Saturday, April 26, 2008

wacky wedding cake

Good friends of mine eloped a few weeks back. No one knew, no one, not even their when they came home and told everyone, it was quite the surprise. Needless to say we wanted to have a small celebration for them. So it was dinner out, a little prosecco and a cake, add the newly weds and it was a great time with friends. The cake below was super easy to make - maybe a little too easy for a wedding cake. It is a chocolate vegan cake, with cherry brandy sprinkled on the layers, cherry pie filling between the layers and then iced with swiss meringue (from last month's Daring Baking Challenge)

This cake recipe was from my mom, she always called it Wacky Cake, it must have been called that because there was no egg or milk in it. Anyhow the great thing about this cake is that at almost any time you have all of these ingredients on hand. The recipe below is enough to make a 2 6" cakes plus 2 ramikens of cake.

Cake Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vinegar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup cold water


  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt

  2. Make three wells in the flour mixture. Put the vanilla in one, in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir until moistened.

  3. Evenly distribute the batter into 2- 6 inch round cake pans (I had a nice small spring form pan that I used) and into 2 small greased ramikens.

  4. Bake at 350°F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly.

  5. Once all the cakes have baked and are out of the oven, allow to cool for about 15 minutes and then turn onto colling racks.

  6. Once completely cooled slice the two larger cakes horizontally so that you now have 4 layers plus the two ramikens. Trim any mounds on the cake to be sure that it is level.

  7. Drizzle cherry brandy on all the layers

  8. Begin stacking the cake, adding some filling to one side of the layer, and some of the swiss meringue butter cream to the bottom of the next layer, continue for all the large layers. For the small ramiken layers I cut a "cork" out, added some filling, trimmed the cork and then topped off the mini cake with it.

  9. I took the larger set of cakes and the smaller set and treated them like two separate cakes until right at the end.

  10. Crumb coat both cakes. Refrigerate until the base layer of icing is set.

  11. Ice a final top layer.

  12. Optional --> Take ribbon of your choice and add to bottom of each cake. Hold in place with pins at the back of the cake.

  13. Stack cakes and adorn as you choose.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

yam fries + chipotle mayo

These make a great snack, appy or side. I think they are best to make when your other mealtime tasks are minimal. I know that deep frying is so bad for you, but everyone once in a while right? All good things in moderation!

2-3 small yams
3 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
6 cups water

3/4 cup mayo
2 cloves roasted garlic
juice from one lemon
2-4 chipotle peppers

  1. Bring water a boil
  2. Heat oil to about 375 degree F
  3. Peal, wash and slice up yams
  4. Boil yams for about 1-2 minutes
  5. Strain yams, do not rinse, and lay out on towel to absorb extra moisture
  6. Carefully fry a handful of yams for about 2 minutes, remove and let drain on paper towel
  7. Fry remainder of yams
  8. Fry up yams in similar fashion a second time, this time let batches fry for about 4-5 min until golden brown
  9. Drain yams on a paper towel
  10. In a bowl, add yams and toss with salt and Cajun spice.
To make the chipotle mayo, in a food processor combine mayo, roasted garlic, lemon juice and chipotle (to taste).


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

white button walnut brownies

Who doesn't love a rich delicious brownie? Everything is good in moderation, and you really only need one of these, but don't forget a nice cold class of milk on the side! I have posted two pictures below. The first is the two-bite brownie, the second is made more traditionally in a square pan. I think I was more impressed with the pan method, and if I was to make them again (and I plan on it) I would place the white chocolate buttons on the top the same way I did with the two bite brownies. In the pan, I chopped up the white chocolate, so it just melted in...your choice!

*adapted by Alton Brown's Cocoa Brownies*
4 large eggs

1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
8 ounces melted butter
11/4 cups cocoa, sifted
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut pieces
16 white chocolate rounds/wafers

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
2. Butter and flour an 9-inch square pan or a mini cup cake pan
3. In a bowl beat the eggs at medium speed with a hand mixer until fluffy and light yellow
4. Add both sugars
5. Add all the remaining ingredients excpet for the white chocolate, and mix to combine
6. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9-inch square pan or the mini cupcake pan
7. Place the white chocolate evenly on top of the pan, in a 4x4 pattern or one on top of each mini cupcake
8. Bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.
I would even say that these are better the next day - if you can wait!

thai lettuce wraps

I have been so delinquent at posting - yet, I have been taking lots of pictures and scribbling down food combos (I am not sure I could call them recipes!) These are a favourite on a night we wanting take out - but a homemade version. I love that this dish is so versatile, really you could put any veggies or ground meat/tofu into it.

1/2 small onion

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 to 1 lb ground meat (this is beef, but chicken, turkey and pork have all been good)
2 carrots
2 celery stocks
1 red/yellow or green pepper
2-3 button mushrooms
1 handful chopped spinach
1-2 Tbsp sambal/chili sauce
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp hoison sauce
1-2 tsp honey *to taste*
2Tbsp Peanut Satay sauce (optional)

Half a bag of steam fried noodles
One head lettuce

1. Wash and finely dice all veggies

2. In a wok or large fry pan heat up sesame oil over medium-high heat
3. Add onions and garlic, do not burn
4. Add meat and brown
5. Add all veggies, except for spinach and stir

6. Add sambal, soy, hoison, peanut satay sauces and honey
7. Allow veggies to cook for about 3-4 minutes
8. Add spinach and cook for another 30 seconds
9. Wash head lettuce and smack the base on the counter, this helps loosen all the leaves

10. Place a layer of the steamed noodles in your serving bowl, top with the hot meat/veggie combo.
11. Serve and Enjoy.

*in the past I have added small cubed firm tofu, it absorbs the sauce nicely*