Spiced Honey Cake with Caramelized Figs

I was in Fresh Market the other day and saw they had fresh figs.  I’m not sure where they were from and honestly I didn’t care.  It was the last hurrah of summer and I was going to make something with them.

I brought my delicious little turkey figs home and immediately started looking through my hoard of recipes. (yes, I am a recipe hoarder). I had so many, but I wanted something different from the jam that I had made previously and I finally settled on this Spiced Honey Cake.  It was from CHOW.com and posted by Kate Ramos, although I’m unsure if she was the actual creator of this cake.  Whatever the case may be, this was an incredible looking cake and I was anxious to see if it was going to taste as good as I thought it might.

It did.

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I want to let you know that the honey liqueur that it requires is not the turkey honey whiskey stuff my husband likes to bring out at the boy’s card games.  There is a real honey liqueur and I would recommend Celtic Honey, a product from Ireland, or Bärenjäger.  Either one will work well.

This was a very nice, moist cake and the fig mixture on the top really enhanced the flavor of the cake.  If you love figs, you need to make this.  Well, even if you don’t like figs…you should still make this.  It’s that good.

I am already looking forward to next year’s crop of figs.  Yum.

Spiced Honey Cake with Carmelized Figs

Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • Butter, for coating the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • 2 pints figs, halved (you can use mission or brown turkey)
  • 1/2 cup honey liqueur
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 10-inch spring form pan with butter. Set aside.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and ground cloves in a large bowl to break up any lumps and aerate. Set aside. Whisk together honey, oil, coffee, sugar, and eggs in another large bowl until eggs are broken up and mixture is smooth and combined. Add dry mixture to wet and stir until combined.

  3. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out completely clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack and let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside perimeter of the pan and remove the springform ring.

FOR THE TOPPING

  1. While the cake is cooling, add the butter to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the figs cut side down. Cook undisturbed until browned, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the liqueur and honey, stir to coat the figs, and cook until the syrup is golden brown and the figs are soft but still intact, about 10 minutes. Top the cake with the fig mixture and serve.

Roasted Caprese Pasta

Sometimes, even though it’s the middle of a hot summer,  I want some comfort food.  Although I love grilled veggies and fruit, salads and fish, there comes that time when I just want a dish of pasta.  Typically this time of year is just too hot for that.

We had two weeks of high temperatures and humidity and just when I thought I was at the breaking point we got a cool day.  Well, if you can call 79 degrees cool.  But it was the break I needed and that craving of pasta came crawling back into my brain.

I didn’t want a heavy pasta dish because it was after all still summer.   And then it hit me….. fresh tomatoes from the garden, homemade sausage and mozzarella from our trip to NYC,  with fragrant basil from my herbs..  My version of a caprese pasta was born.

it was substantial enough to meet my requirements of comfort food and yet light enough to still follow the rules of summer eating.  I felt like I had wrapped up in a comfortable sweatshirt and it made me happy.

We all need a break sometime, even if it’s about the weather.  Take advantage of it next time you get one.  You’ll be glad you did!

Roasted Caprese Pasta

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 Large heirloom tomatoes, seeded and rough chopped
  • 1 Large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound pasta of your choice (you can use any type you like best)
  • 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, sliced thin
  • 5 links grilled sweet sausage, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 20 basil leaves, chiffonade (chiffonade is when you roll the leaves up together and slice)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Toss chopped tomatoes and garlic with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (you could add red pepper flakes at this time if you want it spicy)

  3. Place on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until slightly charred. Set aside.

  4. Heat pasta in salted water according to package directions. Make sure the water tastes like sea water. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

  5. Place sliced onions in a pan with 1 tablespoon oil and cook slowly over medium low heat until caramelized and slightly browned.

  6. Return pasta to pan and add sliced sausage, roasted tomatoes, diced mozzarella, caramelized onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and reserved pasta water. Stir everything together until well combined. Add basil and stir again to combine. Taste for seasonings.

  7. Top with grated parmesan if desired and serve immediately.

Pulled Pork BBQ with Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Hot, lazy days and nights when you sit out with a fan and hope for a bit of a breeze.  Lightening bugs and children squealing with delight as they catch one in a jar.  Sweet tea and rockers on a porch, family picnics and pork barbecue.

It’s summer in the south.

Coming from the north I had never really had barbecue until i moved here almost 26 years ago.  Ever since that time I first held a pulled pork sandwich in my hand, I have been in love with it.  The vinegar sauce dripping down my fingers, the hot spice subtly controlled by the coolness of the rich coleslaw resting on top.  It was that first bite that made me realize I was destined to live in the south.

I have tried to make it many times over the past years.  Once I almost got it right and then somehow lost the recipe and it’s been a struggle ever since, trying to recreate it.

Until now.

Once again, I have gone back to my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s cookbook “Dishing Up Virginia” and gotten the most incredible tasting recipe for dinner.  It was not what I expected when making it because of the ingredients, but definitely worth keeping it as written.  I want to tell you when you make this, open all the windows and doors because the flavorful scent of pork mixed with onions and garlic wafting throughout the home will make it almost impossible to wait the five hours it needs to cook.   I don’t recall how many times that day I almost dove head first into the oven.

The pork just fell apart, and it was so moist.  I cannot tell you in words how tasty this was.  With every bite I couldn’t wait for the next one.  To quote Patrick from his book and this recipe, ” No doubt other states do remarkable things with barbecue, but this Virginia recipe that combines tradition and time with spice and smoke is unequaled.”  So very true.

Eating dinner with my husband that night, I had the feeling there was a red checkered tablecloth on the table, grandma, grandpa and all the cousins were arriving with their pot luck and the fireflies were lighting up the evening.

Summertime in the south.  It can’t get any better than this.

Pulled Pork BBQ wit Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Prep Time 24 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes

Ingredients

PIQUANT SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

**NOTE: Sauce needs to be made at least 24 hours ahead of time.

PORK RUB

  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

PULLED PORK

  • 1 6 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup beer, preferably lager
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped

CLASSIC SOUTHERN SLAW

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Pulled Pork BBQ and Piquant Sauce

  2. Make the sauce: Pour the vinegar into a glass jar and add the sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and pepper flakes. Put on the lid and shake well. Allow to sit at least 24 hours before using; shake before use.

  3. Make the pork rub: Whisk the paprika, sugar, pepper, salt, mustard, cayenne, and cumin together in a medium bowl.

  4. Make the pulled pork: Rub the pork thoroughly with prepared spices on all sides and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

  5. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over medium-high heat. Cook the pork until brown on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove pork from dish and set aside.

  6.  Pour the beer into the dish and stir to deglaze. Bring to a simmer and add garlic and onions. Remove from heat. Add pork, cover, and bake for about 5 hours, basting occasionally, until very tender and pulls apart easily.

  7. Shred the pork in the casserole dish using tongs; transfer the meat to a platter. Discard the bone.

  8. Serve alone or on a bun, with sauce drizzled on top and if desired, southern slaw.

Classic Southern Slaw

  1. Make the dressing: Put the mayonnaise, sour cream, cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper in a jar and seal the lid; shake well to incorporate all the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, shake again before dressing the slaw.

  2. Make the slaw: Put the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

  3. Toss again before serving; serve with a slotted spoon.

Summer

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and guess what comes after that?  You’re right.  SUMMER..  Sweet, sticky, hot, and sunny summer.  This is the time of year that when I get something to drink, I want it cold and sparkly.  I don’t know why but the bubbles in my drink just makes me feel a little less hot!

I have to say that typically if I want a drink, I choose wine.  A dark red wine that is full of body.  Cabernet is my drink of choice for the most part.  However, it is a bit heavy for the summer.  I had to come up with something that was relaxing like my Cabernet, but refreshing and had a little sparkle to it.

What could be better than White Sangria?  I know there are many versions and we all think our version is the best.  Mine really is!  It’s not too sweet, and not too tart.  It’s light and refreshing,  fruity and fun.

It’s what summer is all about.

Summer

Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 bottle Riesling wine
  • 1/2 cup Peach Schnapps
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped of any or all of the following:
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Asian Pear
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • 1/4 lemon or lime thinly sliced
  • Up to two cups Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine)

Instructions

  1. Pour two bottle of Riesling wine into a gallon pitcher

  2. Add 1/2 cup Peach Schnapps

  3. Add chopped fruit

  4. Stir to combine

  5. Pour into a glass and top with a generous pour of Prosecco (you can also use Champagne if you can’t find the Prosecco)

  6. ENJOY!!

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