Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spooky Toffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Icing



My roommates and I are throwing a Halloween party, tonight in fact! In honor of the occasion, I made these cute mummy dogs, as well as the monstrous creation you can see above. I had a slice early to taste-test it, and it is pretty darn delicious. The frosting is made with Hershey's Dark chocolate cocoa, and on the whole the cake ended up being very very rich. Its the kind of cake you only need a thin slice of, since it's so packed with chocolately goodness. The cake itself is based off of a yellow cake recipe, I added grated Symphony bar pieces for extra flavor and and for some brown spots in the greenness of the cake. It came out suuuuuper moist and buttery, just the way I like it! I also really like how the dark chocolate frosting came out almost black-looking, it makes for an extra-creepy pairing with the green cake, I think :) I hope you guys like it as much as I do, Happy Halloween!!!!!


Green Cake

Ingredients:

3 and 1/4 Cups Regular Flour, (NOT cake flour)
2 Cups Sugar
1 and 1/4 Cups Milk, luke warm
3/4 Cup Sweet Cream Salted Butter, soft
4 Eggs
2 and 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
48 Drops Blue Food Coloring




Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder until well blended. Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture looks grainy. Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix together at medium speed for one minute. Add one egg at a time, beating at medium high speed for 30 seconds after each addition.


Once you have added all of the eggs, add the food coloring and blend until the mixture is the same color throughout. Then gently stir in the grated Symphony bar using a wooden spoon. Pour the cake mixture evenly into two well-greased 9-inch circular cake pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle of each cake layer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes after removing it from the oven.




Shake the pan a little bit to loosen the grip of the cake, then place a plate on top of the pan and, wearing oven mitts, flip it over so that the pan is on the top and the plate is on the bottom. Gently remove the pan and place the plated cake layer in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Repeat this process with the second cake pan as well. While the cake is cooling, begin making the dark chocolate frosting. Then place the bottom cake layer onto the display surface, (i.e. a cake stand or serving plate), and begin evenly frosting the top of the bottom cake layer. Then, center the second cake layer on top of the bottom cake layer so that they line up perfectly. Now frost the sides and top of the cake so that the entire cake surface is frosted and no cake surface is visible through the frosting.


Serve at room temperature.


Dark Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 Cups Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
3 and 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Sweet Cream Salted Butter, soft
1 Cup Heavy Cream


In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and 1 and 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar. Set aside. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small pot. Remove the cream from heat and immediately pour it into the cocoa mixture. Beat the mixture using an electric mixer for 1 minute at medium speed, until the mixture becomes thick, shiny and dark. Set aside.


In a large bowl, beat together the butter and remaining 2 cups powdered sugar until creamy in texture, about 1 minute. Then begin adding the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, and mixing well between additions. Continue to do so until you have blended all of the cocoa mixture into the butter mixture.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lavender Lemon Rice Pudding



Back home in Portland there's a little coffee stand on 23rd street that always has this amazing fresh lavender lemonade, and whenever I'm home I always try to make a point to stop there and grab a cup because it is THE best lemonade I have ever had. I'm also a huge fan of rice pudding, which I made for the first time a few months ago. The Greek recipe calls for lemon, and I added some lavender into the mix to see if I could recreate the amazing lavender/lemonade combination in pudding form. I didn't have any empty tea bags or means of keeping the lavender in a pouch to be boiled, so I emptied out a tea bag that had Lemon Lift tea in it, poured the dried lavender inside, and restapled it shut, which worked out fine. The pudding came out very well, as is evidenced by my very full tummy and the fun photos. What I liked most was how dainty it looks! It's really encouraged me to throw that tea party I've always wanted to.....



Ingredients:

2 Cups Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup White Rice
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tea Bag, empty
1 Tablespoon Finely Grated Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
3/4 Teaspoon Dried Lavender
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Largely Grated Lemon Zest


Place 1/2 teaspoon of the dried lavender in the tea bag, staple it shut with a string attached and set aside. Heat the milk, rice, sugar, water and bag of lavender in a medium sized pot until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to prevent burning. Remove the lavender bag and allow the mixture to simmer for another 30 minutes, still stirring every 5-10 minutes.


Remove the pot from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and finely
grated lemon zest. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk at high speed until slightly bubbly on top, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the rice pudding into the egg yolk, stirring constantly. Continue to add rice pudding to the egg yolk mixture until 5 tablespoons have been incorporated. Now pour the egg yolk mixture back into the rice pudding pot and stir until completely blended. Scoop the rice pudding into 4 individual serving bowls and garnish with the remaining lavender and the largely grated lemon zest. Serve warm or chilled.


Monday, October 4, 2010

German Pumpkin Soup (Kurbissuppe)


In the fall of 2007 I studied abroad in Dusseldorf, Germany through my school's film program. It was an amazing experience and one of my favorite parts of the trip was all of the German food that I got to eat. (Mmmm sauerkraut!) One day we were working with this German music professor at his home and, when it came time for lunch, his wife brought over this HUGE pot of soup and a bunch of tasty rolls form the bakerei. It is, 'till this day, the best soup I've ever had. I wrote the professor an email asking for the recipe and he brought it to the final dinner party we had at the end of the program. It was entirely in German, and although my conversational German was okay, I had no idea what ginger root translated to... So, my host mother was able to quickly translate the recipe for me and here it is, to be shared with you all! It's a really healthy dish, and surprisingly filling for being vegan. I also listed some optional non-vegan add-ins that you can put in, if you want to make it a little less healthy :) Guten Appetit!!! And happy autumn!!!!



Ingredients:

2 Small Baking Pumpkins, about 7 inches in diameter
1 Large Onion, chopped
1 Leek, chopped
1 Large Tomato, (or 2 small ones), chopped
1 Small Root of Ginger, about 3 inches long, peeled and grated
2 Large Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Large Carrots, peeled and sliced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
4 Slices Premium Bacon, (optional), fried until crispy and then diced
4 Cups of Water
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Vegetable Boullion Cubes, or whatever amount corresponds to 4 cups of water
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
Sprig of an herb for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Take one of the pumpkins, cut it in half, and scoop out and discard the insides. Cut the pumpkin into fourths and peel off the skin with a potato peeler. The skin is very hard and this may take some time. I saw another method here, but didn't try it because I was weary of cooking the pumpkin in the microwave before cooking it in the pot. Once the skin has been peeled, chop the pumpkin up into roughly 2 inch cubes. Set them aside.


Now take the other pumpkin and cut off the top as you would with a carving pumpkin. Use a medium sized spoon to scoop out all of the seeds. Sprinkle some salt inside the pumpkin and place a tablespoon of butter or olive oil inside of it and place the cap back on. Place this pumpkin in a casserole pan and bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the inside of the pumpkin is fairly soft and the outside has turned a deep orange color, like in the photo below.


Heat the fourth cup of olive oil in a very large pot. Add the onions and sautee until nearly transparent, about 10 minutes. Then add the chopped pumpkin, potatoes, carrots and coriander. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes to cook the vegetables evenly. Then add the garlic, ginger, leek and tomato and allow to cook for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes again.


Add the water, boullion cubes, paprika, salt, cloves and cayenne pepper and mix well. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Taste it and add more salt if you'd like, then ladel it into a blender or food processor and make a puree of the soup. Ladel the pureed soup into the roasted pumpkin and serve it hot with a side of chopped bacon and an herb sprig for garnish.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Prickly Fruit Salad


There's been a massive heat wave this past week here in Culver City, and in response I decided to avoid using the oven at all costs. This was pretty easy to do, (thanks, microwave!), but it still didn't keep the heat down in the apartment. So, I cooled down the only way I knew how. I ate lots and lots of fruit from the refrigerator. Mmmmm cold fruit, so juicy and wet and refreshing. I threw together this fruit salad with some prickly pears I found at Albertson's. I'd never used prickly pears to make anything before, but I had them juiced in mixed drinks and it always tasted pretty good. So, I ventured to make a tasty fruit salad with them! They're called prickly pears because they're shaped like pears but grow on cactuses, and have tiny brown circles on the outside of them that have small furry, prickly bristles that will come off onto your skin, so take caution when preparing them. I read online that they are usually juiced, but could also be eaten plain after you peel them, as long as you don't mind the seeds which are apparently edible. Well, I juiced one  of the prickly pears to pour over the salad and cut up the other one to put in the salad, and I can honestly say that I wish I would've juiced both of them. It's not that the flesh of the fruit didn't taste good, it has a great honeydew melon type flavor, but there were SO many seeds and they were fairly large and really hard, not something that I would just swallow massive amounts of. So, if you don't have any problem with seeds, then feel free to cut one up and put it in the salad, but if you have a tough time eating a large amount of seeds, then juice both of them and pour the syrupy juice over the salad. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

1 Banana, cut into slices
2 Pluots
2 Prickly Pears
1 Tangerine, peeled and separated by slice


Cut the pluots in half, remove and discard their pits, and cut each of the pluots into sixths. Place the banana, pluots and tangerine slices into a medium sized bowl, stir so that thefruits are evenly distributed, and set aside. Cut a vertical line down the side of one of the prickly pears, then cut the top and bottom off. Now, place your finger underneath the vertical line and grab ahold of the pear's skin. Peel the skin off and discard it. Repeat this process with the other prickly pear. Now, you can either slice one of the prickly pears and put it in the salad, if you don't mind lots of hard seeds, or you can slice up both of the prickly pears and push the slices through a sieve held over the bowl of fruit so that all of the juices from the prickly pears fall over the fruit. Garnish with one remaining slice of prickly pear and serve cold.