Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hummingbird Cake

This is similar to carrot cake only with pineapple & pecans.

For the cake batter:
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and prepare to round cake pans.  I like to butter and flour them, but a little non-stick spray will work too.

3 cups Cake Flour
2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon each of: baking soda, ground cinnamon (I like Saigon), & salt

1 cup Veggie Oil
3 Large Eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or 1 tablespoon of extract
6 ounces of crushed pineapple in it's juice
About 1 cup of chopped pecans depending on your taste
2 ripe bananas

In the bowl of a food processor pulse all the dry ingredients and the pecans to mix thoroughly.  In a large bowl mash the bananas and then add the wet ingredients. Beat with a fork to break up the eggs. Transfer the dry stuff to another large bowl and slowly mix in the wet stuff.  Don't over mix.  The batter will be a bit lumpy.  Transfer to the prepared cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes.

Cook the cakes on a wire rack.  When completely cooled cover with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:  2 sticks salted butter, about 3-4 cups of powdered sugar, two 8 ounce bricks of cream cheese and one teaspoon of vanilla paste or scrape down one vanilla pod.  I like the way the vanilla flecks look in the frosting.

Let the butter and cheese come to room temperature and then beat to light and fluffy with an electric mixer.  Add in the vanilla then slowly sift in the sugar until it's as sweet as you like it.

Don't be shy with the frosting. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate Ice Cream

My new Cuisinart ice cream maker is my new favorite kitchen toy. My first batch of ice cream was a simple vanilla that turned out too fluffy.  The error in the recipe was not enough cream and too much churning.  The chocolate batch came out wonderful.

Ingredients: 1 cup heavy cream, 2 cups of half & half, 5 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 5 ounces semi sweet chocolate.

Chop up the chocolate and place into a sauce pan with the half & half.  Melt the chocolate into the half & half on low heat.  Whisk constantly to keep from scorching.  Once the chocolate in thoroughly incorporated turn off the heat.

In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mix becomes  a pale yellow color.  Whisk in the heavy cream.   Slowly pour in 1 cup of the chocolate mixture (it should still be pretty warm at this point) and then slowly mix the egg mix back into the sauce pan.  Heat on low to cook the egg yolk through.  The ice cream base should coat the back of a wooden spoon when done.

Whisk in the vanilla extract at the very end with the heat off.

Transfer to container and refrigerate until cold. 

Process the base according to your ice cream makers instructions. I find that by shaving 5 mins off the recommended churn time and then freezing for at least 3 hours you get a denser ice cream.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lemon Cream Pie

This pie is tart, creamy and full of fresh lemon flavor.

1 pie crust (I used a homemade one using Crisco)
2-4 lemons
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs - separated
1 teaspoon of salt
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of corn starch

The night before prepare the lemons:  Slice up 2 large or 4 small lemons into thin slices. I also cut off the zest for maximum flavor.  Sprinkle with the salt & sugar.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set on the counter over night.  The next morning strain the lemon juice out.  You should have about 1/2 a cup of yellow juice.

Bake your unfilled pie shell in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I cover my pie dough with parchment paper and then place uncooked rice on top to make sure that it stays in place.  Cool your pie shell before starting the rest of the pie.  You can use a pre-made crumb shell if you prefer and skip this step.

Make the meringue first:  Using an electric mixer beat the 4 egg whites, cream of tartar & powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.  Place the bowl of meringue in the fridge.

Preheat Oven to 350.

Set up a double boiler to cook the pie filling.  I just place a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Constantly whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of strained lemon juice & 2 teaspoons of  corn starch together.  You want to whisk for about 10-15 minutes.  The goal is to cook the egg yolks and thicken the mixture until it starts to be a runny pudding consistency.

Pour the filling into the cooled pie shell and top with the meringue.  Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.  The meringue should start to brown a bit.  Chill in the ice box for at least 2 hours before serving so the pie can finish setting up.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spruced Up Boxed Mac and Cheese

A couple of days ago I was hungry and too tired to go to the store.  After scavenging the freezer, fridge and pantry I realized that I could make fake Hamburger Helper and it would be so much better!

Ingredients: 1 box of Mac and Cheese (I went with organic white cheddar from Fresh & Easy), goat cheese*, 1/3 lb of hamburger*, 1 carton of sliced mushrooms, butter, milk, and some Parmesan cheese.

In one pan crumbled and brown the hamburger & mushrooms.  Make sure you pour off any fat as you go.  Meanwhile boil the pasta in the box according to the package.  Reserve some of the pasta water when draining.

Measure out about 1/3 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of goat cheese. 

Toss this with the pasta and the powdered cheese packet.  Add in a little pasta water if it seems a bit too thick.  Add in the browned hamburger and mushrooms.  Toss together.  Sprinkle with Parmesan. 

 *Feel free to substitute the cream cheese or ricotta for the goat cheese.  This would work just as well with ground chicken, pork or turkey.

Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Egg

Every want something a little more than a grilled cheese?  Love bacon?  Then this is for you.
Ingredients for 2 sandwiches: 6 slices of bacon, 4 slices of sourdough bread, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 slices of Edam Cheese, 1 slice of  Cheddar Cheese, sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese, 2 large eggs, olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper

Cook the bacon to your liking and drain on paper towels.  I cook mine in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Heat 2 pans with some butter and a little olive oil.  In one pan cook the eggs sunny side up.  Layer the sandwiches as follows: bread, 1 slice of Edam, 3 slices of bacon, sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese, 1/2 slice of Cheddar and finally the other slice of bread.  Toast on both sides until the cheese is nicely melted and the bread is browned.  Top with a fried egg.  I served my sandwiches with some tomato soup.

Recipe Test: Sally Lunn Bread from Smitten Kitchen

I recently tried the Sally Lunn Bread recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  So far my bread baking has been limited to quick no yeast breads and stuff thrown together in my bread machine.  This recipe seemed like a good and easy way to try out a yeast bread recipe that required no kneading.

The recipe itself is pretty simple and the results were alright.  I thought the bread had a nice flavor, but the crumb could have been better.  My loaf also didn't rise very much. 

I didn't make the Salted and Honeyed Brown Butter Spread that came with the recipe.  I instead whipped up some caramelized honey and salted butter.

This bread was lovely toasted the next day with a thick spread of the whipped butter and a cup of tea.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paula's Pancakes in Solvang California

After waiting for 30 minutes to get seated I finally got to order my breakfast:  The pancake combination plate.  I went with scrambled eggs, pancakes and danish sausage.   The pancakes were wonderful.  Thin and fluffy all at the same time.  The butter was whipped and spread out nice and evenly.  The powdered sugar was plentiful.  It would have been better if it was served with real maple syrup.  These came with stereotypical "pancake" syrup.  I also didn't like the sausage.  It was not browned enough on the outside and the the texture was a little too much like baloney.  The sausage also had some odd lingering flavor.  My dining partner said it reminded him of egg rolls.  I still can't figure out what that egg roll flavor is, but it's not good.

Just order the pancakes and you'll be happy.  I'd give it a 7 out of 10.