29 March 2009

weird meat

tripe cow stomach

Thanks to Sheena, I discovered this blog she describes as "hilarious/nasty." Please check out the master list of weird meat that's been eaten. Above is cow's stomach. Ewww.

27 March 2009

Saag Paneer

(Sorry that there’s no picture. I’m getting really discouraged by my inability to photograph food. Here is an approximation of what the saag paneer will look like.)

Oh, man, this is good. When I lived in London for a month, I took an Indian “cookery” class. The instructor emailed me a list of dishes, from which I had to choose three. I chose saag paneer because my favorite thing at Indian restaurants is “chicken saag” (that’s what I always called it, anyway), and because I didn’t see chicken saag on the list, I assumed that saag paneer would be the closest thing to it. See, I didn’t know what paneer was.

Paneer, in the unlikely event that I was not the last person to figure this out, is described at Indian restaurants in New York as solid cottage cheese. I think it’s more akin to a firm mozzarella, one that doesn’t melt—it keeps its shape when cooked. It’s mild, pretty flavorless actually, and kind of dry, but it has the intoxicating texture and structure of cheese, and do I ever love cheese. I’ve always had to head to the Indian grocery district to buy it (in NY, this is around 28th street and Lexington in Manhattan), which is one of my favorite field trips.

This should be served with some fragrant rice and/or flatbreads and, if you’re game for making a day of it, it’s a nice thing to accompany other Indian dishes. But also, this is just comfort food. Think, mac and cheese-type comfort, except with complex flavors and abundant Popeye greens.

If you omit the paneer, this is a base for many other good dishes. I added chickpeas to it last night to nice results. You could also probably use lentils and potatoes. It would also be a good braising medium for chicken that has marinated overnight in yogurt, some green chilies-ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, cumin, and salt (ie, "chicken saag"). You might also make it work with firm tofu.

And here’s the recipe I’ve arrived at after tinkering with the one from the class. It’s a little bit of work, but so worth it.

Saag Paneer

3 T canola oil
18 oz paneer, cubed or sliced however you’d like
2 Indian green chilies, seeds in or out, depending on you personal heat threshold, chopped coarsely (buy them at the Indian grocer; I can’t find them anywhere else; this is what they look like)
2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
1 t cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 big bag spinach
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup plain yogurt (low- or nonfat is fine)
1 t salt
squeeze lemon juice
1 t garam marsala
cilantro for garnish

In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil. Over medium-high heat, fry the paneer in batches until browed evenly on all sides.

In a blender or food processor, blitz the green chilies, garlic, and onion; add water by the tablespoon if it doesn’t want to emulsify. Into the frying pan where the paneer was, with the heat on medium, add the cumin seeds and bay leaf, cooking for about 10 seconds until fragrant. Add the onion mixture and fry for 5 to 10 minutes, until it reduces and shows signs of browning. You’ll want to stir constantly in order to avoid sticking. Then add the spinach, turning with tongs, cooking until completely wilted. Tip this mixture into the food processor and puree.

Put the spinach mixture back into the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir in the cream and yogurt, and then the salt, sugar, lemon juice, and garam marsala. Adjust seasonings. Add the paneer and cook until heated through.

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot, with rice and/or flatbreads.

26 March 2009

Happy (day after) Pecan Day!!

Despite being a hickory (type of tree), 38% of Americans consider the pecan their favorite nut.* And for those fateful, today is a glorious day: Pecan Day!! (ED: or it would have been, but there was too much stuff happening on Pecan Day, so we'd like to celebrate the Day After Pecan Day! yay, zaz, etc.)

In the US, pecans are probably most well-known for the delicious center of the Pecan Pie. Grown on the state tree of Texas, pecans are fabulous for salad toppings, desserts, entrees, and even the scrumdiddlyumptious Salvadorian Amaretto Apple Pecan Muffins featured here on mad tasty last month. For more information on the pecan, check out Pecans 101 and be sure to enjoy some today!

*78% of all statistics are made up, including this one.

25 March 2009

tasty dishes

So what we have here is a tasty meal composed of Rachel's chana masala, some pecan rice, the mushroom/carrot dish we came up with and then my signature salad. It quartered nicely on the plate. For the next two nights I had the same thing minus the mushroom dish since we hadn't made enough of that, and I'd definite reccomend it. If I could spell recommend. Reccomend?

carrots, mushrooms, coriander

A simple sidedish.

  • chopped baby portobella mushrooms
  • three big carrots
  • a handful of fresh coriander/cilantro
  • a spoonful of crushed garlic
  • season with cardamon, pepper, salt
  • olive oil
Chip, simmer, season, serve.

24 March 2009

Chana Masala

hana Masala

This North Indian/Pakistani dish was passed to me from my Norwegian roommate in Ireland (go figure). It has been a staple for me in my travels, since chickpeas are relatively easy to find in most places. If you are using dried chickpeas, be sure to soak them overnight, drain and soak again until you're ready to cook.


Chickpeas (one/two cans, drained; or half a pack of dried, soaked as above)
Onion (halved and sliced)
Ginger (a good chunk, chopped or grated)
Garlic (to taste; 2-4 cloves)
Vegetable stock (about 2 pints)
Coriander seeds (2 tsp)
Cumin (2 tblsp)
Garam masala powder (same)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh coriander, to garnish
Fresh yoghurt, to garnish

Sautee the onion, half the ginger, garlic, and coriander seeds together in a dollop of extra virgin olive oil until onions are translucent, about 5-10 mins. Add the chickpeas, stir around for 3-5 mins. with salt and pepper, then add the stock. Season with the cumin & garam masala. Cook on a medium heat to reduce the liquid. You may have to add 1-2 pints of water as the dish cooks down. The chana is ready when the chickpeas 'burst' and are slightly mushy, split along the back, and the liquid is reduced. Garnish with fresh coriander and yoghurt. Suggested as an accompianment with short grain brown rice.

23 March 2009


From the decorators who brought you Vagina Cake, now come Pupcakes, a new birthday endeavor. These are from the book Hello, Cupcake!, which we think is pretty much the coolest thing ever (seriously, check out their Starry Night cupcakes and try to tell us that Van Gogh himself could do better).

We think of the below recipe as guidelines. You can use whatever candy, frosting, or cupcake that works best for you, but see below for how to construct the Westie puppy cupcakes. These cupcakes take a ton of frosting, so make sure to use one that you like. For simplicity's sake the book calls for store-bought cans, but feel free to make your own, which is probably tastier.

Westie puppy cupcakes
(the below makes three, but if you're baking a whole batch of mini and regular cupcakes, you'll easily make a lot more)

3 standard vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners
3 mini vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
Brown, yellow, and black food coloring (we didn't have this, so we made our own colors with yellow and red food coloring and chocolate frosting)
1 cup dark chocolate frosting
6 mini marshmallows
1 tablespoon pink decorating sugar (we used the sugar from a Baby Bottle Pop)
9 black candy coated chocolate covered sunflower seeds (for us, just a dot of chocolate frosting)
1 red fruit chew, (Starburst)

Divide the vanilla frosting into thirds. Tint 1/3 of the vanilla frosting a golden brown with the brown and yellow food coloring, 1/3 light gray with the black food coloring and leaving the remaining 1/3 white. Spoon each color frosting into a separate ziplock bag (or if you want your dog to be striped, put two colors in one bag). Tape a bottom corner on each ziplock bag with the frosting. Flatten taped corner on each ziplock bag and cut out 2 small notches to make an “M” in the tape to make a small star tip.Cut 6 of the mini marshmallows in half and pinch the top for the ears. Press the cut sides into the pink sugar to coat. Cut the remaining 6 of the marshmallows on the diagonal to remove 1/3rd of the marshmallow. The larger piece is used for the muzzle. (Or, don't make this harder than it has to be. Just use a whole marshmallow for the snout. Come on, they're mini.)

For the head: Pipe a small dot of frosting with the star tip on lower half of a mini cupcake. Attach the large piece of marshmallow, flat side against cupcake and cut side toward bottom edge for the muzzle. Pipe several dots of vanilla frosting on opposite edge of mini cupcake and attach 2 sugared marshmallows as ears. Pipe several lines of vanilla frosting to cover the ears. Starting just above the marshmallow muzzle, pipe lines on either side to cover cupcake. Pipe smaller lines in the front to cover the marshmallow. Starting along the opposite edge of ears, pipe frosting “fur” over cupcake, 1/2 inch from edge. Continue piping rows of “fur” to cover the cupcake. Add the black candy sunflower seeds as the eyes and nose. Cut the fruit chew into quarters. Use one piece to shape into a tear drop shape as the tongue. Press a knife onto the fruit chew to create a crease and pinch one end. Add the pink fruit chew for the tongue under the nose.

For the body: Starting along the outer edge of a standard cupcake, pipe the vanilla frosting with the star tip about 1/2 inch from edge. Continue piping rows of “fur” to cover the cupcake. Place the decorated mini cupcake on its side on top of the standard cupcake. If you want to add a leash, stick a red licorice lace in the standard cupcake towards the back of the mini. Continue with the other colored frostings to make other dogs.

We took these to a birthday party at bar in Brooklyn and they were snatched up by hipsters, though everyone seemed to think they were too cute to eat. That is, until they had a few beers in them and pupcakes became the perfect drunk food.

21 March 2009

California Strawberry Day

March 21 is California Strawberry Day. In honor of this day, Allow me to share with you my friend Erin's famous Summer Strawberry Salsa. Conveniently, it tastes just as good no matter which season you are in!

Summer Salsa

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp of salt


Clean your strawberries, bell peppers, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro leaves. Remove and discard the stems of your cilantro, finely shred, and set aside. Hull and chop your strawberries and place in a medium mixing bowl. Chop your red onions, bell peppers, and jalapeño pepper and combine in mixing bowl with strawberries. Add orange juice, lime juice, cilantro, and salt and combine until evenly mixed. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

5 minutes before serving, remove the salsa from the refrigerator and stir. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!!

the perfect ratio...

Lifehacker has a piece up on the perfect cocktail ratio according to Paul Clark at Serious Eats.
Anyone care to experiment?

(the yummy cocktails above are borrowed from here.

19 March 2009

Almond macaroons and Cherry Heering drinks

Never before have we memorized a recipe just by making it once, but without even trying we've committed these to memory, mostly because almost all the ingredients have the same measurements. It's great to have a super simple cookie/bar in your arsenal, and this one is so good that we immediately filed it away in our culinary memory bank.
It's the first thing we've made from The Cake Club by Susie Quick, and we'll be returning to that book for more of her Southern specialties.

Macaroon seems kind of like a misnomer, since these don't have any coconut in them. But if you wanted to top them with some shredded coconut along with the almonds, it would probably be pretty great.

Almond Macaroons
¾ c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ½ c sugar
2 large eggs (maybe because 1 1/2 eggs doesn't exist?)
1 ½ c flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp almond extract
½ c sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 and line a 10-inch skillet with foil, leaving a few inches over the sides to lift the cookies out. Combine everything but the almonds in a bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon. Spread the batter evenly on the bottom of the skillet. Scatter almonds over the top and sprinkle with about 2 tsp sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool in the skillet for 5 minutes, then remove and cut them into cookies. You could also use a biscuit cutter or heart cookie cutter to make these into nice shapes. They’ll be pretty soft, but thick enough to eat anyway. You could probably just make these in a baking pan, which would make it easier to cut them into squares.
Along with these, we tried a couple drinks with Cherry Heering, a cherry liquor that has a nice flavor, but won't take the paint off the walls (we're looking at you, Maraschino liquor).

The Cherry Cobbler: 4 parts gin, 1 tsp sugar, 1 part Cherry Heering, 1 part Chambord, 1 part lemon juice. Add soda and a slice of lemon if you like. This is a big drink but really the Chambord
combines with the Heering to give it a cough syrup texture (the technical term is mouthfeel but there’s no not-pervy way to say that).
For some more enjoyable mouthfeel (rim shot), check out The Hunter (2 parts Rye Whiskey and 1 part Cherry Heering), good for warming up after a long day of chasing big game, or The Hot Shot (juice of a ¼ lime, 2 parts light run, 1 part heering), a slightly tropical cocktail that still packs a punch. Drink it with a jet engine hot dog, perhaps?

17 March 2009

Irish Car Bomb ice cream

Happy St. Patty's Day! We've been trying to think of a dessert to celebrate this holiday of imbibing and claiming faux-Irish heritage. Green beer cupcakes would just be disgusting, so we developed this little number from a couple festive recipes.

It seems that the most popular Guinness-flavored ice cream is the Guinness-Milk Chocolate ice cream from The Perfect Scoop, which we found on Chow. Emeril also has a Guinness ice cream, but it seems unnecessarily hard and doesn't contain chocolate, which helps cut the strong stout flavor (and let's be honest, it's just tastier that way).

For an Irish cream swirl, we made a classic sauce that usually tops bread pudding. We used Paula Deen's recipe because it calls for the most Irish cream out of all the ones we found. It definitely does the trick and cuts the Guinness/chocolate with a great Irish cream flavor, but if we made this again we'd use a little more Bailey's, a little less cream, and maybe a dash more sugar.

Guinness-Milk Chocolate ice cream

7 ounces (205 g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
3/4 cup (180 ml) Guinness Stout
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Irish cream sauce
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Water, to dissolve cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat heavy cream, Irish cream liqueur and sugar. Mix cornstarch with about 1 tablespoon of water. Stir into the cream mixture and heat until thickened. Add vanilla.

When the ice cream is almost at it's desired consistency, pour the sauce into the ice cream maker while it's spinning. You can also put the soft ice cream into a container, then pour the sauce in slowly and swirl it around manually with a spatula.

Our accompanying cocktail? We just bought Guinness and Baileys for this. Do you have to ask?

16 March 2009

Seasonal Sweets

I have a confession: I am one of those people who raids the candy aisle the day after a holiday to reap the benefits of slashed prices. Top holidays include Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. They day after Valentine's Day this year, I found myself in the CVS candy aisle piling bags upon bags of heart shaped Hershey's nuggets and peanut butter cups in red foil on top of an extra large Russel Stover heart box filled with assorted chocolates... all for under $20. Score!

I do, however, have one weakness that I will pay retail for, and that is the beloved Cadbury Mini Eggs. Once they hit the shelves (conveniently, they usually debut the day after Valentine's Day), I pick up a bag or two every time I see them in the store. This builds up a decent supply to keep me satisfied well after Easter. Sadly, the day always comes where I open and finish my last bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs, and then I have to wait months more until they appear again.
What is YOUR favorite seasonal treat?

11 March 2009

Trail Mix Muffins and Sloe Gin

In preparation for a late-winter snowstorm (and we former scouts have learned to always be prepared), we holed ourselves up with some Trail Mix Muffins, a hike-worthy muffin variation from Baking Bites. It's a different flavor than some of the more ordinary muffins.
Trail Mix Muffins (yields 24)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats (plain oatmeal)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt
2 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups trail mix
*You can use any kind of trail mix you want, so we used a combination of three.  That means our muffins are full of peanuts, almonds, cashews, cranberries, raisins, golden raisins, chocolate chips, yogurt chips, and sunflower seeds.  It's a mouthful, but we like being inclusive.  Coconut would also be pretty delicious here.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
 In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.  Pour into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stir in trail mix.
 Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Each cup will be about 3/4 full.
 Bake for 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean.
 Cool on a wire rack.
These would be perfect to make for a quick breakfast treat, since we usually have most of these ingredients in our kitchens anyway.  They're extremely unique, with a different flavor in every bite, and we really like that.  Even the sunflower seeds don't get lost in the taste.  It's a little like eating bird food, and we mean that in the best way possible. 
If by some chance we can't finish all of these before they get stale, we're all set to turn them into muffin biscotti, also courtesy of Baking Bites.
(We meant to illustrate how the muffin explodes with Trail Mix flavor, but doesn't it just look like it threw up?)
While we were baking, outside the apartment the snow started falling for what we'd been warned would be New York's worst storm of the winter. Sloe Gin Fizzes may not seem apropos for a blizzard, but Shake would disagree. A few years ago, before the cocktail obsession, he waited out a storm at a Park Slope bar with a friend, drinking what the bartender had testified were "Sloe Gin Fizzes" -- a highball made of gin, Rose's Lime juice, and soda. They were good drinks (more like a Rickey) to have while contemplating the white streets outside, but nothing like a real Sloe Gin Fizz. Unlike regular gin, flavored with juniper and other herbs, sloe gin is a liqueur flavored with sloe (blackthorn) plums. With the snow coming down outside, it seemed like a good opportunity to correct that old error.  
We picked up a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin at the closing of the beloved Red Hook liquor store LeNell's. The first thing to try, of course, was the true Sloe Gin Fizz: combine 1 1/2 oz of sloe gin, 1 oz lemon juice, and 1 tsp sugar. Shake with ice and strain in a highball glass (or a mason jar, if you're classy). Fill with ice and soda. 
This goes down like a Jones Soda on a summer -- er, blustery March -- day.  Very light and sweet, it could almost be a brunch drink. The low alcohol content -- just 52 proof, not the usual 80+ of most spirits -- means you could be looking into a very long brunch.
The Sloe Gin Cocktail is just the opposite -- sweet and thick, with more of an alcoholic taste.  The taste isn't bad in and of itself, but the drink overall seems a bit like cough syrup.  If you've got a scratch in your throat and want to try it: 2 1/4 oz sloe gin, 1/4 oz dry vermouth, dash orange bitters, stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass.
Similar but better is the Tip Toe Cocktail, which is helped by a bit of lemon juice.  Mix 1 1/2 oz sloe gin, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 1/2 oz lemon juice with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

09 March 2009

the someday gourmet ...

So the Someday Gourmet needs to go on my list of folks to one day have a chili-off with.... their chili  looks amazing aside from the chili powder packet because I'm a put-it-all-in-yourself cook (reinforced lately after a friend of ours had to to the ER with an allergic reaction to something in my salad ... and you know how many ingredients are in that).

But really, its all about their arancini ... beautiful fried risotto balls.  I need to make them soon.

08 March 2009

Vegetarian Lasagne

  • All the veggies you want! I used mushrooms, spinach, carrots, onion, garlic, red pepper, and courgette.
  • Pasta sheets.
  • White sauce (er..I used a jar but will write how to make your own here). To make own: 50 grams margarine, 50 grams flour, pint of milk
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Cheese (mozzerella/cheddar)
  • olive oil
Herbs and flavouring:
  • Basil,
  • Oregano,
  • Pepper,
  • Salt,
  • Nutmeg,
  • Marjoram,
  • Bayleaf

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. If using carrots, chop them and boil for a few minutes to soften them, while preparing and chopping the other vegetables.

3. Soften the onions and garlic in olive oil in a saucepan. After a few minutes, add the red pepper. After they have cooked for about five minutes, all in the courgette, carrots and mushrooms.

4. Stir and cook in the oil for about ten minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes and mix in all the herbs.

5. Cook for ten minutes or so, flavouring more as needs be.

6. For the cheese sauce, melt the margarine in a sauce pan and then mix in the flour. When the margarine has absorbed the flour, slowly add in a little of the milk, stirring constantly. Stir carefully to make sure the milk soaks into the flour without becoming lumpy. Keep adding the milk bit by bit, stirring all the time, until you have a creamy sauce. to thicken the sauce, raise the heat; likewise, if you want to thin it out a little, lower the heat and add a little more milk until its the consistency you want.

7. When the mixture is finished, take it off the heat and add in all the cheese. You don't need to cook it for this, it should just melt in the heat of the mixture.

8. Take the vegetable mix, and pour half of it into a dish. Add some pasta sheets, then layer on some of the cheese sauce. Repeat: another layer with the remaining vegetable mix, a layer of pasta sheets, and finish with a layer of cheese sauce.

9. Sprinkle some pepper on the top, slices of tomato are nice too.

10. Cook the mixture in the oven for 30 mins.

07 March 2009

blessed christian salt

Oh dear.  You're all familiar with kosher salt?  So kosher salt isn't actually kosher, its called that because they can use it TO kosher meat by drawing the blood out of it.  But if you thought that, you know, it wasn't fair that the Jews got salt and the Jesus-loving folks didn't, check out Blessed Christian Salt.  Moue mag saw it first, follow the links for the rest of the story.

06 March 2009

Ring Ring Ring: Banana Cake!

This banana cake is a birthday favorite, and we'll go as far as to say that it's the best banana cake we know of. In fact, after a different recipe yielded dense, banana bread-like layers, Bake's roommate was compelled to try this one to make up some baking karma (with Bake as an attentive sous-chef).

Check out his commentary (under the pseudonym Aunt Betty) and the recipe (from The Weekend Baker) below, plus a -- er, different -- take on the experience here.

I have to say, my friends and family just simply LOVE bananas! In fact, you could even say that they go BANANAS for them!! Now, I’ve always been somewhat of a banana purist myself. The thought of defiling a beautiful banana with any unnecessary additions seems like a sin against deliciousness. A banana split? I’ll take mine minus the split, thank you very much. So, as you can imagine, I was somewhat skeptical when one of my dearest girlfriends Martha told me I had to try banana cake. If it had been anyone other than her, I would have thanked them kindly, and then gone home and permanently removed them from my Christmas card list for ever suggesting such a culinary abortion. But this was Martha, and she has always had exquisite taste (she was the one, after all, that turned me onto Mary Higgins Clark) – so I thought I might as well give it a shot.

My first attempt at banana cake was a disaster, and I should have expected as much. It was doomed from the start, as I mistakenly decided to employ the use of Satan’s instrument – the internet. Now Pastor Mike has repeatedly reassured me that the internet is not only for the homosexuals and Presbyterians, so I have made it one of my New Years resolutions to start using it more (along with losing a couple pounds in my mid section and trying to stop giggling at church). I searched online for a recipe that looked appetizing, and found a seemingly good one on the Food Network website. The recipe was one of Paula Deen's, and though I firmly believe that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all – I have to say that this recipe was just the worst! I don’t know why I was surprised. That woman’s love of mayonnaise errs on the side of inappropriate. The cake was hard and chewy, and simply not bananany enough. After one bite, I threw the whole cake in the trash can. You should have seen the looks on my children’s faces. They really shouldn’t have been surprised though - I demand perfection from them as I do myself. Why, I would have done the same thing if they brought home a report card that was any less than straight A+’s – right in the trashcan it would go.

I immediately rang Martha, and in the nicest tone possible suggested that she was going straight to hell for wasting my time with such a terrible suggestion. Yearning to redeem herself, she said she would drop off the recipe she used post haste. One for forgiveness, I decided to give both Martha, and banana cake a second chance. The next morning, she dropped off a cookbook called “The Weekend Baker,” by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Although I found the pictures in the book to be garish and a bit flashy for my liking, Johnson Dodge’s anecdotes about her husband and children warmed me up. I found the book marked recipe and for banana cake, and banana cake – take two – was under way!!

The recipe was – well – a PIECE OF CAKE to follow!! And a lot of fun too! One fun suggestion Johnson Dodge recommends is using sour cream in her vanilla frosting instead of cream cheese to give it a tangy zing. And tangy it was! Well played Abigail! One little addition I would like to recommend is to thinly slicing a banana after frosting the cake, and use the slices to decorate the top. I put rings of banana in concentric circles on top, and it was just simply adorable. It’s the little things like this that make my husband love me.

In the end, I was glad I was strong-armed into making a banana cake. It was a huge hit – fluffy and moist and packed full of flavor. Martha sure may be on to something, and I look forward to defiling more healthy snacks by covering them with sugar and butter. Chocolate covered strawberries, here I come!!

Banana layer cake
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
16 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 c sugar
3 medium, very ripe bananas, peeled
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
3/4 c chopped, toasted walnuts (we didn't use these, but they're optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour two round cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until combined. Add the bananas - no need to chop - and vanilla and beat until blended and only small bits of banana remain. Add the eggs two at a time, beating after each addition. Here is where the difference between blended and just blended seems important, probably to keep the cake from getting gluten-y: Add half the above flour mixture and mix until just blended. Add buttermilk and mix until blended, then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just blended. Stir in those walnuts now, if you're so inclined.

Pour into pans evenly and bake about 30 min, until the tops are light brown. Let them cool in the pans on racks, then out of the pans on racks. Make your frosting (below)

Brush away loose crumbs from the layers and place one on a serving plate. Cover with about one cup of frosting, then place the other layer on top of it, flat/bottom side up. Make sure the sides are lined up and press down gently on the top. This makes it look much much better than that rounded mound of cake we all learned to frost as kids. If you do the presentation well here, it makes you think that you just might be able to start a job with Duff of Ace of Cakes.

Tangy vanilla frosting
16 tbsp butter, at room temperature
3 c confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c sour cream

Beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until very smooth and creamy. Add the sour cream and gently stir with a spatula until blended.

We used the vanilla frosting, but this fudgy frosting is especially fantastic, so we'll include this alternative too.

Fudgy frosting
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 c sugar
1 c evaporated milk
6 tbsp butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Meanwhile, combine everything else in a blender. When the chocolate is melted, remove it from heat, stir, and scrape into the blender Blend until the mixture is very thick (not pourable), about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then frost the cake as above.

05 March 2009

the "must make" list

these salsa chips over at bittersweet look amaaaaazing. they're pureed and baked salsa! the recipe looks a little daunting, but for the novelty i think i must attempt. check it out let me know if anyone wants to do it with me.

04 March 2009

Happy National Mulled Wine Day!

Today (ED note: this was actually yesterday, but I screwed up the day) is the most exciting day you've never known!

National Mulled Wine Day!

I have no idea who decides which days are national days and for what, it sounds like a pretty fun job to me. If you know where I can apply for this job, please let me know, like half of the country, I am unemployed.

Share your evening cuddled up next to a loved one (could be a book or a favorite TV show) and make yourself this easy and delicious recipe for mulled wine. I've also come to the conclusion that pretty much any mixture of red wine, brandy (and similar spirits), juice and spices will lead to a fabulous drink. If you have your own stories, share it here!

03 March 2009

Oscar cookies

We scoured cookbooks for days trying to find a nice, elegant-looking cookie appropriate for an Oscar party. The fare in The Art of the Dessert was too intense for a night of watching TV; the morsels in our easy cookie book, too simple. So we took it upon ourselves to combine two elements from our old standby, The Weekend Baker. The cookies are an easy standalone recipe and the glaze is from the Chocolate-Dipped Macadamia Brittle therein (but that's another post). The result is a cookie that takes no time at all and tastes as nice as it looks.

Toasted Almond Cookies
12 tbsp unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 yolk from a large egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup slivered almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and toast the almonds -- spread them in 1 layer on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and just turning brown, around 8 min. Be careful, because they'll keep toasting even when you remove them. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium until well blended. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until combined. Pour in the flour and almonds and beat on low until the dough clumps together and looks like, well, dough.

3. Spoon these in little balls onto prepared baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Press down with your fingers to flatten them a bit and bake one sheet at a time, about 17 minutes (until the edges are golden and the tops are dry). Place the sheet on a rack and let them cool for about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze
3 oz semi-sweet baker's chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp butter
(if you want them really chocolatey, up each of these to four)

1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler (aka, a metal bowl on top of a pot of boiling water) or the microwave, if you're feeling less fancy. Microwave for about 15 seconds at a time and then stir so the chocolate doesn't burn. You'll only need to do this for about 30 seconds.

2. Dip half of a cookie into the chocolate and place on wax paper or parchment. Let these set -- they'll go faster and be less likely to melt if you put them in the fridge. Sift some powdered sugar on top for a finished look.

Drink-wise, we wanted to try some variation on the Champagne Cocktail. Champagne seems like the obvious choice for an Oscars party, but when you're tightening your budget and opting for $5 bottles of Andre you need to add something extra to spruce up the drink. We opted for the Chicago Cocktail --well, something like it. We skipped the Angostura bitters and didn't have any orange bitters on hand, which would have been perfect. Instead we measured 2 parts cognac to 1 part orange curacao, added champagne. and called it a night.

And by "called it a night" we mean "Who won Best Picture again?"

02 March 2009

so you may have noticed ...


...it's a little slow around here.  Sometimes this happens.  Its like we only cook fun stuff in bursts and then don't have a lot to say.  Please take a minute to bask in the silence, or use this comment thread to post carefully crafted diatribes against dump cake.  Or really, if you're a mad tasty reader rather than a writer, think about emailing us at madtasty@gmail.com -- we'd love to post your recipe, link back to your blog, or have you on the team.  Anything to make the quiet go away ...


LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs