Blood Orange Buttermilk Pound Cake

Posted by Sara

Blood Orange Buttermilk Pound Cake // Candid Statement

Spring is fast approaching and while I’m very excited for warm weather and for the flowers to bloom, I’m trying to savor these last few weeks of winter- I know that as soon as the temperatures are consistently above 80 degrees, I’ll be missing my boots and sweaters. I took advantage of the last blood oranges of the season to make this pound cake and it turned out beautifully. In my opinion, buttermilk adds wonderful flavor to baked goods and it was moist without being overly dense in the way some pound cakes can be. My glaze was pretty thin (I was running low on blood-oranges so I added less sugar), but I didn’t mind how it soaked into the cake and the lower sugar made it less overwhelmingly sweet. I think grapefruit would be a good substitute for the 9 or so months that blood oranges aren’t available. Overall, I was so impressed with how well this pound cake turned out. An added bonus- my house smelled amazing for hours after I made this!

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Lemon Rasberry Scones

Posted by Sara

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I’ve talked before about how citrus is a great way to add a little brightness in winter and these lemon raspberry scones I made last week are no exception. Scones are great because they seem a lot fancier than they are. The recipes are usually fairly basic and the scone dough comes together quickly, but there’s something about homemade scones that seems a step above. I enjoyed them as an afternoon treat with a cup of tea, but I also think they would make a delicious quick breakfast.

To this recipe, I added about 1/2 cup of raspberry jammy bits that a good friend (and my main baking buddy- she was my co-chef on this pie) brought back from her recent visit to  King Arthur Flour in Vermont. The tart raspberry flavor was the perfect complement to the lemon, but because ‘jammy bits’ are a little obscure, you could easily use dried raspberries or blueberries in their place. I also think these would be fabulous with orange zest and dried cranberries.

My dough was a little dry when it was coming together so I added an extra tablespoon of heavy cream. I also chilled these scones in the fridge for about 15 minutes before baking them so that they would hold their shape better (the frozen grated butter softened pretty quickly from the mixing). The glaze is optional, but makes the lemon flavor a little stronger, and I ended up sprinkling a little extra lemon zest on top. I enjoyed them with a little lemon curd and raspberry jam, but they’re  fabulous on their own.

IMG_6912IMG_6916IMG_6919IMG_6922Lemon Raspberry Scones // Candid StatementLemon Raspberry Scones // Candid StatementIMG_6931Lemon Raspberry Scones // Candid StatementIMG_6940Lemon Raspberry Scones // Candid StatementLemon Raspberry Scones // Candid Statement

 

Taste of Morocco

Posted by Sara

Taste of Morocco // Candid Statement

Years ago, my mother bought a tagine, intrigued by the slow-cooking process and the promise of flavorful and aromatic stews. We used it once, made a marginal chicken dish, and put it in the pantry to collect dust for the next few years. After my sister and I recently took a techniques class at our local cooking school, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to take the Taste of Morocco class and finally learn how to put the tagine to use.

The class began with a short demonstration and then we broke up into small groups to begin cooking our meal. We made mrouzia (lamb tagine with raisins, almonds, and honey)  Moroccan couscous, a red pepper salad, and for dessert- walnut almond macaroons! Cooking classes are always fun in my opinion, but this one was particularly interesting because I was using ingredients and flavor combinations I don’t often work with. Surprisingly, apart from a few specialty spices, the ingredients list for all the recipes was not too long or exotic (something that’s usually intimidating about global cuisine). The most interesting ingredient was preserved lemon- we diced it and added it to our pepper salad; it added some really lovely acid and citrus to the dish.

Now that we better understand how to use our tagine, my mother and I will definitely be adding some Moroccan food into our cooking routine ( in fact, just the other night we made the lamb stew and couscous for dinner with some relatives). None of the recipes were overly complicated and every dish we made had such wonderful flavors. We finished our class by eating the meal we had prepared and enjoying a glass of wine. Taste of Morocco // Candid StatementTaste of Morocco // Candid StatementTaste of Morocco // Candid StatementIMG_8058Taste of Morocco // Candid Statement

Chai Spiced Apple Pie

Posted by Sara

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One benefit of unemployment is that I have plenty of time to bake and cook. My most recent undertaking was this chai apple pie and an afternoon spent with good friend gave me the perfect opportunity (and necessary number of hands) to decorate it with the elaborate latticed top. I  first saw this recipe on the instagram account, The feedfeed, but it originally came from  Hint of Vanilla (check out this blog for some seriously gorgeous food photography).

We couldn’t find masala chai powder in our grocery store, so we made our own. It was very easy to throw together and required spices we already had in the spice cabinet (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder, black pepper, and dried basil). To save time since we decided to make it on a whim, we used a pre-made crust. I will say, this recipe makes a lot of filling so if you have it, I would use a deep dish pie crust. We used a smaller pie dish and ended up having enough to make an additional apple pie (which we promptly christened the ‘reject pie’).

The spice flavor on this pie is fairly strong, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top mellows it out nicely. Apart from the spiciness (due to the cloves), this pie really did have a nice, deep flavor and it came together beautifully. Next time I make this, I  think I will go a little lighter on how much of the spice mixture I add to the filling.

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Christmas Night Fondue

Posted by Sara

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This year, my family, who tend to be major sticklers for tradition, tried something new for the holidays. A desire to simplify and an early Christmas present meant that we decided to opt out of our traditional beef tenderloin Christmas Night dinner in favor of a fondue party. We were pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was and fondue may become our new Christmas tradition.

To keep it easy, I bought some fondue cheese mix from Trader Joes (I did add some kirschwasser to the mix) and then cooked some broccoli, potatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms and made homemade pretzel bites. For the chocolate, we melted some dark semisweet morsels with some half and half (then added some Bailey’s for a festive kick). We knew we wanted to keep it light (as light as it can be when you’re eating mostly cheese and chocolate), so we  mostly dipped fruit in the chocolate. Overall, my family and I loved how fun and easy this was- fondue would be great for a casual night-in with friends or family. IMG_6576IMG_6579

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Andes Mint Cookies

Posted by Caroline

Andes Mint Cookies // Candid Statement

Andes mints are one of my favorite treats this time of year. My Nana used to always have them at her house when we would visit at Thanksgiving, so they became a staple of the holiday season for my sisters and me. These cookies are insanely easy to make and are so delicious – good luck eating just one! They are great to whip up for a last minute holiday party or to leave out for Santa.

Andes Mint Cookies // Candid Statement

Andes Mint Cookies:

  • 1 Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package Andes mints

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix cake mix, oil and eggs until combined.

Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 6-9 minutes- don’t cook any longer than that, you don’t want them to be overdone!

While the cookies are baking, unwrap the Andes Mints so they are ready when the cookies are done.

Take cookie sheet out of the oven and while the cookies are still very hot, place one Andes Mint on each cookie. In about 5 minutes, the mint will be melted. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out each mint like frosting.

A Slice of Williamsburg

Posted by Caroline

Jamestown Pie Company // Candid Statement

In between two of the main historical tourist attractions we have here – Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement – is  Jamestown Pie Company. It could be easily missed if you’re not looking for it, but believe me, you’ll want to stop and check it out. They offer a variety of dessert pies that you can buy as a slice or a whole pie. Pictured is one of my favorites – the bumbleberry pie. I would also highly recommend the chocolate pecan pie. On our most recent trip to JPC, Sara tried the pizza and said it’s some of the best she’s had in Williamsburg. Basically, you can’t go wrong, any way you slice it.

Jamestown Pie Company // Candid Statement

Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup

Posted by Sara

Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup // Candid Statement

I love soup, but find that making it at home can often be fussy. Getting good depth of flavor requires chopping tons of ingredients and letting the soup simmer for what feels like hours. I was so excited when I found this recipe from Martha Stewart a few years ago because it’s easy (short ingredient list and minimal chopping!) and tastes great even though it takes less than an hour to make on the stove-top. To make life even easier, this time around I made it in my crock-pot. I roasted the onions and garlic in the oven first (400° for approximately 20 minutes), then threw all the ingredients in the pot and went about my day. I had it on low for several hours and then let it cool before blending.  This soup also makes a great alternative to salad as a starter for Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup // Candid StatementSweet Potato Chipotle Soup // Candid Statement

Apple Cider Sangria

Apple Cider Sangria // Candid Statement

Hurricane Joaquin has Williamsburg looking like Fall, but it’s not quite cool and crisp out yet. Sangria in all its many forms is everywhere on blogs and Pinterest, so with a little extra time thanks to the storm, we decided to make our own. We looked at a variety of recipes online, combining them to make our very own Candid Statement original. We were able to get all of the ingredients, except for the brandy, at Trader Joe’s. The total recipe cost around $15 and only took a few minutes to throw together (plus the hour it needs to sit in the fridge). This Apple Cider Sangria is refreshing enough for the hurricane humidity, but still feels seasonal for October.

Apple Cider Sangria // Candid Statement

Apple Cider Sangria:
3 apples (we used Gala)
3 pears
1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
1.5 cups of ginger ale
2.5 cups of spiced apple cider
2 airplane bottles of brandy

Directions: Chop apples and pears, combine all ingredients in large pitcher, and let sit for at least an hour in the fridge. Pour and enjoy!

Apple Cider Sangria// Candid Statement
Apple Cider Sangria// Candid Statement

Lemon Bars

Posted by Sara

www.candidstatement.com

I first made lemon bars in high school when my parents had an indoor lemon tree that constantly had ripe lemons on it. Unsure of what else to do with them, my mother and I started making lemon bars by the dozens. We worked through several recipes trying to find one that had the perfect shortbread crust to complement the tangy lemon layer. This recipe by Smitten Kitchen (adapted from Ina Garten) came as close to perfect as any I’ve found.

These are easy to throw together (especially since they don’t require any specialty ingredients- I almost always have everything on hand but the lemons and powdered sugar) and will be enjoyed by even the most adamant chocolate lover.

N.B. Usually, a sifter or fine mesh sieve works best to sprinkle the powdered sugar over the bars. I didn’t have either of those so I clanked two spoons together- not the cleanest method but it gets the job done.