Thursday, May 27, 2021

ChezCindy: Lemon Meringue Cake with Raspberry Glaze


The first pie I learned how to make was lemon meringue, straight from the recipe on the box of Jell-O pudding.  It was my favorite for years and I loved having it for my birthday instead of cake.  Making the meringue was like watching a magic trick as the egg whites turned into the silky puffs of pure white fluff.  I recently saw a recipe in Martha Stewart Living magazine that featured a lemon meringue cake.  I was instantly intrigued to try it.  The recipe offered a simple sheet cake topped with meringue.  So very lovely and lemony.  That recipe was the inspiration for the cake you see pictured above. 

The recipe shared below builds from a 9x13-inch sheet cake, cutting it into thirds, to stack into layers glazed with raspberry preserves.  The entire stack of layers is enrobed with thick meringue, lightly browning the peaks.  The resulting cake is gorgeous.  But again, it is a magic trick that even a beginner baker can do.  

Lemon Meringue Cake with Raspberry Glaze
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), melted
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain yogurt

Meringue Frosting
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

1 cup raspberry preserves for glazing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9x13-inch baking pan by spraying it with baking oil.  Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 3-inch overhang on the long sides.  Pinch or crease the parchment paper to keep it from falling back into the pan.  Spray the parchment paper with baking oil.  Set aside.  

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the eggs and sugar, whisking for 4-5 minutes until thick and pale yellow.  Turn off the mixer, add in the flour mixture.  Resume mixing, slowly at first, until just combined.  Add in the cooled melted butter, lemon zest, and vanilla, mixing to combine.  Add in the plain yogurt, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  The top of the cake will be slightly domed and golden.  Remove the cake from the oven to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Using the parchment paper overhang, lift the cake from the pan to cool completely on a cooling rack.  

To make the Meringue Frosting: 
Working with a clean mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment, add the egg whites and cream of tarter.  Whisk on high for 2-3 minutes to form soft peaks.  Slowly add in the sugar beating for 4-5 minutes to form stiff peaks.  Set aside to assemble the cake.

How to Assemble the Cake:
Once the cake is completely cooled, place the cake onto a cutting board.  Using a large serrated knife, trim off the cake edges by cutting away 1/2-inch around the entire sheet cake.  Next, make 2 cuts across the cake to make 3 4x8-inch pieces.  I use a ruler placed along side of the 12-inch length and cut at the 4-inch mark and the 8-inch mark.  

Place one of the cake pieces onto a sheet tray.  Spread 1/2 of the preserves over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the outer edge.  Place the 2nd cake piece on top of this first piece.  Top it too with jam.  Place the last cake piece on top, creating 3 layers of cake.  

Using a large spoon, place large spoonsful of the meringue over the top of the cake.  Using an offset spatula, carefully connect the spoonsful to cover the cake, including draping the meringue down the sides of the cake.  Once the cake is completely covered with meringue, using your fingers or a soup spoon, make peaks and swirls with the meringue in a decorative fashion.  Using your fingers is great fun and a bit messy.  But it makes awesome peaks.  

Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the meringue peaks toasting decoratively.  Alternatively, set the oven broiler on to High.  Place the sheet pan into the oven on the bottom rack.  Broil for about 30 seconds to lightly brown the meringue.  Be careful with this method as the meringue will brown very quickly. 

No kitchen torch?  The meringue can be lightly browned in the oven.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly sprinkle the meringue with a small amount of sugar.  Place the cake in the hot oven on the middle rack.  Bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned watching closely the entire time.  Carefully remove the cake from the oven.  Allow to cool, then serve when desired.  

The frosted cake is best enjoyed the day it is assembled. 

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Sunday, May 23, 2021

ChezCindy: Homemade Chicken Bone Broth


I learned how to make soup broth when I was a very young child.  My father made turkey bone broth every Thanksgiving holiday.  Actually, any time we had roast turkey the bones were never discarded but were made into soup.  I never thought it was unusual or special.  It was just our way of life.  In recent times, bone broth is kind of a "hip thing" in the health world offering great nutrition.  To me, it is just the right thing to do.  Think of it as free food, taking a food item that would normally be thrown away, and turning it into food.  

Making bone broth is not difficult, it just takes a bit of planning.  You will need a few hours of time, but it is passive cooking.  Once you have all ingredients in the stock pot, turn the heat down low and let it simmer for hours.  The low simmer extracts all of the goodness turning plain water into a delicious and  nutritious broth.  I start with leftover bones from a roasted chicken.  You can even use a rotisserie chicken bought from the grocery store.    

Once the broth is complete, use it to make soups or stews  in the recipes from these earlier posts.  I like to keep containers of it in the freezer, ready to use for any recipe or to sip on as a plain broth.  Below is the simple process of making bone broth for you to try. 

Homemade Chicken Bone Broth
Bones of 1 4-pound rotisserie chicken, meat removed
8 cups cold tap water
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 large carrot, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

Working with a large stock pot over high heat, add the bones of the rotisserie chicken to the stock pot.  Brown the bones for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times for even browning.  Browning the bones before adding the water is somewhat optional, but I recommend it.  Doing so adds flavor and color to the broth.  

Add the 8 cups of tap water, and the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.  Partially cover the pan with the lid, simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  

Strain out all of the contents, collecting the broth in a large bowl.  Discard the bones and vegetables.  Transfer the broth into containers for use to make soup or stew, using within 2-3 days.  Or freeze for later use, keeping in the freezer for 3-4 months.  

Saturday, May 8, 2021

ChezCindy: Bean Salad with Parsley-Shallot Dressing


When I was a young child, my palette of what foods I would eat was very narrow.  This beautiful bean salad would not have been a consideration, ever.  I remember family gatherings where my Aunt Marge would bring a bean salad to share.  To me, that dish was so strange.  I knew I would never eat something like that in a million years.  "I'll stick to my plain bologna sandwich on white bread please." Thankfully, we were not a family that had to take a bit of every dish to try.  

Fast forward a million years, I am the aunt bringing bean salad to a family gathering.  I'm quite certain the kids did not eat any, but the grown-ups did.  And, they wanted the recipe too.  

This bean salad is more of a process than a recipe, with a homemade parsley-shallot vinaigrette dressing.  The dressing is the star of the dish to bring it all together.  You could mix all of the ingredients together tossing it in a large bowl with the dressing.  But I like the beauty of laying out each ingredient.  

Bean Salad with Parsley-Shallot Vinaigrette
1/2 pound French green beans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
7 tablespoons olive oil

Blanch the green beans:  Prepare a large bowl by filling it with cold water and ice.  Set aside.  Fill a medium pan with hot water, bring to a boil.  Add the green beans and the teaspoon of salt to the boiling water.  Boil the beans for 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, strain out the beans, adding them to the ice-cold water to stop the cooking.  Chill the beans in the icy water for 2-3 minutes.  Drain, placing the beans on a towel to dry.   

Drain and rinse each can of beans, keeping each can of beans separate from the others, drying each type on a towel.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Thinly slice the radishes.  

Prepare the salad dressing:  Working with a small food processor, add in the parsley leaves and the shallot.  Puree in the processor bowl until finely minced.  Add in the salt, mustard, honey and vinegar, whirring until combined.  Add in the olive oil, 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing in the processor each time until the mixture becomes emulsified.  The parsley will now be beautiful specks of green suspended in the dressing.  

Put it all together:  Using a large rectangle serving platter, place each type of bean in its own row, snuggling each type next to the first.  I like starting with the green beans in the center and working outward from there.  When ready to serve, drizzle the dressing across the rows down the center of the platter, adorning each row of beans like a crowning jewel.  Scatter a few parsley leaves over the top and serve at room temperature.  

Saturday, May 1, 2021

ChezCindy: Skillet Chicken Enchiladas


The inspiration for this dish came from a chef I met while taking a cooking class in New York City at the Institute of Culinary Education in 2019.  She is an excellent instructor, with great ability to juggle the varying levels of cooking skills among her students.  Chef Marge Perry is the chef of inspiration.  She is an award-winning columnist for numerous magazines and author of her cookbook titled Hero Dinners, Complete One-Pan Meals That Save The Day, co-authored with David Bonon.  Her cookbook offers awesome recipes and cooking tips for complete meals using a skillet or sheet pan.   

In her cookbook, there is a recipe for Green Chicken Enchilada 2.0.  This was my start for the recipe I share below.  For extra convenience, I use shredded chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken and most ingredients are pantry items.  Everything cooks in one skillet in a very short amount of time making it a perfect week-night dinner.  And super fun to share with friends on Friday as a kick-off to the weekend.

Skillet Chicken Enchiladas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/3 cup jarred mild jalapeno slices, roughly chopped
1 7-ounce can of minced green chilies, mild
1 15-ounce can pinto beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup water
10 fresh mini corn tortillas or 6 medium, quartered
6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated, about 1 1/2 cups
Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

Sour cream for serving, plus hot sauce if desired

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Working with a large 11-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, add in the canola oil, the sliced onions and peppers, minced garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder and smoked paprika.  Stir these ingredients to combine, cooking for about 5-6 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften, but not taking on any color.  Add in the chopped jalapeno slices, the can of chopped green chilies, the drained can of beans, and the shredded rotisserie chicken.  Stir all to combine, cooking for about 4-5 minutes.  Add in the 1/2 cup of water, stirring to combine.  Cook for a few minutes just to heat through.  Turn off the heat.  Add in the quartered corn tortillas, tucking them into the chicken mixture.  Some will stick out on top which is okay.  These will get brown and crisp adding extra deliciousness.  Top with the shredded cheddar cheese.  

Place the skillet into the hot oven, cooking for about 6-7 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for abut 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.  

Serve with sour cream, and hot sauce if desired.