Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mother's Day Menu to Bake-and-Take to Mom

I am a baker-taker to my mom. I do it once a month and always on Mother's Day. My favorite Mother's Day menu is grilled salmon with herb butter, wild rice, roasted asparagus, and coconut cake. This menu travels well. We are all winners because my children help me prepare the meal, my mom feels truly loved by all of us, and we all enjoy eating the dinner together. Since my mother doesn't need or want any material gifts, this allows us to give her the gift of our time and love. It just doesn't get better than that.

Grilled Salmon and Herb Butter
This recipe is quick and easy and the butter can be made ahead of time. It is even better for you if you have a helper on the grill.

Spread herb butter over cooked salmon and allow it to melt into cuts. Keep salmon warm until ready to serve. Serve remaining herb butter with salmon.

If you are baking-taking, wrap grilled salmon in foil and keep refrigerated / chilled until ready to serve. When ready to serve, warm salmon in 300 degree oven or microwave and spread butter on top of warmed salmon.

Herb Butter:
Bring 1/4 pound, 1 stick, of butter to room temperature. Mix in juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (I like dill but you can also mix and match basil, chervil, and dill), and salt and pepper to taste.

Cut a 1 - 1 1/2 pound salmon fillet horizontally in 1/4 inch slices all the way down to the skin but not through the skin. You can place a chop stick on either side of the salmon the stop the knife from cutting through the skin. Brush a light glaze of olive oil over the salmon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill 2 - 3 minutes per side or until done.

Roasted Asparagus
I prefer roasted asparagus to boiled or steamed asparagus when I am baking-taking because the texture will hold up during travel time. If you like boiled or steamed asparagus better, it is best to cook them at your destination. I also like roasted asparagus because it has a crunchy, nutty flavor.

Set oven to 500 degrees. Break ends off of 1 pound fresh asparagus. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place in a single layer in a large baking dish. Cook for 6 - 10 minutes or until tender shaking pan every 2 minutes.

Paula Deen's Coconut Cake
My very fav cake is by Paula Deen that she prepared for her son's birthday. I have baked this cake many times and it turns out great every time. I believe the secret is using coconut milk right in the batter. Check it out at Food Network.

While cake is baking, prepare filling.

Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pans as you prepare to stack and fill.

Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate. Using the wrong end of a wooden spoon, poke holes approximately 1-inch apart until entire cake has been poked. Spread 1/3 of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again. (As I stack layers together I stick them with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting).

Prepare 7-Minute Frosting. Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides of cakes with additional coconut.

Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pans 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely.

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup flaked, sweetened coconut

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended and set aside.

7-Minute Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Flaked, sweetened coconut, for sprinkling

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Sprinkle coconut over cake.

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