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So after the fail of my Dimply Plum Cake, I was a little scared about the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake I’d be baking the next morning, so scared I cooked it a little longer than necessary- but let me tell you, it was delish!

This dough is easy to make, and the buttermilk was easy to make too- I highly recommend making your own- you need very little and unless you’re planning on using it for something else, it will probably be a waste of buttermilk.

I got scared when I looked at the amount of batter and the size of the pan (I used a 10inch pan as that’s all we had).  I thought it would be too thin and the cake would dry out and crumble.  But I went with it, and I’m happy I did.  Although Smitten is a little anal and places her raspberries perfectly, I just let loose and threw those suckers all over the top- using more than the listed amount too, my Husband said, “What can go wrong, more raspberry taste is good!”

My cake wouldn’t come out of the pan, so I just served it straight from there and people ate it so quickly they didn’t care how it was served.

To make up for the Dimply Plum cake I whipped up another batch of these oh so easy and oh so yummy Blueberry Crumb Bars.  Now is the time to make them- blueberries galore.  Go do it!  (Hint, you don’t need the zest, and you can swab in any other citrus juice, I used Orange this time since all the lemons had been snatched for the lemonade!)

In addition, I made a batch of the Watermelon Lemonade.  What a perfect summertime treat!  I setthe husband to work juicing the lemons and I cut up some watermelon, made simple syrup and mixed it all up.  Easy and delicious.  This a tart drink that is not weighed down by the watermelon. so have no fear.  (We thought it might be too watery).

Now I want to have July 4th all  over again!

You can head over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipes and photos, but I realized I like listing them out here too- so here you go!

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Makes one thin 9-inch cake (or 10-inch), Serves about 8, or 4 with seconds.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened(I’m pretty sure I used salted, didn’t make a lick of difference)
2/3 cup  plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries- or a few more, if you’re feeling reckless!

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9 or 10-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup  sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.  This felt like a lot of sugar, but go with it, it works!

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.  I let mine stay in for about 30, not only because of the plum fiasco, but also I had added in a few more raspberries so I want to make sure it was cooked evenly.  In addition, I didn’t cool mine this way and it was still gobbled down!

Make your own buttermilk: No need to buy buttermilk especially for this or any recipe. Add one teaspoon tablespoon [updated, as an astute reader pointed out that the larger amount is more common] of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and let it sit until it clabbers, about 10 minutes. Voila, buttermilk!  DO IT!

Watermelon Lemonade

Makes enough to fill two glasses with ice cubes; I think we did this recipe by 5 to bring to a party.  It was the perfect amount with other drinks on offer.

1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh watermelon puree, strained through a coarse strainer to remove seeds
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) simple syrup*
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold water or seltzer

Cube watermelon and put in to blender to puree.  After straining, don’t just throw out what’s left, it is still watermelon and is yummy!

Stir it all together and serve over ice. Garnish it with a thin watermelon or lemon wedge, if you’re feeling fancy.

Spritzy variation: I have never met a beverage I didn’t think would taste better bubbly, thus, if you’re looking for a spritzier version of this, swap one-third (1/4 cup) or more of the water with seltzer or sparkling water.

Boozy variation: My husband thinks this would taste even better with a splash of vodka. I am not one to argue.  I tried it, it is good, dangerously good.

* Make your own simple syrup: Please. I see it sold in stores and it just boggles my mind. Simmer one part water with one part sugar (I did a cup of each and ended up with more than I needed for a quadruple batch) until sugar has dissolved. Let cool. Or, you can use my speedier method where you simmer one part sugar with half as much water and once it has dissolved, add the second half of the water, cold, which cools the mixture down faster (when you like nothing to slow your pace to the nearest mocktail).  I have to agree with her here, I don’t see why anyone would pay for simple syrup- it has simple in it for a reason.

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Here we are- recipes 7 & 8!  This makes up for my miss/fail in May and April, right?  No pictures in this write up either, as both the blogs I got these recipes from have way better photos then I could have taken, and I was too busy cooking up a storm to pick up my camera!  These recipes served as a great Birthday Dinner with family and friends on a Saturday night.  Sure I spent a good portion in the kitchen with the Tikka Masala, but sitting down at the table to hear their sounds of enjoyment made it worth it.

First the easy one- Cheese Straws.  I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and knew I had to make it while I was home with time on my hands and people who were happy to eat what I was making.

Wow this recipe was easy.  Grate some cheese, cut up some butter, throw it in a food processor and you’re in action.  The hardest part was cutting up the straws.  I used a knife at first, but wasn’t pleased with the results- so I pulled out my Mom’s pastry cutter, or maybe it was a ravioli cutter, and the process was much much easier.  As she explains these will/can break- don’t let it discourage you- people like mini ones too because then it doesn’t feel like what they’re eating is so bad.  They took a little longer in the oven than stated in the recipe- so be ready for that.  I doubled the recipe and a good thing too, because as a Jew you don’t have enough unless there are leftovers- and there were a few left.  Phew.

These were a huge hit.  Like, seriously huge.  People couldn’t believe that I had made them, and that I was cooking dinner too.  But they are that easy!  Finish reading this post and go make some.

On to the main course.  This recipe is easy, really it is, but it does take some prep.  Again, I doubled (kind of) the recipe (I didn’t double the rice, that’s a lot of rice Pastor Ryan!)  First, here’s the link on Pioneer Woman’s site.

The chicken was a piece of cake- coat it in yogurt and stick it under a broiler- beautiful.  I had never used his method of the cooling rack on a pan- but it worked brilliantly.  I wasn’t afraid of the chicken being undercooked since I’d be tossing it in a hot sauce later, so don’t be a wuss and overcook it- dry chicken is no good!  It will sit for a few minutes anyway, and cook during that time.

Now the hard part.  Get your cutting board and knife ready.  I chopped the onion, I garlic pressed the garlic (leaving the skin on, who knew, this has changed my cooking life), I chopped some cilantro, I chopped some hot pepper, I chopped some ginger and I waited to put it all together.  I used two pans since I didn’t have one big enough to accomodate double this saucy recipe- that made things a little harder since I was guessing on splitting the ingredients between the two (they weren’t evenly split).  Luckily my Mom had some old Indian spices, including Tumeric for the rice, so I didn’t have to search NH for any, or make my own.  Because of their age, I wasn’t as exact in the measurements.

Overall- this is a lot of prep, to stir and let sit a deliciously smelling sauce.  Seriously, your whole house will smell great and people will ooh and ahh over it.

And then it was done, and it was darker than Pastor Ryan’s, so I was a little worried.  People loved it, I mean LOVED it.  They kept going on and on about it.  I didn’t love it.  I think over spicing this to make up for the age of the spice mixture meant a lot more cumin than I like (I don’t like any).  I kind of thought people were just being nice with their praise- but they seem to love Cumin, thank God.  I will make this again, it was delicious besides the Cumin and the rice was great too (and easy even if you don’t have a rice cooker).  I will use less of the spices next time.  I was kind of disappointed that my color was so much darker, but it also meant this didn’t taste overly creamy or oily like some Tikka Masala from a restaurant can.

So, give it a whirl if you’re feeling adventurous.  It is a crowd pleaser, and pretty easy to make for a large dinner party.

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