Sunday, April 11, 2010

FARMER'S MARKET, TRYON PALACE AND VANILLA CUPCAKES WELCOME SPRING,

New Bern was a bustle of activity this weekend.  On Saturday, the Farmer's Market opened with more than 50 vendors serving a huge crowd of patrons.
For the first time, children's activities were available (making pottery, beaded bracelets or planting seeds in a take-home pot).  Weaving instructions were available from weaver Kay Lannoye, dressed in period costume.

No one could possibly go hungry with all the wonderful baked goods available.  



A limited number of vegetables were for sale, but plenty of crafts.  R Garden had vegetables and garden "poop" for sale (goat  manure supposedly good for growing anything without the usual manure odor).  



Tryon Palace opened its grounds free of charge for the weekend.  A sale of heritage plants and trees was a big attraction, but the beautiful flowers were also a draw for visitors.  Cheerful pansies greeted me as I began my walk towards the formal gardens.

Raised beds were filled with dainty irises and purple flowers that I didn't recognize.

The irises were lovely shades of pale blue, white and yellow.
A pink carpet of flowers enticed me through the entrance to another, more formal setting with statues.


Just as I was reveling in the glorious shades and shapes of so many lovely flowers,
my camera battery went dead.  So sad, there was much more to photograph, and I so wanted to share it all with you.  Please do visit the Palace soon and see the gardens for yourself.  And take a guided tour of the inside as well.  It is so worth it.  I could go every week, as I never tire of hearing about New Bern's early history and seeing the interior of such a lovely building.

When I got home, the Palace gardens were still on my mind, so I baked up some cupcakes and topped them with pansies from my garden.


Vanilla Cupcakes
Source:   Southern Living, March 2009 
Rating: 10 out of 10


Click for PRINTABLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla + 1 tsp. vanilla powder (or 2 tsps. vanilla)

1/4 tsp. almond extract
3 cups cake flour (I used White Lily all-purpose.)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp.  salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice)

Heat oven to 350F.  Place baking cups in 24 muffin tin wells; spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.


In medium bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer using medium speed, until creamy and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time,  and beat till yellow disappears.  Beat in flavoring. In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; add to wet mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Batter will be thick. Spoon batter into cups, filling ¾ full. 



Bake 18-22 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour). Spread with desired frosting. Yield: 24 cupcakes  Frost with your favorite frosting, or make some wonderful Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting..  And don't forget the pansy!


NOTES:  
1. Please sift the flour before measuring.
2. Please use cake flour or White Lily all-purpose flour for best results.
3. Don't over-mix the batter and don't beat at too high a speed.
4. Don't over-bake the cupcakes.  
5. Refrigerate leftover cupcakes if using cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

PAULA DEEN'S PINEAPPLE CASSEROLE



We ate Easter dinner with our friends, Dale and Ed, in their Topsail home.  Dale and Ed are long-time New Bern residents and still maintain a residence in River Bend, though they mainly live in Topsail now.  Dale moved here from Ohio and owned and operated Pac 'n Ship on Glenburnie Road until she retired.  Ed, a local New Bernian, was a higher-up in BB&T before retirement.  Now they watch the beautiful ocean from their beachfront home when they're not pursuing other hobbies.

A wonderful spiral-cut ham was the centerpiece of our meal, and flavorful sides completed it in style.  Everything was delicious, but the pineapple casserole grabbed my attention.  Dale informed me that the recipe came from Paula Deen, well-known southern cook.  This must be a Savannah dish, because Ed said he had never seen or heard of it before now.  The dish calls for a good amount of sugar, but Dale substitutes Splenda, since Ed is diabetic.  She also uses pineapple tidbits instead of chunks.   And there really is no better accompaniment for ham than this sweet pineapple dish.  The cheese tempers the sweetness without overpowering the other flavors.  In fact, I didn't know there was cheese in the dish till Dale told me.  This is one recipe I will keep for future ham dinners, and I hope you will, too.

I brought the dessert -- a mixed berry pie with a Limoncello pie crust that I named "Antioxidant Pie." I'll be posting the recipe for this delicious pie on my Judy's Kitchen blog soon.

Paula Deen's Pineapple Casserole
Bear Rating:  9 out of 10
PRINTABLE RECIPE


  • 1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple chunks (or tidbits), drained, and 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (recommended: Ritz)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a medium-size casserole dish with butter.
In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Gradually stir in the cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
In another medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and reserved pineapple juice, stirring with a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Spread crumb mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.