This is another great recipe from the cookbook, The Modern Baker. At first, I was doubtful that this cake would be flavourful enough for my taste, but I was very pleasantly surprised. This sophisticated, citrusy cake is a great finish to a heavy meal. I made it for Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone that tried it really enjoyed it. Even John’s mom, who isn’t normally a fan of cake, liked it. I love that this cake is moist, easy to make, and relatively healthy since it uses olive oil as opposed to butter or vegetable oil. Also, I love the crunchy and slightly sticky crust. This is served as a one-layer cake, but the recipe makes two layers, so you can make these in advance and freeze them for future dinner parties.
Most people love smoked salmon, so I knew that smoked salmon hors d’oeuvres was a must-have when I was designing the menu for John’s housewarming party. Lemon and cream cheese or mascarpone cheese are standard toppings for smoked salmon and cucumber canapés (see my smoked salmon and lemon mascarpone crostini recipe here). I wanted to use something lighter this time, so I was planning on topping my canapés with sour cream. But in the mad rush to get all of the food out as guests started to arrive, I accidentally piped something else onto my hors d’oeuvres. I didn’t even realize the happy mistake until the end of the night, when I was putting everything away. I lost count of how many of these we made, and we had none leftover. People loved and complimented these, thinking that I had used a light and airy cheese topping. Even I didn’t notice the swap (shame on you, palate). It turns out, that just a small dollop of unsweetened whipped cream works absolutely beautifully (if not better than sour cream, cream cheese, and mascarpone) atop smoked salmon and cucumber. Here’s a toast to happy accidents! I plan to use whipped cream for these hors d’oeuvres again in the future. Now… what am I going to do with all of the sour cream that I bought?
For John’s housewarming party, I made three types of puff pastry tarts: caramelized onions with gorgonzola (see recipe here), prosciutto, arugula, and cherry tomatoes with goats cheese, and arugula and cherry tomatoes with ricotta cheese, shaved parmesan, and balsamic reduction. I love the contrast of lightly dressed, fresh greens on rich cheese and puff pastry. I cut these tarts into small squares and served them as finger food, but they would make a great starter to a sit down meal as well.