So for some reason, I’m not totally sure why, I decided a few weeks back that I should make Red Velvet cupcakes. Since my dad’s birthday was on Sunday, I figured it would be the perfect time to make them. New recipe day and cupcakes in remembrance on my dad’s birthday. However, I found the whole obscene amounts of red food coloring really off-putting (you can take the girl out of California but…) so I decided to just make them without it. Hence the name not-red red velvet cupcakes. I modified the recipe from the New York Times recipe for red velvet cake and the frosting from Epicurious.
Not-Red Red Velvet Cake
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
Cream together butter and sugar. Then add the egg and vanilla and mix them in. Then the chocolate, and then the milk and the dry ingredients. Mix on high for like a minute. Put about 1/3 cup of batter in an each cupcake slot and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Let them cool a bit before frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together. Then add the powdered sugar. Use an electric mixer because I found this to to be really thick. In order to make it more frosting-y, I added about a tablespoon of warm water, and that made it the perfect consistency! Frost the cupcakes and then eat them!
The cake part was alright. I wonder if the visual appeal makes people like the things disproportionately to their actual taste, since it’s not really chocolatey enough to be chocolate, but not vanilla either. And, I will admit, they were a little on the dry side. But the cream creese frosting was unbelievably tasty! Like serious, I was shocked at how good it is, and proceeded to eat the leftovers just by itself (which I highly recommend). So all in all, I give it a grade of “pretty good” And certainly it was a worthwhile experiment. Song of the week: Catch my Breath by Kelly Clarkson. I love Kelly, specifically angry/defiant Kelly. She is one of my main pop guilty pleasures. And I listened to this song a ton on Sunday.
I ended up doing a ton of cooking over the weekend, many of which were of the “let’s play with food” variety. There were breakfast burritos, mashed potato/spinach fritters, baked fritter dough, a roasted eggplant tower and cupcakes. Like I said, there was a lot of cooking. However, I kept forgetting to take pictures of all of the things I made. So this blog post will be on the eggplant tower thingy because it is the only one I remembered to take a picture of.
1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced
2 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup tomato sauce
pine nuts for garnish.
Step one is to roast the eggplant. Slice it fairly thinly and brush with olive oil. When I say brush I literally mean take a pastry brush and use that to coat both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Eggplant are little oil sponges, if you toss them like normal veggies it gets absorbed and you end up using a ton of oil. Sprinkle on a little salt and roast the eggplant at 400 until they are tender all the way through and shrunken, about 30 minutes you should probably flip them after 15 minutes so both sides are cooked properly). Once the eggplant is cooked, set it aside and let it cool.
Get two ramekins, and place about a tablespoon of sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant, and then some goat cheese crumbles. Then more eggplant and then more goat cheese – don’t worry about gaps, or the fact they aren’t perfect. I did about 4 layers. Once you placed the last eggplant layer, cover with another tablespoon or so of tomato sauce. Garnish with pine nuts and bake in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbling, about 20 minutes.
I was super proud of myself for how well this turned out. The melted cheese mixed somewhat with the sauce which tasted awesome, and nothing really overpowered anything else, and wasn’t swimming in sauce. It was just tasty. And only requires a few ingredients! Not really a weekday recipe, but a good one to impress someone your making dinner for without actually having to do a lot of work. I had this with a glass of white wine (a Chilean sauvignon blanc) and some roasted asparagus. Song of the Week: Shambala by Three Dog Night, as sung by Rockapella. I had a long discussion (with much viewing of YouTube videos) with a friend about the differences between newer pop-a capella, old school stuff, and more choral/classical a capella a couple days ago. He was not overly impressed by Pentatonix, but we both appreciate the more old school stuff, so I’m going with Rockapella today.
One of the stranger gaps I have in my cooking repertoire is that I’ve never actually made lasagna. Growing up it was a thing my mom or sister did, rather than me or my dad. A few years back, before I started this blog, I made a polenta lasagna, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten. Well, there is no time like the present to fill such a ridiculous gap, right? I found this recipe and it looked super tasty – and I only made a couple minor adjustments to it.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons parmesan
a couple tablespoons chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk together. Add the milk and whisk so the butter-flour mixture gets thoroughly incorporated into the milk. Stir continuously – this is important, as it prevents lumps or sticking at the bottom of the pan. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat. Add the parmesan and stir it in (the sauce will still be warm enough to melt the cheese). Then add in the parsley.
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 bunch fresh kale
zest from 1/2 a lemon
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper
Rinse the kale and rip/chop into little pieces. Heat some oil in a frying pan and saute the garlic and shallot. Stick in a bowl. Then saute the kale – you are going to have to go in batches, but you only need to cook them till they wilt, about 5 minutes. Stick the cooked kale in the bowl with the garlic and shallot. Let the kale mixture cool a bit (this is a good time to boil the lasagna noodles or start the sauce). Once the kale is cool, add the lemon zest, cheeses and salt and pepper (to taste) and mix it all together.
Assembly: Lightly oil the bottom of an 8X8 pan and stick the first layer of noodles down (if you stick cheese sauce on the bottom it will burn a little while the lasagna cooks)then stick some sauce on the noodles, and then about half the kale-cheese mixture. Then more noodles, and the rest of the kale cheese mixture. Then the top layer of noodles and more sauce. You can add a bit more mozzarella on top if you want as well. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. Serve warm.
So the main issue I has with this comes down to the fact that I used the no-boil lasagna noodles. This was a bad idea, as apparently you need to add extra sauce, which of course I didn’t really intend to do since white sauce is more caloric than tomato sauce. Also, sticking white sauce on the bottom on a pan can easily burn, which is a little annoying. There were no problem exactly, but the noodles were a little gummy, so you should probably boil the noodles. Song of the Week: Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen. A classic for a reason – such a perfect song, and a perfect collaboration.
So, my mom suggested I make something thematic for Groundhog Day. Now as much as a love foods and holiday, especially of the strange mash-up variety, I was not sure how to do a vegetarian recipe celebrating a small furry animal (short of making something with Woodchuck Cider, which I very nearly did). Well, after a number of different ideas my mom mentioned that there is something call “porcupine balls.” Now, those are just meatballs with rice, but I thought what about making broccoli balls and coating them in pine nuts for spines? So that’s precisely what I did
1 head of broccoli, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shredded strong cheddar
1/4 cup (or so) raw pine nuts
Steam the broccoli. While the broccoli is cooking, chop the onion and garlic and mix them with the beaten eggs, salt, pepper, and the cheese. Once the broccoli is cooked and has cooled a bit, chop it and throw in in the bowl. Mix thoroughly, and add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is nice and cohesive. Spread the pine nuts on a flat surface. Make a ball of dough (it’ll be really soft and sticky but largely cohesive) and lightly roll it in the pine nuts so it gets coated. Then place the ball on a baking sheet. The recipe should make 12 balls. Once they are all done, bake for 25ish minutes at 350, or until they are firm, and lightly brown (the nuts should be toasted). Serve warm or room temperature.
These turned out really good. I had a few minor quibbles, namely I think that since they are baked which dries things out they should be served with some kind of sauce, maybe a yogurt or a mushroom sauce, and I used medium instead of sharp cheddar, which was on me. I feel like this would make a great snack or finger food at a party. Small, transportable, non-greasy, and they can in fact be eaten with fingers. Song of the Week: Seven Nation Army by White Stripes. This song has a great, borderline iconic opening, and is just awesome throughout. Also, it was playing at the coffee shop I was at while typing this blog up.
So I’ve been back to trying to do more and different things with kale for the past several weeks. And I came across this recipe which seemed interesting. Now I wasn’t interested in the exact way they prepared the “grandma’s pie” thingy, but I was curious about the way they decided to prep the kale so I decided to combine it with pizza dough and make a fairly simple sauce-less pizza recipe.
Two large kale leaves, ripped into bit sized pieces
Lemon juice, about ½ lemon
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces goat cheese
Stick the kale in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set on the counter and let it sit for at least an hour and a half. While the kale is sitting, make the pizza dough.
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4-1 cup flour
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water, and let it sit til the yeast gets all foamy, about 10 minutes or so. Add the olive oil, and then mix in the flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough ball forms. Knead the dough until it is elastic, then set aside to rise for like an hour. This recipe will make either two little pizza-tarts, or one larger one.
Once the dough has risen, divide it into half, and roll out the dough into a circle. Stick it on a pizza stone. Stick the kale mixture on top of the dough, and then cover with the crumbled goat cheese. Stick in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so at 400. Serve warm.
This was actually really tasty. It’s also easy and the actual cooking takes very little time. Letting the kale sit for so long meant you could still taste the lemon a bit, which I thought was a nice touch. As you can see from the picture, I had this with Anchor’s Winter Wheat beer, which is really good and paired really well. Song of the week: Late in the Evening by Paul Simon. I’m a big Paul Simon fan and this is a lesser known but really fun song; great to groove to while walking or cooking.