Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cake Fail

 I had a terribly frustrating baking day yesterday.  I had lots of things to bake, one of which was the Kentucky Butter Cake I wanted to send to DC with my future DIL for her friends.

 I baked this cake the first time in the mini bee hive pans and 2/3 of the way through the recipe, the cakes all fell.  I was shocked.  I've made this cake many times and it always turns out perfect.  I thought and thought about what I could have done wrong.  Were my eggs too big?  Did I forget to add the flour?  Had my baking powder expired.  No, No and No.  I made the cake 3 times and each time I had the same outcome.  After the third time I finally quit and decided to run to the store and buy new baking powder.  It was the only explanation I could come up with.

Finally, in the middle of the store it hit was the flour!  I had grabbed a bag of White Lily Flour and it was not strong enough to hold up to this cake.  Sheese!  I sure can be dumb sometimes!  Why it wasn't the first thing I thought of I do not know.  Too much baking at one time and I just wasn't thinking.  So, always keep in mind, all flours are not created equal!  Learn from my mistake.  It is one I will never make again.  BTW...I made the cakes early this morning and they came out perfectly.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Everything Gumbo

I love gumbo.  It might be my favorite food.  And when I make gumbo, I put everything I like in it. Why not, right?
 Start by making a roux.  The roux is made using equal parts of flour and oil.  I used 2 cups of each because I was making a big ol' batch of gumbo.

 Dice the holy trinity of Cajun food; celery, onions and green peppers.

 You need some good smoky sausage.  I used andouille and kielbasa.  I always have some in my freezer.

 Slice some okra.  I love okra especially in gumbo.

 Cook the roux over medium heat.

 Keep whisking so it doesn't burn.  You can't use burned roux.  There is just no fixing it.

 See the chestnut color of the roux?  That is the color you want. As soon as it turns that color, turn the heat off and dump in the vegetables.

 Mix it thoroughly to coat all of the vegetables.

 Add some thyme, oregano, granulated garlic and salt and pepper.

 Add about 6 cups of chicken stock, homemade if possible.  I added some bouillon too.Cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken.

 Add 1 can of diced tomatoes and some hot sauce.  I don't make my gumbo too spicy.  I offer hot sauce and let everyone add their own amount of heat.

 I ended up adding more frozen stock.  Add stock until you have the right consistency which should be slightly thick.

Then start adding anything you like.  I roasted some chicken thighs and cut them into cubes and added them.
 Then I added a can of lump crab meat.

And I threw in 2 pounds of frozen shrimp.

 And crab legs...gotta add crab legs!  Yum!  Serve it with a scoop of rice.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The First Farmer's Market of the Season

 We drove up to the mountains on Saturday to go to our first farmer's market of the season and we should have brought our waders.

 We got soaked!

Some of the vendors were smart and put straw down.  Most didn't.  My shoe almost got sucked off at one point.
 The Fiance enjoyed her first trip here and ended up being a good egg carrier!

 Even the gardens were flooded.

 My trusty market cart held up against the elements.

 I bought cement apples for my garden.

 And I bought this yarn from the cutest lady who was selling her wares for the very first time and we were her first customers.  She knew the name of each of her animals who donated their fleece to make this. I told her that I will knit The Fiance a scarf and she will wear it back there in the Fall to show it to her.  It was a fun soggy day.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Ultimate Birthday Cake

It was my husband's birthday this weekend and I wanted to make him a special cake.  Little did I realize how involved it would be.  However, the outcome produced a cake that I am sure my family will beg me for in the future.
 I'll tell you right up front, this is not the easiest cake to make.  If you want to give it a try, set aside a lot of time and tackle it one step at a time.

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 1/4 pounds milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, warmed
 Start by making the ganache and then set it aside to come to spreading consistency.

 Make the meringue and top it with the peanuts then bake it.

 Split the cake in half horizontally.

Spread it with some ganache.
 Top it with the baked meringue.

Make the peanut butter/chocolate/rice krispie mixture.
Spread it on top of the meringue and then spread another layer of ganache on it.

 Add the top layer of the cake.

 Spread the remaining layer of ganache over the top letting it drip down the sides. refrigerate it until set.

 This is a decadent, rich, moist chocolate cake with a crunchy, salty, peanutty filling.

My family flipped out over this cake which is really a shame because I am not particularly looking forward to making it again! It took over 5 hours to make this.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Old Fashioned Date and Nut Bars

These old recipes have been passed down for generations for a reason,  they are GOOD!   I used to make these all the time when I was a little girl but I hadn't made them in years.  They are now my families new favorites.  My daughter took 3/4 of these to work and she said they were gone in seconds.               
The ingredients:

    For the Date Filling:
  • 1 lb chopped dates 
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup coconut
  • For the Crust:
  • 1 3/4 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted

To Make the Filling:
Boil dates, sugar, and water until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Add the butter, vanilla, walnuts and coconut and mix thoroughly.
Set aside to cool a bit. 

I like to toast my nuts in a cast iron pan.

Add the butter.

Mix in the nuts.

Add the coconut.

Mix thoroughly and let it cool a bit.

Prepare the crust:
Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
Firmly press half of the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.
Cover with filling mixture.
Top with remaining half of crust mixture. Press lightly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; watch carefully and do not overbake.

After you place 1/2 of the crust mixture in the pan, lay a piece of waxed paper over it and press down.

Top with the date filling.

To chop your dates easily, place them in the bowl of your food processor along with the sugar.  Pulse until you reach the desired consistency.  The sugar keeps the dates from sticking.

Let these cool thoroughly before slicing.  You can even chill them in your fridge if you want to speed it up.
These might not look like much but they pack an incredible flavor punch.