Saturday, June 7, 2014

Strawberry Cake

A pretty in pink cake.  Frosting job isn't my best but this was a flavor test :) 

Unlike something like lemon, strawberry isn't a very strong flavor so I had to noodle on how best to get a strong strawberry flavor into the cake without it being artificial.  I started researching around and found a lot of recipes for box cake mix and strawberry jello....I will try the jello route because I love jello...but I need another option :)

I bought fresh, frozen and freeze dried strawberries for this test run.  I figured a mix of the freeze dried and fresh/frozen purée would provide the most concentrated flavor per volume.  Just fresh berries would add to much liquid...

Never got around to using the fresh berries.  The frozen were easier to purée with a hand blender.  Below is what it looks like if you powder freeze dried strawberries in your food processor....I call this "strawberry powder"

Resulting in light pink cake batter that basically doesn't hold it's color once cooked.  It pretty much just looked like a vanilla cake...a creamy yellow color with some red specks.  It smelled nice but for me the taste wasn't berry enough.  The frosting held up well....but I need to try some different combos for the cake part.

3 cups flour (I used half all purpose and half cake flour)
1/4 strawberry powder 
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup strawberry purée (includes juice of one lemon about 1/8 cup)
4 eggs
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8" baking pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Mix together flours, baking powder, salt and strawberry powder in a bowl and set aside.  Combine milk and purée in a bowl and set aside

Cream together sugar and butter in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions.  Scape down sides of the bowl and mix again.

Add flour and liquid mixtures in halves, alternating the components and mixing slowly until incorporated.  Beat on medium high and count to ten.  scrape down sides with a spatula and make sure things are incorporated.

Pour into baking pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

1 package cream cheese softened
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter 
1/4 cup strawberry powder
1/4 cup strawberry purée
4-6 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Beat on medium high for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Frost in between layers, on top and sides of cake.

Steak Diane

I had this meal over the weekend at my friend's house and loved it so much I made it for the fam on Tuesday night. The kids were literally drinking the sauce, but can you blame them when it's mushrooms and cream? ...see pic below for the proof 

I made some substitutions as I didn't have brandy and not enough cream... So  bourbon and whole milk were sufficient.  Wikipedia says the pan sauce contents can vary greatly...

Steaks salted and peppered 
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 small shallot diced
1 shot cognac, brandy or bourbon 
2 cups cream
1 Tablespoon each butter and olive oil

In a pan sautéed the shallot in oil and butter.  Add mushrooms, stir and let cook for a minut or two.  Pour in alcohol and using a long handled lighter, light the pan to flambé the contents.  Once alcohol burns off, add cream.  Reduce heat to simmer and let cream cook down, stirring occasionally.  

Meanwhile in a separate pan, cool the steaks about 5 minutes per side.  Set aside for the meat to rest a few minutes.  Slice and serve with mushroom sauce.

Serve greens with a vinaigrette on the side to help cut the richness of the meat and sauce.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adventures in Indian food continues!  Although I'm not sure tikka masala really qualifies Indian food...probably more like British interpretation of Indian food.  Creamy tomato sauce it is!  And minus the spice, it was super delicious.  The curry preparation lends itself well to crock pot cooking too.

2 pounds chicken thighs cut into 2 inch pieces
1 can / tetra pack crushed tomatos
1 onion chopped
2 inch piece of ginger diced
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin 
1 teaspoon paprika 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cream

Put all ingredients except the cream into a crock pot and stir well.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.  Stir in cream 30 minutes before serving 


It's upside down but what the hey.  Recently we got some beef from a friend who orders direct from a farmer.  So with 30 pounds of Open Space Meats beef in our freezer, I have been trying different ways to use the grohnd beef.  I know burgers aren't really novel but we don't normally make them at home.  The beef is sooo tasty, so full of flavor = yum.  To make these sliders all I did was add some worstechire sauce, salt and pepper.  Serve with grilled onions and mushrooms on a Kings Hawaiian roll.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pistachio Cake

For book club we read Sandcastle Girls which was a historical novel about a woman who discovers her family's role in the Armenian was so moving and well written that you felt what the narrator felt at the various discoveries made about her family's history.  To keep in theme with the book and also highlight armenian cuisine, I tried to replicate baklava without actually making baklava because who actually has time to work with phyllo.  The baklava flavors were converted into a  pistachio cake.  The Armenian version of baklava is the addition of clove and cinnamon.  I had grand plans to make a cinnamon and clove cream or glaze with honey but I got tired and stopped while I was powdered sugar topping it is!

Sliced real life it actually looked a little green from the pistachios.  The aroma was sooo good from the nuts, cardamom and orange....mmmm and the  texture is fantastic

3/4 cup unsalted green pistachios 
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9" pan then line bottom with waxed paper. 

Pulse pistachios in a food processor until finely ground, about 40 seconds. (Do not overprocess, or mixture will become paste.) Add flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine milk and vanilla.

In large bowl using electric mixer at moderate speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add pistachio and milk mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with pistachio mixture and beating after each addition just until combined. Add orange zest and beat just until combined.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then run knife around cake to loosen and invert onto rack. Remove paper and place right side up on a plate.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Butter Chicken

I made more Indian's all starting to grow on me.  I am also in love with my slow cooker.  Having gone back to work after a three month maternity leave, I need ways to get dinner ready quickly as three little kids are probably melting down after long days.  

I totally forgot to stir in the yogurt at the end so it was missing that last bit of creaminess but overall flavor was pretty good.  I also added some garbonzo beans to this recipe so it's not super authentic but the beans add a little extra to keep you nice and full.  I used one pound of chicken thighs but found it to be not enough protein...the liquids could definitely handle more meat.  

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups cooked garbonzo beans
1 can coconut milk
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 yellow onion chopped 
3 cloves garlic chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons each garam masala and curry powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger and cayenne pepper 
1 cup plain yogurt 

Dump all ingredients minus the yogurt into a crock pot and stir to combine.  Cook on low for about 6 hours. Stir in yogurt about 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Chocolate Breakfast Rolls

I had an idea months ago...and finally got around to trying it.  We are fans of the crescent roll dough and make them for lunch or dinner and sometimes with a hot dog inside for "pigs in a blanket."  But recently I thought "why not sweet?"  So here is the lovely joining of Nutella and crescent roll dough....

These little nuggets were delicious!  And the kids were stoked to get a sweet surprise for breakfast.

Don't completely separate all the pieces. Spread Nutella on the rectangles then separate and roll.  Bake as instructed on package.