Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's for Dinner?

It's a busy week.  The shop re-opened today (after a 5-week summer break) and my new studio is still knee deep while I try to re-organize.  Dinner planning / shopping / prepping this week needed to be simple and easy.

But first let me tell you about Green Goddess Salad Dressing ... in my blog reading I stumbled across Kayln's Kitchen. It looks like there might be some great recipes I can check out later ... but the one that struck me was this and I thought I've never heard of that - is it a generation thing? Yep ... it turns out I'm a tad too young to remember it in it's heyday - I'm not even sure if my older siblings know it ... but it doesn't matter.  I made it and loved it.  I did leave out the vinegar and will probably dial back the lemon juice just a tad but it was lovely and I'm sure it will feature often in our house

TUESDAY - meatloaf, green beans and bacon, fresh tomatoes and green goddess salad dressing (made for the first time yesterday and got "approved" from both of us :)

WEDNESDAY - ribs (pre-boiled and sitting in home-made marinade since Tuesday night) on the grill if it doesn't rain - under the broiler if it does, snap-peas and a small salad with more GG dressing.

THURSDAY - smoked salmon tagliatelle and the only zucchini we got from our garden this year ... the shop is open and when Axel gets home we need to zoom to Ikea so I needed a meal that could be ready in about 20 minutes or less when we get back because it will be nearly 8 by the time we're back

Friday - spinach pancakes if I'm pooped out from the week and putting Ikea furniture for the studio together or leek, pea and bacon risotto.

SATURDAY - manicotti (hopefully prepped and filled on Friday while I'm cooking the risotto)

SUNDAY - mushroom chicken casserole topped with cheese scones

MONDAY - risotto? (unless we have that on Friday, then probably spinach pancakes.  Or start all over with a fresh week plan if I have the car on Monday to do grocery shopping.)

You'll see that about half-way through the week I quit mentioning the veg but that will get filled in with whatever's fresh and available.  Plus regardless of the recipe I tend to pack tons of vegetables into everything I cook so even if it doesn't appear as a separate vegetable on the plate - there in there! - and I dare you to pick them out.

Recipes will surely be added to the cookbook ... but be sure to let me know if any tickle your fancy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

carrot cake

It doesn't get better than a nice, moist carrot cake.  I love it and  Axel loves it. But I never order it in a Bakery or Restaurant because it's just never ever quite this good.
This recipe came from my sister and she might have gotten it from Martha, but who knows.  Of course, I've made that one change again ... reduced the amount of sugar!  My goodness, why do they think we need that much sugar? 

This cake is such a favorite in our house that it was our choice for a wedding cake.  I'd show you pictures but it was the hottest day of the year and we ran out of powdered sugar for the icing so it was more of a glaze that was dripping / running off the cake and oozing all over the platter.  


Cream together:
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar (original recipe calls for 2 cups)
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour

Stir thoroughly, then add:
3 cups* grated carrots

Bake at 350F / 175C for 35-40 minutes and then check.  When an inserted knife comes out clean, it's done - in some ovens I've had to bake as long as one hour.

One batch will fill two 9" cake pans
1-1/2 batches will fill three 9" round pans plus 6 tuna cans.

Tuna cans?  Yes, I have about a dozen that I've saved and cleaned.  The make the perfect mini cakes.  Allow to cool, remove from pan, frost and then freeze on a baking sheet.  The wrap individually and put back in freezer.  Perfect for popping a surprise into the honey's bag on his way to work or defrost and serve sweet little mini cake to your girlfriends on a quilting day.

Update: APR 2012
Since we discovered last summer that I am sensitive to lactose (primarily cow's milk) we now substitute Goat's "Plattekaas" for the cream cheese. Just don't whip it! It will liquify and go all icky runny and adding more powdered sugar just makes it too sweet. Gently fold the sugar in for the best results.

*For years I have never accurately measured the grated carrots. I use my food processor to grate them and when it looks like the right amount I stopped. It turns out I've been putting in way too many which would probably explain why I often have to bake them so long (see baking instructions above). I thought just this once I would follow the recipe. It was *good* but not the nice, moist, oh-so-yummy that I associate with this recipe. So the moral of the story is ... add more carrots ... I probably use closer to 4 cups but you will have to work with your baking time and maybe even lower the temp a tad. I've also discovered that my oven here in Kalken rarely ever comes up to the temp I want so now I have to play with the controls all the while reading a thermometer placed in the oven.

Esther was also kind enough to point out that I never gave you all the recipe for the frosting. Here's the original.


3 oz cream cheese
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

And my comments of course: Back in the day before my lactose intolerance I always use a whole bar (8 oz) of cream cheese because you can never have enough frosting. Now I use soft goat's cheese. It's not the same but still nice. A bit tangier so it's a balancing act between sugar and vanilla to get it just right. But I always use Mexican vanilla - that helps. It's such a lovely flavor and so different from just any old vanilla extract. I'm nearly out so a friend is bringing some from the states for me. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

the best ever chocolate cake

I first saw / read about this cake here.  Man it looked good, my mouth started watering and I began wishing it was my birthday.  And yes, I need a picture .. a pretty picture just like her's.  Next time I bake, have fresh strawberries, my counter is clean and the camera is working, ok?  I promise!

Yes, it's true, it's based on a Hershey's ~gasp~ Chocolate recipe, but first Alice made changes and then I made a few more ...  do you do that too?  Follow a recipe to the T or do you make your own changes, additions, omissions?

Oh ... um ... I guess I should explain the gasp ... the truth is I'm a snob.  A real chocolate snob.  It began slowly when I met my husband and has blossomed into a full-blown, read every label, it has to be real before I eat it snob.  Plus, I live in Belgium now - 'nuf said :)

deep dark Chocolate Cake

1-1/2 cups * 330g sugar  (original recipe is for 2 cups, next time I'm going to try it with just 1 cup)
1-3/4 cups * 220g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup * 85g cocoa powder
teaspoons * 6g baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons * 8g baking soda
1 teaspoon * __g salt
2 eggs
1 cup * 235ml milk
1/2 cup *120ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup * 235 ml steaming hot coffee (original recipe calls for boiling water, Alice uses half water / half coffee - I went whole hog and just used coffee, yumm!)

1. Heat oven to 350F / 175C. Grease* and flour two 9" round or one 9" x 13" rectangle pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Don't skip this step ... and blend well to prevent white "specks" in your cake where the flour hasn't mixed in thoroughly into the batter.

3. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer for 2 minutes. 

4. Carefully stir in hot coffee - yes, the batter will be very thin. Pour batter into prepared pans.

5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely.

*These days I usually skip the grease step and just line the bottom of my pan with baking paper.  Makes removal from pan a no-brainer.
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