I can't believe it's already August! The days are cooling (slightly) and are getting shorter. It's putting me in the mood to bake.
One of my favorite cake recipes is from the book "Lunch In Paris: A Love Story with Recipes" by Elizabeth Bard. The book is a memoir of her courtship and subsequent move to Paris. In the book she has scattered recipes. After trying each one, I can honestly say they are all very good! But I especially like the French Yogurt Cake recipe and the background story she gives us about this cake. Bard writes that it is one of the first things French children learn to bake, using the glass yogurt container as a measure, making it easy for them to make.
You can top this cake before baking with any fruit you like, fresh or canned, or none at all. It is great for dessert, breakfast or lovely with a cup of coffee or tea. And it's so moist!
So, without further ado-here is the recipe--
French Yogurt Cake
From Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
A large pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of one lemon
One 16-ounce can apricots, drained and quartered
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter a 10-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, salt and vanilla, stirring or whisking until smooth. Add oil in a steady stream, while whisking to combine. Add eggs one by one, whisking to combine after each one.
In smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour mixture little by little to the yogurt mixture, whisking along the way to combine. Stir in lemon zest. Pour cake mixture into prepared cake pan. Top with chopped apricots.
Bake on center rack for 45 minutes, until golden brown and slightly risen; a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Place the cake on wire rack to cool.
This cake is even better the second day -- provided it sticks around that long. It gets more moist as it sits.
Elizabeth Bard points out in her book that this cake is a "blank canvas" that you can make your own based on the fruits you like or have in your fridge at the time. Try fresh raspberries or pears sprinkled with brown sugar, she suggests.
Somewhere along the line I decided I did not want to make mashed potatoes by first peeling the potatoes, cutting them up, boiling them for 30 minutes and then mashing them in the usual fashion. I was cooking for my personal chef client and was looking for shortcuts to ease my workload. One of the dishes I was making was a stuffed baked potato. I also needed a recipe of mashed potatoes. So I threw both potatoes into a 400 degree oven and baked them for about an hour.
I sliced the top off one potato and used a spoon to scoop out the insides. What I found inside the potato was a creamy, already mashed (after scooping that is) potato without having to peel them! So little work to do for great mashed potatoes!!
So I cut the second potato in half, scooped out both sides and finished the mashing process with my large spoon. I mixed in some butter (EVERYTHING is better with butter, and......maybe some bacon as well), cream cheese (makes them so creamy!), a little milk and salt and pepper. A vouz la! Mashed potatoes with little or no effort.
In case you need a recipe, here it is. Serves 4.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash you potatoes, pierce the skin with a fork once, then place in the oven to bake for approximately one hour. Go on about your business of making dinner, reading-your choice.
Remove potatoes from the oven when fully baked (the potatoes will feel soft if squeezed). Let them cool for 10 minutes. Slice in half and scoop out the flesh of the potato. The skins can be saved for another purpose if you like but they can be refilled with the potato innards for twice-baked potatoes.
Make sure the potatoes have few if any lumps, then mix in the butter, cream cheese, milk and salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cool, cover then refrigerate and reheat later or another day.
The potatoes can also be baked in a toaster oven or the like if you don't want to heat up the house. Since I cook for a living-not much choice here if the recipe calls for oven baking!
And there you have it-easy peasy.
We are once again offering our Prix Fixe dinners to those of you living the in the Reno-Sparks area. Working in a licensed commercial kitchen, Chef April grocery shops, cooks, and delivers packaged meals---individual or family style---on a weekly basis. Your groceries are hand-selected and purchased the day before your food is prepared, so you can count on fresh, quality ingredients for each meal.
Each meal or serving is $10. Five entrees will be offered each week with sides as appropriate. There will also be at least one salad offered each week at a rate of $5 per serving. You'll even occasionally see desserts offered! If you'd like to see a specific dish on the menu, please email us and let us know us! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All orders must be in by 12 noon on Saturday in order to be able to prepare and deliver them on Monday. Please check out our store at www.aprilcookstonight.com.
Staying home for Valentine's Day but stuck for something for dinner? Here is a recipe for Filet Mignon with Tarragon Mushrooms. It's easy, tasty and a sure way to a man's heart. Sides can be anything from a luscious green salad to mashed potatoes and your favorite veggie.
Pistou -- France's version of pesto -- is usually made from fresh basil. Use frozen spinach instead to make our pantry-friendly version. Keeping your dry pantry stocked with items that have long shelf lives will allow you to put together tempting dishes on a moment's notice.