How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lime Jubilee

(written by James, May 25)

For Pam's Jubilee Birthday (that number is biblical -- look it up) she wanted a lime variation on the coffee-infused cake she made for James' Jubilee Birthday (biblical types differ on how to count the Jubilee years -- this May we covered them both).

As we sometimes do, we got a bit carried away with a theme, so that the menu now reads:

Beer-Lime Grilled Chicken 
Lime Biscuits 
Cilantro-Lime Slaw 
Lime Sherbet, natch, as our only store-bought offering
A Lime Variation on our Award-Winning Mocha Cake

Margaritas may also be involved, and perhaps Corona, which is only palatable with a wedge of lime.

Lime Cake
(written by James, May 26)

Of course it is appropriate to begin the preparations for Pam's Big Day on her Attainment Day, when she has already attained her newly-earned aged. After preparing some famous queso dip for an unrelated event this afternoon, we prepared two items that are best completed a day ahead, both to clear the kitchen for other activities and because neither of these has any last-minute steps.

The first of these is Pam's kidney bean salad -- a gift to herself each birthday. No limes are involved. Then James began the lime cake, varying the Molly Katzen pound cake that has become our standard. I followed the recipe in the original Moosewood Cook Book, using Katzen's suggested variations for a lemon cake as a starting point to create a raspberry-lime cake.

Rather than using butter and flour on the Bundt pan, I prepared it with lime-infused olive oil (brought in from Lebherz just for the occasion) and flour. I replaced the vanilla extract in the original recipe with raspberry extract, adding the freshly-squeezed juice of three limes and the zest of two. After the batter was prepared, I gently mixed in a small package of fresh raspberries.

I usually do not sample batter, but if it is any guide, this is going to be a really nice cake!

(written by James, May 27)

I started the slaw -- perhaps only the second I have ever made -- fairly early this morning so that it could chill and the flavors could meld. I must confess to cheating, using one of those ubiquitous bags-o-veggies that have taken over produce shelves recently. Perhaps a bit later, when our CSA presents us with actual cabbage, I will do this again with fresh ingredients. But on a busy cooking day early in the season, I was happy to have the shortcut.

Since the bag had about 6 cups of cabbage rather than 4, I increased the ingredients in rough proportion -- lighter on the mayo and heavier on everything else. I could not imagine what I would have done with a partial bag of shredded cabbage, so I used it all. I also made a few minor substitutions, as described below.

I used one cup of Light Hellman's, the only mayo that crosses our threshold. It has 60 percent of the calories of regular. We tried Lowfat Hellman's once, which is 50 percent, and learned our limits! We had scallions on hand, so I used these for a very mild onion taste, rather than buying red onion. I used a serrano-honey balsamic in place of the rice vinegar, and probably used more than was called for. I have no idea what "sweet chili sauce" is, so I used deli-style crushed red peppers. I whisked all of this together before stirring in the vegetation (using our silicon scraper-spoon to good effect).

The result was a nearly perfect slaw -- not too creamy or too vinegarish, and just tangy enough for a nice late spring meal outdoors.

(written by James, May 27)

Speaking of which, after a few days of unseasonably cold, windy, and wet weather, the skies lifted, the sun came out, and the angels sang off in the distance, for the occasion of Pam's birthday. This meant that recent landscaping preparations were worthwhile, and that grilling outside was part of the festivities, rather than a frozen exile. I prepared the marinade just as directed in the aptly-named Beer Lime Grilled Chicken recipe,  except that I used some flat pale ale from the back of the fridge rather than the light-colored beer it calls for. (Those who are not hop-heads might be surprised to learn that "pale ale" is actually much darker than most mainstream beers.) The extra flavor certainly did not harm the outcome -- the pre-packaged, boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts turned out moister and more delicious than would have been thought likely.

(Incidentally, neither margaritas nor Corona were involved after all -- each diner enjoying some combination of limeade, ginger-ale, and home-brew.

Limeade and Biscuits
(written by Pam, May 28)

I adapted a favorite recipe for ginger-lemonade I clipped out of a newspaper years ago to make mint-limeade. I started with making a mint-infused syrup with chopped fresh mint from the garden, 1/4 c. of water, and 1/2 c. of sugar. All of this was heated until boiling, then removed from the stove top to steep. While the syrup cooled I juiced 9 limes. The lime juice, 4 cups of water, 1/4 of sugar and the mint syrup all went into a pitcher and were stirred until well mixed. Our friends brought over some lemon-lime seltzer water which when mixed with the limeade made a refreshing spritzer.

The lime biscuits were pretty simple -- much like other biscuit recipes I used, but with added lime zest and a bit of lime juice. I did think that the 10 tablespoons of butter the recipe called for seemed like overkill and used about 7 instead. They were plenty buttery, and quite tasty with just a hint of lime.

To round out the meal we also had some macaroni and cheese, and Tostitos Hint-of-Lime chips which were delicious with the leftover dip. Everyone was well satisfied when the meal was done.

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