Posts tagged ‘Sweets’

May 30, 2012

Strawberries Are Here!

I still have vivid memories of when I was a little girl, sitting around the kitchen table at my grandparents’ house in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. They had this white round table (very modern), with a single round navy blue placemat that lived in the center. There was always a set of salt and pepper shakers and a few paper napkins strewn on top of that placemat. I can still picture the salt and pepper shakers, from Dansk, walnut and brushed stainless. My grandmother loved kitchenwares from Dansk. Pretty cool if you ask me. We would all squeeze in together around the table to enjoy whatever treat my grandmother had prepared. We ate for sport. We ate because my grandmother told us to, and we ate because frankly, it’s what we all loved to do most.

Some of our best eating was done sitting around that kitchen table enjoying an afternoon Scrabble game. The ladies in my family are vicious Scrabble players. I used to think they made up half the words, cheaters! My mother is the best Scrabble player alive. She’ll tear you to shreds. She wins every game. She whips my husband into a frenzy, crushing him at Words with Friends. I often hear him scream out “I hate your mother! She just got 52 points for the word cat!

My grandmother could never sit down for an entire game. She was up and down the whole time, putzing at the stove or mixing up some concoction. The only time my grandmother could be still for more than 5 minutes was when Another World was on. I think it’s the only time she ever shh’d me as a child. She’d sit in her den, leaning forward towards the TV, engrossed like it was the President giving a speech. She’d munch on roasted cashews and sip her afternoon coffee, content to sit for that hour of the afternoon, undisturbed.

The simplicity of life at my grandparents’ makes me smile. For so many of us, the appreciation of a single moment during the day can get lost along the way. When was the last time any of us actually sat down for an hour? With the first patch of strawberries ready a little early at Manoff Farms, I couldn’t help but pull together this quick dessert. You see, store-bought pound cake is one of the best cheats. I learned this from my grandmother, too. Fresh fruit, pound cake and a little homemade whipped cream (it must be homemade)… what could be easier or more scrumptious?

INGREDIENTS (Serves about 4-6)

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • Sliced fresh pound cake
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 4 tsp sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp water

To make the whipped cream, place the heavy cream, 2 tsp of sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip to soft peaks. I don’t like to make my whipped cream very sweet. If you prefer it sweeter, just increase the amount of sugar.

Slice the berries in half or quarters depending on their size, and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tsp of sugar over of the berries and drizzle a couple of tablespoons of water over top. Toss the berries together, cover and place in the refrigerator. The combination of the sugar and water will macerate the berries and make a delicious sweet juice in the bottom of the bowl. You should taste the berries to see how sweet they are. You can add a little more sugar if needed.

To serve, place a slice of pound cake on a plate, top with the berries and a generous dollop of whipped cream. Nothing fancy, just simply delicious.

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November 13, 2011

Whose cake is it? Apple Cranberry Heirloom Cake

Apple Cranberry Heirloom Cake

I’m calling this Apple Cranberry Heirloom Cake because I fondly remember my grandmother making this, but have recently learned that the origins of the cake are a bit fuzzy. On a trip to New York last month we enjoyed an afternoon visit with my Aunt (my grandmother’s sister). She baked this cake using small Italian plums and indicated that it was her plum cake recipe. As soon as I saw the cake I realized this was the same cake that my grandmother used to make when I was growing up. She also referred to it as her plum cake recipe. In fact, I have the recipe on a pretty card from my grandmother, pictured below. I have since learned that the recipe belongs to the New York Times, originally published in the early 1980’s. Whose cake is it? Served with ice cream or whipped cream for dessert, or even for breakfast with a cup of coffee, this one’s a keeper.

I have made this with apples and cranberries here or you can use plums as called for in the original recipe. Italian plums have a short season so they aren’t always available, hence my version here.

Grandma's Recipe Card

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup sugar plus a little for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Apples (3 peeled, cored & sliced) or Italian Plums (about 12 sliced in half lengthwise and pitted)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (if using)
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8″ springform pan. If you are using plums, cut each in half lengthwise and remove the pit. If using apples – peel, core and slice. Place the fruit in a bowl and sprinkle with a little sugar and cinnamon and a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Toss together and set aside.

In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, beat well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Grandma’s recipe card says to sift them together – I didn’t and it was perfect. Feel free to sift if you prefer. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer with the wet ingredients. Don’t overmix. The batter will be dense.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the cranberries over the batter and lay the apple slices in a pretty pattern over the top. If using plums, place the halves skin side up, close together. They look pretty if you make a circular pattern all over the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake lightly with a little extra cinnamon and sugar and bake for one hour, checking at 50 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.

How Fun! The Original NY Times Recipe

* I did a little research online for the original recipe. Looks like many people have made versions of this referring to the New York Times as well. I can’t take away my Grandmother’s ownership of this one… for me, it will always be a Grandma Ruth original.  But here’s the original from the New York Times compliments of my other favorite Aunt. Can’t believe she found this after all these years. Obviously the cake’s origin was no mystery to her.

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