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Archive for July, 2010

Tostones, twice fried green plantains or breadfruit (pana) patties, are a staple in caribbean cuisine and often served as a side dish, appetizer or snack.  They are called “patacones” or “tachinos” in some south american countries and can be made fresh or nowadays they also come frozen. Some people season them with plain salt, garlic mojito or mayo-ketchup, but I like to serve with this sauce which I call Mojito Caribeño.  All you need is a sharp knife to finely chop ingredients and a mortar and pestle to bring it all together.  This dipping sauce has a strong aroma and irresistible flavor. Simply spread over tostones and enjoy.  If you want to make it spicy, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a few drops of “pique” (hot sauce).

click here to print recipe

Mojito Caribeño

Ingredients

2 large culantro leaves (recao) finely chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp very finely chopped yellow onion

1 tsp very finely chopped cubanel or green pepper

scant 1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

1 tsp vinegar

pinch of ground cumin

pinch of dried oregano

4 tbsp tomato sauce

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Procedure

1.  In a mortar and pestle (pilón) mash garlic with some of the salt.

recao- culantro leaves

2.  Add finely chopped culantro (recao), onions and green pepper.  Mash with the pestle.

3.  Add cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Mash a bit more to create a coarse paste.

4.  Add vinegar, tomato sauce, olive oil and lemon juice and stir with a spoon until all ingredients are incorporated.  Serve with tostones de platano o pana (fried plantains or breadfruit).  Refrigerate if you have any leftovers.

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“San Isidro, labrador, quita el agua y pon el sol.”  This is a phrase that Catholic farmers in spanish speaking countries say to one of agriculture’s patron Saints when they want the rain to go away and the sun to come out.  This summer in Puerto Rico it has been raining a lot as opposed to bright sunny days typical of the season. The weather has been crazy, like in many parts of the world, and we have missed the traditional trips to the beach. For us, the best comfort food for a rainy day is Asopao.  A stew made of chicken or seafood with rice which is heartier than a traditional chicken soup. I usually accompany my Asopao with a side of avocado and tostones (fried green plantains).  So, for those of you that will be sequestered in your homes during this weekend (due to the rain or the cold), here is my recipe for Asopao de Pollo (Chicken Asopao).

Enjoy!

Asopao de Pollo

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 drum sticks or large chicken wings (season with a little adobo or salt and pepper)

1/2 cup of yellow onion finely chopped

1/4 cup cubanel or green pepper finely chopped

3 garlic cloves minced

6 grape tomatoes chopped or 1 small tomato chopped

1 recaito frozen cube homemade or 1 1/2 tbsp store bought recaito

10 spanish olives stuffed with pimento (manzanilla olives)

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1  can (7 0z.) pureed pimientos morrones (roasted red bell peppers in brine)

1/2 tbsp fine sea salt

2 cups of good quality chicken broth

3 cups of water

1 potato diced or 6 baby potatoes peeled and cut in half

3/4 cup of white rice or parboiled rice

1/2 cup frozen sweet green peas

Procedure

1.  In a med-large heavy bottom sauce pan, heat olive oil (med) and saute the seasoned pieces of chicken. About 5-8 minutes.

2.  Add onions and green pepper and saute for about 3 minutes.

3. Add minced garlic and saute for about 3 more minutes.

4.  Add recaito ice cube, tomatoes, olives and tomato sauce. Saute for about 5 minutes.

5.  Add white wine, pureed pimentos and salt. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

6.  Add chicken broth, water and potatoes. Let stew simmer for 25 minutes covered.

7.  Add 1 cup of rice and cook for 15 minutes covered.

8.  Add sweet green peas and cook for 5 more minutes covered. At this point add more water if you want the Asopao to have a more liquid.  Serve with side of tostones and avocado.

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In a few weeks I will be attending a family reunion of the Arbona side of the family. My great-grandfather came to Puerto Rico from Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands (Spain) in the late 1800’s.  In short, he went back, got married, had his children and they returned to Puerto Rico due to the Spanish Civil War during the 1930’s.  We are a large group! (one of my great-uncles had 10 children, they all had children and their children have children, etc.).  In honor of this gathering,  I got inspired to publish my recipe for Ensaimada Mallorquina.

To give you a little background, Ensaimada is a typical sweet bread from the island of Mallorca .  They are usually large (about 12 inches in diameter) and sometimes filled with fruit preserves, “angel hair” (pumpkin confit), sobreasada, almond puree, cream or apricots.  For hundreds of years, like many countries in South America, Puerto Rico had a large group of immigrants that came from different parts of Spain (including the beautiful island of Mallorca) looking for work, fortune and a better quality of life. My grandfather, Papi Bartolo was one of them. Therefore, Puertorican culture is highly influenced by the traditions of many different regions of Spain.

In Puerto Rico there is a version of Ensaimada called “mallorca”, like the island of its origin. It is usually the size the palm of my hand, so no wonder as a little girl, I was in awe of the size of Ensaimadas on my visits to Mallorca.  Also, they can be found in every bakery shop in Puerto Rico and even American fast food restaurants have incorporated it in their breakfast menus to adapt to the tastes of the locals. However, although they have a similar shape, they are not rolled up twice like traditional ensaimadas and its dough is more similar in texture to “brioche” (flaky french bread) or challah bread, depending on the place where you buy them.  The most popular mallorcas in Puerto Rico are the ones from La Bombonera in Old San Juan (to me the closest texture to ensaimada in PR) and from Panaderia Pepin (absolutely delicious, but not similar in texture) in Guaynabo and San Juan.

The name ensaimada comes from the arabic word “saim”, which means pork lard.  The first accounts of ensaimadas are from 17th century writings.  There were not written recipes to make ensaimadas. However, there was a method.  According to Mallorcan Web,  ” to explain how ensaimadas were made 200 years ago and nowadays is one and the same thing. The process is completely artisan and can take up to 24 hours to complete. To make the dough old measures are still used: almudes and ounces. To get some idea, in Mallorca an almud of dough contains a kilo of sugar, a dozen eggs, a liter of water and all the ‘strong’ flour it can take (thereby is the secret, no measurement for the flour!). To these ingredients yeast is added which can be either natural yeast or in powder form, and the kneading starts. In former times this was done by hand. Although nowadays machines are used, to do so by hand the dough is placed in a bowl and kneaded until it is soft. After more or less half an hour, it is smooth.” This dough is kneaded and rolled very thinly, then rolled and spiraled to form the traditional shape of an ensaimada which is like the house of a snail.  Lately, I’ve been told that for some reason the ensaimadas that are sold in large boxes at the airport of Palma de Mallorca are not allowed to fly with you on the plane, you have to put it in your suit case and send it through cargo.

Ensaimadas can be served warm or at room temperature for breakfast, as dessert, with coffee or tea or as a snack. They are a bit crusty on the outside and flaky on the inside. Also, you may heat ensaimada that is a few days old in the griddle with butter or ham and cheese like a panini. I had never found a recipe that I felt confident I could follow, but over a year ago I found this recipe in a german website (germans flock to the island of Mallorca in large groups throughout the year) and adapted it.  It is fairly easy to make, just takes time because of the wait to let dough rise.  Remember the oven must be very hot and to use common sense since ovens vary.  I like to let them rise overnight and bake them on a weekend morning for my family to enjoy. Here is my version of Ensaimada de Mallorca.

Enjoy!

Ensaimada de Mallorca

Recipe adapted by:  Aleida L. Arbona from www.deliciousdays.com who adapted it from www.kuechengoetter.de

Ingredients

5 cups bread flour or unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 packet dry yeast(2 1/4 tsp) (1 cube fresh yeast)

1 cup warm milk (add a little over one cup)

2 eggs

approx. 2/3 cup pork lard or vegetable shortening

powdered sugar for dusting

Procedure

1.  Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Make well in the center and add 1 packet of dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp) or 1- 40 gram block of fresh yeast (crumbled) , a large pinch of sugar and enough warm milk until the yeast is covered.  Stir the yeast and milk a bit with a fork.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest for about 15 minutes or until the yeast has bubbles.

2.  Add other ingredients and knead by hand or with your dough hook in your electric stand-up mixing machine.   If the dough is too sticky add a bit more flour.  Cover the bowl again  and let rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or until dough has doubled.

3.  Punch it down softly, and place the dough on a well floured surface.  Cut into 10 equal portions and form into neat balls before letting them rest.  Sprinkle with flour and cover with kitchen towel  for at least 30 minutes.

4.  To shape the ensaimadas, flatten dough ball and roll out with a rolling pin (use flour as needed) until you get a thin disc. Brush it generously with lard or vegetable shortening.  Roll up cautiously and set aside on lined baking sheets (either with parchment paper or silicone mats).

5.  Coil up each piece of dough until it resembles the house of a snail tucking the outer end under (some people pull the rolled up dough a bit to make it longer and thiner, but that’s optional). Do so loosely because the spaces will fill up as the dough keeps rising.  Place 5 ensaimadas in a baking sheet, leaving space between them. Lightly brush with lard or shortening and cover up again.  This is the final rise which is done from 4 hours to overnight (you choose, I do it overnight).

6.  To bake, preheat oven 390ºf and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden (do not let brown too much).  Let cook in a wire rack for a few minutes.

7.  Generously dust with powdered sugar

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For a couple of years I have been daydreaming about visiting Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York. Every time I read a new article about the farm or about its renowned restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, my imagination started to fly and wished one day I could visit this place and eat at the restaurant.  An unexpected trip to New York City came up and I found myself looking for my computer to contact Stone Barns and arrange a visit.

As one would imagine, the Blue Hill at Stone Barns Restaurant was fully booked. It turns out that if you want to go to have dinner at this restaurant, you must make reservations exactly two months ahead of time!  The hostess I spoke to was kind enough to give me some pointers and told me that they had a full service bar area with a first come first serve policy and if we arrived early (meaning when they opened at 5pm), we had a good chance of having dinner at Blue Hill’s bar. So I arranged our visit in a way that we could enjoy nature, tour the property, and sample what the farm had to offer.

pain quotidien

grand central station

Everything turned out better than planned! It was on a Saturday morning in late May that my mother, my friend Maryse and I had a delicious organic breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan ( 922 7th ave. corner 58th st. ) and immediately headed to Grand Central Station to catch the next train to Tarrytown.  Once we got off the taxi cab and entered Grand Central Station to catch the Metro North line, I felt bombarded with “food stimuli” as we walked through a large arched hallway that lead to the train tracks filled with endless stations of food specialties on both sides for the convenience of daily commuters.  I though I had died and gone to heaven!  Anyway, we took the 11:45 am train in which we could appreciate beautiful views of the Hudson River.  Tarrytown is a quaint village about 25 miles north of Manhattan, near Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving’s story was inspired.  Once we got to Tarrytown,  we hopped into a cab to Pocantico Hills, where the farm is located (about a ten minute ride).

Stone Barns is located in Pocantico Hills, a hamlet in the town of Mount Pleasant, on 80 acres of Rockefeller’s Park Reserve (4,000 acres in total). Once you start walking around the property, you get a sense of freedom and community.  I noticed many visitors bring their dogs, families with small children, and couples, maybe on a first date, but we all had one thing in common and that was to enjoy the outdoors, get away from the city and learn first hand about sustainable farming. Dan Barber, executive chef and creator of the concept of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and co-owner of Blue Hill Restaurants, has been promoting for many years the concept that people should be more conscious about their food choices and how those choices affect your health.  The farm is a non-profit center for food and agriculture education and for city dwellers to come learn about the farm-table connections. They even have a camp for children to get their hands dirty and learn about farming and growing good food.

maremma sheepdog

We arrived early, so we had time to take a walk on our own towards the livestock areas of the farm since our tour would be focused on vegetable farming.  On our way to the open hilly pasture fields, we could reckon the fringe of the forest of the Rockefeller Park Reserve which surrounds the farm. Further ahead, we began to see little white heads popping from the tall grass.  They where a group of sheep guarded by a docile Maremma Sheepdog, and italian breed of dogs with a thick white coat that protect sheep from predators. Then we walked towards the grass-fed cattle. On the way, we also saw Berkshire pigs resting in the shadow of a large tree, natural honey being harvested and lastly, we visited the free range chicken coops.

free range chickens

At 2 pm, our tour met at the farm’s courtyard which is surrounded by the Blue Hill Cafe, Blue Hill Restaurant, event rooms and the Stone Barns gift shop.  The building is made of gray slate stone,  hence its name, and is also available for private events. At the farm, they don’t harvest seeds.  Instead, they buy them from heirloom seed banks. The farms crops and products are sold to the Blue Hill Restaurants (the original Blue Hill Restaurant is in Greenich Village in New York City) and Café, at their farmer market on weekends and if there are any leftovers, sold at other farmer markets no further than 250 miles away, to comply with the Locavore (those who prefer to purchase locally produced goods and services) movement.

courtyard

farmer at work

cornstarch tarps to protect crop and prevent weeds

where compost tea is "brewed"

First, stop was the four acre farming area which is seeded according to the four seasons and with an 8 year rotation system.  I was told by our tour guide, that spinach and winter greens taste better when planted in the winter because in order to strive they turn starch into sugar yielding sweeter greens. Crop rotation is a practice that promotes a more fertile soil, diminishes pests and pathogens and obtains better yields.  The dissimilar crops are rotated every year to replenish nutrients in the soil.  For example, in the area where crops like nitrogen-hungry spinach was harvested, nitrogen-replenishers like legumes are used as fertilizer or as the next crop.  In addition, what they call Compost-tea is produced on the farm with the restaurant scraps, organic material, non-edibles and farm and forest leaves to fertilize the soil. As you walk though the field you notice a dark “plastic” that covers some parts of the crop which is actually a tarp made of cornstarch used to prevent weeds and protect the crop. Throughout the farm there is a marriage of old style farming tradition and modern technology in order to produce the best outcomes without the need of artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and/or pesticides. Garlic, onion, spinach, beets, potatoes, carrots, grapes, tomatoes among others, are grown at Stone Barns. It is from the top of the small hill where the vegetables are farmed where you glance over your shoulder and get a majestic view of the barn with a beautiful small garden which, we were told, is a tea garden.

view of stone barns from the 4 acre vegetable field

view of the half acre green house

Furthermore, we had the chance to tour the awesome half acre greenhouse. The seeds are planted into the soil (instead of raised beds) and has a sophisticated irrigation system.  Everything planted in this hi-tech greenhouse is for consumption and follows a 2 year rotation.  It has automatic sensors that open up when it gets too hot or at the time of day it needs direct sunlight.  We had a chance to sample some arugula and enjoyed the aroma of rosemary.  As an interesting fact, in the summer, the yield is about 300 pounds of greens per week.  Also, we took a quick look at a small cabin where they dry herbs.   Nearby, there is a chicken slaughter house and a livestock slaughter house where the stress-free pastured animals are taken to be turned into the ingredients used to delight patrons at the Blue Hill Restaurants. Everything in the farm is grown for food in a natural way. However, they have not been certified by an organic food organization and do not seek to. In addition, there is an area in the woods where the pigs that are for procreation are kept.

We had a couple of hours to kill after the tour, so we took a break for our tired little feet to rest at the Blue Hill Café where you can find outdoor communal tables for visitors to relax and sample some of what the farm has to offer.  Everything there is compostable or recyclable and the waste bins are clearly labled.  Even my water cup was fully compostable!  I had a savory potato focaccia as a snack and enjoyed a lively conversation with Maryse and my mother about what we had just seen and heard. In addition, we met a couple from upstate New York who came to the property to learn how to expand their family farm into a sustainable and eco-friendly local business.  Later, we curiously watched as the guests of a wedding arrived and as the visiting farmers and natural foods bakers packed after a long day selling their goods.

Finally, fifteen minutes before 5 in the afternoon! We entered the Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns and immediately its friendly maitre d’ came over to greet us.  As I explained that we didn’t have a reservation, that we wished to have dinner at the bar, he was still gracious enough to invite us to take a view at the empty grand salon where the people that had made reservations two months in advance would have dinner that evening.  It was a medium sized room with high ceilings, bright, simple and crisp white linens.  He asked where we were from and started telling me stories about how much he liked Puerto Rico and the places he had visited in Condado, Ponce and Isla Verde.  Finally, he brought us to our seats at the bar near the fireplace and we met our waiter/bartender.

menu of ingredients available that day

At Blue Hill many drinks are made with natural rhubarb sugar which we saw our bar tender use to prepare virgin cosmopolitans and the Mojitos ordered by the couple sitting next to us.  My mom and I ordered red wine.  Then, our waiter proceeded to explain how things are done at the restaurant.  First, he brought us a menu with a list of all the ingredients available that day.  Then he asked if we were having the 3 ($55), 5 ($105) or 8 ($175) course meal. We chose the 5 course meal and although pricey, the experience was worth every penny.  Finally he asked us what we don’t want or can’t eat from the list in the menu and to choose a preference from the two alternatives for appetizer, main course and dessert.  The way our meal was prepared and the “amuse-bouche” in between, were entirely up to the chef’s desires.  This gave the whole experience an element of surprise and excitement. Everyone, according to their tastes and selection of ingredients, got different servings. Ah, and we got the best view from the bar, because from our seats we could watch the kitchen staff work their magic! Fantastic!

switzi city spritzer and mixed greens

button head mushrooms burgers amuse-bouche

amuse-bouche of aparagus and sesame seeds

The first thing we tasted was called a Switzi City Spritzer, a sparkling concoction that had Anise flavor. The next waiter brought (yes, there was a different waiter for each entré!) a selection strange greens sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper staked in a wooden base with nails.  They were crunchy, fresh and delicious. On the other hand, our neighbors got baby carrots and greens for this course. In addition, since asparagus and mushrooms were in season, we were served “amuse-bouche” of asparagus tips dipped in egg batter and covered with sesame seeds and mini hamburgers made of a mix of button mushrooms, garlic and herbs with sweet bread.  Following, the first course was served in a glass bowl.  A salad of mixed seasonal greens, parsnips, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries and flowers like johnny jump up violets and broccoli flower with a foamy goat cheese-yogurt dressing.  At this moment, a selection of flavored salts ( asparagus, carrot and black trumpet mushroom) was placed in front of us to sprinkle over the butter on the heavenly caramelized onion bread.

mixed greens, flowers, fruits and vegetable salad with goat cheese yogurt dressing

flavored salts and butter for bread

black sea bass

poached egg with mushrooms

peruvian purple potato gnocchi in lettuce broth

pork

The second serving was a black sea bass (some ingredients are outsourced if they cannot be found in the farm) in a bed of sauteed greens with fresh chives and a delicate butter-white wine sauce. Next, was a poached egg served in a “green soup” with sauteed button mushrooms, onions and garlic. Since Maryse couldn’t eat egg, she was brought peruvian purple potato gnocchi with spinach broth and shiitake mushrooms. She loved it! Fourth was a piece of farm raised Berkshire pork which seemed to be tenderloin.  However, our waiter didn’t confirm or deny if it was a pork tenderloin.  What he did say was that sometimes other pieces of the natural, stress-free pork, if butchered and cut properly and cooked delicately or with special techniques like “sous-vide” (sealed in a vacuum in low heat for a long period),  the meat cuts will become as smooth as tenderloin.  Whatever cut it was, it was tender indeed and full of flavor served with morel mushrooms, asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, red vein sorrel, chives and chickpeas with a sultry butter-wine sauce. Finally, for dessert I was served a chocolate-hazelnut crunch bar with ice cream, cocoa nib and caramel.  Presentation and service was superb.  The creativity and quality of the food was exquisite.

Bar at Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns

After some tea and almost 2 hours of delectable dining and wonderful company, we headed back to the Tarrytown train station. On our way to the station, we passed the Union Church at Pocantico Hills where there is one Matise and several Chagall stained glass windows and enjoyed beautiful water views.  During our train ride back to New York City were felt satisfied both emotionally and physically. Running south on the east bank of the Hudson River, I admired the sunset and reflected on the wonderful opportunity we had that day to slow down and recharge in communion with nature and simplicity.

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My sister in law Frances is an expert at improvising in the kitchen.  For more times than I can remember, I have seen her juggle in the kitchen to feed a large group of unannounced guests with delicious homemade meals.  This rice is inspired in one of her trademarks.  She makes it in a rice cooker, but I don’t own a rice cooker so I make it in my caldero, chef’s pan or heavy bottomed sauce pan.  In addition, she uses extra-long grain white rice which I substitute with Jasmine Rice.  It is easy, colorful and a nice twist to traditional white rice. Also, this rice is aromatic and full of flavor. By making little changes like these in everyday meals we get inspired to get out of the routine and explore new possibilities.  Accompany with filet mignon, grilled chicken or bbq ribs.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Pimientos (rice with peppers)

approximately 8 generous servings

Ingredients

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) of butter

1/4 green bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 red bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 yellow bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 cup onions (coarsely chopped)

3 cups jasmine rice

1 tbsp salt

4 1/2 cups of water

Procedure

1.  In a medium size heavy bottom pan or caldero, melt butter (med heat).

2.  Sauté  onions and peppers until onions are translucent.

3.  Add jasmine rice and stir to coat all grains with the melted butter.

4.  Add water and cook uncovered until most of water has evaporated and you can see small holes in the top of rice.

5.  Stir with a slotted spoon or large fork. Reduce heat to low and cover until rice is cooked, about 15-20 more minutes.

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A pound cake is a kind of cake which is made of 1 pound of each of the following ingredients: eggs, flour, butter and sugar.  However, there are many variations, substitutions and additions to this type of cake and the quantities are often varied to fit the baking mold you are going to use.  For example, sometimes vegetable oil or sour cream is used to substitute some of the butter for a less dense and more moist cake.  Also, baking soda and/or baking powder are sometimes added to induce leavening properties while baking. In addition, vanilla extract (or other flavoring agents), dried fruit and/or nuts can be incorporated and still be called pound cake as long as an approximate ratio of 1:1:1:1 of the ingredients is maintained.

I have always been a big fan of blueberries. Blueberry muffins, bagles, pancakes, preserves, pie and pound cake, have been in my list of favorites since I was young.  While I lived in DC, I loved the blueberry muffins at Armand’s for breakfast or going to Sutton Place Gourmet and buying their delicious Blueberry Pound Cake to reward myself after a long week of exams.  I  have never found a Blueberry Pound Cake as good as the one they had at Sutton Place Gourmet except for this one.  This version of Blueberry Pound Cake has taken me a while to perfect.  Sometimes it would come out too dense or too light or too dry or I put too many blueberries and it would break apart.  To tell you the truth, I tried dozens of recipes before I came up with this version. As a result, I have kept an approximate ratio of about 1/2 pound of the main four ingredients in this recipe (give or take a little).  Remember, never use canned blueberries only fresh for the best results. Serve for breakfast, snack or for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Here is my version of Blueberry Pound Cake.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Pound Cake

Ingredients

1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick) plus a little more for greasing pan

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cups sour cream

3 eggs

2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (sifted) plus 1 tbsp to sprinkle over blueberries

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

lemon zest 1 lemon

3/4 cup of fresh blueberries

glaze

superfine sugar (10×10)

juice of 1 lemon

Procedure


1.  Cream butter and sugar with paddle attachment of stand up electric mixer. (You may use an electric hand mixer as well).

2.  Add sour cream and vanilla extract followed by eggs, one at a time.

3.  Meanwhile in a bowl, sift the flour.  Add salt, baking powder and baking soda and gently stir with a fork to combine.

4.  Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in batches just until fully incorporated.  The result will be a dense batter.

5.  Add lemon zest to finish blending.

6.  In a small bowl place washed fresh blueberries and dredge with some flour to coat. Gently fold into mixture.

7.  Coat loaf pan with butter and pour batter into pan (10×5 inches).  Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour or until sharp knife comes out clean. Let rest for about 10 minutes.

8.  Remove from pan carefully and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile mix the juice of the lemon used for the lemon zest with powdered sugar until desired consistency has been reached.  Drizzle with a spoon over pound cake.  Store in a cake dome, foil paper or container with lid.

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One of the best investments I have made for my “batterie de cuisine” is buying a good mandoline.  A mandoline is a kitchen utensil used for slicing, julienne or crinkle cut vegetables. One of the many advantages is the speed and uniformity in the thickness in which slicing can be done with very little effort.  I like to use mine to thinly slice cucumbers to make these refreshing and crunchy finger sandwiches. I bring them to a friend’s house for a ladies luncheon, school events and a few days ago made them for a league tennis match.  Always a big success!  Don’t forget to place a damp paper towel on bottom and on top of the tray in order to keep them moist and fresh.  I am only mentioning ingredients and procedure without quantities because it all depends on how many people you will be feeding.

Enjoy!

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Ingredients

whole wheat club sandwich bread

thinly sliced fresh cucumber

mayonnaise

finely chopped fresh cilantro

Procedure


1.  With a serrated bread knife, neatly cut club bread’s crust.

2.  Cut cucumber very, very thin with a mandoline.

3.  Spread mayonnaise on two pieces of bread and cover one side with two layers of cucumbers and the other with finely chopped cilantro.

4. Place pieces of bread together and cut into 3 “sticks”. Keep refrigerated.

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