fennel raspberry rosé spritzer

fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table

My mom is coming to visit! She finally booked her tickets and will be here for a month. She says she wants to visit Alaska in December though she found San Francisco too cold in May, I'm not sure how this works. Yes, this is my mom! It will be a month of fun, she will try to spoil my pets and M, despite my objections. She doesn't like to cook and unlike most regular families, there will be some role reversal where I will be making her food for her to try out. This weekend, I won't get to spend Mother's Day with my mom, I'll call her up and talk to her over the phone and listen excitedly to her as she lists all things she wants to see and do while she visits. My mom is pretty cool and selfless, I love my mom. 

My mom likes port wine, I think it is the only alcohol besides beer that I have ever seen her drink in my lifetime. So did my grandma but I think I might have seen my grandma drink whisky (not completely sure) though I know she loved chocolates stuffed with liqueurs. So I figured if I were to create a Mother's Day drink, I should make a cocktail with wine for her (even though she won't able to drink this over the weekend, I will drink one for her) that's lightly sweet. This drink is also an excellent spring and summer drink for brunches (or anytime you want a refreshing cocktail).

This cocktail is easy to prepare, it uses a simple syrup infused with fennel seeds. I then smash fresh raspberries and mix this into the fennel simple syrup and strain this mixture. The spritzer then comes together with the addition of rosé and club soda. Serve it chilled!

fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this cocktail;

  • Use fresh good quality raspberries, I used Driscolls. Make sure the fennel seeds are not old or the flavor won't be as good. 
  • You can serve this over ice cubes, I didn't but either way it is delicious!
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table

fennel raspberry rosé spritzer

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds

1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups) Driscoll’s Raspberries

300mL rosé

120mL club soda

4 thin lime slices

extra raspberries for garnish

1. Prepare a simple syrup by mixing the water, sugar and fennel seeds in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 minutes. The sugar should be completely dissolved. Allow this mixture to cool for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight). Strain and discard the fennel seeds by passing the syrup through a sieve. Refrigerate to chill the fennel infused simple syrup for at least 2 hours.

2. Place the raspberries in a large measuring cup and smash to form a smooth pulp. Add the chilled simple syrup to the raspberry pulp. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Then strain this liquid through a strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Discard the solids in the strainer. 

3. In a large jar, mix the fennel-raspberry infused liquid along with the wine and club soda. To serve pour the chilled cocktail into four glasses and garnish with a slice of fresh lime and a few raspberries.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Driscoll's. All opinions expressed are solely my own. . Visit Driscoll's for more berry recipes & enter to win the Sweetest Berry Sweepstakes

creamy mixed lentil soup

creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

There are a couple of things you get used to eating all the time if you grew up in an Indian household, one of them being lentils. We eat a lot of lentils, black, green, yellow, orange, red etc. And though the names might not really match the color, for example the red lentils look orange to me, they are still one of the most popular and affordable source of protein in India. They're also pretty easy and fast to cook which adds to their attractiveness.

This lentil soup is one of the easiest to make and it's also one of the creamiest versions you'll try! It's got the texture of silky bisque and I've used Califia's unsweetened almond milk creamer to give the soup its characteristic body and "richness". The base of the soup is seasoned with aromatics and flavored with cloves and bay leaves. And though this isn't a "hot" soup you can easily bump up the heat levels by adding your favorite hot sauce in the desired amount. To give this lentil soup a little freshness,  I've garnished it with fresh cilantro and lemon zest and a generous drizzle of a fruity extra virgin olive oil.

 

creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this soup;

  • I use black and red lentils for this soup but you could also substitute green/beluga lentils. 
  • You can make this soup a little hot by adding a little hot sauce if desired.
  • Adjust the consistency of the soup as needed using water after blending. 
  • Califia's new line of creamers have made it possible to create that silky smooth and creamy bisque like texture in this soup. If you want the soup a little creamier, then I recommend playing around with the ratios of the lentil soup base, the water and the creamer. Don't forget to taste and season as you proceed.
creamy mixed lentil soup | A Brown Table

creamy mixed lentil soup

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 cup black lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced red onion

5 whole cloves

2 large bay leaves

1 teaspoon minced garlic clove

1 teaspoon ginger root cut into 1 inch strips

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup Califia almond milk creamer (unsweetened)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil for garnish

1. Clean and rinse the lentils. Keep aside until ready to use.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan on medium-high heat. Sauté the onions for about 2 to 3 minutes until light pink. Add the cloves, bay leaves, garlic cloves and ginger and cook for 1 additional minute with occasional stirring. Then add the salt, black pepper and turmeric and cook for 30 seconds. Add the lentils and water and increase the heat to high, bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender. Once the lentils are cooked, remove and discard the bay leaves. 

3. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender. Add the Califia creamer to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick add a little more water and blend until you get the desired consistency. 

4. Transfer the soup from the blender to the saucepan and keep warm. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. To serve, garnish each serving of the soup with the lemon zest and cilantro leaves and a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

yellow buttercake with fudge frosting

yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table

First things first, the winner of the Wolf Gourmet giveaway is Angela Fields. Congratulations!!! Angela, please send me an email so I can have your shiny new cookware sent out to you. 

When Tessa Huff (who is a cake maven) asked me to share a cake recipe from her new book Layered, I immediately went with her birthday cake. Tessa's blog, if you aren't familiar with it already, is full of delicious cakes and treats made with unique flavors and styles. There's a cake for every occasion to bake and plenty of tasty ones to choose from. From rhubarb, to zucchini to tea infused cakes, you will have a blast going through the book and cooking from it.  

A yellow layer cake frosted with chocolate buttercream fudge frosting. It's simple yet  decadent and delightful, everything a birthday cake should be! I've added a light sprinkling of maldon salt flakes for color and flavor. Make sure you use good quality chocolate and cocoa for the frosting, it makes a huge difference in flavor. Yellow layer cakes are made with egg yolks which give the cake it's color and name. The crumb is soft and delicate and a spoonful with a layer of chocolate fudge frosting, goes a deliciously long way! 

Tessa is also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader (contest is open to US and Canadian readers only) from here. The giveaway is open for a week and ends on April 29th, 2016. I'll pick a random winner, all you need to do is leave a comment below and share the name of your favorite birthday cake. Please don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you. Good luck and happy baking!

yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table
yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table
yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table
yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table
yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table
yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table
yellow buttercake  with fudge frosting | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this cake;

  • Note that I made a two layer cake instead of four. 
  • I used dark unsweetened cocoa powder for the frosting to give it a deeper chocolate flavor.
  • When making a chocolate based fudge frosting you should end up with a frosting that is soft and smooth. This is important when you frost the cake or it will rip the cake as you move against the grain of the cake with the offset spatula.  I usually add more heavy cream (1 tablespoon at a time) to the frosting until it feels smooth and silky. It should be thick enough to hold its shape yet soft enough to frost.
  • Adding the salt flakes at the end is optional. Since salt is hygroscopic, it will absorb moisture from air so watch out for that. You could also sprinkle salt flakes on each slice just before serving.
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yellow butter cake with fudge frosting (from the book Layered by Tessa Huff)

yields: makes 4-layer or two-layer 8 inch cake

ingredients

yellow cake

butter/non-stick cooking spray for pans

3 1/4 cups (425gm) cake flour plus a little extra for dusting the pans

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (225gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups (400gm) finegrain sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

6 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cups (360mL) whole milk

for the fudge frosting

1 1/2 cups (340gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature

5 1/2 cups (690gm) confectioner's sugar

1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon finegrain salt

1/4 cup (60mL) heavy cream

8 ounces (225gm) semisweet chocolate melted and cooled

1 teaspoon maldon salt flakes (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and butter two 8 inch cake pans and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

4. Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. 

5. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of the dry ingredients are combined. 

6. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

For the Fudge Frosting

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Pour in the cream and mix until incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Add the chocolate and mix until smooth.

2. To assemble the cake: Once the cakes have completely cooled, carefully halve them horizontally (I didn't do this) to create four even layers of cake. Level the cakes and choose which layer will be at the bottom. Place it on a plate or serving dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the frosting with an offset spatula. Place the next layer of cake on the top and repeat. Frost with remaining fudge frosting. Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with a little maldon salt flakes if desired.