When my husband was applying for jobs, I told him that I would go anywhere he wanted as long as it was south of our current location which at that time was South Bend, IN. Somehow he managed to accept a job in one of the only major cities north of South Bend – Milwaukee. He promised me though and stated over and over again, that the weather would be no worse, no colder and if I am not mistaken I believe he said we would experience less snow in Milwaukee than we had in past years in South Bend. I did not believe him.
Today is May 4th. We are a full month and a half into “spring,” yet I wore my winter coat to work this morning and it snowed two whole days last week. When I check the forecast each morning, I find myself getting overly excited for temperatures in the 50′s and not surprised at all when the high is only 42. I often point out to my husband that South Bend is consistently 10 degrees warmer than Milwaukee. Now don’t get me wrong, Milwaukee is a far better city than South Bend. There is much more to do, wonderful restaurants to try out, apparently some great beers (50 more days and I can confirm that for myself!) and not a week goes by that someone doesn’t tells me how amazing the summers are here. Yet somehow I find myself constantly asking “is it spring yet?”
Last week as the rain continued to fall and I was still wearing my winter sweaters I decided the only way to encourage spring to come was to start acting like it had already arrived – make a meal worthy of a beautiful spring day: beef tenderloin with mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, and a delicious carrot cake.
Beef tenderloin is such a great cut of meat that you really should not have to do too much to it. I simply coated it with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkled it with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
I cooked the meat at 450 degrees until it reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees. I allowed it to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
Before serving the beef, I made a simple mushroom gravy by heating olive oil in a large skillet. Once warmed, I added a bit of thyme and a whole package of mushrooms and allowed the mushrooms to become tender. I then added about 1/2 cup of chicken broth as well as 1/2 cup of white wine. After bringing the gravy to a boil, I simmered the sauce until it began to reduce. From there I added a bit of corn starch mixed with water to work as a thickening agent.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes:
This is perhaps the easiest way to make potatoes and the results are amazing. It only took 3 simples steps to prepare: drizzle the potatoes with olive oil, season with rosemary, salt and pepper, bake until fully roasted.
Serve along side of the beef with mushroom gravy.
Now as wonderful and as simple to make as that meal was, the true spring item of the night was the carrot cake. Of course, requested by my husband, this cake was moist and light and with each bite brought spring a little bit closer to Milwaukee. Here is out how you make it:
Start by greasing and flouring two round cake pans.
In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Whisk together 3 large eggs at room temperature and 2/3 cup of vegetable oil.
Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture until just combined.
Next, grate 1 and a 1/2 cups of carrots. For me this took approximately 5 carrots, but depending on the size you could need a few more or less.
Lastly, mix in the shredded carrots and 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple. The crushed pineapple adds a little extra moisture and keeps the cake fresh for longer.
Stir the batter until combined and then scrape even amounts into each cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow the cakes to cool for awhile before removing from the pans. Otherwise you risk breaking or cracking. While the cakes cool, make a simple cream cheese frosting. Start by beating together 8 ounces of cold cream cheese, 5 tablespoons of softened butter and 2 teaspoons of vanilla in a bowl.
Slowly, and only a little bit at a time, add confectioners’ sugar until you have reached your desired consistency. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and stir until combined.
Once your cakes are cooled, you can begin the assembly process. Take your time assembling the cake. Rushing through this process can cause broken pieces of cake in your icing. Simple place your first cake on a cake stand. Slowly spread a portion of the icing outwards. Try not to go back and forth over the same area.
Once the bottom layer is complete, gently place the second cake on top and repeat the icing process. Once the cake is fully covered, coarsely chop about a cup of walnuts and lightly press them along the edge of the cake.
Spring may be a bit delayed this year, but in the meantime we can at least enjoy a meal worthy of a beautiful spring day. Although I will probably continue to ask and wonder if it is spring yet (or if it will ever arrive), I am happy to know that with each passing day we are getting closer and closer to summer. And this summer will bring me the greatest gift of all – Baby Fischer! I hope she likes carrot cake.