Lilly & Louise in Flutter Mag

7.5.2013

This week Flutter Mag launched their Summer issue and we’re excited to be featured! We created a do-it-yourself gift basket full of “a few of our favorite things,” complete with downloadable/printable tags so you can created your own gift basket for a friend or welcome basket for out of town wedding guests. Our basket included my local favorites such as a lemon from our lemon tree, handmade soap, almonds, local olive oil & balsamic vinegar, local wine, homemade cookies… and my favorite part of our gift basket was Kim’s homemade strawberry crumble baked in a mini mason jar! (They’ve included her recipe, too!) Here is a peek of our feature, and you can see the full issue here.

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We have a plum tree

6.26.2013

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When we moved into our house last December we had to remove a few dying trees from our new front yard. They were old and neglected and looking very sad. We left the healthiest looking tree in hopes to try and revive it. We didn’t know what kind of tree it was, but over the last few months we’ve been learning all about it. First with beautiful blush pink buds and blooms, then long, pointy leaves, and now after watching the fruit appear and having a taste we know it’s a plum tree (but don’t ask me what kind of plum tree).

As with the lemon tree at our old house, I’ve been inspired to make summery plum creations. My first: a plum galette. I’ve always seen images of galettes and wanted to try my hand at one. They’re so rustic and imperfect. I figured if it didn’t taste good, it would at least make a nice photo. Well it tastes great, even with a few sour plums mixed in (I’m learning when the right time to pick is). And it’s even better served warm with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream. Our favorite is McConnell’s French Vanilla.

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Pate Brisee
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice water

Filling
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons ground almonds
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 pounds large plums—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1/2 cup good-quality plum, apricot or raspberry preserves, strained if chunky or seedy (I used a friend’s homemade Lemon Curd)

1. MAKE THE PATE BRISEE Put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and process for 5 seconds; the butter should still be in pieces. Add the ice water and process for 5 seconds longer, just until the dough comes together; the butter should still be visible.
Remove the dough from the processor and gather it into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 16-by-18-inch oval 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to a large, heavy baking sheet. Chill the dough until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°.

2. MAKE THE FILLING In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the ground almonds and flour. Spread this mixture evenly over the dough to within 2 inches of the edge. Arrange the plum wedges on top and dot with the butter. Sprinkle all but 1 teaspoon of the remaining 1/3 cup sugar over the fruit. Fold the edge of the dough up over the plums to create a 2-inch border. (If the dough feels cold and firm, wait for a few minutes until it softens to prevent it from cracking.) Sprinkle the border with the reserved 1 teaspoon of sugar.

3. Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, until the fruit is very soft and the crust is richly browned. If any juices have leaked onto the baking sheet, slide a knife under the galette to release it from the sheet. Evenly brush the preserves over the hot fruit; brush some up onto the crust, too, if desired. Let the galette cool to room temperature before serving

 

When Life Gives you a Broken Foot…

5.28.2013

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…make Grapefruit Bars!

After fracturing a bone in my foot last week (no cool story, just a clumsy step) and ordered to stay off my foot for a couple of weeks, I found myself with a little down time and inspired to bake. Nathan wheeled my office chair into the kitchen and I went to work on some Grapefruit Bars. I recently scored a bushel of yellow grapefruits at our neighborhood garden exchange and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. They were too sour to eat by themselves, so I thought I’d try them as a replacement for lemons in lemon bars. While classic lemon bars are still my favorite, these had a sweet, citrus flavor that was delicious and fun to try.

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Crust:
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup flour
generous pinch of sea salt
Combine all ingredients until crumbly (I pulsed everything in my food processor for a few seconds) then press dough into a greased 8×8 baking pan. Poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork. Bake at 350 F for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.

Filling:
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
1/2 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 cup flour
powder sugar for dusting the top
Whisk together all ingredients until just combined, pour into prepared baking pan with crust. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, until the bars have set. Remove from the oven and dust with powdered sugar after cooling.

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 A concerned Peachy after I returned from Urgent Care.

It’s Fall! Let’s eat pumpkin!

10.15.2012

Although I could have worn my bathing suit and flip flops yesterday, I can sense that the season is changing. The morning air is feeling a little crisper, the evening light a bit more romantic . . . and there are pumpkins everywhere! I’ll admit, I’ve had many things other than baking on my mind lately, but the recent feeling of shifting seasons has inspired me to get creative in my kitchen again. The first results of which are classic pumpkin muffins. These muffins are easy to make, moist, and delightful. The perfect breakfast to get your fall day going.

Pumpkin Muffins
from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in muffin cups.

Combine baking powder and flour in one bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

When Life Gives You Lemons: Lemon Sugar Cookies

6.15.2012

That lemon mint cake reignited my affinity for lemony treats, and our lemon tree is just as fruitful as ever, so I’ve been scouring books and blogs for new lemon recipes. I stumbled upon this one a couple of weeks ago and happened to have all ingredients on hand. It’s a fresh take on the classic sugar cookie and sure to please….Have any fun lemon recipes to share? Do share in the comment section.

Lemon-Coconut Sugar Cookies
(yields about 3 dozen cookies)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 large lemons
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
4 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Rolling Ingredients
1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies
Zest of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, coconut and salt; Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugar. Using your fingertips, run the zest into the sugar until the sugar becomes moist and aromatic. Set the bowl aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter just until smooth. Add the lemon sugar mixture and beat until creamy. Add the egg and lemon juice. Mix to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Beat only until the streaks of white have disappeared. Turn off the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, give the dough a few more turns. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the rolling ingredients. In a large, shallow bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Using the same technique that you used for the dough, rub the zest into the sugar. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, using a rounded tablespoon per cookie, roll the dough into balls. Roll each ball into the lemon sugar mixture to coat. Leaving about 2-inches between each one, place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to rest on the sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

When Life Gives You Lemons: Lemon Mint Cake

6.5.2012

Friends, it’s high time for a lemon recipe, isn’t it? It’s been far too long. Truth be told, it’s been far too long since I’ve baked! We’ve been working diligently here in the studio on freshening up our website (launching soon!) and this lemony goodness was a good excuse to take a break, open some wine, and sit on the patio with friends. It’s a great summer treat because it has an angel food cake-like texture and the lemon syrup gives a nice zing. It received thumbs up all around.

Cake
3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 mint sprigs, leaves chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour

Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.

For the cake: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

In a separate large bowl, beat the vegetable oil, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time. Add the chopped mint, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Set aside.

Slowly add 1/2 of the egg white mixture into the oil mixture. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cutting board and allow to cool before slicing.

For the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, and lemon zest over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes.

To serve, spoon some of the syrup onto each small plate or shallow bowl and lay a slice of cake on top. Drizzle the cake with additional syrup and garnish with a small sprig of mint

When Life Gives You Lemons: Lemon Pistachio Cake

12.23.2011

Wow! What a month! It’s almost been a month since my last post. We’ve been up to our necks over here in the studio with holiday cards, holiday baking, and preparations for new projects in the new year. I haven’t been baking as much as I used to, so it was nice to make some time for making a floury mess in the kitchen. While this year’s holiday baking wasn’t last year’s holiday baking spectacular, I did manage to try some new delicious recipes (which I will surely share), and a few that have become favorites, including Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

The recipe I share today came to me by request of my husband on a dog-eared page of Edible Santa Barbara magazine. He’s a big fan of pistachios, and we’re always up for a creative lemon recipe. We happened to have pistachio meal flour on hand from a past trip to the farmers’ market where it struck our curiosity (and we used it that night for pistachio crusted grilled halibut!). This cake was delicious. Not too sweet–almost coffee cake like. And the sea salt flakes make this unique combination of flavors bold. We both highly recommend it.

I’m hoping to squeeze in a little more baking this year–’tis the season.

Lemon Pistachio Cake
Makes 9 Servings

1 cup flour
1 cup pistachio meal flour*
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup pistachio oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs (preferably local, free-range)
1/4 teaspoon Neilsen-Massey lemon extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Zest of 1 small lemon
Juice one small lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup shelled, chopped unsalted pistachios
Pinch of sea salt flakes

Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Preheat oven to 350º.

Whisk flour, pistachio meal, baking powder, cardamom, and salt together and set aside. Using an electric stand mixer, cream the butter, oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the lemon extract and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Meanwhile, whisk together the zest and juice of the lemon with the powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over the cake when it comes out of the oven and then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and a pinch of sea salt flakes, and press down lightly over the surface.

*Pistachio meal flour is available from Santa Barbara Pistachio or you can make it by grinding up raw, shelled pistachio nuts in a blender or coffee grinder until fine. You can also use a food processor, but keep an eye on it, if you run it too long it will become a paste.

When Life Gives You Lemons: Lemon Pound Cake

5.5.2011

Although it’s been a while since a “When Life Gives You Lemons” post, our lemon tree hasn’t slowed in production. It must be a happy tree, just sitting there in the sun, watching the neighborhood kids ride by on their roller things. It NEVER slows in the amount of lemons it produces. Though sometimes they may be odd sizes, they always taste like, well…lemons.

Last Easter weekend I was feeling the need for some lemon baking and found this recipe for Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberries. I happened to have all the ingredients and got to work. The cake is moist and lemony and delicious. This recipe makes a small amount, so use a small baking dish–it’s actually a “just right” amount.

For cake
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For glaze
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. and butter and flour a 1-quart kugelhopf pan, knocking out excess flour (I used a loaf pan).
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and zest. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in vanilla. Beat in half of flour mixture. Beat in milk and lemon juice and beat in remaining flour mixture until just combined. 
Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, and bake in middle of oven 45 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a tester comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes and invert onto rack to cool completely. 
Make glaze while cake is cooling:
In a small bowl whisk confectioners’s sugar, a little at a time, into lemon juice until smooth and thick.
When cake is completely cooled, drizzle glaze over cake and let it drip down sides. Cake may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. 
Serve cake at room temperature with strawberries.

Because Baking is Creative: Carrot Cake (Again)

3.24.2011

Oh dear…It’s been far too long. I’m sorry. The good news is that there’s been lots going on in the studio (not so much in the kitchen, except this goodness)– exciting projects that I’ll be excited to share once they’re complete!

In the meantime, I hope this little number will tide you over. Every year for Nathan’s birthday, I make him a carrot cake. Last year I found the best recipe, this year is a close second. I would have made last year’s recipe again this year if it wasn’t for a sweet friend who insisted I try this one. When she gave me a typewriter-era recipe photocopied onto letter-sized piece of paper, then folded into eighths, I knew it was a good one. Even the Carrot Cake Connoisseur himself gave it two thumbs up.

Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups oil
4 eggs
4 cups carrots, grated
3/4 cup nuts
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add oil and one egg at a time beating well with mixer. Fold in carrots, nuts and vanilla. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 box (4.75 cups) powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter

Cream together and frost cooled cake.

Enjoy!

Because Baking is Creative: Cocoa Browned Butter Brownies

3.3.2011

I’ve had a hankering to make these brownies ever since they graced the cover of the glossy Bon Appetit that dropped through my mail slip last month. I attempted a few times without thinking through the ingredients: first I was out of butter, then I only had one egg. But today my pantry was stocked enough to make a batch of these brownies, and I was able to steal away some time from work to “beat vigorously” and put them in the oven. And, oh my, what delicious brownies they are!! Fudgy and gooey beneath the crackly top, and the browned butter gives them a nice, nutty kick.

Make them. You won’t be sorry…unless, of course, you don’t share them.
Then you’ll be sorry.
I’m going to share them.
I promise.

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces

Preparation
Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.