Friday, April 24, 2009

Lemon-Glazed Butter Cake

I was introduced to this recipe by a member of an online community. When I read the ingredients, I immediately knew I'd love this cake. Being a lover of lemons and knowing that lemon zest was in the batter and that it was drenched with a lemony glaze, how could I go wrong. So instead of happy hour or dinner on a Friday night, my focus was on getting home to make this cake.

The original recipe is in the April 2009 Gourmet Magazine and this is how they described the cake: The clean, bright flavor of this simple cake makes dinner guests perk up and exclaim, “I haven’t had this for years!” And then they devour what’s on their plates and ask for seconds.

I agree, this cake is delicious. It's lemony, light, not too sweet, perfect with super-sweet strawberries to compliment the tangyness--an oh so appropriate welcome to Spring. Best of all it's one of the simplest cakes I've ever made. I went a little crazy with the powdered sugar...sue me.

Lemon-Glazed Butter Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Garnish:

    confectioners sugar for dusting
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8- by 2-inch round cake pan.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir together milk, zest, and vanilla.
  • Beat together butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
  • Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top, then rap gently on counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
  • Whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
  • Turn out cake onto a rack set over a baking sheet, then re-invert. Brush top and side of cake with all of glaze. Cool completely.
Cooks’ note: Cake can be glazed 1 day ahead and kept at room temperature.

Sheila Denise

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Mansion on Peachtree & Lunch at NEO

My colleague, Chuck and I had the pleasure of touring The Mansion on Peachtree and dining at NEO today. But even more rewarding was meeting one of the kindest, most genuine people I can recall encountering in recent memory, Kimberly. Having met this wonderful woman, Chuck and I both stated that we left feeling that we'd gained a dear friend.

As restaurant and hotel snobs, we were eagerly anticipating our visit to The Mansion. We had been drooling over this property for several months and today was our turn to take a tour of the property and enjoy lunch. All I can say is WOW!! From the initial greeting by the doorman to our goodbye hug, top-notch-southern-hospitality-filled-make-you-wanna-stay-forever SERVICE. I'm not easily impressed, but, I must say, this one got me. The Mansion ranks among my top three hotels of all time and that says alot. I could live there.

Now on to lunch. NEO, quietly tucked in the rear of The Mansion, is a beautifully appointed dining room overlooking the garden. Since black is my signature wardrobe color, I have a love/hate relationship with white napkins. I detest having to request a black napkin as I feel the waitstaff should be observant enough to anticipate my need. Brownie points for NEO as my black attire was noted and the black napkin magically appeared. As I step off my soapbox, I'll tell you about lunch.

We started with the calamari and artichokes--lightly battered and fried and oh so delicious. The batter was so flavorful, we ignored the dipping sauce. We also noshed on breadsticks, crispy flatbread and warm bread with olive tapenade. Our next course was the arugula salad with pears and shaved parmesan, tossed in an extremely delicate dressing---delicious!! Our entrees: I had the trout with capers and pasta, Kimberly had the penne tossed with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese and pine nuts, and Chuck had the lobster ravioli. We looked like hungry college kids as we eagerly shared our entrees and as different as they were, each dish was divine. I did make a mental note to try the Angus burger--a guest nearby ordered one and it looked awesome! I'll manage somehow to eat it with a fork and knife, but I'd much rather be able to pick the sucker up.

Now the highlight of the meal.....DESSERT--The Dessert Flight:

Apple Crumb Tart with Caramel Sauce, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Lemon Cheesecake and last, the most delicious of the four...Tiramisu!!! Mind you, I am not a fan of Tiramisu, so if I say it's FABULOUSLY DELISH, take my word for it. Next time I'm requesting a flight of Tiramisu only. I could simply order the regular sized Tiramisu, but it can't be as adorable as the baby version.

Oh and don't think I wasn't swooning over the white dishes from the beginning to the end of the meal. I NEED those little Tiramisu cups in my life PRONTO!!

I also learned about NEO Unplugged. This event is held the last Wednesday of each month and allows you to enjoy a quiet, candlelit dinner without the intrusion of technology--no phones allowed. I'm looking forward to NEO Unplugged.

I plan to return many times to The Mansion to enjoy NEO, The Mansion Bar, 29 Spa, Craft Restaurant and to experience being a guest. If pampering is what you're craving, your wish will be granted at The Mansion.

Sheila Denise

Saturday, April 4, 2009

White Dishes: Episode 3

This entry highlights a beautiful cake stand purchased from Goodwill. I am a frequent prowler of Goodwill, Salvation Army, other thrift shops and garage/yard sales. I absolutely LOVE unique items and finding them at bargain prices makes the purchase even more rewarding. I'm always on the prowl for a great deal.

The moral of this story--don't sleep on non-traditional shopping opportunities to feed your fetish(s).

P.S. This is Mother's dining table. We're guessing that it's at least 60 years old. We restored it in the early 90's. It was covered in dark dark dark stain, but after stripping it, here's the natural color of the wood. Isn't it beautiful??

Sheila Denise

Gifts From Barcelona...Thanks Chuck!!

My colleague and BBFF (boy best friend forever), Chuck, is a frequent traveler to wherever the mood strikes. His latest location of admiration was Barcelona. One of the great things about Chuck's travels is his generosity in returning with gifts for ME!!! It's wonderful to have such a thoughtful friend.

White Chocolate & Lemon Biscuits:

When I saw the square box, I thought it was body cream because it looked similar in size to the Origins body creams that I love. Boy was I was surprised and happy to see that it was FOOD! Chuck picked it out, not only because the biscuits were tasty, but also because the packaging had won The Best Packaging Design Award - Laus 2008 (the most prestigious graphic design award in Spain). A tasty treat and unique is good!

These tiny biscuits are D-E-L-I-SHUS!! The white chocolate pieces are just the right size and the little zing of lemon is absolutely the perfect combination. I've been trying to trying to resist eating them all at once, so I'm having a couple every few days for dessert. I will be very, very sad when they're all gone.

I also received this beautiful Antoni Gaudi Mug:

Architect and designer, Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) is known as the most internationally prestigious figure in Spanish architecture.

Can I tell you again how great it is to have such a thoughtful colleague? Thanks Chuck!!

Sheila Denise

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

White Dishes: Episode 2

The urge to shop overcame me today. It was so strong that I chose to skip lunch and shop instead. I've always had hit-or-miss kinda luck in Ross Dress For Less, but I thought I'd give it a shot and I'm soooooo glad I did.

I stumbled upon these little pitchers. They are by Over and Back/BIA. I have quite a number of their items, so I know they're durable. The curved dishes showcased in Episode 1 are the same brand.

They'll hold approximately 2 cups--the perfect size for salad dressings, sauces and simple syrups at my Spring and Summer gatherings. These are a great compliment to my ever-growing arsenal of white dishes and a nice nudge to get me into the entertaining mode (as if I need an excuse).

I love Spring and Summer entertaining.

Sheila Denise