For my week to host Project Pastry Queen, I picked the lightest recipe in the entire cookbook: Prosciutto Tostadas with Shrimp and Parsley.
A crisped flour tortilla is topped with prosciutto, mixed greens, roasted red bell pepper strips, and a garlicky and lemony shrimp mixture. It’s an easy recipe that comes together very quickly. And it’s one of those perfect light Sunday lunches to help you recover from an overindulgent Saturday dinner. You know the kind, where everything – including the plate – seemed to be battered and fried.
We interrupt your regularly-scheduled Project Pastry Queen for a celebration! Emily of Ruf Love and her husband are expecting a sweet baby boy this summer and A Gilt Nutmeg (another Emily – we have 3!) is hosting a virtual shower filled with fabulous baby shower eats to celebrate.
I chose to make Cherry Lemonade. Because every pregnant woman deserves a refreshing beverage… even if, for a few more months, it can’t be as “frosty” as she’d like it to be
Beautiful, sweet red cherries have been plentiful – and super affordable – in our grocery store the last couple of weeks. And few things offer relief from the summer heat quite like a tall glass of lemonade.
We blended up a cherry-infused simple syrup and poured that into our favorite homemade lemonade. Not too sweet, not too tart, and wonderfully refreshing.
Congratulations to Emily! And thank you to A Gilt Nutmeg for coordinating and hosting this week!
Fresh cherries and lemons make the ultimate homemade pink lemonade.
For the cherry simple syrup:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or the equivalent of your favorite sweetener)
2 dozen cherries, pitted and stems removed
For the lemonade:
1 recipe cherry simple syrup
1 cup lemon juice
3-4 cups water
Heat water and sugar in a small sauce pan, just until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture turns clear.
Pour into a blender and add the cherries.
Blend for 10-15 seconds and pour through a fine strainer set over a pitcher.
Using a spoon, press the solids to get all of the liquid out and then discard the solids.
Add lemon juice to the pitcher and then add water to taste (3-4 cups is ideal).
What you’re looking at up there, that’s not really a Mahogany Cake. Mahogany cakes usually have coffee or espresso and I skipped on the coffee this week. Because I was excited that I could afford fresh cherries! And I got that wrinkled brow-squinty eye look when I mentioned that dessert this week would be a chocolate + coffee combo.
Cherries showed up in my grocery store two weeks ago at (gulp) $10/lb. I sadly pushed my cart passed, determined not to let a $15 bag of cherries land me in divorce court. Then last week, they were $8/lb. This week – a more affordable $4/lb. Knowing they wouldn’t get much cheaper, I pulled the trigger.
The chocolate cake is moist and just dense enough to warrant using a bundt pan. I did make a few changes to the recipe since I wasn’t using coffee:
– Eliminated coffee/espresso from the cake
– Substituted the candy for 1/2 lb of roasted cherries: I tossed 1 small spoonful of sugar with 1/2 lb of cherries (pits removed and cherries halved or quartered, depending on cherry size) and baked for 20 minutes at 450. Then I tossed the cherries, accumulated juices and all, into the mixer bowl after adding all the other ingredients, mixing for just a few seconds to distribute.
– Replaced the boiling water with 3 Tbsp blackberry liqueur (I was out of cherry) and 2 Tbsp milk (feel free to use all milk if you don’t have a reason to keep blackberry or cherry liqueur around)
– Whipped up a simple chocolate ganache (recipe from Annie’s Eats) for the icing.
Rather than getting a layer of chocolate-coffee candies on top of the cake, you get bites of juicy roasted cherries. And it sets up as a beautiful cake.
You can get the full recipe over at Amanda’s blog and see how everyone else tackled the Mahogany Cake here.
I have working internet again. At home. To go along with the other two things I can’t live without: indoor plumbing and Diet Pepsi electricity.
Not that I’d think that I could ever get tired of using Chick-fil-A’s free wifi (hello, Spicy Chicken Biscuits!) but holy cow, was I tired of packing up the entire house just to go use Chick-fil-A’s free wifi. I have no idea how the pioneers did it.
I picked this week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge, Texas Pralines. It’s a food blogger’s dream: photographing blobs of brown.
Which only runs second to a food blog reader’s dream – looking at pictures of blobs of brown. So, you know… sorry. And they might have been prettier blobs of brown if I hadn’t gotten distracted.
But I got distracted. So they’re ugly, delicious little blobs of brown.
Pralines. They’re really just another way for Southerners to work pecans in to dessert, one that doesn’t require a fork. They’re sweet candies studded with chunks of roasted pecans. They’re pretty simple and quick, as far as candy-making is concerned. I used honey in place of the corn syrup for another layer of flavor and added the scrapings of a vanilla bean.
And then I beat the pralines for a minute too long – they should have flowed from the spoon onto the baking sheet instead of just… falling off the spoon. So if you’re going to use a mixer for the final step, don’t walk away to unpause the last 3 minutes of the season finale of Hart of Dixie! While it is your (spoiler alert) typical Zoe train wreck, it can wait for you to finish the pralines.
You can check out how the other PPQ members tackled candy-making this week here. Next week, we’re taking on the Mahogany Cake, a decadent chocolate + coffee combo. And I need to find 5 someones to come help me eat it.
Texas pecans make this southern favorite shine.
2 1/2 cups whole pecans (I used halves)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Scrapings of 1-2 vanilla beans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 7-9 minutes, until fragrant.
Remove from oven and set aside.
Over medium heat, stir together the buttermilk, baking soda, sugar, honey, and butter.
Clip a candy thermometer onto the pot and cook until you reach softball stage (~234-240F).
Turn off the heat and remove the candy thermometer. (At this point, I transferred it to my mixer bowl).
Beat in the pecans and vanilla.
Beat by hand with a wooden spoon for ~10 minutes (or by mixer for 3-4 minutes), until the candy has lost its sheen and is thick enough to just flow off of the spoon.
Drop heaping tablespoons onto a sheet of wax paper.
Let the candies cool completely and then wrap individually in plastic wrap.