Posts Tagged ‘family’

I searched for a recipe that had significance for the New Year and discovered the Orange Brandy Cake below, since it brings the consumer good luck, with a lucky coin hidden inside.   All I can think of when items are put into a cake, is a trip to the dentist!   I did just that favoring a broken molar, after consuming a lovely slice of pie of my making and biting down on a peach pit chunk.  Is that luck or what?!


I had the intention of making this cake but after reading it over I decided it resembled the always yummy Brandy Pound Cake offered in Little Neva’s Bakery.  The recipe below uses orange juice as well as zest.  My cake requires sour cream and I add in 4 pure extracts to exotically dance around the brandy.    Serve it with macerated fruit, whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce.  Eat it plain, but no matter your version, you will be so satisfied with every bite, down to the last morsel or crumb.  Yum!


Moist, extremely flavorful, terrific shelf life and just darn good, this tried and true recipe has been in my possession for many years.  The original recipe called for Apricot Brandy but I have since used basic brandy or sometimes blending apricot with it.  It had been a favorite with the family and has been shipped around the world many times, arriving in spectacular shape, regardless of the destination.  Perfect as a gift, party, treat and made in Virginia, too!

If your curiosity has been peaked here is the link to our adored Brandy Pound Cake: https://www.etsy.com/listing/67054935/pound-cake-butter-rich-moist-embraced?ref=shop_home_active_3

Do give this one from Epicurious a peek, bake it, eat it, let me know what you think..  If you order Little Neva’s pound cake also please let me know what you think!   Love feedback!

 New Year’s Orange and Brandy Cake

( from Epicurious website)

Makes one 10–inch round cake


    • 4 large eggs, separated
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, or a combination of butter and margarine
    • 1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
    • 1/2 cup brandy
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • Grated zest of 1 orange
    • Grated zest of 1 lemon
    • Whole blanched almonds


    1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.
    2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter or butter and margarine and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the orange juice and brandy.
    3. Whisk together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and the zests in another large bowl. Add to the yolk mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated.
    4. In a large clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan and shake gently to even the top. Decorate the top with almonds.
    5. Bake the cake for about 1 hour, or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan and serving.



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Saturday, February 2, 2013

When I had the brilliant idea or so I thought, of starting a blog, I being all consumed with the notion of it, neglected to pay attention to the reality of keeping up with the blog and of how life somehow manages to get in the way, gobbling up time and sapping the creative juices. Can’t believe it is already February 2013, well actually I can believe it, but in doing so I am admitting the shameful gap in blog posts.    Am I baking on life?    Yeah, but so busy in the kitchen and others rooms of life that all my grand ideas for posts stay either as scribbles or stuck in my head.     Organization, a trait that I seem to be losing grasp of as I turn the calendars of life. When I am in the moment of typing , editing, pulling pictures and seeing results it is wonderfully fun and satisfying but, turn away, step away, allow yourself to be pulled in 89 directions and poof it is wiped clean from the frontal lobe, time passes, then I worry what the handful of people who might read this blog would think in my absence so I delay more.

In December I vowed to make sweeping resolutions, weight loss, new products for the bakery, rise earlier, be more productive, blog success.  I planned on writing or confessing my progress in my life blog.   Well done! It is February, nice job! Yeah, long list, who am I kidding?     But ya know I did take down the Christmas tree this week and 99% of the decorations are packed up and on their way to the store room.    I absolutely love Christmas, the wonderment, magic and purity of it.   The festivity of it.     We have approximately 8 boxes of decorations, most of which manage to escape from the boxes and distribute themselves all over the house each year.      fudge pie, vd box, short cookies 038

We all have unique Christmas memories that we cherish.  My mother was born on Christmas Eve many many moons ago.  She always says it must have been difficult for her mother to birth a child at such a time.   As kids my parents took us into Yonkers to Patricia Murphy’s, a wonderful restaurant, beautifully decorated for the holiday.  It was my mother’s birthday treat.  I will always remember the popovers and small sticky buns they served as an accompaniment to the meal.  The waiter came around with a serving tray or basket of the freshly baked treats.    Yum.  That experience stays with me.   We traveled into Manhattan each year to see the NYC Rockettes perform their spectacular Christmas show.   We eventually moved to Florida so the holiday took on a whole new look & feel for us.   We still made it magical!

Candlelight Restaurant Westchester New York  
Courtesy of CardCow.com             Patricia Murphy's in Yonkers NY, summertime.

Too bad I can’t put my finger on a photo of the restaurant all lit up with white lights and decorations.  Memorable, but not quite as memorable as those popovers and sticky buns!  Maybe that’s why I love to make sticky buns all these years forward!!   My mother made Yorkshire pudding,  using popover batter,  served with standing rib roast and delish roasted potatoes for Christmas dinner every year.  Popovers are a cinch to beat up but the baking process can be tricky.   A preheated hot oiled pan seems to be the trick, but alas I do not make them as often as the delectable sticky bun.  Food swirls in and around our memories, like the sweet cinnamon filling in the bun.  It fleshes life out, flavors it and makes it more potent.   Hope you’re cooking / baking one up now!  I will try to spend more time in my life with this blog!

Mangia! Until next time we eat!!

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Sunday   September 16, 2012  ( My Grandmother’s birthday! )

I looked longingly at the recipe & photo that I had printed last night but exercised control  (or took charge as the book I am reading on weight loss efforts would suggest) and waited until this morning to whip up the Chocolate Streusel Apple Bread.   Obviously,  knowing myself as I do, I would have eaten too much of it upon it’s completion, thus rendering me overstuffed for bedtime!  As I have mentioned in an earlier post,  Sunday, historically for my family, usually must have a bigger breakfast, brunch type spread or at the very least a special sweet to embellish an ordinary meal.   Tradition,  a love of food, relaxed eating, lingering around the table in conversation and perhaps just the desire to have one extraordinary day  for food lends itself to brunch in our house.    I never really transitioned into the big family dinner on Sunday, I guess because I am a breakfast person and everyone expects it that way!   And as I say if you consume in larger quantity early in the day you will burn it off faster.  You don’t have to worry about going to bed , ah hem, overstuffed!!

Most definitely the chocolate chip streusel aspect of this concoction inspired me to create it.    This morning I eagerly assembled the ingredients, having already made up my mind how I would adapt the recipe, and had it in the oven in record time.   I discovered this recipe through a Mary Mary Quite Contrary FB post of a dinners, dishes and desserts  recipe.    The recipe below reflects my changes in blue.   I used Cripps Pink apples and found that 1 large apple diced, yielded 2 cups.   Next time I might leave the peel on.    I substituted white whole wheat for half the flour, used almond milk with a splash of vinegar rather than the buttermilk, added nutmeg, and also a little quick oats to the streusel.   Oh yes, I used 1/4 c oil &  1/4 cup butter.    If this is made again I will put half the batter in the pan, cover with the 1/3 streusel, add the rest of the batter then top off with the remaining streusel.   I toyed with the idea of adding chocolate chips to the batter but restrained myself, deciding to keep it pure!!


Thanks to Mary Mary Quite Contrary for the inspiration!

1/2 cup butter, softened    ( 1/4 c butter & 1/4 c oil)

1/2 cup each brown and white sugar

1/3 cup buttermilk    ( 1/2 c almond milk with 1/8 tsp vinegar – I used more milk because of using the white whole wheat flour)

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cup flour     ( 1 c white whole wheat & 1 c unbleached )

1 tsp cinnamon   ( + 1/4 tsp nutmeg )

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups apples, slightly tart, peeled & diced

Preheat oven to 350° F.   Grease bottom and sides of a 9×5″ loaf pan.  ( I used parchment for easier removal).

In mixing bowl beat the butter and sugars  together until well combined.  Pour in buttermilk and baking powder, mix until fully blended.  Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well.  Slowly add flour, cinnamon, and salt.

In separate bowl mix diced apples with a little flour, to keep them from sinking to the bottom.  Using a spatula, fold them into batter.  Pour into baking pan.

For the streusel, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Using your hand or mixer blend in butter until the texture resembles coarse sand.  Sprinkle over the top of batter.

Bake for 60 – 75 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before slicing.  Important to avoid crumbling!

I put parchment in the pan to facilitate the removal

cooled for about an hour before slicing

Plated with chocolate mint from the garden! … 

Do you think I tasted it before photographing it? !

This was an easy bread to make, the result was good, the streusel definitely made the bread special.   I think it had more flavor after I refrigerated it, so I would give it a little more time to allow the flavors to meld, at room temperature.  I might add a bit more cinnamon and / or nutmeg.    It is a lovely bread, perfect for tea time, breakfast or snacking anytime.

So until next we meet, enjoy life, food and baking.   Mangia!!

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Saturday August 25,2012

We have lived on our property in the woods for a considerable length of time!   Over the years we have dedicated a portion of the wooded land to a garden, which has morphed, as we play in the garden making it larger and more regulated.  I generally have become the primary keeper of the garden, which is a blend of flowers and vegetables.  I develop the beds, plant, weed, play, water, weep and battle insects.  The deer amazingly enough do not test the fence.  Why should they as they roam everywhere else indiscriminately ravaging plants as they please.   We are presently dog-less and while our cat freely explores the property, he does not threaten deer!

Last zucchini, out of frig, waiting

Each new growing season yields varying degrees of success.   I believe the most plentiful zucchini harvest was realized in the irregular, haphazard garden design.  Oh well.    Last year I lost my plants early on to squash bugs… this year my dozen or so plants grew magnificently as I trudged out in the early morning light to scrap off the eggs deposited by the dreaded squash bugs.  I abandoned my brother’s concoction of mouthwash & dish soap which stops the bugs dead in their tracks but does adversely affect the leaves over time and concentrated on eggs.  There were moments when I resorted to squeezing the persistent bugs to death, in order to exercise my power over them, I was so determined to beat these guys, but you can’t really fool mother nature!!!    My zucchini plants were lush, vibrant and huge. yielding  fruit and my pleasure.  Eventually BER, blossom end rot, or perhaps borers won the battle and one by one the plants fell in on themselves , giving up the ghost.  I cannot bring myself to use chemicals so I choose the trial by error method.  We might starve!

My last home grown zucchini deserved an  inspired finale and an eternal written memory, hence this post.  I came across these luscious Zucchini Bread Pancakes posted by Smitten Kitchen but a recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, caught my eye from King Arthur Flour, what to do… such a dilemma??   My hardy zucchini could provide enough meat for both recipes,  if I reduced each recipe, so VOILA!    I preceded to create my last home grown zucchini treats.    I was psyched!  First I whipped up the chocolate bread so it would bake while I mixed up and then consumed with glee, the light moist pancakes.  It reminded me of a long ago family outing for pizza pick up.  We placed the order then while we waited, we tootled over to another pizza place to chomp on slices to satisfy our immediate hunger and to sustain us for the 1/2 hour ride home.  Yes we were /are crazy.   The zucchini bread did last 2 days, it was a small loaf!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread     adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 1 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 ” loaf
      2 large eggs
      1/3 cup honey
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      1 tsp baking soda
     1 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp espresso powder, optional
     1/3 cup natural unprocessed cocoa
     1  2/3 cup unbleached or all purpose flour ( feel free to blend a partial portion of whole wheat if you like)
     2 cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini
     1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350° F, lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 ” loaf pan with butter, oil or spray “Pam”
In large bowl, beat eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla till smooth.    Add salt, baking soda & powder, espresso powder ( I did not use), cocoa, and flour, mixing till well combined.    Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.     Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 65 – 75 minutes, till loaf tests done with toothpick or cake tester, inserted into center comes out clean. ( chocolate on tester is OK! )
Remove from oven, cool 10 – 15 minutes before turning out onto rack.    Cool completely before slicing unless you can’t control the urge to dig in!  Store carefully wrapped at room temperature.   Lovely!

small loaf, 1/4 of recipe!

dense and delightfully moist

Zucchini Pancakes      adapted from Smitten Kitchen … Thanks  for the inspiration
Makes 10 – 12 Pancakes
      2 large eggs
      3 Tablespoons olive oil
      2 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar or white
      1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 Tbsp each milk & plain yogurt or 1/4 c milk with 1/2 tsp vinegar ( I use almond milk)
      1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      2 cups shredded zucchini ( 1  1/2 c medium heaping zucchini )
      1 cup unbleached flour
      1/4 tsp salt
      1 tsp baking soda
      1 tsp ground cinnamon
      1/8 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Butter or oil for skillet
In large bowl combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk ( or your choice as above) and vanilla till smooth.  Stir in shredded zucchini, then in another bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon & nutmegStir dry ingredients into wet: egg, milk, zucchini, etc,  until combined.  Do not over mix.
Preheat oven to 170 -200° F, if you care to keep cooked pancakes warm on tray, while cooking rest, depending on how quickly you will consume as they come from skillet!
Heat large heavy skillet, I prefer cast iron, over medium heat.  When hot( toss sprinkle of water in, if it sizzles, proceed)  add pat of butter or oil, coat bottom of pan.  Spoon approximately 1/4 cup batter or amount you choose for size pancake you desire, into pan.  I do one at a time.   This is where a griddle comes in handy for multiple pancake cooking!   Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 – 3 minutes, then FLIP, cook another 2 – 3 minutes till  golden underneath.   Continue until batter is used up.  Stack, slather, douse with your choice syrup, whipped cream or jam.   Dig in.  

cooks up quickly in my trusty cast iron pan


Old family pancake cover in use!

stacked and ready



    Until next time we meet….enjoy life, food, family and baking.  Mangia!

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Friday February 25, 2012

This night started with one very large white potato which begged to be baked.  I would have to split it with my hubby but you have to do what is necessary.  You will notice in the photo below, the potato is undressed…. that is because it had to be split, I didn’t want a half potato to spoil the presentation!

I planned on making chicken burgers, brussels sprouts, salad and that potato.   Now because the oven would be on my thoughts wondered rather quickly to dessert and since I was recovering from the ravages of Valentine’s, that is CHOCOLATE , day, I instantly decided to whip up my tried and true COCOA CAKE.  I am not a cold turkey kind a gal, I slowly wean myself off of an indulgence.  Anyway, I digress,  since the oven was on for that one large potato, why be too wasteful with the electric watts surging, let’s do the cake.    As you may have heard COCOA and DARK CHOCOLATE are found to be quite healthy, so this electric usage is a healthy thing.   None the less, I have been known to experiment, usually quite successfully, so to bolster this cake on the healthful scale I used canola oil instead of butter, substituted in 1 cup of white whole wheat flour, cut back a tad on the sugar quantity and used part soy milk with the water.  call me crazy or prudent this cake was in the works, regardless.

I mixed up the burgers, ground chicken, red quinoa, herbal seasoning, tamari, onions and squirt of mustard.   I then cut off the ends of the brussels sprouts, put them in my trusty steamer, always on the cooktop, ever used,  formed up the burgers set it all aside to concentrate on the main focus of the meal…. cake.


2 cups all purpose flour ( you can use unbleached, or a blend with white whole wheat)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, not Dutch process which is less flavorful

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks 9 3/4 cup)  butter

1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla, be liberal

1 1/3 cup water ( or water & milk)

Confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter ( I use the wrapper from the butter stick) a 9 x 2 ” round cake pan or spring form.  Dust with flour, knock out excess.

Whisk flour ( s ), cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Beat together butter and brown sugar preferably with an electric mixer, not necessary though arms will tire out quickly otherwise:>), until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time , beating well after each addition, then add vanilla.

Add flour mixture and liquid alternately, in batches, beginning and ending with the flour, mixing till combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in middle of oven until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool in pan 1/2 hour, loosen and invert, cool another 15 minutes , dust with confectioners sugar.

Cut and consume!  YUM.

This will be a learning experience, blogging, not so much baking,  so I hope you enjoy my posts.  Please bear with me as I make this journey.  As time progresses I’ll be discussing my life, food, family and baking experiences.

Mangia! As my mother in law would say.  Until we meet again, have a blast in your kitchen with your life, family and food.

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