Almond Puff Coffee Cake

May 14th, 2019

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As a continuation of some of my favorite posts, I am including this simple homemade coffee cake that has been in one of my recipe boxes for a long time.  The following blog entry was posted 10 years ago and reflected on our life in the Lake Lure Cottage long before we expanded it to a full-time home. We were in the process of renovating.

While cleaning out the back of an old closet for renovations, I found a small recipe box that I put together years ago. It was done shortly after we bought our 600 square foot Lake Lure cottage in 1984. We fell in love with this lake from the first time we saw it and when a realtor showed us a modest cottage with a huge screened in porch, we knew it would be ours. Our son Michael was seven years old at the time. He did not know how to swim, but an old speed boat came with the cottage and after watching all of the water skiers on the lake, Michael said he wanted to learn to ski. We had grown up on lakes in Michigan and had always skied. But a prerequisite to skiing is knowing how to swim. So he learned to swim and that was the beginning of wonderful summers of swimming, boating and water skiing with all of our friends and their children. Our small cottage was full most summer weekends. Because we had only two small bedrooms, each morning the living room floor and the screened in porch were full of sleeping bags containing exhausted kids. The trip to the coffee pot in the kitchen was a delicate dance, bobbing and weaving between the outstretched arms and far flung legs of deeply sleeping children. The trip to the top of the boathouse with freshly brewed coffee was much easier and the view was enough to quell any doubts about our decision to invest our modest savings in this most beautiful of places.

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Feeding the crowd was sometimes a challenge, but one that I enjoyed. That’s why finding my old recipe box was such a treat. There were recipes in it for things I haven’t made in years; Frogmore Stew, Quick Breakfast Rolls, Paella Salad, Quick Coconut-Pecan Upside-Down Cake and this recipe for Almond Puff Coffee Cake. I remember liking this recipe very much, but it was more suited to the adults than the children because of the distinct almond flavor. While they were munching cereal we would dig into this luscious coffee cake and plan another sunny day on the lake.

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Now another generation of children are enjoying the cottage and the lake. We have a lot more room now. But you know what? I miss the close quarters and stepping over sleeping kids. Shhh. Don’t tell my husband I said that or he will think all of our hard work was not necessary.

The coffee cake is really very simple. It is just a pastry crust base with a pate a choux topping that is baked and then drizzled with a confectioners sugar glaze.

ALMOND PUFF COFFEE CAKE

For the pastry base:
1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbls water (May need a little more)

Mix flour and salt and pulse in food processor to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse until butter is size of small peas. Add water and pulse until dough comes together. Form into ball and place on ungreased baking sheet. Pat into a 12″x 3″ strip.

For Pate a Choux:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp almond extract (I now use 1/4 tsp. almond extract and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 eggs, beaten

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and quickly stir in almond extract and flour. Return to low heat and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat again and add eggs. Stir until mixture is smooth. Spread over pastry strip. Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees until top is crisp and brown. Cool.

For Glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tbls soft butter
3/4 tsp almond extract (I use 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp almond extract)
3/4 tsp warm water (You may need a little more to make a spreadable glaze)
2 oz. sliced almonds, toasted

Mix ingredients except almonds until smooth and spread over top of cake when cool. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Serves 6.

Printable Recipe

Soufflé Aux Epinards (Spinach Soufflé)

May 3rd, 2019

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The following blog post appeared 10 years ago in August of 2009.  It was an ode to Julia Childs.  I just made this spinach soufflé again this past weekend.  This time there were no mistakes.  Hope you enjoy hearing again of my travails in the kitchen.

Julia Child was my Muse. I was married in 1966. After a brief honeymoon on the shores of Lake Michigan and time spent in Gatlinburg,Tennessee, we headed for Florida where my husband would be attending graduate school. Some of my constant companions in the car on the way south were my cookbooks. I was just learning to cook and it fascinated me. When Julia Child first appeared on television I was hooked. We eventually moved to Greensboro, North Carolina and I had the opportunity to take cooking classes from Irena Chalmers who had the most enticing french cooking school and shop. I bought my first copper pan and Le Creuset braising pot from her. She taught me many of the basics of French cooking and she is still teaching today at the CIA in New York City. She was also an important mentor to me, as I am sure she was to many.  But there was always Julia. I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1971.

I have been wanting to post one of Julia’s recipes all month because of her birthday on August 15th and the release of the movie Julie and Julia, but the box containing my copy of her book was in our storage building, buried behind furniture and rugs. I finally rescued it this weekend when we brought a load of furniture home for our remodeled lower level. It was good to see it again, looking worn and stained from years of constant use.

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Last night I decided to make her spinach soufflé. I did not start it until 6:00. I had already brought the eggs and frozen spinach to room temperature. I was confident; maybe a little cocky. I loved the movie Julie and Julia, by the way. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were magnetic as Julia and Paul and the scenes of 1950’s Paris were mesmerizing. I wanted the whole movie to be about them. Amy Adams as Julie did her best, but I found her character sometimes whiny and annoying. Why couldn’t she have the joie de vivre of Julia? Cooking is supposed to be fun after all. I made my white sauce, grated the cheeses, squeezed the spinach dry and separated my eggs. One of the eggs broke strangely and I got a little yolk in the egg whites in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid. “Oh well, it was just a little”, I told myself. I added the egg yolks to the spinach mixture and turned on the mixer to whip the egg whites. I whipped and whipped and they refused to froth. It became clear to me that they were never going to whip because of the bit of yolk in the mixture. Unfortunately,  I was out of eggs. By this time it was close to 7:00. The grocery store in Lake Lure is twenty minutes away, but the gas station at the bottom of the hill is close. I ran to the car and negotiated the curving road to town. The gas station store had just closed at 7:00. I banged on the door like a crazy woman and the owner opened up for me. Unfortunately he was out of eggs. I had no choice but to continue around the lake to the Ingle’s store. I got back home at about 7:45 with a carton of cold eggs. I cleaned out the bowl of the Kitchen Aid, added the egg whites one at a time after first breaking them into a small bowl ( a good tip by the way ) and started the mixer again. The eggs immediately did what they were supposed to do. I folded them into the spinach mixture and poured the whole into my souffle dish, actually my charlotte mold. I learned a trick from Ina Garten to help a soufflé puff. Run a spatula in a circle about an inch in from the edge all the way around and the center will puff. Finally I had the dish in the oven. I was exhausted and I didn’t know if the cold egg whites would hinder the soufflé from rising. I was also a little cranky. Where had I seen that before? It was a humbling experience.

The soufflé finally came out of the oven at about 8:45, fashionably late and not as tall as I would have liked, but looking and smelling delicious. As Julia would say, “Never apologize”. We dug in with gusto.

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This time I added some chopped ham to the Spinach Soufflé for our Saturday supper.  We ate at a reasonable 6:30.

SOUFFLÉ AUX EPINARDS (SPINACH SOUFFLÉ) adapted from Julia Child with touches of Ina Garten

3 Tbls unsalted butter plus more for greasing soufflé dish
3 Tbls flour
1 cup scalded milk
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling the dish
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
10 oz package of chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 6 cup soufflé dish and sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese. Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan and add the flour. Cook and whisk for about a minute. Add the hot milk off the heat and whisk until it is thick. Return to low heat if it does not thicken. Again off heat, add the two cheeses to the mixture. Separate the eggs in two bowls, discarding or saving one of the egg yolks. Beat the egg yolks. Slowly add the egg yolks to the cheese sauce while whisking. Add the seasoning and spinach and stir to combine.

Add the 1/8 tsp cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them until firm and glossy peaks form. Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, and then fold in the rest. Pour into the prepared soufflé dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Printable Recipe

Boston Cream Pancakes

April 26th, 2019

As part of a nostalgia trip, I have decided to share some of my oldie but goodies posts.  I have been at this blogging business for many years and have even surprised myself with some of the recipes I have posted.  I need to make these delicious Boston Cream Pancakes again!  Enjoy.


Do any of you remember Long Johns?  No, not the underwear version.  I am talking about the doughnuts. When I was young, my Father would always go to the local bakery on Sunday mornings and come home with a bag of doughnuts.  There would be cinnamon twists, elephant ears, round jelly filled doughnuts and, my favorite, long johns.

Long Johns are a cake-like doughnut with a pastry cream filling and chocolate ganache smeared on top.  I adored them.  Recently I got a request from a family member who was going to be here for the Labor Day Weekend.  He asked if I would please, please make a recipe for Boston Cream Pancakes that he had seen online on the Country Cleaver website.  The pancakes are based on the Boston cream pie which was created by Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856.

I made them for breakfast one morning during the Labor Day weekend but never got a picture because they were devoured so quickly.  All I could think of when I ate them were those wonderful long johns that I had eaten as a child.  The fluffy pancakes, the smooth pastry cream and the decadent chocolate ganache all conspired to bring the flood of memories back.  I tucked the leftover ganache and pastry cream in the freezer because I knew that they would be making a repeat performance in my kitchen.

We had them for breakfast again on this beautiful Saturday morning, a day after my birthday. They were a welcome indulgence.  Sometimes you just have to eat like you are a kid again and stop worrying about calories, fat and sugar and how old you really are.  The pancakes themselves are an easy combination of yellow cake mix and Bisquick.  They are light and fluffy.  The pastry cream can be made way in advance and the chocolate ganache is easy.  I would recommend these pancakes to you for any special occasion, whether it be for a birthday or just because  it is a sunny day.  Indulge!

BOSTON CREAM PANCAKES (Country Cleaver Website)

ingredients:

Pancakes: Makes about 12 pancakes
1 cup Yellow Cake Mix
1 cup Dry Pancake Mix such as Bisquick
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
2 whole Eggs

Pastry Cream:
1/3 cup Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 cup Milk
1 cup Half-n-Half
1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds scraped (or 2 1/2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract)
1 Tbsp Butter

Chocolate Ganache:
8 oz. Chocolate
1 cup Heavy Cream

directions:

Directions:

Pastry Cream: Make up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate until 1 hour prior to use.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, heavy cream and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Temper the eggs by whisking in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk slowly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Press through a fine mesh strainer to remove any curdled bits and remove husk of vanilla bean. Cover strained pastry cream with plastic wrap, and press the plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream to make sure it doesn’t form a skin. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve

Chocolate Ganache:

In small saucepan, heat heavy cream. Stir in chocolate and whisk until melted and the two are completely combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pancakes:

In large bowl, whisk together pancake mix and cake mix. Stir in milk, eggs and vanilla until the mixture is smooth. Heat a large griddle or large pan over medium high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into pan or griddle and allow to cook until golden brown on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Gingerly flip pancake over and continue to cook until the other side has turned golden brown – about 1 ½ minutes. Remove from griddle/pan and allow to cool.

To assemble – stack pancakes and layer with prepared pastry cream between each pancake. Pour chocolate ganache over the top and promptly devour.

 

Apple-Blueberry Crumble

April 6th, 2019

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Simple desserts are appreciated on busy Spring days when cleaning chores are the focus.  We rarely eat desserts anymore, but I wanted to try a new approach by combining apples and blueberries with an uncomplicated topping.  I justified it as an experiment and a blog post.  After all, not everyone is avoiding sweets.  I did it for all of you.

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The cottage on the lake survived our three months absence.  We put the porch back together with pillows and a clean sweep.  The dogwoods are blooming but the pollen has not yet coated everything with a yellow powder.  The lake is clear and at full pond.  It is good to be home.

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The flower and herb containers need a good cleaning but the pansies survived the winter.  There is still much to do, but working in the dirt is just part of the spring clean-up.

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I was pleased with the way this dish came together.  The fruit mixture is combined in one big bowl, placed in a casserole and baked for awhile on its own.  The crumble is a simple mixture of flour, sugar and butter.

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Serve with ice cream of whipped cream.  Happy Spring!

APPLE-BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE

3 cups blueberries
1 pound Granny Smith apples ( 2 medium ), peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbls orange juice (Juice of one orange)
3 tbls cornstarch

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly butter an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.

Combine the fruit with the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Mix the cornstarch with the orange juice and add to the bowl.  Mix everything together and dump into the baking dish.  Bake for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare topping.  Mix flour and sugars in medium bowl.  Add the butter.  Rub in with your fingertips until mixture forms coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over fruit. and bake until fruit is tender and bubbling and topping is crisp, approximately 35 more minutes.  Best served warm.

Printable Recipe

Slow-Cooker Country Captain Chicken

March 25th, 2019

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Time in Florida is winding down.  We leave for North Carolina at the end of the week.  I have been looking for recipes to use up food items in the freezer and the pantry.  This Country Captain Chicken recipe fit the bill.  I have blogged about this chicken curry casserole before here.  And here.  You can tell I am fond of the ingredients.  The difference with this recipe is the hands-off use of the slow-cooker.

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According to legend, curry powder and the recipe for Country Captain were brought to Charleston in the early 1800s by a British sea captain.  The dish includes chicken, curry, raisins, tomatoes and almonds.  It is perfect to serve to a crowd accompanied by rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

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Enjoy. Let’s welcome Spring.  Looking forward to seeing the blooms on the trees in the mountains.

SLOW-COOKER COUNTRY CAPTAIN CHICKEN (Taste of Home)

 

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins or raisins
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Chopped fresh parsley, optional

 

  • Place onion, pepper and garlic in a 6-qt. slow cooker. Arrange chicken pieces over vegetables.
  • Whisk the next 5 ingredients with the chicken broth. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Add raisins and tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and cook until chicken reaches 165°, 2-1/2 hours. Serve over rice; if desired, sprinkle with parsley.

Printable Recipe

 

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.