Lemon Cake with Raspberries

Continuing with my theme of recipes I have cooked recently, today I’m posting about the dessert I made the other day when the orientation staff came for dinner.  After the Creamy Gorgonzola Pasta and Bread with Raspberry Rosemary Honey Butter, we continued with the raspberries which are in season right now and tasty everywhere I’ve had them.  They might be entering my list of favorite foods.  Can I also just mention how much I’m liking cooking right now?  But that might be an avoidance of my comps.  They’re due on Thursday and I’m making the progress I want to be making…so we won’t worry too much about that.

For dessert, I made Lemon Cake with Raspberries and Pistachios, which I found on epicurious.  I do promise, however, that there will be a few recipes coming up from cookbooks soon, because I’m making an effort to cook out of those again as well.  Mostly I was looking for a dessert I hadn’t made with raspberries in it.  I didn’t want to can or freeze my raspberries, so I’ve been trying to cook with them and find different ways to use them.  This was a pretty effective way to do so.

I will note, however, that more and more I am recognizing how poor the lighting is in my kitchen.  I need to figure out how to improve that moving forward.

I’m not going to write much here because I need to get back to my comps manuscript, so here’s the recipe:

lemon cake with raspberries


Lemon Cake with Raspberries and Pistachios

Lemon Cake with RaspberriesNonstick spray
1 ¾ c flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 ¼ c plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp plus ¼ c lemon juice
¾ c olive oil
1 c fresh raspberries
3 Tbsp chopped unsalted, raw pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9” diameter cake pan with nonstick spray.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With mixer running, add vanilla and 1 Tbsp lemon juice, then gradually add oil, mixing until combined.  Fold in lemon zest and dry ingredients.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Scatter berries over cake, then pistachios and 2 Tbsp sugar.  Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring remaining ¼ c sugar and remaining ¼ c lemon juice to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar; let lemon syrup cool.

Transfer hot cake (still in pan) to a wire rack and immediately brush with lemon syrup (use all of it).  Let cake cool completely in pan.

Can be made up to 2 days ahead.  Store wrapped tightly at room temperature.

Rhubarb Mustard

I love rhubarb.  It’s absolutely one of my favorite things to eat.  It might be because in 5th grade my science experiment looked at how quickly salt water, sugar water, and regular water traveled up the veins in a celery stick and rhubarb looks a lot like celery.  But, probably not.  I probably just like rhubarb.  My usual go-to with rhubarb are Rhubarb Bars.  I’ve also made a Rhubarb Torte.  In fact, it’s a little bit interesting that for a vegetable with such a short season in the spring, I’ve blogged about this ingredient more than most.

And, today, I write about rhubarb again.
Over the fourth of July, I met up with a couple of friends at a new-ish restaurant in Solon, Iowa, which is also a brewery.  We headed to Big Grove Brewery.  I’m slowly making my way through their craft beer list and food.  While we were there, we ate dinner and with our charcuterie plate came some Rhubarb Mustard.  It was pretty tasty.

With my love of rhubarb, I set out for a way to make this at home.  So, I started looking on google for a recipe for rhubarb mustard and found this recipe on Mason Jars to Muffin Tins.  It’s a modified recipe from a Gourmet magazine recipe, and while I didn’t try the original, this tasted about how I wanted it to taste.  I’m looking forward to serving it next week when I have some folks over as a thank you for helping with a photo shoot a couple weeks ago.
I think it would be kind of good with the grilled cheese I was making all last week, but then again, I love honey mustard and use it almost all of the time.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Rhubarb Mustard better


Rhubarb Mustard Begin
Rhubarb Mustard

¾ cup yellow mustard seeds
½ c brown mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
3 ½ c rhubarb, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ c sugar
½ c honey
¼ c brown sugar
1 ¾ c cider vinegar
½ tsp kosher salt

Grind the mustard and fenugreek into a fine powder.  Similar to the folks at Mason Jars to Muffin Tins, I use a coffee grinder that is used for grinding spices.  I also reserved 2 Tbsp of each kind of mustard seeds to help make it a more coarse mustard.  Put everything into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is soft and unrecognizable.  It will get a little stringy and then help facilitate that by helping to mash it.  If you’d like a more smooth mustard, you can use an immersion blender to make a smooth mixture.  Add in extra mustard seeds.  Pour mustard into hot sterilized jars, seal, and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.


I can’t wait to take this home to share with my family in a few days.  In fact, I hear the cans popping behind me as they cool right now.

Raspberry Rosemary Honey Butter

Last week I had a group of students and a colleague over for dinner.  As we prepare to adjust to some changes at work, I thought it was important for us to get to know each other and begin to form some new relationships.  I’ve enjoyed starting to work more closely with the Admissions staff, who are a great group of professionals and folks who have really helped to make the summer go more smoothly for us, somewhat by necessity (sharing space together in the building) and somewhat out of the kindness and collegiality that a small campus seeks and needs in order to function more smoothly.

Anyhoo, when some of the orientation staff came over for dinner, along with the admissions staff member who will be working with me on orientation,  I made a few new dishes, which I’ll continue to share in the upcoming weeks.  The main dish was the Gorgonzola Pasta that has become a favorite way to use summer vegetables in the meal.  But one of these things is something I keep eating all week because I don’t want it to go bad.  I put together a compound butter, if you will.  I don’t have a clever name for it, except one that states all of the different ingredients in the butter.  It was: Raspberry Rosemary Honey Butter.


Raspberry Rosemary ButterRaspberry Rosemary Honey Butter

1 c butter, softened

2 sprigs rosemary

2 Tbsp honey

Handful of raspberries

Whip all ingredients except raspberries together until well mixed.  Add raspberries at the end, and only until just mixed, so as to not completely crush the raspberries.


It was super-easy.  I read online a bit about compound butters, but then just took food that looked like it would taste good together and hoped for the best.  We ate it on fresh bread the first day when my guests were here, but since then I’ve been using it mostly for making grilled cheese.

grilled cheeseI bought some grain-filled bread and muenster cheese and have been eating these most nights this week.  It’s such a great combination with the gooey cheese and fruitiness of the raspberries.  I don’t think I could ask for a better flavor combination.  And, just when I can’t taste the rosemary, some of it sneaks through and I find myself having a sweet-savory-creamy combination of flavors in my mouth.  What could be more satisfying?

Try it yourself!  I hope you find it as tasty as I did!

The week my house flooded

On a brief writing break from my comps at the moment.  Did I mention that comps started 5 days ago?  I’m needing a little free-writing to get back into the swing of things.  This turning 25 pages into 3 pages and adding 25 more pages is a little cumbersome.

Timer, books, writing. Comps.

Timer, books, writing. Comps.

Comps/pre-lims/whatever other institutions call them is the next step to my moving forward in my dissertation process.  I’m not officially allowed to discuss anything related to them for this month, suffice it to say that I have 30 days to write a journal article and submit it to the grad department at my institution.  And, having not been in writing-intensive courses for a little while, my writing game has been thrown off.  I have a stack of books in front of me, my dual monitor, a case of diet mountain dew, and I am doing what I can to keep writing on this.

The week leading up to the start of comps was a bit challenging for a few reasons.  Last Sunday night, Mount Vernon had the storm to end all storms.  For a variety of reasons, we had rain starting as the sun was setting and that rain continued throughout the entire night.  My split level house is located in just the wrong part of town so that when this section of town flooded in ways that haven’t been seen for years.  My neighbors were apparently all up in the middle of the night and a friend sent a text message at midnight asking about water in the basement.  I slept through it all.

Monday morning, I woke up and stepped into water.  My master bedroom is in the basement and so when I stepped out of bed I noticed the water which continued as I walked throughout the basement.  So, at 5:00 in the morning, I found myself figuring out how to get water out of the basement.  I found myself thankful for the shop vac that helped suck the water up.  I was happy the previous home owners had tile or cement throughout the basement.  I emailed my parents and asked them to call me when they woke up.  It was a mess, but one I was able to clean up overall.  By the time I left for work at 7:30 I had a lot of the water cleaned up.

That afternoon I came home from work, started washing all the towels that I was using to dry up the corners I couldn’t quite wet vac when the tornado sirens in town sounded and power began flickering.  We were getting more rain.  That night, the power went out as the rain continued, with warnings of it being out for 24-48 hours.  I found myself sleeping in my jeans in my guest room.  Luckily, I was woken up in the middle of the night last night because the power came back on.  The sump pump started working and I needed to do a little more clean up with the wet vac and the towels Tuesday morning and evening.  I didn’t need to have a grill out with my frozen meat nor did I get to eat ice cream for breakfast.

In addition to what happened inside, the water swept throughout the neighborhood.  I was pretty lucky overall in terms of the water in my house.  Some neighbors had over a foot of rain and a faculty member from campus had four feet of water in his basement.

Needless to say, I now have a dehumidifier.  I’m considering getting a bigger wet vac.  I have more confidence in my homemaking abilities and know I can do a lot on my own and that my instincts are often pretty darn good.  My container garden has been reduced by half because all but two pots of Brussels sprouts have disappeared in the flood waters.  Someone in Mount Vernon has my Brussels sprouts and will hopefully enjoy them.

But we make it through.  I’ve started writing my comps.  I’ve just proven to myself that I can write about a page of non-academic writing in ten minutes.