Friday, April 25, 2014

Southern Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

I prepared this cake for Easter lunch with my parents.  It is like a German Chocolate Cake but without the chocolate part.  It was very moist - because I poured the icing on top - and easy to prepare with a boxed cake mix. 

I never have any luck finding canned, German chocolate frosting (or pecan coconut frosting) so I improvised by adding some caramel sauce, pecans and sweetened coconut to the cake mix.  For the icing I added some UN-sweetened coconut and pecans to the butter sauce.  Yum!  With all the pecans and coconut this has to be SOMEWHAT healthy, right?

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 13, 2014

We met at Tonya's house.  There were only three of us so our menu was actually cooking light!  For once, I left without feeling like a stuffed pig!

For cocktails I prepared a lemon lavender cocktail using Janet's lavender syrup.  It was light and sweet with no overly alcohol taste from the gin.  The prepared syrup made this recipe simple to put together.  I used the juice from 8 lemons so clearly there are medicinal benefits.

The appetizer was a roasted garlic and brie pizza.  I used a Boboli thin crust and added sun dried tomatoes and thyme.  I covered the pizza in brie and I think that may have been over kill.  If I made this again I could have some patches without cheese because it is very rich.

Our main dish was moussaka.  It is like a Greek shepherd's pie, except with currants, honey and bechamel sauce. Ha!  This casserole was delicious and all the exotic flavors blend together magically.  We garnished with parsley and ate it with some warm naan.

The dessert was Greek to go along with the Greek themed main dish.  Galaktoboureko is a custard in a crispy phyllo shell.  The custard has a texture like malt-o-meal and not smooth like creme brulee.  This desert is also not overly sweet despite the syrup on top. A nice sized slice was the perfect end to our meal.

Friday, April 11, 2014

March 2, 2014

We met on March 2, 2014 at Mary's new, beautifully decorated home!  Besides Mary, Tonya, Angie and Janet we had Mary's brother Jackson and Mary's friend Cecilia.

Main dish:  Mary, Pan Seared Scallops with Fettuccine
Appetizer, Cocktails and Wine:  Janet
Salad:  Angie, Kale, Cranberry, Pepita Salad
Side:  Angie, Honey, Ginger Roasted Carrots
Dessert:  Tonya, Silken Chocolate Walnut Tart

Janet got us started with an eggplant dip and tasty cocktail.  Shortly thereafter we moved on to wine.  HA! 

The salad was a copy-cat of HEB's kale salad though I think the flavor was a little different.... not as sweet.  This is still a nice, healthy salad full of raw kale that keeps for several days.
Our main dish seemed to have all the food groups covered:  cream, bacon and pasta.  Oh, and tasty scallops! 

For a side dish I prepared carrots.  Ever since Mary brought roasted carrots to a gathering I have been craving them.  This was a simple dish with fresh ginger and I used whole carrots.

We finished our meal with the most decadent, chocolate tart that Tonya served with a side of ice cream.  It was creamy and just the right amount of sweetness.  It also looked very pretty.

Silken Chocolate-Walnut Tart (from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather)

Tart Crust

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup (11 tbs) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1/4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream


1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
14 ounces chocolate (semisweet or bittersweet or a mix), chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbs. whiskey or dark rum (optional)

To make the tart dough, combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in the butter cubes and mix on low speed until the dough looks crumbly (about 1-2 minutes). Whisk the egg and cream together in the small bowl, then add to the dough. Mix on low speed just until the dough comes together (you may need to add a little more cream, do so 1 tbs. at a time). Form the dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the chilled dough and press into a 10 inch tart pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place the nuts on the sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven 7 to 9 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

To make the filling, place the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave, heating 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between. Alternately, melt in a double boiler or in a saucepan over very low heat. Once the chocolate and butter are melted, remove from heat and add the sugar, stirring until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth. Add in the vanilla, salt, cream, and whiskey and stir until smooth.

Spread the nuts in a single layer in the dough-lined tart pan. Pour the chocolate mixture evenly over the nuts. Bake for 50 minutes. The tart should still be slightly loose in the center, but will firm up as it cools. Allow to cool completely before cutting (refrigerate to speed up the process). Use a sharp knife to cut thin slivers (it is rich!). Enjoy chocolate bliss.