Monday, May 31, 2010


This is one of those- I am so glad I found this recipe- had it three times already- kind of recipes.  Last summer I can't tell you how many of these corn pancakes we had.  We had them over and over again and the only thing I regretted about them was that the fresh veggie season was ending and they just wouldn't taste the same over the winter. Well, this recipe works great for the winter months- taking carrots or green onions and surrounding them with this amazing batter.  And really, with a nice non stick skillet- you don't need much oil at all.  Just 2 teaspoons per side will do the trick.   I will be trying it with asparagus next, hmmmm can't wait.

Pa Jun

2 cup cold water
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour (if you don't have rice flour, regular flour will work too)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 cup mini shrimp

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat a large skillet and add oil.  Combine flours and salt in a bowl and whisk.  Briskly whisk as you add the cold water.  Add eggs ande whisk to incorporate. Pour into the hot skillet.  Sprinkle the green onions and shrimp all around the pancake.  Let the pancake brown-becoming real crisp.  It helps to slide the pancake onto a plate and flip it from there rather than trying to flip it directly in the pan.

Slice into wedges and serve with sauce on the side.  Delicious!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Turkey Mole Pizza

You know with lots of mole in my house, I just can't help but go crazy putting it on everything. 

My husband loves pizza- he is a total pizza conisseur.  He is of the NYC style pizza camp.  Me- I don't care- I like it but I am not totally in love with it.  When I made this pizza- he says, "what? you put mole on the pizza?" (how incredulous, how absurd!).

Yup, you guessed it, he loved it. It was one of the best tasting pizzas ever. How can it not be with a thing like mole? Although, some thinly sliced garden tomatoes really would have upped the ante.

Turkey Mole Pizza
Of course the measurements are totally up to your discretion.  Chicken would work beautifully here as well.  Turkey is what I had on hand.

1 cup shredded cooked turkey
1/2 cup mole
1/4 cup chiles
1 cup shredded mozarella
pizza dough

Form pizza round and slather the mole over top.  Sprinkly turkey all around and mozzarella over top.  Finally, spoon chiles around pizza. Bake at 475 F for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Croquembouche, an exotic twist

Ok.  Exotic to me but maybe not to you. You see this is the first time I tried pandan. I heard about it last year and have been following anyone who writes about it and reading their recipes, studying.  A food nerd, I know.  I looked high and low for the extract or powder and to no avail.  What I did find were frozen pandan leaves.  These are used for Thai pandan wrapped chicken for the most part. While I would love to try those I really just wanted to make something sweet with it.  I boiled the leaves and made pandan water.  The smell was really different.  My kids thought it was popcorn and even tortillas.  While it does kind of remind me of that- it does have its own unique and pleasing flavor.

Sticking with the Asian kind of theme I made coconut pastry cream and filled the puffs with that.It was a crowd pleaser.  I dont really think the pandan shined through as much as I would have liked.  Hopefully, I will find the pandan extract soon.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
Pate a Choux

¾ cup (175 ml.) pandan water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.
As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
Brush tops with the egg wash.
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

Coconut Pastry Cream
adapted from, The Sono Baking Company Cookbook
by John Barricelli

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean pod and seeds (pods scraped and put aside)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the remaining sugar, the remaining milk, vanilla bean pod and the salt.  Bring to a boil.
Ladle the hot mixture very slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so you don't cook the egg. Once you have mixed about two ladles full, you can pour the remaining mixture into the bowl, whisk to combine.  Pour back into sauce pan and return to the heat.  Bring to a boil, making sure the pastry filling thickens.  It may look clumpy.  If large clumps begin to form take off the heat and whisk briskly.  The mixture will smooth out.

Add the three tablespoons of butter to the pastry cream, whisking until fully incorporated.  Stir in the vanilla seeds and coconut.

Pour into a glass bowl and lay plastic wrap over top to prevent a skin from forming.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Carrot and Potato Indian Stir Fry

While this dish may seem like an ordinary wallflower of a dish, rest assured she is not.  She is full of life and packs quite a flavor punch!  I have made it three times.  No, I have not been holding out on you.  I have had a hard time getting a decent picture- either is disappears before I can photograph or it disappears before I can photograph it.  Yes- I know I said the same thing twice.  I just want to reiterate that it is that good.  

Carrot and Potato Indian Stir Fry

1 tablespoon
10 carrots
5 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
7 curry leaves (I can barely say curry leaves without swooning)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (preferably the black kind)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup milk
salt to taste

I encourage you to have everything mise en place.  This recipe moves quickly.

Chop garlic, onion (garlic and onion together), carrots.  Set aside.

In a large saute pan heat oil and add cumin and mustard seeds to the oil.  Cook until fragrant- add turmeric, saute a couple of seconds.  Add curry leaves (it will sputter so stand back).  Add onions and garlic and salt.  Cook until the onions are golden.  Add carrots and cayenne. Stir and cover, turning heat to low.  Cook for about a half of an hour.  Add garam masala and milk, mix well.  Cook for about five minutes more.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fiddleheads, Eggs and Pasta

I picked up some fiddleheads at the market last Saturday. What I really wanted to do was get some from the woods myself. Last year I didn't buy them. I refused to pay five dollars a pound for something I could forage myself. But alas I never made it to the woods in time and the moment passed me by. This year I broke down and bought some- just a half a pound so we could get a taste. People say it tastes like asparagus and it pretty much does but it tastes a little more fresh, a little more green.  We enjoyed it but I think I would find it more irresistable if I could forage it myself.

Fiddleheads, Egg and Pasta

1/2 pound fiddleheads
2 cloves garlic
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1/4 cup peccorino romano cheese
two tablespoons olive oil, some for frying and some for drizzling
pasta cooked, about two cups of cooked pasta
one egg per serving- for us that was two as this was our dinner

While boiling the pasta, saute garlic and onion in a frying pan. Add the fiddleheads when the onions become soft. Saute until tender. Ladle in a some pasta water- about 3/4 of a cup and continue to cook the fiddleheads. When they are tender, place pasta in pan and mix all together. Spoon into a serving bowl or individual bowls. In the same frying pan cook the eggs, over easy. Slide the egg onto the serving bowl. Each person can stir in their own egg. This is absolutely creamy. A little drizzle of olive oil and light sprinkling of peccorino romano.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pineapple Vinagre

There are a couple chefs that I enjoy watching whenever I get the chance.  One of them is Daisy Martinez.  Her show airs on PBS (Public Broadcasting System).  I just happen to LOVE PBS.  I also love Daisy.  I love how peppy she is.  She's cute and funny.  I always enjoy listening to her stories as she prepares amazingly delicious looking food.  I have made her recipes and they turn out great.  I absolutely love her Moros y Christianos.  Must make that soon.

One of the things I seen her do recently is make pineapple vinagre.  I had never heard of it.  After doing some research I found her recipe and really liked that one the best.

Next time you have a pineapple- don't through the skins away- make pineapple vinagre.

Pineapple Vinagre
Adapted from Daisy's recipe here. Use on bean dishes, in chilies, on fish or poultry.  It has great flavor with some definite pineapple undertones.

2 ripe pineapples
1/2 large Spanish onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon smashed fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
20 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Habanero peppers or chili pepper of your choice, stems cut off, peppers coarsely chopped (I originally started with ten but after my lips caught fire I decided to take out a few.)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or as needed

Cut sides off pineapple and place in a stock pot.  Place core in stock pot as well.  Discard the top and bottom of the pineapple.  Fill pot with enough water to cover pineapple. Heat to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

While pineapple skins are cooking prepare a quart sized jar with onions sliced, peppercorns, garlic cloves (smash them a little so they exude their loveliness), habaneros sliced, oregano, vinegar and salt.

Strain pineapple and pour into other ingredients.  Let sit in a dark spot, swirling every so often, for about three weeks.  Refrigerate after this time. If you don't feel comfortable leaving it out of the fridge go ahead and place it in the refrigerator.

Notes:  After the first couple days, flavors will begin to meld.  If you taste it right after you mix it you will be punched in the face by the habanero.  Don't get mad at that poor habanero- he's just doing what he does best.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rosa Marina Salad

Another dessert made with something processed. I know, I know, I am slippin'. Well, it's that good! If you want you can use real whipped cream instead of cool whip. It tastes like the creamiest ambrosia salad you ever had.

I have three pint jars of the maraschino cherries I canned last summer.  We don't really eat a ton of maraschino cherries so they last around here. The ones I can are about half the sweetness of the ones you find in the store.  It was perfect for this salad. I used fresh pineapple which also made the salad taste more fresh.

There are two ways to do this salad if you look at all the recipes out there.  One is with egg and one is without.  I highly recommend you make it with egg as it makes it more creamy and sets it up a little better.  Having said that, the one above is not made with egg because I completely spaced it. Still very creamy.

I think however because you know how I feel about processed food, that I will have to come up with a way to make this salad without using cool whip.  Maybe a custard base.  Or maybe real whipped cream with a little gelatin to set it up better.

If you are looking for a quick easy salad- now, Rosa Marina- she is your gal!

Rosa Marina Salad
Keep in mind that all measurements are subject to your preference.  The fruit too- as long as you have juice to thicken up for sauce- your good to go with whatever you choose.  The cherries, however, is why this salad is called Rosa. I did not add the food coloring which is pretty characteristic of this salad.

2 cups fresh pineapple or a can of pineapple, juices reserved
2 cans of mandarin oranges, juices reserved
1 pint or 1 jar of maraschino cherries, juices reserved
1/2 pound orzo (you can use ancini de pepe as well)
1- 8 ounce tub of cool whip
3 heaping tablespoon of all purpose flour
pinch of salt (completely optional)

The day before you want to use this salad, make the pasta.  Drain the liquid from the fruits (keep the fruit in the strainer).  Set aside 2 cups of juice (color it with red if you would like the classic red color of this salad).  In a sauce pan whisk together the flour with about a half of a cup of the juice.  Slowly whisk in the remainder of the juice (this will help to avoid clumps).   Heat the juice until it comes to a boil and thickens. Pour the sauce over the cooked and drained pasta. Refrigerate overnight. Leave the fruit to drain overnight as well.

The next day stir in the cool whip and the drained fruit. Done. Delicious.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pineapple and Prizes

Yup. I spaced the giveaway announcement.  You see I had it in my head that I would announce the winners today. So here I am today and after reading my post I realized I was suppose to announce the winners a couple days ago.  Without further ado, the winner is... drumroll... Dana! Dana, please contact me with your address, etc. so I can mail out your prize.

Now, about that picture above.  That is pineapple preserves.  Living in NY I would have to say that pineapples are not a local crop.  They are however a good buy at my local supermarket.  All the way from Costa Rica, these pineapples were big, sweet, juicy and cheap.  I bought several and decided to make some pineapple preserves and the rest of them we ate straight up enjoying every delicious morsel.  Thank you to the pineapple people in Costa Rica- we honor your hard work!

I used every component of that pineapple by the way- the skin and the core.  I will show you in a few days what I did with that.

Pineapple Preserves

4 pounds pineapple, skinned, cored, and chopped
6 cups sugar

Combine the sugar and pineapple in a large stock pot.  Cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens.  This will take quite some time.  See below for how to test it.  Once completed pour into sterilized jars, seal and cold pack for about fifteen minutes.

You can use canned pineapple for this recipe as well.

To test for proper gel set:

Place a dish in the freezer when you start the process.  When you feel the mixture is thick enough place about a teaspoon of the preserves on the plate and tip it.  If it runs it is not thick enough and will nto set properly.  If it gels almost instantly then it is thick enough.  

What can you do with the jar of preserves?

Make sweet and sour sauce.
Slather it on bread of course.
Use in baking recipes that call for jam.
Use it for roasting chicken.
Eat it with ham.
on an on it goes.

Update see post on 5/1/2014.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Enchilada Sauce and Red Mole

Salsa.  Here the accent?  Makes me want to dance!  That is why I love Zumba so much, but I digress. This is about food not exercise after all.

Sauce is really the thing that always takes a dish go from plain to dressed up.  A stir in for a soup, a dressing for a salad or a sauce for your enchiladas.  The complexity, the flavor, the BANG in your mouth! 

I have made mole before but it was the quick recipe.  I have wanted to make a-spend-the-day-in-the-kitchen kind of mole for a long time.  Make no mistake, it is a day in the kitchen.  In the end, you are rewarded with one of the best tasting sauces you ever had.  And you have a bucket of it to boot.  So you freeze a couple jars and wow your friends when they came over.

A couple pieces of equipment are truly necessary for making mole.  One is a splatter screen.  This will save you a whole lot of clean up.  Two, a slotted spoon that can withstand the temperature of hot grease.  Stainless steel, not plastic.  Chenois for straining, medium not fine.  Besides the other normal things like pots and bowls these will be the things that are indispensible.

I used Rick Bayless recipe for red mole as he is kind of the ambassador of Mexican cuisine (besides Diana Kennedy of course).

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

Please note that the Daring Cooks recipe was for enchilada sauce.  We were allowed to make a different sauce if we had made enchilada sauce before.  SInce I can enchilada sauce I decided to go with mole.  But I also made some green enchilada sauce which I have also never made adn wanted to do.  I love tomatillos so it was a welcome addition to my foodie repertoire.

Classic Red Mole
Mole Rojo Clasico

Makes a generous 3/4 gallon of mole

Recipe from Season 7 Mexico - One Plate at a Time

10 ounces (5 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 1/3 cup (about 6 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
1 cup rich-tasting pork lard or vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
6 ounces (about 12 medium) dried mulato chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
3 ounces (about 6 medium) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
3 ounces (about 10 medium) dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup (about 4 ounces) unskinned almonds
1 cup (about 4 ounces) raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon anise, preferably freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
2 slices firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
2 ounces (about 2/3 of a 3.3-ounce tablet) Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
3 quarts chicken broth
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar

1.   Preliminaries.  On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the tomatillos 4 inches below a very hot broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side.  Scrape into a large bowl.  In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirringly nearly constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes.  Scrape half of them in with the tomatillos.  Reserve the remainder for sprinkling on the chicken.

2.   Brown other mole ingredients.  Turn on an exhaust fan or open a kitchen door or window.  In a very large soup pot (I typically use a 12-quart stainless steel stock pot or a medium-large Mexican earthenware cazuela), heat the lard or oil over medium.  When quite hot, fry the chiles, three or four pieces at a time, flipping them nearly constantly with tongs until their interior side has changed to a lighter color, about 20 or 30 seconds total frying time.  Don’t toast them so darkly that they begin to smoke—that would make the mole bitter.  As they’re done, remove them to a large bowl, being careful to drain as much fat as possible back into the pot.  Cover the toasted chiles with hot tap water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to insure even soaking.

Remove any stray chile seeds left in the fat.  With the pot still over medium heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft), about 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot.

Add the raisins to the hot pot.  Stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they’ve puffed and browned slightly.  Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos. Set the pan aside off the heat.

To the tomatillo mixture, add the cinnamon, black pepper, anise, cloves, bread and chocolate.  Add 2 cups water and stir to combine.

3.   Blend, strain, cook.  Into a large measuring cup, tip off the chiles’ soaking liquid. Taste the liquid:  if it’s not bitter, discard all abut 6 cups of the liquid. (if you’re short, add water to make up the shortfall).  If bitter, pour it out and measure 6 cups water.  Scoop half of the chiles into a blender jar, pour in half of the soaking liquid (or water) and blend to a smooth puree.  Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl; discard the bits of skin and seeds that don’t pass through the strainer.  Repeat with the remaining chiles.

Return the soup pot or cazuela to medium heat.  When quite hot, pour in the chile puree—it should sizzle sharply and, if the pan is sufficiently hot, the mixture should never stop boiling.  Stir every couple of minutes until the chile puree has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about a half hour. (I find it useful to cover the pot with an inexpensive spatter screen to catch any spattering chile.)

In two batches, blend the tomatillo mixture as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra 1/2 cup water to keep everything moving through the blades), then strain it in to the large bowl that contained the chiles. When the chile paste has reduced, add the tomatillo mixture to the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes until considerably darker and thicker, 15 to 20 minutes. (Again, a spatter screen saves a lot of cleanup.)

4.   Simmer.  Add the broth to the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat for about 2 hours for all the flavors to come together and mellow. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water.  Taste and season with salt (usually about 4 teaspoons) and the sugar.

Lacquered Chicken
Rick Bayless

1/2 cup agave syrup (preferably organic raw) or dark corn syrup
24 portions of chicken—24 leg-and-thigh pieces, 24 bone-in chicken breast halves or a mixture of the two
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Reserved toasted sesame seeds from the Classic Red Mole recipe
Sprigs of watercress or flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small (2-quart) saucepan, mix together 1 cup of the mole with the agave nectar or corn syrup.  Simmer over medium heat until glossy and reduced to 1 cup, about a half hour.  On rimmed baking sheets, lay out the chicken in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 45 minutes (the chicken should be tender to the bone at this point—leg-and-thigh portions should register 165 degrees at the thickest part on an instant-read thermometer).

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Tip off the juices that have collected around the chicken, then brush the pieces liberally with the glossy mole mixture.  Sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds.  Bake for 10 minutes to set the glaze.

Remove from the oven, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, then slide into a very low oven to keep warm until serving time—preferably no longer than 30 minutes.

Serve each portion of chicken with about 1/2 cup of warm mole, decorated with watercress or flat-leaf parsley.

Green Enchilada Sauce

1 pound tomatillos (roasted)
2 medium white onions coarsely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 large roasted Anaheim chili, skin peeled as much as possible
3 cups chicken broth

Saute onions in oil and cook until soft. Add the garlic and the roasted tomatillos, pepper, chili powder, cumin and broth.  Cook until everything is tender. Cool a little and place in blender or processor to desired consistency.  You can freeze it at this point.  The flavor of the sauce will be much better the next day so if possible make this a day in advance.
I almost forgot to post this tortilla stack as that was a part of the challenge as well.  It really is a nice way of doing the tortillas.  I toasted my tortillas first before doing my stack.  I think the toasting helped bring out their "corny" flavor. This particular stack was made with my homemade, canned enchilada sauce.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Light Frittata and Love

When I was going to school for social work, I have to say I drove home from classes quite often, crying.  I am a bit of a soft heart and things really bother me.  That is one of the reasons why I think I am a pretty good counselor.  I am able to tune in and focus on what the person is feeling. In other words I internalize their feelings.  At the same time it also makes me a counselor who burns out fairly easily.

I do this with the world at large too.  Anything going on in the world deeply upsets me.  I have great compassion for people.  Because of this I rarely watch the news, preferring to read headlines so I can pick and choose what I care to read.  Sometimes I really don't like this about myself.  I try to make my skin thicker by watching but most times the strategy backfires.  Really, it is best when "I know thyself" and act accordingly. 

As you get older, at least in my case, you become disillusioned with the world.  In some cases this happens at an early age and sometimes later in life.  For me it has been a process of eye opening over the years.  Seeing all the greed.  Seeing all the people who long for power and abuse that power.  Seeing how people who are in positions where they should be trusted and fail to act trustworthy.  All these things bring me to my disillusionment.  But that is not what I want to share here.

What I want to tell you about is how one day I realized that, for me at least, it all doesn't matter.  In the end all that matters is me (you), my relationship to my higher power/ spirituality (your spirituality), my family and friends and the love I feel for them and from them.  That certainly doesn't mean that I have a selfish attitude. All along the way it does matter what I do.  How I act, whether I am kind or not, whether I am honest or not, all those things directly affect all of those things.  The more virtuous I can act the better the quality of those relationships are with myself, my God, and others.

What does this have to do with a light frittata? Absolutely nothing! That is the beauty of having my own blog.

Here is a light meal that whips up in no time and has incredible flavor.  You will hardly miss the yolks. If you want - add the yolks. 

Asparagus and Smoked Gouda Frittata

3 ounces smoked gouda, grated
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus
1/2 cup chopped onion
8 egg whites
1/3 cup milk

In a bowl whisk egg whites and milk together.  In a frying pan (preferably non stick) saute onion in oil until softened.  Add asparagus, cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender.  Add tomatoes and cook for about five minutes more.  Pour egg white mixture over top and let it heat over fire until it is pulling away from the sides.  Sprinkle gouda over top and place in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Celebration Cake and a Giveaway

Happy Mother's Day!

My Wilton course 3 is over. Although I am pretty excited that I do not have to make anymore vegetable shortening type buttercream, I am pretty sad it is over. I met some wonderful people in my class.

Course 3 is all about fondant. Fondant may taste pretty bad but it sure looks pretty on a cake. Its so smooth and so versatile. There are so many things you can do with fondant. I am so excited to make cakes for my kids but that is some time away.

Since our final cake was about fondant I decided to make some real buttercream with real butter. I wanted to make a lot to ensure I had enough to cover the two layers. I made a vanilla and Frangelico buttercream that was pretty tastey. But really how can you go wrong with a little sugar, egg whites and a ton of butter. Wrong maybe in the health department but oh so right in the taste department.

I made the buttermilk cake that I had previously posted. It really is a wonderful, sturdy, great tasting cake. Since I have used it twice now I guess I must like it. I put Nutella between the layers and frosted with the buttercream. Then of course the fondant. Topped with some flowers I made in class, along with one or two that my instructor shared with me and some quick buttercream (the vegetabe shortening one) that I made in class. I still have to practice my roses but I am getting a little better. (A little).

Frangelico and Vanilla Bean Buttercream
You can halve this recipe. I wanted a lot of buttercream to make sure I had enough to cover my two cakes.

8 ounces of egg whites (about 7 extra large eggs)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 pound butter
2 tablespoons Frangelico
1 vanilla beans worth of seeds scraped

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Continue whisking while the mixture heats up to about 140 degrees F. If you don't have a thermometer, the mixture should feel warm to the touch. Remove from heat and place bowl back in stand mixer. Let the whisk beaters run until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Begin to add the butter in pieces. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temp. Once the butter has been added and fully incorporated add in the vanilla seeds. Finally the Frangelico. Don't worry if the mixture curdles. Keep beating it will come together.

Without further ado...

After 500 posts I think it is time for a celebration.  My blog turned two back in early February but I thought I would wait until my 500th post to celebrate.  So here I am cake in hand, want a piece?  Oh, that's right this is the internet- we can't do that.  No matter, I will put the cake aside and send you a little gift instead.  Here it is:

Here is what you have to do to enter:

1. Enter your name one time only.  Duplicate entries will be deleted.
2. Tell me what are the three vegetables or fruits that you most look forward to in the Spring and Summer?
3. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.  

4. The deadline for entries is Wednesday May 12th at midnight.

Full Disclosure:  Everything I am giving away has been bought by me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cake Lollies

What do you do with a dry cake? (The above cake is the red velvet one before the transformation). I now know precisely what to do with a dry cake.  Mash it into little bits and mix it with some frosting.  Roll it into balls and then dip them into white chocolate.  Decorate too of course.  Voila.  Cake on a stick.  Sure to make even the big kid in you smile.

Of course you probably already know about Bakerella.  But if you don't run, don't walk to her site.  I mean click now and go check out her site.  She makes the best cake lollies!

Now, about that cake.  Yes, it was dry but was I to blame.  I am not sure.  You see I omitted the salt in the cake by accident.  I don't think that would make the cake dry.  If someone out there has some technological reason why omitting the salt would make the cake dry, I would seriously like to know.  Who knows maybe I omitted something else.  After making a pretty good recipe for red velvet previously I don't think I would make this recipe again.  So if you do try this one and it comes out perfect- let me know.  And if you make it and it comes out dry you certainly know what to do with it, eh?

Red Velvet Cake
Click here for the recipe.

Butter for greasing pans
2 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting pans
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces red food coloring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Combine flour, cocoa and salt thoroughly. Beat the sugar with the shortening with an electric mixer until blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat another minute at medium speed. Beat a quarter of the flour mixture and then a third of the buttermilk into the sugar mixture. Add in alternately, ending with the flour.  Do not overbeat. Add the vanilla and food coloring and mix well to color evenly. Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and quickly fold it in. Pour half the batter into each prepared cake pan and bake until the cake top springs back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn out layers onto wire racks and let cool.

Cake Lolly Assembly

Step One: Thoroughly combine cake with frosting in a large bowl.  Don't be afraid to get your hands in there, it will work much better.

Step Two: Roll mixture into balls.  If it wont for balls well then add more frosting.

Step Three:  Place balls on cookie tray and place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Step Four:  Melt a small amount of white chocolate in the microwave. Dip the tip of the lolly pop stick into the chocolate and stick into the ball.  Return to freezer once all cake lollies have been formed.

Step Five:  Melt a large amount of white chocolate in adouble boiler or bain marie.  If you dont have one simply use a metal or pyrex bowl over a saucepan half full with water.

Step Six:  Take cake lollies out of freezer in small batches and dip into chocolate, making sure you coat the whole ball.  Gently swing the cake lolly in the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Decorate immediately before chocolate sets. Place in a styrofoam square to set.  Once set return to freezer.  This will make wrapping them easier. 

If you want to see more information about the specific how to's visit Bakerella.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Welcome Spring

I just had to share a little spring time beauty in Rochester.  We had a wonderful, fragrant walk in the park last Friday at Highland Park.  The lilac festival is the largest festival of its kind in North America and draws spectators from all over the globe.  The park is brimming with people who have been cooped up for the winter just dying to get out and enjoy some fresh air and take in the beauty of Spring.  It doesn't even matter that most of the time you are freezing because the weather is not exactly balmy yet.  This year, however, has been one of the most loveliest Springs I can remember.

Come on now, walk with me a little.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Quest for Nutri Grain Perfecto

I love Nutri Grain bars.  Nutri Grain Bars are a tender, flaky crust type pastry with a fruit filling in the center. (Shhhh, I just want to tell you a secret, there is not that much filling in them as the package would have you believe).

I know that if you read my blog you will know that I try not to use many processed or pre packaged things.  I avoid it whenever I can for a multitude of reasons.  But there are a few things that I will go back to and buy on occasion and I have to say that these are one of the things that beckon me.  As you might guess I decided I needed to come up with a version of my own.  After doing a pretty thorough search, the following is the only recipe that I can find.  It's not a bad one - it is very delicious and quite easy but it uses a box of cake mix.  Again, a prepackaged thing.  I do buy these occasionally too.  This is the recipe that keeps coming up after many searches.  I did tweak it a bit to suit my taste.

This is not the last time you will see Nutri Grain Bars on my site.  I am going to try and develop a recipe that is more spot on. (These were just a bit too sweet for me, of course that didn't stop me from eating them.  Really the kids loved them and they of course did a disappearing act).

Crumb Bars
They really taste like Nutri Grain bars but I have to say they are a bit better than Nutri Grain bars.

1 (18.25 ounce) box butter flavor yellow cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 cups quick oats
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
12 ounces preserves or jam, I used raspberry
1 tablespoon water

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt butter. Combine cake mix and oats in a large bowl; stir in the melted butter until the mixture is crumbly. Measure half of this mixture into a greased 13 x 9-inch pan. Try to save as much as you can for the top as you want to cover the top as completely as possible. Press firmly into pan to cover the bottom.

Combine preserves and water; spoon over crumb mixture in pan, and spread evenly. Cover with remaining crumb mixture. Pat firmly to make top even. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The top should be very light brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars.