My Cake Decorating Gallery

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chef John's Caramel Chicken



I haven't found a Chef John recipe that I haven't liked. I had never heard of this dish, but apparently it's a common vietnamese dish, and I just happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. I loved it so much that I made it the following week as well, so yummy! It's a very sweet dish but the salty tang of the soy sauce, fish sauce and vinegar balances it out and it's super yummy, great over rice. It was nice to try something easy and a little different, and it was doable for a weeknight meal for sure.

Definitely watch the video, besides being entertaining, there are some good tips from Chef John about how to make this dish. The second time I made it, I used a little less water, if any, to decrease the time it took for the sauce to reduce.

Chef John's Caramel Chicken on Allrecipes.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kitchen Bliss' Michigan 4-Berry Pie




We love that Achatz Michigan Four Berry Pie that you can get here locally in the metro Detroit area. For Thanksgiving as well as this past Valentine's day, I have worked out my best copy cat version of this delicious combination of cherries, raspberries, strawberries(*) and blueberries.

(*)I have yet to try the exact berry combination that Achatz uses (Michigan tart cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries) but I've done this twice with sweet cherry/rasp/blue and sweet cherry/rasp/blue/strawberries -- try any berry you like and just keep the quantities the same. This won't disappoint! Next time I will try to remember blackberries, not strawberries! Maybe I can add both and top Achatz by having a Michigan 5-Berry Pie.. especially if I could source them all from Michigan (not happening here in the winter time though!)


First, I use my favorite pie crust recipe (because it's easy and delicious) - Fool Proof Pie Crust Recipe. This makes a double pie crust, so just save the other crust for another pie later by popping the extra crust disc in the freezer, then put in the fridge for a day or so before you plan to roll it out. Also, feel free to use a store-bought pie crust - talk about easy!

Next, I use my favorite streusel topping - Mrs. Kostyra's Streusel recipe from Martha Stewart which goes great with a mixed berry tart or pie.

1 cup flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny squares

Mix the streusel ingredients and break up the butter using your hands or a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly and when you squeeze it it kind of keeps shape.


Finally, we have the Cherry Berry Filling -

1 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup tapioca
pinch of salt
2 cups or 1 package of frozen sweet cherries, thawed and drained
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries (or blackberries or more of the previously mentioned berries)
1 teaspoon flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out your pie crust and fold over to carefully place into your pie tin and pat it in and trim edges, crimp edges, however you like your pies to look. I used a fork this time on the edges and I saved extra dough to cut out hearts for the Valentine's day theme. Other times I have just folded the extra dough over to make a thick rustic edge which is delicious.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon flour and 1 teaspoon sugar in the crust shell and then tap out carefully.

Mix 1 cup sugar and tapioca and pinch of salt together in one bowl.

Rinse/mix all the cherries and berries together and sprinkle with the sugar tapioca mix and carefully stir to combine.

Pour the cherry berry mix into the prepared pie crust and then sprinkle with the streusel topping.

If using extra pie crust scrapes for decorations, roll out into hearts/etc and place on top of the streusel.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees with a square of foil placed loosely on top for 30 minutes. Check throughout baking time to make sure it is not browning too quickly. If pie filling is not bubbling on edges and topping isn't browned enough, remove foil for an additional 10-15 minutes baking time if needed, checking frequently so that the topping doesn't get overly browned.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Brown Butter, Sage and Mushroom Soup



I first found this recipe when eating low carb and looking for new dinner ideas. It is ridiculously good, I made it twice in a row on back to back nights because the second night we were having people over and I couldn't get that soup out of my mind. It's absolutely guest-worthy and if you love your carbs, serve it with some crusty bread (Like the NY Times no-knead rustic bread) and butter on the side or toss in some tiny noodles. Or serve it as a lovely soup course before your dinner. The brown butter and sage -- it's just so delicious. You'll love this easy weeknight soup!

Brown Butter Mushroom Soup with Sage (Low Carb too!)

As seen on the All Day I Dream About Food blog.
6 tbsp butter2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped1 lb mushrooms, sliced4 cups vegetable or chicken stockSalt and pepper to taste1/2 cup heavy cream


Instructions
In a large pot, heat butter over medium heat until it begins to brown and turns fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage and cook one minute more.Add mushrooms and stir to coat, then saute until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.Stir in stock and bring to a simmer. Cook 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to food processor or blender (I used my stick immersible blender which I love and makes this so easy!). Blend until smooth.Return to pot and stir in cream. Serve immediately.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Batman Birthday Cake and DIY No Sew Super Hero Capes



My son was turning 4 and that's the prime age for loving super heroes! He had asked for a Batman birthday party and that's what we did. I got a few batman decorations but mostly the cake and party favors were carrying the theme. The cake was his favorite (confetti) with mousseline buttercream in blue. I ordered some Fondarific black fondant as well as some white (from Amazon) knowing that in 6 weeks my little guy would be turning 2 so it would come in handy again (for a construction themed birthday cake). It was my first time trying Fondarific and I was pleasantly surprised, 1 million times better tasting and behaving than Wilton fondant. Cheaper too - give it a try. I rolled out some black fondant and free-form cut some buildings/city scapes that I layered to make the lower edge of the cake. I also used the black fondant for a larger oval and the bat shape using a batman cookie cutter (I bought this to make batman cookies for his preschool class since he doesn't even like cake, so no cupcakes for him!) 

I made some yellow fondant out of the white fondant and rolled out the "beam of light" and 4 and smaller yellow oval to finish off the batman logo, as well as the Happy Birthday letters. Finally I cut out tiny windows and used water to stick them on to the black buildings before placing the buildings on the cake. It worked out great. This batman cake was pretty easy to decorate! It was the nicest cake I'd made for my 4 yr old because his birthday is close to Christmas and it's just usually such a hectic time with schedules, work and cold/flu season, so I was happy this cake turned out so great. He didn't eat the cake (who knows why he doesn't like cake), but he loved the black fondant buildings calling it 'chocolate'. 



To go along with the theme, I was looking for non-junky party favor ideas which didn't include a bunch of cheap choking hazards from China. I came across do-it-yourself super hero capes here. I went to the fabric store to buy very soft fleece in black, royal blue and turquoise, as well as accent colors of red, yellow and white for the badges and lightning bolts and letters. (The original blog post I was following used felt for the badges but you could see the glue through it so I recommend using fleece.)

I think they turned out great! The only real problem I had was listening to the lady at the fabric cutting counter who told me to get Wonder Under instead of fabric glue. What a stupid mistake.. I followed the directions on the package and it was melting the fleece before it would adhere and ruined a bunch of badges and letters and probably my iron... really annoying when I had plenty to do besides redoing a bunch of this work! I was super ticked at that lady. Anyway, don't use Wonder Under and fleece!

The next thing I should have changed was skip the whole stick-on or glue-on velcro for the neck closures.. those ripped off all the capes after about the first 10 minutes of use. It would've been cheaper and easier to just snip a hole and tie a black ribbon on each side for the super hero to use as a tie for the cape. I ended up redoing that for my two kids' capes.. you could also try buying velcro which requires stitching, but that doesn't follow the "no sew" rules too well. So, I learned from my mistakes but these capes were pretty fun and an unusually cool party favor. Hard to top homemade personalized super hero capes!

I also used extra fleece and elastic bands for attempting to make super hero masks in coordinating colors, as I had forgotten I had already purchased some batman paper masks from the store. They looked cute but perhaps next time I'd use a template as they didn't seem to fit a variety of head sizes (we had ages 2 through 6 at the party) very well. The kids were excited for both masks and the cape in the party favor bags.