Sunday, November 11, 2007

tasty cakes.....

It's been quite some time since my last post and there is much to get caught up on....

First of all - lately, it's been all about cake. Birthday Cake specifically.

1)Red Velvet
- a birthday commission for Max Stone.
Source: Paula Deen's recipe from Food Network website
Pros:The only recipe i could find that called for butter over shortening (ick!)
Cons:The amount of food colouring...I purchased a gel colouring from broadway panhandler, it worked great, but man, that is one RED CAKE yo!...also, didn't rise very much...icing this bad boy takes patience, the crumb layer is key!
Moist Factor: High!...very dense..
Flavour: good...I used balsamic vinegar instead of white vinegar, the sweetness of the balsamic really brought the cocoa forward...
Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream with a little lemon juice for brightness
Make again? YES

2)ReBar Chocolate Cake
- for Jana's Birthday
These folks from ReBar in Victoria BC have got it goin'on....Their vegetarian fare is so wonderful it could convert the meatiest of meateaters...the food is unique, flavourful, wholesome and well thought out....The restaurant is home to local regulars and tourists alike...the book is very descriptive, creative and suitable for any's my favourite it on Amazon!
ANYWAYS, another great reason to get this book is for the chocolate cake recipe..unreal....seriously, hands down the best I've had in a very very long time...and , I was really stoked it came from my was moist, rich, fudgy and chocolatey in that just sweet enough kind of was a sexy cake!..the recipe calls for strong black coffee which contributes to the cake's wonderful deep was iced with a bittersweet chocolate frosting from which insidently was less healthy than the entire cake itself, but oh, so worth the situps...
ReBar chocolate cake.....make it, eat it, love it!

3) Banana Cake with Impromptu Dulce de Leche Frosting....

Birthday: Mine
How do you dress up a box of cake? Mashed Bananas and Buttermilk to replace the liquid is one was my birthday and I didn't want to go and spend a fortune on some lame-ass cake that costs an arm and a leg so, with time being of the the essence I grabbed what I could at the bodega and made myself a cake.....ta-da!!

The cake was really tasty and for not having time to make one from scratch it did the trick and really acted as more of a vehicle for the frosting....sweet mother of god, the frosting was wicked!

Impromptu DULCE DE LECHE Frosting with Bananas and Toasted Pecans

Over Medium heat in a medium sauce pan cook 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly until a light caramel colour - about 20 minutes. (it will bubble and thicken)
Remove from heat and add 2 very ripe mashed bananas, stirring well to combine
Add 3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans (I toasted mine in oven at 350 for about 10 minutes)

Allow to cool before icing cake....

It's deadly.....

Monday, October 22, 2007

The little windbag exhales.....

So after last week's little diatribe about how this current tech-savvy generation has lost touch with Seasonal, Local Food I did some research......I thought the internet would be chock full of information, complete with pretty photos of Harvest Charts for every corner of the globe.....not so much....... is one of the only websites i could find, providing harvest information by State and Season, and where to go about getting your hands on the good stuff...they even have icons for Canadian provinces - yay!

The New York Farmer's Market Association site is also impressive with a wonderful link to which lists over 50 kinds of the forbidden fruit and when they are ripe for the pickin'! there are even some less known, heirlooms to check out....mmmmmmm!!

San Fransisco has a beautiful market page as do the British Columbia Association of Farmer's Markets.....

In any of you know of more sites, please let me know....the research and report shall continue!!

Like the folks of Flying Pigs Market say :"No Farms, No Food"

Monday, October 15, 2007

Little Opinionated Windbag!!(part one)

I am lucky. I grew up with a Gramma who had been raised on the farm - she knew when apples were to be picked, beans and cucumbers were crisp & juicy, that the window of strawberry season was closing as soon as it opened and that no one should even think about enjoying a tomato from the grocery store in the middle of winter. She took me to Mr. Burton's road side farm stand and let me pick out the firmest beets and yummiest freshly dug new potatoes to be boiled and have with butter that night....turnip was only good after the first frost and sweet corn came late in the summer....

She grew up in the era where dining with the seasons was the way of life, it was the epitome of slow food....and granted the industrial, technlogical, and agri-busniess booming era was decades away; the connection with the earth bestowed on her generation is something we, as a tech-savvy, fast-paced, everything at our fingertips nation lack.

We as a people have let this old-school knowledge fall by the wayside. While we were busy programming our ipods and texting our friends, the agri-business of the western world has gobbled up these independent land labourers and replaced them with fast, fancy machinery and hazardous chemicals to keep up with our ever increasing demands....hard on the enivroment and damaging our insides, we line up for more....

What have we done?? how do we undo the injustice to the bought-out farmers and their pesticide infested land? do we reverse the process and take back the seasonal produce in all it's glory??

it's 12:19 and I am late!

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's finally here!!

It was a blustery Friday morning as I made my early trek to Jack's. For the first time, I snuggled into my corduroy jacket to deflect the chilly breeze around 7th ave and W.4th......It's FALL!!....and Fall equals without any further adieu, I bring you my first soup of the season.....Roasted Butternut and Acorn Sqaush with Coconut's silky, a little spicy and has a gentle sweet finish from the coconut milk -BONUS: it's ridiculously easy and accidently vegan!There is definetly enough soup here to freeze or, as another meal serve with basmati rice and top with nuts and unsweetened coconut.....mmmm!

Roasted Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup with Cocounut Milk

1 medium size Butternut Squash, cut in half, seeds removed
1 medium size Acorn Squash, cut in half, seeds removed

2 tbsp Olive Oil or Coconut Oil* (nutritional information below)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Chili flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 medium sized Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
3 cups Vegetable Stock

1/2 can Coconut Milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a baking dish arrange the squash with the cut sides up. Mix together oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and chili flakes in a small bowl, spread evenly over squash and garnish with salt and pepper. Place in oven, uncovered and bake for about an hour or until golden, tender and beautifully carmelized......baste the squash occasionally if you want to as the juicy goodness pools in the scooped out center....

In the meantime, saute the onions in a little olive oil in a medium sized soup-ish pot until they begin to sweat and then add garlic. Saute until fragrant and then add vegetable stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover, turn down heat and set aside.

When squash is roasted, scoop the flesh and add to stock and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes allowing flavours to marry. Transfer to blender, and blend until smooth (do this in a couple of batches to avoid any blender overflow accidents!). Pour puree back into pot and add 1/2 can of coconut milk. Over low heat, bring to desired tempuature and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls topped with pumpkin seeds and a little coconut milk drizzled on top.

*Coconut Oil is a wonderful fat to use for cooking and baking. Besides having a very high burning tempurature, it imparts a great coconut flavour if you purchase the raw, unfiltered and unbleached oil. Coconut Oil behaves very similarly to butter so this chirstmas it may be time to try it in shortbread cookies!!...I have read it is reccommended to reduce coconut oil 25 perecent in place of butter....
Though a great deal of the fat in Coconut Oil is saturated, it comes from the 'meduim-chain' strand of fats which actually helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy, making coconut oil a great fat choice for athletes, so blend this stuff into your smoothie along with or implace of peanut butter.....mmm!It is also lower in calories than most fats and oils.....
Raw, Unrefined Coconut Oil is a good source of maganese,one of the only plant sources of lauric acid (enhances brain function and immune system) and fiber.
Seek this oil out at health food stores - the brands I have used and liked are: Nutiva and Artisana

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Diving Right In!

So it's best just to start blogging and go from there right?? here goes......

It's Wednesday, for many, it's the least favourite day of the week; for me, quite the opposite. Wednesday means heavy-hitter day at the Union Square Green Market and today was no exception. It's a strange season here in NYC, August tempuratures have long worn out their welcome and sweaters are impatiently waiting to be pulled from the storage bins....the only place there no complaints is at the Green Market - the late summer fruit and vegetables are lingering around to catch a glimpse of the fall harvest of root veg, apples, pears and squash - as if to tease the shopper.....'do you really want that butternut squash when this could be the last time you touch my tender, fragrant flesh until next year?' taunt the heirloom tomatoes.....the question really is not what to buy so much as what NOT to after my market routine which consists of walking around and sussing out whos got what, I decide upon some new-to-season crops and some almost out of season beauties to have one last go around with....
Migoreilli & Sons had bunches of Basil for a dollar! pungent, sweet and licoricy! - how does one pass that up??! so i came home with 2 bunches and made pesto that will last me quite some time and avoid me paying an arm and a leg in February for sub-par lacklustre an another act of preservation, I am equally stoked about the cherry tomatoes that will be roasted tomorrow night to be enjoyed over the next few weeks - a recipe I will gladly share! venture would be complete without stopping to my favourite apple guys from Milton, NY...they always let me sample and sample and sample their fruit - they have the best apples, pears and service! I bought Jonathan's, Opalescents, and Clapps Pears....(also some bagged pears & apples for juicing - I'm making cider!).....brussel sprouts, purple carrots and striped beets all found their way into my bag as well with use yet to be determined....but the week is young....

En route home from the market, my friend Rachel sent me a message about the 'Treats Truck''s basically a bakery on wheels....they are at a different spot in Manahattan daily and if you see it don't walk by, get your ass in line! A woman named Kim is the owner and pastry chef offering up classic treats like cookies in many sorts and brownies to die for....I sampled a butterscotch pecan brownie, a caramel creme sandwich cookie and raspberry brownie before going after my true calling: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Sandwich Cookie.....first of all, the size was perfect - it was a treat, not a meal that would send me into a "WHAT HAVE I DONE???!!!" guilt frenzy...secondly, the cookie itself was one of the best of the PB cookies I have had in this city - good consistency, very peanut buttery and not cloyingly sweet (I would have liked a little more salt but that's just me)...the chocolate filling was semi-sweet and a nice, firm texture against the cookie.....I love the treat truck, I want one, I think I will ask for one for christmas...

In wanting to create my own treat truck experience for myself, I decided to make some thumbprint cookies for a customer named Joe at the coffee shop I work at (I love him, he loves thumbprints, I figure it's a win-win situation)....After making a few raspberry, creativity got the better of me and away I's the recipe and what happened...

Gentle Joe's Apple-Ginger Walnut Thumbprint Cookies

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp.cinnamon

3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp salt (or a couple of pinches)

1 cup of coarsely ground walnuts (I suppose any kind of nut would work)

Good Quality Jam, or if you are a big nerd and have left over apple pie filling from a previous catering gig, use it! (recipe follows)

In a medium size mixing bowl, cream butter sugar and cinnamon with electric mixer (hand held or kitchen aid) for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl and then on low speed, gradually add flour until just combined. Stir in nuts and allow 20-30 minutes of chill time in the fridge.....

By generous teaspoon form dough into ball and then create large cavity in middle for filling. Place onto lightly greased cookie sheet about 1.5 inches apart. Drop jam into center being careful not to over-fill, and bake for until golden brown at 350 degrees, about 20 minutes. Cool on sheet before removing.

Makes about 18-20 cookies.

Apple Pie Filling:

The sweetness of the apple finishes with the mellow heat of the ginger that only intensifies the next day!

2-3 medium sized Cortland Apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar
pinch nutmeg
2 tsp candied ginger, chopped
1 tsp. flour

Combine all ingredients and bake in shallow dish at 350 degrees until apples are soft - about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before using in cookes. Apple mixture keeps well in fridge for about a week in air-tight conatiner. Ginger flavour will intensify over time.

Ok, I'm calling it a night....