Perfect Party Cake

perfect party cake
party cake
Nice cake!

Just this month, we checked out Bake It Like You Mean It by Gesine Bullock-Prado. We don’t think we’re quite up to tackling one of her astounding creations; soon, though (check out the Because You’re Mine Cake on the cover — it takes 26 eggs, and 3 pounds of butter — now that’s a cake, and it’s on our to do list). Her credo when it comes to baking, as summed up in the title, is one to which we should all aspire.

Think about it for a minute. You’re baking a cake (or perhaps just cooking up a dinner or another dish) for family and friends. Do you really just want to go through the motions, perhaps taking a shortcut here or there, knowing that the outcome will still be acceptable, but not quite as good as if you hadn’t skipped that particular step? Think now, because this is for people you care about. Ah, we thought not; you, too, deep down, see the importance of Baking It Like You Mean It, and, as we do, only needed a little reminder.

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Shitake and Walnut Squash Cups

Shitake and Walnut Squash shells, easy but elegant!
Elegant and easy!

During the summer we, like you, have the endless question of what to do with those pesky summer squash. It’s not they aren’t good. It’s just that they are so darn prolific, which is the reason for the old joke about how people in the country only lock their car doors during squash season. But, perhaps today’s post will help. It’s a different take on the standard bland squash dishes.

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What’s Boxty?

Most Irish foods are perfect for scratchin’. The recipes are generally simple, relying on quality ingredients, rather than complexity, for their delicious taste. Now, we don’t remember having boxty during our (all-too-short) trips to the Emerald Isle, but we have had it at some of those “Irish pubs” that dot the landscape here in the US. While it’s always nice to get a pint or two, those “pubs” are often nothing like an authentic Irish pub. Sure, there are a few that even go to the trouble of having the pub shipped from Ireland, thinking that will somehow replicate the experience. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t. Ah, but enough of that; let’s make some boxty.

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Summertime, and the Tomatoes are Ripening!

CSA produce
Tomatoes! Tomatoes! And more Tomatoes! There’s yet another box not visible in this picture!

Wow! Watermelon, corn, and tomatoes are the triumvirate of summer produce. And, the best part is that these are picked ripe and bursting with flavor! We could barely wait to get home to dig in to those tomatoes and gobble down the stored sunshine.

So, this week we received:

  • Watermelon (1)
  • Red Lasoda potatoes (5)
  • White Wonder cucumbers (4)
  • Tomatoes (2 shares)
  • Elote Blanco or white corn (3 ears)
  • Summer squash (3)
  • Glendale Gold onions (8)

And, since it’s tomato season and our farmer has thoughtfully planted 80,000 tomato plants, we were able to take advantage of buying ‘matoes in bulk. A flat of tomatoes (15 pounds) for the bargain basement price of $20. Thanks, Farmer Frank!

So, what will we do with these tomatoes (and everything else)? Well, some of the tomatoes are already in the freezer, and so far we’ve had huge salads consisting of tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and some local feta cheese that we also picked up at the CSA. As far as we’re concerned, that’s the best way to eat tomatoes. The White Wonder cucumbers are slightly bitter, so they went into a quart of Old Fashion Maine Pickles. They are marinading as we write this. Of course, the watermelon is so we can have watermelon juice dribble down our chins and spit the seeds across the yard. And, we know that one of the ears of corn is destined for a batch of cornbread. We’re starting to get so many onions (feast or famine on the alliums) that we think we might have to start mincing and freezing some.

July 7 update:

We debated quite a bit about how to use the Red Lasoda potatoes and the summer squash: would it be in a quiche or in a frittata? We know those two are very similar, but we finally settled on something else that is also similar, an egg strata, which was completely new to us. It turned out so well that we’ll be making another soon so we can get photos and post the recipe. One ear of corn did go into a batch of cornbread, while the other two went into a steamed vegetable medley (corn, broccoli, and carrots). Onions still fill our onion bowl and spill out onto the counter. And, it turns out that two people can indeed eat 15 pounds of tomatoes in salads over a week’s time!

Tourteau de Chèvre au Chocolat

chocolate cheesecake
chocolate cheesecake
Very smooth! Very chocolate!

Okay, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday. As we recall, we had the almond dough in one big ball, sitting in the refrigerator for an overnight chilling. That means we need to roll it out, place it in a pan of some sort, then think about making the filling.

From the name, you can see that we based this on the Torteau de Chèvre recipe that we posted last year. For those who’ve tried it, you found out that it’s a really, really good cheesecake. Light, with just the right amount of sweetness; we are actually hoping to maintain the best of that cake, but add our favorite flavor: chocolate.

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Flaky Almond Pastry Dough

As you’ve noticed, we get fresh goat cheese every other week. It’s really good cheese, but sometimes we can’t keep up with it, or we already have a number of things planned for the week — none of which uses fresh goat cheese. So, into the freezer it goes. Then one day, we realize that we have several logs of cheese just sitting there, and we’ll be getting more. What to do?

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Old Fashion Maine Mustard Pickles

Pickles! In five minutes of work!

Since we just got back from a vacation in Maine, we thought we’d try a dish associated with the Pine Tree State. This is a nice recipe for pickles, especially since it avoids all the downsides of making pickles; you know, the boiling vinegar, the canning jars, the steam from the canning kettle — thinking about all that makes you just want to buy pickles at the store, right? Wrong! As you’ll see.

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