Today is the official start of summer and Rania Harris stopped by Pittsburgh Today Live to show off some great new recipes that are perfect for summer!

Lemon Cake with Strawberries

  • 1 pound strawberries – hulled
  • ¾ cup and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (see recipe below)
  • ½ cup almonds (blanched)
  • 1 cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter – melted and cooled
  • Zest of 1 lemon – minced
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ cup crème fraiche (recipe follows)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make vanilla sugar:

Take 8 cups sugar and place in an airtight container. Push 2 vanilla beans

Down into the sugar and cover well. Let the sugar and vanilla ripen for at least one week.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan.

Cut the berries lengthwise into thin slices and place them in a medium size bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar, toss, and let macerate for 1 hour.

Place the almonds and 1 tablespoon of the ¾ cup vanilla sugar in a food processor, and process until finely ground.

Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl. Place the eggs in the bowl of a large mixer, add the remaining vanilla sugar, and beat until the mixture is pale yellow, light and fluffy. Beat in the butter, the zest, and the lemon juice. Then add the ground almonds and the flour, mixing just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place the pan on a baking sheet, and bake in the center of the oven until the cake is golden and puffed, and springs back when touched with a finger – about 35 – 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes or a wire rack. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, remove the sides of the pan, and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.

Just before serving the cake, whip the crème fraiche with the vanilla extract just until it holds soft peaks (not stiff). Remove the cooled cake from the pan bottom to a serving platter, and serve it with the berries and cream.

Serves: 8

Crème Fraiche

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk


Combine 2 cups heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of buttermilk in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

Store in a warm spot of your kitchen for 24 hours.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Rania’s Minty Fruity Ice Tea

  • 2 oranges
  • 2 to 3 plums
  • 8 tea bags (I use a dark tea for this recipe)
  • Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
  • 1 lemon
  • Sprigs of fresh mint


Fill a large pitcher with 2 quarts of cold water. Quarter oranges, squeeze juice into pitcher as well as add the peels. Pit and cut plums into wedges and add to the pitcher. Cut the strings off the tea bags and mix the bags into the liquid. Let tea steep in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.

When ready, remove orange peel and tea bags from pitcher. To the tea, stir in the simple syrup until to taste. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from 1 half into the tea. Slice the other half into rounds and add to the tea. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint.

Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water


In a small saucepan heat the sugar and water and bring to a boil. When the sugar is completely dissolved remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week.

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