Category Archives: Sweets

Celebrating with ribs and lemon

French-style yogurt cake with lemon

I was all ready to throw together an “instant” cake for son #1’s 14th birthday.  But then A Homemade Life is still sitting by my stove.  Molly loves to bake so I knew she’d offer a preferable alternative to a box mix.  Sure enough – French-style yogurt cake with lemon. I debated if I had enough time to make it or if several pieces of cut-up lemons in the fridge would provide sufficient juice. Son #1 overheard my out-loud thinking and jumped right in.  “Yeah, it will work,” holding up a quarter cup measure and eyeing the lemon segments.

Jon loves lemon anything.  Just like his mom. While zesting the lemons for the cake batter, I remembered that my son has me bested in this category. Suddenly I had a clear recollection of pushing Jon around in a stroller at an arts fair when he was 4 years old. After drinking the fresh lemonade, he sucked on the lemon rinds.  And then he wanted more rinds, not lemonade.

Molly’s cake did the trick. “This is really lemony,” he noted. No one missed the traditional frosting. I drizzled lemon syrup over the warm cake and then topped it with a lemon icing that’s more like a glaze.  Topped each slice with freshly whipped cream and added a few sliced strawberries. Divine. And even more dangerous than the evil banana bread.  I’m going cold turkey on white flour for the next week.

Oh, the ribs. The trusty pressure cooker came though again for BBQ country pork ribs with sweet and spicy sauce.  My husband declared, “This is it. This is the only way we should ever eat ribs again.” The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender after 25 minutes under pressure, then crisped by a quick run under the broiler. With coleslaw and a sliced baguette, dinner was done. A happy high calorie birthday dinner – just what a growing boy needs, right?

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Soup in a flash and evil banana bread

The pressure cooker earned its stripes tonight.

Three minutes of sauteing and five minutes under pressure rolled up to a rewarding soup.  It doesn’t sound too exciting, but the peasant cabbage and bean soup with kielbasa was delicious.  And healthy. Low fat turkey kielbasa, cabbage, cannellini beans teamed with diced tomatoes, thyme, onion, celery, garlic and chicken broth. It all came together in a flash.

The time-savings was especially appreciated tonight:  Son #1 headed out to a scout event and I was hosting a PTSA board meeting. This morning I decided to get a jump on the day and make a treat for the meeting while eating breakfast. I indulged in a  recipe I’ve been craving ever since listening to A Homemade LifeBanana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger.

Banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger

The good news is the banana bread is absolutely as wonderful as it sounds.  The bad news is I work from a home office and that loaf was calling my name all morning. By lunchtime two slices were missing. Not a good trend. I wrapped up the rest of the bread but still managed to eat another half a slice during the evening meeting. This is why I rarely bake. I eat what I bake.

(If you decide to succumb to this evil treat, note the recipe on Molly’s blog has slightly different ingredients from the book version. At a glance I think the book version is probably better – more banana and butter and ginger, no walnuts.)

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“D’eclairation” of love

Valentine’s Day brings up interesting memories of love and … chocolate!

Maybe it was my recent foray into Sheila Lukins’ cookbook that stirred up memories of France. Or it could have been the movie Julie & Julia. Whatever the cause, I had a clear recollection of me at age 13. The school language fair was coming up. As a French student, I had a part — dancing the can-can and making something French for a bake sale.  My best friend Laurie and I dreamed of cream puffs – les profiteroles. The delicate pastry, the custard filling, all drenched in chocolate.  I had a recipe, thanks to my latest issue of Seventeen magazine. We could hardly wait to get started.

Pastry puffs, drying

We labored for hours in the kitchen. First, the puffs. Beautiful tawny clouds.  I had never made such a thing. Then the custard (licking the spoon all along). and finally the chocolate sauce (we used every drop). My parents were away on a trip so my grandparents were staying with my brother and me. My grandfather kept an eye on all the activity in the kitchen.  He would stroll through occasionally. “Can I have one?” No . A quarter a piece.  “I’ll buy em.” No, they’re for the school fund-raiser.

We boxed them up, and headed off to the fair. Sometime after the can-can, I was manning the booth and the puffs started flying. One of our first customers? My grandfather.  There he was, grinning, buying a plateful to tote back home.

Custard helper extraordinaire

The Seventeen magazine article is long lost but this weekend I turned to Julia Child’s The Way to Cook to save the day.

This time my nearly 14 y.o. son showed up in the kitchen — to help.  I made the puffs, he handled the custard filling. For the chocolate sauce, we turned to Sheila Lukins and her All Around the World Cookbook for a simple blend of butter, chocolate and cream.

I think my grandfather would have liked these puffs. I wince now to think of it. Poor grandaddy. Made him trot up to the junior high because his granddaughter was too selfish to share. But years later I realize it was his sweet way of supporting me. He noticed, he showed up. It’s no wonder that man has always had a little bit of my heart, even now, 30 years since he passed away.

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