My Cake Decorating Gallery

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pasty Taste Off, Round Three

For more background information on the pasty, see my earlier post here. In that post, besides briefly discussing the origin of the Michigan pasty and conducting two taste-offs, we discovered that we loved the Weldon's pasty here in metro-Detroit, but that there were more places to try out there!

Next to try was Barb's Pasties in Clawson, Michigan. Barb's (who also makes pizza which we didn't sample) has been in the pasty business for quite some time, and they used to have some information on their website about their UP heritage, but alas, it is under construction at this moment that I'm writing this.

Since Weldon's pasties were our favorites so far, it was a one-on-one competition between Barb's and Weldon's. Right off the bat, you can see visual differences between the two. The Barb's pasty is HUGE! It clearly holds a lot of filling - your share of potatoes, beef, onions, carrots, rutabegas, etc. Still, we were going for taste so we were not casting any ballots quite yet. In this test, we had two Weldon's being baked, and just one from Barb's.

Silence fell over us while we tasted the samples... and??? Well, the results were coming slow. These two pasties taste VERY similar! They are both so delicious. I was not expecting Barb's to be that good, for whatever reason, and it really was just as awesome as Weldon's. We decided they had to be tied for being the two best pasties in Metro Detroit, though my husband was leaning toward Weldon's just slightly and I actually was leaning towards Barb's ever-so-slightly.

So, by all means, if you're passing by Barb's Pasties on Livernois/Main St in Clawson, or you're over on 15 Mile just east of Dequinder and see Weldon's Pasties -- Just stop! These little delicious pockets of Michigan history are well worth the $4 and change that they cost. And they are so buttery, savory and plain scrumptuous, you won't even dream about putting gravy on them.

I noticed there are still several places in Livonia (why is that??) that make pasties that I'd like to try, and then I'd also like to compare the place in Grand Blanc. Also, a full pasty taste-off of the U.P. needs to be conducted... you know... just to make sure they're all delicious up there.

Barb's Pasties and Pizza
610 S. Main St
Clawson, MI (Just south of 14 mile)

Weldon's Pasties (three locations)
2123 15 Mile Rd
Sterling Heights, MI (Just east of Dequinder)


2038 Cass Lake Rd
Keego Harbor, MI


19161 Merriman Rd
Livonia, MI

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ginger and Lemongrass Grilled Shrimp

This a super tasty (and healthy!) recipe and I am using it as my first submission for the "Weekend Cookbook Challenge." It is also my first "food blog challenge" whatsoever -- a food blog challenge is basically participating in an organized "challenge" where a theme of cooking/food/etc is chosen. The theme for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge #28 is "TV Cooks" - see the link above for more info.

This shrimp dish was a compliment to the flank steak that I was already making for mother's day at my mom's house. We wanted to grill, though the weather did not participate and it was rainy and chilly. My mom loves seafood and the flank steak had my typical asian marinade, so I thought this shrimp recipe would be a perfect one to try.

The only thing I changed is that I skipped the honey and used 3 or 4 packets of splenda, so that this dish was perfect for those who are watching their sugar! Oh, I also skipped the presentation aspects of the radicchio, watercress, and lime - though I'm sure that would have been great. We had other veggies for our meal.

This recipe is brought to you by Wolfgang Puck, as found on the Food Network website. I also apologize for the hastily taken photos,... it was mother's day and I didn't feel like spending a lot of time posing food .. just wanted to eat!! This is an attractive dish! I noted below that there wasn't a red bell pepper at my local market, so I was stuck with yellow. The red would make this even more beautiful! By the by, I used Costco flank steak and shrimp, for the first time, and both were excellent!

Ginger and Lemongrass Grilled Shrimp
by Wolfgang Puck

24 Large shrimp, peeled, de-veined with tails left on (I used frozen medium-size which also worked perfect, just had more shrimp)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemongrass

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
5 scallions, white cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths, and greens chopped (I used more scallions)
1/4 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil (this is an important flavor)
1 tablespoon honey (I substituted a few packets of splenda here)
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed (Nino's actually had no red bell pepper so I used yellow!)
Peanut oil, for drizzling
1 small head radicchio, nice outer leaves reserved and the rest chiffonade (I skipped this)
1 bunch watercress, cleaned (I also skipped)
1 lime (I forgot about this)

You'll also need enough skewers, and I used roughly 12. Soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes before using.

Original Directions:
In a large nonreactive bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, scallion greens, soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey (splenda) and whisk well. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Marinate in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes.

Note: I mixed the marinade up ahead of time, and then brought it with the skewered shrimp & veggies up to my mom's. I marinaded the shrimp for 30 minutes, while the grill heated up, etc. It worked out great.

Skewer the shrimp, scallion whites, and red bell peppers onto skewers in whatever order you like. There should be at least 4-6 shrimp per skewer.

Place the skewers on a flat plate and drizzle with peanut oil. It is not necessary to salt the skewers because soy sauce has so much salt in it. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill and cook about 3 minutes per side, or just until the shrimp curls, turns red, and does not appear clear at all. Be careful not to overcook.

Note: This whole next section, I skipped:

Place the whole radicchio leaves around the edge of a platter. Mound the chiffonade radicchio and watercress inside the leaves and around the platter. Remove the skewers from the grill and place on the bed of greens. Squeeze the juice of a lime over the shrimp.

We just all grabbed a skewer or two, and ate them with our flank steak and veggies. The shrimp were delicious and I hope you enjoy it, too!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Marathon, Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

I should've started a fitness/training blog in December when The Husband and I embarked on our Marathon Training adventure... I certainly had some choice words after most of the long runs every weekend, starting at 3 miles and ending with 22 miles a few weeks before our race. However, pictures of my toe injuries or detailed descriptions of digestion problems during hours of running.... just doesn't sound as appetizing as a food blog! So, as a tribute to all those months of marathon training, I am happy to post some of our food discoveries while in Cincinnati during the Flying Pig Marathon weekend (see Cincinnati post), and in this post I am offering some celebratory cocktails we had once we had returned home on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo, another great drinking holiday!)

There's nothing like running 26.2 miles, plus an extra quarter mile due to a fire on the course, to work up a thirst. We had a few friends over and were happy to offer some "kitchen sink" cocktails -- pretty much everything we have on hand went into these drinks! One is a classic - the long island - and one I just made up because I wanted to use up some mango juice but also have a margarita.

Classic Recipe for Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail
makes two drinks

1 oz vodka
1 oz white rum
1 oz gin
1 oz tequila blanco
1 oz triple sec or cointreau
4-5 ounces of sweet and sour mix
2-3 splashes of cola
lime to garnish

Mix all ingredients into tall glass or large shaker. Pour over ice into two collins or hurricane glasses, and garnish with lime. If it's too strong, add more sour and cola. Other recipes use only 1 to 2 oz of sour per serving, and I feel we use more typically. Top shelf liquors will make a tastier drink!!

Sunset Mango Margarita
makes 2 servings at least

3 oz tequila
1 oz triple sec or cointreau or grand marnier
6 oz sweet and sour mix
4 oz grenadine
6 oz mango nectar
2 cups ice
limes to garnish

Add all ingredients to a blender with ice and blend until smooth. Taste for flavor - may need more mango or grenadine. I didn't write down the recipe exactly and had to keep adding but it really did turn out to be a refreshing mixture. Garnish with a lime.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fireman Graduation Cake

Last year, The Husband graduated from the Fire Academy and the day of his final exam also happened to be Cinco de Mayo.. and a Saturday. The Husband loves Mexican food, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to have a big party.

I also wanted to surprise him, and it was a little difficult to get everything ready behind his back, but all the extra cooking I did was easy to chalk up to "the chili cookoff at work" .. (in hindsight, I should've have planned those a day apart, but it was a good excuse). I also had to hide the big cake and decorate it in secret. Luckily, he was busy getting ready for his final fireman stuff and with work.

He sorta invited all the firemen in his class over for a party the same day, but I was able to secretly talk to one of them and they helped me get The Husband out of the house for a few hours, while everyone else got into position for the big surprise - and it ended up working out great!

For the cake, I wanted to create a fire scene. I made the buildings out of cardboard, and found the exact kind of brick (fire house) and siding (house), and roof textures that I wanted online, patched it together in PhotoShop, and then printed it out so I could glue it onto the cardboard walls. I also found the windows and doors I wanted by searching google for the exact look I was going for, and cutting those out. I even went on the Fire Department website to which The Husband had accepted a volunteer position, and cut out their emblem and made a cute little flag, and labeled the firehouse with his station number/name. The fire/flames were also just photos that I printed and cut out. Details, details, details! My favorite.

Here are some snipits from the photoshop'd images I used

The firemen and truck came as a cake-decor set, so that was all taken care of.

I used some cotton balls to simulate smoke for the burning house, and the other items I purchased from the cake supply store or online were little axes and flags, which I loved!

This was my first cake that I decorated, the one that started my interest in the whole realm of cake decorating. My mom came down to show me a few tricks, which weren't hard - the grass tip for all that grass, and just a simple border. I made a chocolate mocha buttercream filling, and used basic white buttercream frosting for everything else.

Yes, it is pretty convenient when your house is on fire and the only road in town leads from the fire station directly to your house. These people have it made!!