Goat Cheese & Strawberry Tartine {FFwD}

I wasn’t planning on participating in this week’s French Fridays with Dorie post. In fact, I hadn’t even looked at the recipe. But I wanted to see what everyone else had made, so around 5:00 this evening, I logged into the FFwD website to look at everyone’s posts. I kept seeing words like “easy”, “quick”, “only four ingredients”, and, most importantly “delicious”. I decided I’d better check out the recipe for myself.

Like some of the other Doristas, when I saw “tartine” in the title, I mistakenly assumed it was some kind of cake or layered dessert, which is why I had decided to sit this one out. So I was surprised to look at the recipe and note that it was really an open-faced sandwich of sorts. And a super simple one at that.

Baguette, goat cheese, strawberries, black pepper, and an optional drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Based on the short list of ingredients, the obvious ease with which it could be thrown together, and the rave reviews it was receiving from everyone, I decided to go ahead and make this recipe. I had to run to the store for the baguette (I ended up getting a loaf of French bread, as that was the closest thing they had), so I figured I probably wouldn’t get around to making it in time to post for this week’s FFwD roundup. And it was too late to think about writing a blog post anyway; but I wanted to try the tartine.

It was a lovely evening here, so we ended up lighting a campfire and sitting outside for a few hours after dinner. When we came in around 10:00, I noticed that the goat cheese was sitting out on the counter. I went to put it away, and saw the Mission Fig Balsamic Vinegar from Olive My Heart that I had reduced into a thick, gooey syrup following my balsamic reduction recipe. Before I knew it, I was firing up the broiler to toast the French bread and looking for a nice plate on which to assemble everything.

Less than five minutes later, I had these:

Stawberries and Goat Cheese

These were definitely worth making, even at 10:00 at night. I think Mom put it best when she said, “These taste better than they look, and they look amazing!”

So, with just over an hour to spare in my time zone, here’s this week’s post. I think I’ll look at next week’s recipe tomorrow and maybe make it this weekend.

Pimm’s No. 1 Punch Cup {Recipe}

Around this time last summer, I discovered Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based liquor made in England from dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices, herbs, and spices. The formula is a well-kept secret. It is reported that only six people in the world know how it’s made. The taste is hard to describe. It’s light, fruity, a little spicy, with a hint of cucumber (yes, cucumber). You definitely don’t have to be a gin drinker to enjoy Pimm’s.

The classic Pimm’s drink, the Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, is commonly associated with Wimbledon. As with most classic (i.e., old) cocktail recipes, there are dozens of ways to make a Pimm’s cup. The “official” recipe, from the Pimm’s website, is 1 part Pimm’s No. 1 and 3 parts chilled lemonade, stirred together over ice, and garnished with one or more of mint, cucumber, orange, and strawberry. However, because British lemonade is carbonated and lemonade in the States tends to be still, many recipes call for a 1:2:1 ratio of Pimm’s, lemonade, and lemon-lime soda or seltzer.

I used the classic Pimm’s No. 1 Cup recipe as the basis for a party punch I made to take to a dinner party recently.  Here’s how I made it:

Pimm’s No. 1 Punch Cup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6-8 basil leaves
  • 5 strawberries
  • 3 limes
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 4 cups still lemonade
  • 1 bottle Pimm’s No. 1
  • 6 cups carbonated lemonade -or- 3 cups still lemonade and 3 cups lemon-lime soda

Directions

  • Muddle sugar and 4 basil leaves and place in large pitcher or container.

  • Chiffonade remaining basil leaves and add to pitcher with muddled basil.
  • Hull, wash, and slice strawberries. Add to pitcher.
  • Zest and juice 1 lime; slice remaining 2 limes. Add zest, juice, and slices to pitcher.
  • Slice cucumbers and add to pitcher.
  • Pour 4 cups still lemonade into pitcher and mix well, smashing fruit a bit to release juices. Add Pimm’s and stir to mix well.

  • Cover container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Add carbonated lemonade (or remaining still lemonade and lemon-lime soda) and stir gently to mix.
  • Serve over ice, garnished with one or more of strawberries, lime wedges, cucumber slices, or sprigs of mint or basil.

Variation: Substitute mint sprigs for basil.

This is the last in a series of six posts featuring (or at least including) strawberries. The strawberries were great this year, and I was having so much fun making recipes with them that I decided to host Strawberry Week on my blog. Check out the other posts from this week, including Real Strawberry Shortcakes.

Lemon Ginger Pound Cake {ModBak}

It’s day five of Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages & King Cakes. And today’s theme is a simple one — strawberries make everything better.

Case in point:

This is Lemon Ginger Pound Cake from the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. In the recipe notes, Nick Malgieri states that this cake needs no accompaniment. And he’s right. It’s a great cake on its own. But with height-of-the-season strawberries and freshly whipped cream, it’s sublime.

This is the second recipe in the Cakes section of The Modern Baker. After starting this section with the delicious but fussy Perfect Pound Cake, I was looking forward to trying this simple, quick recipe. Other than grating lemon zest and ginger (I used pregrated ginger), this cake takes almost no time to throw together.

This cake is baked in a bundt pan, which is buttered, dusted with fine bread crumbs, and then sprayed with cooking spray. The bread crumbs seem like a strange addition, but they bake into the cake without a trace.

To mix the batter, I began by combining flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of my stand mixer. I added butter and beat it with the paddle attachment until it formed a heavy paste. Then I added the remaining ingredients: eggs, egg yolks, milk, lemon zest and juice, and ginger, and beat the batter until it was light and fluffy.

I scraped the batter into the prepared pan and smoothed the top.

I baked the pound cake at 325°F for about 50 minutes, until it was firm, golden, and baked throughout. After cooling the cake in the pan for five minutes, I turned it out onto a rack to finish cooling.

I dusted the top of the cake with powdered sugar and served it for dessert. The lemon and ginger combined to give this pound cake a wonderful flavor.

We ate it plain the first night and really enjoyed it. But when we topped it with strawberries and whipped cream the next evening, we realized we had really hit on something.

Check out the other Strawberry Week entries, starting with Monday’s Real Strawberry Shortcakes.

Man, I can’t wait until strawberry season next year.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt {Recipe}

Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. Like a simple, delicious strawberry frozen yogurt.

Or a simple post with a simple recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt.

This recipe was inspired by David Lebovitz and adapted by me.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 pint peak of the season strawberries, stems removed and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (whole fat, if you can find it; can also use Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the strawberries into 1/2-inch slices and place in a bowl with sugar and Kirsch. Stir to mix well, then set aside to macerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Put strawberries and their liquid, yogurt, sour cream, and lemon juice in bowl of food processor. Process until mixture is smooth. Press mixture through fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour, then process in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Enjoy immediately, or freeze to desired consistency.

Makes about 1 quart.

My family loved this frozen yogurt. In fact, my wife pronounced it “too good”, meaning it won’t last long around here. It was sweet, slightly tart (my 8-year-old picked up on the lemon juice), and tasted like fresh strawberries.

Everyone was surprised when I told them it had sour cream in it. I added it because the only yogurt I had was low-fat, but I ended up liking the smoothness and tang it lent to the frozen yogurt. From now on, it will be a regular addition to my homemade frozen yogurt.

This post is part of Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages and King Cakes. Check out my other posts to find out what else I did with fresh strawberries while they were in season this year.

{Bake!} Strawberry Chantilly Cake with {Mod Bak} Yellow Cake Layers

It’s Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages & King Cakes. Six days of posts featuring this delicious fruit in all of its height-of-the-season goodness. Monday began with an amazing Strawberry Shortcake, followed on Tuesday by a not-so-amazing French Strawberry Cake (hey, they can’t all be winners).

After my French Strawberry Cake disaster, I was ready to make a tried and true strawberry cake. Mom and Dad were coming, and it was Mom’s birthday, so I decided to revisit the Strawberry Chantilly Cake recipe from Nick Malgieri’s Bake! that we made last year for Easter and my friend Kayte’s birthday.

Since we recently started the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I decided to use the Yellow Cake Layers from The Modern Baker for this recipe.

I began by creaming butter, sugar, and vanilla in the electric mixer until the mixture was light and fluffy.

I added the eggs one at a time and mixed well after each addition. Next I mixed in half the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt), then the buttermilk, and finally the rest of the flour mixture. I beat the batter for 3 minutes to lighten it.

I divided the batter between two 9-inch cake pans and smoothed the top.

I baked the cake layers in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until they were golden and baked through. I let the cakes cool completely before assembling the Chantilly cake.

As noted in my original strawberry Chantilly cake post, the recipe is really more a set of assembly instructions than a recipe. I began by putting one of the cake layers right side up on a cake cardboard. I tucked pieces of waxed paper under the edges of the cake to keep the cardboard clean. I spread a layer of freshly whipped cream on the top of the cake, followed by sliced strawberries.

I topped this — carefully — with another layer of whipped cream.

I turned the second cake layer upside down and put it on top of the first layer.

I spread whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake, then smoothed it with an offset spatula.

I learned from making this cake before that it tastes better the next day, so at this point, I wrapped the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I finished the cake with sliced strawberries.

We celebrated Mom’s birthday with this cake for dessert after dinner. It was better than I remembered, and everyone had seconds.

This is a great way to use fresh, height-of-the-season strawberries. In fact, I may just have to make this cake again before the good berries are gone for the year.

In addition to the Strawberry Shortcake and French Strawberry Cake linked above, the following recipes will be featured in the next few days:

French Strawberry Cake {TWD-BWJ}

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, here are four thousand words about the disaster that was my Tuesdays with Dorie French Strawberry Cake:

My cake went from lopsided…

…to flat…

…to ugly…

…to rubbery.

My problems began with overmixing my genoise batter. I accidentally dumped 2/3 of the flour mixture into the batter at once, and it was impossible to get it all mixed in without deflating the batter. I probably should have stopped right there, but I foolishly pressed on, resulting in the hockey puck you see above.

My daughter and I ate the strawberries and whipped cream, then threw out the cake.

I probably would have been upset by this disaster if I hadn’t already found the perfect strawberry cake recipe. Check back tomorrow for the post.

In addition to Tuesdays with Dorie, this post participates in Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages & King Cakes. Check out the other posts for the week (I promise, this is the only disaster).

Our hosts for this recipe are Allison and Sophia. Be sure to check out their posts.

Real Strawberry Shortcake {ModBak}

We’ve been getting some beautiful strawberries this year and using them as many ways as we can. We’ve eaten them whole, sliced, and macerated, and I’ve made a number of desserts featuring fresh strawberries. There are a number of recipes I would like to remember for future years, so, I’ve declared this week “Strawberry Week” on my blog and invited my blogging friends to join in.

Two recipes I made (and the base for a third) happen to be from the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge, including this one for a simple, classic strawberry shortcake. As with most strawberry shortcakes, this recipe consists of three components: shortcakes, macerated strawberries, and whipped cream.

For the strawberries, I hulled, washed, and sliced them, then mixed them with sugar (it didn’t take much, as these were height-of-the-season, super sweet strawberries). I set them aside to macerate while I made the shortcakes.

I began by mixing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of my food processor. I added cold butter and pulsed until it was finely mixed in.

I whisked egg and buttermilk together, added them to the food processor, and mixed until I had a soft, wet dough.

The recipe presents two options for the shortcake. It can be made as a single cake in an 8-inch round pan, or baked as individual shortcakes by mounding the dough on a baking sheet. I opted for individual shortcakes.

I baked the shortcakes for about 15 minutes, until they were firm and lightly browned.

While the shortcakes were baking, I whipped heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract with the stand mixer.

After the shortcakes had cooled enough to handle, I cut them in half, buttered them, and assembled the shortcakes.

Each shortcake consisted of a buttered shortcake half, topped with strawberries and whipped cream, and finished with the remaining shortcake half.

If strawberries are the perfect fruit, then these may be the perfect dessert. The shortcakes and whipped cream accent the strawberry flavor without overshadowing it. And did I mention that start to finish this recipe takes less than an hour to prepare?

This was a great recipe to highlight fresh strawberries, and a great way to kick off Strawberry Week. Here’s what’s in store for the rest of the week:

Cold Melon-berry Soup {FFwD}

Let’s put this right out front: I was the only one in the house looking forward to this week’s French Fridays with Dorie offering. As many recipes as I’ve tried, we’re just not cold soup people around here. Even though I’m usually with the rest of the family on this one, I actually thought this cold soup looked good. Maybe because it’s not so much a soup as fruit in pureéd fruit. It sounded light and refreshing — perfect for this time of year.

The star of this recipe is cantaloupe, and Dorie advises the chef to use a “dead-ripe” melon. This is a great time of year for melons, so I went to the store to get one. As someone who grew up in the Midwest and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I know how to pick a melon. I looked for one without a lot of green beneath the webbing that was heavy for its size with a little give on the flesh and the stem end and that smelled deeply of fresh, ripe cantaloupe. I chose a melon that had all these qualities and was confident it would be ripe, juicy, and flavorful.

So imagine my surprise when I got home and cut into my cantaloupe only to see this:

No, that’s not a trick of light. The flesh of that melon is so pale it’s almost white. I tried a bite of it, and it had almost no flavor whatsoever. So, back to the store I went, anemic melon in hand. The lady at the service counter was very polite and apologetic, and we headed over to the produce department to see if we could get some help.

The young man stocking sweet corn looked like he couldn’t have been working there (or anywhere) for more than a few weeks, but he listened to my plight, walked over to the melon bin, looked at the melons for a moment, then picked one up, hefted it in his hand, and said, “I’ll be right back.” He disappeared into the backroom for a minute or two, then emerged with the cantaloupe he had chosen, cut in half and wrapped. I took it from him and looked at the flesh. He had chosen a beautiful melon.  So much for my years of experience. I had been shown up by a tattooed teenager, but I didn’t care. I now had the perfect cantaloupe in my possession.

Back in the kitchen, I unwrapped the melon halves, dug out the seeds, then cut one half into melon balls, which I put in a covered container and stuck in the fridge. I sliced the other half of  the melon, cut the flesh off the rind, and chopped it into large chunks. I put the melon pieces in the food processor and whirred it into a juicy orange pureé. I scraped the pureéd melon into a quart container and seasoned it with fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and freshly grated ginger. Then I tucked the pureé in the fridge with the melon balls.

A few hours later, when I was ready to serve the soup, I divided the melon pureé among four rocks glasses. Then I added melon balls to the glasses and topped the soup with sliced strawberries. Even without the mint garnish, which I forgot, the soup looked great.

I found the soup very refreshing. The natural sweetness of the melon balls and sliced strawberries was both tempered and heightened by the slightly savory pureé. The salt brought out the melon flavor, and the acid from the lime juice cut the sweetness just enough to make the soup seem like an appetizer rather than a dessert.

The girls weren’t so enthusiastic. J and M liked the fruit but thought the salt in the pureé detracted from the natural sweetness of the melon and berries. A didn’t like it at all. She brought her glass out to the kitchen, saw the container of leftover melon balls and asked if she could have them instead.

So, while I enjoyed this dish and would certainly eat it as a light, cool appetizer, I doubt if I’ll make it again just for myself. And other than this recipe, I’m still not entirely sold on cold soup.

Strawberry Chantilly Cake {Bake!}

My friend Kayte had a birthday recently. And in a budding Twitterbake tradition, she chose her own birthday cake from Bake! by Nick Malgieri. Kayte always has a cake with strawberries for her birthday, so this was a natural choice.

This was really more of a set of assembly instructions than a recipe. The directions referred to two other recipes — one for the cake layers and the other for sweetened whipped cream — which were combined with fresh strawberries to make this cake.

Assembling the cake was a breeze. The first layer was spread with whipped cream, layered with strawberries, and finished with more whipped cream. Then the top layer was placed on the cake, and the whole thing was spread with whipped cream. I decorated the top of the cake with sliced strawberries.

I served this cake on Easter, along with blueberry crumble pie and carrot cake. All three were bit hits, and I personally liked the blueberry pie the best. But this cake disappeared first. In fact, my 10-year-old nephew had about four pieces!

The cake layers were moist and light, and the whipped cream was so good I just wanted to eat it by the spoonful. It’s important to use really good strawberries for this recipe, as they add a lot to the overall flavor. There was a small piece of cake that escaped the Easter carnage, and I found that it was even better the next day. In fact, the next time I make this cake, I will assemble it a day ahead of time so the flavors have time to meld.

By the way, if you’re wondering why there are no pictures in the post, with all the excitement around here on Easter, I didn’t get any. You’ll just have to trust me that this cake was as beautiful as it was delicious. Or better yet, don’t take my word for it. Get a copy of Bake! and try it for yourself.