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August 2009

Artisan Cheese Platter - Boka Kitchen, Hotel 1000, Seattle

Artisan cheese platter  

Serving a cheese course is finally gaining popularity in the US. There's a great website with tips on putting together a cheese platter, using a "cheese clock", which can be a big help when selecting cheeses. http://www.artisanalcheese.com/cheeseclock/


Here's the selection of Artisan Cheese served at Boka Kitchen at the Hotel 1000 in Seattle http://www.hotel1000seattle.com/ (clockwise from top)

1.    Bijou – from Vermont Butter and Cheese


Paired with Oregon Hazelnuts and Mint Flower Honey

2.    Tarentaise – from Thistle Hill Farm


Paired with Marcona Almonds

3.    San Andreas – from Bellwether Farms


Paired with Orange Mousse

4.    Bourree – from Dancing Cow Farmstead Cheese http://www.dancingcowcheese.com/ourcheese.htm

Paired with Fig jam

5.    Old Apple Tree Tomme -  from Estrella Family Creamery


Paired with sliced Granny Smith apple

6.    Baley Hazen Blue – from Jasper Hill Farm


Paired with Wine Jelly

Strawberry Poke Cake

Strawberry poke cake 

Poke Cake was created by Jell-O in 1969 to help increase sales of their product. I saw this recipe on a cooking show a couple of months ago, and they had updated the method to include real strawberries (and less Jell-O) which made the dessert more appealing to me. Although it’s great summer dessert, you can make all year round because it uses frozen strawberries. Note: The top of the cake will look slightly overbaked—this keeps the crumb from becoming too soggy after the gelatin is poured on top.


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened, plus extra for preparing pan

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for preparing pan

4 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 cup whole milk 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

6 large egg whites 

1 3/4 cups sugar 

Syrup and Topping

4 cups frozen strawberries 

6 tablespoons sugar 

2 tablespoons orange juice 

1/2 cup water 

2 tablespoons strawberry-flavored gelatin 

2 cups heavy cream 


1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Whisk milk, vanilla, and egg whites in large measuring cup.

2. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, in two batches, beating after each addition until combined, about 30 seconds each time. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. Scrape into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan, at least 1 hour. Once cool, cake can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.

3. For the syrup and topping: Heat 3 cups strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, juice, and water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook until liquid is deep red and strawberries are softened, about 10 minutes. Strain liquid into bowl, reserving solids, then whisk gelatin into liquid. Let cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, using a thin wooden skewer, poke about 50 holes in top of cooled cake (In order to create deep lines of red color against the white crumb, poke and then twist the skewer to really separate the crumb.) Slowly pour cooled liquid evenly over top of cake. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until gelatin is set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

5. Pulse reserved strained strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, and remaining 1 cup of strawberries in food processor until mixture resembles strawberry jam. Spread strawberry mixture evenly over cake. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream with remaining sugar to soft peaks. Spread cream over strawberries. Cut cake into squares and serve.


Poke cake holes


Fresh Basil Pesto

Pesto final 

 Fresh Pesto

Cooks Illustrated suggests pounding the basil to release its flavorful oils into the pesto more readily. I like to add some fresh Italian parsley and some baby spinach leaves to keep the pesto from darkening. Pesto can be kept in an airtight container, covered with a thin layer of oil (1 to 2 tablespoons), and refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to three months.

¼ cup pine nuts , toasted (or substitute almonds or walnuts)

3 medium cloves garlic , unpeeled

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves 

½ cup baby spinach leaves

3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves (optional)

½ cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil 


1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano

 Ground black pepper 

1. Toast the nuts in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes; set aside. Add the garlic to the empty skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly, then peel, and chop.

2. Place the basil and parsley in a heavy-duty 1-gallon zipper-lock plastic bag. Pound the bag with the flat side of a meat pounder or rolling pin until all the leaves are bruised.

3. Process the nuts, garlic, bruised basil and parsley, spinach, olive oil, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.



Basil parsley 


Pesto ingred  

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Oatmeal cookie final

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips

If you’re looking for a new twist on a classic cookie, this recipe is worth a try. It’s a nice combination of chocolate and oatmeal, slightly crisp on the edges, chewy in the center. Great cookie for chocolate lovers.

3 ½ ouces unsweetened chocolate

1 ¼ cups flour

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups suagr

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

6 tablespoons milk

2 ½ cups quick cooking oatmeal

6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.    Melt unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

3.    Sift flour, cocoa, soda and salt into a small bowl.

4.    Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.

5.    Scrape down bowl and add egg and milk and beat on medium speed until blended, about 20 seconds.

6.    Scrape down bowl, and add flour mixture and beat on low speed for 15 seconds. Add oats and beat for 15 seconds.

7.    Add melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until blended, 15-20 seconds.

8.    Fold in chocolate chips with rubber spatula.

9.    Drop batter in heaping tablespoons about 2 inches apart.

10. Bake until centers have risen and just begun to set, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool on pan for 2-3minutes and then remove to wire racks.


Chocolate Oatmeal dough 

Chocolate oatmeal balls  

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut blossoms final 

Peanut Blossom Cookies

Basically a peanut butter cookie topped with a Hershey’s Kiss – but what a winning combination. They became an American cookie jar favorite when Freda Smith entered them in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1957 and are still an all time winner.

Makes about 8 dozen (recipe can be cut in half)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour  

1/2 teaspoon table salt  

1/2 teaspoon baking soda  

1/2 teaspoon baking powder  

1 cup roasted salted peanuts  

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still cool

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar  

3/4 cup granulated sugar  

1 cup creamy peanut butter  

2 large eggs, at room temperature 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract  

96 Hershey's Chocolate Kisses (from two 1-pound bags), ready-to-use or wrappers removed 

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk 1 3/4 cups flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl. Process remaining 1 cup flour and peanuts in food processor until ground, about fifteen 1-second pulses, then stir into flour mixture.

3. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add peanut butter and continue to beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, until incorporated, about 30 seconds, then beat in vanilla, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl, if necessary. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in two batches, and mix until incorporated. Cover bowl and refrigerate dough until stiff, about 30 minutes.

4. Roll 1-inch balls of dough and space 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until just set and beginning to crack, 9 to 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet from front to back halfway through baking. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven and firmly press one Kiss in center of each cookie. Return baking sheet to oven and bake until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies directly to wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat rolling and baking remaining cookies. Cool completely. (Cookies will be cool enough to eat after about 30 minutes, but Kisses will take 2 hours to set completely.)


Peanut blossims baking

 Peanut blossoms cooling

Here's another Hershey Kiss Cookie Recipe on FOODISTA Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies on Foodista

Rustic Plum Crostata

Crostata plum 1 

I love rustic tarts – they’re so easy to throw together with any seasonal fruit. I usually keep a couple of rounds of dough in the freezer so that I can make these whenever I have extra fruit (or unexpected company!). I like adding some of St. Dalfour Spreadable All Fruit to the fresh fruit – they have some great flavors - including Fancy Plum(https://secure.stdalfour.us/MarketDetail.cfm/product/23/). The dough can be rolled out into 1 large tart or 4 small tarts.



2 tablespoons sour cream  

2 tablespoons ice water  

1 cup all-purpose flour  

1/4 cup fine-ground cornmeal  

2 teaspoons sugar  

1/2 teaspoon table salt  

7 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled 




1 ½  lbs. red plums, pitted and sliced

¼ cup St Dalfour Fancy Plum Preserves

¼-½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour (if fruit is very juicy)

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp allspice

Pinch of salt


Egg Wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1. For the dough: Stir the sour cream and water together in a small liquid measuring cup and refrigerate until needed. Process the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter half of the butter pieces over the top and, using short pulses, process until the butter is the size of small peas, about 4 pulses. Scatter the remaining butter over the flour mixture and continue to pulse until most of the butter is incorporated yet some pea-sized bits remain, 4 to 8 pulses. Continue to pulse, while pouring the sour cream mixture through the feed tube, until the dough just comes together around the processor blade, about 5 pulses. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Let refrigerated dough soften slightly before rolling it out. Let frozen dough thaw on the countertop until malleable before rolling.)

2. When ready to roll and bake the tarts, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and shape into small rounds. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 6” round. Slide the dough onto a seperate parchment lined baking sheet, and repeat with following rounds.(Or roll dough into one 13” round) Refrigerate rounds until firm, about 20 minutes.

3. For the filling: Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl until combined. Mound plum mixture in center of prepared crusts, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Fold border over fruit in a pleated pattern. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle dough with Turbinado sugar crystals.

Crostata dough  

Crostatas baking  

Crostata baking  

Moist Orange Bundt Cake with Orange Zest Glaze

Orange cake slice 4   

Citrus cakes are great in the summer with some fresh berries. This cake stays nicely moist thanks to the sour cream. Using orange juice concentrate gives it a stronger orange flavor, but you can easily make the glaze with freshly squeezed orange juice as well.

Download Moist Orange Bundt Cake with Orange Zest Glaze recipe



2 sticks unsalted butter softened but still cool, plus extra for greasing pan 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (12.5 ounces)

4 large eggs, room temperature 

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons grated orange zest , chopped, plus 3/4 cup juice from 2-3 oranges 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract  

2 cups granulated sugar (14 ounces)

1 teaspoon baking powder  

1/2 teaspoon baking soda  

3/4 teaspoon salt  




2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted if lumpy  

1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate , thawed 

I tablespoon lemon juice  

Pinch salt  


Zest Topping

2 teaspoons grated orange zest  

3 tablespoons granulated sugar  




Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan; dust pan with flour, then tap out excess. Whisk eggs, zest, juice, sour cream and vanilla in medium bowl.


With electric mixer on lowest speed, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt  in large bowl. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat at medium-low speed until mixture is crumbly with pea-sized pieces, about 30 seconds after last tablespoon of butter is added. Add ½ the egg mixture in steady stream and beat on medium low speed to incorporate. Scrape down sides of bowl, and add remaining egg mixture and increase speed to medium-high, and beat until batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Use rubber spatula to give batter final stir. (Batter may look slightly curdled)


Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth out surface. Bake until skewer inserted into middle of cake comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool cake in pan on cooling rack for 20 minutes, then turn out onto rack placed over rimmed baking sheet.


For the glaze:


While cake cools, whisk 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, juice concentrate, lemon juice, and salt in small bowl until smooth. Brush still-warm cake with 1/4 cup glaze and let stand until just warm, about 1 hour. Whisk remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into remaining glaze and pour evenly over top of cake.



For the Zest Topping:


Using fork, mix zest and granulated sugar together in small bowl and sprinkle over glaze. Cool cake completely, about 2 hours.


Orange cake glazed