I’m one taco short a combination platter. A burnt batch of chicken. Where’s the Betty Ford when I need it?
Last weekend my daughter, Greta, married Tom in Charlevoix, Michigan. I threw two parties: a pig roast on Friday for 75 people, and their wedding, for 200, on Saturday.
There’s nothing I enjoy more than cooking for family and friends, but for these occasions I said “uncle”. All events–soup to nuts– were catered. Last summer we spent many hours sampling the wares of catering venues in our area and chose Pigs Eatin Ribs out of Charlevoix to cater the pig roast, and Catering by Kelly’s (out of Traverse City) to cater the wedding. They lived up to their very fine reputations.
The Flower Girls
The only thing this control freak couldn’t control was the weather. The skies were blue yet it rained cherries throughout. We’re in the height of cherry season in Northern, Michigan so much of the party food revolved around cherries. In fact, instead of a traditional wedding cake, cherry pie was served, compliments of Mrs. White.
Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Cherries
For the Bridesmaids Luncheon, a Quinoa-Cherry Salad was served with Cherry Chicken Salad. It reminded me of a Cherry Couscous Salad I’ve always enjoyed making when cherries reign supreme.
Here are links to other cherry recipes I’ve penned in the past that you might enjoy at this time of the year:
Memorial Day picnics, graduation parties, weddings, showers and anniversaries. In the coming weeks you may be called upon to create a celebratory dish or two.
Drizzling lemon glaze over the finished cake. The center hole creates the perfect little vase.
Pound cakes are wonderful spring and summer desserts as the center hole of a bundt or fluted cake pan creates an ideal “vase” to insert fresh seasonal flowers or herbs.
This cake (which feeds a crowd of twenty or so) would be a fine conclusion to any of the following recipes below. If you want to go all out on dessert, I’d recommend making the last recipe in the slide show: Annamarie’s Chocolate Poppyseed Cake. Obviously, I’m a fan of poppyseed cakes–I love the added dimension of little dots and crunch in yellow cake batter.
Pound cakes are simple to make, but use the best ingredients your purse can afford.
Pound cakes are easy to make but don’t save dimes on the ingredients by purchasing generic brands–quality ingredients will carry your cake. Use the best butter, best flour, best (full-fat) buttermilk and the best vanilla your purse can afford.
A good pound cake should be moist, flavorful and dense. Rich from the butter and eggs loaded into the batter, the crust should yield a slight crunch–my favorite bite of the cake. The heavy, non-stick bundt pan I used is a dark cocoa color which influenced the dark color of the crust. For a crust with a light golden shade, choose a pan with a lighter shade.
Lemony-Poppy Seed Pound Cake would be delicious served with a scoop of raspberry sorbet. Wrapped in saran, the cake will keep up two days at room temperature, up to to one week refrigerated, and up two months frozen, with an additional wrap of aluminum foil.
So you want to write a book? Maybe you’ve already written one. If so, I’d love to trade notes! If you are toying with the idea of writing your first book––be it a novel, cookbook, memoir, book of poetry or dummy guide–be prepared to have your cage rattled and buckshots pummelled across your backside; in short, be prepared to bleed.
At least that’s been my experience with self-publishing. But I’ve put the past behind, now that I’ve been invited to join a remarkable team.
So what does writing a book have to do with cake? The Promise Kitchen is well into the works, the Lake Union Publishing group transforming my first novel, “Simmer and Smoke”, into something, well, something that I’m extremely excited about. My editor, part of an amazing creative team, alerted me that one vital ingredient is missing––a recipe for Squash Blossom Honey Cake.
It’s the celebratory cake that one of my favorite characters, Tracy, created and that all of the cast enjoy during the tale’s finale. I was requested to come up with one to conclude the book.
Of course it’s important to the story, so why didn’t I include the recipe in my original manuscript? Ummm…maybe it’s because that, unlike the other recipes included, I’ve never actually made a Squash Blossom Honey Cake. I’ve made decent enough honey cakes, but I’d imagined Tracy making the recipe, and I could never live up to Tracy’s high standards. As well, Squash Blossom Honey is another product of my insanity, er, imagination.
So I got to experimenting. There were several–ahem— missteps. Cornmeal is a wonderful textural component in rustic cakes, so with the first cake I used 50% corn meal and 50% flour. The result? Cornbread. Albeit, good, honey-sweet cornbread, but Tracy wants cake. For the second batch, I reduced the corn meal and the result was cake, but a dry cake. So olive oil and yogurt were added to cake three. Hmmm….close, very close, yet it was missing a special something-something. (You’re probably stuffed imagining eating all of this cake.)
Happily, the fourth cake was the charm–Tah-Dah! At last I have a cake of which Tracy would approve. The cornmeal does not overwhelm; the cake bursts with moist orangy, rich flavors; and the chopped pecans give it that special something-something that was lacking in my previous attempts.
Ingredient Notes: I did mention that Squash Blossom Honey is not available for purchase (as far as I know) on this planet, right? So, until I dedicate a portion of my backyard to squash blossoms and bee hives, I substituted another honey that is rich, sweet, yet not cloyingly so, and is local to my area. I’m sure that using such a fine honey made a difference in the cake.
All honeys are not equal, so I would encourage you to use something local to your region that you enjoy. You will need about 1 1/2 pounds of honey for the cake and the glaze. For olive oils, I used a decent, reasonably flavorful extra virgin. I wouldn’t waste my money on one of the expensive Mazzaratti oils that one could purchase. I liked that my oil lended flavor and personality but didn’t overwhelm.
Baking Notes: I used the convection mode set at 325 degrees in my oven. The cake cooked to perfection in 58 minutes, and the fan didn’t blow the batter around. Note that convection modes have varying results that could influence baking times .
As always, I am happy to answer questions about my experiences with anything relating to bringing your own book ideas to life.
Taste buds prickle; wanderlust triggered. An Argentine barbecue (asado)
enticed me to Patagonia. A friend gave me a vial of ground sumac berries--4 months later I was
waking at dawn to the "Call To Prayer" in Turkey. Porcini to Tuscany, and so on. Read more about my chronicles of
trips and favorite associated recipes. Browse my travel recipes...
Here are ideas gleaned from others that speak to me;
where I highlight projects that bring friends, neighborhoods, and communities together. For me,
complimentary food makes the project and event more fun. Browse my projects and related recipes...