Thursday, August 23, 2012

Scandinavian Baking at the MN State Fair

Scandinavian Tosca Bars

Tomorrow, August 24, I'm doing a demo at the MN State Fair in the St. Agnes Baking Co. Kitchen located in the Creative Activities Building. At 11 a.m. I'll be baking Scandinavian Tosca Bars and at 1 p.m. Finnish Orange Cake. It's a short demo and I have to take everything with me so I'm packing up and hope I don't forget something.

I do have recipe handouts and everyone is always looking for new recipes. Of course, I'll have Scandinavian Classic Baking with me, too.

My daughter Kristin is helping me and in between demos, we'll be looking for food "on a stick"!

Here's a recipe for a classic bundt cake that bakes in a 12-cup bundt pan.  

Orange Bundt Cake

A classic pound cake is made with one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour but doesn’t have the lighter texture preferred today in cakes. The delicate orange flavor added by the orange rind can be intensified by also adding orange extract. If you are using a fluted tube pan, I recommend using shortening and brushing it into all the grooves in the pan before flouring.

 Makes 1 cake, 12 to 16 servings

 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange extract, if desired

3/4 cup 2% milk, room temperature

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

 Heat the oven to 350°F with rack in lower third. Thoroughly grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan or an angel food cake pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Combine the milk and orange juice.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, and beat 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each egg is added. Add the vanilla and beat 3 minutes until the mixture is very light and creamy.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After adding all of the flour beat until smooth, but no longer than 15 seconds.

Stir in the orange rind. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire cooling rack 10 minutes. Run a spatula or a wooden skewer around the edge of the pan and around tube in the center to loosen the cake. Carefully loosen the cake from pan and invert onto cooling rack. Cool completely.

Serve with whipped cream.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Juila- 100 Years Ago This Week!

Julia Child taught me to cook. Well, not personally but I learned much about food preparation watching the French Chef in the 70's. I had a degree from Purdue in Food Research by that time but little experience with everyday cooking and no familiarity with French cuisine.
While my son napped I sat glued to the TV watching Julia. I saw the infamous chicken go flying off the counter and Julia's nonchalant response, returning it to the set. I loved her casual attitude that even dishes that weren't perfect were edible and appetizing. Julia's philosophy: Don't start by saying this is a failure- just give it a different name.

There's a lot on the Internet now because this week marks Julia's 100th birthday.  Here's a list of some of my favorites, mostly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
          Coquille St. Jacques
          Roast Chicken
          Beef Stew in Red Wine with Bacon and Mushrooms
          Peas Braised with Lettuce and Onions
          Cherry Clafouti
          Coq au Vin
          French Onion Soup

Beef Stew in Red Wine, Coq au Vin and French Onion Soup are examples of clearly written recipes in Julia's unique style. These recipes cover several pages and proceed step-by-step slowly building up layers of flavor and perfectly cooked ingredients.

One of the most popular themes in cooking today is 30 Minutes or less. In 30 minutes or less you don't get the intense flavors and perfectly cooked textures that come only from taking a little more time.

Go to or or  to find some of Julia's recipes online.

Writing this post has reminded me how much I enjoyed the results of Cooking with Julia. I need to go back and recreate some of her fabulous meals.

Thanks Julia!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summery Harvest Favorites

Farmer's Markets are at their peak this time of year as all the local produce ripens. On Thursday I bought a basket of small cucumbers and immediately thought of cool and refreshing cucumber soup as the start a simple supper on a hot sticky day. For me, the perfect end of summer meal starts with a chilled soup and includes fresh sweet corn, sliced tomatoes layered with fresh basil drizzled with a little balsamic and something from the grill.

Farmers’ market cucumbers are plentiful this time of year and great for soup because their shapes can be uneven. Peel with a vegetable peeler and cut in half lengthwise. Use a melon baller or fruit spoon to scoop out seeds and discard. Large cucumbers with a waxy coating from the produce department are also good in this recipe. I first tried sauteed cucumbers after watching Julia Child on the French Chef. The idea of cooked cucumbers was a foreign concept in the land of pickles but one I really liked!

Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound (2 to 3 medium) cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

white pepper, to taste

1 cup non-fat Greek-style plain yogurt

4 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the cucumbers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cucumbers begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until the cucumbers are fork-tender.

Carefully ladle the hot cucumbers and liquid into a food processor bowl and process until pureed. Add liquid as needed or process in two batches. Adjust seasoning, adding salt if needed and white pepper. Pour into a covered container and chill.

Pour chilled soup into serving bowls or cups and sprinkle with fresh dill.