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May 7, 2013

Mocha sour cream cake recipe

Perfect for tea time or dessert, you could sneak a piece of this mocha cake for breakfast, too.

At 7:15 in the morning, I fired up the mixer to make the batter for this cake. At 7:28, it went into the oven. At 7:45, I finished cleaning up the flour, sugar, butter and chocolate that had sprayed around the kitchen when I accidentally switched the mixer to high speed too soon. Yes, friends, no matter what time of day I bake, and no matter how much coffee I've had in preparation, baking is always a bit of a misadventure. No matter, this mocha sour cream cake is worth the mess, and a last-minute sprinkling of confectioners sugar on top right before you serve hides any little bits that stick to the pan (I'm sure this never happens to you, right?). Even though I baked it, and tasted it, at breakfast time, it's more of a dessert or tea-time cake, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and served with a rich cup of coffee.

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March 31, 2013

Recipe for lemon poppyseed cake with lemonade glaze

An easy lemon poppyseed cake, with lemonade in the glaze.

If you drive around Rhode Island in the summertime, you'll spot a green-and-white Del's Lemonade truck, emblazoned with a bright yellow lemon, on every corner, at every Little League game, alongside every public beach. Hundreds of college students earn tuition money by driving those little trucks, and serving up the famous iced lemonade to thirsty athletes and happy children. In the off season, you can buy Del's in the supermarket, in a cute plastic bucket filled with packets of the powdered mix, and that's the mix I use in the glaze for this lemon poppyseed cake. Sounds crazy, I know, but combined with real lemon juice, powdered lemonade adds a bit of fun, and an extra pop of lemon, to the icing. (You can use your favorite lemonade mix if you don't have Del's.) The basic sour cream cake recipe comes from Lorna, a reader who sent it to me along with a handmade ceramic cake pan. The cake isn't fussy, which suits my lack of natural baking ability, and it freezes well. Serve it with coffee or tea or -- why not? -- a glass of champagne.

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March 21, 2013

Sweet cream butter (Recipe: lemon currant jonnycake biscotti)

First published in September 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos and links, and tweaks to the recipe. There's just enough lemon in these biscotti to brighten the gloomiest of winter days and celebrate the arrival of Spring.

Lemon currant biscotti, crispy Italian cookies perfect for afternoon tea.

A dairy cow weighs more than 1,000 pounds.

A butter cow — specifically, the Iowa State Fair's famous Butter Cow — weighs 600 pounds, enough butter to coat 19,200 slices of toast.

I know what you're thinking.

Salted butter, or unsalted?

(Are you really thinking that, or are you wondering, like I am, what happens to all of that butter at the end of the fair? Does the cow melt in the heat? Do cow birds eat butter? Does the Butter Cow sleep in a barn at night? Does it moo?)

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February 19, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker chai-spiced pear sauce {vegan}

Slow cooker chai spiced pear sauce. Top it with ice cream for a fab dessert.

When I was a little girl, my maternal grandparents, the ones who owned a wholesale toy business (lucky me!), lived in a small brick rowhouse in Brooklyn. I loved two things about that house: the garage where my grandfather would park his car, leaving the trunk unlocked so we could paw through the toy samples on our Sunday visits; and the pear tree in the tiny back yard. I'm still partial to the pear sauce my grandmother used to make, with a just hint of cinnamon. Had she owned a slow cooker, I think Grandma might have liked this chai-spiced pear sauce, too. The warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves) transform pears, which are often a bit bland unless they are perfectly ripe, into a sophisticated version of the ultimate comfort food. On its own or topped with vanilla ice cream, this pear sauce makes a classy dessert or afterschool snack.

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February 14, 2013

Balsamic vinegar (Recipe: strawberries in balsamic)

First published in January 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Just in time for Valentine's Day, this classic Italian dessert speaks the language of love.

Strawberries in balsamic vinegar, the most romantic dessert I know.

Act II, Scene 2.

The balcony scene.

Montagues. Capulets. What's in a name?

O Rubio, Rubio,
Wherefore art thou, Rubio?

Wait a second...Rubio???

Juliet may have been talking to her beloved Romeo from that Verona balcony, but I'm talking about my beloved, my absolute favorite balsamic vinegar.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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