Thursday, April 29

Drumroll please............................................

Sorry this took me so long to get to. Here are my reasons: 1) we went out of town a couple times and to dinner at other people's houses a few other times, so I was limited on nights I could make these things. 2) sometimes the fact that I have a two year old made its way into the picture and we had sandwiches or toast for dinner. And 3) and this is the biggest reason of them all:

The whole point of the contest was SPRING!!! Spring meals, Spring treats, Spring goodness! I just couldn't get into the spirit of the contest with THIS outside! Instead I turned on the fireplace, heated up some South African Rooibos with extra cream, and slipped into my sweats (or never slipped out of them).

But alas, I have finally finished making all your wonderful creations, so without further ado, here's what you've been waiting patiently for!

And the winners are:

wait, I think I'm doing this backwards. We must first have honorable mentions, right? To build up the suspense! Here goes!

There were so many delicious entries for spring sweets it really was hard to choose. Cameo, the icing on your hummingbird cake was superb.

Debbie, I ate about 3 of your delicious caramel brownies; they were so rich and gooey and delish!

Shelley, let's face it, I didn't even make yours. I knew it wasn't going to win (chow mien noodles and peanut butter? For real? You're awesome, hollandaise packet! - that's your new nick name).

Annalisa, you submitted such delicious, and beautiful, Italian treats! That cheesecake was ridiculous, and unlike any cheesecake they have here in the states. I used nutella in honor of Mr. 2 pound jar Massimo! Yum!

And the crosata was so simple and fun I'm going to have to make it all the time now. In fact, it is the runner up. It was very closely tied with the winner. It was so so so good. Here's the recipe in case any of you want to make it (and I recommend it).

3 cups flour
3 eggs
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 cup butter
grated lemon peel
jam of choice

Mix the flour with the sugar, 3 egg yolks and 1/2 egg white and the butter (melted and at room temp.) and the grated lemon peel.

Work the dough for about 10 minutes and then let it sit for 1/2 hour in the fridge.

Divide the dough in 2 parts. Roll the bigger part of dough out and then place in a medium sized buttered and floured pan.
Spread your favorite jam evenly over the dough.
Roll the other part of dough out and cut into long strips. Place the strips over the jam creating a nice criss cross.

Cook 40 minutes at 360°. This is an italian basic treat. Yummy and simple.

This is what David's plate looked like after he was done with his crosata. Even his cow liked it!

However, the one that takes the cake (no pun intended. Okay, maybe slightly intended) was Nicole's Luscious Lemon Pave. Can I say YUM!?!?!?!?! Okay, here's why it was delicious enough to win the competition. It was SO fluffy. And the custard filling was SO tart and SO creamy. And the frosting was SO light and WONDERFULLY sweet and offset the tart filling perfectly! And the citrus smell that filled my house while making it was icing on the cake (okay, that one was intentional). Not to mention, it was the dessert that tasted most like spring to me. So congratulations Nicole! And everyone else, you absolutely must try it.

Light and Luscious Lemon Pave
4 eggs, separated
3/4 c sugar
1/2 T oil
1 t vanilla
3/4 c cake flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Lemon Filling:
5 egg yolks
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c lemon juice
4 T butter
1 t fresh grated lemon peel
1/2 c heavy cream
Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
1 1/4 c butter, softened
2 t grated lemon peel
3 T lemon juice
3 c powdered sugar
Place egg whites in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 8 and whip until stiff but not dry. Remove from bowl and set aside.
Place egg yolks and sugar in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 6 and whip until thick and lemon colored, about 1 minute. Stop and scrape the bowl. Add oil and vanilla. Turn to speed 4 and whip for 30 seconds. Gently fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Fold half of flour mixture into egg mixture. Repeat with remaining flour mixture.
Pour batter into a 10x15x1-inch jelly roll pan which has been lined with wax paper, greased and floured. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Immediately loosen cake from pan and invert onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar; cool completely.
Cut cake crosswise to form 3 5x10x1-inch layers. Spread lemon filling between layers. Cover cake tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Frost and decorate with lemon buttercream frosting.
To make lemon filling:
combine egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in double boiler over boiling water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes; do not boil. Remove from heat. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating thoroughly until incorporated. Stir in lemon peel. Cover mixture and refrigerate 1 hour.
Place cream in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 10 and whip until stiff. Fold whipped cream into egg mixture. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make lemon buttercream frosting:
place butter, lemon peel, and lemon juice in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to speed 6 and beat 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl.
Sift powdered sugar into bowl. Turn to speed 2 and beat 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Sift powdered sugar into bowl. Turn to speed 6 and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Now for the ham contest. Again some very good entries. The win should go to Jenny who's suggestion was "Throw it away, that is just too much ham...blech." Well spoken, sister. I too hate ham. But believe it or not, there were some recipes here that actually made me enjoy the salty sweet smoked goodness that was the ham. The two that were so closely tied were Nicole's pepper avocado omelet, and Grapefruit's asparagus custard tart. Nicole, that was absolutely the greatest omelet I've ever had.

Granted, I don't eat them very often, but it was so good. BUT the thing that put me over the top was the fresh tomato compote. I think it needs to win all on it's own. I ate so much of it, and then made it again. I served it over french bread toasted in the frying pan with oh so much melted butter. Yum. Seriously people, you need to try this.

Pepper Avocado Omelet Ingredients
* 1 medium poblano or green sweet pepper, roasted,* seeded and chopped
* 2 Tbsp. butter
* 2 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1/2 medium avocado, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
* 1/4 jalapeƱo pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
* 1/4 cup manchego cheese, shredded (1 oz.)
1/4 cup cubed ham* Crushed red pepper
* 1 recipe Fresh Tomato Compote, recipe below
1. Roast poblano pepper (directions below); set aside.
In 12-inch nonstick skillet heat butter over medium-high heat. Add eggs; gently swirl to spread eggs to edge of skillet.
2. When eggs begin to bubble, sprinkle with poblano, avocado, ham, and jalapeno.
3. When omelet is very lightly brown at edges, add cheese. With spatula loosen egg from sides; fold half the omelet over filling. Season with black pepper and crushed red pepper. Serve with Fresh Tomato Compote and toast.
4. Fresh Tomato Compote: In medium skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley, 1/8 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper. Heat through, serve with omelet.
5. To Roast Pepper: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Halve pepper lengthwise; remove stems and seeds. Place halves, cut sides down, on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 20 to 25 minutes. Wrap pepper in foil; let stand 10 minutes. Gently pull off skin in strips, using a sharp knife to help loosen.
Makes 2 servings.

To make the toast I served it with, just use a french loaf or other crusty italian bread, melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet, slice the bread to about 3 inches thick, and toast on both sides. The key is to keep lots of butter in the pan, so if it starts running dry, just keep adding more. Fattening? Yes. Delicious? Also yes. And I care more about the latter.
But as delicious as that was, the winner for the ham competition is none other than the infamous Grapefruit (who I am honored beyond belief that she entered my competition. She is master chef extraordinaire!) who submitted this recipe for her asparagus custard tart.

For pastry:
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For filling:
1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only) quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/3-inch pieces
1 lb medium asparagus, trimmed
1/4 c diced ham
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
2 teaspoons water
Make pastry:
Blend flour, salt, butter in bowl with fingertips till pea size clumps and resembles coarse meal. Drizzle evenly with egg and gently stir w/fork just till dough forms.Turn out dough on lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. W/heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion. Gather into ball. Flatten into disk. Chill dough in plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes.
Make filling while dough chills:
Wash leek in bowl of cold water, the lift out leek and pat dry. Cook asparagus in a wide 4-5 quart pot of boiling salted water, unncovered, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry. Cut off and reserve tips (leave more stalk if asparagus is thin), then thinly slice stalks crosswise. Heat butter in heavy skillet over low heat until foam subsides, then cook leek with 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring, until softened, 6-8 minutes. Stir in sliced asparagus, ham and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and remove from heat.
Finish filling and assemble and bake tart:
Put oven rack in middle and preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put 9 to 9 1/4 inch tart pan with removable bottom in center of baking sheet. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into an 11 inch round, then fit into pan.
Whisk together cream, 2 eggs, tarragon (please use fresh!) and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Lightly beat remaining egg with water in small bowl and bursh tart shell all over with egg wash. Spoon asparagus mixture into shell, spreading evenly, then pour cream mixture over asparagus.
Bake tart until filling is just beginning to set but still loose on top, 20-25 minutes. Scatter asparagus tips over top, pressing lightly to help settle into filling, then conintue to bake until custard is golden and just set but still slightly wobbliy in center, about 30 minutes more (custard will continue to set as it cools.)
Cool tart on baking sheet on a rack until warm, about 30 minutes. Remove from pan and serve at room temperature, cut into wedges. (From Gourmet magazine, March 2005)

The reason this entry wins over all the others? It was simply divine. It had CREAM! And LEEKS! And ASPARAGUS! Are you kidding? Was there any way it wouldn't win? It combines all of my very favorite things! Not to mention the crust! crust! It was the most amazing, and yet the simplest, crust I've ever made. I'm going to use it for everything from now on.

So congratulations Nicole and Becca! You've won! To claim your prize, please leave me a comment listing your three favorite colors (in order please). And I'll be mailing you your prize shortly (again, I reserve the right to determine the definition of "shortly"). Or Nicole, I'll just give you yours in July when you come to save myself the 1,000 dollars of shipping. But Becca, I'll mail yours.

Thank you to everyone who entered. And thank you, Deb, for making me laugh with your entry, "I'll give it my best shot! Here's my favorite recipe....1. Get in car.2. Pick up a friend who is also hungry.3. Drive to mutually agreed upon restaurant.4. EAT!! (Serves 2 or more!!)" You make me chuckle. Let's do this again sometime, shall we? I have already received some email requests for future recipe themes. If you have a theme you'd like to see make an appearance here, just leave it in the comments below. Who knows? This could be a regular occurrence on the ol' Banks blog!

Now, get to your kitchens and get to making these wonderful *award winning* recipes! And in the words of the one and only Julia Child: Bon Appetit!

*as a sidenote, or endnote rather, I know that my pictures aren't great. I'm not a photographer, nor could I ever be. I just don't have a talent for it. So just imagine everything a lot prettier. And in better lighting.


Grapefruit said...

SERIOUSLY? I'm in shock! I never win ANYTHING. I'm seriously excited, mostly that someone actually liked something I suggested. I'm so glad you did. But mostly I'm laughing outloud at your shout out to poor Shelley...hilarious.

As for colors, I really only have one favorite color which is dark red. Other than that, I'll leave it up to you.

Thanks again! I feel so honored! And I can't wait to make that lemon cake by the way, looks amazing...

Nicole said...

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy! I won! I just knew you would love the LEMON! And you better believe I will be making the asparagus tart--pretty much looks amazing. I want it right now. This seriously makes me want to be there to bake with you all the time. Speaking of, we need to chat soon, I'm already planning when I get to see you in July. Glitter toes is a must by the way. My three favorite colors? Hmmmm... that is a hard one. My all time fave is fuchsia, but not too hot pinkish. The next two, I don't really know. I really love dark oranges, mostly burnt orange, but with fuchsia, a brighter orange looks better. I also love a bright olive green--like the one I used in my living room and bedroom. But I don't think that really compliments the other two colors too well... Dark eggplant purples and mustard yellow are good... so is a dark turquoise...I don't know, you are good at putting things together, I'll leave it up to you. :) Thanks, by the way, I'm SUPER excited!!

Shannon said...

You're right Nicole, I do love Lemons!!! And our favorite colors are like EXACTLY the same. So funny. Yay for July! I can't wait. This time we'll have to ALL go out for sushi, the boys included! But they can't come for glitter toes. :)

ANNALISA said...

Well I guess runner up is meritable. I was impressed with the presentation of both the cheescake and the crostata. I was very happy to see that you make them both and liked them both. I want to try the lemon pave...let's see, how did you find time to make all of those yummy must be super woman or something. Massimo loved the nutella comment and he feels honored. By the way, when you said it was ridiculous what did you mean, that it was simple?? Did you like it??? Loved the challenge, good job!!!

Shannon said...

Annalisa -
I love that Massimo felt honored. :) And just so you know, I loved the cheesecake. When I say "ridiculous" I mean that it's so delicious that it's ridiculous. It was so light and creamy! And no, I am not super woman. No where near! Ha ha ha ha. That's funny that you say that. I actually just made everything during the boys' naptimes. And anything I made while David was awake I had him help me with (he really loves baking, it's cute). And not to mention, it all took me 2 weeks! But thanks again for the recipes. I've shared the crosata I made with some other people and they all thought it was so good and asked for the recipe! Miss you tons. Can't wait to see you in September!

Mom (hungry) said...

OMG!!!!! The pictures are divine and make everything look like I could eat it through the screen. Okay you must, must, must make some of this the next time I come...we're not going to do Deb's favorite recipe next time cause you have to cook! I guess this didn't help out your other blog (which I'm getting ready to look at), but how yummy.

Nicole said...

So I made the asparagus tart for dinner last week. I absolutely LOVED it!! It was soooo good. I couldn't find leeks or tarragon here--even the English speakers didn't know what they were. I ended up substituting with fresh basil, green onions, fresh garlic, and a couple other dry spices. It still tasted really, really good. I'm curious what the flavor difference would be though--I've never cooked with leeks or tarragon before!

Then I made the crostata tonight. I really like it, but I'm not sure I did it right. I was imagining a thinner, crispier crust, but it was quite soft and a little bit puffy and thick. Not that that is a bad thing at all. Like I said, I really liked it--so much so, I think I had three helpings. With every bite I'm thinking, I'm eating straight butter and sugar... I should NOT be eating another helping. I loved the light lemon flavor. Anyway--what size of pan did you use? How thick did it end up being after it was baked?

Thanks for the recipes (to you and your friends). :) I loved them!