ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I hear "foccacia" (whichever way you pronounce it), and I think "Macaroni Grill." You know that yummy rosemary-infused manna they keep you loaded up on before the food comes? The pillowy mounds you dip in herbed olive oil? Yeah, I think we're on the same wavelength.

Well, this is better. My brother Dave is a way gourmet chef. We all know I like to bake. But Dave, he likes to COOK. He concocts things like Moroccan lamb roast and grilled-pepper-and-fancy-cheese-I've-never-heard-of salad with fifteen-ingredient-vinaigrette. He creates panini sandwiches better than anything you could imagine. I want to cry thinking how far away he - and his kitchen - are from me (currently in England.)

So once in awhile Dave sends a recipe my way, either something he has made, or something he found in a book or website that he wants me to make. This foccacia was the former; he made it with some amazing middle eastern dish he served company. I was afraid for awhile to try it, #1 because what if I didn't do it justice, and #2 I didn't have a 10-inch pan. I made it in a 9-inch and it was just deep. And I didn't adjust the sprinkled salt for the decreased surface area like I should have, but other than that this bread was YUUUUUUUMMMY. It could go with almost anything, especially middle eastern or Italian. Or you could top it or dip it and have it for the main course. Once again, we all owe Dave a big THANK YOU.

Makes 1 round 10-inch loaf
1 package active dry yeast
3.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt5 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (optional)

1) Dissolve the yeast in .5 cup warm water. Let stand from 10 minutes. Sift the flour into a large bowl, make a well in the center, and add the yeast mixture, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil. Mix in the flour and add more water to make a dough.
2) Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover with a cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place for 2-2.5 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.

3) Punch down the dough and knead again for a few minutes. Press into an oiled 10-inch tart or pie pan and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400.
4) Poke the dough all over with your fingers to make little dimples in the surface. Pour the remaining olive oil over the dough, brushing it out to the edges. Sprinkle with the sea salt and rosemary if using.

5) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pale gold in color. Carefully remove from the pan (a plastic knife is handy here) and let cool on a rack. Best eaten still warm, but also freezes well.Recipe from David Younce

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Key Lime Bread with Coconut-Pecan Glaze

Recently a friend asked what I've got for recipes with lime and coconut together. Doesn't that sound so good in the summer? Sadly, all I had was one - Coconut-Lime Shortbread. It's good, but I wanted to be able to offer more. Which was when I remembered this sweetie I'd been holding onto. My friend Rebecca won first place at the Arlington County Fair with this bread, and I'd been hanging onto the recipe, meaning to make it some day. At last that day has come.

I was not disappointed. It is sweet, tender, and very limey. Structured so it won't fall apart, but still soft and melt-in-your-mouth. I can't think of a time of day this wouldn't be good. Plus it's beautiful and would make a great gift. And just so you know, this is just the beginning of coconut-lime recipes this summer. I'm on a mission.Key Lime Bread with Coconut-Pecan Glaze

2/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
4 T key lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 T grated lime peel

2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 T key lime juice
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray two 9x5 loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar for a few minutes. Add eggs and mix well. Add key lime juice and vanilla; mix until combined.
3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Add grated lime peel and mix in.

4. Transfer to prepared pans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

5. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely. Makes 2 loaves.
Recipe from Rebecca Yeates

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lime-Coconut Granita

What is granita? It is a frozen dessert with a coarse/icy texture. Think snow-cone but think sophisticated Italian snow-cone. Think sophisticated Italian dessert that's simple to make, low-fat and totally refreshing in the summer heat.

This one is particularly delicious because it has that heavenly combination of lime and coconut, a theme I promise you will be seeing more of from me this summer. Ice cream machines and popsicle molds are not the only way to make fresh frozen treats. For this one, you just mix the ingredients, heat just enough to dissolve the sugar, then freeze solid in a pan. Anyone, of any culinary skill level, with any size kitchen, can make it. Once frozen, you scrape it with a fork into icy fluff and eat fast before it melts. With something that tastes this good, that shouldn't be a problem.Lime-Coconut Granita
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 T grated lime rind
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4-6 limes)
1/2 cup light coconut milk

1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool completely.

2. Pour mixture into an 11x7-inch baking dish. Cover and freeze for 8 hours or until firm. Remove mixture from freezer and let stand 10 minutes. Scrape entire mixture with a fork until fluffy. Serve immediately. Makes 8 - 1/2 cup servings
Recipe from Cooking Light, May 2008

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Raspberry-Lemon Whoopie Pies

Every issue of Everyday Food has a cookie recipe on the last page. Of course there are a million cookie recipes on Martha Stewart's website, but something about having its own page in the magazine makes the monthly recipes stand out as something special.

I have a small fascination with whoopie pies, and not just because the name is funny. They just sound and look so good, yet the 2 or 3 times I've tried to make them, not so impressive. Which is why I've never posted my attempts until now. Usually whoopie pies are chocolate cakey cookies with some kind of creamy-to-marshmallowy filling. I've seen variations, with mint, pumpkin or peanut butter filling. The only ones I've made that were any good were Paula Deen's "Two Brothers' Chocolate Gobs" but they have so much shortening I was embarrassed to admit loving them (I know, serious double standard.)

ANYWAY, these ones are really good and a fun variation for the flavors of summer - lemon cookies with raspberry whipped cream filling. Fun for kids to help with, stirring the raspberries in and making the sandwiches. On super hot days, wrap individually and freeze for an "ice cream sandwich" treat! Raspberry-Lemon Whoopie Pies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 3 T light brown sugar
1 T grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh raspberries (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and lemon zest until light and creamy. Add vanilla and egg and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and ending with flour mixture (scrape bowl as needed.) Beat well to combine.

2. Drop batter in 2-tablespoon mounds about 2 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until puffed and pale golden around edges, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cakes cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

3. In a large bowl, whip cream and 3 T brown sugar to soft peaks. In a small bowl, mash raspberries with a fork, then fold into whipped cram. Divide raspberry cream evenly among bottoms of half the cakes, then sandwich with remaining cakes.

Recipe from Everyday Food, May 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Coconut Bread (in the Bread Machine!)

The thing for me about coconut is that I love the smell and flavor, don't love the texture (I am coming around.) I can handle it in cookies, and will tolerate it on and around cakes because it just tastes so good, but I can't have too much of the straight stuff. Luckily there are such things as coconut milk and coconut extract to boost flavor without overwhelming texture.

I was recently trying a new recipe for Polynesian Chicken for dinner, and was looking for something exotic but easy to accompany it. Google "bread machine coconut bread." I skimmed through a few results until I came to this one, which had good reviews and an ingredient list I could live with. Some folks said the flavor was too mild but they had also left out the extract, so what did they expect? Also, the recipe said to cook it on the Sweet cycle, which I've never used, so I looked it up in my machine manual and it explained that the sweet cycle is for breads that have more sugar and/or fat and therefore brown more easily. It's 10 minutes shorter than the Basic cycle. I figured since coconut milk is the only liquid, and there is also an egg yolk, we'd try Sweet. It came out beautifully.

The smell, as you might imagine, was heavenly. The bread was sturdy but very soft and was pretty much all I would hope for. It was slightly sweet, as it should be, but not like a dessert or quick bread. It was perfect for our polynesian dinner, and equally perfect toasted for breakfast the next day. Since it only took 1 cup of coconut milk, and there was almost as much left in the can, I made another loaf after dinner and took it to my sister at 11pm - why not? Next time I'll make the second loaf for myself and see what kind of French toast or bread pudding it makes - mmm!

Coconut Bread
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
3 cups flour (recipe says all-purpose is fine but I used half all-purpose and half bread flour)
1/3 cup coconut (the stuff from a bag in the baking aisle)
2 1/2 T sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Measure ingredients into bread machine pan according to manufacturer instructions. Cook on the sweet or basic cycle. Makes one 1.5 lb loaf.

Recipe from

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mint Lemonade

Whoo-ee, it's gettin' hot! The days of steaming in my own clothes are back, and as I watch my children's cheeks grow pink, then fuschia, then maroon as they play outside, all I can think of is something tall, sweet and VERY COLD to drink. Some baking is still taking place, but these days I have my mind more on the freezer than the oven, and this drink is the perfect answer to my hot, sticky, sweaty family.

I like my lemonade sweet. Luckily, unlike baking, drink recipes have lots and lots of wiggle room. The measurements here are what I like, but obviously adjust the sweet-tart-intensity to suit yourself. It's also nice if you have a mint source. It grows like a freaking weed and yet those of us without gardens still pay $2.99 for a little package at the grocery store. Unjust.

Mint Lemonade
1 cup sugar
20 fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 5 to 6 lemons)
16 ice cubes, plus more for the glasses
1 liter seltzer (I used lime flavor), chilled
Lemon wedges or mint leaves for garnish

1. In a blender or food processor, blend the sugar and mint leaves on high for several seconds. Add the lemon juice and blend again. Add the ice cubes and blend again, until most of the ice is crushed.

2. Pour lemon mixture into a 2-quart pitcher. Add the seltzer and stir. Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with lemon or mint.

Recipe from David Younce

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ranch Hamburger Buns

So a few months ago I found a website chock full of new and unusual bread machine recipes. I bookmarked it and have gone back to make a few. There are still oh-so-many to try. I think sometimes of doing a separate bread machine blog, a brownie blog, a cookie blog, etc. But there is only one of me and that kind of thinking is too big. Back to the topic at hand.

"Ranch Hamburger Buns" caught my eye on the alphabetical list. Sounds like there's no way around that being good. Plus we hadn't had hamburgers for dinner in ages; homemade buns was a great excuse to change that. The ranch flavor comes from a packet of ranch dip mix, and since you don't use it all in the buns, just throw the rest in with the meat as you make your burgers (along with breadcrumbs, egg, seasoning, Worcestershire, whatever else you love in there.)

These guys are straightforward. Make the dough in the machine, shape them into rolls, rise again and cook. Turned out my rolls weren't exactly uniform; some were smaller, some larger. But it actually worked out even better that way. I created my hamburgers in different sizes to match - some smaller, some larger - and so the small ones were just the right size for my 3 and 5 year olds. They actually loved having mini burgers. And me? I loved having another winning bread machine recipe!
Ranch Hamburger Buns (print recipe)
1/2 cup water, 70-80 degrees F
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
4 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon dry ranch salad dressing mix
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1. In bread machine pan, place the ingredients in order suggested by machine manufacturer. Select dough setting. Check dough after five minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons water or flour if needed. When the cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly greased surface.

2. Cut into 12 pieces, then shape each into a round ball. Place in greased jumbo muffin cups or in 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 35 minutes), then brush buns with an egg wash mixture of 1 slightly beaten egg and 2 tablespoons water.Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired. Bake 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees F or until lightly browned. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Makes 12.
Recipe from

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Perfection Pound Cake

Pound Cake (noun): a loaf-shaped cake with a moist, closely knit crumb and a soft crust. Named for having originally been made with approximately a pound each of butter, sugar and flour. Flavor comes mostly from butter; leavening comes mostly from eggs. Best with: fruit, ice cream, jam, chocolate, plain, milk, lemon curd, spiced apples, hot cocoa, berry compote, whipped cream.

I figured it was high time to try making my own pound cake. Granted, my picture is dumb because my pan was too small - couldn't find my 9x5, or maybe I never had one, but I still stand by it proudly. Pound cake by definition (see above) is simple, but when done right, fabulous. What this particular recipe does is make up for its simplicity with extended beating periods. This is not a quick cake to make because it is important to beat the butter and sugar for a FULL 5 MINUTES and at least 1, preferably 2, minutes between each egg. Also be sure eggs and butter are at room temperature. You can speed up the eggs a bit by sitting them in warm water for a few minutes if you forget to take them out early.

We had this with strawberries and whipped cream, trifle-style. It's honestly hard to get better than a really good strawberry shortcake.

Perfection Pound Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour or 2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325. Butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of each other.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high until pale and fluffy, a full 5 minutes. Scrape down bowl and reduce speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each egg goes in. As you're working, scrape down teh bowl and beater often. Mix in the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated - don't overmix. In fact, you might want to fold in the last of the flour, or even all of it, by hand with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top.

4. Put the cake into the oven to bake, and check on it after about 45 minutes. If it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. It will bake for about 70 to 75 minutes; a smaller pan (like 8 1/2 by 4 1/2) may need up to 90 minutes. The cake is properly baked when a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.
5. Remove the cake from the oven, transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 30 minutes. Run a blunt knife between the cake and sides of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.

Recipe from:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

Did I mention we went strawberry picking? Man, they are so good fresh off the vine. Sweet, soft, bursting with sunny flavor.My experience has been that strawberries aren't very good cooked. I've tried them in cakes and cookies, but really they belong sliced on top of ice cream, or chilled in a cool pie. It was hot the next week so I started to poke around for strawberry ice cream recipes. But I just didn't feel like taking on the fat and calories of egg-and-cream choices. Then I hit gold when I came upon this Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet.

The ingredients couldn't be more simple - strawberries, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla. No cooking. Straining the pureed strawberries is optional; it provides a smoother texture but I left a few seeds and chunks in for authenticity. Stir it up, chill it well, then pour into your ice cream machine. Yeah, the one in the back of your cupboards you haven't used since last summer.

We dished this up and ate it in front of "The Magnificent Seven." We kept pausing to exclaim to each other, "Wow, this is really good!" "Man, this is SO good!" Super refreshing, creamy, just-right-sweet, and doesn't completely sabotage the diet. Amazing flavor. What a way to start summer!

Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet
2 cups fresh strawberries*
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Garnish: fresh mint sprigs (so sad I didn't have any)

1. Process strawberries in a food processor or blender 30 seconds or until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Pour strawberry puree through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing with back of a spoon. Discard solids. Add buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla to puree; stir until well blended. Cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Pour strawberry mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and times may vary.) Garnish, if desired.

*1 (16-oz.) package frozen strawberries, thawed, may be substituted.

Recipe from Southern Living, MAY 2008
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...