Swedish Visiting Cake

Swedish Visiting Cake

June 21: Midsommar/Summer Solstice

We used to attend the Swedish Day Midsommar Festival when we lived in Illinois. Hailed as the Midwest’s oldest and largest “midsommar” (midsummer) festival, the city of Geneva, where it took place, was less than a half-hour drive from our home. We enjoyed the Swedish cultural costumes and performances, the colorful maypole-raising ritual and, of course, the smörgåsbord of Swedish foods!

To celebrate the summer solstice—the longest day of the year—we baked a simple “Swedish Visiting Cake”. Reminiscent of other European almond cakes, like the German Magdalenenstriezeln (for St. Mary Magdalene), Greek Vasilopita (for St. Basil) and Spanish Tarta de Santiago (for St. James), this “Swedish Visiting Cake” could be made for St. John, whose feast day on June 24 is also associated with midsummer.

This is a quick and easy cake to make, especially when visitors are arriving at short notice (hence, the name of “visiting cake”). Serve this Swedish sweet with coffee and tea to show hospitality to guests—or to welcome the summer season.

Recipe

(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Ingredients

  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we used vanilla paste)
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (we used slivered almonds)

Directions

Grate a lemon. In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the freshly grated lemon zest. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt. Mix well. Meanwhile, melt the butter and cool slightly.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in the flour. Pour the melted butter into the flour mixture and blend until the batter is smooth.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Pour into a greased pie pan or 9-inch cake pan. Sprinkle with almonds and a little granulated sugar on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden brown (the edges will be lightly crisp but the middle should be soft and moist). Remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly before loosening the sides with a knife or spatula. Slice into wedges. Serve warm or cool.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Notes

  • “Swedish Visiting Cake” is traditionally baked in a cast iron pan.

Chicken Oreganata

Chicken Oreganata

June 10: Herbs and Spices Day

Breaded chicken breasts are sometimes boring. So we like to spice (and herb) them up with oregano, mint, salt and pepper and turn them into a simple yet savory, tender and aromatic dish. The addition of tomatoes makes this meal moist and more flavorful. Cbicken Oreganata is our choice for observing Herbs and Spices Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Healthy Home Cooking by the Editors of Prevention Magazine)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, flattened
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried mint
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs, unseasoned
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3-4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • olive oil

Directions

Line a baking dish with foil and mist with cooking spray. Set aside. In a lipped pan, combine the lemon juice with minced garlic. Toss the chicken in this mixture and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Chicken Oreganata

In a small bowl, mix together the oregano, mint, salt and pepper.

Chicken Oreganata

Combine half of this herb and spice mixture with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned breadcrumbs and place in the prepared baking dish. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and scatter them around the chicken.

Chicken Oreganata

Sprinkle the remaining herb and spice mixture over the chicken and tomatoes. Drizzle some olive oil over them. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are soft and juicy. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and arrange the tomatoes around it. Pour any pan juices over the chicken. Serve hot with rice.

Chicken Oreganata

Notes

  • Thanks to Highlander’s Mum for gifting us with the cookbook from which we used the recipe for Chicken Oreganata.
  • Search our blog for other chicken recipes.

Rocky Road Cake Truffles

Rocky Road Cake Truffles

June 2: National Rocky Road Day

Whenever we level off the rounded tops of our chocolate cakes or have leftovers, we never waste what we have. We just transform them into truffles! Cake truffles sound much more elegant than cake balls. Put them on a stick and they become cake pops—perfectly playful! Place them in chocolate brown paper candy cups and they become truffles—sweetly sophisticated!

For this particular post, we made them with a marshmallow center, topped them with toasted walnuts and drizzled white chocolate as a color contrast for a Rocky Road flavor. Enjoy an elegant treat and try these truffles (cake balls or cake pops) for National Rocky Road Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Leftover chocolate cake
  • Chocolate frosting
  • Mini marshmallows
  • 1 bag chocolate candy melts
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1-2 squares (ounces) white chocolate, melted

Directions

In a large bowl, crumble the cake into fine crumbs. Add half a cup of frosting a little at a time until the crumbs stick together (use more or less frosting, depending on how much cake is left over). Roll and flatten the “dough” and place a mini marshmallow in the center. Make into balls no bigger than 1 ½ inches round. Freeze till firm.

Rocky Road Cake Truffles

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Stick a skewer or lollipop stick on one end of the cake ball. Work quickly to coat it evenly in the melted chocolate. Place on a cold tray covered with waxed paper, smoothing chocolate over the hole made by the skewer or lollipop stick. Sprinkle the nuts on top before the chocolate sets. Continue dipping each cake ball into the chocolate and sprinkling nuts. Refrigerate until the chocolate shell has hardened. Drizzle white chocolate over the truffles. Refrigerate until the white chocolate drizzles have set. Place in individual paper candy cups/mini cupcake liners. Arrange on an elegant platter and serve.

Rocky Road Cake Truffles 

Notes

  • We prefer to use homemade chocolate frosting instead of the one from a can for better flavor. We use the latter if we are pressed for time in preparing Rocky Road cake truffles for a party.
  • Search our blog for chocolate cake and chocolate frosting recipes to make these Rocky Road cake truffles.

Rocky Road Cake

Rocky Road Cake

June 2: National Rocky Road Day

On a hot, summer day, eating Rocky Road ice cream is a cool choice. But lactose intolerant Islander feels it is “safer on her system” to eat a slice of Rocky Road cake because the dairy content in it is less than in Rocky Road ice cream (although there is a little bit of cream used in the chocolate frosting). The cake is also less likely to melt when sharing it with others at summer socials.

Rocky Road cake is easy to make, and the textured topping give this decadent dessert a “wow factor”. Instead of the ice cream flavor, try Rocky Road cake to celebrate the summer season as well as observe National Rocky Road Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

Bake the chocolate fudge sheet cake in a 9×13” pan. Cool completely. Make the chocolate frosting by melting 10 ounces of chocolate squares, stirring in a half cup of heavy whipping cream and incorporating 1 ½ cups of sliced butter pieces until smooth and well blended.

Rocky Road Cake

Allow the frosting to cool for a spreadable consistency (several hours at room temperature or 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator). Stir before spreading on the top and sides of the cake. Pipe decorative shell borders on the top and bottom edges of the cake (optional).

Rocky Road Cake

Sprinkle mini marshmallows randomly on top of the cake. Chop the walnuts roughly and toast them in a small skillet over medium high heat for about five minutes, being careful not to burn the nuts. Cool and scatter them on top of the cake, filling in the gaps between the marshmallows.

Rocky Road Cake

Melt chocolate candy wafers/chips. Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag with a small round tip (or fill a plastic zipper top bag and cut a small hole). Drizzle over the top of the cake. Let set. Slice the cake into 24 squares and serve.

Rocky Road Cake

Notes

Port Wine Chicken

Port Wine Chicken

May 25: National Wine Day

We previously posted recipes for Marsala Chicken and Champagne Chicken. Something similar is Port Wine Chicken. These recipes involve common cooking techniques, such as browning the chicken in butter or oil, sautéing onions and mushrooms, adding seasonings and/or herbs and pouring in some sweet wine to make a sauce or gravy.

Whereas Marsala wine is from Italy and Champagne is from France, Port is from Portugal. The fortified, sweet red wine enhances the flavor of the food in which it is cooked yet does not make the meat taste too alcoholic or acidic at all.

Instead of Marsala or Champagne, try putting Port in a braised chicken with mushrooms dish in observance of National Wine Day. Saúde!

Recipe

(Adapted from Chef Ponzio)

  • 4 large chicken thighs (with bone, with or without skin)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 container (8 ounces) button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 ½ cups port wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Salt and pepper the chicken thighs. In a large pan, brown them in the olive oil. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Drain off any oil.

Port Wine Chicken

Chop the onions and parsley and quarter the mushrooms. In the same pan, sauté the onions with the parsley.

Port Wine Chicken

Add the mushrooms and cook until brown. Put the chicken back in the skillet. Pour in the port wine. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Watch that the wine is not reduced too much and that there is still a little liquid left for some sauce. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Melt the butter into the sauce and stir until smooth. Ladle the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken. Garnish with parsley leaves. Serve with rice or pasta.

Port Wine Chicken

Notes

  • If you like a lot of mushrooms in this dish like we do, double the amount and add half a cup more of Port.
  • Check out more chicken recipes by searching our blog.

Pretzel Lightsabers

Pretzel Lightsabers

May 4: National “Star Wars” Day

Celebrate “Star Wars” Day with some geeky goodies, such as Pretzel Lightsabers. They are quick and easy to make and are popular playthings at parties with a “Star Wars” theme. Simply dip pretzel sticks/rods into colored candy melts, let set and wrap in our lightsaber labels (PDF provided in this post!). May the Force be with you on May the 4th!!!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Candy melts (red, blue and green)
  • Pretzel sticks/rods

Directions

In a tall container, such as Wilton’s dipping box, microwave candy melts according to the package directions. Or microwave candy melts and pour into tall glasses for easier dipping. Dip the pretzel sticks/rods ¾ deep into the candy melts, coating well.

Pretzel Lightsabers

Set onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate to set. Remove from the baking sheet. Print out our lightsaber labels HERE (set color printer options and resize as necessary). Cut and wrap around the non-coated end of the pretzel sticks/rods. Use transparent tape to secure the edges. Set the pretzel lightsabers on a decorative tray and serve.

Pretzel Lightsabers

Notes

  • Add a little vegetable shortening to the candy melts to give it a thinner dipping consistency.
  • Sprinkle  matching colored sugar on the coated pretzels after dipping to give them a little “Star Wars” sparkle (optional).
  • Search our blog for other “Star Wars” themed foods, such as Yoda Soda, Princess Leia’s Danish ‘Do’s, Wookieee Cookies, etc.

Garlic Chicken (Local Hawaiian Style)

Garlic Chicken

April 19: National Garlic Day

Garlic chicken (local Hawaiian style) is one of the dishes that Islander and her brother look forward to eating when they visit their parents back on Oahu. They usually order the entrée from En Fuego Restaurant in Kapolei and Side Street Inn on Kapahulu Avenue, although other eateries have their own version of crispy chicken pieces tossed in a distinctive, tasty-garlicky-sweet-soy-sauce. Onolicious!

Islander learned how to make garlic chicken for her family and local friends on the mainland who were craving this flavorful dish from their Hawaii home. Garlic chicken is great to serve at get-togethers with ‘ohana as well as on National Garlic Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Foodland)

For the garlic marinade and sauce

  • ½ cup garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, sliced
  • 1 cup soy sauce (we used Aloha Shoyu)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

Chop the garlic. Slice the green onions, reserving a few pieces for garnishing the finished dish. In a saucepan, combine the soy sauce and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil.

Garlic Chicken

Lower the heat and add the garlic and green onion. Add the sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the stovetop and cool for 30 minutes.

Garlic Chicken

For the crispy chicken

  • Garlic marinade (ingredients above)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying

Directions

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Strain the cooled marinade over the chicken. Let stand for 15 minutes. Reserve about ½ cup of marinade for the finishing sauce. Discard the marinade in which the chicken was soaked. In a shallow dish, combine the flour and cornstarch. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Mix well. Dredge the chicken pieces in the mixture, making sure they are well coated.

Garlic Chicken

Deep fry the chicken in batches until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with the remaining sauce. Dish out and garnish with green onions.

Garlic Chicken

Notes

  • For a stronger flavor, mince a clove of fresh garlic and mix it into the sauce before tossing it with fried chicken pieces.
  • Get more garlic recipes by searching our blog.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 139 other followers