Archive for November, 2008

Daring Bakers – Caramel Cake

November 28, 2008

I scooted in just under the wire this month!  The most difficult thing about the Daring Baker challenges is deciding when to bake them.  I like to have someone eat my hard work, but sometimes social events don’t coincide with when I have time to bake them.  I wanted to do this cake for my dad’s birthday, but Thanksgiving and his birthday pretty much coincided.  So instead, I did cupcakes thinking people could munch on them throughout the day.  After reading Shuna’s notes, I would like to make this again as a cake to see how it would turn out.  The cupcakes were fabulous!

Caramel Cake
Recipe by Shuna Fish Lydon
Thank you to Dolores, Alex, and Jenny for hosting!

I was really horrible about taking pictures this month, so apologies for lack of evidence!  I read through Shuna’s notes on the cake to ensure everything would turn out.  I beat the batter until it was light and fluffy and really tried to incorporate the ingredients before moving on to the next one.  The caramel sauce, oh the caramel sauce!  While it was cooking it was thin and I had no faith in it.  But once it cooled, it was beautiful!  I cooked it just a little bit longer than I thought I needed to to get a stronger caramel flavor.  The buttercream frosting was easy and delicious, although I did have to add a little more cream at the end because it was too stiff to frost.  Overall, fabulous!  Although very sugary.  I added salt, but maybe I needed more?

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Quinoa Salad with Grilled Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onion

November 4, 2008

I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this recipe.  I think I got lost in the new layout of the Food Network’s website.  I thought I was getting some of Ellie Krieger’s multigrain recipes, but somehow I ended up with one of Bobby Flay’s.  No matter!  

This was supposed to be a farro salad, but farro is expensive!  No thank you.  Also expensive right now?  Japanese eggplants.  So instead I went with the quinoa in my pantry, and some lovely Whole Foods regular eggplants.  

I made this recipe as part of an effort to cook more for myself.  Unfortunately I decided to make it on a Saturday where the evening was full of baby meltdowns and I was left wondering why I didn’t choose a recipe that at least somewhat resembled comfort food.  But, I pressed on and thank god I did!  This salad is GOOD.  It was good warm, it was good cold the next day with shredded chicken and it was good cold the day after that with diced avocado.  It is so good in fact, that I am making another batch just as soon as I get my hands on more quinoa.  

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Quinoa Salad with Grilled Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onion
Based on Bobby Flay’s Farro Salad

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
3 cups water
1 medium eggplant, halved, sliced in 1/4″ slices
1 small red onion, peeled, halved, and thickly sliced
olive oil for brushing
Salt and black pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe below

Combine quinoa and water in large covered pot. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Place in a large bowl. Heat grill to high (alternatively, use a grill pan over high heat). While the quinoa is cooking, brush the eggplant and onion slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until just cooked through. Remove from the grill and cut into one inch dice. Add the eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and dill to the quinoa. Pour balsamic vinaigrette over the mixture and stir to combine.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk together the shallot, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and dill in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified.