Category:Women’s Conference’

Orange-Almond Cake with Chocolate Icing

 - by Elizabeth

How did I learn about this recipe? My friend Andrea made this cake for her birthday.  She’s a remarkable woman, always making some new delicious confection for her birthday.  She tries a new one each year, and I love reading on her Facebook posts what she’s chosen for that year.  The reason this cake intrigued me?  She wrote about this right as I was asked to be in charge of the food for our Women’s Conference (300 people!).  I hit on the idea that instead of making a three-layer cake, I’d keep the layers single, and glaze them with the chocolate ganache and serve them that way. Instead of serving 10 with one recipe, I could serve 30 (although they may all be fighting over any leftovers on the table).

To prepare, I made them last night.  I wasn’t too sure about this, until I had brushed on the “orange jam” and coated them with the chocolate ganache.  Oh, my!  Another cooking friend, Wendy, agreed to be my partner in desert-crime and help me make batches and batches of this for the conference.  So, thanks, Andrea for the idea and thanks, Wendy for always including me in your food adventures.  Here’s one for you.

Yield: Serves 10  Originally published in Bon Appetit, March 1999.  My changes are listed below.

Ingredients for Cake
3 large oranges
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
1 cup whole almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Ingredients–Orange “Jam
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice–approximately 3-4 oranges.  Use the juice from the three peeled oranges (above).  I had to add one more orange to get the juice I needed.
generous 1 tablespoon sugar

Chocolate Ganache Icing (click on link, or see below)

Additional whole almonds, small orange-slice triangles and mint leaves for garnish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place pan on waxed paper, and using scissors, trace around the pan.  Cut out three layers of wax paper on the circle line.

Grease (or butter) the bottom and sides of three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Place the wax paper circle in the bottom of the pan and grease that.  Dust with flour; tap out excess. I say to grease the sides, because a) it comes out easier, and b) it’s prettier if you are using the cake as a single layer.

Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) in strips from oranges.  Coarsely chop enough peel to measure 1/2 cup.

Combine flour, 1 cup almonds, baking powder and salt in food processor; blend until finely ground. Transfer to medium bowl.

Place 2 cups sugar and orange peel in processor (left); blend until peel is finely minced (right).

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until blended. Add sugar mixture and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix milk and both extracts in small bowl. On low speed, beat flour mixture into egg mixture alternately with milk mixture in 3 additions each.

Divide batter among prepared pans. It’s pretty thick.  Smooth it out.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes, and cakes begin to pull away from sides (touch test with finger didn’t work).Don’t overbake. Cool cakes in pans on racks 8 minutes. Loosen cake around edges with narrow spatula, then turn cakes out onto racks, remove wax paper from bottom, and cool completely. They are a bit fragile when warm.

Boil 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice and remaining generous 1 tablespoon sugar in small saucepan until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes (watch carefully and stir occasionally). Brush warm juice mixture over tops of cooled cakes.

For the Women’s Conference, I poured about 1/2 cup warm ganache over the cake and using an off-set spatula, smoothed it over the cake, letting it run down the edges (I had them on a rack to do this, although not that much dripped over that you couldn’t just do it on a plate).  If you need more icing on the edges, smooth some on with the spatula.  It makes a silky-looking glaze, but who cares how it looks?  It is delicious, and sets up after about 30 minutes.  Transfer to plate, decorate with almonds and oranges, or whatever you choose.

Their photo, in a three-layer cake version:

Place 1 cake layer, orange syrup side up, on cake platter. Spread 1 cup Chocolate Icing over. Top with second cake layer, then 1 cup icing. Top with third cake layer, syrup side up.

Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.)

Arrange additional almonds, orange triangles and mint leaves around top edge of cake. Slice cake and serve.

Chocolate Icing also from Bon Appétit, March 1999

Yield: Makes about 4 cups–enough for two batches of cake.  If you are only making one cake, I advise you to double-glaze it, or else cut the ingredients down by at least 1/3.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch cocoa)
4 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (scant) almond extract

Preparation

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and mixture comes to simmer. Remove saucepan from heat. Add chocolate and both extracts. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.  I glazed my single layer cakes while it was still warm, but if doing the triple-layer cake, refrigerate frosting until slightly thickened but still spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Note: the original recipe called for 16 ounces bittersweet, but in reading the comments from the reviewers, they all said to go with a mixture.  I did.  Yummy!  You’ll be fighting over who gets to lick the pan.

Quinoa Spring Salad

 - by Elizabeth

Basic directions for the Quinoa Salad for the Women’s Conference.

While I show the prep work for ONE batch of salad, please keep in mind that yours will be tripled, using the recipe amounts found below.

Thanks in advance for helping us out with the luncheon!

Shopping Preamble & Some Tips:

TIP #1: Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is a grain that is full of protein and is fairly mild.  You can buy it in boxes at Trader Joe’s (you’ll need 1 and 1/2 pounds or  three cups–check the box for weight; photo is above).

You can also buy it by the pound at Sprouts, up in the Mission Grove area.  Again, buy about a pound and half by the store’s scales; this gave me about 3 cups.  DON’T buy the red quinoa–we want the beige color quinoa.

Trader Joe’s also has shelled edamame, but so does Sprouts (in the back by the produce in the flat freezer cases).
SHELLED Edamame looks like smooth little lima beans. The one above is Trader Joe’s.

This is how the bag from Sprouts looks.  Again, get the shelled edamame.

Please buy MILD Feta cheese in a block and crumble it yourself (see salad directions).  I bought this at Ralph’s–while they have it many places, I couldn’t always find the mild, as many times the feta is flavored.  Don’t buy the flavored Feta.  [Note: if you are desparate, and can’t get to Ralph’s, it is okay if you buy it pre-crumbled–you’ll need a 6 to 8 ounce package.]

TIP #2: When mincing the jalapeno, get rid of all the seeds and the membrane and then wash your hands thoroughly.  Those two parts are the “spicy-hot” parts of the jalapeno.  When I say finely minced, I mean teensy.  We don’t want any observable chunks of jalapeno in the salad.  It’s just for flavor.

TIP #3: Please use good quality olive oil.  Not that light stuff (which is blended with another vegetable oil) or any other cooking oil.  Just olive oil.  If you don’t have any, come see me.  I’ve got vats (I buy if from Costco in bulk).

If you wish to be reimbursed for your expenses, please save all your receipts–I’ll reimburse you that day, after the luncheon is over. However, we would appreciate it if you could donate your salad.

Please drop it off at the kitchen before going into the conference, and cross your name off the list, so we’ll know whose salad has arrived.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us out–with your contribution, this luncheon will be a big success (and delicious!).

Now to the recipe.

Recipe for Women’s Conference (The Recipe is Tripled)

SALAD:
3 cups dry quinoa
5 cups water
1 and 1/2 16 ounce bags of frozen WHITE frozen corn
1 large red onion (or about 3/4 cup), cut in small dice (about 1/4″ pieces or smaller)
3 red bell peppers, cut in small dice
1 and 1/2 cups cup thinly sliced celery, from the tender inner stalks (about 6)
12 to 15 radishes, sliced
1 and 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen edamame
6-8 ounces feta, crumbled.  I buy the bricks of it at Ralph’s, then crumble it.
1 and 1/2  jalapeño chile, seeds and membranes removed, minced finely
1 cup chopped cilantro

DRESSING:
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes, depending on size) (I have plenty of limes that were given to me.  Holler if you want then.)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or pureed
1  cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

For Salad:

Bring the water to a boil, add quinoa and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and you see the white cuticle of the grain. Set aside.

Soak the onion in cold water to cover for five minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again on paper towels.

Place the edamame in hot, but not boiling, water for about 5 minutes to thaw.

Measure out the corn and add it to a very large mixing bowl.  The corn will thaw very quickly. If yours has been kicking around in the freezer for a hundred years, perhaps you’ll want to run it under some hot water to refresh it.  Drain well.

Seed and devein the jalapenos, then mince finely.    I cut the jalapeno into slices, then turn the cutting board 90 degrees, then chop again.  I then go at it again, chopping the bits like I do nuts, over and over.

My hand is there for a guide to how small it is. If you are an experienced cook, I apologize for boring you, but I wanted to be clear on the directions. Place into bowl.

Chop the red bell pepper into fine dice (1/4 inch). Place into bowl.

Drain the onion and the edamame, then place on paper towels to drain again, then place into bowl.

Cilantro is stored upright in the refrigerator in an glass of water, with a plastic produce bag over it to keep it fresh.  When you need some, just whack it off above the twisty-tie; a thumbs-width-worth is about 1/3 cup chopped, more or less.  For a cup, you may need about 1/2 bunch.  To measure, layer the leaves in the cup loosely–don’t pack!!  Or use the guide of three thumbs-width bunches.  Remove any gangly stems before chopping.  Add the cilantro to the bowl.

Choose celery from the inner core of the bunch; the two laying crosswise on top are representative.

Trim off the raggedy ends and cut the rest of the stalk thinly, yielding moon-shaped slices; add to the bowl.

Feta cheese is sold in blocks like this: choose MILD.  Cut off what you need.

Crumble the cheese, then add to large mixing bowl.

One fun thing about this salad is the amount of crunchy vegetables.  Here’s one more: radishes.  We serve this salad all through the summer!  Add these to the large mixing bowl, then toss all ingredients together lightly.

For Dressing:

Smash a garlic clove under your knife to loosen the papery skin; peel off and discard.  You can either mince the clove finely (finer than the jalapeno), or do what I do:

Put it in a garlic press and press it into the bowl.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Please use bonafide, good quality olive oil.  See Tip #3 above.  Toss with the salad. Serve.

Advance preparation: The quinoa freezes well and the assembled salad will keep for a day in the refrigerator. It’s fine to make the whole salad a day ahead and then bring it Saturday morning.  It still tastes fresh.  Please use these proportions; we’ll add more dressing if we need to, but we don’t want soggy salads.

Thanks so much!!

Recipe yield: 45 one-half cup servings.  Yes, we are counting every serving.  We currently have 285 servings coming, so I’ll be making up a batch myself to bring it up to the 300 servings that we need for that day.

If you want to make this for your family, the amounts for a single batch can be found if you click **here**.

Confetti Pasta Salad-Women’s Conference

 - by Elizabeth

Basic directions for the Confetti Pasta Salad for the Women’s Conference.

While I show the prep work for ONE batch of salad, please keep in mind that yours will be tripled, using the recipe amounts found below.

Thanks in advance for helping us out with the luncheon!

Shopping Preamble & Some Tips:

This is Orzo.  It’s a type of pasta that looks like large rice.  You’ll need a fine wire mesh strainer of some sort for draining after its cooked–it washes out of a typical colander’s larger holes.

It doesn’t much matter which brand of black beans that you buy.  I’ve used both a name brand and store brand and found both to be fine.

Here’s the basic round-up.

NOTE: Please use good quality olive oil.  Not that light stuff (which is blended with another vegetable oil) or any other cooking oil.  Just olive oil.  If you don’t have any, come see me.  I’ve got vats (I buy if from Costco in bulk).

If you wish to be reimbursed for your expenses, please save all your receipts–I’ll reimburse you that day, after the luncheon is over. However, we would appreciate it if you could donate your salad.

Please drop it off at the kitchen before going into the conference, and cross your name off the list, so we’ll know whose salad has arrived.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us out–with your contribution, this luncheon will be a big success (and delicious!).

Salad (The recipe is already tripled):

1 and 1/2 pound boxes of orzo  [NOTE: 1/2 box is about one and 1/4 cups of dry orzo.]
3 cans black beans (15 oz.), drained & rinsed
2 bags frozen WHITE tender corn, approx. 16 ounces
3 red bell peppers, finely diced
1 and 1/2 cups of red onion, finely diced (pieces are about 1/4″ size or smaller)
about 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add orzo.  Cook until nearly tender (not mushy, but not crunchy).  Drain, using a fine wire mesh strainer.  This may have to be done in batches.  Place drained orzo in a large mixing bowl.  You’ll continually add ingredients to this bowl as you chop and prepare them.

Drain the cans of beans, and rinse until water is clear.  Add to bowl, along with both bags of white corn–no need to defrost. Add the rest of the ingredients:  chopped red pepper, minced onion.

A cilantro bunch is kept in a glass of water, upright and covered with a plastic bag.  To use just whack off just above the twisty tie.  It will keep like this for at least a week or two (change water as needed).  I find a thumb’s thickness yields about 1/3 cup, chopped.  To measure, place LOOSELY in a measuring cup, or use the thumb-measure method.

Add chopped cilantro to everything in the large mixing bowl; pour one batch of Lemon Vinaigrette dressing over the mixture and stir gently to mix.  This can be made one day ahead.  Please cover tightly and refrigerate.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 lemon (to yield about 4 tablespoons juice)
1/2 – 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (do NOT substitute other mustards)
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (you can buy this in the grocery store, or see me)
salt and pepper to taste

First, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a medium bowl.

Add the Herbes de Provence, a few grinds (or shakes) of salt and pepper, water and sugar.

Whisk to blend, then add the Dijon mustard (a healthy squirt) and whisk again.

Keeping that whisk going, dribble in olive oil until it starts to thicken, then add some more.  I probably use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup in total.  Cconcentrate on it going from watery looking to slightly thicker as it emulsifies, while you are continually whisking and dribbling.  The success of this is in the two actions: dribbling and whisking.  It takes about a minute or two.

Recipe yield: 45 one-half cup servings.  Yes, we are counting every serving.  We currently have 285 servings coming, so I’ll be making up a batch myself to bring it up to the 300 servings that we need for that day.

If you want to make this for your family, the amounts for a single batch can be found if you click **here**.