Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gorgonzola Stuffed Eggs

Ah delicious deviled eggs! I remember my mother making wonderful deviled eggs when I was young and I loved eating these eggs ever since. I used to make basic stuffed eggs, mayonnaise, died mustard, paprika etc, boring! I started experimenting with different ingredients to spice up my eggs. For Easter dinner I used Gorgonzola cheese and I must tell you these eggs were a hit. Everyone, even people who claim not to be stuffed egg eaters(they didn't know what they were missing) loved these eggs. I am happy to share my recipe with you and hope you convert some non stuffed egg eaters with these wonderful treats.  You can find lovely egg plates that are functional as well as decorative!

Gorgonzola Stuffed Eggs

12 eggs, hard boiled
2 teaspoon gourmet mustard
1 teaspoon capers, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
6 Kalamata olives, slice in fourths making 24 pieces

Cut eggs length wise and remove yolk.  Place yolk in medium size mixing bowl reserving egg white.
Add mustard, capers, pepper, and cheese mashing until mixed.  Combine milk and mayonnaise until smooth adding to egg mixture. Mix with an electric mixer (a hand mixer works well) until smooth.  Fill reserved egg white mounding the filling or you can put into pastry bag and fill eggs. Top each egg with a slice olive.

Simple, easy and delicious!


Is it Good Dinner Mrs Mellen or Good Garden Mrs Mellen

I can't decide, torn between my cooking and my garden. During the dreary New England winters I am definitely Good Dinner Mrs Mellen, but once the spring is here, I am torn between two loves.  The sweet promise of beautiful blooms all summer long pull me into my garden. But wait the smells of wonderful dinners alfresco coupled with fresh produce and fruit. Did I say fruit, fresh strawberry short cake, mouth watering blueberry, peach and nectarine pies. Stop what is a gardener/cook to do. This year I think I am successfully blending my two loves into a wonderful long summer season.
In my backyard right off my deck I have a herb and flower garden. Just a short walk from my kitchen down the deck stairs to an abundance of fresh fragrant herbs and flowers. I love using fresh herbs to add the extra pizza to any recipe. During one of the snowiest winters ever I started thinking how I could integrate my love of gardening and cooking even more.  I decided to tweak this garden to make a true kitchen garden. I ordered heirloom tomato seeds,  rainbow pepper seeds, nasturtium seeds, and all different kinds of basil seeds from Renee's Garden to start inside.  As I write my seeds are sprouting in my sunny den, profusely, just waiting for warmer nights to be transplanted in my kitchen garden. 
Visualizing the design has been so rewarding with the culmination last week of finally being out to move plants and plot the final plan. The design is very "Under the Tuscan Sun".  I placed a piece of slate in the center of the garden where when the weather is warmer I will put a lovey Italian pottery planter with a fragrant bay leaf tree. Circling the bay leaf tree will be my heirloom tomato, rainbow peppers and an assortment of basil plants with edible nasturtium and lavender plants in between to add beautiful blooms.  Additionally more herbs will join sage, parsley, dill, chives, oregano, varieties of thyme, chives and more. A true cooks garden, what took me so long!  

Plenty of photo's and recipes all summer long!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Gardening Finally!

Oh it's that time of year when I love to get out in the garden seeing all the spring bulbs pushing up through the cool earth.  I have said it before that in addition to loving to cook, I love to garden. It's a toss up which is my favorite but I can garden for hours not realizing how long I've been in my garden. Time just stops when I am in my garden.  I am truly in the present moment when I garden.
The weather hasn't been cooperating in New England this past winter and also this spring.  Spring so far has been cold except this past weekend. Picture perfect spring days sunny with temperatures in the sixties. Did I mention just a nice light breeze gently blowing.  Yes  perfect spring days to clean out all the flower beds. In New England because our winters are so snowy and harsh, I find it best to leave the leaves in my flower beds as an extra protection of winter mulch.  In the spring I clean out all the leaves and debris from the winter letting sun, air and water  wake up the plants from a long winter. I must say that like clothes I have many flower beds, not too many!(Like clothes you can never have too many flowers)
Not only is the spring a time to wake up my garden, but a time change. Gardens are living entities that need to grown and develop just as we human need to grow and change to stay fresh. Maybe that is one reason I love to garden so much, I love to renew and rethink, reinvent and see the beauty of a new design or arrangement.  Each year in the spring I look at my gardens, thinking what can I add or take away that will bring more beauty or more pleasure. Just like with clothes sometimes you think that a new plant or garden design is going to be wonderful and it just doesn't work out. (kind of like those yellow sling back shoes that the straps just won't stay on my feet!)  On well as hard as it is you just have to accept the fact that the plant(or shoes) just have to go! Sad but true. This year like every other spring I have big plans for my gardens.  Roses are one of my favorite plants, specifically I love old English Roses. I get my roses from the grower David Austin. You can order from White Flower Farms, Jackson & Perkins, or directly from David Austin. I can't recommend these roses enough for their beauty and ease of care. Old English Roses are not long stem to cut for display or tea rose which require more time and care, they are beautiful roses to just see and smell as I stroll through my garden. The David Austin varieties are easy to grow, hearty and disease resistant.  Working on the roses this weekend all I did was a little cutting of dead stems and added some rose fertilizer. During the growing and blooming season to keep my roses blooming profusely I fertilize once a month and dead head spent blooms. Couldn't be easier.
When we had over seventy inches of snow in six weeks this winter I kept my sanity by dreaming about working in my garden and visualizing additions and changes. I kept thinking about adding more beautiful roses to my garden. Just a few clicks on my computer that's all it took to order more roses.
I am so excited! Six more roses will be gracing my garden this year, six beauties! I know just which garden  will be their new home. These wonderful roses will reside right in front of my grandmother's hydrangeas. I can't wait to plant my new friends!
By now you know that I am obsessed with my garden and could go on and on. For now I will just say that I can't explain the pleasure and joy I received from not only working in my garden but seeing the beautiful results of my efforts. I get so much more than I give!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Perfect Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

I've been searching for a perfect light and fluffy yellow cake recipe and I think that I found it. I found this recipe on the box of King Arthur Cake Flour. If your not familiar with King Arthur I suggest you check the flour out. I always used their wonderful unbleached flour for cookies, breads etc but did not like the results for a cake. Now with they have a cake flour I am in heaven.  On their web site they have wonderful recipes for all kinds of delectable baked goods.  Go to  Getting back to this cake, I just loved the results. The cake is high and light with a wonderful flavor with the addition of vanilla and almond extra.  The milk chocolate frosting that I made is rich and complements the light and delicate texture of the cake.

Tender White Cake*

2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
1 2/3 cups superfine sugar is best
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites plus 1 whole large egg
1 cup full-fat vanilla yogurt 
or 1 cup of whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all of the dry ingredients for 2 minutes on slow speed, blend and aerate.  Add the soft butter and mix into paste. Add the egg whites, then the whole egg, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl after each addition

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt or milk. (I used yogurt) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add that mixture, 1/3 at a time to the batter. Beat 1 or 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter into greased and floured or parchment-lined pans(two 8" or 9" round) Cake can also be made as one 9" x 13" or 20 to 24 cup cakes.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes for 8" or 9" pans; 20-25 minutes for 9" x 13" pan: or  15-20 minutes for cup cakes. Remove from oven and frost.

Milk Chocolate Fudge  Frosting
1 pkg( 6 oz) Semi Sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla 
2 1/2 cup  powdered sugar.

In a medium sauce pan combine chocolate, cream, butter and stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat.  Put powder sugar in large bowl. Stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat with with electric mixer. Chill in refrigerator until frosting thickens and is spreadable about 1 hour.

* Here are some baking tips that I've picked up over the years. All of your ingredients for cakes, eggs, milk, yogurt, butter must be at room temperature. Don't just take them our of the frig and start baking. For nice even cakes, not the dome effect, use Wilton Small Bake Even Strips. These insulating strips fit right around your cake pans and you bake the cake with the strips on and like magic your cake comes out perfect.