Easter (Bread) Coffee Cake 2014



I know, I know I haven’t blogged for months but it is Easter bread day and it feels like a tradition and I was able to go outside and take a photo with lovely lighting.  It was also very delicious,…but is not really bread. It is strawberry-rhubarb coffee cake (this recipe is basically the same one I used).

This breaks some of my rules; luckily they are my rules so I can break them. I don’t really buy strawberries or rhubarb off-season and I also don’t buy them from the supermarket. To me they are the bounty of early spring/summer to be anticipated, eaten to exhaustion while found each week fresh and delicious from the farmers market, then forgotten about until the following year. But I wanted this coffee cake today! It just tastes like spring to me and we all need a little spring around here. I found some fresh, although really really large, rhubarb and then used a combo of fresh and frozen strawberries, all from the store.

Even with the inferior fruit, it was still very delicious (btw coffee cake is all butter)… still not really bread. I ate a lot of it. Rob and Ron ate some but I really ate the lion’s share. I just can’t say no to strawberries and rhubarb! To be extra spring-tacular it was so nice outside we ate our Easter brunch on the porch. Happy.

apricots and cooking vacations

apricotgaletteI make a lot of fruit desserts. I make a lot of rustic galettes (so much easier than real pie).  The apricots were from MI and they were pretty tart which I like; Rob…not so much, so I ate all of this myself.

Based on reading other blogs and cookbooks I think the apricots you may get at say a CA farmer’s market might be very sweet and fabulous. It sounds like fun.

Sometimes you just want to move somewhere new for awhile just for different local food! I have no real interest in living on the west coast except for food. Pacific seafood and CA produce and local wineries… (wistful..sigh) Southern France, Thailand, Japan. l think I need a vacation. A cooking vacation. Are there cooking vacations?

I said there would be pudding…and there was


…IS! I mean there is! I didn’t eat it all. yet.  It is kind of super delicious and I can’t find a recipe the comes very close so here is my sad rendition of a recipe for you.

1. Heat 2/3 cup of Edel-Kirsch (the BH&G recipe called for regular Kirsch(wasser) but I couldn’t find it. Edel-Kirsch is cherry liqueur. So it is red and a little sweeter, less almondy) just to a simmer.

2. Remove from heat, add 1 1/2 cups of dried sour/tart cherries, cover and let steep for the hour. (While you wait try mixing edel-kirsh with every beverage in you refrigerator)

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (that is Fahrenheit)

4. Cut up your 11 cups of bread into 1.5 inch pieces. Mine was leftover homemade brioche that was starting to get a little stale (I didn’t really have 11; it was more like 8 cups) Melt 1/4 cup of butter and drizzle it over the bread cubes. You read that correctly 1/4 cup.

5. Put your buttery bread cubes in a 3 qt baking dish. They suggest layers; 1/2 then chocolate and cherries, then more bread….I didn’t really do that.

6. Sprinkle 8 oz of coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate. They suggest saving half to sprinkle on after. I didn’t do that either.

7. Drizzle the cherries and liqueur over it. Again they suggest saving half to add after it cooks. I didn’t do that.

8. Whisk together 6 eggs, 3 cups of whole milk, 2 cups of half and half, 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla.  Mine was more like 5 eggs and some random concoction of leftover heavy cream and whole milk that equaled about 4 cups.

9. Press down lightly to soak up the custard, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes.

10. Remove the foil and bake for 20-30 minutes more or just until the custard is set in the center.

11. They say to let it sit for 1 hour. I’m sure you can but you don’t have to. They also suggest you serve it warm. I like mine cold straight out of the fridge and still in the gladware container.

more Cognac and Cream

Dessert!  I made one substitution here. The recipe called for soft sponge cake style lady fingers. I don’t really like sponge cake and besides I already had some crunchy biscuit style ones. I just made extra of the coffee/tea/cognac mixture for them to soak up.

Tiramisu is really a pretty easy dessert to make. This recipe does require a number of steps including making sabayon but there are easier recipes out there….including some which use Twinkies, instant pudding and/or Kahlua.

The translation of the name Italian tiramisù (tirami sù) means “pick-me-up” (metaphorically, “make me happy”) – Wikipedia

It was good. I think it could have been better if my pineapple had been riper and tastier and also I didn’t get it as caramelized as I would like. I did grate some chocolate over it for an attractive garnish but it is really my type of recipe i.e. fruit and dairy! oh and caffeine! ya-ya!

caramelized fresh pineapple tiramisu

peaches talk to me

When I see peaches at the farmer’s market…they say “pie” to me. I almost hear it in my head. This time they said crostada, which is kind of just “easy” pie.

Part of this is that I prefer my peaches cooked, grilled, baked, broiled, whatever…not raw. Also peaches play well with spices I like, nutmeg and cloves… the types often used with fall foods like squash. I also prefer peach to apple pie. Apples are way more difficult to peel and core. Besides apples always say “apple crisp” to me.

Mostly I shouldn’t be listening to the fruit at the farmer’s market at all, because I need to stop making desserts and start running — or I’m going to have to pull my fat jeans out of the back of the closet.

xmas presents in action…final 2012

Yes… It has taken me this long to use the present. It is a huge heavy granite mortar and pestle that looks lovely in my kitchen but that I had not found a use for…but it did a very good job of pulverizing the rather coarse lemon verbena leaves into the olive oil that was used for my watermelon salad dressing.  I have a lemon verbena plant which I had been looking for and then of course found it at Gethsemane Garden center here in Chicago. Now I am having fun finding recipes that will highlight it. My favorite was actually grinding up (in my smaller mortar and pestle) lemon verbena leaves with some sugar and then mixing into some store bought french vanilla ice cream.

The salad recipe is from Food52. I would also like to state that this time I successfully toasted the pistachios.