Dutch butter cake

If you like almond shortbread–and who doesn’t–you’re gonna love Dutch butter cake. It’s ultra-rich, with a generous dose of almond extract and plenty of sliced almonds on top. I understand it’s even better the next day. This is a little tough to imagine as it was quite wonderful when I baked it this morning.

Other recipes call for unsalted butter and less salt. But baked goods without enough salt taste like something is missing–to me, anyway. All that’s missing here are the portions I couldn’t stop eating this morning. Let’s butter cake it up!

DUTCH BUTTER CAKE

1/2 pound salted butter (two sticks)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 egg, separated
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

With a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg yolk and almond extract. Add flour, baking powder and salt; combine till well mixed. Press evenly into 8 x 8 ” pan. I lined my pan with a silicone liner.

Brush top with beaten egg white and set aside for 30 minutes. Brush with egg white a second time. Use a fork to make a grid pattern if you wish. It will be hard to see under the almonds, but is kinda fun to do.

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Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes until golden brown. Resist the urge to eat a whole row on your own.

Package ‘em up and share them–quick-quick!

Dutch butter cake triangles

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Twenty years ago, I tried beer cheese soup for the first time at the 391st Bomb Group in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since then, I’ve tried it other places. But there’s something about the original I wanted to try to replicate.

Fast forward fifteen years, I thought I’d found the recipe in an old article from the Sun Sentinel. But all I could see was another fan looking for the recipe. I posted the link on a food site I frequent and said if anyone did have the original recipe, I’d be grateful to have it.

Four years later, someone responded to my inquiry and let me know the recipe was right there in the article–on a second page I hadn’t seen. Whattafind! I felt a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

You've always had the power

So with this week’s cooler temperatures, I strolled Memory Lane and made the soup. I was about to follow the original recipe to the letter till I realized the chicken bouillon had MSG. I would try it again with non-MSG bouillon, but what I riffed was really excellent! It’s a little hotter and has that extra something coarse ground mustard can bring to a creamy soup like this. Here’s what I did.

BEER CHEESE SOUP
adapted from the 391st Bomb Group’s original recipe

4 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco Frank’s Red Hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
16 ounces light beer poured into a 2-cup measure to eliminate some of the foam (I used Coors, a.k.a. Colorado Kool-Aid)

In a skillet, cook the bacon and onions over medium heat, stirring, about 5-10 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and the onions are soft and lightly browned. Set aside.

I didn’t use a double boiler or a thermometer as indicated in the original recipe. Cubed Velveeta magically melts into warm liquid like nobody’s business. So, into a large stockpot on medium heat, add 4 cups milk, 2 cups chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, Frank’s Red Hot, cayenne, mustard, sriracha, Velveeta and the bacon and onions. At this point, you can add just one cup of the beer. Set the rest of the beer aside.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 1 cup beer. When the cheese has completely melted into the liquid, stir the beer/cornstarch mixture. Whisk and cook until the contents thicken.

Next, strain out the bacon and onions. Garnish with parsley, chives, paprika or popcorn. I topped mine with (new to me) Buffalo Cheddar Smartfood. Laugh if you must, but try it first. I think the soup tasted even better the next day.

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While we’re hanging out on Memory Lane, here is 20-something me outside the 391st Bomb Group. Cheers and enjoy your soup!

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With a quick blitz in the blender, you can be cool as a cucumber–or maybe even Joe Cool. Agua fresca is enjoyable on its own or fun to spike for warm weather drinkin’! Ready for how easy and tasty?

CUCUMBER LIME MINT AGUA FRESCA

1 large cucumber (cut off both ends), chopped
juice of one lime
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon agave syrup (use sugar if you don’t have agave syrup)
handful of mint
Put all the ingredients in a blender. Turn it on and blend till it gets nice and frothy. That’s all there is to it!

Pour over ice. Add a splash of seltzer on top if you like, or start with a couple of ounces of vodka (or your weapon of choice). CLINQUE! Stay cool, amici!

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Calling all chocolate lovers! If you love chocolate chip cookies, you may quite possibly love double chocolate cookies even more. Double your pleasure, double your fun after all!

KATTY’S DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup dark chocolate, chopped

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chopped chocolate with a spatula.

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If you can wait (!), refrigerate the dough overnight, or better still, for 24-36 hours to let the flavors develop. Not patient? You will love them regardless.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Bake 7 minutes on one rack, then flip the baking sheet’s direction and bake 7 minutes more on the other.

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I used my medium ice cream scoop to these a bit bigger than my usual cookies. Space them 2 inches apart.

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This recipe yields 18-19 double-double chocolate-chocolate cookies-cookies. Enjoy them! NOM NOM NOM!

 

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I’m back again to talk about the Cubano–a sandwich so tasty, it deserves a few more pictures (and a song!) to tell its story.

Start with club rolls. Around here, let me save you a trip or two and tell you Tri-Town in Portland sells them. Stop & Shop and Price Chopper do not.

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Now, remember that pork tenderloin from the other day? Slice it. Then, send it on a quick trip in the microwave (about 20 seconds or so) to warm it up.

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Now, let’s load up the rolls: spread mustard on one side, then layer:

  • Swiss cheese (or provolone, if you prefer)
  • Thinly sliced ham (I used Boar’s Head habanero ham)
  • A Vlasic stacker
  • Pork

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And now, you’re ready to grill. Melt some butter in a pan and have another pan ready for pressing purposes.

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Do you like my fancy press? In case it’s hard to tell, it’s a frying pan covered by a teakettle filled with water for weight on top. And now, amici, we grill, flip, grill again and it’s time to eat! What else can I say but I like it like that! 

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I got my mojo back–and am back with mojo! If you’ve seen “Chef,” maybe you, too, were inspired by some of the food you saw in the movie and thought: I wanna eat that! Or maybe even, I wanna make that! And, if you haven’t seen the movie, puh-LEASE go out for something delicious to eat, then go see it.

Shortly after I saw “Chef,” I found an article with recipes from the movie. I used that as a jump-off point, crossed it with some good ideas from Epicurious, et voilà–a delicious mojo for pork tenderloin. A meal so nice, you’ll enjoy it twice–once as a main dish, and the next day as a delicious Cubano!

So, let’s get the party started with a “Bang Bang”–did I mention you’ll love the soundtrack, too?

MOJO PORK TENDERLOIN
adapted from Roy Choi, Matt Lee and Tedd Lee

Juice of 3 orange, zest of two of them = 1 1/2 cups juice
1 1/2 lemons and their zest = 1/4 cup juice
2 limes and their zest = 1/4 cup juice
2 tiny jalapeños, sliced thin (one normal jalapeno would be great)
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 cup fresh oregano (I just bought a new hot & spicy oregano plant–highly recommend!), finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients. Set aside 2/3 cup of this mixture and refrigerate.

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Pour the rest into a sealable plastic bag (a gallon Hefty OneZip works beautifully) with two pounds of pork tenderloin.

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Let marinate about eight hours. Remove the pork from the bag and place on a large baking sheet. I put plenty of the chopped herbs, zest and jalapenos on top.

Cook in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F until the pork’s internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F, then let the meat rest for three minutes before slicing. I have one of those handy thermometers that beeps outside the oven when it hits the set temperature. In my kitchen, that took somewhere between 30-35 minutes. But, don’t just take it from me, the National Pork Board will tell you no different!

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Don’t forget to serve with the 2/3 cup of mojo you set aside. Not only is it crazy delicious as a main meal–it’s a total treat as part of a delicious Cubano the next day.

CUBANOS (CUBAN SANDWICHES)

Club rolls (sorta like these)
Thinly sliced ham (try the habanero ham from Boar’s Head, NOM, NOM!)
Thinly sliced Swiss cheese (or provolone, if you prefer)
Vlasic Stacker dill pickles
Mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon Harvest Coarse Ground)

Slice the rolls in half, spread one side with mustard. Place a layer of cheese, two slices of ham, several slices of warmed-up pork (send on a quick trip to the microwave) to go from end to end, then a pickle. You’re pretty much making a fancy Cuban grilled ham and cheese. Double the pig, double the fun!

Next, in a large frying pan, melt about a teaspoon or so of butter to coat the bottom. Swirl the sandwiches around to get ‘em buttered up, then put another frying pan on top to press them. You can also weigh them down with a teakettle on top of the second frying pan. After a few minutes or so, add more butter and flip them over. Once again, press down. And now, we have Cubanos. ♬ BEEP-BEEP, HAAAAAAA! ♬

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There are lots of blueberry bar recipes out there. But last night, I found my thrill on a different blueberry hill. Sometimes, other recipes spark ideas about something new to do with the tried and true. So I doubled my favorite almond shortbread recipe, baked it up with fresh blueberries in the middle and almonds on top. Know what? It worked, it’s delicious and it’s really pretty, too!

BLUEBERRY ALMOND SHORTBREAD

For filling
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ a lemon, zested
juice of slightly less than ½ a lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For shortbread
1/2 cup almond flour (or 1/2 cup almonds processed till finely ground in a food processor)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (salted), softened
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

For topping
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter an 8″ square baking dish.

Let’s make the filling first. Combine blueberries, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon juice, zest and cornstarch. Set aside.

Next, with a mixer, cream butter, 1/2 cup sugar and almond extract. Add almond flour, all-purpose flour and salt; mix till smooth.

Divide the dough into two equal parts–cover the bottom of the pan completely. Pat dough into the dish, smooth the top of the dough evenly (an offset spatula is very helpful here), then pour blueberry filling evenly over this layer.

To help make an even top layer, drop small pieces of the dough over the blueberry layer, then smooth it out with an offset spatula or a knife. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and turbinado sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. OK, I let the rest of the pan cool completely, but not the quality control squares–those were insanely piping hot. I cut the rest of the pan into oversized squares, then diamonds, ’cause don’t you know, diamonds are a girl’s best friend?

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