When it comes to eating healthy, I’m not always known for my self-discipline. Sure, I had a month this summer where I stayed away from all carbs, breads, and otherwise joy-inducing foods, but generally, I’m in a constant state of declaring healthy intentions while simultaneously shoving Kit-Kats into my face. This past week was no exception. Things started off in a dark (read: wonderful place) when a visit to the Orange County Fair resulted in sublime consumption of funnel cake, chocolate dipped ice cream cones, and various other diet-adverse items. I swore I would do better for myself, but of course, things rapidly spiraled out of control.
You see, the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated appeared in my mailbox, and in its monochromatic pages was a recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake. Suddenly, hearts appeared in my eyes and Tchaikovsky’s love theme from Romeo & Juliet blared all around me. I had to make this. I had to! But I couldn’t, especially not during this week of county fair gut reparations. Besides, why would I just make a CAKE for no reason?
And then fate came calling. Turns out I had plans to attend a game night at the end of the week, and as luck would have it, that game night was now being upgraded to a birthday celebration for my friend Lodric. I was told I was on cake duty, and far be it for me to deny that responsibility. The planets had aligned: I had the perfect excuse to make the chocolate-caramel layer cake.
It was on.
But was it worth it? Keep reading to find out…
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to celebrate Christmas. I mean, technically, we should probably wait to throw a holiday party until December, but we all know that the Holiday season officially kicked off on November 1st. At least, that’s when it seems socially acceptable to admit that it began. The truth is that most people were probably humming “Deck the Halls” halfway through Columbus Day.
Well, the not-so-surprise twist is that I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, but it doesn’t mean I can’t get into the Holiday spirit, especially since it’s a great excuse to bake up cakes and cookies. Conveniently, Baker’s Secret recently sent me some complimentary colored metal bakeware and encouraged me to whip up some holiday recipes. Challenge ACCEPTED.
After the jump, check out pics of my holiday cake party, starring Ina Garten’s mocha icebox cake and a banana cake with cream cheese frosting….
This may be somewhat shocking, but I’ll just come out with it: last weekend, my friends and I convened for yet another Friendsgiving. This marks the third Friendsgiving I’ve hosted since actual Thanksgiving last year (which, admittedly, was also a Friendsgiving). Have we gone turkey crazy? Not really. This time around the mania was inspired by Corningware. You see, Corningware has this handy dandy new line of colorful products called CW By Corningware, and the company was kind enough to send over some samples (and subsidize the turkey) if I put together a Friendsgiving meal and blogged about it. So here I am: an apartment full of unhealthy leftovers, writing about Friendsgiving again.
To change things up, I decided to throw a twist into the typical Friendsgiving affairs. This would be no ordinary meal. This would be a global affair. Yes, every dish would be an international take on a classic American Thanksgiving staple. OooOOOooh. So very Top Chef of us.
I’m happy to report that my friends all lived up to the challenge, and the resultant meal was beyond delicious. Pics of the dishes as well as a bonus recipe (!!) after the jump!
What does one do with collard greens? Well, one usually makes collard greens. Yes, that signature soul food dish is probably the first thing that springs to most people’s minds, but here’s a fun twist: collard greens can also be used in the tasty Portuguese soup caldo verde. This is my awkward way of announcing that I’ve recently made both collard greens and caldo verde soup, and I deeply wish to share my experiences here on this blog.
Behold, if you will, a collard adventure for the ages.
For some reason, I found myself baking a lot of birthday cakes this summer. Specifically, I made two carrot cakes and two red velvet cakes. Based on this staggeringly high output, I now consider myself an expert on the subject, which means nothing really, but any chance I get to call myself an expert on something is celebration enough (for me). This all is my way of saying that in my EXPERT opinion, you all should make these cakes.
First, we have a carrot cake. Technically, it’s Ina Garten’s carrot and pineapple cake. Here’s what you need to know: this will be the very best carrot cake you will ever make. I’ve made it twice now (and once another time), and it has been stupendous. Seasoned carrot cake fans such as my dear friend Sly will attest that it is the best carrot they’ve ever eaten. This is no joke, people While Ina Garten may be known for her Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe, it’s this wonderful carrot masterpiece that should be the crown jewel in her dessert empire (I’ve made both, and I say it with authority — although, the chocolate cake is delicious too).
And then we have the red velvet cake. This beloved cake is a bit of a tricky beast to master — I think we’ve all taken bites of our fare share of dry, crumbly versions. But I’m happy to report that the recipe I’ve found online delivers a moist, flavorful cake that will please even the snobbiest of red velvet fans.
Pics of the cakes after the jump…
Just under a year ago, I found myself at the renowned Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregan browsing the hundreds of cookbooks on display. The process took hours, and just when I thought I was ready to check out, I suddenly had this bizarre desire to procure a Native American / New Mexican / Southwestern cookbook. I don’t know where the impulse came from — I think I’d had a vision of corn and green peppers. Either way, I found a nifty book for $5 called Mark Miller’s Indian Market Cookbook which promised “Recipes from Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe.” Sounded good to me. Ten minutes later, I was lugging the tome back to my hotel.
It was then that I realized practically all the recipes in this book were super involved. This was a restaurant cookbook, and it called for highly specialized ingredients. Groan. Still, I was determined to make at least one recipe from this book, and now twelve months later, I have finally fulfilled that promise. Last week, I made Roast Chicken Picadillo with Quinoa Grain Salad, Olives, and Caperberries. Was it worth the wait? Answer after the jump…
As I mentioned earlier today, one of my favorite tacos in Los Angeles is the carne deshebrada from Lotería Grill. I have consumed many of these garlicky, beefy concoctions (often in burrito form too) for years now, and all the while, I have wondered how I could recreate the magic in my lil’ home kitchen. To be fair, I did once try my hand at the elusive deshebrada, but it was a middling failure (see pictures of the whole affair from my younger, slimmer days here). Of course, that was 2010, and all I had to guide my naive self was a random Internet recipe from Epicurious. Nowadays, I’m older, wiser, and more importantly, equipped with a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated (thanks, Mom!). Naturally, when I saw that this detail-oriented cooking mag had its very own carne deshebrada recipe, I knew I had to give it a whirl.
Would I strike out a second time? Or would I finally find success? Pictures after the jump…
It may be hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is a mere 90 days away from today. That’s right: time is a-flying, and before you know it, Turkey Day will be upon you, and you’ll be standing in your kitchen thinking to yourself “What the HELL am I going to make?” Okay, you probably won’t be saying that since Thanksgiving menus are pretty obvious, but just in case you want to spice it up this year, I’m proud to announce that my friends and I have been road-testing a few recipes.
You see, while the rest of America has been enjoying salads and corn on the cob this summer, my crew has hosted not one, but two Thanksgivings, both of which have landed on miserably hot 100°+ days. I’ll admit it was odd roasting a giant turkey breast while heat vapors outside on the street threatened to melt any slow-walking pedestrian, but we made it work.
After the jump, check out pics from our Friendsgiving meals. Hopefully they’ll provide some inspiration as we head into the final Turkey Day stretch…
This past weekend, my friend Sly celebrated a birthday, and in her honor, I baked Ina Garten’s impeccable Carrot and Pineapple Cake. It was actually the second time in three weeks that I’ve made the recipe for a birthday, which is significant only because the first time around, I couldn’t help but feel like Ina’s cream cheese frosting was a little… off.
Avid readers of this blog know that I think Ina Garten is basically flawless, but here’s the hardcore truth: the Barefoot Contessa cream cheese frosting veers way too closely into buttercream territory. In fact, it’s barely tangy at all. There, I SAID IT.
Nevertheless, as I prepared to bake Sly’s very own carrot cake, I wanted to learn from Ina’s missteps. I was determined to create a batch of cream cheese frosting that was tangy and amazing and decadent enough to be worthy of Sly.
I’m happy to report that I not only achieved this, but I actually knocked it out of the park. This was the best cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made, and Sly herself even proclaimed it was the best she’d tasted. There’s no great science to it, but with a variety of cream cheese frosting recipes online, I think it’s important that someone drive a flag into the ground and declare that the Internet search is over: THIS is the only cream cheese frosting recipe you’ll ever need.
Exciting news: not only is today the birthday of Kathy Ireland, but it’s also the launch date of a new feature on this blog: Wednesday Night Supper Club. One part Adventures in Domesticity and one part Things I Ate, the Wednesday Night Supper Club will detail the latest meals of my Wednesday night dining crew, also known as — you guessed it — the Wednesday Night Supper Club.
A little bit of backstory: Continue reading