Monday, April 23, 2007

White cupcakes with choc. ganache.....

I whipped these cupcakes up for a friends birthday dinner last week. I saw them on Jen's blog and knew right away I wanted to make them. I frosted them with some ganache that I made at the Zingerman's chocolate class I took 2 weeks ago. The ganache was thin( it was meant for a truffles), but still tasty. I really enjoyed the fluffy white cake. Robin thought the almond flavor was a tad too pronounced so next time I'll cut back a bit.


3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter and flour the walls of two 9-inch round cake pans and then line each pan with a circle of parchment paper.

To make the cake, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together 3 times into a bowl or onto a piece of parchment and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until its light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and whip until it's blended. One at a time, add the eggs, mixing after each addition until well combined. Whip in the vanilla and almond extracts. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until the cakes are golden and firm to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans.

Source: Chocolate & Vanilla by Gale Gand, 2006


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

5 Grain Rolled Cereal Daybreak Cookies.....

I had some cranberry pistachio white chocolate bark burning a hole in my baking stash. I jotted an email off to Anna asking her what kind of cookies I could make with it. She sent along this recipe that she made recently. I had to sub some mueseli for the 5 grain cereal because I didnt have enough. Nevertheless, I think they turned out well. They took literally 5 minutes to whip up. I didnt even need to pull out the Kitchen Aid. I packed some up in these cute cello bags I got at the dollar store. I'm going to donate them for the door prize at the next Senior Dining meal. I popped them in the freezer until then.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Cream Cheese Pound Cake( Bon Appetite)

Robin and I went to Port Huron, MI on Saturday. In March, Robin finally got her Nexxus card so now she can join me in the Nexxus lane. This means we don't have to wait in a long line or even speak to a Customs agent. This makes for an easy and stress-free border crossing. We're only 62 miles from the border so it takes about an hour to get there. We ate at Ruby Tuesday's( no pictures). I never thought there would be a day I'd get excited about eating at a chain restaurant. Port Huron is the land of chains. Our choices are Chili's, Red Lobster, Applebees, Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday. There is also a Denny's, Bob's Big Boy and a few other diner type places. Lastly, there is the "authentic" Mexican place and some chinese mom and pop places. I wanted a turkey burger though, so Ruby Tuesday it was. I was telling Robin how when I was in High School in Florida, my friends and I would go to Ruby Tuesday( it was at the Mall) for salad bar. It cost 2.99 for our lunch and we thought it was such a great deal. Anyway, I graduated almost 23yrs ago and now the salad bar is 8.99 alone or 2.89 with a meal.

I digressed, so back to Pound Cake. We went to TJ Maxx and I found this Bavarian Bundt pan on clearance for 12.99. I thought a pound cake would be good for this pan and I was right. I was afraid it would stick, but I sprayed it really well with a baking spray that contained flour. I found this recipe on It got good reviews so I went with it. Its really a very tasty pound cake, totally melt in your mouth. I reduced the quantity of vanilla and added 1tsp of pure almond extract.

The cake is put into a cold oven and then baked slowly at gradually increasing temperatures.

serving size

Makes 1 large cake.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sifted all purpose flour preparation
Butter and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Using electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and salt; beat 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour at low speed until batter is smooth (do not overbeat). Transfer batter to pan.
Place pan in cold oven. Set temperature at 200°F; bake 20 minutes. Increase temperature to 250°F; bake 20 minutes. Increase to 275°F; bake 10 minutes. Increase to 300°F; bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour longer. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap; store at room temperature.)

Bon Appétit, December 2003

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Red chili chicken enchiladas( Cook's Illustrated).....

I was actually quite excited today. I didnt have to work and I could actually cook for myself and Robin. I also got a great surprise this morning. Robin actually made me breakfast. I forgot to take a picture of it though. She made me a toasted Western which is essentially an egg sandwich. I requested green onion in mine on lightly toasted bread. I also didnt want to see any brown on the egg. Let's just say two out of three aint bad!! Seriously though, it was a good breakfast and I was almost giddy that she made it. It's the little things people!!

Since I had nothing else to do today but cook, I made these enchilada's. Like all Cook's Illustrated recipes, it takes time. A simple enchilada sauce is made with plain tomatoe sauce and spices. Cook's uses chicken thigh, I used breast with no ill effects. I also made homeade black beans and spanish rice. I used brown rice for the extra health benefit( and because I was out of white and didnt want to go to the store).

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
10 enchiladas, serving 4 or 5

If you prefer, Monterey Jack can be used instead of cheddar, or, for a mellower flavor and creamier texture, try substituting an equal amount of farmers' cheese.

Sauce and Filling

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
1 medium onion ,chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 can (4 ounces) pickled jalapeños , drained and chopped (about 1/4 cup)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , grated (2 cups)

Tortillas and Toppings

10 corn tortillas (six-inch)
Vegetable cooking spray
3 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 avocado , diced medium
5 leaves romaine lettuce washed, dried, and shredded
2 limes , quartered

See Illustrations Below: Assembling Enchilidas

1. FOR THE SAUCE AND FILLING: Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until coated with spices, about 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and 1/4 cup water; stir to separate chicken pieces. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and flavors have melded, about 8 minutes. Pour mixture through medium-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on chicken and onions to extract as much sauce as possible; set sauce aside. Transfer chicken mixture to large plate; freeze for 10 minutes to cool, then combine with cilantro, jalapenos, and cheese in medium bowl and set aside.
2. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees.
3. TO ASSEMBLE: Follow illustrations below to heat tortillas and fill, roll, and sauce enchiladas. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake enchiladas on lower-middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately, passing sour cream, avocado, lettuce, and lime wedges separately.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Odds and Ends....

I tell you, cooking for others really puts a cramp in my home cooking. I've barely cooked at home all week. On Wednesday, my boss and I left at 9am for Ann Arbor. We took a chocolate class at Zingermans at 7pm. We drove directly to The Common Grill in Chelsea, MI for lunch. After lunch, I stopped at the grocery store in town and bought some Boar's Head turkey and cheese. I'm so fond of Boar's Head products. I wish they were sold in Canada. We also went to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I bought my very first piece of All Clad. The 1qrt saucepan was on clearance for 9.99 and I had a 20% off coupon. Its a small pan, but 8 bucks is a great price.

My boss bought a new electric juicer for work. We went to Willams Sonoma where all I bought was a jar of Dulce De Leche. My boss bought an All-Clad fondue pot( also for work). We had dinner at Zingerman's, took our class and then shopped downstairs. I bought 2 loaves of bread( a wheat farmhouse and a sourdough).

Robin came home for lunch today and I made us panini's on my boss's Cuisinart Griddler( I borrowed it). I now want one of those!!!

Yesterday, I cooked for the Seniors. I think this was my most popular meal. No cooking tomorrow, we're going to Port Huron, MI for dinner.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

An Untraditional Easter Dinner......

I knew that I would be in no shape to cook today. I worked Thurs-Saturday preparing for a wedding. Yesterday was the actual wedding and I'm always exhausted when I get home. Standing on my feet and serving chicken cordon bleu with a choice of mushroom sauce or chipotle cream sauce ( and asking each person what they want and then explaining over and over what chipotle is) wears me out, not to mention the loading and unloading at the actual wedding site. Anyway, I cooked a bunch of things last Wednesday in preparation for today.

I did throw this foccacia dough together yesterday morning. This is the best damn foccacia I've ever made. The recipe comes from August 2004 of Fine Cooking and its Peter Reinhart's recipe( Bread Bakers Apprentice). It's a very wet dough that spends the night in the fridge for a long slow rise. The next day, you dump it on a parchment lined pan, dimple it and add more olive oil. Then it rises again for a few hours until its ready for the oven. It was so flavorful from the long overnight rise. My MIL couldnt stop eating it.

Back to Wednesday, I made 2 lasagnas. My MIL stays away from marinara sauce, so I made her a smaller lasagna with bechemal. I used the bechemal sauce from the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated. For Robin and I, I made a big batch of homeade marinara using San Marzano tomatoes that Robins friend brought us back from an Italian market in Windsor, ON. I used some bechemal on the bottom as well. Both lasagnas are spinach and mushroom.

I also made some hot fudge sauce . I loved this hot fudge, it will be my go to recipe from now on. I had bought some Hershey's single origin choc. bars that were reduced and they were perfect for this recipe. I threw together and ice cream pie using a ready made keebler crust and bryers light heath bar ice cream.

I also made a blueberry/raspberry pie for my MIL. I used the pillsbury crust and I swear I'll never do that again. I HATE the smell of them. They stink while they are baking( I know its the lard in the crust). Next time, I'll stick to the pate brise recipe that I normally use.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tres Leches cake.....

Do you ever read a recipe on a foodblog and then get the urge to make that recipe immediately? That is how I felt yesterday when I read Anna's blog about Tres Leches Cake. I've had Tres Leches cake one time before in California, but I really don't remember it that well. Robin needed a dessert to bring to a friends tonight so I whipped this up yesterday. Anna cut down the recipe by 1/3 so it fit perfectly in a square pan. I used a disposable pan so Robin could just take it and forget about it. The actual cake part has no added fat which I found strange. It came out really nice though. You then pour over a mixture of evap. milk, sweetened condensed milk, regular milk and sour cream( I guess that is really 4 milks). Anyway, it needs an overnight sit in the fridge. Tres Leches is traditionally topped with either whipped cream or meringue. I sent along a can of reddi-whip and some dulce de leche. I stole a piece before Robin left. I cut up some strawberries to go with it because I sent the dulce with Robin.

Robin's friends just called to tell me how great the cake was. So, thanks Anna!!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Southwestern Layered salad( Southern Living).....

Here is another recipe we tested on Saturday. This recipe comes from a Southern Living cookbook. I really enjoyed this salad, it was very fresh tasting and easy to put together. I liked it so much that I made it again last night. I prepped each component and kept it seperate so I could whip up a single serving of salad at the spur of a moment. I feel the dressing for this salad is what makes it special. Its not your typical creamy dressing that you'd normally find on this type of salad. The dressing consists of some pickled jalapenos, white wine vinegar, Olive oil and cilantro. Everthing gets pureed in the blender. Its very zippy from the higher proportion of vinegar to oil.

The first layer is just straight iceberg lettuce. I normally avoid iceberg, but it really works in this salad. The next layer is a mixture of black beans and red onion. The beans marinate for a couple hours in some vinegar and oil, then the red onion is added. The next layer is corn( frozen is fine) and green pepper. Then tomatoes( I skipped those for my home version). Then shredded jack. I used a sharp white cheddar at home. The final layer is diced avocado and cooked bacon. At work, we left the bacon on the side because a few of the tasters are vegetarian. I didnt make the bacon at home. I also added some crushed tortilla chips for crunch. When making the large bowl, the instructions have you save a few tbls of each layer to add to the top. I suppose this is to show everyone what is in the salad.

I searched and searched online for the recipe, but I couldnt find it. I just kinda winged it when I made it at home. If you want the recipe, I can borrow the cookbook from my boss, just let me know.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Lemon Cake Tasting......

We had a tasting at work on Saturday. My boss wants to revise her catering menu and she chose numerous items for us to test. On Friday, I made 3 lemon cakes and a tiramasu. I've made the tiramasu before( Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa). I won't really talk about that other to say its very easy to make and its not too sweet. Everyone loved it. Anyway, back to the lemon cakes. The first cake you see above is Fine Cooking's Triple Lemon Layer Cake. First, you make a lemon curd. I was in a rush getting out the door on Friday and I forgot the 3 magazines I needed for the recipes( My boss gave them to me to take home and review the recipes). Anyway, I thought " I'll just find it online". Well, it wasn't listed on Fine Cooking's website so I googled it and found it on Chowhound. I proceeded with the recipe, but the next day, I saw that the lemon curd recipe I used, was not the same as the one called for in the recipe. No matter though, the curd was really good and the author of the post on chowhound said it won Egullet's lemon curd tasting.

The curd is made in an unconventional method. First, you cream the butter and sugar together, then add eggs and lemon juice and cook over a double boiler. Lastly, you add the zest. This method is supposed to eliminate the need for straining out the eggs.

The cake is made by processing the zest with sugar and then creaming that with butter. From there its a straightforward recipe with cake flour, alternating with milk, etc. The frosting is a basic butter cream. Butter, confectioners sugar, lemon juice and zest. When I was assembling this cake, I chose a too small pedestal so I had trouble frosting it. I enjoyed this cake, it was very lemony. Everyone really liked it as well.

This cake was not my favorite. It was good, but nothing to write home about. However, it did have its fans. This cake came from an older issue of Gourmet. and you can find it online. The recipe starts with a lemon curd that is NOT cooked in a double boiler. It came together fast and honestly, I couldn't tell the difference between the this one and the Fine Cooking curd. The frosting is the curd lightened with whipped cream. I felt the cake was a tad dry and flavorless but other people liked it. I decorated it with some butterflies I picked up at the dollar store. Everyone kept referring to this cake as the butterfly cake.

This last cake was my favorite. I realized after this tasting that I'm not that big a fan of lemon curd. I like it, but its not something I'd make for myself. This cake is called citrus poppy seed cake. As is typical of Martha Stewart, this cake has 3/4lb of butter AND 7 eggs. The cake also has lemon, orange and lime zest. The frosting between the layers is silky cream cheese frosting( butter, cream cheese and confectioners sugar). The topping is a lemon glaze.( lemon juice and confec. sugar) You then sprinkle more poppy seeds on top. One of my boss's guests thought this was dry, but really it hadn't come up to room temp yet so it was hard to distinguish the flavor.

My mother in law and niece came over for lunch yesterday and they tried the cakes and loved this one too. After making 3 cakes in one day, I can see why people spend 20-30 bucks for a crappy cake at a bakery. If you're not a baker per say, its a lot of work. I do cook and bake and it was still a lot of work for me, I was exhausted when I got home at 5:30pm.

Last but not least, here is a picture of the tiramasu.

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