Celebration Spring Supper

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Spring has finally sprung!   Time to get all of your family and friends out of hibernation and into the dining room to enjoy a special Spring celebration dinner.   This delicious menu also is terrific as an Easter buffet.  (Find my story with additional recipes in the front page of the April 9, 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel food section)

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Spring Pea and Preserved Lemon Mash Crostini

For starters, wow your guests with a bright green crostini made with smashed spring peas and preserved lemons.   Although preserved lemons are easy to make, they do take about 6 weeks in the frig before they are ready.  Luckily many specialty food stores carry this delicious tart Moroccan culinary treats.

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Roast Salmon with Herbes de Provence Bread Crumb Coating

For a change of pace from the traditional lamb or ham spring dinner, try your hand at preparing a delicious roast salmon.    Roasting the fish makes it easy to prepare for a large group.   The addition of herbes de Provence (a French blend of savory, thyme, rosemary, basil and lavender) adds a nice crunch to the dish.

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Spring Easter Egg Nest Cake

Finish off the meal with a stunning dessert – a spring Easter egg nest cake.    A simple white cake with white buttercream is transformed into a spring showpiece complete with an edible nest made with green candy straw and filled with speckled malted milk ball eggs.   Who knew that edible Easter grass existed?   I found mine in the Easter candy section of my local Walmart.   It even came with cut-out edible bunnies.

Wishing you and your family all the best for a delicious spring supper.   Bon Appetite!

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The Bundt Pan Revisited

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It’s round with a fluted top and a hole in the middle. It can transform a first-time baker’s cake into a masterpiece.    It even got a shout out in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Andrea Martin’s character Aunt Voula placed a potted plant in its middle.

 I’m talking about the bundt (or Bundt) pan, that decorative take on the tube pan that can turn the most basic cake into a work of edible art.
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Humble beginnings

The Nordic Ware Co. brought the bundt pan in to the American kitchen. The 71-year-old Minneapolis-based company was founded by husband-and-wife team David and Dotty Dalquist. The couple’s basement served as Nordic Ware’s first headquarters.

The first products produced were specialty Scandinavian cookware items like the rosette and krumkake irons. But it was the introduction of the bundt pan in the early 1950s that transformed the company.

Two local women approached the company seeking a lightweight alternative to the heavy cast-iron bundkuchen pan. In response, the company created the bundt pan. They also trademarked the name. Just as slow cookers are often referred to as the trademarked name Crockpot Crock-Pot, fluted tube cake pans are almost always referred to as bundt pans.

The beauty of the Bundt pan is in the design. The hole in the middle actually makes the cake bake more evenly than it does in a traditional cake pan. You won’t find any undercooked areas in the middle of a bundt cake.

Sweet, Savory and “Something for the Birds!”

Don’t limit your Bundt caking to just the sweet side.   Though a Bundt cake makes a terrific crowd-pleasing ending to any meal, this versatile pan can be used to create savory offerings as well.   You can even make something to make your feathered friends happy by forming birdseed into a decorative wreath, ready to hang in your yard.

Here are some recipes, from sweet to savory, the get you started on your Bundt cake experience!

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Cornmeal and Olive Oil Cake

 

Close up whiskey cake

Bourbon Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake

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Bundt Pan Spagetti Pie

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Bird Seed Bundt Wreath

Posted in Desserts, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, Recipes, Uncategorized

Cooking for the birds

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I have a special affinity for birds.   My father, Earl Reitz, along with my grandfather Mathew Reitz, ran a successful feed company in Hammond, Indiana when I was growing up.   Making bird seed blends for various national companies was one of the many items the company produced.  As an homage to my late father and grandfather and a tribute to their company, MGR Feed, I frequently make homemade bird seed wreaths formed in, what else, a bundt pan.

You probably have seen decorative bird seed wreaths in fancy gardening catelogs or garden shops.    With a bag of bird seed, a packet of Knox-brand unflavored gelatin, a few tablespoon of corn syrup and some flour, you can make your own bird seed wreath with your trusty fluted Bundt pan.

The gelatin and flour mixture becomes an edible glue that, when mixed with your favorite bird seed blend, creates a mixture that gets tightly packed into the greased tube pan.   Let the wreath dry out for a minimum of 24 hours in a cool place in your home.   It may look dry sooner, but trust me, it won’t be ready.   A 5-pound bag of bird seed will yield 3 bird seed wreaths.

Once dry, simply unmold (I unmold mine on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper to pick up any excess bird seed) and tie with decorative ribbon.  A perfect gift for the bird lover in your family as well as a delicious treat for those backyard feathered friends.

20161219_205514405_iOSBirdie Bundt Wreath
Makes 1 8-inch wreath

1 packet (¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin
½ cup warm water
¾ cup flour
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 cups birdseed mix
½ cup dried red fruit like dried cherries or cranberries

  • In a large bowl, mix gelatin and water.  Add flour and corn syrup; stir with rubber spatula to form a thick paste.   Add bird seed; mix to coat all seeds.
  • Spray top and side of a 12-cup bundt or fluted tube pan with non-stick food spray.  Distribute dried fruit on bottom of pan.  Press seed mixture firmly into pan.
  • Place pan in cool area; let dry for 24 hours.   Carefully flip pan and remove wreath.  Tie ribbon on top of wreath.  Hang on tree branch for birds to enjoy.

 

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