Monday, October 23, 2006

Blueberry-Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Yummy! Granted, I didn't actually get to taste - this slice was cut for your benefit then dutifully placed back in the cake. I did get to taste the frosting though: wow. I didn't use fresh blueberries - not in season - but frozen blueberries worked fine.
* 3 1/3 cups cake flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 cups sugar
* 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
* 4 large eggs
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
* 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
* 11 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), finely chopped
* 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 3+ cups powdered sugar
Additional blueberries (optional)
Lemon slices (optional)

For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until blended, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in lemon juice and peel, then eggs 1 at a time. Continue to beat until well blended. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions. Fold in berries. Transfer batter to pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks.

For frosting: Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until almost melted. Remove from over water and stir until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in lemon juice, then cooled white chocolate. Add powdered sugar until frosting is smooth and moderately stiff.

Turn cakes out onto work surface. Peel off parchment. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Garnish with additional blueberries and lemon slices, if desired. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bakewell and Linzer Tarts

Now I understand the term "food porn." Lately I've been flipping through the Flickr photo sets for desserts and pastry while watching tv: BAD idea. Thousands upon thousands of gorgeous food pics, but very very few recipes to accompany them. The agony! Many don't even have titles, so I don't know what sinful concoction is before me. The few who do post recipes however, normally link the picture to their blogs, which are chock full of brand-spankin' new recipes for me to try. I've added a few of the best to my favorites.

Anyway, from my porn surfing, I found these two tarts: the Bakewell Tart (pictured above) and the Linzer Tart. The Linzer I didn't get a picture of before it was whisked off to the hungry boyos; just assume mine looked as good as the one in the recipe. The Bakewell is a shortbread crust, with strawberry jam smeared on it, then covered with an almond cake. It overflowed while baking so I got to taste the leavings: the almond cake absolutely melts in your mouth. The Linzer Tart is an almond shortbread crust, with a raspberry jam layer, then chocolate ganache poured on top. I didn't get to taste but the bowl for this one, but I did make one adjustment to the recipe: I added ~1 tablespoon of cinnamon to the ganache, to spice it up a little bit.

The last recipe I'll post today is my birthday cake. Mine didn't photograph well at all; in fact it collapsed mid-picture under the weight of the mint sauce. It was a definite chocolate bomb though. I made one addition to the recipe: mid-bake time, I stuck a chocolate ganache truffle in the center of each. The idea was, melted chocolate truffle center! However, I stuck it too far down then over-cooked the cakes: the truffle was melted at the bottom, causing it to collapse faster once I took it out of the pan, and there was no molten center. They were still excellent though; just mini souffles.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lemonade Cake

I know, I know, I've been making a lot of fruit desserts lately. But, how could I resist Lemonade Cake! It looks rather plain so next time I'll probably candy some lemon rinds and sprinkle them across the top. I didn't have a chance this time around, unfortunately.

* 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick/3 oz/85g) butter, softened
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
* 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 large eggs
* 2 large egg whites
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
* Cooking spray
* 2 tablespoons butter, softened
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
* 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 8 ounces cream cheese
* 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F (180 C). Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake in preheated 350°F (180 C) oven for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
Place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (2 tablespoons butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.

Vanilla-Orange Drop Cookies

Orange Cookies! Very orange cookies in fact. I experimented with vanilla beans for the first time in this recipe; besides the vanilla extract, I scraped out the seeds of one vanilla bean. Did you know that vanilla beans are not actually bean pods? I was expecting a lima bean-like pod, but in actuality the beans were tiny little bits encased in the pod. Nifty! The other thing to know about vanilla beans is you can pay 8 bucks for a glass container and two vanilla beans. Next time I'm buying them wholesale.
* 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick/2 oz/56 gm) unsalted butter, softened
* 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1 large egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Orange Icing:
* 1/2 can (3 oz.) frozen concentrated orange juice
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
* 3 cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Grease and flour a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, sugar, honey, egg and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Drop medium sized spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. When cookies are cool, ice with orange icing.
In bowl of an electric mixer or in other medium size bowl, combine all icing ingredients and mix on medium speed with electric stand mixer or electric hand mixer, until smooth.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Monday, October 02, 2006

White Chicken Curry

I tried my hand at a different type of curry, a mild white one. It was ok, but very very mild. The chicken was tender but not very flavorful; the onions absorbed most of the spices. All in all, I probably won't make it again. Still, I like the look of that star anise tucked in there!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Spices Galore!

I've had a curry craving for ages, but I have a hard time finding recipes online that match the taste of Indian restaurants, so I broke down finally and bought a cookbook: Indian Essence by Atul Kochhar. So far, it's really good. Unfortunately it also requires loads of spices not sold in your average grocery store. Luckily, I live in the Bay Area, and Berkeley is wonderful for finding the oddest everythings. Mango powder, nigella, star anise, all in a little store called Bombay Spice House. Eee! Expect loads of odd-ingrediented but wonderful-looking recipes in the future.

Shrimp Curry

Compliments of the Essence of Emeril. It's brightly colored and has a bit of a kick to it. I omitted the okra and eggplant... but I'm a wimp. Was very good regardless though.
Curry Oil:

* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons curry powder
* 2 teaspoons minced garlic
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 turns freshly ground black pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend for 15 seconds. Store in an airtight jar or bottle for up to 1 week.

Shrimp Curry:
* 1 teaspoon black mustard seed
* 1 cup finely-chopped onion
* 1/2 cup chopped poblano pepper
* 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 1 tablespoon ground coriander
* 5 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
* 1 cup each julienned carrots and green bell pepper
* 1 cup each sliced okra and diced eggplant
* 1 cup peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes (tomato concassè)
* 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2/3 cup plain yogurt
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
* Curry oil (previous recipe), for garnish
Gently saute mustard seeds, onion, poblano pepper and spices in oil. Add carrots, okra and eggplant and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp, tomatoes and bell peppers and cook just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in coconut and season with salt. Simmer just until heated through and remove from heat. Stir in yogurt and melted butter. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and lightly drizzled with curry oil.

Lemon-Honey Drops

I was making a selection of cookies, and needed to include a non-chocolate item (infidels!) These are Lemon Honey Drops. They've got this gorgeous lemon-sugar frosting that you brush on while the cookies are still warm.
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 7 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
* 1/3 cup honey
* 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
* 1 large egg
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
* Cooking spray
* 1 cup powdered sugar
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat first 3 ingredients with a mixer at medium speed until light
and fluffy. Add honey, extract, and egg; beat until well-blended.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk.
Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning
and ending with flour mixture. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches
apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350
degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. Combine powdered sugar and juice in a small bowl; stir with a
whisk. Brush powdered sugar mixture evenly over hot cookies. Sprinkle
evenly with 2 teaspoons rind. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire
racks. Yield: 32 cookies.

Buttermilk Sugar Cookies

First recipe! These are Buttermilk Sugar Cookies, yum. Mine turned out looking more like scones than cookies, but I was making large cookies.
* 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup buttermilk
* 3 tablespoons butter (no substitutes), softened
* 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans for topping
1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets.
2. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
3. For frosting, combine butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Frost cookies; sprinkle with nuts if desired.
New blog! I was posting so many recipes I figured I'd dedicate one strictly for food. Prepare for the yummies!