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Friday, July 23, 2010

Sandwiches for the Boys

The Husband had a "boys weekend" and I thought they might need some snacks before I left for some girl time myself. I left work a little early and ran over to Nino Salvaggio's and got one of those big ciabatta loafs, some sliced meats, fresh tomatoes, and other goodies needed. It's been a few months but I think the basic makeup of this sandwich was the following:

* 1 ciabatta loaf (like 15in long and 6 inches wide), sliced in half lengthwise and extra bread on the inside dug out

* Spread  the inside of breads with your favorite mustard, such as dijon or that fabulous Honeycup honey mustard with that sharp horseradish bite to it

* Stack up your meats on the bottom layer of mustard - sliced ham, smoked turkey, genoa salami, or anything else your meat lovers enjoy

* Top with your favorite cheese - swiss, provolones were chosen here since they are favorite for The Husband

* Top with thinly sliced onions, roma tomatoes, and some fresh lettuce or spinach

* Drizzle sandwich/sub dressing (sorta like italian dressing) on top of the lettuce and I like to also sprinkle some italian seasoning on top of that

* Before topping with the top layer of bread, spread a hefty layer of olive tapanade (chopped olives in olive oil) and then place that on top of everything else

* Cut into little bites and enjoy.. this would be good for a football party or something like that. I even got out my cute little bambo toothpicks for the occasion. By the time I was home from Natalie's, the sandwiches were long gone!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fruit Topped Cheesecake

The Husband is back from his fishing trip, yay! The tradition is that they always come home late Saturday night and then a fish fry for all of the fishing camp men plus wives happens on Sunday. My assignment was to bring dessert and I decided on a cheesecake. I loved  Abbey's cheesecake recipe from a previous Daring Bakers challenge  so I used that. I wasn't sure how many people would be there so I needed to scale up the cheesecake size by a 1/3 to fit into my 10in springform pan. The 1/3 was the right scale change so that was good to know.



The main thing I was worried about was my springform pan.. I wrapped it in four layers of heavy duty extra wide foil and from what I could tell, no water seeped in from the water bath. The bottom of the crust was a little soggy so maybe that was from not blind baking like Alton Brown does? I can't remember if that happened the first time I made this recipe.. anyway the edges were crisp enough and as usual I put in a little cinnamon into the crust, and I just love graham cracker crust on cheesecake. This recipe is super creamy with a great texture and any cheesecake lover will be very pleased if you make it for them!

I used an assortment of fruit to decorate the top - strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, kiwis, and cherries. I think it would also be great with a one-fruit sauce/topping, like a sweet blueberry or strawberry topping.. yum. It's blueberry season and I was excited to be using Michigan blueberries!



Anyway follow this link for Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake Recipe  for more information, if you're interested!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Daring Cooks Strike Again: Homemade Nut Butters!

I have had to take some time off from The Daring Kitchen and blogging a bit due to my current condition - pregnancy! I had some major morning sickness/nausea and it took me a while to bounce back from that and get back into the kitchen. I was worried the Daring Bakers/Cooks might kick me out but when I logged in a few days ago, I still had access so I checked out the Daring Cooks' July Challenge.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please  and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
 
This sounded like the perfect "come back" recipe to try. This is Fishing Camp week and The Husband is 800 miles north into Canada and he hates nut butters, so it's time for me to enjoy all the things he hates all week! Indian food is next on my list! I made a fresh cashew butter since I conveniently had a jar of unopened cashews that had been waiting too long to make it into some cookies. This cashew butter was to be used for the Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing which featured some rice noodles and veggies. The ingredients sounded delicious and boy was I pleasantly surprised.
 
 
 
The cashew dressing is totally awesome! This dish reminded me of something I would order and love from a Thai restaurant so I am going to go ahead and say this is the best thai food I've ever made in my kitchen. I skipped the shrimp but went ahead with wide rice noodles and some sugar snap peas and red bell peppers.
 
 
 
I made the cashew butter in the food processor and then just tossed in the dressing ingredients which was super convenient, you don't have to dirty another bowl or blender!
 
 
 
The combination of the sugar, garlic, soy sauce and vinegar is so good, and I chopped some fresh green onions and basil from my herb garden on top. A squeeze of lime juice and then I was in heaven - so good! This recipe makes two very large portions with a lot more dressing leftover for use in something else. I hope you try it, it was one of the best and surprising things I've made recently - this could the be the perfect thing to pull you out of your kitchen doldrums!

**UPDATE** - Instead of just eating leftovers tonight, I decided to make a curried coconut cashew eggplant dish and use up the rest of my cashews that I still had in the pantry. It turned out fabulous and I have a ton more leftovers - it was a perfect dish while The Husband is gone on his fishing trip this week.. he hates coconut, eggplant, nuts, and curry... perfect time for me to enjoy! This might be the first time I did a back-to-back Daring Cook/Baker recipe night so I am proud of that. Leaving the food processor out on my counter overnight sure was handy!


Curried Coconut Cashew Eggplant with PitaNo formal recipe as I just tasted as I went, but it went something like this: I sauteed one small eggplant (which amounted to quite a lot of eggplant cubes!), one large tomato, one large onion, about half a can of coconut milk, maybe 3 tablespoons of cashew butter, 3 pressed garlic cloves, and an assortment of seasonings: ground fennel, tumeric, garam masala, hot curry powder, coriander seeds, cumin, ginger, salt and honey to taste. I served this on a pita (I was planning to make hummous this week.. something The Husband also hates!) and it was so delicious but you would also enjoy it on rice, naan or a chipati. Chicken would be great in this dish also.
   
 
Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew (or Peanut) Dressing


Yield: 4 servings

Recipe notes: Customize the salad by adding or substituting your favorite vegetables. Shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and slivered carrots would make nice additions. Obviously, you can omit the shrimp, or substitute chicken or tofu or the protein of your choice. The dressing is equally as good with peanut butter rather than cashew butter. We tested the dressing with nut butters made from salted cashews & peanuts with good results.

Ingredients:

Cashew Butter:
1 cup (240 ml) cashews*

Cashew Dressing:
½ inch (1 cm) slice of fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped
½ cup (120 ml) cashew butter
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) sugar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) vinegar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) toasted sesame oil
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (75 ml) water
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Noodle Salad:
1/2 pound (225 g) linguine or thin rice noodles
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1/2 pound (225 g) small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) sliced green onions
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped cashews (optional garnish)
Lime wedges (optional)


Directions:
Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with ½ cup (120 ml) prepared cashew butter.)

Prepare cashew dressing: Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Be sure to process long enough to puree the ginger and garlic. The dressing should be pourable, about the same thickness as cream. Adjust consistency – thinner or thicker -- to your liking by adding more water or cashew butter. Taste and add your favorite hot sauce if desired. (If the cashew butter was unsalted, you may want to add salt to taste.) Makes about 1 ½ cups (360 ml) dressing. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.

Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.

Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shrimp to the pan and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes or until opaque throughout. Alternately, cook shrimp in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes or until done.

Slice basil into thin ribbons. Combine noodles, bell pepper, cucumber, onions, and basil in a large bowl. Add about ½ cup (120 ml) cashew dressing; toss gently to coat. Add more cashew dressing as desired, using as much or as little as you’d like. Scatter shrimp on top. Squeeze fresh lime juice over salad or serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mother's Day Carrot Cakes and some Exciting News!

I know that Mother's Day has come and past but I never got around to making this post... mostly because of my current condition - I'm pregnant! Mother's Day was a special day because that is when we told our mothers (and the rest of our families) by showing them our first ultrasound pictures. Blogging has slowed down a bit, especially during the nausea portions of the first trimester. Anyway, I had wanted to make a carrot cake for my mother-in-law since I kept missing opportunities to do so earlier in the year. I decided to try out a new recipe which turned out really well, it was moist and had some interesting flavors in it - not just your basic carrot cake! I made a small 6inch layered cake for my mother-in-law and my mom got a set of 9 cupcakes. Toppings featured cream cheese frosting plus pecans and toasted coconut.

It was a while ago but I'm pretty sure this is the right recipe - it was basically one of the highest rated carrot cake recipes on AllRecipes.com, and it included interesting additions like buttermilk, coconut, pineapple, and walnuts. This makes delicious cupcakes also!


Sam's Famous Carrot Cake
As found on AllRecipes.com here


Ingredients

3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x12 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.

In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins.

Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.

Pour into prepared 8x12 inch pan, and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour. Check with toothpick.

Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

A Quick Weeknight Meal: Turkey Meatball Subs


Just a quick post since it's been a while! This wasn't really following a recipe but since I've been grilling food almost every day for a few weeks, this was just something different that The Husband ended up liking pretty well. I bought some meaty sauce from Nino's and a crusty football shaped bun and we had some provolone on hand. I used about a pound of turkey, some extra breakfast sausage that I had on hand, and then added in an egg, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and italian seasonings such as parsley, garlic, thyme, basil, rosemary, etc.

I rolled meatballs out, pan fried them to brown on all sides and then put them in a casserole dish with the sauce and covered with foil to finish baking through.. Then it was ready to put them on sub buns! I popped the sub into the broiler to melt the cheese and then dinner was served. Some fresh basil would have been nice, also!