Family Favorites...Basic White Cake

  What you do with extra egg whites is bake a Basic white cake. This recipe for an all purpose Butter cake from The Bon Appétit Keep it Simple Cookbook will help you use up your egg whites. I made cupcakes from the recipe but you can bake it in a sheet pan, or layer pans also. 
  I usually do use cake mixes, but so far have had fairly good luck with cakes from scratch. Keep in mind that if your recipe calls for cake flour it is better to use it. Keep the opened box in the freezer and let it warm up before using and it will keep just fine.
  This is fast to get together and has a nice texture. Frosted or not, your family and guests will enjoy it.
Basic White Cake
3 ¼ cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature butter
8 large egg whites, whisked until blended but not foamy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%, worked fine)
  Position rack in center of oven and heat to 375°. Butter and flour 13x9x2 inch or cupcake pans. You can use liners for the cupcakes.
  Sift the first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups sugar and butter in large bowl until pale yellow and fluffy. Add egg whites in 4 additions; beating well after each. Beat in the 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  
  Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes (18 to 20 for cupcakes). Transfer pan to rack and cool completely. Frost when cooled with whipped cream or frosting of your choice.

Plum Cake

The summer plums are  in the stores so it is time to start baking with them (before they get eaten out of hand). I have several plum recipes I use, this is one of the simplest. Easy to make, ingredients that you have on hand and can be eaten cold or warm. Also a 8 inch pan works for our small family.

Plum Cake
2 large eggs, room temp
½ cup sugar divided
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼c cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
3  plums, sliced
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease an 8X8 inch pan and line with parchment paper (leaving excess paper over the sides).
Place eggs and ¼ cup of sugar in a mixer attached with a paddle and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
Once eggs and sugar are pale and  fluffy, turn mixer  to medium and slowly add oil and vanilla. Turn mixer to low and add flour mixture. Mix until incorporated (being careful not to over mix).
Fold plum slices into batter and pour into prepared pan. Bake about 5 minutes, open oven and quickly sprinkle the other ¼ cup of sugar (scant) over the top of cake.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes total or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan.  

 Cool on wire rack and eat warm or room temperature

From The Garden...Lettuce Wedge Salad

 A copy of Southern Living, Best Comfort Food Recipes I found in the grocery store had so many great recipes it was a tossup which recipe looked better and which to try first. For supper tonight I am making Lettuce Wedge salads mainly because the picture reminded me so much of the way lettuce salad was served in the 50”s when I was growing up. 
 Also, the dressing looked quite good and fairly easy. We are all fans of Ranch style dressings so this looked to be a clear winner. I did follow the suggestion of making it ahead as I wanted it to thicken a little and also so I could have the dishes from making it done up before supper.

Lettuce Wedge Salad
4 to 5 bacon slices
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
1 (1-oz,) envelope Ranch dressing mix
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves
1 large head iceberg lettuce cut into 4 wedges
Shredded basil (optional
  1. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
  2. Saute onion in hot drippings over medium heat 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Remove from heat; cool
  3. Process onion, buttermilk, and next 4 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
  4. Top each lettuce wedge with dressing; sprinkle with bacon. Top with shredded basil if desired.
NOTE: You can make the dressing ahead and store it in the refrigerator. The chilled dressing will have a thicker consistency.


Fettuccini with Lemon Sauce

Here’s a quick, easy, wonderful recipe from the New York Times food pages!  The recipe is from Pierre Franey, who was the NYT “60 Minute Gourmet”.    We liked this so much, I had made a half recipe for the 2 of us, and we made it again the next day!    I prefer to make my own fettuccini much more cheaply than purchasing it, but this is even good with supermarket-case fresh pasta. 

Fettuccini with Lemon Sauce
  2        tablespoons  butter
  1        tablespoon  freshly grated lemon zest -- plus more for serving
     ½    pound  fresh or dried fettuccini or linguine (you can use a 9 oz. package)
  4-6    tablespoons  heavy cream
  2        tablespoons  freshly squeezed lemon juice
  2        tablespoons  freshly grated Parmesan cheese -- plus extra cheese to serve on the side
Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
Drop the fettuccini or linguine into the boiling water. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Save a little hot pasta water to thin the sauce if necessary, as the sauce isn’t generous.             
Heat the butter the pasta pot and add the lemon zest.
Add the cream to the butter and lemon zest mixture. Add the pasta and lemon juice and stir until just heated through. Add the Parmesan and toss. If necessary, add a little hot pasta water to loosen the sauce. 
Serve with additional Parmesan and lemon zest on the side.
Yield:  "4 servings"

Adapted from Pierre Franey

Use It Up...Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is often on sale around here, and because it’s perishable, it’s useful to have a number of good recipes using it.  It’s a great way to add a little protein to a meal that might otherwise be a little light.  It can be used in everything from desserts and salads to casseroles and breads.
Don’t dismiss just adding it to a salad plate either.  One of the favorite dishes at the Ronneburg Restaurant in Amana, Iowa is their cottage cheese.  They print the recipe on their placemats, and I’ve even seen it printed, years ago, in the Dallas, Texas newspaper, where a tourist requested the recipe.
And give a look at Cottage Cheese Custard, a dish Myrna and I both still prepare, that we learned from our Grandmother, and Cheese Filled Shells are a freezer recipe that is perfect to make when cottage cheese is on sale.
Cottage cheese makes delicious tender breads...Dilly Casserole bread is a classic.

Some excellent cottage cheese recipes:

Sunday in Iowa...

Home in South Amana, Iowa

Built in typical Amana Colonies style, with a grapevine trellis

Cookbook Reviews...Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbook

  I think most of our followers and readers are familiar with the Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbooks. Both Sue and I have various editions and we both have the newest published in 2010. 
  Like all of the red plaid cookbooks it is geared to the beginning as well as the experienced cook. This is a great book for the cooks of today. There are many basic recipes with variations of the recipe and many quick to fix recipes for the working families of this era.  Quite a few of the recipes are under 30 minutes or can be made before-hand and finished for your supper. 
  We both found recipes to try, and think that today’s modern cooks will find a lot to recommend in this book. There are the regular chapters you find in most cookbooks and chapters on convenience cooking, sandwiches and pizzas and the cooking basics for the beginning cook. It really is hard to go wrong with cookbooks from Better Homes and Gardens. This book is widely available and would make a great gift for that young person just starting out on their own.

Family Favorites...Make in the Pan Chocolate Cake

 Chocolate Cake, what better cake to bake when you want something quick and sweet for coffee time.
  This recipe is one of the quickest and easiest cakes there is to bake. Robin Hood Flour’s Baking Book has the recipe and I used to make it when my kids were younger and then they baked it as teens. This is so easy that younger children can do it with supervision and those a little older can do it themselves. 
  Don’t frost it unless you want to, a simple powdered sugar topping or serve it as my husband had it with ice cream and caramel sauce for a great treat. 
  Mix in the pan or in a bowl, either way, no mixer involved so the cleanup is easy. Also no egg so this is good for those allergic to eggs. Just a simple do-it-yourself cake. I had forgotten just how quick and good this cake is.
Make in the Pan Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 350°
8 inch square cake pan, ungreased
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup warm (not hot) water
  Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in pan. Stir well to blend. Make two holes in flour mixture. Pour melted butter in one hole, vinegar into the other. Pour water over top. Mix well with a fork until smooth.
  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 
Cool completely in pan on rack.