Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart…

EAA1A2A5-F5EF-4157-8D82-E423F01FD20EI’ve said it before- the closer you live to a Tomato Vine, the better your life will be. As soon as the weather begins to warm up, southerners start dreaming of summer tomatoes. Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart is an early start on summer- while we wait for our tomato vies to bear. Tomato sandwiches are on our minds. Simple sliced summer tomato slices make an appearance on almost every southern plate. We do everything we can, to preserve the taste of summer as long as we can. I think planting cherry tomatoes offers a head start on the taste only a fresh tomato offers, and yes- the closer you live to a tomato vine the better your life will be. 93018598-28BA-415C-8D2F-F188B0491246

I believe that fresh tomato pies are a distinctly southern dish. When colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes showed up in my grocery store last week… well, after a bit of testing, we came up with a spring version of Tomato Pie- here’s how you make- Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart.EAA1A2A5-F5EF-4157-8D82-E423F01FD20E

Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart

Using cherry tomatoes, this Spring version of the classic southern favorite, Tomato Pie, is light refreshing and delicious. Served with a mixed green salad and crumbled bacon for a luncheon or as a side for Spring and Easter Dinners, Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart is a beautiful addition. 
Course: Main Course, Side Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 9 inch Prepared Pie Crust Rolled, not in pie crust pan.
  • 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes Halved-Mixed colors preferably
  • 4 Ounces Gouda Cheese Freshly grated, may use Swiss
  • 4 Ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese Finely grated
  • 2 Ounces Parmesan Cheese Grated
  • 1 1/2 Cups Green Onions Tops Chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2 Ounces Cream Cheese Room temperature
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Prepared Pesto
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Dry Basil Crumbled
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Cracked Black Pepper To taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll prepared pie crust in a lightly buttered springform pan. * the pie crust should come up the sides about an inch or less. With a fork prick bottom of crust. Bake 15-16 minutes or until lightly browned. While crust is baking, combine grated Gouda, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup of green onion tops over cheeses and toss to combine. Place on warm crust and allow to sit until filling is ready. *Do not put filling on cheeses and warm pie crust. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, softened cream cheese, chopped garlic  and pesto until combined; mix in more red pepper flakes, 1/2 of remaining green onion tops, dry basil and cracked black pepper. * Salt is not added until Tomato Tart is served. Complete melting cheeses in tart Shell by returning to 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly. Smooth Filling over melted cheese while still in springform pan. Carefully remove filled tart and top generously with halved cherry tomatoes, * Discard an juices from tomatoes before topping tart.Top tart with additional green onion tops, a sprinkling of dried basil and cracked black pepper.  Cut in wedges with serrated knife.  Serves 4-6 generously. 

Notes

We found - a 10 inch springform pan is the best and easiest to use for this tomato tart. The tart shell may be baked in a shallow 9” baking pan, however, this tart does not lend itself to a deep dish pie.

Perfect for Brunch, a ladies luncheon or even as a side dish on the Easter table, Spring Tomato Tart is great on its own for a meatless meal, however, ours was served with a mixed green salad with lots of crumbled bacon. Also wonderful alongside ham, roasted fish or shrimp-this tart is beautiful, cool and delicious. Easy enough to assemble that you’ll find time to get the ground ready for those summer tomato plants! Welcome Spring with an early Tomato Tart!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine.

*Tip: For easy, quick assembly, we decided to use prepared pie crust, prepared pesto and pre-grated cheeses may be used as well. It makes an easy weeknight meal, if you blend the cheeses and the filling ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. You may, of course, make your own piecrust or grate your own cheese. Here’s another photograph of how ours came together- .

8 Tips for Creating Memory Gardens…

006CD037-D4B8-4F22-84E0-D092A1D064D4I didn’t set out with Memory Gardens in mind… though the idea began to form when my grandmother shared some Hosta and Spiderwort, then an old gardener sent Daffodil bulbs and another shared Bearded Irises. My father in law, sent a few Redbud saplings from the family farm and my mother showed up one day with a sapling called Glory Bower, which blooms in the dead of summer when nothing else will. The Glory Bower is in bloom near one of our daughter’s birthday and always reminds me of her, beautiful and generous. Each year it seemed, I had memories of my family and others who had generously shared plants. Here’s a closeup of Spiderwort-C85AFD07-43D8-4885-BDF0-61350C33BC6F

Tip #1 Memory Gardens can be scattered throughout the landscape or in a designated place. I do both.

I had an idea of purchasing a tree or a shrub on special occasions or in memory of a loved one…So, a memory garden was forming as I was learning about where, what and when to plant. On several occasions I gave a living plant instead of sending flowers and often bought one to be planted here at the cottage. Without really planning a Memory Garden, my garden was making memories for me.E2A910D2-F038-42C2-830C-21D87D3833BF

Tip #2 Think perennials. Memory Gardens aren’t just about trees and shrubs- Herbs, like Rosemary- for Remembrance, Lavendar for Love and Devotion,Sage for Long Life and Wisdom- are great memorable additions. The bearded irises weren’t given to me by my grandmother yet, she loved them, so they remind me of her, always. Bulbs, Ferns, Hosta, Shasta Daisies are wonderful and can be planted in the garden, near a loved one’s birth date. Perennials as bereavement plants which die down but return year after year are a hopeful reminder of the resurrection.

E5345747-53BA-4FBC-ACD5-07CE39E9AA4CWhen we re-did the front yard- a parking area in front of a picket fence changed things.  A family member gave me two heirloom roses- New Dawn, they are the ones at the end of the fence. Every year, I’m reminded of her beauty, her thoughtfulness and her kindness. The pale pink roses still grow proudly at each end of the picket fence, And they bloom close to her birthday! A tiny gardenia shrub was bought on sale… it reminded me of a dear friend, who had loved a fragrance with a distinct gardenia note, the shrub is now so big- it has to be cut back!  I planted a hedge of holly, that was perfect behind a garden bench given to me by my sister, it reminds me of her everyday.   On and on it seemed, I was given plants or buying plants that evoked memories.  The garden began to mature… What I found as the years went by… is that Light changes everything.82EF6299-6536-4585-89C5-B974EEE7B2D6

Tip #3 Even if you have established a specific area as a Memory Garden- be prepared to divide, move or even replace plants. When this occurs, I try to use memory plants in another more appropriate site, especially with adequate light.

1040EFD8-827B-426C-AFEA-DDB9B4429969Trees grow. Sun loving plants find themselves in the shade. Trees fall. Shade loving plants shrivel in the sunlight. Trees even age and die. The soil is disturbed or other trees crowd them out. And, these elements affect our yard to this day. So! It became important to me to establish areas where my memory plants had the best chance of survival. And some memory plants need dividing.  I didn’t want to lose the old heirloom plants, so I divided them and spread them throughout the garden areas; still purchasing memory plants along the way.

Tip #4 Memory Plants are all occasion! Births, Milestones such as graduations, Weddings, Anniversaries, in addition to the Loss of a Loved One, are the perfect opportunity for memory plants. The main criteria is choosing a plant which evokes a memory of the occasion and the loved one.

CA33CF63-8BCA-4BE3-989D-E998FD69019BLittle Gem Magnolias were planted in memory of my Aunt Iva and my precious grandmother, Mimi. Yet the occasion when the magnolias were purchased commemorates our daughter’s wedding. They were used as a large display in urns at her wedding reception.  I like to call these Little Gems- my ‘Steel Magnolias’; which Mimi and Aunt Iva certainly were, as were other southern ladies for whom I purchased the same small magnolias.  Those magnolia trees and a few camellias I had purchased evoked to wonderful memories throughout our garden, not to mention the beautiful large blooms!

Tip #5 For very special occasions you may choose to plant a specimen tree or large shrub. Be sure to site the tree for its own specific needs for soil and light.

10FF4451-1BCD-467B-A5AF-7B652D5ED689If you’re getting the idea that my memory plants were placed at whim, you wouldn’t be far from the truth, I planted for the conditions the plants and trees required. A freeform Memory Garden was more like it… until 2006.My mother in law died. I was devastated. I worked furiously in the garden in the days following her death. Being on my knees, seemed the right place to be; brought to my knees by this blow of her death- I could be alone, I could dig, yank weeds, weep over the least tiny bloom- gardening helped. Have you ever felt like that? Immersing yourself in a hobby or physical tasks that free the mind? Gardening was therapy for me. Shortly after her death, to honor her , we were given a piece of statuary, an angel.

10A4D15A-1A5D-453F-96FF-7F7D6AC6325B It seemed too large to put on prominent display in the front of our house…. as I continued to work out my grief- a spot toward the back of our yard, kept catching my eye… it was a clump of dogwoods, they were in bud.  It seemed to be the perfect spot! So, that’s where she is…my angel and my first attempt at a specific Memory Garden. At the base of the angel, were planted miniature daffodil bulbs from a funeral basket of spring flowers my sister gave our family. They have multiplied over the last decade. In the Spring since the Angel was placed, it still surprises me-  if anyone glances this way, passing the cottage- down the side yard toward the dogwoods… there is an Angel. The spot for her Memory Garden was somehow, by some miracle- chosen for me, not the other way around. We have since lost some dogwoods, planted some roses and crepe myrtles. 4AB961E2-804F-48FC-AAAE-DCFCB15FF953

Tip # 6 Be careful buying statuary. Use it sparingly. Place it appropriately, so that it’s shape and size work with your garden. Sometimes your site will tell you where it needs to be placed!

B2760811-B63E-4AED-BF05-FB6A0C0567C1So! I have continued my practice of buying memory plants. In 2017, I planted a camellia for my friend, Denis who died that spring.(photo above) I planted ten azaleas when my mother died, also in the Spring of 2017. Five azaleas for her grandchildren and five for her great grandchildren- she adored them all! Those were interspersed in the existing garden. Still. She has her own specific Memory Garden.F2F581E9-7D70-4B27-8336-7A6B4D6BDD6F

Friends and family bought hydrangeas for my mother as well, she loved hydrangeas and I do too! They are in shades of pink, white, green and blue that can only be called ‘hydrangea blue’. I planted them in groups by color, not mixing them so it’s more pleasing to the eye. There were a good many, so- for my mother… there is a hydrangea garden along a side yard and around the back deck- areas which  were never intended as a memory garden. Yet it seemed to chosen for me. I plan to add and add to it until the hydrangeas say- ‘No more, please’.  Memory Gardening has been a source of great joy to me.  I tend to name the plants- Denis, the Camellia delighted me, when she was full of blooms this year!2F91DB41-12F4-4A73-AA67-A60391CE5160

Tip #7 Add to your memories all at once or, perhaps a better plan is to gradually add to it, as I am doing with the hydrangeas and camellias.

C72C813D-0039-4267-BD1D-FEA018DD4E86Last fall, my beloved Walter, a Himalayan cat who had graced us with his presence at this cottage, died. I had to do something for Walter, I was almost inconsolable.  My sister had given me a statuary cat, more than a decade ago, it had never found a permanent site. At age 17, I suppose, Walter had lived a long life- I never imagined the grief I would experience when he died. So, I created a very small Memory Garden for him… under one of the azaleas planted for my mother, the statuary cat was placed, with an engraved stone which epitomized Walter…it says, ‘Do no great things, only small things with great love.’ Rose petals fall on this small piece of statuary, it isn’t visible from the street, but I see him every day as I go to my car. Somehow it comforts me.  I have recently planted a few scraggly violas near him hoping they will re-seed. There are lamb’s ears nearby too. Each one seems to be a bit of those small things only a family pet is able to bring to a household.

B4A154E7-B044-424C-8ABD-14285FFE8CA7Now, I’ve gone all sad sack on you and I don’t want you think Memory Gardens are just for bereavement- they aren’t! Plant memories for any occasion- name them or not, but as you plant- you are putting down roots, you are making a garden, you are making your home, your neighborhood, your world a more beautiful place!

Tip # 8 Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Your local garden shop is a wealth of information. Ask them to suggest plants to use, what the plant will require, and how large it will get. You may need to have specimen plants installed, sometimes a garden center will be able to suggest a service. Ask for help- your plants willlove you for it!

Like I said, I didn’t set out to create a Memory Garden… now, that I have, the memories make me a better gardener. When a baby is born or a beloved friend passes on… I hope you will visit your garden center and pick out a special plant. And if the notion strikes or if there is a space in your garden, perhaps you will plant it and start a Memory Garden of your own… now, if you excuse me, I need to go outside and plant a Leyland Cypress named Wayne…

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. The quote near the statuary cat is attributed to Mother Teresa. My husband’s dear friend, Wayne died right before Christmas, an evergreen was given to the family and the Leyland Cypress is to be planted here at Camellia’s Cottage.

Lemon Angel Roll…

Light as a feather, filled with a rich lemony filling, Lemon Angel Roll is a match made in heaven. Impressive in looks, it’s surprisingly easy to make. Angel food cakes have enjoyed a love affair with southern cooks for a long time…I recall angel food cakes filled with strawberries and topped with whipped cream. Someone came up with the idea to cut an angel food cake in half, scoop out a tunnel on each half, filled…usually with a light and airy strawberry cream filling or peaches, when in season, paired beautifully with angel food cake.

One of my most distinct memories of angel food cakes was for a day long double event- my high school sorority had dubbed as the Heaven and Hell party (yes, it’s sounds scandalous- we were teenagers! Actually it was fully chaperoned!). The event was held in beautiful homes during the summertime when naturally- the weather was quite warm!  The afternoon party was a swim party- the dessert was Devil’s Food cakes, spicy foods, including deviled eggs’ then lways.. little bowls of  red hot candies were scattered around.   In the morning, we hosted a ‘heavenly event’. The food was…well, it was divine.  Angel Biscuits filled with slivers of pink ham, pink fluff set in molds, turned out and centers filled fruit- often, cotton candy, tiny petit fours and of course Angel Food Cake featured prominently for the morning party. We wore pretty sundresses, I think one year I wore pastel pink…or maybe it was blue. Jelly Roll cakes seemed to have been in fashion too.

Now, I’ve made angel food cakes and of course, the Roulage which is a rolled flourless chocolate cake- however the Lemon Angel Roll, is a recipe that has been languishing in my recipe box for over 30 years. Okay, I don’t have a recipe box. Still, I do have recipes like this Lemon Roll, I run across about once a year, though I never seem to get ‘around’ to it.  I mean come on- a rolled cake? I’m no pastry chef. This was the year I thought. If the Lemon Angel Roll failed? Who would know? Or care? So, while I had that jelly roll pan out to make the Roulage… I made a Lemon Angel Roll. What I found was this- if I can make it? You can!

Here’s how you make Lemon Angel Roll….

Lemon Angel Roll

A light, airy rolled cake with a tangy lemon filling. 

Ingredients

  • 1 15 ounce Angel Food Cake mix
  • 1 14 ounce Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Zest of one lemon Approx. 2 teaspoons
  • 4 Ounces Whipped Cream 1/2 cup heavy cream- whipped
  • 4-6 Drops Yellow Food Coloring Optional
  • Confectioners Sugar For dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees- (cake mix may not give oven temperature) Line a jelly roll pan (approx. 15x10 inch)  with parchment paper , clamp parchment around the edge (do not grease parchment or pan!) prepare angel food cake mix according to directions being careful not to overbeat. Spread 3/4 of the batter into lined jelly roll pan. Discard the rest of batter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly. Immediately! Turn onto a kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. ( Loosen sides of cake if necessary before turning. ) Peel off parchment paper and discard. Beginning at the narrow end, roll up cake and towel in jelly roll fashion. Allow to cool thoroughly. For filling- combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and zest; mix well. Fold in whipped cream. If desired tint with yellow food coloring. Unrollcaje, trim edges. Spread with lemon filling (you ma have extra filling) Reroll the cake. Chill, seam side down. If desired spread extra filling in a skim coat over the cake, if not- heavily dust with powdered sugar. Cake may be frozen up to 2 weeks or stored in refrigerator for a few hours. ( Cake must be thoroughly to slice evenly. Garnish with citrus slices or berries. Very pretty light dessert. Makes 6 servings. 

I chose to follow the old recipe and use the Angel Food Cake mix since this was a test run…A tip: Do not overwhip the cake mix and … use 3/4 of the batter if you’re using a jelly roll pan, otherwise it will overflow. Discard or bake the excess in a mini muffin pan. You may have excess filling- I would recommend filling the Lemon Angel Roll as thick as possible and saving the excess to serve on the side. The original recipe called for coating the outside of the roll with the excess filling then coating with shredded coconut on the top and sides. I feel this would have been a better combination if filled with Lime – and this would be a wonderful variation. The original also called for bottled lemon juice- no ma’am, use the real deal and zest the lemons first! I preferred the more classic presentation of confectioners sugar and berries. The Lemon Angel Roll seems to fit with a few things we’ve been sharing on Instagram and an upcoming post on Memory Gardens! Hopefully an angelic photo or two as well.

Of all the flavors of the south, lemon might just be one of the most prominent flavors in my memories of good food and good times. All the best to you this coming week!

Love y’all, Camellia

*The old recipe came from a thin cookbook put out by Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. *All photographs are obviously mine!

5 Ways to Style a Spring Transition Wardrobe…

0293CC97-4C79-440D-AC0A-DB0E6E985787Late winter and early spring always brings fickle weather which presents wardrobe challenges too! If there was ever a time to shop our own closets- it’s in the transition seasons. One dreary days several weeks ago, one thing to remember- it’s still Early Spring! That’s why we pull together a Transition Wardobe! There are pops of bright colors showing up- still black, camel, denim and classic navy’s are still good in early Spring, there will be plenty of time for late Spring pastels! I pulled out some of my favorite light weight winter pieces and played with a few new accessories, most were inexpensive finds- that frankly perked up almost everything!

Here’s Five Ways to Style a Spring Transition Wardrobe!

  1. Scarves! Unless your scarves are heavy or holiday prints, keep your scarves ready to layer over a dress, sweater or jacket. You can also add a bit of spring color with lighter weight scarves.BAC59E60-8166-45E7-A2E7-3F144FA8C5B1
  2. Accessories are my favorite way to update a wardrobe any time of year! I found these ribbon badges recently, since they weren’t expensive- I bought several! Pretty necklaces, or Iconic Pearls, worn alone, clustered together, or even with a pin- these pieces certainly update a suit jacket, a dress, even a favorite sweater blazer. Remember, it’s still chilly! Transition is a blend of two seasons ! And- here’s an inside tip: If you add a bit of sparkle on your ears- it automatically brightens your face, at least until the sun begins to give it a natural glow! And  let’s face it- you can never go wrong with a Chanel style felt camellia! Perfect this time of year!9AA21B43-37CA-4C58-A6A1-E52C4C8EA1F9
  3. Dress up a Sweatshirt– Another ribbon badge dresses up a sweatshirt here, I’ve also seen sweatshirts with tasteful scattering of pins, brooches and embellishments  (strong emphasis on tasteful, darling) just look at these silk roses clustered with a crown pin! You’ll feel absolutely regal! 044FBEB3-8325-41D4-B2DC-F39D421E008A658771B8-81A3-4752-B424-7FDCB55E8533
  4. Layer on a Vest– I certainly don’t pack away classic vests until late spring. The white down vest definitely won’t be put away until after we get back from our spring vacation to Colorado Springs! Vests can also help create a bit of shape to shapeless dresses, tops and blouses.0293CC97-4C79-440D-AC0A-DB0E6E985787
  5. White Blouse- the great white shirt is the one thing I would encourage you to buy in Transistion Seasons! Why? There’s nothing like a white shirt to update a wardrobe, though the white blouse can become dingy, yellowed or even have small stains. I checked my white blouses, a few needed to have stains removed, treated and soaked, then taken to the cleaners for a heavy starch! Also, I do love a starched denim shirt to layer any time of the year- in spring? Almost an essential.DA3E66F6-AC77-42FF-8851-77F36CD51A87

And-  as a Bonus– we have a few tips!

  • This spring the color story is filled with bright color from head to toe, if you can’t bring yourself to be that bold- use pops of color, in a first layer- tank, lightweight tee shirt, scarf or a cute rain coat.
  • And while my small handbag, a gift, is black- small handbags are still making a good showing…especially if they’re like this one and convert to a backpack! Great for hands free travel too!893044B0-A277-437D-A777-98CCD37B014D
  • And…walking on the wild side is still going strong… Shopping your closet is a good idea! I’ve had this cashmere animal print sweater for years (I added a leopard print blouse last fall) Even if you add an animal print belt, driving mocs, loafers or shoes can perk up your wardrobe- check your closet- I’ll bet you have an animal print in there somewhere!
  • Speaking of shoes- block heel shoes are a smart move any time, in spring with fickle weather- block heels offer more stability along with style! I updated this year, with a black suede. However, I’ve seen block heels in lots of color too! Head to toe, think about adding a pop of color to your Spring Transistion Wardrobe.
  • And, while we might joke about not wearing white before Easter, White Jeans are the exception! For the Spring Transition Wardrobe- especially on a beautiful day- the classic pairing of White Jeans and a black Sweater, Blouse or Top almost makes us feel like summer is on the way!

So! Head to your closet, pull out a few things you love, accessorize, layer, add pops of color, check out your great white shirts (even a denim one or two!) on pretty days, White Jeans and Black Top are a classic. Then…Pull out your walking shoes, add a pair of block heels and swap out your pocketbook.  There you have it! Our 5 Ways to Style a Spring Wardrobe!

Love y’all, Camellia

p.s. Feel free to email for a few sources on accessories and great white blouses! This is not a compensated post, however, we’re happy to share some resources and tips!  Send us a email with Spring Update in the subject line to –  brenda@camelliascottage.com

*All photographs are obviously mine!

Camellia’s Roulage…

D894872E-91AB-4372-BA0E-FD462A1AE946My first serving of Roulage was at a tiny tea room where ladies met for elegant brunch, where mother-daughter luncheons or bridesmaids’ met the day before a wedding to dine with the bride and her female family members. This beloved place was down a cobbled lane on Southside, a place aptly named Cobb’s Lane. When I was a mere teenager, yet I believed I had never tasted any dessert that was more decadent. A deep rich chocolate roll around a cloud of whipped cream. Yes, there were other dishes we enjoyed there, a beautiful salad plate, a chicken imperial, if not in name- regal in taste, though as someone recently recalled- ‘We went to Cobb’s Lane for the roulage.’ And we did.

The Roulage recipe I have is old, it has no attribution, yet I’ve always been told it was the famous Cobb’s Lane Roulage. And while I’ve updated the technique, the ingredients are essentially the same.  Eggs separately beaten, confectioners sugar, a few tablespoons of cocoa- no flour no butter- poured into a squeaky clean and dry jelly roll pan. Filled and rolled with lightly sweetened whipped cream – the presentation is always impressive even if the cocoa is uneven when dusted or whether the roll cracks a bit. It’s imperfections are just part of a fresh made Roulage.0D5D4885-50C6-4B54-BEEB-4E6A403203C1

The French call the method a roulade, other cultures call it a Swiss Roll. Some have been redundant in calling this version- a chocolate roulage- in the the South, the essence of a Roulage is that it’s a chocolate roll. I suppose I thought of roulage as a jelly roll, but it’s not exactly a simple sponge cake, since the batter does contain egg yolks, but no flour- though the baker does indeed use her jelly roll pan. There are those who’ve tried to improve the unimproveable by adding Bourbon or Grand Mariner to the whipped cream, or by setting a slice of Roulage in a pool of raspberry sauce- still, the classic is best. To be honest, I don’t make Roulage often enough. Or at least that’s what I think every time I make it. Still. When I make a roulage, it takes me back to a tiny, elegant, hidden-away place, called Cobb’s Lane. BD24B08F-2F33-4DA2-B9EA-615C94A40DD9

Here’s how Camellia’s Roulage is made….

Camellia’s Roulage

The classic dark chocolate roulage, is a light flourless sponge cake filled with whipped cream and rolled, then dusted with cocoa powder. 

Ingredients

  • 5 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1 Cup Confectioners Sugar Sifted
  • 3 Tbs Dutch Processed Cocoa Plus more for dusting
  • 5 Large Egg Whites Stiffly Beaten
  • 1/2 Pint Heavy Cream Whipped and chilled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With the whisk attachment, stiffly beat 5 large egg whites and set aside. In another mixing bowl Beat 5 egg yolks until pale yellow. Add 1 cup confectioners sugar. Blend in 3 Tbs of Dutch Cocoa until blended well. Fold in gently, the stiffly beaten eggs whites. Smooth mixture lightly into an untreated 9x13 jelly roll pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes making sure mixture springs back lightly to the touch. During bake time, dampen a kitchen towel *Or you may use a silicone baking mat, which is what I have used with very good results. Put 3-6 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa in a small bowl with a small sieve. Sift cocoa over a large piece of parchment paper.  When roll is baked, turn out onto silicone damp towel immediately. (You may  need to quickly loosen lightly before turning out) Trim edges of roll, then roll in damp towel - while still hot. Cool , while covered with an additional kitchen towel. ( Note: I have had excellent results turning the Roulage base in a silicone baking mat, instead of the damp towel, then wrapping the mat in a damp towel. When cool, remove the towel covering the  roll and unroll  on a cocoa covered parchment which coats the outside of roll. Spread whipped cream over surface, then roll. Place roll on waxed paper, cover. Cover this in plastic wrap securely and chill. With a serrated knife, slice roulage and serve on dessert plates, garnished with berries. ( Roulage may be frozen,if not serving right away. Serves 6 beautifully.  

Notes

You will need a 9x14 jelly roll pan with a 1 inch rim or a similar size baking pan with rim.  The pan must be squeaky clean and undressed to accept the batter.
A silicone baking mat or a dampened flour sack kitchen towel must be used to roll the roulade for cooling. A good grade of parchment paper or a second dry silicone mat or flour sack towel  covered with sifted cocoa must be ready to unroll the  Roulage, before filling with slightly sweetened whipped cream( you will need 2 approximately 2 cups of whipped cream- please do not use non-dairy whipped topping!
Very old recipes call for the dampened flour sack towel, I used silicone baking mats to roll and cool- with excellent results. 
Roulage is best served fresh rolled, chilled and cut, however it may also be made a day ahead, placed infilled with whipped creamin freezer. The roulade must allowed to thaw  completely to unroll. Fill with whipped cream, roll gently. Slice and place carefully on dessert plates. 

 

It does take a bit of self confidence to make a Roulage, just remember that the imperfections of a Roulage, only add to its beauty. For really, it’s a dessert that shouldn’t-couldn’t-wouldn’t want to be mass produced perfection. Here’s hoping that some time, you’ll challenge yourself to make a Roulage.

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

Skin Care Tips from Camellia…

6D8B13DF-D837-44B4-97F7-667344F7836CThere’s no doubt that Winter takes it toll on our skin; and while Spring is on it’s way…our thoughts turn to the time when we’ll shed these winter coats in favor of lighter weight clothing…which means- do I have to say it? Our skin will be revealed! Even after years of working in the fragrance and cosmetics industry- I must say, I’m always learning new things and paying closer attention to the largest organ in the human body- our Skin. It actually takes a lot for me to be inspired by new treatments and products- yet, I do think these tips are worth sharing!8611396A-D832-427A-A45C-DC05C93C7F0A

  • Dry Brushing: This is my first and best skin care tip! The photograph you see is a dry brush that I purchased after reading about the benefits of dry brushing. I had to convince myself that it actually worked, and I’m here to tell you I’ve reaped the benefits! So, I ordered the full set of dry brushes. Not only is dry brushing a natural skin care product- it is also a practice every adult should be using! Dry brushing removes dead skin cells while at the same time – those nubs in among the bristles are stimulating the lymph glands to help rid the body of toxins, and… you’ll love this- it also aids in toning and tightening the skin! There are several different prices and products for dry brushing available, just make sure the bristles are of natural fibers. The dry brush set should come with directions also. The idea is to never get these brushes wet. Stand on a towel or a bath mat before you get into the shower or bathtub. When you brush your legs do it in upward strokes- always brushing toward the heart! The set I bought had a large body brush, a hair brush which stimulates the scalp and a side effect is it works to de-tangle.  Also, in the set was a face brush which I was more reluctant to use, since I make an all natural scrub to exfoliate my facial skin. Y’all? this facial brush is wonderful! There is a ‘map’ that comes with my brush set to show you how to dry brush the face- so, it doesn’t just act as an exfoliator- it also stimulates my face and neck. I can actually see and feel the results after only a few weeks! So, if you add just this one thing to your skin care routine- it’s not a fad- it’s an ancient practice worth trying!353B73FE-8D03-49E9-97DC-9D7B377B8815
  • Water: We all know about drinking more water and wintertime it’s critical to drink more fluids. I’ve been trying to make pretty water to entice me! Here’s one I made recently-with cucumbers, mint and lime!  As great as it is to consume more water- if we’re dehydrated in the first place, our internal organs are making the best of liquids we consume well before the benefits reach our skin! So- here’s a tip to make a good long soak do double duty- add ingredients to the water. The old remedy for aching muscles is Epsom Salts and yes it does work. However, adding any natural salt will bring precious moisture to the skin surface and make that just brushed skin look and feel wonderful. The other thing you may want to add to bath water is dry milk in granular form. Now…if Cleopatra knew this was good for her skin, who are we to second guess her? The science behind milk baths- is that lactic acid in milk is a natural skin softener!! Read that again! Lactic acid softens the skin! You can also add dry milk to your favorite skin scrub and make it even better!9C53FD5D-B997-40C8-AA78-93D876E217FF
  • Vitamin C Serum Touted by skin care experts as natural Botox®! You can pay almost any price you choose for Vitamin C serum. Now, you may be consuming loads of Vitamin C in tablet form or drinking lots of citrus juice, which is terrific for your overall health- again…it would take masses of orange juice before the benefits actually reach your skin! So, here’s what I’ve done in the photo above- I saved lemon peels, put them in 2-3 cups of water and brought the pot to a boil (the house smelled wonderful!) Cover and turn off the heat. Allow this mixture to steep for a few hours, then discard the lemon peels and keep lemon water serum chilled. The result is a lemon water, which is a homemade Vitamin C Serum. Orange peels will work as well. Vitamin C is water soluble, so it’s delivery system to the body, and also why it doesn’t remain in the body very long! With the homemade lemon serum- Dip a  cotton pad into the lemon water serum, then saturate your face and neck. You will be surprised to note a skin tightening effect. This skin treatment is delightful, can be repeated as often as you choose and is practically free!  The essential oils in citrus have been proven to reduce fine lines, fade sun spots, minimize wrinkles and have an excellent track record on delivering antioxidants to the skin. And that’s not all, lemon and orange oils are very potent- so potent in fact that used in furniture polish, they restore dry cracked wood, what do you think the effect that lemon serum would be on the skin? They do work on fading age spots, minor skin tags and even reduce scarring after surgery. Now, to be honest, there are wonderful Vitamin C Serum products on the market, some are very expensive and not all that much better than the less expensive ones- just look for at least 20 % vitamin C serum in the product!

What I want you to take away from these tips, is that they are safe, natural and proven. And, please use a good face and body moisturizer on the skin after these treatments, all natural moisturizers abound. Just make sure the term ‘all natural’ is actually true and is plant based. If you want to deliver an all natural moisturizer from your pantry, you can’t do much better than straight Olive Oil- which has a healing effect on  the skin.  If you want more skin care tips- send me an email- I will be happy to tell you the name brand of the dry brush system I am currently using- it is economical and all natural bristles; I will also recommend a few Vitamin C Serum products I am currently testing and seeing the results, quicker than I would have believed possible. We are not being compensated in any way for these recommendations, however, I do feel they are high quality and for a very reasonable price.  Email us for this information, our address is: brenda@camelliascottage.com

I believe good skin care helps us feel better, improves our overall look- first take care of the skin,  then apply the makeup- is the rule! One of the best ways to age gracefully is to take care of ourselves inside and out!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All information is gleaned from my own background in the industry and personal testing and research, if you experience any side effects, rashes or other skin problems- discontinue use. I never recommend a product that we haven’t tested first!

*All photographs are obviously mine.

The Fine Art of Doting…

Have you ever heard of Doting? Here’s what I think most folks believe it means….

  • She’s always doted on that child.’
  • ‘Well, you know his momma was always delicate, he’s doted on her especially now that she’s in her dotage.’
  • ‘ I tell you now, she doted on  that man, always making him his favorite foods, keeping him neat as a pin and making sure everything was just so.’ ‘
  • He loved that car, doted on it like it was a crying child- why he kept that engine so clean you could eat off of it.’
  • ‘Well, she was the baby of the family, so everybody doted on her.

Now, we’ve all heard of doting or I guess most folks have. When anybody talks about doting, we basically think it means –

  • ‘She waits on him hand and foot.’
  • ‘Works himself to death trying to keep her happy.’
  • ‘That child is spoiled rotten, I tell you- when she grows up- she’s gonna expect the world to be handed to her on a silver platter.’

Yet, that’s not really what doting means at all. The fine art of doting actually means … To care for tenderly, to habitually bestow fondness and love;  to regularly treat or speak to a loved one with kind devotion and gentle affection.9471982A-D073-455D-A8D8-E27596B7E00E

It’s a harsh world we live in- extreme sporting events, conversations or workouts. Flashing lights, loud music and never ending communication. We’re bombarded with products, information and technology. Calendars are packed, schedules overlap,  being overwhelmed is the rule not the exception. It’s time to bring back the Fine Art of Doting. Oh yes, it will take a bit of being unplugged and slowing down- however, these suggestions take very little time or effort.

Perhaps, due to our religious upbringing- phrases like ‘self-love’ are overridden by teachings about being selfless and thinking about others first. Still. How can you ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’ if there’s not a certain amount of taking care of yourself? Here’s a few ways that aren’t selfish at all, and are also great for sharing with others!

  • Did you know that spending 15-30 minutes outdoors everyday is recommended for all round good health? I find just walking around my garden to see what I can see is my favorite way to get in some time outdoors. To my delight I recently found Ice Folly Daffodils and the precious- Snowbells! 
  • I love to garden, I think it’s a wonderful pastime- yet- to give a living plant, shrub or even a small tree to a bereaved family may be one of the most comforting things you can do. Here at the cottage, a memory garden was started after my mother in law died over a decade ago. We also have several living things planted to honor loved ones. Just as my grandmother’s spiderwort and hosta remind me of her every year- so do these bereavement plants.
  • My favorite apps on my iPhone are the calendar and timer! It’s one way I dote on myself- since I work at home… I set alerts for small tasks to get up from the laptop- or set the timer for 15-30 minutes to sit and read a book. And by all means set a bedtime alert- to get those hours of sleep everyone so desperately needs! Limit exposure to LED lighting, either by removing them from where you sleep or my favorite- wearing a sleep mask! I’ve also tried the app called Calm…it’s a short meditative pause. And since, we’re all told to limit screen time- and I’m loving the notification of how much time I’ve spent online!
  • Make a habit of putting the phone down when eating family meals or meeting friends- it’s so much better to create the habit of talking person to person! While you are online, learn something new, while spending the time wisely, I’ve been taking a free Winter Photography Workshop on Instagram offered by @thelittleplantation. I’m low end when compared to the amazing photographers in the class- but my oh my! What gorgeous photographs! Beauty in any form feeds the soul! Here’s one of my entries:
  • It’s no secret I love to cook- but what I appreciate even more than the cooking is gathering around a table of good food. Somehow, folks who might disagree on almost everything become agreeable and companionable around a table. Dote on yourself and your family by making simple meals, but don’t forget to set aside a time to load up the table with good food to be shared with others. Grazing boards are a wonderful simple way to eat at home or entertain- FBE7ECF6-4633-4B8C-875A-D9CE61D66E85
  • I’ll be sharing more skin care tips soon- yet I think we all can agree, winter takes it’s toll on everyone’s skin! Here’s a few things that help tremendously- Stay hydrated and get more water (I’ve a challenged another food blogger to make ‘pretty water’) It’s been a fun wsy to entice myself to drink more water… I find when it’s pretty I certainly drink more of it! Here’s a few of my entries. Adding citrus or fruits and vegetables flavors the water slightly and takes very little time. The best thing is-  I’m enjoying it.
  • Switching over to a ‘milk soap’ is a good move… When I worked for Oscar de la Renta fragrance and cosmetics, we had a product that always had a waiting list! It was Oscar’s Bubble Bath, which was non-skid and also had powdered milk granules in it- the lactic acid in milk products is one of the best skin softeners! You can certainly benefit from dissolving about 1/2 cup of dry milk while you run very warm bath water. Test adding granular milk for yourself and see whether your skin feels softer!  Goats Milk Soap is another way to soften skin, this one I found at www.sparrowssoap.com A7E96E71-09FC-4A40-9800-65A4AB01F5F0
  • And,  a new skin treatment that I’m loving… Its called- Dry Brushing it’s a whole body treatment that rids the body of flaky skin while also stimulating the lymph glands! Can’t wait to tell you more about it!8611396A-D832-427A-A45C-DC05C93C7F0A
  •  Now, I know we all love shopping, however, it’s a good practice to shop your closet first! Most people buy the same new things that they already have in their closet! This is good advice- especially since we’re in a transition season,  instead of clothes shopping- accessorize! If you’ve got the itch to buy? Shop for accessories. Here’s a few I’m loving lately! The ribbon badges were found on Amazon and the pearls…oh always pearls! Those pearls were a gift- and came from JCrew! EB3C8154-C3C6-4626-B2F9-BDE25A20A25D
  • Make a habit of dreaming a little… plan a household project or a vacation! Right now, I’m in the middle of making reservations and have an itinerary of all the things we hope to do in beautiful Colorado Springs! We’ll be staying at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel. For sure, we’ll enjoy eating those mile high donuts atop Pike’s Peak! Who knows? Maybe we’ll even break out in a rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ while we’re there! And I hope to take a short road trip to Garden of the Gods- with its amazing huge red rock formations.FD35DA87-FE43-4F5A-9515-55125F191638
  •  And..the dreams and plans don’t stop there… of course, I’m looking at a few dates and places to stay at the beach! Looking forward and making a plan for family beach time this summer, kicking off our shoes and feeling the sand between our toes!
  • Make a plan to update a corner, a tabletop or even a room. It’s always helpful to our mental health to look forward! My plan starts this spring with installing striped outdoor curtains, which were on sale last fall, in black, gray and white cabana stripe….to finish up a household project- our tiny screen porch!2316253C-581A-4ECD-AF65-EAE72D92C347
  • And finally, one of my very favorite ways to dote on others… Sometime, somewhere- when they least expect it- Send a surprise note or gift for no reason at all! This is truly the fine art of doting. A small plant plopped in a waterproof plastic bag then covered with a small burlap bag or even a lunch sack- tied with a pretty ribbon, is doting in many different forms- a small gift for a co-workers desk, a tiny reminder to a friend that she’s appreciated or even dote on yourself a little bit! The main thing is to surprise! Now, wait for it- you know, I have to give you something homemade!988986C5-5E7A-4524-B7C5-A0DA2310EB6E
  • I recently made a batch of homemade marshmallows for a much loved family in upstate New York- hopefully they will enjoy many cups of hot chocolate to chase away the chill! And – be surprised to get them! Don’t they look wonderful?
  • Now don’t forget to read below the recipe. A bit more on the Fine Art of Doting! Here’s how you make our very own Cottage Marshmallows! Though, it’s not much different from most marshmallow recipes, there is one tip you won’t want to miss! And these are easy enough to surprise your family too!

Cottage Marshmallows...

Homemade Marshmallows, a confection that’s fun to make and will delight - especially in winter to top a cup of hot chocolate! 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 3 Packages Unflavored Gelatin
  • 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt Preferably Kosher
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Confectioners Sugar Mix with..
  • Corn Starch Ratio 1:4 with confectioners sugar being the 4

Instructions

  • In the bowl of stand mixer, combine gelatin with 1/2 cup of cold water. Allow to sit undisturbed while making the sugar syrup. In a small heavy saucepan combine granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup of water. Blend corn starch and confectioners sugar in a bowl and set aside. On low heat, stir until sugar is dissolved, then do not stir anymore. Clip on a candy thermometer. Raise heat to medium high increasing heat gradually, until candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat. The stand mixture should be fitted with a whisk attachment. Very carefully pour the hot sugar syrup, with whisk on low speed,  into the gelatin mixture. Raise speed to medium high, then higher as the mixture is incorporated. Mixture will become light and airy, generally tripled in volume after 12-15 minutes of continuous whisking. While mixture is whisking- prepare an 8x12 inch glass baking dish with a sieve dust confectioners sugar/ corn starch blend generously Slow mixer speed and add vanilla extract, blend well. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan, smooth top and dust generously with more of the confectioners sugar/ corn starch blend. * Corn Starch added to confectioners sugar helps marshmallows dry out better. Let mixture stand overnight uncovered to dry out. Turn out onto a marble surface or a board and with a serrated knife cut marshmallows into squares- whatever size you prefer ! But at least 1 1/2 inch squares. Toss in more confectioners sugar to coat all sides. * marshmallows can be tinted during the whisking process, however, I tend to think the classic white is the prettiest ! 

Marshmallows are best stored flat, covered with foil until ready to package. I prefer cellphane bags instead of plastic.

     

     

    852428A2-126A-4B61-BB99-199CACDDC185Now, you know I have a story… when I first began making homemade marshmallows… I was just tickled with myself and decided to take them to a holiday gathering… when I explained what this confection was… someone said- ‘Why bother?’ Actually the answer is in the handcrafted marshmallow- it’s soft and sweet, it melts in a cup of hot chocolate like a cloud and let’s face it- If anyone ever makes you a batch of homemade marshmallows? Well! that’s the Fine Art of Doting!

    Love y’all, Camellia

    *All photographs are obviously mine, with the exception of the opening photograph which was found on Pinterest with no attribution- if it’s yours? please let me know so I can give you credit! Amazon and JCrew are registered trademarks and this is not a compensated post for anything you see here!

    *Advertisements on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of Camellia’s Cottage.

    *Check out what we’re doing on Instagram, we’re posting everyday!

     

    ‘Can’t tell a lie’ Cherry Crumble

    63D8CAAD-C974-410C-B96E-2B2852568EE4When I was in grammar school, George Washington’s birthday was apparently an opportunity to teach students about our very first president, to have us do a coloring sheet of Washington’s profile or standing beside a cherry tree with an axe in his hand and to teach a basic value- truth telling.

    The way the story went… as a young man, George chopped down a cherry tree on his home property. Some teachers embellished it by saying how valuable the cherry tree was or that Washington had been told not to cut down this particular tree and in show of strength and prowess with an axe or as an act of rebellion, young George chopped down the cherry tree. I’m not sure exactly how the story goes, but I imagine the whole country became fond of cherry pies because of this famous legend.

    Allow me to digress here… I went to grammar school after oil lanterns and quill pens went out of style- the electric light bulb had been in use for decades by then… and we had heroes like Superman- who leaped tall buildings in a single bound and lo and behold-here he comes to save the day … Superman even hopped through windows in a swirling cape, tights and a rigged up superhero outfit as the announcer proclaimed that Superman was for ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way’. A holdover no doubt from patriotic reels during World War II.  I miss those old black and white yet colorful TV shows!

    Anyway, Truth was taught as a value though the retelling of George Washington’s youth– for when the harsh question was asked- ‘Who chopped down the cherry tree?’ George didn’t shift blame…he boldly said, ‘I cannot tell a lie, it was I who chopped down the cherry tree.’ Now, lest you think we as a nation were the only ones profoundly affected by the tale of George and the cherry tree- the nation of Japan, donated cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin right in the midst of our capitol city- also named Washington! A celebration which is well attended every year- the Cherry Blossom Festival.

    18B77F99-E75A-4234-B4C4-6AC2A5BFCF3E

    So! Recently I concocted a humble cherry crumble and had to name it-  ‘Can’t tell a lie’ simply because… the cherry crumble was a failure on my part. I was trying to recreate my grandmother’s beloved recipe for Apricot Casserole by substituting sweet cherries! The failure was due to the fact that I didn’t calculate how many cherries would be needed and it just didn’t come out as I hoped it would. Still. I liked the flavor and the texture. And! Here it came to save the day! An heroic crunchy dessert topper for Sunday Dinner. I thought I would save this recipe for President’s Day weekend after we’ve all had lots of Valentine’s chocolate and need to get back to simple honest food. So here’s how you make Camellia’s Can’t tell a lie’ Cherry Crumble:

    ‘Can’t Tell a Lie’ Cherry Crumble

    To honor Our first President, George Washington- According to legend, as a young man, Washington cut down a valuable Cherry Tree. Rather than allow someone else to shoulder the blame- The young George uttered the famous line ‘I cannot tell a lie.’ This cherry crumble is a particularly good topping for ice cream. 

    Ingredients

    • 1 Stick Butter Melted
    • 2 Sleeves Ritz Party Crackers Crushed roughly
    • 2 14 ounce cans Sweet Cherries Reserve liquid from 1 can
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
    • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg Freshly grated
    • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar Plus 1/2 cup sugar for reserved cherry liquid
    • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar Packed
    • 3/4 Cup Sliced Almonds

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt one stick of butter. In a small saucepan, add 3/4 cup reserved liquid from cherries and add 1/2 cup sugar and boil gently to make a simple syrup. Add almond extract to this mixture. While syrup is cooling- add drained cherries.  Crush party crackers roughly, add spices and sugars, then pour melted stick of butter over the  crumbs. In a buttered deep dish pie pan or 9x9 baking dish, press one half of buttered cracker crumb mixture. Layer cherries and syrup over the crumbs. Top this with the rest of the crumb mixture and top with sliced almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden. Allow to cool.  Cherry Crumble is delicious over ice cream. 

    Notes

    If desired, more butter may be dotted over top of crumb and almond mixture before baking. Cherry crumble is a quick and delicious dessert any time of year! 

    Full disclosure, with the leftover crumble, I decided to try making an ice cream dessert with some of the crumble on the bottom of a loaf pan, vanilla ice cream layered on top, then added more sweet cherries and to finish, topped it with more of the cherry crumble. The sweet cherries may freeze, so if you decide to do this variation, here’s my suggestion: Slice the ice cream dessert ahead of time- to allow the cherries to thaw out a bit! Or.. omit the sweet cherries and save them as a topper! I can’t tell a lie about this- if I make it again, I’ll probably make the ice cream cake and add the sweet cherries as a garnish but- oh my! it did make a pretty dessert!

    I hope y’all are having a restful enjoyable President’s Day weekend. I also hope they’re still handing out coloring sheets and teaching about ‘Honest’Abraham Lincoln and ‘Cant tell a lie’ George Washington in schools- I personally colored his hair light brown with reddish streaks instead of the all white styled wig we see in his portraits. Oh me! I hope we won’t forget to tell the stories and be thankful for this nation and our historic heroes!

    Love y’all, Camellia

    • *All photographs are obviously mine.
    • *We’re still working on and updating this site, thank you for your long suffering patience! Just blame it on the tech challenged blogger!
    • *Soon, I’ll be posting that famous Apricot Casserole so you can try it or save it, with our new features- the WPRecipe Makerand the shopping app from Chicory.
    • *While this site is being updated, I hope you will follow us on Instagram- @brendawyatt7769 or click the icon link on this page…we’re posting something almost everyday over there!  And… any advertising you see on this page does not necessarily represent the views of Camellia’s Cottage!

    Camellias,Chocolate and Love…

    If there’s one thing about February that always delights me- it’s that camellias are in bloom, chocolate is on the menu or in a heart shaped box and love seems to be in the crisp cool air. This year, the red camellias are showing out, a bumper crop of ruffled blooms, and this tickles me because they’ve taken their own sweet time about getting to a point of consistent blooms- the shrub was chosen for it’s double ruffled petite blossoms- in honor of my mother in law- who I loved with all of my heart- who was petite, beautiful and …well, it just seemed fitting to plant a camellia to honor her life with our state flower, the Camellia.

    Valentine’s seems to be an oddly conflicting  holiday. Oh yes, it’s supposed to be all about flowers and chocolate and romance, yet it’s often a disappointing holiday, even with all of the gift ideas, hearts and beautiful sentimental cards- disappointment often stands in the shadows. Still. Love itself comes in many forms- romantic love, yet also love of family, love of friends and yes, love of place. Other than my own home- there is possibly no place on this earth that I love more than a beautiful historic hotel in Point Clear, Alabama which combines all kinds of love… camellias bloom profusely and a certain form of chocolate stole my heart many years ago.

    The Grand Hotel is her name. Close by is Mobile Bay and  a quaint town called Fairhope; just down the road is a beautiful small town named Magnolia Springs…now if fair hope, beautiful sunsets, camellias, magnolias and a grand old lady doesn’t give you a clear point of view… I don’t know what possibly could. The pace is slower, Afternoon Tea is served every afternoon, the grounds are filled with huge live oaks that have long gray beards of Spanish moss- under their spreading branches- camellias, azaleas and all manner of distinctly southern plants bloom in profusion around a mossy lagoon. I have visited there during every season of the year, yet February is the time of year I’ve probably enjoyed most- in the lower coastal south- it might get chilly but never so cold as to discourage the camellias or the guests. I’ve been there in formal dress several times in February- it seemed to me, the most glamorous place anyone could be!

    Yet, my best memories of the Grand, are of the ones when my children were young and truly learned the exquisite art of dining and dressing for the occasion at a champagne brunch with live music playing softly- tunes like ‘Stars fell on Alabama’ or the more lively- ‘The Alabama Jubilee’. And if there is ever a place on earth for ‘jubilee’ it’s on the shores of Mobile Bay where that amazing phenomenon happens when it’s least expected!

    The first time I ever tasted- Flourless Chocolate Cake was at the Grand Hotel, and I recall thinking- ‘What an elegant dessert! Surely, someone could have come up with a more decadent name!’ Somehow, over the years- I was given their recipe for this decadent chocolate dessert. For years, I’ve thought I couldn’t recreate it- and the truth is? Without the backdrop of the Grand Hotel it would no doubt ever taste the same. So! I took the recipe and tweaked it to make the recipe my own – and while our camellia’s are blooming their fool heads off? I decide to try my hand at making it and decorating it with those festive red blooms! So, it was only  appropriate to name it- Camellia’s Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s way easier to make it than I’d ever have thought- and decorated with red camellias grown right here at the cottage- it was downright gorgeous and…well, it took me back… Here’s how you make it-

    Camellia’s Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake...

    A dense rich dark chocolate cake, made with baking chocolate and cocoa, a mere 1 cup of sugar, no flour at all, and- to deepen the flavor- espresso powder is added. A small slice garnished with whipped cream is an elegant dessert. 

    Ingredients

    • 2 Sticks Butter Cut in pieces- plus more for pan
    • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder More for dusting pan
    • 2 Teaspoons Instant espresso or coffee granules
    • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
    • 8 Ounces Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Chopped
    • 5 Large Eggs
    • 1 Cup Granular Sugar
    • 1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar As needed for dusting
    • Whipped Cream
    • Fresh Mint Leaf, Berries or flowers For garnish

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9 inch springform pan (or a 9 inch cake pan lined completely with parchment paper) Butter pan and dust with cocoa powder. Set aside. In a heavy medium saucepan, melt butter on medium low heat, add baking chocolate pieces and carefully stir until melted. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together large eggs, add granulated sugar, espresso powder and cocoa powder until fully combined. Carefully incorporate melted chocolate and butter until th batter is blended well. Pour batter into prepared pan lightly smooth batter. Bake at 350 degrees on center rack until puffed and set, approximately 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool for a full hour in the pan. If needed run a knife around sides of pan (if a baking pan is used, lift out of pan and fold down parchment ) unmold cake on serving platter. (Cake may be wrapped well after cooling and stored for up to 2 days before serving.) When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar, add whipped cream and  garnish as desired. This is a very rich dense cake, small slices are preferable. 12-16 slices. 

    And while we’re talking Camellias, Chocolate and Love… here’s a few ideas to make Valentine’s special:

    • Give or plant a camellia shrub, a special rose even a gardenia to honor a loved one or to beautify your landscape.
    • Bake a special dessert, cookies or a cake to give to friends and loved ones.
    • And, since the Grand Hotel has a spa that has been named one of the best in the country- why not make Spa Water for yourself and loved ones- decorated with rose petals?
    • Or give a spa certificate to a loved one, a friend or even treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure? Maybe find some seasonal flowers (like Camellias) and give a bouquet?

    I know. I know. We tend to think of Valentine’s Day as just for couples in love…. I’ve come to believe- love, the sweetest kind is love that’s spread around a bit… so my best idea this year- Determine in the next few days to find folks who could use a hug or a bit of extra love and care- make a card, send a goofy text, write a note, give a call or just visit for a while? Sometimes the best thing of all is to say-

    . Love y’all, Camellia

    *All photographs are obviously mine. *The photograph of that gorgeous sunset was taken by me at the Marriott Grand Hotel several years ago- I’ve been reassured the sunsets are still glorious! *Choose flowers to decorate food or water that are organically grown or that you know the source. *The dark chocolate flourless cake can be made ahead two days before it’s served- so you’ll have plenty of time to make it this week!

    Health and Beauty tip: Tea Tree Oil is an amazing oil for skin treatments and comes from the same family as the Camellia. And did you know? Dark Chocolate has been known to soothe a cough more readily than hot tea or chicken soup? Of course, that a bite of dark chocolate that slowly melts in your mouth! And, if the weather permits at all- the best health advice I can give you this week- is to try to spend 15-20 minutes outside everyday- it lifts the spirits and fresh air is a total body treatment!

    Lemon Squares…

    From the cradle to the grave, in the South- at every occasion of any importance – you can mark this down, a dessert, or two or more will feature lemon. Lemon desserts are legendary and iconic… Lemon Meringue Pue, Lemon glazed Pound Cake, Lemon Ice Box Pie, wedding cakes filled with lemon curd…even our sweet tea is laced with lemon juice! However, these Lemon Squares make a regular appearance on tea tables, at baby showers, holiday dessert tables, bridal teas, anniversary and retirement parties and yes, grieved though we may be for the dearly departed- we tend to consume Lemon Squares in quantities to comfort ourselves. How do I know this? Almost every dark suit and black dress that’s been anywhere near the bereavement buffet bears a sprinkle of a telltale streak of powdered sugar! On one occasion I helped with –  Lemon Squares were assigned to more than one trusted baker- but all agreed that Bennie Sue’s recipe should be used for uniform quality. Okay, I made up Bennie Sue’s name to protect the innocent. You know, there’s always at least one Bennie Sue in any southern community whose recipe is considered the gold standard. Rustic and humble in looks- not Bennie Sue, for heavens sake! No, the rustic and humble Lemon Squares- tend to take on a heavenly appearance with their light cloud-like dusting of powdered  sugar. I think even the formidable  Bennie Sue would approve of this recipe for Camellia’s Lemon Squares! 

    Lemon Squares...

    Cut in bar cookies or tiny squares, Lemon Bars are welcome any time. A shortbread type crust topped with baked lemon  curd and dustEd with a snowy powdered sugar topping - it’s a near perfect addition on dessert tables or as a stand alone confection. 

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
    • 1 Cup Flour Sifted
    • 1/4 Cup Sugar
    • 2 Large Eggs
    • Zest Lemon from 1 large or 2 small lemons
    • 3/4 Cup Sugar
    • 2 Tbs Flour
    • 1/4 teas Baking Powder
    • 3-4 Tbs Lemon Juice * Freshly Squeezed - use zested lemons
    • Powdered Sugar for Dusting

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine softened butter, 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of sugar for crust. Do not overmix. Press into an 8x8 glass baking dish for crust. Bake 12 minutes or until pale but dry. Do not overtake, crust will complete baking later. While crust is baking, make lemon filling with remainder of ingredients, except powdered sugar. Mix well. Pour mixture over partially baked crust. Complete baking at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until Lemon Mixture is done. ( press lightly with your finger, if no fingerprint remains, the Lemon Squares are done. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and continue to cool. Dust again with powdered sugar.
      When ready to serve, for parties, cut into small squares. As a dessert, larger squares may be preferred. * Serving suggestion: When ready to serve, top with additional lemon zest for a pretty presentation and a tart fresh taste. 

    While they can be made year round, winter is a perfect time for Lemon Squares. Citrus fruit is fresh and abundant. And while we do make these lemon squares for special occasions, they’re the perfect ending for a Sunday Dinner, when they can be cut generously with no complaints!

    I do recommend using three small kitchen hand tools when making lemon squares- a wooden lemon reamer – less cleanup for just one or two lemons, a small hand held specialty lemon zester for those pretty little strands and curls that add a zip of flavor, done as a flourish right before serving and- a small fine mesh strainer in stainless steel to seed and pulp the lemon juice for the filling and again for the pretty finale- the sifting flourish of powdered sugar! And we do love to add a flourish, accessorize if you will. And if there’s one thing Southern women know how to do- it’s to accessorize! Oh me, hope you’ll try them some dreary winter day soon!

    Love y’all, Camellia

    Health and Beauty Tips: Citrus fruits including – maybe especially lemons,  are full of antioxidants, Vitamin C and those all important B for Beauty Vitamins. Some think that lemon juice even in a spa juice does help ease symptoms of the common cold. Here’s a Spa Water I made this week, with sliced ruby red grapefruit, oranges and lemon slices. if nothing else it sure was pretty- so pretty, I was enticed to drink more water! And that has to be good for your skin and keep you healthy and hydrated!

    • * You can find the small kitchen tools, such as the citrus reamer, the specialty lemon zester and the small stainless steel/fine mesh sieves-  at fine kitchen shops, including Williams Sonoma. (This is not a sponsored post) And! that pretty green plate? It’s made by Earthborn Pottery right here in Alabama!
    • We do have some ads now, to keep the lights on… Camellia’s Cottage does not guarantee the quality of any products or services in these ads!
    • *And… I just made up Bennie Sue’s name- to protect the innocent you know…
    • *All photographs are obviously mine!