August 8, 2011

jack of all trades, master of none (also, a giveaway)

There are a lot of activities for which my skills are passable, and sometimes even impressive, but I've never been called a master. The same cannot be said of Whitney Miller, winner of last year's season of MasterChef.


She handled both the snarling and temperamental Gordon Ramsay and dour, cantankerous Joe Bastianich with good ol' Southern class and aplomb. I was really impressed by that and pulled for her from the get-go. To add to my respect for her, she's now come out with a terrific cookbook called Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm, in which dear Whitney treats readers to a fresh take on classic dishes that have been passed down throughout generations of Southern women in her family. The book features everything from comforting beef chili to clever upside-down quiches to surprising sun-dried tomato and cranberry ketchup, complete with lovely pictures and short descriptions of each dish.


One of the recipes I opted to use as a gauge for her greatness was for Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze, and it yielded some magnificent little treats. Although I went ahead and frosted some with a bit of coconut swiss meringue buttercream (yeah, I did it), the lemon glaze was a wonderful accompaniment to the soft, fluffy, nutty cakes.

Toasted Coconut Cupcakes
from Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm by Whitney Miller

Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon canned coconut water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Topping
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Lemon Glaze
3/8 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the cups of one 12-cup muffin tin and 4 cups of a second 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
To make the cupcakes: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Place the butter in a large bowl and stir until it reaches a creamy consistency. Slowly stir the sugar into the butter. Slowly stir in the egg mixture. Add one-third of the flour mixture. Add one-half of the milk. Continue adding them alternately, ending with the flour mixture. Stir the batter after each addition. Stir in the coconut water and vanilla.
Fill the paper liners half full of batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 14 minutes. Leave the oven on. Transfer cupcakes to a rack to cool, about 20 minutes.
To make the topping: Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and fragrant, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a shallow bowl and let cool.
To make the lemon glaze: Mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 T water, and confectioners' sugar in a small shallow bowl.
To assemble, dip the top of a cooled cupcake in the glaze. Immediately dip the glazed top in the coconut. Allow the glaze to set before serving or storing the cupcakes.


I also tried a recipe that required me to step out of my comfort zone. Although I enjoy basil pesto, I had my doubts that anything involving turnip greens could be edible, much less delicious. To my surprise, Whitney's Turnip Greens Pesto was flavorful and perfect to use as dressing for a batch of Mediterranean pasta salad.


Turnip Greens Pesto
from Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm by Whitney Miller

11 turnip green leaves, ribs removed
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 garlic clove, peeled
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the turnip greens two at a time in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the leaves and drain on paper towels and pat dry. Stack the leaves on top of one another. Roll into a cigar and cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.
Place the turnip green strips in a food processor. Add the toasted walnuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Process until it begins to form a paste, about 2 minutes. With the processor running, drizzle in oil and butter. Add the Parmesan andpulse 2 or 3 times. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl.


Well done, Whitney. Keep up the good work--you're doing us Southern gals proud!

Good news! I have an extra copy of Whitney's cookbook, so if you'd like a shot to have it on your bookshelf, leave a comment below and you'll be entered to win. Tell me who intimidates you more, Gordon or Joe? Tell me if you agree that Graham is almost completely useless as a judge. Tell me who you're pulling for this season. Tell me you've never seen the show before in your life and have better things to do with your time. Regardless, I'll close the comments on August 14th, do a random drawing, and contact the winner shortly thereafter (assuming he or she leaves a way to be reached). Good luck!

79 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those cupcakes look divine and that pesto sounds marvelous!

I haven't seen the show as I don't live in the us. Anyway, I guess both Gordon and Joe are extremely intimidating.

Cheers,

Rosa

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh I've never seen the US version of Masterchef! I am curious to see how it compares to the Australian and UK versions :)

Shanna said...

Gordon for sure! He makes me anxious, yet I still tune in to the show!

The Blonde Duck said...

Tomato and cranberry ketchup?

oneordinaryday said...

Can't comment on the show, as I don't watch, but the ripple of frosting on that cupcake is awesome, Grace! ANd the pesto sounds very interesting and certainly looks delicious. Love when a cookbook actually turns out to be full of great recipes. Doesn't always seem to be the case, does it?

Hornsfan said...

Great recipes Grace - as usual the cupcakes look divine but the tomato cranberry ketchup really sparks my interest!

Heather said...

I haven't seen the show, but both of those recipes look fabulous and I will be making soon.

cookies and cups said...

Those cupcakes sound delicious!
I haven't ever watched that show..Gordon Ramsey scares me

Elaine said...

So far somehow I have not seen the show, but I am all about cooking shows!

gracie-cat said...

Yep, I haven't seen it either, but I generally enjoy cooking shows. Thanks for having a giveaway!

vanillasugarblog said...

i do not know why joe has to be such a stuck up asshole. i mean really he does not play it well at all. and he isn't even that famous--riding on the coat tails of his mom. (can you tell i don't like him? lol)

Brittany said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!!

lisa is cooking said...

Looks like both recipes produced delicious results! The lemon glaze on the cupcakes sounds great, but your frosting makes them even more gorgeous.

Prairie Star said...

I don't watch it *because* seeing Gordon on the commercials for it is enough for me.

Those cupcakes look divine!!

April was in CT now CA said...

Haven't seen this particular show, but I've watched some of Gordon's other shows and have mercy, he's....interesting! haha

That cupcake sounds fantastic.

kat said...

I just didn't get sucked into this show. I like Gordon Ramsey on shows like the F Word and his current travel show but can't stand him on these competition shows.

Pastor Bethany said...

I've never watched the show in my life...but those recipes look amazing! I'd love a copy of the book!

Heather said...

I haven't watched an episode, but I have watched Gordon Ramsey on Hell's Kitchen. He's brutally honest and knows his stuff! His use of profanity intimidates me. I'm a southern gal and his mouth could use a good bar of soap!

Holly said...

Definitely Joe! He can be so mean - I don't know how Whitney did it last year. Her cookbook looks fabulous.

Linda said...

I have seen the commercials in which Gordon Ramsey is hollering and insulting his victims; it has never inspired me to watch the show. But these recipes sure do inspire me to make something new and delicious! Thanks for posting!

April @ PolkaDots n' PinkySwears said...

I would LOVE to win this cookbook!! I am a HUGE Masterchef fan, and if I miss an episode I feel like a piece of me is lost! LOL I'm in between Jennifer & Christian...not sure which one is better yet?...

...and Joe is a butt.

Momx6 said...

This is my first season to watch Master Chef - I love your photos of Whitney's recipes, it makes me want that cookbook! Thanks for doing give-away!

scrambledhenfruit said...

I've never watched MasterChef, but I'm just not much of a tv person. Those cupcakes are fabulous- the frosting is gorgeous. :)

Michelle said...

Oh I have been wanting her cookbook after I saw the newest competitors have to recreate one of her dishes by taste!
Michelle

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh my goodness those cupcakes look awesome and sound so delicious. I can tell you know that this recipe looks like a keeper!!

Hungry Dog said...

I've never seen the show, but I do know who Gordon and JOe are. Joe seems like a class-A jerk, I wish he'd stop popping up on every tv show.

Gloria said...

Grace you kill me with your cupcakes look amazing!! gloria

5 Star Foodie said...

Fantastic cupcakes with toasted coconut, yum!

Leslie said...

Ohhhh.I think you made a good call with that frosting!!!

Jenn @ BentoForKidlet said...

Yuummmmy cupcakes!! I think Joe is much scarier than Gordon. He just glares and then chucks your food out :P

bellini said...

Sweets are definitely nice but turnip greens pesto has me intrigued.

ThriveSisters said...

I'm making these cup cakes this weekend. Can hardly wait!

Mimi said...

Turnip green pesto, that's a new one for me.
Mimi

Sharon Graves said...

I think you said something after "lemon cupcake" but I missed it.

What's Cookin Stacey?? said...

Gordon is a scary man but I would love to cook fr him! I think I could please him with my kitchen attitude! Love your blog! Thank-you for taking the time to share with the world! I am a follower now so I will not miss out on anything.

Pam said...

I've never seen the show. Between Next Food Network Star and Real Housewives, I have a very full plate :)

Joanne said...

I was really hoping you were going to give away these cupcakes. Cause damn do they look good.

Gordon intimidates me WAY more than almost anyone else on this earth!

Von said...

Toasted coconut cupcakes sound very much like your type of cake- I'm not surprised it's the first recipe you went for!! ;) It sounds delicious..and it looks beautiful! Especially the frosting! The salad looks delicious too :D

Faith said...

Sounds like a great book, thanks for hosting this giveaway, Grace! Those cupcakes look fantastic, and coconut swiss meringue buttercream sounds out of this world! Gordon definitely intimidates me more! :)

Cheryl said...

Ohh god I am starving, I should not read blogs while starving! I am involved in too many shows already, so I never got hooked on this one!

Mini Baker said...

your cupcakes look unbelievable, and you have definitely "mastered" that recipe :)

Angie's Recipes said...

Those sexy swirls on the cupcake are driving me nut...gosh..how did you manage to pipe them so beautifully!

Half Baked said...

Loved Whitney on the show. Those cupcakes look amazing...nice call on the swiss meringue!

raquel @ erecipe said...

I really do like to have a copy I found more intimidating is Joe just looking at him and the way he looks at the contestant.

Cherloo said...

Oh my gosh JOE for sure.. He is silent but deadly!!

Alicia said...

Yum! I can't wait to try these recipes! Your orzo salad looks wonderful. Masterchef has been great this season! I really like Jennifer.. she has done a great job! Oh and Joe is terrifying. Anytime I see a bald man now I think of him!

Meredith said...

I love Whitney Miller and I would love to have her cookbook! I think Joe is way more intimidating because he has that stare that he gives the contestants after he has tried their food. Terrifying! I think that Suzy and Adrian are the best contestants this season. They have both done a great job. Thanks again! My email is mwoodall701@gmail.com

Pala said...

Awesome feedback on the recipes!

I'd have to say Joe is more intimidating but I find him to be incredibly honest and straight forward. You don't get a lot of useless commentary with Joe!

I am conflicted about Grant. Joe is strong enough to compete with Gordon no problem, however, Grant sits in Ramsay's shadow. So, I'd like to see what becomes of him if he wasn't overshadowed. Otherwise, I'd have to say he pretty much offers little to the show.

And for your final question, I have to say I'm hoping Jen pulls a homerun. Vastly underestimated but she has the talent to surpass them all. I wish her the best of luck.

MaryBeth said...

The cupcake looks amazing Grace...

Tracey said...

Great looking cupcake! Gordon scares me on Hell's Ktichen but Joe is so nasty on Masterchef, I think he is scarrier by far!!!

Cindy said...

I can't stand Joe on MasterChef - he talks a big game but I have yet to see him do anything impressive. It seems he got where he is today because of his mom. I like Graham's personality - you can always tell if he likes something by the amount he eats. Gordon is honest, and I think he definitely carries the show. Without his expertise and personality, the show wouldn't be the success it is. I love the show and would love a copy of Whitney's cookbook!

Cindy

The Baking Gypsy said...

Those cupcakes look absolutely beautiful and scrummy! Anything with coconut in it, I'll eat!
I would love to enter your giveaway! Sadly however, I have never watched MasterChef and yet I'm a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay...go figure!

Kerstin said...

I haven't watched that show - should I be tuning in? I was just saying the other day how I miss Top Chef.

Gorgeous cupcakes :)

JJ Carney said...

Gordon is truthful and blunt. Joe can be downright mean. They both would scare me to death if I were on there. My whole family loves to watch. I'm rooting for Jennifer. Christian drives me crazy!

sunshineovermd said...

I watch the show and YES, Gordon is intimidating. But I guess it brings out the best in a lot of contestants. I definitely want to buy Whitney's book since I love Southern cooking. I loved the show where the contestants had to cook one of her recipes without knowing the actual recipe.

Candace said...

Joe scares me more than Gordan. I was pulling for Tracy but since she was voted off, I don't necessarily have a favorite.

Pam said...

Lemon + coconut + cupcake = heaven. Enough said.

The pesto dish sounds tasty too!

Lynda said...

Wonderful looking cupcakes Grace. I'd love Whitney's cookbook as she was my favorite last season.
Gordon and Joe are both scary; I wouldn't want to cook for either of them!
I had hoped Tracy would win, and also liked Ben. Who knows now since they are both gone.

Anonymous said...

I need that cookbook! I don't watch the show because cooking should be fun, not super stressful : )

Sara said...

Oh I want that cookbook so badly!! It is sold out everywhere around me and I don't have a credit card to order it unfortunately :'(

I think Joe is more intimidating with that look that he does. Under all that yelling I think Gordon is just a big teddy bear.

Sara said...

Oh I want that cookbook so badly!! It is sold out everywhere around me and I don't have a credit card to order it unfortunately :'(

I think Joe is more intimidating with that look that he does. Under all that yelling I think Gordon is just a big teddy bear.

Jaime said...

talk about food porn :) i want one of those cupcakes! good idea on the buttercream.

i think gordon is way more intimidating than joe. not sure who I am pulling for... i just hope christian doesn't win.

Juliana said...

Wow, the coconut cupcake looks fabulous with the lemon glaze...so pretty and so tempting.
The pesto with turnip leaves sounds very tasty...so different!
The photos are amazing as always.
Hope you are having a great week Grace :-)

Gail said...

The cupcakes look delicious!! Where is the recipe for the buttercream! Every picture you post looks sooo good!

Robinc said...

I think Joe is more scary because his face is more unreadable. Plus his comments to contestants while cooking seem designed to make the doubt themselves. As a matter of fact the whole panel would be scary to face.

I loved Whitney on season one and appreciate your review.

Cheryl said...

Those cupcakes look amazing! I think Joe is more intimidating only because he is extremely rude all of the time. At least on Hell's Kitchen Gordon shows a softer side every once in awhile. And Gordon is Hot and Joe is not!

I am so glad that Whitney won last season. She not only held her own, she excelled.

Deborah said...

I have sadly never seen the show. Too many shows to watch, too little time!! But those cupcakes - YUM!!

shaz said...

Oh my Grace, just saying the name of those cupcakes had me salivating! Got to give these a go ASAP.

Erica said...

Love the cupcakes! It looks so divine!

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annie said...

I am not following this season, but did see Whitney on the show. She was a remarkably cool and calm girl, and I'm happy she won. I think Joe is worse than Gordon, and that's saying something.

WizzyTheStick said...

Divinely delectable sadly my kids hog the TV so i never get to see masterchef

Erica said...

The lemon glaze sounds wonderful! Coconut topping :)

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Coconut swiss meringue?! Oh YES you did.

Julie M. said...

I really need to attempt meringue frosting one of these days. It just looks so darn tasty! I didn't see season one, but I'm literally glued to season two. I'm liking Jennifer, Tracy, and Ben. Christian can take a hike any day now. Joe is SO much more intimidating imo. Now, pass me one of those delicious cupcakes, all this chatter has made me hungry!

Carolyn Jung said...

I was rooting for her in the first season of "Master Chef.'' She was so poised under fire.

The Beauty Bug said...

I have never seen the show, but I am going to start watching this sesason (if I can get the remote control away from the husband's hands)!

whitneymillermc said...

The cupcakes look great! The glaze is great when you are in a hurry and don't have time to wait for the cupcakes to completely cool. This is exactly what happened to me during the Masterchef cupcake challenge.

Allison said...

Southern coconut cake is the last bite of food I ever want. The lemon glaze wow that sounds fantastic.

Lori said...

You are such a Southern Girl! And since my sis in law is a "daughter of the Revolution" I just gotta love you for it. I would so enjoy this cookbook and my sis in law would be so impressed with me. And might I say the cupcake and the pesto look phenomenol, like good enough to eat! :)