Happy Easter!

March 27, 2016

imageEaster for me is a time for Bunnies, Chicks, Eggs, Easter Baskets and of course Egg Decorating…  However you choose to spend the day, I hope you and your loved ones are together, sharing food, prayer, or your Easter Baskets.  I chose to spend the morning peeping some eggs and this year I thought why not try the natural approach to coloring.  I decided to try  coffee, turmeric, chili powder, and spinach (because I really wanted green).

The  colors  are subtle, some more successful than others, and some didn’t really work at all.  The big surprise  is that I like the coffee the best!  Turmeric worked well too, but  chili powder and spinach were a bust… so I broke out the food coloring.  I was carful to not over dye the eggs, because I wanted a soft natural palette this year.   I’m not sure  where this technique of wrapping the egg with mesh or a piece of nylon stocking came from (or I’d give credit) but I think it’s a great way to add visual interest, while keeping it natural.  imageimageimageimageHere are the results.  I’m pleased with how they turned out, there were one or two I’m not showing you but for the most part the method is easy, and produces good results.      I love the flower , I used hellebore because it’s really the only thing blooming in my yard right now.  I foraged some bamboo leaves, some evergreens and a small fernlike plant that I’m pretty sure is a weed… but a pretty leaved weed.  Hey, on March 26th in the garden you can afford to be too picky.  Note: choose soft non-woody plant materials and avoid thin spindly plants, they don’t work well.    I added vinegar to both the traditional dyes and my “spice dyes” , i have to be honest I don’t really know what is does, but we did it when I was a kid, and you add it to PAAS so I added it.  Good luck if you’re dying eggs today.image

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DUMP-IT CHOCOLATE CAKE

January 25, 2015

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I follow FOOD52 on instagram and they recently posted this dreamy looking cake shared by Amanda Hesser.  Her note about this cake read: “My mother has many specialties, but her Chocolate Dump-It Cake is most beloved in my family. She kept this cake in the fridge, and it is sublime even when cold. I wrote about this cake in my second book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, but wanted to celebrate it here on food52”.  Well that was enough for me to try it for a family dinner party – My Father-in -law Loves chocolate cake so it’s apropos.  These images are all mine, I have to say it was pretty easy to make but I’m a tad disappointed that the melted chocolate froze up a bit when I added the sour cream for the frosting.  So be warned, make sure your sour cream is room temp and your chocolate isn’t too cool when you add the melted semi-sweet chips.  Also, the dinner party is in a few hours from now so i can’t tell you how sublime this cake is… just yet.  : )  Serves 10. And it looks pretty, love the simplicity.  Thanks Amanda!

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2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes. Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan. (If you prefer, you can grease it, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary, but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.) When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions and without overmixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice, to blend. Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky – if someone is around, enlist them to help. Place a ring of wax paper on top of the cake so you have something to grab onto when turning it out.) Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then let cool to room temperature. It is very important that the chocolate and sour cream be the same temperature, otherwise the icing will be lumpy or grainy. (Test it by stirring a little of the sour cream and chocolate together in a bowl; if it mixes smoothly, it’s ready.) Stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Taste some! It’s good. When the cake is cool, you may frost it as is or cut it in half so that you have two layers (when I do this, I use 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups sour cream). My mother uses any leftover icing to make flowers on top. She dabs small rosettes, or buttons, on top, then uses toasted almond slices as the petals, pushing them in around the base of the rosette.IMG_7661

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I do ok in the kitchen.  What I mean is I’m not a trained chef or baker but I get around a kitchen or recipe pretty well, provided I have the right tools and ingredients.  For Mothers Day I wanted to do something fun and whimsical and wanted to avoid the lemon, berry,whipped creme trappings that are so prolific around this spring holiday, so I decided to make home-made Ding-Dongs.  I followed a recipe from The Bean Town Baker and have to say they tasted even better than the real thing.  The Bean Town Baker implies that there is a lot of work in these but that’s putting it mildly. I doubled the recipe, so it was double the work… trust me on this, that probably didn’t help.  they are in her words a labor of love.  Instead of posting the recipe (you can find that by clicking the link to the Beantown Baker page) I’m going to give you the inside scoop on this recipe.

So, First things first… if you are astute you’re probably scratching your head thinking “he said Ding Dong but the picture up top is a Hostess Cupcake, what gives?”  well, here is the lowdown on that…

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The ‘from scratch recipe for the cake used in the recipe suggests you use 9 or 10″ round pans.  After baking mini-cakes are made with a cookie cutter, filled and glazed.  There is a great deal of cake waste with this method, but you do get the iconic straight sided shape.   Actually there is so much batter that the recipe suggests a bit of the batter be reserved and used for cup cakes – this way the round cakes don’t bake up too thick.  (I was happy to imagine having extra cupcakes laying around the house, heck summer won’t be here til June 21st right?) Anyway, it wasn’t until I was well into my second batch that I realized the cupcakes would make perfect replicas of the famous Hostess cupcake, and the left over whipped filling and ganache were just enough to dress up a dozen or so of the “extra” cupcakes.  I baked what I could in cupcake papers and the rest I just put in a well greased cupcake pan and both ways worked well.  I liked not serving cupcakes with paper on them to my guests.  And frankly, the cupcakes were easier, cuter.

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 And, I now have a Tupperware tub filled with chocolate cake bits – I’ll come up with something yummy to use them for – maybe mixed into malted ice-cream? or a trifle might be good… but I guess the moral of the story is, go for the cupcakes! They are easier to make, they don’t waste unused cake, they are easier to eat and they present better and more professional that their cousin the Ding-Dong and it’s all about presentation right?      photo 3 copy 4

HERMITS (you’re welcome)

January 23, 2014

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HERMITS: My new favorite cookie… soon to be yours.  I might reduce the clove if you’re using freshly ground and I upped the recipe from 20 to 22 minutes in the oven to 22 to 24 because mine were a tad underdone at 21 minutes, so stick to the 22 to 24 minute suggestion.  This is the perfect winter cookie.

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Ingredients

 

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour      
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda      
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger      
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon      
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cloves      
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt      
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature      
  • 1 cup loosely packed light-brown sugar      
  • 1 large egg, room temperature      
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses      
  • 3/4 cup raisins

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DIRECTIONS

  1. STEP 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Note: you won’t need the oven for 45 minutes – this step can happen after your dough goes into the fridge.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; set aside.

  2. STEP 2

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl once. Add molasses; beat until combined, and scrape down sides of bowl. Add the flour mixture and raisins; beat on low until dough just comes together, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap; place in refrigerator to chill 30 minutes.

  3. STEP 3

    Remove dough from refrigerator, and turn out onto a clean work surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a 12-inch log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart.

  4. STEP 4

    Place in oven, and bake until logs are golden but still very soft to the touch, 22 to 24 minutes. The logs will flatten out and lengthen as they bake and get slightly puffy in the center. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice logs into 1-inch-wide bars. Hermit bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.photo 1

Slow-Cooked Gooey Pina Colada Cake 3

Love it or hate it… most people feel pretty strongly about these two flavors especially combined  this combination is a favorite of mine.   I know it’s not really in vogue or very chic right now but maybe that’s what makes it cool.  It’s more of a forgotten oldie but goodie, like the Back Street Boys (ok, maybe not) but look how good it looks in a footed glass dessert bowl.  Come to think of it I’m not exactly sure when dessert was the hot thing, but I know I’d like some.

Ingredients

  • 1 24 oz. + 1 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained but juice reserved
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 14 oz. cans of Cream of Coconut, divided
  • 4 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut, divided
  • 2 cups evaporated milk

Instructions

In the bottom of a 6 qt. slow cooker that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, spread the drained pineapple to cover the bottom.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, vanilla, 2/3 cup of Cream of Coconut, 1 1/3 cups of the reserved pineapple juice, oil, and 1 cup of the shredded coconut, until well-combined. Spread the batter over the pineapple in the slow cooker.

In a small saucepan, heat the evaporated milk and all of the remaining Cream of Coconut until it is boiling. Once the mixture boils, pour the liquid over the top of the batter in the slow cooker, but do not stir.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, or until the cake portion is cooked through and the edges are golden brown. (A knife inserted through the cake in the middle will come out clean of batter, but may have some sauce from the bottom of the slow cooker)

In a small skillet heated over medium heat, toast the remaining coconut, stirring frequently, until it turns a golden, toasty brown. Once coconut is toasted, remove it from the heat immediately so it does not burn.

To serve, scoop down through the cake to the pineapple/sauce layer, and spoon a portion into a serving dish. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream and some of the toasted coconut.

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Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream and toasted coconut for the top!

My Day Off

May 13, 2013

 

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I am especially lucky to have Mondays off from my typical work day.  The Interior Design business; paperwork, installations and the balance of client/office time morphs into something completely different, something more personally creative, almost introspective on a day off.  And eventhough I snuck in a tiny bit of client time most of the day was spent alone, arranging shelves, gardening, induldging and maybe a tiny bit of napping!  So, as I start to unwind tonight I thought I’d send out what a typical day off looks like for me.

KLR It started with a commute (about 15 minutes) to a Clients for a quick rug install.  We flipped a few rugs around the house to freshen up other rooms while updating the living room “off the kitchen” (vs the living room” off of the front foyer”, through the “tween” room and bar.  Shes a great lady and I have fun with her, we debate and collaborate to find common ground between us and when we find it, we buy what ever it is we are in agreement on.  The Ascot rug from Asmara Rugs in Waltham, MA is a beautiful addition to the relaxed space that’s affords comfortable reading spots, coffee cozy spots and a snuggle up spot.  We agreed on this rug after she had the chance to have it brought into the home.  This Asmara Rug was definitely love at first sight.

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Not going to lie… I had cake for lunch, torte actually.  It was Mother’s Day leftovers, it was calling my name, I had to taste it.  I made a semi-sweet torte with pecan and cookie crust for Mothers Day and I was so happy that there was actually a bit of it left over for today.  It is SO rich that one 9 ich spring-form pan ( and 2 lbs. of chocolate) produces enough torte to serve 20 people.  I served it with homemade (of course) carmel sauce.  Here is the link I used…simplyrecipes.com

 roses

If I had known I was going to post this topic today when I was planting rose cuttings in the hopes of propagating them.  A client gave me these after I had complimented her healthy rose-bush, so vital in the ocean air, and pretty too.  A small pink rose covers the canopy, Cecile Brunner? heirloomroses.com If I don’t kill them I will plant them to climb the columns on the front porch.

mewithcakeAnd one of me proudly presenting my torte to the family.

This is too cool not to share… I found an image of this neat trick on Pinterest, it was originally blogged by asubtlerevelry.com and I’m dying to try it!  Boy or Girl, or a name or someones initials would be good words to use…don’t be afraid to try this!

The only thing better better than cake, is a cake that can talk! Why not surprise the guest of honor at your next party with this creative typography cake? It clearly expresses why you are celebrating, in a fun and festive way. These cakes are perfect for the slew of graduation and birthdays coming this month. HIP HIP HORRAY!

To make the cake you will need; 1 box cake mix, any flavor (we used white), edible dough (any color), mini alphabet cookie cutters (these will vary in size, make sure they are small enough that when your word is spelled out, it will fit in your pan), a 9×5 loaf pan (or any cake pan in which your message can fit; a bundt pan is a fun one to use), rolling pin, and confectioners sugar.

Take your edible dough and knead it into a workable, pliable consistency. Then sprinkle a little confectioners sugar on a clean surface and roll out the dough to your desired thickness. Cut out the shapes of the letters you want to use in your message. For the cake in this tutorial, I used a whole package of edible dough and cut out the letters Y and A to spell YAY.

Make cake batter according to instructions on box. Grease your pan and pour enough batter in the pan to cover the bottom. Take your cut-out letters and place them in the batter, spelling out your word or message. Repeat this until you have crossed the length of the pan. Make sure the letters are lined up and straight.

Place the rest of the cake batter into a measuring cup (or piping bag if you want to really be careful) and pour batter slowly over the top of the letters, until they are covered and you have used up all the batter.

Bake cake in a 350F oven for about 40 minutes; check for doneness with a toothpick. Allow to cool before using a sharp knife to slice into the cake and reveal the surprise message.

This cake is a part of our creative cake series. Produced and photographed by Athena Plichta under the creative direction of Victoria Hudgins for A Subtle Revelry.