LUCY BURDETTE: My turn to dance around shouting "celebrate! celebrate!" (I'm the one waving purple orchids...) I have to pack in a lot today: a recipe, an update on our wonderful friend and writer Jenn McKinlay, and an explanation of the double contest. So don't quit reading early!
I was a later addition to Mystery Lovers Kitchen, appearing first as a guest in 2011 with one of my favorite summer dishes, the leaning tower of eggplant. I was thrilled to be invited as a full-timer. It's a lot of work, of course, but I love this community so much. And I've become a more inventive, accomplished cook, besides writing all the foodie mysteries.
And now for the cake...I tasted this cake during our trip to Japan and have been meaning to make it ever since. I did see an Ina Garton recipe that I think called for three sticks of butter--but I wanted us to be able to move on the dance floor, so here's my pared-down, elegant and luscious version of date cake. But whatever you do, don't skip the caramel sauce!
3/4 cups pitted, quartered dates
3/4 cups water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For Sticky Toffee Sauce:
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, place the dates, water and vanilla and bring to a boil. Simmer until soft (might take 5 minutes.) Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, mix well. Let the mixture cool. Meanwhile...
Cream butter with sugars. Beat in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, and finally the cooled date mixture. (Do not worry about leaving little chunks of dates--they will provide some nice texture.) Pour the batter into a well-buttered cake pan. (I also added a layer of parchment paper and buttered that for good measure.) Bake at 350 about 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn the cake out onto a platter.
For the sauce, mix brown sugar, cream, butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thick, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add a splash of vanilla.
Poke holes in the cake and pour the sauce overall.
Serve warm if possible.
Even better, serve with homemade whipped cream--this is a party after all!
And now an update from the incomparable Jenn McKinlay:
I'm still chugging along on my three series for Berkley Prime Crime -- Library Lover's, London Hat Shop, and Cupcake Bakery mysteries. I'm finishing my other series the Good Buy Girls written under the name Josie Belle and have no idea what's next. I like to follow the uncharted course.
WHAT A CATCH is one of my fave posts, probably, because I am hankering for some fried catfish right now:
When my next door neighbor was painting
his living room, he asked my husband if he
would babysit, or rather fish-sit, his fish of
unknown origin for him until the room wasdone. That was a year and a half ago and
the fish of unknown origin is still living on top
of our piano, blowing bubbles and wavinghis fins at me. Read the post here
Oh, and in a related update, we still have the neighbor's catfish. He continues to blow bubbles and wave his fins at me. The neighbor has moved to Pennsylvania, so I don't think I'm going to be returning Kevin (yes, we named the fish after the neighbor) any time soon. It's okay. I've grown quite fond of Kevin, but if you tell the Hub or hooligans I said that I will deny it.
I was such a newbie when I started writing mysteries. I didn't belong to any groups or organizations. I'd never done the conference thing. When Krista Davis asked me to join the blog, it was my first connection to any other mystery writers. They were all so generous and kind with their information and encouragement and their recipes, that I really felt like we were all hanging out in a big kitchen, sharing food and snippets about our lives.
Now for the contests! #1 Leave a comment here today telling us what you'd serve at a celebration and you'll be entered in a drawing to win the Key West mystery of your choice. Don't forget to leave your email and which book you'd like...
#2 Go to this link to enter the photo contest, which runs until July 24. Prizes are these fabulous bags and books from each of us at MLK!
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