Category Archives: Gadgets

Roasted Asparagus Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche and Thyme Croutons

Roasted Asparagus Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche and Thyme Croutons

I’m in the middle of teaching cooking classes this week, so this post will be a quick one… Just wanted to share my recipe for Roasted Asparagus Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche and Thyme Croutons. I am serving this as part of my menu this week… I will go through 40 pounds of asparagus when all is done!

I am a huge soup fan, no matter what time of year.   This soup celebrates one of my favorite spring time vegetables, asparagus.  To give this soup a flavor boost, I roast the asparagus, adding depth and a whole new dimension to the dish.  Rather than adding cream to the soup, I am using a chicken broth base and utilizing one gadget I absolutely love, my immersion blender!

My immersion blender allows me to control the texture of the soup, and adds body without adding additional fat. I garnish this soup with some lemon infused creme fraiche and thyme croutons. Creme fraiche is available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you may use sour cream. Home made creme fraiche is super easy to make, and really delicious.  Here’s all you need:

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons buttermilk

Mason jar

Warm the cream in a saucepan to 95 degrees. Stir in the buttermilk. Pour into mason jar and cover loosely. Let stand in a warm place (75 degrees) until the cream has thickened slightly, 12 to 14 hours. Cover and store in the refrigerator.  It will keep for 10 days in the refrigerator.

Add some lump crab to this soup and you have a delicious entree!


Roasted Asparagus Soup with Lemon Crème Fraiche and Thyme Croutons

5 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces (14 to 15 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup sliced shallots (about 6 large)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Thyme Croutons

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine asparagus and oil on a  large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast  until asparagus pieces are soft , stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes; cool on sheet.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add coriander; stir 1 minute. Add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Add roasted asparagus; stir, and cook until asparagus is heated through , about 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree soup (or process in batches in blender).  Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Stir crème fraîche, lemon juice, and lemon peel in small bowl. Divide soup among bowls. Top with dollop of lemon crème fraîche and  thyme croutons (recipe follows) and serve.

8 servings

Thyme Croutons

1/2 medium baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a large baking sheet, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the bread cubes for 6 minutes, then toss with the thyme leaves. Bake for about 6 minutes longer, until the croutons are golden and crisp.
Makes 5 cups

Make Ahead: The croutons can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Recrisp in a warm oven before serving.


Gadgets I love…

BeaterbladeHere’s a gadget I absolutely love… an attachment for stand mixers by  Beaterblade. The blade has silicone “fins” which actually scrape the bowl as they turn and mix the batter. What does this mean to you? No more stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl! It even gets the dimple at the bottom of the bowl.

I used it to bake my daughter’s birthday cake…give it a try.

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Freezing the cake layers before icing makes decorating a whole lot  reduces the amount of crumbs, and creates a much more stable cake to work with.


2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons red food coloring

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs


3  8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely. Reserve crumbs left behind in pans for decorating. Wrap cakes in several layers of plastic wrap; freeze layers up to 1 week before decorating. Remove cake layers from freezer, unwrap from plastic wrap;  thaw 30 minutes.

For frosting:

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.


Cut each cake layer in half horizontally using a serrated bread knife. Place one of the cake layers (cut side up) on a cake plate. Spoon 1 cup of icing in center of cake layer. Use a spatula to smooth the icing over the surface of the cake. Place the  next layer ( cut side up) and spread 1 cup of icing icing over the cake layer. Place third cake layer (cut side up) and spread 1 cup of icing over the cake layer. Place the last layer (cut side down) on top of the icing. Use a spatula to spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of cake. Sprinkle reserved cake crumbs over the top of the cake.

12 servings