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"A rose is a rose is an onion." -Ernest Hemingway

15.11.09

Jeremy's Vanilla-Cocoa Cake

Honestly, does this really need any explanation?


For 1 9", two-layer cake, you'll need:

+ butter, softened, 2 sticks
+ sugar, 3 cups
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ buttermilk, 2 cups
+ 4 eggs
+ baking powder, 2 tablespoons
+ vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons (OR 1-2 vanilla beans)
+ flour, 2 cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; liberally grease two 9" cake pans.

Cream butter, sugar and salt. Whip in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Gently mix in flour and baking powder, until just combined. Evenly distribute batter between 2 pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare the cocoa frosting. The following recipe is only an approximation, and will leave plenty of extra - just in case. You'll need:

+ powdered sugar, 1 pound
+ cocoa powder, 1/4 cup
+ shortening, approximately 1/2 cup
+ water, 2-4 tablespoons, if necessary

Combine all ingredients until desired flavor and texture are achieved.

If necessary, use a serrated knife to even the tops of the cakes. Place the first layer bottom-down, top-up. (Two frosting tricks? Apply a dab of frosting to the base of the cake stand to secure the cake; place small slips of parchment around the edge of the first layer, to make clean up a bit easier.) Smooth a liberal amount of frosting over the first layer. Place the second layer top-down, bottom-up. Frost the sides and top to desired smoothness. Remove parchment paper. Serve (peonies not required) and enjoy!

Lavender-Infused Olive Oil Cakes

These moist, tender cakes have a crisp exterior and a mild, floral aroma. I baked mine in a jumbo muffin tin, and the recipe yielded about 6 small cakes. The same recipe (with a shorter cook time) would yield about 1 dozen standard-sized cupcakes.


For 6 small cakes, you'll need:

+ olive oil, 1 cup
+ dried lavender, 3 teaspoons
+ 3 eggs
+ sugar, 1 1/2 cups
+ baking powder, 3 teaspoons
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ flour, 1 1/2 cups

In a small skillet, combine olive oil and lavender over very low heat; there should be no crackling. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; pass through a sieve, and cool oil. Discard lavender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; grease muffin tins.

Whip oil and eggs until creamy. Add sugar. Gently mix in remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Evenly distribute batter between tins. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare a lemon glaze:

+ powdered sugar, 1/2 cup
+ 1 lemon, juiced

Combine sugar and juice until a light glaze forms. Reserve.

Lavender on Foodista

Invert cooled cakes onto a plate; drizzle with glaze. If desired, sprinkle with dried lavender just before service. These are perfect for a light dessert, a sweet breakfast or with tea - enjoy!

10.11.09

Flank Steak with Balsamic Chimichurri

This took about 20 minutes of "active" cooking, and was extremely tasty. Enjoy!


(My oven and broiler suck, so the meat isn't exactly evenly caramelized. I didn't want to risk it becoming tough, so I pulled it out of the broiler before it had a proper chance to get nice and evenly browned - and then I doctored it up with the reserved sauce, which made it even tastier, albeit, less pretty.)


For 2-3 servings (by that, I mean I ate about 1/4 of the steak, and Jeremy ate the rest ... in two bites), you'll need:

+ 1 1-pound flank steak
+ fresh parsley, roughly torn, 2 cups
+ garlic, 3-5 cloves, crushed
+ S&P
+ 1 lemon, zested
+ balsamic vinegar, 3-4 tablespoons
+ olive oil

In a food processor, combine parsley, garlic, lemon zest and salt & pepper. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add vinegar. With food processor running, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube until the mixture is a smooth, relatively thin sauce. Remove.

Marinate the steak in the refrigerator with half of the sauce for at least 2 hours. (The longer it marinates, the better it'll be!)

Transfer to a roasting pan; drizzle lightly with olive oil. I petaled some red onions and halved some cherry tomatoes, for color, as shown. Broil for 11-13 minutes for a medium-rare steak. Rest; slice. Dig in!

2.11.09

Ciabatta

This bread is great with soup, fabulous for bruschetta - and couldn't be much simpler.


For one large (6" by 12") loaf, you'll need:

+ pate fermentee, 1 batch
+ lukewarm water, 1/3 cup
+ sugar, 1 teaspoon
+ dry yeast, 1 teaspoon
+ buttermilk or water, 2/3 cup
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ flour, 2 cups
+ olive oil, for brushing

The day before you make the bread, prepare the pate fermentee.

On the following day, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Rest for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy. Scrape the pate fermentee, yeast-water mixture, salt and water/buttermilk into a stand mixer (with a bread hook) or food processor (with a dough blade). Combine. Gradually incorporate the flour, until you have a soft, smooth dough.

Briefly knead dough on a floured surface. Transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover; rise in a warm location for 45 minutes. Gently shape into a loaf, and transfer to an oiled baking sheet. Lightly brush with remaining olive oil. Cover; rise for 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake bread for 20-22 minutes, remembering to turn the sheet pan occasionally to prevent uneven browning. Enjoy!

* While water will yield a "holier," more familiar product, the buttermilk lends the bread a rich flavor, increased moisture and a pleasant chewiness. Experiment with any combination of the two!