Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Luncheon Cupcakes: Lemon Angel Food

These cupcakes are bright and citrusy, which makes them a perfect finish for a Springtime or Easter luncheon. They have a zesty tang of lemon, the fluff of angel food cake, but plenty of sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. Make them even cuter with some themed muffin cups. Wilton’s pink petal muffin cups are really cute for this recipe: Then add some decoration. The original recipe suggested edible flowers, which I thought would be so pretty except they were out of them at the store. I had to opt for some multi-colored nonpareils instead.

For batter:
½ cup cake flour
¾ cup powdered sugar
about ½ cup egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp double-strength vanilla extract
grated rind from 1 small lemon
For frosting:
¼ cup softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp 1% milk
2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice, plus more if desired
decorations like colored sprinkles

Prepare your muffin/cupcake pan; plan on getting anywhere between 16-18 cupcakes. Measure out the cake flour carefully by lightly spooning into measuring cups – don’t pack down. Then sift the flour together with the powdered sugar a total of 3 times. This will help keep the cupcakes fluffy. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Preferably using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt together until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until the mixture forms soft peaks. While the mixer is running, slowly add 1 Tbsp of granulated sugar at a time until all has been added. Continue beating until stiff peaks can be formed. Remove mixing bowl. Adding ¼ cup of the dry ingredients at a time, add in the flour mixture and fold after each addition. Finally, fold in the vanilla and lemon rind.

Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18min or until the tops are lightly brown. Remove cups from pan and cool on a wire rack. (They will sink down slightly upon cooling.) Repeat baking process with any remaining batter.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make your frosting. Again using a stand mixer if possible, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat at low speed until blended. Add milk and lemon juice and beat until smooth. Beat in extra lemon juice as desired for consistency and taste of the frosting.

Spread a little dollop of frosting atop each cupcake and decorate. (You’ll likely have some extra frosting – I would suggest refrigerating it for later use as a treat with sugar cookies or graham crackers.)

Recipe adapted from Greg Patent’s Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes, Cooking Light, May 2006

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Food & Wine's Roasted Carrot and Red Quinoa Salad

This was a fabulous quinoa salad recipe from Food & Wine that I tried after reading their October 2012 issue. As usual, I adapted it to what I had in the pantry and preferred at the grocery store. I served it with lemon pepper-marinated salmon.

2 tsp Hungarian paprika (sweet paprika)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground cardamom
freshly ground pepper
4 large carrots, cut in half and then thinly sliced lengthwise
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
7 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 large handfuls mixed baby salad greens
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp chopped curly parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a nonstick rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes until lightly toasted. Pour in a bowl and set aside to cool.

Throughly mix the paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and cardamom. Season with salt and pepper. Cut up the carrot and onion. Toss with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add in 1 Tbsp of the spice mixture and stir to coat. Spread the carrot and onion mix onto the baking sheet. Roast 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 tsp of spice mix and the water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. This should take around 20-25 minutes. Once water is absorbed, uncover, fluff and let cool slightly.

Mix together 2 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the salad greens and mix until coated. Place the salad greens on a serving platter. In the same bowl, add the remaining 3 Tbsp of oil and 1 Tbsp lemon juice, plus the mustard and 1 tsp of the spices. Season again with salt, and pepper if desired. Add the quinoa, walnuts, cranberries, curly parsley, and the roasted vegetables. Spoon over the salad greens and serve.

[Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, October 2012 issue -]