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This year for Christmas I got a cookbook from my brother-in-law.  Smart man.  It’s one from the Barefoot Contessa.  I have always loved watching her on the food network and jotting down her recipes, but you can’t find those recipes online.  You gotta get the book.  So, I haven’t made too much from her, but now I’ve got the book….so you might be seeing a few in the near future.

The first one is a gooder.  I have made it several times already and everyone who has had it really liked it.  It sure doesn’t last long on the table.  Dutch etiquette is the reason I have made this so many times.  Here’s the rule: if someone is dropping by or coming over, tea and/or coffee and something to nibble on are a must.  It is considered rude not to have something to share.  Since I don’t love the preservatives in the cakes sold at the grocery store, I try to always bake something of my own.

You wouldn’t believe the aisle of cakes at the supermarket here.  It is shelf over shelf of twinkie-like confections.  Super moist pound cakes, frosted individual cakes, pastry filled with almond paste, waffles and finger cookies.  It is an aisle devoted solely to the rule stated above.  Funny how our etiquettes infiltrate the grocery store.  I heard the reason that not too much baking goes on here is because it used to be considered bad taste to serve your own baking.  Something bought was the way to show your guests that you care.  I don’t know if that is still the reason or if it is just habit now.  Anyways,  I actually feel the exact opposite.  Something fresh from the oven is like a warm hug for guests – saying, “Thanks for coming over!

Anyways, if you are having friends over for a chat or you are out visiting someone in their home, it is a pretty nice “rule” to follow.  Trust me – people will definitely appreciate this super moist cake if it is lightly sitting on a plate next to their tea.

Blood Orange Yogurt Cake – adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Ina Garten published this recipe using lemons instead of blood oranges.  I had a net-full of blood oranges and switched it up using them instead.  I must say that I preferred the tartness of the lemons to the sweetness of the blood oranges, but I am sure you could make this with any citrus you have on hand and it would be delicious.  She also pours on a glaze, but I omitted it since I think the cake can stand alone without any added sweetness.

1.5 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup sugar (for the syrup)

3 large eggs

2 tsp grated blood orange zest (2 blood oranges)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from the oranges you zested)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit (180 celcius).  Prepare a loaf pan by greasing and flouring it.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, orange zest and vanilla.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet.  Then add the oil and fold in with a rubber spatula.  At first it will look like there is no way to combine the two, but keep folding and the batter will combine and be a beautiful shiny pale yellow colour.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

While the cake is in the oven, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the 1/3 cup freshly squeezed juice in a sauce pan.  Warm it on the stove until the sugar is all dissolved.  Let cool.  This is your syrup.

When the cake is out of the oven, let it rest for a good 10 minutes.  While it is still warm, run a knife along the edges and tip it out gently onto a plate.  I poked the top with a skewer but Ina says you don’t need to.  Drizzle the syrup over the top of the cake.  Do it slowly so that it will leak into the cake and not just flow over it.  Let it sit in the juices to soak up all the goodness.  Serve by itself or with whipped or iced cream.

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Yes, I proclaimed this when I took my first bite of this dish. Mama’s back!  Lately I have been deep in sleep-deprived mode and I have been happy just to get dinner on the table.  Literally get anything to eat on the table.  Little Pea (aka LP) has been our focus for the past 12 weeks.  12 weeks!  How they have flown by.  LP has gone from 9lbs to roughly 14lbs and has developed a little personality.  We have settled into a routine of eating, activity, sleeping and some time for myself.  This time has been spent out in the stroller or sling getting errands done and visiting with friends.    It is ten after nine right now and I just got LP to sleep.  She likes to do this crazy crying sometimes right before bed.  That is awesome.  That was pure sarcasm….  But I guess that is where the expression “cried herself to sleep” comes from.  Besides that little tidbit, she wakes up laughing and puts her charm on for the remainder of the day.  She’s so cute I could just squish her!

So, I’m back, but don’t get too attached….I will be back and forth but hopefully I’ll be posting something new pretty regularly.  Maybe a Banana Cream Pie 😉  At one point, I thought this site was a feature of my past, but when you are in the baby fog, you cannot see the end so clearly.  At last, I am here.

I think I raised my fork in the air and yelled to Mr. F “I’m back!” and he laughed his jolly laugh and agreed.  He liked this recipe I came up with too.  I had some leftover arugula from a variation of this recipe  in the fridge and racked my brain on what to do with it.  Arugula is not something that we usually have in the fridge.  It has become more normal since being over here, but that doesn’t mean I really know what to do with it.  What do you do with it?!  It has a such a distinct peppery flavour.  So, I went out on a limb and thought that like spinach, it might wilt down quite nicely in a pasta.  Add a little cream and then some lemon juice for brightness and we had something going!  This is what I like to call a “warm” dish.  It’s not hot, but it’s not cold, it’s just right.  Just right for the spring.

What is your favourite dish in the spring?

Warm Arugula and Spaghetti – by me

3 big handfuls of fresh arugula

250g spaghetti

1 boiled chicken breast, shredded

1/4 cup cream

1.5 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground garlic (or to your taste)

s+p

Some grated pecorino or parmesan

Ok, here’s how I did it.  I put the cleaned arugula in a big serving bowl.  I brought water to the boil and cooked the pasta, drain it and poured the pasta over the greens. In the meantime, I also boiled a chicken breast in a little water and then shredded it with 2 forks. Toss the shredded chicken over the pasta.

In the pot that I cooked the pasta in, I mixed the cream, garlic powder, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  The cream will thicken a little due to the effect between the cream and lemon juice (ie – buttermilk trick).  The warm pot will warm the sauce.  Pour the sauce over the the chicken, pasta and arugula.  Toss it all together. The arugula will wilt a little from the heat of the pasta and the chicken.  Top with the grated cheese and serve family style!

Foodlova

I'm an ex-Olympian and I have a serious passion for food. I guess you could call me a food lova! What about you?

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