Tuesday, May 28, 2024

ChezCindy: Blueberry Ricotta Cake


Blueberry cake is the new banana bread.  Blueberries are available most any time of year and can be frozen for when you are ready to bake.  Thus, this moist and scrumptious Blueberry Ricotta Cake can be made as your heart desires.  Perfect for snacking on mid-day, or as a breakfast treat, or a simple dinner dessert.  

One of my most favorite blueberry baking recipes is this scone post from several years ago.  A savory use of blueberries is this delightful salad using fresh blueberries and avocados.  

Enjoy the blues.  

Blueberry Ricotta Cake
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
2 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
sifted powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan, set aside.

Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, then with the mixer on low, add in the eggs one at a time mixing well before adding the next egg.  Add in the ricotta, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, mixing well until just combined.  

In a separate small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in 2 cups of the blueberries.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing out the top.  Scatter the remaining half cup of blueberries over the surface of the cake, slightly pressing them into the surface.  

Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs attached.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack allowing the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Remove the ring of the pan.  Lightly dust with powdered sugar.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

ChezCindy: Broccoli Spoon Salad with Brown Rice


I was not familiar with "spoon salad" until recently when perusing the New York Times Recipes.  Then again in a post by the lovely Daphne Oz.  Spoon salad is simply a matter of chopping the ingredients all to a similar size so that it can be eaten with a spoon.  Thus, creating a perfect bite each time.  

In this recipe, I take a familiar broccoli salad recipe to create a spoon salad using broccoli and brown rice.  Adding the rice makes this a hearty salad, adding toasted pecans and dried cranberries.  The salad can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Be sure to set it out to bring to room temperature when ready to serve.  Grab a spoon and dig in!    

Broccoli Spoon Salad with Brown Rice
2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons agave sweetener
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium heads of broccoli
1 medium granny smith apple
3 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
3/4 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Prepare the brown rice as per the package directions.  Measure out 2 cups, setting aside to cool.  

In a large mixing bowl, prepare the salad dressing by adding in the Dijon mustard, agave, vinegar, and sea salt.  Use a whisk to combine.  Gradually add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a time, whisking in after each addition.  Set the dressing aside.

Prepare the broccoli heads by cutting off the dry end of the stalk.  Finely chop the remaining broccoli, cutting into 1/2-inch pieces, using the stalk and the florets.  Steam the broccoli for 1 minute using either a steamer basket and a pan of water on the stove top, or in a bowl in the microwave.  Remove the broccoli from the steamer, spreading it out onto a towel to stop the cooking process and to dry the broccoli.  Set aside.

Finely chop the apple, no need to peel.  Finely chop the cheddar cheese.  Chop the toasted pecans.  

Put it all together:  Add the cooked rice and steamed broccoli (both cooled) to the bowl with the prepared salad dressing.  Add in the chopped apple, cheese, toasted pecans, cranberries, and the sunflower seeds.  Using a large spoon, stir all to combine, coating the ingredients with the dressing.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt as needed.  Serve at room temperature.  The mixed salad can be stored in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature for serving.  

Saturday, May 4, 2024

ChezCindy: Apricot Mostarda Sweet-savory Jam


Dried apricots are used to make this delicious sweet and savory, somewhat spicy, jam.  The Italian name for this condiment is "mostarda" as it uses mustard seeds to add the edge to the sweet jam, as well as crushed red pepper flakes for an unexpected taste of heat.  

Make a full recipe, or even double it, as the mostarda stores well in a glass container kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks.  Pictured here I have used the mostarda with a soft goat cheese, pistachios, and sourdough crackers.  It also works well added to mayonnaise to make a sandwich spread for turkey sandwiches served with tea for a tea party.  Most commonly, the mostarda is used as part of a charcuterie board paired with cured meats, cheeses, spiced nuts, olives, and breadsticks.  All delicious together.  

 Apricot Mostarda 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse grain mustard, such as Maille
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups dried apricots, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add in the chopped shallot and salt, stirring to combine, cooking for about 2 minutes until the shallots are soft.  Stir in the coarse grain mustard and red pepper flakes, cooking for 1 minute.  Add in the vinegar and sugar.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.  

Whisk in the Dijon mustard, and 1 cup of apricots.  Bring this to a simmer, stirring often, cooking for 8-10 minutes.  The apricots will become plump and begin to thicken into a jam-like consistency.  Turn off the heat, stirring in the remaining apricots.  Cover the pan with a lid, cool to room temperature.  Serve with soft cheeses, cured meats, nuts, and with crackers or toasted crostini.

Mostarda can be stored in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Serve at room temperature.