It’s kind of like the cowboy who swaps out his black hat worn in fall and winter for a lighter color or straw hat for warmer seasons. So it is with desserts. As we approach summer we tend to move away from heavier, chocolaty desserts to lighter, brighter treats, and lemon is right there on top of the list. Recipes for Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Chiffon Cake, Lemon Squares, Lemon Tarts, Lemon Mousse and Lemon Cookies seem to come out of hibernation this time of year and appear regularly at Easter buffets, picnics and pool parties. Then there’s the luscious Lemon Angel Dessert with alternating layers of homemade lemon custard, angel food cake pieces and whipped cream. Light yet rich, it’s the perfect make-ahead dessert that can sit in the refrigerator for several days and it just gets better as it sits. There are tons of old-timey recipes for Lemon Angel Dessert where the egg yolks are cooked and the raw egg whites are folded in, which is a concern to many people. So, I was delighted to find this recipe for Lemon Angel Dessert that replaces the eggs whites with whipping cream. (The egg yolks are cooked with sugar and lemon juice.) By itself, the flavor and texture of angel food cake is unmistakable, but when layered and soaked with lemon custard and whipping cream, Lemon Angel Dessert is just pure heaven!
Celebrations like Cinco de Mayo come and go, but certain specialties that make up a delicious fiesta could…and should be enjoyed all year long. A perfect example; chocolate pecan “cigars.” They are so simple to make and just the right little “something something” when you’re having a chocolate craving or you want to surprise you dinner guests with a unique twist on dessert! With southwestern grocery stores so plentiful in Arizona, it’s easy to pick up the most important ingredient, corn husks. The next things you’ll need are delicious, decadent white and dark chocolate and some pecans. You’ll caramelize the pecans, chop them up, stir them into the melted chocolates and then spoon the chocolate into the corn husks. Then you wrap them up like little edible gifts and tie a corn husk bow around them. I originally made these for special occasions, but now I keep a container of them in my frig to satisfy my sweet tooth. Some southwestern traditions are just too good to make only once a year!
It’s a scrumptious sight to behold! This week I’m sharing with you a Christmas cake bedecked on the outside and hiding a swirl of surprise color inside! It looks like you’ve slaved over it for hours, but really, all you need to make it happen is one box of cake mix, some white icing, food coloring and sprinkles! This is what I call a gorgeous plate of holiday happiness, and it couldn’t be easier to create! Treat your family and friends to this wonderful bit of holiday cheer with a nice spot of tea or a luscious cup of cappuccino!
Watch my How to video for The Christmas Cake here!
This weekend a host of local broadcasters came together for our annual Christmas Concert to raise money for The House of Broadcasting. One year our fundraising efforts helped to create the House of Broadcasting Celebrity Media Cookbook. It’s a treasure trove of great heirloom dishes by your local television and radio personalities. One of the most delicious recipes in the book is an award winning chili recipe from Jack Clifford, the man who created the iconic Food Network. (More than 20 years later, about 90 million people agree that Jack’s idea was a brilliant one and changed forever the way we view food.) Jack’s scrumptious chili has won dozens of chili cook off awards. It kicks you with five different spices and yet has a smooth-as-silk finish on your palate. This chili’s base is a combination of beef chunks, ground beef and pork with plenty of onions and garlic! So, grab a big pot and get cooking, just in time for “chili” evenings!
If you’d like a copy of the House of Broadcasting Cookbook, visit www.houseofbroadcasting.com.
By the way, Jack used to say that the Department of Homeland Security had identified his chili as a WMID (Weapon of Mass Indigestion). But I say Clifford’s Chili it’s so good, it’s what the cowboys call MGS–Mighty Good Sop!
Watch my Video for Clifford’s Chili here!
Thank you Irving Naxon, for inventing the Crock Pot. Your cooking wonder found a place in our kitchens in 1940 when you won the patent for it, and we’ve never given it up. In fact, slow cooking is as popular as ever, especially when it produces such delicious meals like the Crockpot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Bacon Slaw. (Perfect for next day pork sandwiches!) Also, if you ever wanted to know a bit about the iconic Crock Pot, here’s an excerpt from a Huffington Post article:
“Naxon called his devise the Naxon Beanery. He said his mother, Tamara Nachumsohn, inspired him. She had told him stories about a bean-based stew she used to make in her village bakery at home in Lithuania. The stew, known as cholent, is a traditional Jewish dish that cooks all day. It’s rooted in the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest in which observant Jews aren’t supposed to work. The stew goes on the heat before sundown Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, and cook all the way until the end of Saturday services the next day. As the ovens were turned off for the Sabbath, the pot of cholent would be put in the oven, and that slow residual heat over the course of the 24 hours would be enough to cook the cholent.”
Naxon sold his design to Rival Manufacturing the 70’s, which rebranded his Beanery as the Crock Pot. It was marketed toward working mothers with the slogan, “Cooks all day while the cook’s away,”
Let’s see. My obsession with collecting heritage recipes and cookbooks began in earnest in 2000, when I opened my first restaurant and featured my own family’s dishes. Since that time, I have cooked from and collected hundreds of cookbooks, ranging from family heirloom recipe collections and church fundraising cookbooks to publications produced by food manufacturers hoping to give the home cook suggestions on how to use their products. Some cookbooks go into unbelievable detail about a family’s genealogy or a church or civic organization’s fundraising activities. Then, there are the books that say nothing on the cover and nothing on the inside pages. They are simply hand-written and bound recipes. It was one of these non-descript cookbooks in which found this scrumptious recipe for Brown Sugar Nut Bars. The cookbook simply said “VAVS Volunteer Cookbook.” (I’m assuming VAVS is the acronym for Veterans Administration Volunteer Services, or Veteran’s Affairs Voluntary Services.) In any case I have no one to thank for pages and pages of delightful recipes like this one. The Brown Sugar Nut Bars have a light and delicate shortbread base, and you can use any nut you like, although this recipe suggests slivered almonds. It’s a terrific treat to make ahead and freeze, and it can easily be transported to a party or pot luck without worrying about it falling apart. If you’ve got some leftover walnuts, pecans or almonds, just mix them together and blend them in the bath of butter, brown sugar and pure vanilla. The sweet and salty result is the perfect paring for the shortbread base below!