Monday, May 23, 2011

Where has the time gone and what besides not cooking have I been doing?

I know that everyone gets lost in some time vortex where the days spin into weeks and weeks to month and so on, but I am pretty sure we all HAVE to Eat during the spinning process. Looking in the mirror I am relatively sure I have eaten during all this time I have been lost in time, and we have not eaten out every meal, but when I have been home I have been uninspired. Maybe not even uninspired but just , oh maybe LAZY. It is too easy to plop something on the grill and toss a salad to call supper than to actually think and create something different while following directions. So I have been in a recipeless ( pretty sure I just invented that word) environment for most of the last few weeks.

Last Thursday my beloved sister and I had a little backyard hamburger soiree for my parents who had mile marker birthdays. While there is nothing I can write about the creative makings of hamburgers and hotdogs, I actually did try a new recipe.

The meal was basic, burgers, dogs, and all the fixings, plus chips and dessert. Now no birthday is complete without cake but Mom makes the best chocolate cake in the world. (In fact, the cake has become known as Nan Cake and she does get requests to make it often.) I had Son3 pick up 3 dozen Half Moon Cookies from Full Moon, and then we decided we needed something without chocolate for those who don't like it. (Who are these insane people who do not appreciate all the curative properties of chocolate anyway?)

I had just purchased the Big Book of Cupcakes by Jan Moon. Jan is the owner of Delicious Cakes in the Edgewood section of Homewood. Her cupcakes are indeed delicious but cost a little more than I wanted to spend,( $3.00 + per cake) so I thought I would just bake up a batch. I wanted something easy, quick and a little less sweet than the other desserts, so I opted for her Lemon Basil Cupcakes.

Lemon Basil Cupcakes

Lemon Cake

3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. lemon oil or extract
Zest of 1 lemon ( optional)
1 c. butter softened
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
3 c. all purpose soft wheat flour ( Martha White)
2 t. baking powder
1 t.salt
paper baking cups
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix milk, lemon juice, lemon flavoring and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer then add in the eggs one at a time until they are all blended. Combine the dry ingredients and add small amounts to the ,butter, eggs mix, alternating with small amounts of the wet ingredients. Beat at low speed after each addition. Put the cupcake papers in a cupcake pant and spray lightly with Pam. Spoon batter into the tins filling 2/3 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes then remove cupcakes from the pan to cool completely.

1/2 c. confectioners sugar
curled lemon rind
chopped basil leaves

Sift Confectioners sugar over the tops of the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with lemon rind and chopped basil.

Ok that is the real recipe, but as usual I neglected to follow it exactly. In reality I used a lemon cake mix for the actual cupcake because I had little time to cook. I did not make the cake according to the box directions. I used 1 1/2 cups liquid (about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and the remaining water) and added 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil to the dry mix. Then I beat in 2 eggs. I beat it till it was smooth and did not use the cooking oil as called for. I did use the Pam spray on the muffin cups and it does make a difference peeling the paper off the cooked cake. I filled them about 1/2 way full because I wanted smaller cupcakes. It took about 12 minutes to bake them and I took them out of the cupcake tins immediately. I put them on a cookie sheet while still very hot. I used the confectioners sugar and mixed another 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to make a thin glaze which I spooned over each cupcake while it was still hot. I let it rest for about 10 minutes. To 1/4 cup sugar I mixed finely chopped basil and some grated lemon rind ( maybe about 1 teaspoons basil and 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind} I sprinkled it over each still warm cake and just let them sit until it was serving time. To serve I peeled all of the papers and put them on a tray. The result was a very light basil flavored lemon cupcake. The glaze soaked to the bottom so in each bite you got a sweet crunchy top with a tart moist bottom. They got really good reviews and I will make them again, but I will use the actual cake recipe instead of a mix. Like I said it was a time issue.

The end result was great. Mom and Dad were ecstatic and all the guest left full and mostly happy. Well except for poor Dan who left my house and had to drive about an hour and 15 minutes home. Sorry Dan!