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Holiday Baking

I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas, only a few short weeks to go. I have been crippled without a working stove and last week on Thursday night my new stove arrived. It is a beauty and I am very happy with it so far. It is going to take some getting used to. I found that I am accustomed to working with an oven that was far from normal and because of some of issues I was able to use the oven with adjustments. For example my oven door did not close all the way, this effected the oven temp dramatically, I would prop chairs forcing the door to close but that was like an obstacle course in the kitchen. There were hot spots so everything I baked required constant turning and rotating. You get used to these things and they become the norm. The new stove works and works well and that has forced me to adjust how I use the oven. I find that there is a Pavlovian response, I automatically check want to rotate and test rather than timing. With an oven that actually works I am going to have to re train myself to trust and rely on directions and the oven itself. In the weeks before it arrived I didn’t do much in the way of cooking and baking, because it took a while to get the new stove my baking for the holidays has fallen way behind schedule. The last few days I have been reading the manual and using the stove and oven to get used to it. Today I start baking, I have many gift boxes to put together and there will be dozens and dozens of cookies and loaves to bake.

I have always had a basic stove, no bells and whistles, this stove has it all, it’s convection, has so many capabilities including a touch screen control. I feel a little overwhelmed but will get used to it I’m sure. I read that you have to adjust temperature by 25 degree’s (down) when baking with convection, well this stove automatically adjusts so you set the temperature at the prescribed degree’s in the recipe and it self adjusts. I will see how that goes. I can dehydrate food with this oven as the temp goes down to 100 degree’s it has a special setting for those that are observant, a Sabbath setting. It’s pretty incredible really.  I have to put a new backsplash in but that can come later along with adjustments for positioning the stove etc..

The gift boxes will contain tried and true recipes, don’t really like experimenting when I am sending out as a gift. I’ve posted all the recipes over the years, Stollen, fruit cake thumbprint cookies, chocolate chip, biscotti are all on the agenda over the next few days.

Thanks to everyone for sticking by me even with a blog black out for a few weeks. Hoping now to get back on track and start posting recipes. Happy Holidays to all!

Ginger Scallion ramen with Crispy sesame oven baked tofu recipe coming

homemade bourbon vanilla extract

Percy loves the crunchy leaves

 

 

I’m A Bad Blogger And Happy Thanksgiving!

Over baked pumpkin spice bundt cakes with cream cheese glaze made for Thanksgiving meal for Senior Citizens at our local church sponsored by the 88th Precinct Community Affairs division

I realized I haven’t posted anything since November 3, OMG, time has completely slipped away. I have to catch up and reply to comments as well. Several things have gotten in the way of blogging, no excuse really. First of all work has been so busy, I haven’t had time to cook or at least cook anything new. The other problem is that my oven is barely working. I swore after the last time it broke and I had to replace the mother board (for the 3rd time) I had a DNR in place. Only half of the oven heats, the door won’t close all the way and everything I’ve attempted to bake hasn’t really turned out very well. Stovetop works but I have been so incredibly busy I have barely cooked or really cooked anything noteworthy. I had committed to bake for a very special Thanksgiving meal for Senior’s sponsored by our local police dept. The cake was over baked which is why I put the glaze on it hoping it wouldn’t choke a senior. The pies actually turned out pretty well, was so happy about that.

I have a new stove coming in the next few weeks. I chose the Samsung 30″ slide in with convection and 5 burners, also getting a new hood and putting in a new backsplash. I have so much baking to do for the holidays, the stove better get here soon.

Samsung gas stove photo from the internet

So until I have my new stove I’m afraid that posts will be few and far between. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I know you are all getting ready for the holiday season, decorating, planning, cooking. This is my favorite time of year. Say a little prayer my stove gets here soon so I can get cooking again!

See what my oven does, made rolls for Thanksgiving, some cooked some didn’t, but I tried.

Baked a pumpkin pie, had to leave it in longer than I should have, rotating the pie was hard. It cracked so I made some little leaves and pumpkins and covered the crack.

Percy looking freaked out in black and white on Halloween.

Riding in style

Look what my friend made for Percy he has an Etsy shop @custompetpawtraits.etsy.com

Apple Cake With Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

 

Continuing my homage to the apple, the quintessential harbinger of Autumn I made an apple cake. I have been making this cake for many years and it never fails, I found it years ago while watching an episode of Martha Stewarts show on Food Network.  The cake is moist and rustic in texture, loaded with apples and warm autumn spices. Sometimes I use a cream cheese frosting but this time I made the frosting that is featured in the recipe on Martha Stewarts site. The frosting is gently sweet, buttery and has a lovely caramel flavor that comes from using brown sugar instead of granulated.

I really love this cake, it couldn’t be easier to make, no mixer required. The recipe calls for grated and diced apples but I like to use homemade applesauce, I make it in the oven, peel and quarter 4 apples, add a splash of apple cider, cover and bake for about 30 minutes until the apples are soft. Let them cool and mash with a fork. I prefer using applesauce rather than grating apples, the cake has some small pieces of apples and a balanced apple flavor. I think the buttercream is good but I prefer the cream cheese frosting,  it’s a bit sweeter but the tangy creaminess from the cream cheese goes so well with this cake. Just saying!!

I am bringing the cake to Fiesta Friday #196. This weeks co hosts are Antonia@Zoale.com and Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook.

Cake

Recipe from Martha Stewart

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter melted

2 large eggs

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cup applesauce or 4 apples peeled- 2 grated and 2 diced)

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Prepare 3 8 inch round baking pans by lining with parchment, butter or grease and dust with flour, set aside.

In medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and eggs. Fold in the applesauce or apples. Add the flour mixture and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon just until combined. Divide equally into prepared baking pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, run butter knife or offset spatula around the edges to loosen and turn out onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Recipe from Martha Stewart

4 egg whites from large eggs

1 cup light brown sugar lightly packed

3 sticks or 12 oz of softened unsalted butter

Set pan with about 2 inches of water on low heat, place the egg whites and brown sugar in mixing bowl and set on top of the simmering water (bowl should not touch the water). Whisk until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar is completely melted. Place on stand mixer with whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until fluffy and completely cooled, approximately 15 minutes. Change to paddle attachment and add the soft butter 1 tbs at a time while the mixer is on med low speed. Once butter is incorporated continue to mix on medium speed for another 3-5 minutes. If it curdles it’s ok, keep mixing it will come together. Frost cake immediately.  I piled way too much frosting on top, don’t do like I do and make sure the frosting is evenly spread all over the cake. Thats what happens when you are in a hurry.

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Making the pumpkin spice doughnuts was fun and they turned out really well so I decided to try a recipe I found for apple cider doughnuts. One of the first stands visible at the farmers market, always front and center is also one of my favorites, apples, apple cider and doughnuts and it’s a favorite of mine and IMHO it epitomizes Fall. The recipe is from Bon Appetit and sounded really wonderful. The cake doughnuts contain homemade apple butter and apple cider syrup, at my last trip to the farmers market I bought a jar of apple butter which eliminated one step but I did make the cider syrup, it’s a bit of a slow process but fills your house with the most wonderful aroma of apples and cinnamon.  I love apples so much I decided to devote the next several blog posts to recipes using apples. This is the first in the apple installment and it’s a great way to kick off all things apples.

This is a really really good recipe, the doughnuts are the perfect texture and crumb, love how they get a bit craggy when frying, gives them character. The flavor is out of this world delicious. Highly recommend you give this a try if you want to make doughnuts. They are the perfect dunking donut if you know what I mean, it always makes me laugh thinking of the Seinfeld episode where they were all wondering if Joe DiMaggio dunks when they were in Dinky Donut, so funny.

I am bringing these bad boys to Fiesta Friday #195 this week, you must check out all the Halloween goodies, amazing. The co  hosts this week are  Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Sandhya @ Indfused

That was 3 cups of cider

Apple Cider Syrup

3 cups apple cider

2-3 cinnamon sticks

Boil on medium high heat in large wide pot (makes the process quicker). The cider will reduce to a thick syrup and the yield will be about 1/3 cup. It takes approximately 30 minutes. Make sure you watch it because it can burn and removing the burnt cider is a challenge, (burned my first batch).

Doughnuts

1/2 cup apple butter

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs + 2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tbs + 1 tsp cinnamon divided

3 1/2 cup all purpose flour

6 tbs unsalted butter softened and at room temperature

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar (divided)

Vegetable oil for frying

Whisk together the apple butter, apple cider syrup, buttermilk, vanilla and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and 1 tsp cinnamon. Set aside. Using an electric mixer on medium high speed cream the butter, brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy (takes about 4 minutes) Add the eggs one at a time beating between each addition. Reduce mixer to low and add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, alternating with the cider mixture. Make sure you start with the dry, add half the cider mixture, then the other half of dry ingredients and ending with cider mixture. The dough will be soft and sticky.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread about 1/3 cup of flour on the sheet. Put the dough on the parchment and sprinkle with a little flour. With your hands gently pat the dough spreading it on the lined sheet pan, you want the dough to be about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or longer.

When dough is sufficiently chilled, start heating your oil, pour about 3 inches of oil in a pot and heat to 350 degree’s using a deep fry thermometer. While oil is heating cut out your doughnuts using a 3 inch round biscuit cutter and to make the hole in the center a 1 or 1/2 inch. Place cut doughnuts on a floured piece of parchment and drop them carefully in the hot oil. Fry 2 or 3 at a time letting them get nicely browned on both sides. After the doughnuts are done fry the holes.

Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 tbs cinnamon in a bowl and roll the warm doughnuts in the sugar mixture and place on cooling rack.

love to dunk

 

 

All About Pumpkin, Soup And Doughnuts

Recently I ordered 2 cans of pumpkin from my online grocer, I simply added to my cart without looking at the size of the cans, thinking it is the usual small cans of pumpkin puree. What arrived were the big cans, a whole lotta pumpkin and once opened it has to be used. I don’t really like freezing it because it becomes watery. I made 3 mini loaves of pumpkin spice bread, some chickpea pumpkin soup and pumpkin spice donuts and there is still enough leftover for a few pumpkin spice latte’s.

The pumpkin loaves I can practically make with my eyes closed, I use my recipe for banana bread and adapt to pumpkin adding spices.  The soup was my own creation and turned out quite well and is super easy to make. Now Doughnuts are another thing entirely. I have only made doughnuts once I think,  they were less than stellar so I abandoned  making those delicious little fried cakes and opted to buy them (the best doughnuts EVER are in my neighborhood).  We had a brief (2 days) of cool weather, back to warmer temps for the rest of the week but the soup on a cool day was just perfect. I used what I had in the pantry and refrigerator, threw everything in my oval roaster and slow cooked for about 6 hours. I didn’t pre soak the chick peas, just threw them in with some vegetable broth, carrot, onion, celery and everything cooked up beautifully. At the end I pureed some of the chickpeas, added pumpkin, Sri Lankan curry powder and some creme fraiche. So easy really, and no recipe required. You can add whatever you like or have on hand. I think that next I will try making yeast doughnuts now that I have cake doughnuts down.

curried pumpkin chickpea soup

Curried Pumpkin Chickpea Soup

2 cups dried chick peas

1 onion quartered

2 stalks celery

1 large or 2 small carrot

8 cups vegetable broth (you can also use water or chicken broth)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp curry powder (I used Sri Lankan)

Optional 1/2 cup creme fraiche

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325 degree’s. Put everything in the pot, put it in the oven and let it cook slow and long. I cooked it for 6 hours. When done, scoop out about 2/3 of the chick peas and a little of the broth along with the celery and onion. Puree in the blender until smooth, add the pumpkin, curry powder and optional creme fraiche. Add back to the pot, cut the carrots into bite size pieces and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning and if you like at the end add some spinach. I had some that needed to be used and it was nice in the soup.

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

Makes 12 doughnuts and holes

Recipe from Good Housekeeping

2 tbs softened butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

dash of ground nutmeg or about 1/8 tsp

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

vegetable oil for frying

Cream butter until fluffy, it’s only 2 tbs so it won’t be that fluffy. Add the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat until combined scraping sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the pumpkin, buttermilk, egg and egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Using a wooden spoon stir in flour until well combined. Cover bowl and chill for at least 3 hours or over night.

Heat the oil to 365 degrees. On work surface dusted with flour roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Using doughnut cutter or biscuit cutter cut the doughnuts and place on parchment lined baking sheet. When oil is at the right temperature drop 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time and turn once browned making sure they are evenly brown and cooked through. It takes about 3 – 4 minutest per doughnut. When done place on rack lined with paper bag or paper towels. Prepare some sugar and cinnamon and roll each doughnut while still warm in the sugar mixture. Let cool and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Corn Chowder

Summer doesn’t want to let go. It’s been hot, well really warm out and I long for crisp cool Autumn weather. My last hoorah for summer produce,( the only thing I will miss about summer is the produce) is corn chowder. I can’t believe I’ve never made it before and honestly have never even tasted it either, and now I know what I have been missing out on all these years. It’s so simple to make, sweet and savory at the same time, loaded with vegetables and a fitting tribute to delicious sweet corn. After removing the kernels from the cobs I used them to make a corn cob vegetable stock which I used to make this soup. Note: I used sweet bi color corn, if you want a soup that is a little less sweet use yellow corn, it is slightly less sweet IMHO, or mix the two types of corn.

I am bringing this soup to Fiesta Friday # 193, I am honored to be co hosting this week with the amazing Ginger and Bread.

Corn Chowder

Serves 6-8

The stock

6 ears of corn, kernels removed and set aside (see video)

3 stalks celery

3 carrots

1 large onion

10 cups water (or vegetable broth)

salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a large pot and bring to a boil on high heat. Turn heat to medium and cook for approximately 2 hours. It will reduce to about 6-8 cups. Remove the vegetables and strain if necessary.

Making the chowder

1 onion chopped

1 stalk celery chopped

1 large carrot chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped

Corn

2 potatoes peeled and cut into bite size pieces

6-8 cups corn stock

pinch of turmeric

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tbs flour + 2 tbs water to make a slurry

2 tbs butter

salt and pepper to taste

Add a little olive oil to a dutch oven or soup pot, heat on medium high and add the celery, onion, carrot and bell pepper. Sauté until soft. Add the stock and cook for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.  Stir in the slurry and turmeric and continue to cook until it thickens a little, add the corn and potatoes and cook for another 20-30 minutes (until potato is tender). Scoop out about 3 cups of the corn and vegetables and puree in the blender until smooth. Add back to the pot along with the cream and butter, salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or room temperature.

Watch this video on how to strip corn from Food52, I hate it when the kernels fly, this helps and there is very little flying kernels.

 

 

Pumpkin Pecan Spiced Waffles And Pumpkin Spice Compound Butter

It’s pumpkin season, this is my absolute favorite time of year and I want to celebrate by focusing on some recipes using pumpkin. Now, I am not the adventurous type that buys a whole pumpkin and goes through the arm breaking task of cutting and cleaning, Libby’s pumpkin puree is just fine by me.

These waffles are light, soft and delicious. I saw the recipe on Martha Stewarts site and adapted it substituting part of the all purpose flour for toasted pecan flour. The gentle warm spicing and pumpkin flavor of these waffles is like having Fall on a fork.  It literally takes only minutes to put these waffles together and it makes a hearty and delicious meal. I like to think that with the nut flour and pumpkin it’s health food. The compound butter is also nice because in reality you are using less butter since you have added pumpkin pureé. Win win!

pumpkins lined up at the local markets

Pumpkin Pecan Spiced Waffles

Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup +2 tbs toasted pecan flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp kosher salt

scant 1/4 cup sugar

1 3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup pumpkin pureé

3 eggs

1 stick (1/2 cup melted butter

Pre heat your waffle maker. To toast the pecans heat oven to 350 place 1 cup pecans on baking sheet and toast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or just until you can smell the nuts. Let cool and then grind in the food processor or vitamin, it will resemble course flour. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Pecan flour

In medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda and powder. In large bowl whisk together the milk, egg, pumpkin, eggs and melted butter add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes and follow manufacturers directions for your waffle maker. Keep them warm in the oven after you make each batch. They freeze beautifully also, I usually put in a zip lock bag with each waffle separated by parchment.

pumpkin spice butter

Pumpkin Compound Butter

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter

1/4 cup pumpkin pureé

2 tsp brown sugar

Pumpkin pie spice blend (You can use the same spices in the waffles)

Mix it all together until thoroughly blended. Serve on top of waffles

Basic Hummus And A Vegan Apple Tart

This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Jerusalem” it calls for dried chickpeas rather than canned. I always stayed away from recipes where you have to cook the beans/peas and rather opt for canned because it’s easy and I guess I am a bit lazy. Well, have to say there is a difference, a big difference in flavor and texture when you use freshly made chick peas. I love just about anything from any of the cookbooks by Ottolenghi or the team of Ottolenghi and Tamimi. The books are beautiful to look at, the ingredients they use are always fresh and the recipes are simple but creative and everything so far that I have made has been absolutely delicious. Like chocolate chip cookies there are thousands of recipes out there for hummus. It’s not rocket science and is made easily and quickly and has always been welcome as an appetizer or part of the main meal. It’s a wonderful recipe and if you are hesitant to use dried chickpeas, it takes a little more time and effort but the results are well worth the effort. The only change I made when making this recipe is that I use half the garlic indicated, I am not a big fan of raw garlic, the garlic is flavor is definitely there but is more subtle with 2 cloves, of course if your garlic cloves are very small use more.

I am bringing the hummus and tart to Fiesta Friday #191, this week, the co cohosts are Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Antonia@ Zoale.com thank you ladies for co hosting and as always a big thank you to Angie for putting this party together every week!

Basic Hummus

Serves 6 or more

1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas

1 tsp baking soda

6 1/2 cups water

1 cup plus 2 tbs light tahini

4 tbs lemon juice freshly squeezed

4 cloves garlic crushed (I used 2 cloves)

6 1/2 tbs ice cold water

The night before put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the chickpeas and baking soda, cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20-40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.

Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups. Place the chickpeas in the food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then with the machine still running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to process for 5 minutes until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.

Transfer to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes before serving, you can also refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. I drizzle the hummus with olive oil and sprinkle some sumac.

Delicious with fresh veggies and pita

I recently heard from friend I used to work with, it had been years since we have seen each other and I invited him over the other day to catch up, he is vegan and specifically requested pastry.  This tart is vegan,  has very little sugar, only about 2 tbs and is drizzled with apple cider cinnamon reduction. It couldn’t be simpler and it’s so beautiful. The pie crust is from the Crisco package and is one my Mother used for her pies, she didn’t even know her pie crust was vegan, I sliced the apples hasselback style, sprinkled with a little sugar, flour, cinnamon mixture, dotted a little earth balance and baked.

Simple, beautiful and delicious and it’s vegan

Flaky Pie Crust (Vegan)

Recipe on Crisco Shortening- makes single 9 inch pie crust

1 1/3 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

6-8 tbs ice cold water

Whisk flour and salt together, add the shortening and with a pastry cutter combine until it resembles moist crumbs. Add water and stir with a fork. Gather together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll the dough on floured work surface and line your tart pan. Refrigerate.

While dough is chilling, cut the apples in half, skin on, core and slice thinly keeping each half together, it’s easier to lift the sliced apples and place in pie shell. Heat oven to 400 degree’s. Mix 2 tbs sugar, 1 tbs flour, 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a small ramekin and set aside. Arrange the apples in the cold pie shell and sprinkle with the sugar, flour, cinnamon mixture. Dot with butter or vegan butter. Line a baking sheet with parchment and bake the tart until golden brown approximately 40-45 minutes.

Apple Cider Reduction

1 cup apple cider

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbs sugar

Place everything in a non reactive heavy bottom saucepan and boil on medium high until it reduces to a syrup. Approximately 30-40 minutes.

Served with Vegan salted caramel ice cream.

 

Block Party, Judging At Community Garden, A Bowl Of Vegetables And A One Bowl Chocolate Cake

It has been an exhausting few weeks. It was crunch time as our annual block party was coming up quicker than I would have liked it to. Organizing is not my strong suite but as the block association president much of the planning and prep work falls on me and I have to step outside my comfort zone and try to be the party planner. There is always so much to do, not enough time to do it and invariably something goes wrong. I have had torrential rain and had to cancel because of it, this year it was sunny and hot (way too hot for me) almost 90 degree’s. Something I have planned on for a year was cancelled, the rock climbing wall that our brave policeman bring to events, the kids love it and it’s so much fun for all. Last year my reservation for the wall got lost when the Officer retired and we only got it for an hour, I reserved it this year, almost a year ahead and 2 days before the event the police contacted me with bad news, the rock wall had broken and needs to be repaired. The children were all disappointed but the block party went off almost without a hitch and everyone had a good time.

Vegetables from the community garden

I live across the street from a Community Garden and they asked me if I would be a judge for a food event at their annual Harvest Festival, I was more than happy to do so. We tasted fresh vegetables grown in the garden which were judged on beauty and taste. Other things we tried were homemade pickles and desserts made with apples from the tree in the garden. It was a lot of fun, everything was delicious and some of the other judges were a food stylist, food photographer and cookbook publisher.

The block party is something everyone looks forward to all year, our block along with people from the neighborhood come together to eat, drink, talk, we all love watching the children have fun in the bouncy castle and ride their bicycles and skateboards in the street without fear of traffic. I usually have a bake sale but have been so incredibly busy I only made cookies which sold out very quickly. We grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, had pizza, drinks, music from a fantastic DJ and an amazing Ukelele group.

The day after I was completely exhausted and wanted a light simple meal. A bowl of roasted vegetables with cheesy cauliflower mash was exactly what I needed. I used an assortment of vegetables and mashed cauliflower with gruyere. Simple, healthful and delicious.  Had some green beans, zucchini, tomato and shallot drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 400 degree’s. Cauliflower mash is so easy, simply boil the cauliflower, let it dry in the oven on 200 for about 20 minutes then put in the food processor with some butter, sour cream and season with salt and pepper.  I added some grated gruyere and popped into the oven at 200 for a few minutes to heat and melt the cheese.

This super easy one bowl no measure chocolate cake is awesome. It’s a recipe on Food52. The fact that it’s quick and no measure immediately prompted me to give this recipe a try. The cake uses full fat plain Greek yogurt, I used Fage and you use the yogurt container as the means of measuring. Pretty cool right?

The cake will have cracks thats ok

Simple One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Recipe on food52

1  container (7 oz) plain Greek yogurt

1 container neutral flavored oil (I used canola)

2 large eggs

2 containers self rising flour

1 container unsweetened cocoa powder

1 container sugar

1 container warm water or coffee

Heat Oven to 350 degree’s. Prepare a 10 inch spring form pan by greasing or spraying the bottom, add a parchment round and then grease and flour the pan.

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix on low until the flour is incorporated, then increase to medium high and beat for approximately 2 minutes. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cake Tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pan, release the pan and remove the cake. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

London Fog Cake

I have been wanting to make a cake for a while now but lacked inspiration to try something a little different. There is a tendency to stick with the tried and true in both flavors and recipes, not that there is anything wrong with that but sometimes I feel the need to do something different. Since I got the tea from Adagio I have wanted to make another recipe using it that isn’t a cup of hot or iced tea. Yesterday an email appeared in my inbox from Pinterest and I saw this cake and immediately was struck by how utterly delicious it looked but then when I clicked on the link the frosting is flavors with Earl Grey Tea. The cake itself is pretty simple chocolate cake with a earl grey buttercream and then it’s drizzled with caramel. Sounds great right? I thought so too!! I decided to take it a step further and infuse the caramel with tea as well. The recipe is from The Cake Blog and it’s beautifully decorated and photographed. Decorating cakes is not my strong suite nor is photography but irregardless this cake sounds too good not to make. My recommendations are in bold print, I found the earl grey flavor overpowering and would recommend reducing the amount of tea used to infuse the butter. I love earl grey tea but feel that the buttercream needed to be a little more subtle in flavor.

This is my favorite chocolate cake, a recipe from Hershey’s which is on the can of unsweetened cocoa powder, the recipe has also been posted here on the blog many times click here to see it. I’ve made other cake recipes and nothing IMHO even compares. It’s simple, moist and delicious and never fails.

I am going to bring this cake with me to Fiesta Friday #188 and this weeks co hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Nimmi @ Adorable Life

Earl Grey Buttercream

Recipe from Theresa Huff for The Cake Blog

Frosts 2 layer 9 inch cake or 3 layer 8 inch cake

2 cups unsalted butter

1/4 cup loose earl grey tea (Recommend to reduce to 1-2 tbs)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbs egg whites ( 150 grams) the whites from 4-5 large eggs

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds from half a vanilla bean

Place one cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let tea steep for another 5 minutes. Strain the butter into a bowl and refrigerate until the butter is the consistency of softened butter approximate 20-30 minutes or longer it took over an hour before my butter hardened.

Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and hand whisk until foamy and mixed. Place an inch or two of water in a saucepan on medium heat, place the bowl with the egg whites and sugar on top of it being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Whisk frequently until the sugar melts it should register 155-160 on the candy thermometer or until it’s hot to the touch. Fit the bowl onto your stand mixer.

Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on high for 8-10 minutes until the mixture holds medium stiff peaks. When done the outside of the bowl should be room temperature and there should be no residual heat, you also should hold your hand over the bowl and you should not feel any heat at all.  Stop the mixer, remove the whisk attachment and replace with a paddle.

With the mixer on low speed add the vanilla, the tea infused butter and the other butter a few tablespoons at a time. Once the butter is incorporated turn the mixer to medium high and beat for another 3-5 minutes. The buttercream will be thick and silky.

Earl Grey caramel sauce

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tbs light corn syrup

2 tbs strong earl grey tea

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tbs butter,diced

generous pinch sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place sugar, corn syrup and water in a deep heavy bottom saucepan, stir to combine. Heat over high heat swirling occasionally for 8-10 minutes. The sugar mixture will start to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in color. Remove the saucepan from the heat once it has reached the desired color, I like a deep amber. Note: my caramel got a bit over done, almost burnt. I cooked on high and all of a sudden it started rising almost to the top of the pot after I removed from the heat. I didn’t want to add the cream and butter until it settled but that was a mistake, I should have added it to cool it down and stop the cooking process. So my caramel is a bit bitter. My advise is to remove from the heat right when it turns a light amber and add the butter and cream. Because it was so bitter I threw away half and replaced that half with a chocolate ganache. The pot I used was too small and it almost boiled over hence the over cooking, the caramel continues to cook even after removed from the heat and what stops that is adding the butter and cream. Because my pot was not big enough I had to wait until the bubbles went down a bit. 

Slowly and carefully whisk in the cream being careful to stand back because it will sputter and foam so stand clear.

Add the butter and continue to stir until melted. Now add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour into a heat proof container and let cool, it will thicken as it cools.

Assembling the cake

Place one of the layers on your cake stand or serving plate. Spread some of the butter cream to cover the layer and continue until all layers are place. Frost top and sides of cake and refrigerate until cooled at least 20 minutes.

Pour the caramel sauce over the top of the cooled cake letting it drip down the sides.

I made this cake yesterday and wasn’t in love with the flavor, today it tastes better maybe the tea flavor has mellowed but I still recommend reducing the amount of tea used in the buttercream. I love the buttercream recipe it is silky and just the perfect consistency and will definitely be using it again.