Archive for July, 2007

Daring Bakers – Strawberry Mirror Cake

July 30, 2007

The Daring Bakers challenge for July was a Strawberry Mirror Cake.  It looked beautiful and didn’t look terribly complicated, but the directions were long!  Since my July has been crazy, there was really only one Saturday where I could take the time to make the cake.  So, I read through the directions several times and then tried to estimate how long each component would take.  Overkill?  Possibly, but at least I was prepared!

 There were a few pieces of equipment I needed to buy to make the cake.  I had a jelly roll pan, but it was too small so I bought a new one.  I also bought an offset spatula, stainless steel bowl and a cardboard circle.  Total cost – $28.00.

 Normally when I buy groceries for a recipe there is meat and cheese and herbs and what not involved.  I was pleasantly surprised at my short grocery list!  Total cost – $18.56.

For the full recipe, visit Peabody here.

A Strawberry Mirror Cake consists of two layers of cake, with two layers of strawberry bavarian cream, topped with a strawberry mirror. I used to assist cooking classes at a small cooking school and for a long time, I assisted mostly baking classes. Because of that, I’ve been exposed to most baking techniques. I’ve made both pastry cream and bavarian cream before, but the mirror part was new. I had faith though!

The bavarian cream before the red food coloring. I’m not sure if I added the hot milk into the eggs too fast, but my bavarian cream definitely has lumps. I ran it through a sieve which helped, but it wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked. Luckily, I made bavarian cream relatively recently and knew that everything has to be smooth before you try to fold the whip cream in. If not, it’s never going to be smooth.

My cakes! I baked them in an 11 x 17 jelly roll pan, then cut out the 8″ circles. I used a serrated knife to cut them out, but thank goodness they were going to be covered in frosting since they weren’t pretty. Very tasty though. My dog and I munched on the extras all afternoon.

Step one in assembly. Aluminum covered cardboard in the springform pan, with the first layer of cake.

Step two. Cover it all in bavarian cream!

Steps three and four. Add another layer of cake, cover with bavarian cream again!

I love my new offset spatula. It’s so fabulous to frost with.

After this, I poured the mirror on and then chilled for several hours. Turns out, the mirror is basically strawberry jello! I laughed when I realized that. It’s a really cool effect though.

I brought this cake to a dinner party and didn’t bust it out of the springform pan until I was there, so no fancy decorating. Luckily, the mirror didn’t break and it came out almost perfectly! Everyone loved it, and a few went back for seconds. This was the perfect dessert for a barbecue – light, creamy, and tastes like summer!


Blueberry muffins

July 27, 2007

Continuing the theme, I made blueberry muffins.  I debated on baking these because in my head, blueberry muffins are big and greasy.  But I have Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe cookbook and most things in there veer a little more to the healthy side.  This recipe has 1/4 cup butter, whereas most recipes I saw other places had 1/2 cup butter.  It made me feel a little better.  

 Straight out of the oven the muffins were divine.  I ate one as an afternoon snack today and it held up well. 

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins
Makes 10 muffins

Nonstick Spray

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups. buttermilk
2 T. fresh lemon zest
1 large egg
1 T. vanilla
4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups blueberries

1 T. sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly spray 10 standard muffin cups with nonstick spray.
2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl.
3. Measure the 1 1/2 cups buttermilk into a 4-cup liquid measure. Add the lemon juice, egg, and vanilla, and beat gently with a fork until smooth.
4. Slowly pour this mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Carefully fold in the blueberries at the very end. A few lumps are okay.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling to the top. Sprinkle tops of muffins with 1 T. sugar.
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and place on a rack to cool.

Blueberry Pancakes!

July 25, 2007

The local gourmet cooking store does crop shares every year.  When I worked there, I used to consider doing the salad share every spring, but watching those boxes come through every week, I knew I’d never use enough of the vegetables to make it worthwhile.  The fruit share though?  Those I could do.  Normally I just get the blueberries, but one year I also bought cherries and that was just way too much fruit to try to eat.  I gave a lot away that year.

The share is ten pounds of blueberries.  I freeze some, I eat some, I give some to friends and family.  They are big and juicy and so sweet, they are the perfect summer snack.  I eat them on my breakfast every morning, but I need to start using them in other ways too.  So tonight for dinner it was blueberry pancakes!  I have a great pumpkin pancake recipe that I love, but no go to blueberry pancake recipes.  I looked through a few cookbooks before settling on the recipe in my Good Housekeeping cookbook.  Since I had Greek yogurt in the fridge, I added that in for a little extra tang. I think blueberry pancakes need to be a little thicker to balance out the blueberries, and these were perfect.  Not too thick, not too thin, with a nice ratio of blueberry to pancake.

Next up – blueberry muffins!

Blueberry Pancakes
1 cup all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup milk
3 T. butter, melted
2 T. greek yogurt
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup blueberries

In bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, butter, yogurt, and egg and stir until flour is moistened. Fold in the blueberries.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles; brush lightly with vegetable oil. Pour batter by scant 1/4 cups onto hot griddle. Cook until tops are bubble, some bubbles burst and edges look dry. With wide spatula, turn and cook until underside is golden.

Ditch the Buttercup

July 12, 2007

I’m so annoyed!  I’ve been doing some baking lately in hopes that I would have lovely, delicious dishes to post about on here and none of them have turned out!  Well, one turned out but that was a nectarine raspberry crisp that I kind of threw together and now can’t remember measurements for.

 For whatever reason, I pulled my Buttercup Bakeshop cookbook out a few weeks ago.   I made raspberry cream cheese muffins to take into work.  They weren’t very good.  You were supposed to swirl the raspberry jam on top and mine didn’t really swirl very well. 

 This weekend I made ginger snap cookies.  I was totally craving them and couldn’t find my friends recipe.  The Magnolia cookbook is awesome, why wouldn’t this one be? The cookies were awful. They weren’t dark enough or spicey enough, and you don’t roll them in sugar before you bake them! I’m eating them, but blech.

Tonight I made cream cheese brownies to take in for my status meetings tomorrow. I was so excited for these! Totally in the mood for some decadence. They. are. crap. First, the recipe tells you to put half the batter in the pan, then the cream cheese, then the other half of the batter. I put half of the batter in and it wasn’t enough to cover the bottom of the pan! So I dumped it all in, dumped the cream cheese on top and swirled as best I could. The brownie isn’t fudgey enough and while the cream cheese is good, it can’t carry the brownie. I’ve eaten two just in case they get better and they don’t. Into the trash they go.

Anyone want a cookbook?

Lobster Cobb Salad

July 7, 2007

This is based off of an Ina Garten recipe that I saw her do on her show a few months ago.  It stuck in my head as the perfect Saturday lunch with the girls.  Unfortunately, my Saturdays have been crazy so instead it became a Friday dinner.  We grilled the lobster which was fine, but I think next time I would simmer the lobster in their shells and then do an ice bath after.  I love lobster, but it’s best when perfectly cooked. 

Lobster Cobb Salad
adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 2

For the vinaigrette:
1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
5 T. good olive oil
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper

For the salad:
1 ripe Haas avocado
1 lemon, juiced
Mixed greens – about three cups
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat, cut in 3/4 inch dice
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound lean bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 cup crumbed blue cheese

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in small bowl.

For the salad, cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut into 3/4 inch dice. Toss the avocados and cherry tomatoes with the lemon juice. Add the mixed greens and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with the vinagrette. Mound the salad on the plate and add the lobster, blue cheese, and bacon on top in stripes.

Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Tzatziki Sauce

July 1, 2007


You know when you’re looking through recipes and you find one you want to make it, but it requires an ice cream maker, stock pot, mini-muffin tin or some other piece of equipment you don’t have? Lately I’ve been bookmarking a ton of recipes that require a deep fryer. From my stint at the gourmet cooking store I have a well stocked kitchen. But I’ve never bought a deep fryer. My girlfriend Amy and I had talked about getting one, but had never made the purchase.

And then I watched Bobby Flay’s Chicken Wing Throwdown. And I needed to eat some buffalo wings. I called my brother thinking he would meet me out for some, but he’s remodelling his house and couldn’t break away. I casually mentioned it in an email to Amy where we were trying to decide what to make for our Friday cook-a-long. She was in! And so we were off to Target to buy a deep fryer. She bought one that has a nifty display so we could be sure of the temperature of the oil. So fun! I’m very excited about all of the new recipes we can bust out now. Donuts!! Beignets!! Fritters!!

We debated between the two Throwdown recipes and decided to do Bobby’s. In my wings, I like them more spicy than sweet and Bobby’s recipe seemed to deliver that. We modified it a bit based on our shopping and while our wings had some back end heat, they didn’t have a ton. It was perfect for us, but if you like your wings HOT, you’ll need to up the chile powder. Also, we halved his recipe since it was just the two of us. Also, also? We weren’t sure we’d be able to find greek yogurt, but we did find a pre-made tzatziki sauce. It made the perfect blue cheese sauce.

Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Tzatziki Sauce
adapted from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown recipe

For the Blue Cheese Sauce:
1/2 cup Tzatziki Sauce
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 T. finely chopped red onion
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and fresh ground pepper

For the Hot Wings:
Canola oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 T. ancho chilli powder plus 1 tsp.
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 pound chicken wings (we used only drummies)
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 T. pureed chipotle chile’s in adobo
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. honey
1/2 stick unsalted butter

For the Blue Cheese sauce:
Stir together the tzatziki, blue cheese, red onion, parsley, and salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the Hot Wings:
Heat oil in deep fryer until it reaches 375 F.

Stir together the flour, salt, and pepper to taste. Add 1 tsp. of ancho chili powder and garlic powder to bowl. Season the wings with salt and pepper, then dredge wings in the flour in batches. Tap off excess flour and load into deep fry basket. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate.

Bring the vinegar, chipotle puree, 2 T. chili powder to a simmer in a large high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the mustard, salt, honey, and butter until smooth. Add the wings to the mixture and toss to coat.

Serve with blue cheese sauce. Serves 2.

As you can see, these were TASTY.