Lemon Rosemary Cake

Lemon Rosemary Cake

My family and I are headed to a beach house on Long Island.  While the kitchen is equipped with whatever I need, I am going to do some baking in advance so that my kids, and our family members can indulge in dessert whenever the mood takes hold.

This Lemon Rosemary Cake is definitely going to be one of the items on my dessert menu.  It is made with yogurt and canola oil instead of butter and cream, and the addition of the rosemary is a lovely surprise to the palette.  This is terrific with your morning coffee as it, or you can serve it with some fresh whipping cream and a glass of champagne for an elegant dessert.  Either way, this cake is a winner!

Lemon Rosemary Cake

  • 1 ¾  cups  cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 11/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Simple Syrup

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar

To Prepare Cake Batter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter and flour.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment mix the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Once combined, add the flour mixture (dry ingredients).

Slowly pour in the canola oil and mix until combined.

Remove the mixing bowl from the stand and stir in the rosemary.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan (setting aside ½ cup of batter to make the mini cupcake favors) and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar dissolves.

Once the syrup becomes clear, the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the cake is done, let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and place it on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

Immediately poke a few holes into the top of the cake with a toothpick and pour the simple syrup over the cake.  Let the cake cool completely on the rack until the syrup has absorbed.

The Elegant Occasion Note: This cake can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. This cake can be frozen wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed in an airtight container for 30 days.

Make it your own!  You can make this cake using Oranges instead of lemons, or change the herb from rosemary to basil.

To Plate the Dessert

Place a piece of the cake in the center of a plate.

Place a small sprig of rosemary on top and dust with powdered sugar or garnish with whipped cream.

The Elegant Occasion Beverage Pairing: Coffee or Champagne

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Strawberry Rhubarb is a classic summer flavor combination, and this Strawberry Rhubarb Tart is perfect to serve for The Fourth of July.  I love the richness of this crust, made with cream cheese.  As a matter of fact, it is my “go-to” crust for all of my tarts. 

Happy Fourth of July!

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

For the Tart

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half
  • Powdered sugar to spread on work surface

For the Filling

  • 1 stalk rhubarb cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups strawberries
  • 3/4  cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves or strawberry jam (melted)

To Prepare the Tart Crust

Butter or grease a 9 inch tart pan and set aside.

Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for a few seconds to combine.

Cut the butter into pieces and add to the flour, pulsing until incorporated into the flour.

Add the cream cheese and continue to pulse until incorporated.

Stream in the half and half and process until the dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Place the dough on the work surface that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar, and roll into a 9-inch disk.

Place the crust in the tart pan, pressing the dough gently into the grooves of the pan.

Trim any excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  Combine any remaining scraps of pastry dough and roll again.  You will have enough dough remaining to make a lattice if you desire.

This dough can be made 24 hours in advance and stored in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

 To Prepare the Filling

In a bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, orange zest and vanilla bean paste and corn starch.

Stir to combine and let sit for 15 minutes so the fruit release their sugars and almost make a syrup.

When the crust has chilled, pour the filling into the tart pan and bake at 350 for approximately 30 –40 minutes.

Ten minutes prior to taking the tart out of the oven, pour the melted preserves or jam over the tart, and place it back in the oven for the remaining cooking time.

Remove tart from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Plating the Tart

Cut a wedge of the tart and place on a serving plate.  Garnish with fresh whipped cream and a sprig of mint.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  This tart should be eaten the day it is baked to ensure the crust does not become soggy.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Champagne, Coffee

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Napoleons

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Napoleons

I love eggplant, and this method of preparation is terrific year-round.  You can change this up by adding zucchini, red onions, squash, etc.  Just roast them in the same manner.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Napoleons

Serves 6

  • Two large eggplants
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh mozzarella (cut into ¼ inch slices)
  • 12 fresh basil leaves

To Prepare the Eggplant

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Lay the eggplant on its side and cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices

Place the eggplant in a single layer on the baking sheet

Drizzle ¼ cup of olive oil over the eggplant

Sprinkle the chopped garlic over the eggplant

Sprinkle the garlic salt over the eggplant

Place eggplant in a 375 degree oven until they have become opaque and have turned a golden color.  Turn the eggplant slices over and continue to bake in the same manner until they are golden on each side.  This entire process should take approximately 25-30 minutes.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool on the baking tray.

To Prepare the Tomatoes

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Slice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices

Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet

Drizzle ½ cup of the olive oil over the eggplant

Sprinkle the garlic salt over the tomatoes

Sprinkle the chopped garlic over the tomatoes.

Place tomatoes in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes.  The tomatoes will have shrunk a bit and turned darker around the edges where the juices from the tomatoes and the salt have caramelized.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let cool on a baking tray.

The Elegant Occasion Notes:  The eggplant and tomatoes can be prepared up to this point one day ahead of time, and stored in the refrigerator in separate covered containers.  Be sure to bring the vegetables to room temperature before assembling and serving the dish.

These vegetables are wonderful in a sandwich, as a topping for pizza, and even as a filling for a frittata or omelets.

To Assemble

On individual serving plates, place a piece of eggplant in the center of the plate, top with a piece of tomato followed by a piece of mozzarella.  Repeat those steps again starting with the eggplant and ending with the mozzarella.  Lay a whole basil leaf on the top.  Drizzle the roasted red pepper puree around the plate. (Recipe follows).

Roasted Red Pepper Puree

  • 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers (packed in oil)
  • 1  clove garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

To Prepare the Puree

Drain the oil from the peppers

In a blender, puree the red peppers and garlic.

Slowly add the olive oil until combined.

Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.

Transfer to an airtight container.

The Elegant Occasion Notes:  This puree can be made up to two days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Take the puree out of the refrigerator and put ½ cup into a squeeze bottle.  Warm the puree in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds and then drizzle it on the plate as a garnish.

This puree is a wonderful condiment for sandwiches or terrific as a spread for crostini.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing:  Cabernet Sauvignon

Peach Blueberry Galettes

Peach Blueberry Galettes

One of the best things about the summer season is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.  And using seasonal ingredients means the preparation can be kept simple without compromising flavor.  This recipe for Peach Blueberry Galettes is a winner.  With frozen puff pastry dough, any combination of fresh fruit and some sugar, you have a magnificent dessert.  The lavender crème fraiche is a beautiful, elegant touch, but whipped cream or ice cream would work too.

The video will walk you through the process.

Peach Blueberry Galettes

Serves 4

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
  • ½ pound fresh peaches halved, pitted and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
  • ½ cup crème fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon confectionary sugar

To Prepare Pastry Dough

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer 30 minutes prior to using.

Lightly sprinkle work surface with confectionary sugar.

Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry dough out into a circle.

Assembling the Galette

Starting 1 ½ inches from the edge of the pastry dough, arrange peaches on top of the dough, overlapping the slices.  Scatter the blueberries over the top and sprinkle with 1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Fold the edge of the puff pastry over the dough and lay it over the fruit.  The fruit in the center of the pastry dough will still be exposed.

Brush the rim of the pastry dough with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Bake in a 375 degree oven until the pastry has risen and turned golden in color (about 25 minutes)

The Elegant Occasion Note:  You can make this galette to this point and place it on a parchment lined tray (covered) in the freezer up to 24 hours in advance.  Remove the frozen galette 30 minutes prior to baking and then continue with cooking directions stated above.


Assembling the Crème Fraiche

In a small bowl, whisk the crème fraiche and confectionery sugar together, add in the dried lavender and stir gently.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  The crème fraiche can be made up to 6 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Plating the Galette

Let the galette cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

Cut the galette into four wedges and place each wedge in the center of a plate.  Drizzle the lavender crème fraiche over the top and serve immediately.

The Elegant Occasion Beverage Pairing: Champagne, Sauterne, Vin Santo and/or Coffee

Herb Marinated Flank Steak

Herb Marinated Flank Steak

My friend’s daughter is getting married in September, and this weekend was her bridal shower.  One of the main dishes served for lunch was this Herb Marinated Flank Steak.  It is delicious hot or at room temperature, and terrific the next day in a sandwich.

Just remember, let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting, and cut against the grain on the diagonal to ensure the meat is tender. Watch the video for a demonstration.

Herb Marinated Flank Steak

Serves 4

  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • Flank steak (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 4 mint leaves, chopped
  • Balsamic syrup

To Prepare Balsamic Syrup

Pour balsamic vinegar into small saucepan and place over low heat.  Cook until reduced to ½ cup (about 2 hours).  Once the syrup cools, place in a covered container in refrigerator.

The Elegant Occasion NoteThis syrup will keep for up to three weeks in the refrigerator, and is also excellent poured over ice cream.

To Prepare the Flank Steak

Mix the ginger, cumin, mustard powder, coriander, garlic salt, pepper and cilantro in a bowl.  Spread the spice mixture out on a plate.  In another small bowl mix the Dijon mustard and lime juice.  Brush the entire piece of flank steak with the mustard/lime juice mixture and then roll the flank steak in the spice mixture.  Let the meat marinate for one hour.

Warm the olive oil in a grill pan over medium high heat.  Once the pan is very hot, place the meat in the pan and let it cook for five minutes on the first side, and then turn the meat over and continue to cook for another three minutes.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  This meat can also be cooked on the grill.  Be sure to get the grill or grill pan very hot before placing the meat down.

Remove flank steak from pan and let it rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board.

Cut the meat on the diagonal going against the grain of the meat.

Plating the Steak

Place three or four slices of the meat in the center of the serving plate and sprinkle the chopped cilantro and mint over the top.   Drizzle the balsamic syrup around the plate.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  For a sit-down dinner party, I like to serve this meat warm.  However, this meat is wonderful at room temperature and is great to serve on a buffet.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing:  Beaujolais or Cotes du Rhone