Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Who bakes their own birthday cake? Well, I do. And deciding on a cake was no easy task. I used to be a Devils Food Cake and Vanilla Frosting kind of gal but that's changed as I've gotten old*er. Should it be German Chocolate? Coconut Cream Cheese? Banana? Raspberry Filled? Ahh, the choices were too much.

So what do you choose when you can't decide? Chocolate, of course. I finally went with a recipe for a Double Chocolate Layer Cake because Orangette has never let me down. But I'm still curious about these recipes for Devil's Food Cake and Beatty's Chocolate Cake. I'd better hurry up before Thanksgiving rolls around.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

After coming back from a week-long vacation and two weddings in a row, I've finally gotten back into my old routine of cooking and baking. The first recipe has been in my "to try" file for a couple months now after seeing it in Real Simple magazine. I've been doing a lot of cooking with sweet Italian sausage, which might explain why I was underwhelmed with this recipe. It turned out oily and the spinach cooked down to nothing even though I used more than the recommended 5 ounces. I give it 1.5 colanders.

Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach

I don't know much about Swedish cuisine, save for meatballs and the occassional PBS cooking show, so I can't guarantee the authenticity of this next recipe. I had been searching for a butter cake recipe and also wanted to try something from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my home to yours, so when I found this recipe it seemed like the perfect match. Like Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake, this uses a technique I wasn't very familiar with - mixing in a fat, in this case melted butter, last. From these two experiences I've learned that it requires a lot of arm power and produces a surprisingly moist crumb. I didn't have a cast iron skillet so I made do with a pie pan. After 30 minutes the cake had a nice golden and crisp exterior, although the very center was not as browned. The recipe said the cake would still be moist, which I verified with a toothpick inserted into the middle, but just to be safe I left it in the turned-off oven for 5-10 more minutes. Somehow that didn't help because when I finally cut into the cake the center was not completely cooked...but I ate it all anyways. It gets 3 garlic presses, maybe more if it had baked completely and I had used an almond extract from this decade.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Finally, with this last recipe I wanted something seemingly healthful and different. I haven't tried too many Rachel Ray recipes that I can remember, except for Marshmallow Frosting for S'mores cupcakes, so I went into it with an open mind. Some modifications: no bacon, less cilantro leaves (fresh from the garden!), half a jalepeno, less grill seasoning, colby instead of pepper jack cheese, and no strange pepper jelly. I added a side of Martha's Chili-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges, because you can't have a burger without fries. All in all, it was a tasty and different take on a turkey burger. If I were to make it again I would take out the cilantro, add the rest of the jalapeno, and use the entire amount of grill seasoning. As for the fries, I really liked how the sugar brought out the sweetness and added some crunch. Usually I just use a combination of cumin, chili pepper, and bread crumbs on my sweet potato fries.

Southwest Turkey Burgers

Sunday, May 20, 2007

One of the reasons I like recipe websites like All Recipes, Epicurious, and Food Network so much is because of the reviews. When other people describe their experience making a recipe, be it a success or a disaster, informs my decision whether or not I will prepare a dish. But for some reason I’ve never posted my opinion on one of their boards.

Now that has changed. Starting today, I am a bona fide recipe reviewer for Leite’s Culinaria. It is a great-looking site featuring recipes from popular and critically acclaimed cookbooks and much more. My assignment is to make at least 1 recipe each month from a select list before they are featured on the site. Unfortunately, as part of this secret society I can’t post the recipes or pictures here. Oh, and there’s no moolah involved. But if I stick with it for a year I can add it to my resume!

Friday, May 18, 2007

(top to bottom: Basil, Thyme, Oregano) This spring I decided to try my black thumb at gardening, starting with a no-fail plan: herbs. After 2 weeks of sowing the seeds, gently misting them with water, and placing them under an a snake light (periodically!) nothing was happening. About to give up, I decided to put them outside and let nature do the work. Sure, if it didn't rain I watered them but other than that left them on the deck. And it worked! Less than a week later green buds were peeking out. What you see above was probably taken after being outside for 2-3 weeks (May 11).

Below is what they looked like this morning, a week later.

The basil and thyme are actually growing while the oregano has been struggling to keep up before finally giving up. I'll either plant more oregano seeds and try again or find another herb this weekend.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

When I was at the store and flipping through Cook’s Illustrated I almost bought the magazine for this dish: Indian-Style Curry with Potatoes, Cauliflower, Peas, and Chickpeas. I’ve never cooked Indian food before and figured this would be a good starting point. The dish took less than an hour to make, including prep, which is good for me. It’s probably because I used the food processor to chop the onions. Unfortunately, this recipe was missing something. I give it 2.5 out of 5 stock pots.

Now, what to do with a whole jar of garam masala?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Almond Fruit Bars

This recipe reminds me of the Betty Crocker Raspberry Bar Mix I used to make pretty frequently before it was discontinued. It's just as easy as preparing it from the mix but I get the satisfaction of baking it from scratch. I give it 4.5 out of 5 mixing spoons.