The Masquerade Ball Event /Food

Location:  Location is everything.  There is no better backdrop than that of a private estate for a Masquerade Ball.  In Santa Barbara, we are lucky to have dozens of options for private estates to set the backdrop.  When you utilize what is already there, you don’t have to spend money trying to recreate something from scratch.  As a full-service caterer, part of our job is to recommend the best locations for your event .  Let us know – we have some fabulous venues when it comes to private estates.
The Masquerade Ball InvitationInvitations:  Your invitations will set the stage for the feel of your entire event.  Think dramatic, intriguing.  Masks embellished with sequins and feathers with the invitation written on the back.  Or elegant hand scrolled, tea-dyed parchment paper sealed with wax.
Décor:  Colors: deep reds, purples, greens and golds.  Lots of drapery swagged, lush fabric throws over furniture.  For placesettings, consider super fancy china, gold silverware, cloth napkins, ornate napkin holders/rings.  Centerpieces can be ornate candelabra, masks and feathers, etc.  Think opulence.  And to showcase the colors, hiring a lighting designer to add the right wash and textures to highlight the centerpieces and architecture is a must.  What you lack in décor, a good professional event lighting designer can help make up for in the element of lighting design.
The Masquerade Ball AttireEntertainment: No masquerade ball would be complete without the perfect blend of entertainment.  From live musicians strolling upon guest arrival to a full on band, fortune tellers, photo booth, strolling magicians, a costume contest, a guest-interactive murder mystery and if you are throwing in a Mardi Gras element to this celebration you could have a Tattoo Parlor with a Henna tattoo artist.
The Menu: continue the fanfare of an oppulent celebration with an oppulent feast.  Below is one of our favorite Venetian- Masquerade Ball-themed menus:
Dinner Buffet Menu Sample:
L’antipasto
Spinach and Artichoke Pinwheels
Puff Pastry Spinach Artichoke Pinwheels

Total Time:
1 hr 40 min
Prep:
10 min
Inactive:
30 min
Cook:
1 hr

Yield:8 pinwheels
Level:Easy
Ingredients
One 16-ounce can water-packed artichokes, drained and chopped
One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
4 ounces pecorino, grated
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 8-by-12-inch rectangle frozen puff pastry, thawed and unfolded
Nonstick cooking spray, for spraying baking sheet

Directions
Combine the artichokes, spinach, pecorino, mayonnaise, red pepper flakes and garlic in a bowl. Spread on one side of the puff pastry sheet. Roll up like a jelly roll and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Remove the plastic wrap and slice the puff pastry log into 1-inch-thick slices. Place the pastry pieces flat on the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Note: To ensure the best results, this recipe differs from what appears in the episode.
Recipe courtesy of The Kitchen

A savory blend of parmesan cheese and spinach baked in a crisp puff pastry

SPINACH-CHEESE SWIRLS

These tempting appetizers look like they’re difficult to make…but they’re not.  They feature a spinach, onion and cheese filling simply rolled up in flaky puff pastry and sliced into pinwheels.
  • THAW: 40 minutes
  • PREP: 20 minutes
  • BAKE: 15 minutes
  • COOL: 10 minutes
  • SERVES: 10

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese or mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 green onion, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/7 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 package of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets(1 sheet), thawed
  • 1 package (about 10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.  Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.
  2. Stir the Muenster cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic powder in a medium bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the flour on the work surface.  Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface.  Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture.  Top with the cheese mixture and spinach.  Starting at a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into about 20 (1/2-inch) slices.  Place the slices, cut-side down, onto 2 baking sheets.  Brush the slices with the egg mixture.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Prosciutto Purses
Fresh cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto and tied with chives
Ingredients
  • Cantaloupe
  • Melon Baller
  • Prosciutto
  • Chives
Instructions
  1. Slice your cantaloupe in half and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Use the melon baller to scoop out the melon.
  3. *Don’t have a melon baller? Simply cut the melon into small chunks.
  4. Lay a round hunk of melon in the center of a cold piece of prosciutto.
  5. *The colder the prosciutto, the easier it is to wrap and handle, keeping it in one piece
  6. Tie up the sides of the prosciutto with a chive, wrapping it around twice and double knotting it too, being careful not to pull too hard and break the chive.
Signature Hors d’oeuvres
CRANBERRY AND RICOTTA CROSTINI
MAKES 24
45 MINUTES
Ingredients
24 baguette slices, sliced ½-inch-thick on the diagonal
3 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt
One 15-oz. container whole-milk ricotta
1 12 cups fresh cranberries (or substitute frozen defrosted), chopped
Juice of 1 small orange, plus ¼ tsp. finely grated orange zest
34 tsp. honey
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Flaky sea salt (optional)
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the top of each lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the bread is crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside. (Bread can be toasted up to 3 hours ahead.)
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the ricotta, 3 tablespoons olive oil, the orange zest, and ¼ tsp. kosher salt. Process until smooth (mixture should still be thick), adding more olive oil by the tablespoon if the ricotta is very thick.
In a medium bowl, add the cranberries, orange juice, honey, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir well to combine.
Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread a generous layer of the ricotta mixture onto the toasts. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the cranberry mixture. Garnish with thyme and flaky sea salt to taste.
NUT AND CHEESE GOUGÈRES
MAKES 5 DOZEN
2 HOURS
Ingredients
23 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
12 cup whole milk
12 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 14 tsp. fine sea salt or kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cups (6 oz.) coarsely grated Comté, gruyere, or white cheddar cheeses
Instructions
In a small, heavy-bottomed skillet, add the walnuts over medium heat. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly toasted, 2 to 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 425°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a medium saucepan, add the milk, water, butter, and salt; bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and stir rapidly with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there will be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring to dry the dough slightly, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Turn the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a medium mixing bowl. Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, beating with the mixer or a wooden spoon until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. (The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart – just keep working; it will come together by the time the last egg goes in.) Beat in the mustard followed by the cheeses and the chopped pecans.
Using a small (1 ½ teaspoon) cookie scoop or spoon, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each.
Transfer to the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, 15-20 minutes more. Remove and serve immediately.
CRAB TOAST
SERVES 6-8
20 MINUTES

Ingredients

12 cup mayonnaise
1 (10-oz.) loaf sourdough, sliced 12” thick and cut into thirds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz. lump crabmeat
14 cup capers, rinsed
14 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 lemons, zest and juice

Instructions

Heat a charcoal or woodburning grill or set a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over high.) Spread mayonnaise on each side of bread and season with salt; grill, flipping once, until slightly charred and crisp, 4–5 minutes, and transfer to a serving platter. Stir crab, capers, olive oil, chile flakes, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl; spoon crab salad over toast.
BEEF SHORT RIB EMPANADAS
MAKES 2 DOZEN
4 HOURS
Ingredients
7 tbsp. pork lard or vegetable shortening (3 12 oz.)
1 12 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. kosher salt
6 cups all-purpose flour
12 oz. boneless beef short rib meat, cut into 12-inch cubes
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
12 tsp. merkén or hot paprika
14 tsp. ground black pepper
12 cup minced green olives
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut crosswise into 6 slices each
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Instructions
For the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the 3 tablespoons lard with 1 12 tablespoons salt and 2 cups boiling water, stirring until the lard melts. Add the flour and mix on medium-low speed until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a work surface and cut into quarters. Shape each quarter into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough balls for at least 1 hour.
For the filling: In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons lard over high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, the oregano, cumin, paprika, and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Return the beef to the pan with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow, steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender and the sauce is reduced, about 1 hour. Remove the pan from the heat and let the filling cool.
Heat the oven to 425°. Place 1 dough ball on a floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, flatten until 18-inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter, cut out 6 circles of dough and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Working with one circle at a time, place 1 12 tablespoons filling in the middle, and top with 1 teaspoon olives and 1 egg slice. Moisten the edge of the circle with water and fold in half to form a turnover, crimping the dough to seal. Return the empanada to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough, filling, olives, and eggs.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each empanada with the egg white and then bake, one sheet at a time and rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown and hot, about 25 minutes.
Bruschetta
Toasted baguette topped with freshly chopped tomatoes and basil

Ingredients

  • 2 handfuls nice mixed ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil , leaves picked
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • good-quality white wine or herb vinegar

Method

  1. The bread is best sliced 1cm thick and toasted on a barbecue, but it can also be done in a griddle pan for ease at home. After that it should be lightly rubbed a couple of times with a cut clove of garlic, then drizzled with some good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The toppings can be as humble or as luxurious as you like, from chopped herbs or a squashed tomato with basil, to marinated vegetables or beautiful cheeses, to lovely flaked crabmeat. The only rule is that whatever goes on top of a bruschetta should be nice and fresh and cooked with care.
  2. Make sure your tomatoes are really ripe when making this topping. Give them a wash, remove their cores and carefully squeeze out the seeds. Place in a bowl, tear in the basil, season with salt and pepper, then toss with a good glug of olive oil and a good swig of vinegar to balance the flavours to your taste. You can serve the tomatoes either chunky or finely chopped, or you can scrunch them between your fingers before putting them on your basic bruschette – really tasty.
Antipasto Display
Sliced Genoa Salami, Prosciutto Panino, and Soppressata accompanied by Manchego, Asiago, and Gouda cheeses,
with olives, fresh sliced baguettes, and bread sticks
Cranberry Kiss Mocktail, Sparkling Cider, and Water served at reception
Dinner
Il Primo
Eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella stack
Grilled Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Stacks
Serves: 6 as an appetizer
Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:
• 2 small eggplants, bottom trimmed, sliced into 6 thin rounds each (or use 1 large eggplant cut into 12 slices)
• 1 large heirloom tomato, thinly cut into 6 slices
• 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into 6 rounds
• ¼ cup Drew’s Smoked Tomato Dressing and Quick Marinade, divided in half
• 6 fresh basil leaves
• Freshly ground pepper
Directions:
Preheat grill to medium heat. Brush the 12 slices of eggplant on both sides with 2 Tablespoons of Smoked Tomato Dressing and Quick Marinade. Grill the eggplant slices for 5 minutes then flip and grill an additional 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove from grill and place on a platter. Assemble stacks beginning with a slice of eggplant on the bottom. Layer on a slice of tomato, slice of mozzarella and top each stack with another slice of grilled eggplant. Once all stacks (6) are assembled, drizzle with remaining 2 Tablespoons of Smoked Tomato Dressing and Quick Marinade. Top with freshly ground pepper and a basil leave. Serve.
Served with basil and balsamic vinaigrette
Ingredients
  • ½ clove garlic , peeled and bashed to a pulp
  • 1 good handful fresh basil , bashed to a pulp
  • 1 small handful toasted pine nuts , bashed to bits
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl and season to taste.
Zuppa
Ribollita- A Tuscan vegetable and bread soup
Tuscan vegetable, cannellini bean and bread soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil
300g Italian pork sausages(optional)
2 small red onions, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
1 potato, peeled and cut into 5mm cubes
Pinch of fennel seeds, crushed
1 bay leaf
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 fresh plum tomatoes, diced
1x300g tin of plum tomatoes
2 large handfuls of stale country-style bread, torn into chunks
700ml hot vegetable stock
1x400g tin of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
300g kale, leaves and stalks finely sliced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. If using the sausages, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the sausages and fry for about 12-15 minutes, turning frequently until browned and cooked through. Set aside. When cool, cut into slices.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots,celery and potato, then the fennel, bay leaf and chilli flakes. Reduce the heat and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes or until softened but not brown, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes.Increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the bread in a medium bowl and pour over 200ml of the stock. Leave until the bread soaks up the stock(about two minutes).
  4. Add the beans and the remaining stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Stir in the kale and then the moistened bread. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and add the extra virgin olive oil. Stir in the sausage, if using, heat through and then serve.
garnished with olive oil, scallions, and Parmesan cheese
Palette Cleanser
Lemon Sorbetto served with a mint leaf
Total Time:
5 min
Prep:
5 min
Yield:2 servings
Level:Easy

Giada turns this traditional Venetian dessert into a refreshing cocktail.
Ingredients
1 cup chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine)
2 tablespoons chilled vodka
1/3 cup frozen lemon sorbet
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves

Directions
Watch how to make this recipe.
Pour the Prosecco and vodka into 2 Champagne flutes, diving equally. Spoon a scoop of sorbet into each flute. Sprinkle with mint and serve immediately
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Il Segundo
Garlic and Rosemary Crusted Cornish Game Hen

ngredients

  • 4 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-lb. Cornish game hens, giblets removed
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • 4 large fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 24 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 C. dry white wine
  • 1/3 C. canned low-salt chicken broth
  • Additional rosemary sprigs (for garnish)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Season cavities lightly with salt and pepper. Place 1 lemon wedge and 1 rosemary sprig in cavity of each hen. Rub hens with 1 Tbs. oil. Season outside of hens lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange in heavy large roasting pan. Scatter garlic around hens.

Roast hens 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Pour wine, broth and remaining 2 Tbs. oil over hens. Continue roasting until hens are golden brown and juices run clear when thigh is pierced at thickest part, basting every 10 minutes with pan juices, about 25 minutes longer.

Transfer hens to platter, pouring any juices from cavity into roasting pan. Tent hens with foil to keep warm. Transfer pan juices and garlic to heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to sauce consistency, about 6 minutes.

Cut hens in half lengthwise. Arrange on plates. Spoon sauce and garlic around hens. Garnish with additional rosemary sprigs and serve.

Yield: 4-6 servings

served atop a Wild Rice Dressing and Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 30 min.
MAKES: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (6 ounces) long grain and wild rice mix
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 cup diced yellow summer squash
  • 2/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, place rice mix, contents of seasoning packet and water as directed on package. Bring to a boil. Add carrots. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute squash, peppers and onion in oil until crisp-tender. Stir into rice mixture. Yield: 6 servings.
or
La Verdura
Polenta Stuffed Peppers with Pesto and Goat Cheese
roasted tomatoes with goat cheese polenta
serves: 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes (or small tomatoes – tricolor or heirloom are super pretty!)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup corn grits or polenta
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash the tomatoes, place on a baking sheet, and pat dry. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast for 10 minutes, gently turn the tomatoes, and repeat until the tomatoes are browned, about 30 minutes. I turned the heat up to 450 at the end to get more browning action.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pan. Add the garlic and saute gently until fragrant, but do not brown – browned garlic tastes bitter and gross. When the garlic is smelling awesome, add the spinach and turn off the heat. You should be able to just keep stirring the spinach around for a minute and it will wilt and reduce in size. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
  3. In the same pan, bring the water to a boil. Add the polenta and whisk until smooth. Simmer for 15 minutes or so until the polenta has thickened. Add the goat cheese and the salt and stir until smooth. Taste and adjust as necessary. Serve the polenta immediately with the tomatoes and the spinach.
Topped with tomato sauce and served on a bed of Wild Rice Dressing
Il Dolce
Warm Pear, Apple, and Cranberry Crisp
Ingredients
2 pounds ripe Bosc pears (4 pears)
2 pounds firm Macoun apples (6 apples)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel, core, and cut the pears and apples into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and add the zests, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch oval baking dish.
For the topping:
Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.
Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm.
2007, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

Iced Tea and Water served with dinner

Drink Recipe: Sparkling Rosemary Limeade

Sparkling Rosemary Limeade

makes eight 5-ounce servings — or more, depending on dilution

1 cup lime juice (from about 6 limes)
3/4 cup sugar
Peel of 2 limes
Two 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more to serve
4 to 6 cups chilled sparkling water

Stir the lime juice with the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the lime peel and the rosemary sprigs. Simmer for another minute, then turn off the heat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Strain out the lime peel and rosemary and mix with the chilled sparkling water in a sealed jar or bottle. Taste and add more water if you want a lighter flavor.

Hibiscus-Earl Grey Iced Tea

Serves 8

2 quarts water (preferably filtered)
6 Earl Grey tea bags (or 6 teaspoons looseleaf tea in an infuser)
1/2 cup dried hibiscus blossoms

Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar or pitcher and refrigerate for at least two hours and overnight. A shorter brewing time yields a lighter drink, while a longer brewing time intensifies the color and flavor.

Strain and chill until ready to serve.

Some variations:
• Add other ingredients during the infusion, such as orange slices, a cinnamon stick, a couple of star anise pods, or a couple of thyme sprigs.
• Sweeten the brewed tea with simple syrup.
• Serve with a slice or twist of lime.

Serve over ice with a small sprig of rosemary muddled into the drink.

Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate Soda

Makes about 6 drinks

1/2 cup pink or red grapefruit juice (from about 1 small grapefruit)
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (from about 1 medium pomegranate)
1 cup sugar
2 star anise pods
Ice
Soda water
Pomegranate arils for garnish (optional)

Combine grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice, sugar, and star anise in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugars.

Remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Let syrup cool completely.

To serve, fill an 8-ounce glass halfway with ice cubes, add 3 tablespoons of syrup, fill with soda water, and stir. Add more syrup for a sweeter or stronger flavor. Garnish with pomegranate arils.

 

Caffe Americano served with dessert
Victoria Sponge Cake With Lemon Curd

Ingredients
  • 4 eggs (200g)
  • Note, use the weight of the eggs for the rest of the ingredients
  • Caster sugar (200g or 1 cup)
  • Butter (200g or 7/8 of a cup or one cup less 2 tablespoons)
  • Flour (200g or 1 1/3 cup)
  • Note, sift flour after you measure it
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoonful of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • I used store bought Lemon Curd
  • Powdered sugar for dusting on top of cake
  • 2 Springform Cake Pans (Loose bottom cake tins)
Instructions
  • 1
    Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C.
  • 2
    Butter and line the bases of 2 x 18cm (7in) cake pans with parchment paper.
  • 3
    Place the flour into a small mixing bowl and stir in the baking powder.
  • 4
    In another bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter & caster sugar.
  • 5
    Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, continue to blend.
  • 6
    Add the flour, continue to blend.
  • 7
    Add the vanilla extract and mix all together.
  • 8
    Test to make sure the mixture slowly falls off a spoon when held sideways. If it doesn’t add a teaspoon or 2 of hot water until it does.
  • 9
    Divide the mixture between the 2 springform cake pans
  • 10
    Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • 11
    Let them cool in the pans for a few minutes, then turn them out to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • 12
    After the cakes are cool spread the lemon curd on one half of the cake and then place the other half on top.
  • 13
    Dust the top with powdered sugar.
LEMON LAYER CAKE WITH LEMON CURD AND MASCARPONE
YIELD
Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS

  1. Lemon curd
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  2. Cake
    • 6 large eggs, separated
    • 14 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  3. Syrup
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup boiling water
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  4. Filling and frosting
    • 2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 8-ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese*

PREPARATION

  1. For lemon curd:
    1. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk constantly until thickened and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160°F, about 10 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add butter; whisk until melted. Transfer 1 cup curd to small bowl for spreading on cake layers. Reserve remaining curd for filling. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of both curds. Chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
  2. For cake:
    1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line bottom of two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with parchment paper (do not grease pans or parchment). Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted, about 4 minutes. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Add remaining 7 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold half of whites into yolk mixture, then sift half of flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt over and gently fold in until incorporated. Fold in remaining whites, then sift remaining flour over and fold in just until combined, being careful not to deflate batter.
    2. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pans on racks.
    3. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto 9-inch-diameter cardboard rounds, tapping on work surface if necessary to release cakes. Cut each cake horizontally in half (layers will be thin). Peel off parchment.
  3. For syrup:
    1. Place sugar in small metal bowl. Add 1/2 cup boiling water; stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in lemon juice.
  4. For filling and frosting:
    1. Beat whipping cream and sugar in large bowl until peaks form. Add mascarpone to lemon curd in medium bowl; whisk until blended. Fold whipped cream into lemon-mascarpone mixture.
    2. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Brush with 1/4 of syrup. Spread 1/4 cup lemon curd over, then 1 cup lemon-mascarpone filling. Top with second cake layer; brush with 1/4 of syrup and spread with 1/4 cup lemon curd and 1 cup lemon-mascarpone filling. Repeat with third cake layer, syrup, lemon curd, and filling. Top with fourth cake layer. Brush with remaining syrup, then spread remaining lemon curd over. Spoon 2 cups lemon-mascarpone filling into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch star tip (to be used for rosettes). Spread remaining lemon-mascarpone filling as a frosting over sides of cake. Pipe small rosettes of frosting over top of cake, covering completely. Cover cake with cake dome; refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
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