grits topped with shrimp and grilled zucchini, hot sauce on the side for the boy.

-Emily

fettucini with tomatoes, onions and thyme

Posted on July 12, 2012

I made this pasta for Jordan and I about two weeks ago. It was so good I decide to make it again for my birthday dinner with friends last weekend. Because it is so simple, the quality of the ingredients can really shine. If you’ve got fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, this is the dish for them. We sadly don’t have a garden, so heirloom tomatoes from Bi-Rite had to substitute—tough life.

Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Onions and Thyme
10 oz fresh fettuccine (dried will work just fine too, but save some of the pasta water to add into the sauce)
1 basket cherry tomatoes, whole or sliced in half
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 t fresh thyme
1/4 cup parmesan
2 T butter
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 t basil, sliced thinly
1 ball of burrata

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Dice the onion and garlic. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and saute for two more minutes. Add the tomatoes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook about two minutes. Drain and put back into the pot. Add the butter and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the pasta and top with the tomato mixture. Top with half of the burrata and fresh basil if you’ve got it around. Enjoy!

-Emily

rhubarb sundae with blueberries and shortbread crumble

Posted on July 8, 2012

I had a bunch of fresh blueberries from my mom’s garden, a Sunset magazine in my mailbox, a dinner party to go to and this sundae was born.

This sundae is wonderful—better than I expected. There just is something really magical about cold ice cream with a warm sauce. It’s like a deconstructed blueberry-rhubarb pie, and because each of the components are made separately, you can easily adapt the recipe to the ingredients and amount of time you have on hand. You could swap the blueberries for another berry or even stone fruit—whatever is in season or on hand. I made the shortbread from scratch, but you could certainly make due with a store-bought shortbread or vanilla cookies. And while the rhubarb in the ice cream is really wonderful and I really recommend you give it a go, you could skip that all together if you’re especially short on time and just serve it with vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb Sundae with Blueberries and Shortbread Crumble, adapted from Sunset Magazine

For the ice cream
4 cups vanilla bean ice cream
4 stalks rhubarb, sliced thinly
6 T brown sugar

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the rhubarb and brown sugar. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a jam like consistency. Remove from the heat and puree. Put in the refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes.

Once the rhubarb is chilled, stir into the vanilla ice cream and return to the freezer.

For the shortbread
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 T sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 T flour
1/8 t kosher salt
1/8 t cinnamon
1 T sugar

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix 1 T sugar and 1/8 t cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. Beat butter, 5 T sugar, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour and mix on low until large clumps form.

Bring the dough together with your hands. Roll it out until about 1/4″ thick on a floured surface. Mine rolled out quite messy, but it doesn’t really matter since you break it into large pieces before serving anyway. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Bake 15 – 20 minutes, until golden. Cool and then break into large shards.

For the blueberries
2 cups blueberries
1/2 lemon, juiced

Just before serving, heat blueberries and lemon in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, scoop rhubarb ice cream into bowls. Just as the blueberries begin to juice, pour them over the ice cream. Add shortbread shards and enjoy!

-Emily

orzo with spring peas and burrata

Posted on July 4, 2012

Jordan surprised me with this delicious meal a while back. It is light but still flavorful—a perfect summer dish.

Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell of the cheese is mozzarella and the inside is a mixture of  mozzarella and cream. It is amazing—sweet, milky and soft—perfect for topping pastas or salads. If you can’t find burrata, use fresh mozzarella instead. A poached egg would also be lovely with this pasta.

Orzo with Spring Peas and Burrata 
1/2 lb orzo pasta
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
2 T mint, sliced thinly
1 lemon, juiced
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 cup spring peas
2 T butter

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, shell the peas. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. Rinse with cold water to cool the pasta. Once cool, toss with olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan, salt, pepper and mint.

In a saute pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Cook the peas until cooked through, but still quite fresh tasting, about 5 minutes. Pour over the pasta mixture and toss to combine. Top with half of a ball of burrata and serve.

This pasta dish can be a main course or a side dish. We had ours with a fennel sausage and sautéed Russian red kale.

-Emily