Nana’s Lemon Prune Cake with Lemon Butter Sauce

My mom sent me a recipe for my Nana’s Lemon Sauce via email, which was a little odd.  Normally, when I ask for a recipe, it comes by mail – photocopied recipe card complete with my Nana’s handwriting.  Even though I bless the convenience of computers every day, there is something a little sad inside of me that misses the recipe written in her own hand, stained with drops of milk and string of egg white.

I remembered the sauce well from my childhood when my Nana would don a ruffled gingham apron and create a tiny bit of magic in her small kitchen.  I loved that space, not much bigger than my own kitchen now, with really tall cabinets, an old-fashioned oven complete with warmer and a small aluminum-edged table in the middle of it all where everyone gathered.  For the big meals, we ate in the dinning room, but the real heart and action happened in that small kitchen.

Prune Cake Photo Rocky Coast Photography

The sauce itself was silky, tart, lip-smacking… but I didn’t remember how she served it.  After questioning my mom, the reason became clear.  My Nana served it with fruit cake – never my favorite on the best of days.   I went to bed that night thinking about what would go well with my Nana’s Lemon Sauce and how I could reinvent fruit cake into something not only palatable, but actually yummy.  That is how this recipe was born.

My Nana always called it Butter Sauce, but I always remember calling it Lemon Sauce.  When I think of butter sauce now, it brings to mind a Creme Anglaise, and this sauce is much like that, only less smooth vanilla and more punch of lemon.

Lemon Prune Cake with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
Zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from about 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 cup diced prunes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until just well mixed. Pour into prepared cake pan using a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the middle and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan before serving either warm or room temperature with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce.

Serves 12

Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a medium double boiler heat egg yolks until they lighten in color, whisking fairly consistently.  Gradually add sugar, continuing to heat and whisk.  Remove from heat and add butter, lemon rind, juice, and salt. Fold in whipped cream.  Chill and serve on top of warm cake.

Makes enough to serve with cake plus extra — have a spoon ready.

Annie
Thanks, Nana!

Ginger, Sesame Chicken Soup with Cilantro Sesame Pesto

A pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove.  The windows edged with moisture.  The wind howling outside while inside, all is well, warm, and welcoming.  That’s what this soup is about.

Today I’m feeling especially grateful for the people who grow our food and the animals that become our meals.  That our food is well-tended before it reaches our plates is a gift.  I appreciate what nourishes my body and the bodies of those I love.  Abundance comes to us in so many ways and I feel rich and full and blessed.

Chicken Soup Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Ginger, Sesame Chicken Soup with Cilantro Sesame Pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions; about 1 large onion
2 cups diced carrots; about 2 carrots
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and julienned (cut into match-stick sized pieces)
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups cooked chicken meat

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onions and carrots and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the ginger and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil to heat through. Serve with a dollop of Cilantro Sesame Pesto.

Serves 4 to 6

Cilantro Sesame Pesto
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 cup scallions, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 small garlic clove, smashed
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine everything in the food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined.

Makes about 1/2 cup

Annie
Enjoy this light, after-the-holidays meal!

Sitting Down to the Dinner Table Together

A number of years ago, when the girls were small and bedtime was 8pm (for me and them), a friend of mine said something to me and I didn’t believe her.  As I was holding my tired, tear-stained four year old on my hip, she said that when your kids get older, it’s just as intense as when they are small.  She said that instead of clinging to your pant legs, they need you in a completely different way, but just as much.  She said that her teenagers were just as time consuming and just as needing of her nurturing as when they were small.

I thought she had motherhood amnesia.  You know, the syndrome that has a mother, who recently experienced labor, to be so awash in baby love that she wants another child.  She forgets that this will require another labor.

Now that I have teenagers, I still think my friend forgot how intense mothering small children can be.  So when I’m trying to figure out how and when all of us can have dinner together because one has play practice from 6 to 8pm and the other has a class that begins at 7pm and it turns out the only time we can all sit at the table together is at 5pm, I remember when they were small.

DinnerTable

When at the end of the day, everyone was a little (or a lot) frayed at the edges and no one could really handle entertaining themselves.  When having little people “help” with dinner meant starting at 4pm for a dinner at 6pm.  When holding one in the sling and the other on the hip meant that I couldn’t chop a vegetable or make a salad.  But if I set them down, the terror of the toddler would reign down on the household.  Back then I wished I were an octopus.

Now I wish I could clone myself.  I’d have one mom drive and the other make dinner.  Since neither of those is likely, I’ll just stick with having a lot more free time in the day, serving dinner at the oddest of hours so that we can all sit face to face, and driving my teenagers to and fro with “car talk” to sustain me.

Annie
Dinner time – it’s important

Goat Cheese and Scallion Twice-Baked Potatoes – Holiday Side or Appetizer

The grown-up version of a childhood favorite, these twice-baked potatoes are both a nod to my mom and her simply delicious cooking and to Appleton Creamery, from whence this recipe inspiration was born.

Just as satisfying as the traditional, the tangy goat cheese and bite of the scallions takes this classic to another level.  Still comfort food, yet elegant enough to serve as a holiday side-dish.

Another thought is to use baby potatoes and serve tiny versions of these delights as a holiday appetizer.  Be sure to back off on the baking time and use a small melon scoop to remove the potato flesh.

My mouth might be watering just a tiny bit.  Scuze me, I gotta go cook…

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Goat Cheese and Scallion Twice-Baked Potatoes
4 large or medium russet potatoes, scrubbed cleaned and pierced with a fork
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces crème frâiche
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the potatoes in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they are tender when squeezed or pierced with a fork.

Remove from oven and slice in half along the widest part of the potato to make it so they will more easily lay flat. Hold each half of potato with a towel and with a spoon scoop out the center. Press through a ricer or smash with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Using either a pastry bag with a large hole or just a spoon, return the potato mixture to the potato shells. At this point you can cover and refrigerate them overnight. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. If you have refrigerated them, bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Thank goodness for comfort food.

Chocolate Truffles – Little Rounds of Heaven

The days around the holidays, I’m especially reminded of traditions surrounding family.  Of creating and sustaining those rhythms that our girls will look back upon and remember well.  It’s not the presents around the tree, I think, that will be held the strongest in their minds and hearts, but those less tangible moments that have nothing to do with receiving.

Instead it will be the ritual of tromping into the woods to find just the right Christmas tree.  Decorating the house with pine boughs, roping and white lights.  Lying underneath the decorated tree and looking up at all of the branches illuminated with that golden glow.  And, of course, Christmas cookie making.

Now, we’ve gotten “better” at these rituals as the years have progressed.  The tree now has ornaments from top to bottom rather than a band of decorations high enough for a young one to reach on their tip toes.  The cookie making is a more ordered affair.  In other words, I’m not scraping flour and sugar off the floor and ceiling for a month afterwards.  And even the decorating of the house happens without tears or broken ornaments.  What a blessing to be able to spend these special days together.

Hands in the cookies.
Hands in the truffles.

The girls and I made these dark, silky balls of decadence as one of our Christmas “cookies” this year and had trouble not eating them ALL.  Fine Cooking‘s recipe is perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.  We covered them in several ways – with cocoa powder, chopped walnuts, and the classic ganache.  Some got an espresso bean inserted in the center.  Those were our favorites, but they were all out-of-the-park delicious.  They make a perfect homemade holiday gift (If you can bear to give some away!)

Truffles2
Rolling truffles in cocoa powder.
All of the varieties.
All of the varieties.

Annie
In chocolate heaven!

Fresh Sea Breeze Cocktail with Homemade Cranberry Syrup

It’s a cranberry time of year when the brilliant burgundy globes garnish plates and glasses galore.  This cocktail was inspired by a delicious cranberry syrup made with leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving.

And then the box of citrus came from Florida filled with juicy, plump grapefruits, and well, Capt. “needed” a cocktail after a long day down at the boat and… Now we all have a wonderful recipe to share with friends.

Fresh Sea Breeze cocktail Photo by Rocky Coast Photography

Fresh Sea Breeze
1 1/2 ounces Cold River Vodka
3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/2 ounces cranberry syrup (see recipe below)
ice for serving
3 cranberries in syrup as garnish
ice for serving
1 candied grapefruit peel as garnish

Add ice to an old-fashioned glass. Pour vodka and grapefruit juice over the ice and stir. Add the cranberry syrup and let it fall to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with cranberries and lime wheel.

Makes 1 cocktail

Cranberry Syrup
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
3 cups water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the cranberries all “pop” and release their juices. Cool and store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Makes 4 cups

Annie
Cranberry merriment

Holiday Gifts from the Riggin and Annie’s Kitchen – Part 2

Two more thoughts for holiday gifts… I mean, it’s still early for those procrastinators out there, so no time like the present, People!

I’ve been in love with these Giovani wine glasses for a couple of years.  Now they come with the Riggin logo on them.  Cool, huh?

In addition, we’ve got a new look at an old classic, the coffee/tea mug.  Nice and big with a decent-sized handle.  Click on over to the ship store or call us for more details!

wineglass2 Mug

Annie
Much merriment and happiness to you all.

Holiday Gifts from the Riggin and Annie’s Kitchen

The house is smelling of honey, vanilla, and oats as the batches of granola become gifts for your family and friends.  Monday, the aroma of coffee will greet us as we package up the famous and fabulous Rock City Coffee to the far reaches of the United States.

But there’s more!  All kinds of jams and preserves, mugs and photos from the ship store, and classy nautical jewelry.

For more details and prices, click on over to the Ship Store Page.  Below are just a few of the items available.

Two of the many granolas from Annie's kitchen - Ginger Coconut Granola and Cranberry Blueberry Granola.
Two of the many granolas from Annie’s kitchen – Cranberry Blueberry Granola and .
Rock City Coffee that greets you every morning on the boat. Perhaps a cuppa Riggin is just what you need!
Rock City Coffee that greets you every morning on the boat. Perhaps a cuppa Riggin is just what you need!
Nautical earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from Chart Metalworks.
Nautical earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from Chart Metalworks.

Annie
Happy shopping!

Apricot Orange Pound Cake – Holiday Baking

Wondering what to bake for the mail man and your kids’ teachers?  This pound cake, filled with the fragrant, fruity flavors of apricot and orange could be just the thing.

While the apricot and orange extracts might not be readily on hand in your pantry, they make all the difference. I’ve seen them at my local grocery store and have also had some happy luck on Olive Nation with some seriously delicious extracts that have kept my creative baking spirit happy all summer long on the boat.

This recipe was given to me by an exceptional family that sailed with us several years ago. They own a bakery in Amish country and the original recipe is one of their top sellers.  I’ve, of course, changed some of the extracts, due in large part to running out rather than because the recipe needed a single tweak.  Thank you Beiler family for your gift of the original recipe.

Apricot Orange Poundcake Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Apricot Orange Pound Cake
If you end up doubling the recipe, then use five eggs instead of four.  I’ve found the recipe works just a wee bit better.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon apricot extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon apricot extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one, 9 x 5 inch, loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a sifter.  Measure the milk and add the extracts.  Sift half of the flour mixture and add half of the milk mixture to the butter and sugar and mix until incorporated.  Repeat and pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center of the cake comes clean.

Glaze:
Bring all the glaze ingredients to a boil; pour it over the cake just as it comes out of the oven. Let the cake cool a bit before removing it from the pan.

Serves 8

Annie