Monday, April 30, 2012

Let's have a Party

All mothers have been told they wear many hats - and I am no different.  My many hats include: wife, mother, daughter, artist, chef, teacher, friend . . .  But, there is one hat that I love with all my heart and that is the 'Mom hat'.  

Recently I put on the mom hat and the chef hat and was able to do something special for my youngest adult son Philip and my new daughter-in-law Becca.  They were married on April 10th, 2012 in a very small ceremony and were not able to have a reception.  *(This was due to the fact that Philip is now a Lance Corporal in the Marines and he has been stationed in San Diego at Camp Pendleton.  His leave was 10 days and their time together was short before he was to report for duty.)

Because everything had to be done so quickly, as a Mom, I wanted to do something special for them both.  We had planned a family get-together for my birthday, but instead we decided to surprise them with a little family reception. The party was planned and I made their wedding cake.  So, I thought I would share the recipe and photos you.

So, without further adieu may I present the wedding cake of 

LCpl Philip & Rebecca Stephens

Orange Cake Recipe
(approximately 6 1/2 cups batter)

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
6 eggs, separated
grated zest of 2 oranges
2/3 cup freshly squeezed, strained orange juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
pinch of salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled

(I used (2) 9-inch round pans and (2) 6-inch round pans)
*Remember that different-size pans will require different baking times.  Check the cake layers several times during baking for doneness.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour cake pans.  

With an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar with the egg yolks until the mixture is thick and pale yellow.  Beat in the orange zest and juice and almond extract. Then beat in the flour. 

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the pinch of salt and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. 

Quickly fold the melted butter into the batter, a bit at a time, until incorporated.  Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, taking care not to deflate them.  Immediately spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until the center tests done.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes (very important); remove the cake from the pan and cool completely.  

Orange Butter Cream Icing
(about 1 1/2 cups)
2 egg yolks 
2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons orange liqueur
6 oz. softened, unsalted butter

In a 2 1/2 quart mixing bowl place in all ingredients listed.  With an electric mixer placed on moderate speed beat for 5 minutes to obtain a smooth cream.  Chill until the cream is cold but still malleable, then fill and ice the cake. 

*(for my cake I made 3 batches of the icing)

This was a great tasting cake.  And if you do make one I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. (There are a few tips that I would like to share with you about making a wedding cake - I know that I have only made 2 wedding cakes in my life, but I did learn from my mistakes.)

1. Always butter and flour you cake pans
2. fill cake pans 2/3 to 3/4 full of batter
3. Always remember that different size pans require different baking time.  Always check cake layers during baking for doneness.
4. Always cool cake in pans for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack.
5. Always frost the cake the day before the wedding and refrigerate it so the icing will be thoroughly chilled.  Then decorate the cake as close to serving time as possible.
6. After icing the tops of the cake and placing them - anchor the layers with long toothpicks or cake tubes (you can get these as any craft store in the cake decorating section). 

A Toast to the Happy Couple

 May you always have
Walls for the winds
A roof for the rain
Tea beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire.
(Irish blessing)


Monday, April 16, 2012

Good Morning Friends
I know that anyone and everyone that happens to keep up with my blog were wondering if I would ever come back and post something new.  Well, I am back and ready to post the recipes and photos that are next in this little series (which happens to be soups).

Before I begin let me give you the reasons for my long delay in writing, which is "Life".  Sometimes living gets in the way.  And, the past 4 weeks have been quite eventful.

*The first event to start us off was:
.   My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson moved back to Georgia from Oklahoma.  They had been living in Oklahoma because of my son's job.  That job was done and his work sent him and his family back home.  In the process of moving back they were able to purchase their first home.  My husband and I were able to share in this wonderful experience with them.  

*Next event:
My youngest son Philip (who is a Marine) graduated from  FMRAC School.  And if I may brag a little (well, a lot) - During his time at Camp Johnson he was promoted twice (Philip is now:  Lance Corporal Philip E. Stephens) and at the graduation ceremony he was given the certificate for being the Honor Graduate.  So, with that said - I was able to attend the ceremony and bring him home for 10 days leave before he goes to Camp Pendleton and his new job.  *A side note - I was lucky enough to meet his fellow Marines.  It was a privilege to meet them and shake their hands.  

 *Wait - That's not all!
April 10, 2012 - LCpl Philip E. Stephens and Rebecca Wisch were married.  I now have 3 sons and 2 daughters and 1 grandson.  


Enough said, Let's make soup.

 I love soup.  Hot weather or cold I just love it.  It makes a large amount (good if you have a big family) and it's just one of those comfort foods people talk about.  I did, however, decide on the cold soup because of the resent warm spell we are experiencing.

The first soup is simple and  people will think you spent a lot of time preparing; but don't give away your secret.

French Onion Soup 
(found this recipe in a microwave cookbook back in 1987)

3 large onions, thinly sliced and quartered
1/4 cup butter or margarine
teaspoons all-purpose flour
6 cups regular-strength beef broth 
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 cloves of garlic (reserved for the bread)
6 to 8 slices of french bread (toasted)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

(6 to 8 servings)
cooking time: 23 to 29 minutes

1. In a large microwave proof bowl, cook onions and butter on HI (max. power) 10 to 12 minutes, or until onions are transparent, stirring once during cooking.
2.Stir in flour and cook, uncovered, on HI (max. power)
3.Stir in broth, wine, salt, and pepper,cook covered (glad wrap or if your bowl has a top) on HI (max. power) for 8 minutes.  
*To serve cut garlic cloves in half and rub on both sides of the toasted bread and then butter the toast.
*Fill microwave proof bowls half-way with hot soup: float the toast on top.  Cover the toast generously with the Swiss cheese.  Place 2 or 3 bowls (in a circle) in the microwave.  Cook, uncovered, on medium power (Each microwave is different.  Check to see what medium power is for your model) until cheese melts.  

The next soup is a chilled soup.  It is great for a summer picnic, tea party, or just to splurge.  The first time I had this soup was at Drapers Restaurant in the Greenbrier Resort located in West Virginia. 

Chilled  Peach Soup

6 to 8 fresh peaches (Peeled, quartered, and pit removed)
6 tablespoons of sour cream 
6 tablespoons of pineapple juice
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup peach nectar (this is in a can, but if you have fresh peach juice - use it)

Blend peaches and sour cream together in a blender.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.  Strain and serve chilled.
(To dress it up, I serve it with a dollop of sour cream or vanilla yoghurt and a sprig of mint.)


Happy Thanksgiving

  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Many Blessings and Love to All