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Archive for Father’s Day

FOOD FUN: Lumberjack Cake

This impressive Lumberjack Cake was created by Elizabeth Marek of Artisan Cake Company of Portland, Oregon, and author of Visual Guide to Cake Decorating.

Another of her works of art is the Lumberjack Cake, inspired by her husband, who chopped down their Christmas tree in a lumberjack jacket.

Jenny Keller of Jenny Cookies Bakeshop in Lake Stevens, Washington took up the cause and created an entire lumberjack party.

Every part of the cake is edible: The bark is made from chocolate, the axe is made from fondant.

To both artists: Thank you for this most enjoyable bit of food fun.

If you want to try your hand at honoring your favorite lumberjack, you can buy the tutorial ($15). Also scroll down that page to see the lumberjack wedding cake.

For more cake pleasure, take a look at our Cake Glossary: the different types of cake, beginning with a brief history of cake.

You may also enjoy the history of cake pans.

And let’s not forget the history of the oven, and give thanks to all the bakers who labored under challenging conditions to create cakes that were attractive and delicious.

 

Lumberjack Cake

We don’t know any lumberjacks, but we want this cake! Photo courtesy Jenny Keller | Jenny Cookies Bakeshop.

 
Now how did they keep the bottoms of the cakes from sticking and burning, in the many centuries before the invention of the cake pan and the temperature-controlled oven—and long before silicone oven gloves?

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Your Fantasy Ice Cream Pie

One of the easiest yet impressive desserts you can make make is an ice cream pie.

In its quickest form, you buy a cookie crumb pie crust, a quart of ice cream and a jar of dessert sauce. Press the softened ice cream into the crust, freeze, garnish and serve.

Have a few extra minutes? Make your own cookie crumb crust and sauce, and create two different layers of ice cream, with a nifty filling in-between.

It’s a make-ahead dessert that you can keep in the freezer, waiting for an impromptu occasion.

(Truth to tell, that pie wouldn’t last a day in our freezer unless someone put a lock on the door. It’s iffy survival here for any ice cream, cake or cookies.)

What’s your fantasy ice cream pie?

  • Crust: Chocolate wafers, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies, Oreos, shortbread.
  • Ice cream: Pick your flavor(s). You can also combine an ice cream and a sorbet (e.g., Creamsicle pie). Mango or raspberry sorbet are exquisite, combined with vanilla ice cream.
  • Liqueur: Blend in 3 tablespoons per quart of ice cream, 1 tablespoon per 1.5 cups of sauce.
  • Sauce: Butterscotch*, caramel*, chocolate, fruit purée, liqueur†.
  • Mix-ins: M&Ms, toffee bits, flavored chips, mix whole or halved berries, diced fresh fruit, etc.
  • Fillings: If you don’t mix anything into the ice cream itself, you can use candies or fruits as a layer, either between two different flavors or in the middle of a single flavor.
  • Garnish: Chocolate shavings, fruit, candy pieces, etc.
  •  
    You can spend the summer working on recipes (one per weekend, perhaps?) and show off the “winners” over Labor Day Weekend.
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    *Butterscotch and caramel are similar, with a key difference: Butterscotch is made with brown sugar, caramel is made with white granulated sugar. To create a sauce, the sugar is melted over high heat and blended with butter and cream.

    †You can add liqueur to the sauce; or if there’s no sauce, sprinkle it over the top of the pie. We add it to the softened ice cream as well.
     
     
    RECIPE: SWEET & SALTY ICE CREAM PIE

    This pie uses store-bought ice cream, but you make the crust and topping from scratch. Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 1 Pie

  • 2 cups pretzels, finely ground
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream
  • 5 (1.4-ounce) chocolate covered toffee bars, crushed (substitute 7 ounces other toffee)
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped Snickers bar
  •  
    For The Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine pretzels, butter and sugar. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

     

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

    Blueberry Ice Cream Pie

    Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie

    Snickers Pie

    [1] Peanut butter ice cream on a brownie base. Here’s the recipe from Go Bold With Butter. [2] Homemade blueberry ice cream pie. You can also blend puréed blueberries into store-bought anilla ice cream (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers). [3] Grasshopper pie: the mint ice cream tastes even better with a few tablespoons of creme de menthe liqueur. Here’s the recipe from Taste Of Home. [4] Sweet and salty ice cream pie from Go Bold With Butter. The recipe is at left.

     
    2. REMOVE the ice cream from the freezer and let it soften for 5 minutes. Place the ice cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until smooth. Add the crushed toffee bars and peanuts, mixing to combine.

    3. POUR the mixture into the cooled crust. Cover and freeze until completely firm.

    4. MAKE the caramel sauce: Combine the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to boil and boil 5 to 7 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Let cool.

    5. SERVE the pie with the caramel sauce. Garnish with extra toffee pieces and peanuts.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mashed Potato Bar

    Mashed Potato Bar

    Mashed Potato Bar

    Mashed Potato Martini

    Mashed Potato Bar

    [1] Who can resist a mashed potato bar (photo courtesy Betty Crocker)? [2] Use whatever dishes you have for the toppings. They don’t have to match (photo courtesy Hormel Foods).[3] If your guests can cope with glass, use your Margarita and Martini glasses (photo courtesy Hormel Foods). [4] Keep the potatoes warm in a slow cooker (photo courtesy Tip Hero).

     

    Whether you like to grill for Father’s Day or prepare everything in the kitchen, a fun, interactive addition to the festivities is a mashed potato bar.

    Our dad loved our cold green bean salad. With a bowl of that, and a cucumber salad or a special slaw, the only other side you need is the mashed potato bar.

    It’s a treat for guests to customize their toppings. For you, everything can be prepared ahead of time, including the potatoes, which are kept warm in a slow cooker or other device.

    Don’t want potatoes? Substitute mashed cauliflower.

    PREPPING THE MASHED POTATOES

    Make the mashed potatoes with or without skin, using your choice of red, white or golden potatoes.

  • Use a tried-and-true recipe.
  • If you like to load up the groaning board, offer mashed sweet potatoes as well.
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker to keep the potatoes warm, use aluminum foil pans with steam warmers underneath. For a fancier event, use chafing dishes. If you don’t have any of these, see what you can borrow.
     
    MASHED POTATO BAR TOPPINGS

    DAIRY

  • Butter
  • Cheeses: blue, cheddar goat, parmesan; crumbled, grated or shredded
  • Sour cream, plain Greek yogurt
  •  
    PROTEINS*

  • Bacon
  • BBQ pulled pork
  • Chili
  • Sausage, sliced mini pepperoni or crumbled whole sausage
  • Anything else you like
  •  
    SEASONINGS

  • Prepared seasonings
  • Salt and flavored salts
  • Heat: dried chipotle, hot sauce, red chili flakes, peppermill
  •  
    VEGETABLES

  • Onions: caramelized, onion rings, sliced scallions
  • Mushrooms, sautéed
  • Steamed medley: broccoli, carrots, zucchini, etc.
  • Tomatoes: diced fresh tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped sundried tomatoes
  •  
    TOPPINGS

  • Cheese sauce (if you can keep it warm)
  • Corn chips
  • Fresh herbs: chives, dill, shredded basil, parsley
  • Gravy
  • Olives
  • Sliced jalapeños
  •  
    PARTY ON!
     
     
    MORE DIY FOOD BARS

  • DIY Bacon Bar
  • DIY Bloody Mary Bar
  • DIY Breakfast & Brunch Bar
  • DIY Dessert Bar
  • DIY Jambalaya Bar
  • DIY Stuffed Avocado Bar
  • DIY Taco & Wing Bar
  • DIY Wedge Salad Bar
  • 20 More Food Bars
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    *Assumes beef and chicken are main courses from the grill.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bruschetta From The Grill

    Firing up the grill this weekend? Make bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh).

    We love a DIY bruschetta bar. Just rub the bread with garlic, brush it with extra virgin olive oil, grill, and place the slices on a platter along with all the fixings.

    Even easier, brush the bread with garlic olive oil! You can buy it, or infuse your own in advance by dropping halved garlic cloves into a cup of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need). Any leftover oil can go right into a vinaigrette.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

    Plus, we have our own invention dessert bruschetta, below.

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    There are two factors:

  • The size of the bread slice.
  • The cooking technique: grilling versus toasting.
  •  
    Bruschetta slices are larger, three or four inches in diameter) and grilled. Crostini, cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette about two inches wide (the word is French for “string”).

    You can use bread of a different diameter; but if it isn’t grilled, it isn’t bruschetta.

    Here’s how to remember the difference:

  • The verb bruscare is Roman dialect meaning “to roast over coals.” But there’s something simpler.
  • Think of crostini as crust or crouton (which is its literal meaning). Toast has a crust. That’s how we taught ourself to recognize the difference.
  • While Italians serve bruschetta as a snack, the smaller crostini can be served plain with soup and salad, like the original melba toast.
  •  
    Note that some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, selling jars of “bruschetta.” To be accurate, it should be labeled bruschetta topping). Bruschetta is the grilled bread, not the topping.

    RECIPE: DIY BRUSCHETTA BAR

    The simplest bruschetta topping is salt and pepper (i.e., seasoned garlic bread), but that’s for a bread basket.

    Almost any cheese, fruit, meat, spread or vegetable can be a topping. Toppings can be cooked, marinated, pickled, raw or smoked.

    For a DIY bar, offer at least three different toppings. We like everything, so tend to go overboard: Our toppings look like a buffet. Regarding bread, we prefer a crusty sourdough or rustic loaf.

  • Be sure the loaf will give you slices of a workable size.
  • If you’re not familiar with the particular loaf, ask to ensure that it doesn’t have holes for the toppings to fall through.
  • We have the loaves sliced at the store, then we cut the slices in half.
  •  
    Along with the bread, make sure you have fresh garlic and check your olive oil for freshness.

    Ingredients

  • Baguette or other loaves of bread
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and peeled, halved garlic cloves
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • Avocado, mashed and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Caprese: quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic glaze
  • Charcuterie: pâté, prosciutto, salume, etc.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, ricotta salata, soft goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, julienned/shredded
  • Fruit: sliced figs
  • Garnishes: capers, chopped herbs, chopped mixed olives
  • Greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Heat: raw jalapeños slices, grilled chile peppers
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
  • Mushrooms, marinated
  • Onions: caramelized, chives, chopped green onions (scallions)
  • Peppadews, sliced
  • Pimento, chopped or sliced
  • Raw and cooked veggies of choice: asparagus, grilled vegetables, sliced radishes, etc.
  • Spreads: bean, hummus, pimento cheese, tapenade
  • Tomatoes: sliced plain or marinated in oil and vinegar
  •  
     
    More options: shredded mozzarella or other cheese such as thinly-sliced Brie, fish (we have a passion for anchovies and herring salad on bruschetta), other marinated vegetables, mostarda.

    We also like eggplant caponata, pesto and sautéed mushrooms, but tend to use them more in cooler weather.

     

    Bruschetta Bar

    Rustic Loaf

    Rustic Loaf

    Bruschetta Bar

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    [1] Who needs a burger? We’re heading for the bruschetta bar (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).[2] Buy bread that has a pretty solid crumb (photo courtesy The Stone Soup). [3] This loaf is beautiful, but not for holding toppings (photo courtesy Bake Street). [4] A bruschetta bar from Countryside Cravings. [5] Dessert bruschetta, here with goat cheese (the recipe from Emily Bites). We use mascarpone.

    Preparation

    1. SET out the toppings and teaspoons for serving. We use ramekins; you can use any bowls you have.

    2. SLICE the bread from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Rub each side with cut garlic clove and brush each side with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill to your desired toastiness.

    3. PLACE the bread on a platter next to the toppings and watch people create their appetizers.
     
     
    DESSERT BRUSCHETTA

    Most people won’t have seen dessert bruschetta. We don’t know if we invented it, but our sweet tooth gave us the idea years ago.

    Start with a loaf of bread with dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins. For toppings:

  • Artisan preserves
  • Flavored peanut butter (chocolate, cinnamon, maple, etc.)
  • Fruits: berries; sliced dates, figs, grapes and stone fruits
  • Honey
  • Mascarpone or sweetened sour cream
  • Nutella
  • Garnishes: chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, etc.
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    FOOD FUN (For The Affluent): Lobster-Topped Guacamole

    RA Sushi, a small restaurant group in the southern U.S., has imagination and class.

    With locations in Atlanta, Arizona (5 locations), Baltimore, Chicago, Florida (3), Leawood, Kansas, Las Vegas, Southern California (5) and Texas (6), sushi lovers can experience creations that the sushi bars we frequent can only aspire to.

    While neither sushi nor sashmi, we picked this tasty dish as the one we’d most like to have for Cinco de Mayo:

    A lettuce cup of guacamole, topped with a king’s ransom of lobster.

    We’d also like to have it for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and, oh…any day.

    You don’t even need to cook: Just assemble.

    We’re making ours with a garnish of salmon caviar (ikura in Japanese—photo #2). Tobiko or any whitefish caviar (they’re available in several flavors) will do just fine. We’re also making a chunky guacamole, a better texture contrast with the lobster.

    If you’re a really affluent foodie, sturgeon caviar is not discouraged.

    You may notice the plate garnish in the photo includes herbs, spices and a drizzle of flavored olive oil. Plate garnishes add not only color and texture, but extra bits of flavor.

    RECIPE: GUACAMOLE-LOBSTER LETTUCE CUP

  • A lettuce cup, created from pliant butter lettuce (Bibb, Boston)
  • Guacamole: your favorite recipe
  • Lobster meat
  • Lime wedges
  • Plate garnish: black or toasted sesame seeds, citrus zest, minced chives or other green herb (cilantro, parsley), red chili flakes, etc.
  • Optional garnish: caviar of choice*
  •  

    Lobster Guacamole Salad

    Salmon Caviar

    [1] What better topping for guacamole than this creation, from RA Sushi? [2] Salmon caviar, ikura in Japanese (photo courtesy Petrossian).

     
    DRESSINGS

    With flavorful guacamole, you don’t need much more than lime juice as a dressing. But for those who want more:

  • Basil-Jalapeño Dressing
  • Creamy Citrus Dressing
  • Mimosa Dressing (olive oil, champagne, orange juice)
  • Spicy Lemon Dressing
  •  
    A simple drizzle of basil olive oil with fresh lime juice is also delicious.
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    *Affordable caviar types include capelin (masago in Japanese), flying fish (tobiko in Japanese), lumpfish, salmon, trout or whitefish roe. The latter two are often available flavored, with everything from mango to truffle to wasabi. They are delicious!

      

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