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August 02, 2013

Candle Cake Design ~ A Work in Progress



Light one candle for all we believe in,
That anger not tear us apart;
And light one candle to bind us together
With peace as the song in our heart!
Light One Candle ~ Peter Yarrow

One of my friends is having one of those roundy birthdays soon. Those milestone birthdays still mean something, even at 40, 50, or 60 when the annual ones lose their luster. In this case, part of what it means is an excuse to throw a party. A huge one.

Hours of live music, potluck dinner, friends from near and far. someoneElse had a rehearsal yesterday. From what I hear the music is a fantastic assortment of (mostly local) talent. The cooks out here get serious when it comes to potlucks and midsummer means their gardens are bountiful.

This is going to be fun.

Not being a musician but still wanting to contribute something more significant than a side-dish, I offered to make the cake. At the time, the guest count was ~50 and the party had no particular theme. Fifty people means a lot of cake so I started playing with ideas for how to make it all work.

Fast forward a bit and plans have firmed up.

Continue reading "Candle Cake Design ~ A Work in Progress" »

July 20, 2010

Tuesday Tease: Old-fashioned Doughnuts

old-fashioned doughnuts

Lara Ferroni shoots beautiful photographs. The picture above is not one of hers, it's mine taken on the counter with horrible lighting and (apparently) a shaky hand. Oh well.

The doughnuts, however, are Lara's recipe...and my third attempt to make old-fashioned doughnuts that were at all photogenic. (Note to doughnut photographers: recipes with lots of cinnamon taste wonderful but the photos are awful!)

After a twitter discussion left me in search of the secret to old-fashioned doughnuts, Lara was kind enough to give me a preview of the old-fashioned recipe from her upcoming cookbook Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home. My conclusion: they are dangerously tasty.

The balance of dough stiffness and oil temperature needed to produce those cracks and crags was a bit tricky to figure out -- and the doughnuts that stayed smooth tasted wonderful so wasn't a loss -- but I got it! They say the third time's the charm, right? (Am I the only person who wishes "they," whoever they are, would say something new?)

I am also pleased to announce I have conquered my fear of frying. 

Have you ever made doughnuts? Does the thought of deep-frying have you cowering in a corner? What should I fry next?

July 07, 2010

Technique: No-cook Ice Cream Base (yes, with eggs)

Nutella Swirl Ice Cream

A few years ago, I happened upon a sale and bought a really good ice cream maker, which has led to more than a bit of creamy, frozen goodness around my place. It really doesn't take much effort to whip up a batch of ice cream base and with my machine, which doesn't require pre-freezing a bowl, I can have ice cream almost on a whim.

Amazon was smart enough to put a number of their ice cream machines on sale, just in time for the heat wave! That's marketing for you. So if you don't have a contraption of creamy goodness, head over to the 25% (or more) off ice cream machines sale .

There is a downside to making ice cream, however: making the custard base. Merely the thought of standing over a hot stove attentively stirring a pot of cream and eggs lest it scorch is enough to make me melt on a day when the mercury hits 90, as it's predicted to. (Yes, here in my ten feet of rain a year fog valley.) This means the odds of my making ice cream the traditional way rapidly decreases as my desire for ice cream increases. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

At least it was...

Continue reading "Technique: No-cook Ice Cream Base (yes, with eggs)" »

November 10, 2009

Butternut Squash Spice Cake with Amaretto Glaze Recipe

Butternut Spice Cake

Ranks of gray misty rain march up the valley, the cats who are not ours are huddled on the porch, and I swear night fell about 3:30 this afternoon. Perfect weather for having the oven on all day - and between roasting the squash and baking the cake, I have an excuse to warm up my kitchen for a few hours. (I am only doing it so I can get a non-Halloween image; I promise we will not enjoy the cake at all. Really.)

I adapted this recipe a few weeks ago, when some good friends celebrated the tenth anniversary of their move to the fog valley with a potluck. The only request was that we use locally produced food if possible, something that is not exactly a stretch for most people around here, although mid-October isn't exactly the time of prime produce. I wanted to make dessert but the only fruit on hand was apples and pears, neither of which got me too excited. The squash, however, was abundant and diverse.

Starting with a recipe for a sweet potato cake, I swapped in squash, reduced the oil and added applesauce for moisture, then tossed in a hefty dose of fresh spices. After infusing the olive oil with sweet bay, I toasted and ground cardamon, then grated ginger and nutmeg. The squash and applesauce make for a moist, but not heavy, cake; and the mix of fresh spices make me swoon. Iced, this is a cake worthy of a party; unadorned it could be served as a coffeecake.


Continue reading "Butternut Squash Spice Cake with Amaretto Glaze Recipe" »

June 21, 2009

Look what we can do! Cupcake kebabs.

cupcake kebabs
inspiration from Nibbles by Nora, seen on Cupcakes Take the Cake and Serious Eats.

Inspired by those cupcake kebabs that have been making the rounds, theKid and I put together our own version for a Solstice party yesterday. theKid did the heavy lifting, baking about 250 mini-cupcakes from five different recipes, each with its own frosting. More amazing, she got just the right amount of frosting for each type of cupcake.This impressed me at least as much as doing all the baking.

Continue reading "Look what we can do! Cupcake kebabs." »

April 08, 2009

Lemon mousse recipe

Lemon Mousse

To my peculiar form of synesthesia, spring is yellow. The world around me seems to agree, covering itself in daffodils of hues from palest cream to cartoon-sun yellow to bright tangerine, with clumps of golden forsythia and swaths of chartreuse spring grass. Purple will be along soon, in a week or so when the chives start to bloom, but for now the garden tends toward the golden.

While the world turns to yellow outside, the fruit selection here on the 46th parallel tends toward the remnants of winter, somewhat yellowish in its own right: the ubiquitous banana, an apple or two (Note to the folks selling Red Delicious apples in April - they don't store well. Really.), and lots of citrus.

Sadly, the strawberries trucked 1000 miles look good from a distance but a closer inspection of their plastic cage reveals half-ripened berries with a distinct lack of aroma. And mold. My editor calls it zombie fruit because it looks like fruit, but has no soul.

So it's back to the citrus. Lemons, in fact. Because lemons are yellow and taste like spring. Only sunnier.

This recipe comes from Ray's Boathouse, one of Seattle's longtime beloved waterfront seafood restaurants. Ray's is the kind of place you take your parents when they come to town. The view is lovely, the seafood is fresh and well-prepared, and the service is excellent. When I lived in the area, it was one of my indulgences.

Once, on a unseasonably warm spring day, I had this lemon mousse at Ray's. It was light and tart and not too sweet. Spring in a dessert bowl. Much later, the recipe turned up in Northwest Best Places Cookbook (vol 2) - it is also in Ray's Boathouse Cookbook These two events are separated by what seems like an unreasonably long time for them to be using the same recipe, so maybe I am misremembering that day at Ray's. All I know is when I open the book to this recipe, I feel the first warm spring breeze and see a field of yellow flowers. Who am I to argue with spring?

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May 29, 2008

food porn: Grilled Cheese Cakewich

grilled cheese cakewich

Best grilled cheese sandwich ever!

Two thin slices of pound cake, a generous slice of apricot-studded Stilton cheese, a few minutes in a skillet with a dab of butter. Moan in delight.

May 13, 2008

Nutella mousse recipe

nutella mousse

This barely qualifies as a recipe, but I suppose it has more than one ingredient and some instructions, so it'll pass.

I found myself in the kitchen earlier, staring at yet another possible chocolate cake for the book. It wasn't quite what I was after, but it did leave me with a couple of very handy things leftover:

  • A couple of tablespoons of Nutella
  • ~1/3 cup of whipped cream

aka: deconstructed Nutella mousse

So I constructed it.

To make the mousse, stir the Nutella frantically for a minute to loosen it up a bit. Don't heat it, it just doesn't seem to help. Fold in about a quarter of the whipped cream to lighten the Nutella a bit. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Drool for 10 minutes while trying to get the glam shot of the not-so-photogenic brown glop. Eat.

May 07, 2008

Nutella Swirl Ice Cream Recipe

Nutella Swirl Ice Cream

This one's for Inv Robbins, who died on Monday after helping to make about a zillion kids happy by creating the first American food franchise: Baskin-Robbins.

When I was a munchkin, I loved Baskin-Robbins. There was a BR store within walking distance of all my usual haunts and they gave you free ice cream on your birthday. Even better, my older brother's best friend was a shift manager. For him, this mostly meant he, at 17, got to herd 15 and 16 year-olds, which I am sure was a pain. For him.

I, on the other hand, thought that the point of being a shift manager was free banana splits. Not for him. For me.

Since then, I have switched to making my own ice cream. Last year, I happened upon a sale which tipped me over the edge and I bought a really good ice cream maker, which has led to more than a bit of creamy, frozen goodness around my place. It really doesn't take much effort to whip up a batch of ice cream base and with my machine, which doesn't require pre-freezing a bowl, I can have ice cream almost on a whim.

There is a downside to making ice cream, however: making the custard base.

Standing over a hot stove attentively stirring a pot of cream and eggs lest it scorch may not be as painful as herding minimum-wage teenagers, but it's nowhere near as fun as eating a banana split.

Well, I've got the answer.

Continue reading "Nutella Swirl Ice Cream Recipe" »

March 11, 2008

mini-pavlovas recipe


The Pavlova is one of those bits of food magic that everyone should make once. While it may look intimidating, at its heart it is as simple as strawberry shortcake. You're not afraid to make strawberry shortcake, are you? I didn't think so.

This combination of meringue, whipped cream and fruit is a classic dessert Australia and New Zealand where it was created as a tribute to the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. As a denizen of the northern hemisphere, I find the idea of serving it for Christmas dinner, as they do down under, utterly delightful. Truth be told, however, my locavore aspect cringes at the thought. (I waited all the way until the 1st of March and a business deductible excuse to buy some for far too much money.)

Continue reading "mini-pavlovas recipe" »

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