Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ten-Layer Lemon Cheese Cake


Many Southerners remember this cake from childhood, but it’s rarely found on tables today. There is no cheese in the recipe and it’s not even distantly related to a cheesecake. This heirloom is simply white cake iced with lemon curd. Published lemon cheese recipes are scarce in all formats. Even an online search turns up more New York style cheesecakes than it does this Southern classic. It’s properly pronounced with no space or breath between lemon and cheese.
I’d love to hear about any of your family connections to a Lemon Cheese Cake or memories of this famous cake. I can talk good cakes all day! If you had it as part of a special occasion in the past, you’ll remember it.


Ten-Layer Lemon Cheese Cake

Vegetable cooking spray
4 1/2 cups cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 large eggs
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
Lemon Curd

Preheat oven to 350˚. Coat 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. If you have more cake pans of the same size, prepare them as well. More pans makes little layers easier.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla in a second medium bowl.

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, and beat at medium speed 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Increase speed to medium, and beat 1 minute. Pour 3/4 cup batter in each prepared pan.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until centers of cakes spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. Remove from pans to wire racks while cake layer is still very warm; cool completely. Respray pans, pour another 3/4 cup batter in each, repeat baking until all layers are complete.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a thin layer of lemon curd to edges (about 3 tablespoons per layer). Repeat procedure with remaining cake layers and curd. Spread remaining curd on top and sides of cake. The lemon curd is translucent so you will see the layers of the cake.


Lemon Curd

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
12 large egg yolks, beaten

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; stir in sugar and next 2 ingredients. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the warm butter mixture into the egg yolks. Whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, whisk egg yolks into the butter mixture in the saucepan. Place over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until 170˚ is reached, about 10 minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl placed over an ice water bath. Whisk to cool curd to room temperature. This prevents the yolks from curdling while cooling. Whisk well if curd develops a layer on top while sitting.




Copyright 2015 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved.
www.rebeccalangcooks.com











Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ham for Christmas (with a little bourbon)


Cured hams retain a rosy color after you cook them. With a fresh, uncured ham like the one here, the meat has a much lighter color after cooking, more like that of pork loin. Fresh hams are usually available in grocery stores around the holidays, but you might have to order them at other times of the year. I like to make this ham before Christmas, so I can easily feed a crowd for days. I make a meal of it right out of the oven and slice up the rest for later in the week. The butt portion is the rounder side of the ham, with less bone, so it’s easier to slice.

Pecan, Bourbon, and Cane Syrup Ham

1 (10- to 11-lb.) fresh bone-in ham (butt portion)
1 Tbsp. rubbed sage
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 cup cane syrup
1⁄4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup bourbon
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3⁄4 cup chopped pecans
Garnish: Satsuma orange wedges

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Score ham skin and fat, making shallow (1⁄8-inch-deep) cuts about 1 1/2 inches apart in a diamond pattern.

2. Combine sage and next 4 ingredients. Rub mixture over ham. Place ham, fat side up, on a lightly greased rack in an aluminum foil-lined roasting pan.

3. Bake at 325° for 3 hours. Meanwhile, bring cane syrup and next 3 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer 3 minutes. Add pecans, and simmer, stirring frequently, 3 minutes or until thick and syrupy.

4. Remove ham from oven. Spread glaze over top of ham. Bake 30 minutes, basting with pan juices every 10 minutes. Shield with foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake 30 more minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into center of ham registers 145°. Let stand 30 minutes before slicing. Garnish, if desired.

Makes: 16 servings
Hands-on Time: 30 min. Total Time: 5 hr.

Recipe from Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang (Oxmoor House, 2012). Photo credit: Jennifer Davick





Monday, November 17, 2014

Cast Iron Skillet Restoration


Skillets being made at Lodge's foundry in South Pittsburg, TN
It’s during the holidays that many cast iron skillets take their rightful place on the stove and in the oven. With heirloom recipes on menus for special occasions all over the country, it’s imperative to keep your skillet in pristine condition for the most joyous time of year.
I own more skillets than I can lift in 10 minutes and use them as much as I do my stainless pots and pans. Each time I teach cooking classes, I get at least one question about caring for cast iron. It can be confusing. I recently received the following email from Susie Pease, a friend that’s attended several cooking classes of mine and has a nice collection of my books on her shelf. With her permission, I’m sharing it below.

Hi Rebecca,
I have a question I am hoping you can help me with. This will make you cringe. I put my cast iron skillet through the dishwasher. I know I am supposed to just clean with water and salt and then season with oil, but I last used it to fry chicken and the pan set out dirty for several hours and I felt like it was covered with bacteria and needed sanitized. I brought the pan out of the dishwasher this morning and not only does the finish look washed off, even flaking off in places, but it is rusty too. Did I ruin it? Is it salvageable, and if so, what do I do?

Susie

I called my good friend Mark Kelly at Lodge Cast Iron to make sure I was offering Susie the most accurate advice. I haven’t seen a skillet personally that’s been through the dishwasher, but have heard stories of the horror all that hot water and soap can create.
Mark assured both of us that cast iron will live forever, even after “the unpardonable sin of putting the cookware in the dishwasher.”
Lodge has a video that helps bring back life to any skillet that’s seen better days, even at its owner’s hands. It’s really true – it does last forever. Your skillet will most likely outlast you.


 

Some of my favorite facts about cast iron are below.

1. Cast iron holds heat incredibly well.
2. Seasoning the pan means that the pores of the iron have absorbed oil.
3. Well-seasoned pans have a non-stick surface.
4. Cast iron is one of very few kinds cookware that will outlive you. They are commonly passed down from generation to generation.
5. Never, ever wash cast iron in the dishwasher.
6. If the pan feels sticky to the touch, the seasoning oil has gone rancid. Use soap-free steel wool to remove the sticky film. Then reseason the pan.
7. Season a pan by rubbing with vegetable oil and “cooking” the pan for 1 hour at 350˚ to 400˚.
8. If food is stuck on the pan, clean with a little water and a stiff brush. Heat the cleaned pan on top of the stove to thoroughly dry all the water and use a kitchen towel to rub on a light coating of oil.
9. For light cleaning, rub the pan with kosher salt and wipe clean with a towel.
10. If you’re stacking cast iron skillets, place a paper plate in between each one.

Video used with permission by Lodge Manufacturing Company. 
Text Copyright 2014 by Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC.

Monday, September 1, 2014

10 Things You Need in Your Kitchen Now

http://www.gourmet-coffee.com/home.php 
Rogers Family Company Coffee and Tea Market have ingeniously created single serve coffee in 97% bio-degradable packaging that works in K-Cup brewing systems. I drink the Fog Chaser OneCup. It's robust, rich, and smells like coffee on the opening of each package (something most single serve coffee cups can't offer). Help put an end to the single serve coffee waste filling up landfills and make the switch.

http://www.teroforma.com/shop/the-perfect-gift/gifts-for-wine-lovers/wine-twirls.html
Those that know me know that I adore a good glass of wine. There's nothing like sitting on the back porch with a cold glass of wine, until that wine gets warm. It's a common problem in the South, where heat and humidity are a part of life. Wine Twirls are one of those items that I first tried and kept wondering why I hadn't thought of them. They are brilliant. No flavor is imparted in the wine at all, and each glass is kept refrigerator cold for 45 minutes.

http://frogtape.com/
Labeling is part of an organized kitchen and I use FrogTape daily. I label my children's water bottles, mark dates to containers in the fridge, and add details to anything I put in the freezer. The tape sticks to wet containers, stays on, and peels off easily when you need to remove it.

http://www.truefabrications.com/products/98-Insulated-Wine-Bags/1743-Bottle-Bubble-Ice/
This Bottle Bubble Ice bag chills wine in minutes and also has handles for on the go. I own three of them.

http://www.pigtailbrands.com/big-eds-heirloom-barbecue-sauce/buy-big-eds-heirloom-bbq-sauce-30-year-family-recipe/
I've never been much of a fan for bottled barbecue sauces, but this one really took me by surprise. It's very close to the sauce I was raised on. Big Ed's Heirloom BBQ Sauce is now a staple for our family.

http://www.sharpie.com/enUS/Pages/sharpiemarkers.aspx
A Sharpie is almost always within an arm's reach in my kitchen. I write the date of purchase on the bottom of my spice bottles, scribble on the FrogTape, and jot down the opening date on jars of jellies and condiments in my fridge.


http://www.wuesthof.com/usa/products/product-details/tomato-knife-4109
This is a knife I couldn't live without. It's a tomato knife from Wusthof. The perfect size with a serrated edge makes it ideal for nearly all fruits and vegetables and small loaves of bread. The fork on the end is an added bonus for picking up the fresh sliced goodies.

http://www.target.com/p/up-up-latex-free-vinyl-exam-gloves/-/A-14376219#prodSlot=medium_1_3&term=latex+gloves
After spending nine months covered up in chicken, I went through my fair share of latex gloves (always powder free). I use them not for a dislike of raw chicken, but for quick and easy cleanup. If one of the children needs me right away, I can slip off the gloves and get going.

http://www.oxo.com/p-768-bag-cinch-3-pack.aspx
With no shortage of carbs around our house, twist ties are in high demand. The little metal flimsy ones that come on bread packages are really shamed by the Bag Cinch by OXO. They keep the packages tight and are much easier to take on and off.

http://www.fronterafiesta.com/store/seasoning-sauces/texas-original-taco-skillet-sauce/27-92
I'm a new fan Rick Bayless' line of sauces. The Texas Original Taco Skillet Sauce is my favorite and is known to appear at our house on all things from roasted eggplant to poached eggs. It's a staple in the pantry.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Beauty at Lake Austin Spa Resort

I could stay and teach cooking classes at Lake Austin Spa Resort forever if they'd let me. I've just returned from my third visit to one of the prettiest places there is. On the days I'm not teaching, I love to wander with my camera and try to capture as many images as possible to tide me over until my next visit. Here are a few of my favorites.

 


















Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Atlantic Shrimp and Grits



2 lb. unpeeled, large raw Georgia shrimp
4 cups chicken broth
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
1 tsp. salt
1 cup uncooked stone-ground grits
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
31⁄2 oz. prosciutto, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup chopped white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄3 cup dry white wine
11⁄2 cups chopped tomato
1⁄2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
1⁄2 tsp. lemon zest
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Peel shrimp, leaving tails on; devein, if desired. Cover and chill.
Bring broth and next 2 ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Add grits; reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking often, 30 minutes or until creamy and tender. (If grits become too thick, add up to 1⁄4 cup water to thin.) Remove from heat, and keep warm.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto, and cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add jalapeno and next 2 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in wine. Cook 1 minute, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.
Add chopped tomato, and cook 3 minutes. Add shrimp, thyme, and remaining ingredients. Cover and cook 7 to 8 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Top each serving of grits with shrimp mixture, and garnish, if desired.

Makes: 4 servings

Recipe from Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang (Oxmoor House, 2012)
Copyright 2014 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC


Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day Around the Table

Many families gather around the table on Mother's Day. Don't limit that special time to just holidays. As a mother of two, there's no place I'd rather be with my peeps than at our table. This is an essay I wrote to be included in my book, Around the Southern Table. It didn't end up in the pages of the book, but it rings true to this day. Honor the table, the mothers that make it wonderful, and all those that gather around it.

My Southern Table

Being welcomed at the table is nothing short of receiving a special gift. It’s a package filled with soothing assurance that you are not alone. It is not simply a piece of furniture made to support a plate and a glass; it is furniture that serves its owners in countless and amazing ways.
    Like so many others, my home is not determined by an address; my home is where those I love gather around the table. The location and the table aren’t always the same, but those that surround it are always family. In times of great celebration, quite reflection or deep loss, the table is forever in the center.
    Much of my life has been marked by unforgettable moments around the table. It was at the table where I tasted my very first tomato sandwich. I ate breakfast at the table while watching the Challenger liftoff and disintegrate into the sky. Years later I slipped my left hand across the shiny oak top to show my grandmother my engagement ring. In that exact same place at the table, my place, I was overcome by the sea of endless food delivered when she passed away. We gathered our parents around the table on a frigid January evening to share the news that their first grandbaby was on the way.
    While sitting down to a bushel of roasted oysters, I was ecstatic to tell my family I was writing my long-awaited third book. I swaddled our brand new baby girl in a bright pink basket on our table the first day we came home from the hospital. We added leaves and pulled up chairs for the biggest brunch I could cook after each of our children was baptized.  Hours after the death of my father-in-law, I sat alone at our table in the middle of the night and cried until no more tears would come. While sitting on his tiny knees at the table, my son said the blessing all by himself for the first time.
    It is at the table where I have grown-up, loved, laughed, prayed, celebrated and experienced so many of the defining moments in my life. This long relationship does not make me unique. Most Southerners could tell a very similar story about the table where they sit to dine each day. The Southern table does not just fill a room or a corner; it fills our very lives and enriches our souls.

Copyright (c) 2014 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved.