Category: sour cream

Spring Sweets

Springtime: It’s almost here. The weather is warming, the trees are budding and the sweet aroma of cow-dung fills the air. Ah yes, there is something about cow dung (or perhaps it is melting doggy doo) that triggers something nostalgic in my brain.

I love spring! I love the colours, the warmth and the fashion. Most of all, I love spring because it means that summer is just around the corner! And summer means that my garden will be in bloom. I love being able to go into the backyard and pick a myriad of vegetables to fill up my salad bowl. I love the endless vine-ripened tomatoes, the fresh chives, the large zucchinis and the abundance of mint leaves. The only downside to gardening in the North is the limit to the kinds of fruit that can be grown. Oh, how I long to have a citrus tree. Alas, until I live my dream life in a warmer climate, I’ll have to settle for the lemons at the supermarket.

Incredible things, lemons are. Their smell triggers memories of being a small child and watching my mother dust the living room table. Yet, I still want to eat them. And how! I love to squeeze a little lemon into my iced tea (a summer favorite), over a nice piece of grilled salmon (another summer love), or into a light dressing (to pour over my garden vegetables). But, give me lemons, and I will make cake.  Actually, give me a new mini bundt pan, and I’ll jump around until I can make many little cakes! I have a soft spot for exciting new kitchen gadgets. And pans. And spatulas. I love spatulas. Enough daydreaming, let us bake cake!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes
what you’ll need
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind (from two small lemons)

• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 4 large eggs
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 ½ tbsp poppy seeds
• ¾ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ½ cup sour cream

½ cup icing sugar
2½ tbsp lemon juice
how to do it
Preheat oven to 325F. Zest your lemons with a very fine cheese grater or lemon zester. In a medium bowl, pinch sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips, until the mixture is bright yellow. Beat in softened butter until pale, then beat in eggs and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Fold in flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with sour cream. Do not over-mix. Pour into a 6-cup mini-bundt cake pan and bake for 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool, and invert onto countertop or large tray. If your cakes are wobbly, slice off the bottoms in order to stabilize them. In a small bowl, mix glaze by adding the lemon juice a little at a time. Drizzle over warm inverted cakes, serve and enjoy!

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Cold nights call for warm food; Uneventful nights call for guilty-pleasures. Tonight turned out to be chilly as well as boring and my cravings were teetering between something fried and something roasted. Other than a rare handful of chips, or an odd (and usually regretful) midnight diner visit, fried foods are infrequently seen in my diet. So maybe it was the hunger that had been building up for the last five hours, or perhaps it was the tempting smell of the diner across the way, but something made me decide that tonight would be a fried-food night. Now, before you go running off scared that I’m about to show you something greasy and heavy, I’ll let you in on a little secret: my fried dish was surprisingly nutritious. Since my budget for the week lies somewhere between zero and zero, I had to make due with what I had in the fridge. Alas, delicious sweet potato pancakes were born! I served my creation alongside roasted herbed acorn squash rings, filled with peppered smashed apples. Topped it all off with cool refreshing sour cream and chives. Cravings satisfied.

Herbed Roasted Acorn Squash
(serves one or two)

what you’ll need
• 1 acorn squash
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp crushed basil
• pinch salt, pepper
• 1/4 cup apple sauce

how to do it
Preheat oven to 375F. Cut squash into rounds, scooping out the middle. Place in shallow baking dish, coating with oil, basil and salt. Bake, covered in foil, for 30 minutes. Remove, flip pieces and return to oven, uncovered for 15 more minutes or until squash becomes slightly translucent and is tender to the touch. Serve with a dollop of apple sauce in the center of each, and top with fresh ground black pepper.

Sweet Potato Pancakes
(serves one)

what you’ll need
• 1/4 sweet potato, peeled
• 1 egg
• 1 tbsp milk
• 2 tbsp oil
• 3 tbsp sour cream
• 1 shallot, chopped

how to do it
Grate sweet potato into a small bowl. (I used a hand-held fine cheese grater.) Beat in egg. Add milk, beating until battery consistency is reached. Heat oil in fry pan. Drop half the batter in, spreading it in a circular motion. Flip once, when the edges are yellowing and bubbling. Blot on paper towels before serving. Mix sour cream and shallot (add a pinch of salt if desired). Garnish.