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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Orange Banana Bourbon Loaf

I think if you love bananas and you love to bake, you're always plagued coming up with over ripe bananas and trying to figure out what to do with them.  This time around, my inspiration came from an orange nut bread that my mom used to make.   For some reason, I just couldn't locate the recipe, so I looked around at all my cookbooks for some inspiration...

And, this time, though, I wanted to combine orange and banana.  And, sure, we all know there would have to be booze involved.  I personally love bourbon with both orange and banana, so I figured I had the potential for a double "win" here!

This loaf cake is super easy to make and amazingly moist.  I was surprised how much it rose in the pan, yet was not overly dense.  I like loaf cakes, but I especially like moist and dense loaf cakes. 

This recipe is adapted from a cookbook, Ida's in the Kitchen, which I was gifted about 3 years ago when my father and I drove to Utah and Colorado.  We visited some of his former work colleagues when he as stationed at Dugway Proving Grounds.  I was lucky enough to get my pick of over 100 cookbooks from his friend, Vera, who had just lost her husband, the avid cook in their home.  Ida's in the Kitchen is one of those books...Filled with old-fashioned baking and simple and easy recipes.
No copyright date...Ida has a few books out there...Hand-written corrections...Love it!
We stayed at his friends' house just outside of Salt Lake City.  Dorothy and Roy Keeling are some of the best folks I've even had the pleasure to me.  The greatest gift was watching Dorothy cook!  She is a "Southern" cook, replete with making biscuits by hand.  I was in heaven helping around her kitchen as she imparted cooking wisdom to me.  I came away with SO many of her recipes, I fell quite honored.  And, inspired!!

I hope you try this loaf cake.  It's easy to pull together, nothing fancy or complicated.  And the end result has lots and lots of WOW factor!!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Queen of Sheba Cake for Julia Child's 100th Birthday

In celebration of a culinary giant and amazing woman, I made Julia a birthday cake.  I learned about the JC100 celebration only a few days ago...I know, I live in a cave.   But, honestly, I grew up watching this woman not ever knowing what a influence she would make in the cooking world.  Or, my own world for that matter. 

I have mostly watched Julia on PBS with her Baking with Julia series.  I was so inspired that I bought that book, almost 20 years now.  I have great dreams of finally mastering croissants and brioche.  This cake, Reine de Saba, isn't in that book, but I found it on the list of Julia's favorite recipes that her publisher created for folks like me to make and post in homage to Julia's talents and passion.

My favorite quote from Julia is, "Never apologize for your food."  I'm still working on that...

Not a lot of step-by-step today as it's actually a very rough day for me.  I woke with really, really bad vertigo.  I wasn't so sure after the initial cold sweats whether I would be able to stand.  But, with some time, I'm feeling better.  It may have been the dinner last night...Unlikely, though.  Or this heat wave we're having in the Central Valley. 

More likely am feeling the great, great loss of Mrs. Finch who passed away last night, thankfully peacefully, and in the presence of her family who love her.  She was her own force of nature...Much like Julia.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Wine

 You've heard legend of it but perhaps have never been willing to try it.  Just too scary to sacrifice your zucchini bread recipe to the chocolate gods.  Will it be too chocolatey?  Will you still be able to taste the zucchini?  Will the chocolate affect the texture and moistness we all love about a really great zucchini bread?

Well, my friends, you're in for a real treat!  This cake is super duper moist and with the right combination of chocolate and zucchini.  The cinnamon and cloves had amazing depths of flavor.  The wine is so subtle and smooth, definitely an adult cake.  And, it's a very, very pretty cake to boot!

This recipe is based on my Grandma Truitt's recipe, handed down from generation to generation.  I did make a few modifications with, of course, the addition of booze and using a different pan. 

I used Chocolate Wine, which I have seen here and there.  It's a combination of red wine, milk and you guessed it: chocolate.  I received a bottle from my friend, Melanie, for Christmas last year.  It's been in the frig since then...I wasn't really sure how I felt about it until I tried it just before making this cake.  It's very interesting and would make a great cocktail or an after dinner dessert wine.  Think Baileys or Kahlua.  Cream and rich...And, turns out it's also great for baking!

Grandma Truitt was such a warm and loving person...I only knew my grandmothers.  And, Grandma Truitt always gave us a big hug and a kiss whenever we went to see her.  My other grandmother, Bambi, never did that...I don't know why, it just wasn't her style. 

I think Grandma Truitt, who was a great baker, would be very proud of my homage cake for her! 

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