Soup Swap Party

The Fearless Cooking Club gathered yesterday today to celebrate January as National Soup Month and January 21, 2012 as National Soup Swap Day. If you want details on how to organize your own soup swap, check out my fellow blogger Soup Chick‘s website.

The Fearless Cooking Club members are more about socializing than having rules to follow, so it was a long afternoon soiree of enjoying each other’s company and partaking in different types of stews and soups. The spouses and a few additional couples were invited making a houseful of 14 people celebrating all things soup. Char and her husband  Dwayne were spectacular hosts and their home was the perfect setting for this occasion.

Our rules were that each club member made two batches of soup: one was pre-made and packed in 1-pint containers ready for freezing and sharing; the other batch was brought in a crock and ready to serve. Each member went home with four pints of soup.

I absolutely love soup, but in preparing for this cooking club adventure I realized I never had a favorite one to share. I surveyed Soup Chick’s blog and tested three recipes before deciding on which one to bring. I am known in the group for alway trying something new, hence the name as Fearless Cook. It took some research and cooking trials for me to find a recipe to share with a group of people. I tried a Spicy Ground Beef and Bean Soup with Cabbage and Spinach from Kalyn’s Kitchen that was awesome and a Apple Pie Soup from Soup Chick. I eventually chose to make African Chicken Peanut Stew. It was fabulous so I think I have found a signature soup recipe for me. It was kind of a cross between a traditional stew and a Thai type dish. I served it with rice and cilantro. It was a pretty hearty stew at that, one serving was pretty filling.

The soup choices were:

Italian Wedding Soup with sausage and kale

Walkabout Split Pea and Ham

Bruce’s Beef Stew

African Chicken Peanut Stew

Black Forest Potato Soup

As you can see it was quite a variety of soups and stews.

A soiree it was. Wine, bread, crackers, and lots of water to cleanse our palates. After all the tasting, we had coffee and light desserts to cap off the afternoon. My freezer has four kinds of soups to get my husband I and through the busy week of work. Bon appetite!

National Soup Swap Day January 21, 2012

Join me and my fellow blogger Soup Chick in getting friends and family together and host a Soup Swap. The Fearless Cooking Club will be gathering this weekend to bring soups in containers ready to exchange and crock pots of soup to taste and share and have a dinner party. What a perfect way to gather in the cold month of January.

The Gift Cake

I was given this book several years ago by a dear friend, Esther’s Gift. This holiday book is part of the Mitford book series by Jan Karon, set in England. This short story is about Esther who makes Orange Marmalade Cake for her friends as gifts for Christmas. Our music group, is having a party today to celebrate the Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. My gift to my friends is to make this awesome cake and celebrate the end of the Christmas season.

Esther’s Orange Marmalade Layer Cake

serves 10-12 people

For the Cake:

3 C cake flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 C softened, unsalted butter

2 C granulated sugar

3 eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten

1 TBSP grated orange zest

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extracted

1 C buttermilk

For the Orange Syrup:

1 C freshly squeezed orange juice

1/2 C sugar

For the Filling:

1- 12 ounce jar of orange marmalade

For the Frosting:

3/4 C well-chilled heavy cream

3 TBSP sugar

3/4 well-chilled sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper, shaking out the excess.

2. In a bowel, sift the flour, soda and salt.

3. In another bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth, Add the sugar, a little at a time, beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk until well combined.

4. Evenly divide the batter between the pans, smooth, rap each pan on the counter to expel any air pockets or bubbles then place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or use a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to racks and cool in the pans for 20 minutes.

Make the Orange Syrup:

5. In a bowl, stir together the orange juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved

6. With a toothpick poke holes 1/2 inch intervals in the cake layers. Spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing th syrup to be completely absorbed. Let the layers cool completely.

Make the filling:

7. In a small saucepan, set over moderate heat the marmalade until just melted. Let cool 5 minutes.

Make the Frosting:

8. In a bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the sugar until foam firm peaks. Add the sour cream, a little at a time and whisk until mixture is spreading consistency.

Assemble the Cake:

9. Arrange, one of the layers on a cake plate and peel off the parchment paper. Spread the 2/3 of the marmalade over the top spreading it evenly. Invert the remaining the layer onto the top of the first layer, peel of the paper and spoon the remaining marmalade into the center of it, leavening a 1 and 1/2 inch border around the edge. Frost the sides and the top border with the frosting, leaving the marmalade on the top of the cake exposed. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Patty’s Points:

1. Putting the cake together was the most challenging part of the recipe. The whipped cream was fabulous, but I needed to be doubled. After I made the second batch, I realized that the whipped cream wasn’t as cold as it could be and it didn’t whip as stiffly.

2. The marmalade was applied after the whipped cream and worked out better.

3. What a fun cake to make and the batter was divine! I can hardly wait to taste the final product in a few hours.

Happy end of Christmas!