Saturday, November 16, 2019

Queen Bee


I just finished Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank.  And by just finished, I mean five minutes ago.

I have long enjoyed her South Carolina Low Country Stories. She really gives you the flavor of the place and dives deep into the characters and their personalities.  A fabulous writer.

Queen Bee is the nickname of the imperious and demanding mother that younger daughter Holly lives with and cares for.  It is also for the bees that Holly cares for as a beekeeper and the glorious garden she plants for them.

It is not a romance novel, but some of the people find romance.  And not the romance that you think they might find, but in another direction you hadn't seen coming from the beginning.  It is not a comedy but there are quite a few laughs.  It is not a character study, but there are quite a few characters in this book.  There are many times that Frank writes a line that has me stop and want to call somebody and read it to them.  They are that good.

I really liked this book and it has happy and hopeful ending.  But I was terribly sad to get to the end.  Not just the kind of sad you feel when you finish a really good book and you will miss the characters you have come to care about. But sad because I will never again get to read a new book by one of my favorite authors.

Dorothea Benton Frank passed away this year after a brief illness and we are all the worse because of it.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Lemon Pudding Cake

I recently read No Judgements by Meg Cabot.  The characters live through a hurricane and several of the meals eaten had the recipe included in the book.  This was one of them.  I made a minor change or two.


Lemon Pudding Cake

1 yellow cake mix
1 package instant lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil


2 cups powdered sugar
1 lemon
3 Tablespoons softened butter


Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a Bundt pan with Pam.  Set aside.


In a large mixing bowl whisk the 4 eggs.  Add the cake mix, pudding mix, water and oil.


Whisk smooth.


Carefully add the cake mixture to the prepared pan.


Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Mine took 40 minutes.


Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then invert over a cooling rack. If you coated the pan well enough you can lift the pan off the cake.  Let it cool completely.


Mix the glaze.  Zest the lemon.  Then cut it in half and squeeze the juice.  I got just under 1/3 cup and so that is what I used.  Sift the the powdered sugar, in a medium bowl.  Add the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice, then mix well.


Place some waxed paper under the cooling rack and drizzle the glaze over the cake.


Serve a giant wedge.  Enjoy the moist cake with the burst of lemon in the glaze.


Then go read the book.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Apple Pandowdy

A pandowdy was originally a way to use up stale bread. It was mixed with spiced apple slices and baked in to a type of bread pudding.   This version is made with puff pastry to make it quick and easy.     I liked it, but next time I'll up the apple to pastry ratio.  But you have to careful not to to overfill the baking dish or it will bubble over and make a mess in your oven.


Apple Pandowdy

1/2 package puff pastry
6 large apples
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
3 Tablespoons flour, divided use
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons Turbinado sugar


Preheat the oven to 425°.

Get out one folded sheet of puff pastry. Set it on the counter to let it thaw.


Melt the stick of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the pan frequently for about 5 minutes until the butter turns a golden brown.  Don't do a lot of other things when this is going on or you'll burn the butter.  Like I did.  Set aside.


Peel the apples.  Cut chunks leaving the core behind.  Cut into slices and then cut them in half, making uneven chunks.


This is a rustic dessert!

Wash the lemon.  Use a microplane to zest just the yellow part of the lemon.  Cut it in half and squeeze the juice


Place the chunks in a large bowl and add in 2 Tablespoons flour, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, juice and salt.  Mix together.


Mix and place in a 12X8, or thereabouts, baking dish.  Drizzle all but 2 Tablespoons of the browned butter over the apples.


Sprinkle about half of the remaining Tablespoon of flour on the counter and unfold the thawed puff pastry.  Dust the top with the rest of the flour.  Brush both sides gently with your hand.  Cut the pastry in uneven strips with a knife or pizza cutter.  Then cut the strips crosswise to make pieces about one inch...ish.


Place the puff pastry all over the apple mixture.  Use a pastry brush to brush the rest of the browned butter on the pastry chunks.  Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top of the dish.


Bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350° and bake for 25 minutes more or until the pastry has puffed and is a golden brown.


Serve warm. You can sift on some powdered sugar to dress up the dessert.


But the best way is with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  AND the powdered sugar.