Dec 3, 2011

Happy Holiday Baking!

Dear foodie friends,

Holiday baking has started in my house, and it smells soooo good. So gingery, warm and comforting.

I though of my blog, and how much I love and miss blogging, and I though of all my foodies. One of them is Shelby of The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch. I got an email from her, that just melted my heart; never though she would remember… We started blogging around the same time, and I was one of her first readers, as she was mine. I loved her blog instantly because it is so full of life, love, and good food, and the author is so engaging with her beautiful personality. I am yet to email her back, more on that some other time… Thank you Shelby!

I have had the blog set to private because I was being overwhelmed with questions about recipes, and I never had time to answer them, so I felt like it would be best to close the blog because I am so unavailable. I have also had my fair share of mean comments, anonymous of course, and I guess I got tired of that.

However lots of people also emailed me asking to be added as readers, or to simply make the blog public again, so here it goes. I am so grateful for your wonderful emails, and kind words. Thank you!

With the blog open again, I just cannot promise I will email back responses to your questions as promptly as active food bloggers would. Nature of my job is complicated, I work a lot, sleep very little, never know what the next day will be like, and never can commit to anything but work… I do miss you all, and I miss my kitchen…

I am happy there is still a day here and there when I can actually bake, like this morning, I made these gingerbread cookies with my kids (well I made the dough the day before). Yes, we love Gingy from Shrek! They are now adorning our Christmas tree, and they are also delicious. You can find the recipe here.

Happy Holiday baking!

May 24, 2011

Cold Cubes

Cold cubes

For Lydia! Thank you for emailing me, glad you like this cake! I have made this cake so many times, I don‘t even look for the recipe any more. It is simple, delicious, juicy, classic, and a real good dessert for summer, because we don’t always feel like eating fruity stuff just because it‘s berries season! I wanted to share how to make it with as much detail as possible.

For the biscuit:
6 eggs
6 tbs flour
6 tbs sugar
1 heaping tbs cocoa powder (or a bit more for a darker & more flavorful result)
2 tsp baking powder

To soak:
3 cups water
1 ½ - 2 cups sugar (however sweet you want the cake to be, filling is not too sweet because this is supposed to be)

For vanilla/banana filling:

2 (50g/1.75oz) vanilla puddings, cook 7 serve kind (or 1 vanilla, 1 banana)
You can substitute pudding for corn starch, same measurements, and add vanilla extract, or banana extract
3 2/3 cup milk
8-10 tbs sugar
8oz/ 2 sticks of unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature

Chocolate glaze:
100g/3.5 oz dark chocolate (I used Dove dark chocolate silky smooth promises)
3 tbs oil
(or use your own chocolate glaze or ganache recipe)

First make the filling/custard. Mix pudding mix/corn starch with sugar and some of the milk, like ¾ cup, until there are no more lumps. Set the remainder of the milk to boil, reduce the heat, and gradually stir in pudding mix, but mixing fast, until it thickens, and starts erupting. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and cool to room temperature. Cover the pudding so the skin wouldn’t form on top, and mix occasionally too.

When cooled to room temperature, add the butter or margarine (very important that its room temperature, both butter and the custard/filling), and mix well with a hand mixer. I normally add few drops of banana extract no matter how I made the filling,

While you’re waiting for the pudding to cool, make the biscuit. Preheat oven to 400° F. In one bowl mix egg whites until stiff enough that it wouldn’t fall out of the bowl if you flipped it upside down :)

Mix egg yolks with sugar until frothy, then add the egg whites, and fold in, then mix only a little just till it’s all incorporated nicely. Mix flour with baking powder and coca powder, and gradually add it to the eggs. Mix well, but don’t over mix.

Pour it into a baking dish. I use 15”x10” glass baking dish, no need to line it, or grease and flour it. Bake until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. One trick to have the biscuit come out nice and even is to slightly raise the baking dish from the countertop and then let it fall (have a kitchen towel on the countertop for a smooth landing :) ), several times, this releases the air out of the batter, works like a charm.

When it’s baked, it will be quite dry, but should be nicely risen, and even. Cool completely, poke with a toothpick all over, then boil sugar and water, and pour it over the biscuit. This will create a bit of mess on top, because the top skin with mush up, for the lack of a better word, but you can very easily remove that by scraping it with a spoon. Let it cool again, then spread the custard/filling over it, and even it out. You do all this in a baking dish, no need to take it out of the dish. I normally get the exact same height of the filling and biscuit, but this time that didn’t happen. No worries, still equally delicious.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate, and mix in 3 tbs of oil, or you can do this in a microwave if you’re skilled enough. Pour the chocolate as evenly as possible all over the cake, then even it out with a spoon or spatula, whatever works.

Cool in a fridge at least over night, and before serving cool in a freezer for a short time, just until it’s very cold, but not frozen. First piece of cake is impossible to cut out perfectly because the cake is in the dish, you’ll need to scoop it out with a spoon, so the first one goes to you! So make it a big one!!! :) After that cut as usual, and also cut or use fork to raise each cube from the bottom. Once you’re done with about 2 rows of cubes, you can slide the knife under the rest of it for an easier/cleaner bottom cut. Enjoy on a hot summer day!

Apr 24, 2011

Kate By Gayle

Kate in a bag by Gayle's Chocolates

This post is a special thanks to Gayle from Gayle’s Chocolates, a Royal Oak, Michigan chocolate company, who was so kind to send me a sample of her sweet work, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I received the package, and got my very own “Kate”! Why Kate? Keep reading…

My 11-year-old daughter’s eyes were as wide as they can get, as she starred at my beautiful chocolate shoe, and I was battling with my mother’s instinct; I just couldn’t say the words “you can have it”, I needed to own it at least until the photo shoot was over, and maybe some time spent in a display for everyone to see : )
No worries, it is now her “Kate”, along with all the bragging rights! I love you baby!

This beautiful chocolate high heel shoe was designed in honor of the British Royal Wedding, and is respectively named "The Kate". It’s made of premium white chocolate, with dark chocolate jewel, and dusted with non-toxic edible pearl and sapphire dust, and it measures 7 inches long and 5-1/2 inches tall. Look how beautifully packaged it is!

I know that in order to provide you with a full review, I should say what it tastes like, but I can’t bring myself to bite into it, it’s to adorable. I can say this though, it’s smells sooooo good, and soooo creamy, I simply know it’s delicious! As soon as I get a replacement for Kate, and I have my eyes set on a few beautiful creations by Gayle, I will update this post, and tell you all about it.

I am so proud to have been invited by a local Michigan company to sample their work, it’s a great honor. Whether you live in Michigan, or not, be sure to visit Gayle’s Chocolates, and surprise your loved one with one of many beautiful creations Gayle makes, or a box of her handmade truffles or chocolates.

Kate by Gayle's Chocolates

Apr 22, 2011

Apple Cake

Apple Cake

There is still no spring in sight, at least here in Michigan; we get a teaser here and there, but the heat is still running, and the birds are still hiding in the trees, confused… Well, at least I managed to get some spring on my table, by making a fruit cake with some spring tone to it. I got the recipe for this cake from my late mother in law, and it’s my husband’s favorite. Happy Easter to all who celebrate this weekend!

Apple Cake
5-6 medium apples (Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Red Rome, McIntosh)
Some ground walnuts to fill the apples
Some vanilla sugar to sprinkle

4 eggs
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp oil
4 heaping tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder

1 1/3 cup milk
3 tbsp sugar
1 fruit pudding powder (cook & serve kind), strawberry or some other kind
4 oz (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature

Make the cream first. Mix pudding powder, sugar, and some milk (out of those 1 1/3 cups) until there are no lumps. Boil rest of the milk, reduce heat, and gradually, but quickly add the pudding mixture, stir fast, and cook for a minute until it thickens. It will be very thick. Transfer to a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap so the skin wouldn’t form on the top. Cool to room temperature, then with a hand mixer, mix in the butter (or margarine) with some powdered sugar ( I have added only about 1 ½ tbsp).

While waiting for pudding to cool, preheat oven to 395° F. Peel, and core apples, and trim them if necessary so they fit nicely in a 9 inch spring form pan. You can use 5 in a circle, or 6 with one in the middle, depending how big the apples are. Fill them with ground walnuts, just as much can fit, don’t over pack, then sprinkle the tops with vanilla sugar. No worries if some walnuts fall into the pan, it’s all good, and it will be baked in for a better cake.

Bake apples for about 15-20 minutes, really depends on which apples you picked; just don’t over bake them, they have some more baking to do when you pour the biscuit mixture over them. So, when they just started softening in the oven (check often), pour the biscuit mixture over them, and do it slowly, making sure you coated each apple. Reduce the heat to 375° F. The biscuit will rise to the height of apples. Bake for about 20 minutes. When it’s nice golden color, check with a toothpick to see if it’s done. Let it cool to room temperature.

When cooled, flip it upside down onto a cake platter, spread the cream evenly over the top, and frost generously with whipped cream. I use powdered whipped cream, because I can control the consistency of it, and I prefer it’s taste over heavy whipping cream. Cool in fridge, and enjoy!