Can't believe that it's been a month since my last post. Things had been crazy in the past month, but I happened to enjoy doing all of those. Now that I am free from classes, I can start sharing my kitchen-related and not-so-related experiences.
I'd started planning a baby shower for my friend, Jocelin, way back then in March. As time went by, I realized that the word "planning" in this case was no more than agreeing on a date for the parents-to-be and us. Soon after Easter break, I was swamped with homeworks, projects, and exams. I was also prone to getting sick last semester when I was too tired, which made things worse. Right after the last final exam, I flew to California to join hubby who was already there. We stayed there for a week and got back late on Tuesday. My week was pretty much full since we watched Star Trek sneak peek on Wednesday after work. Hubby had bought the ticket months before we planned the shower. Since then, he couldn't wait for that day. So watching that Star Trek movie was a done deal. On Friday, I had a meeting in Nashville and a bible study. So, I only had Thursday and Saturday to work on the baby shower.
I am always nervous for events that involves inviting bunch of people. What if not many people come? If the food isn't enough? If the food isn't good? If the party is lame? Well, this time, I didn't really have time to worry about those things because I was trying to accomplish my looong to-do list. Hubby kept saying that I was wearing myself out by doing too much thing and he thought some of those were not necessary since I didn't have much time. Those were things that I thought would be great to have for a baby shower, although I agreed that we could have omitted those without hurting the essence of the party. Of course, among those were things needed to be detailed. Things that I enjoyed doing the most.
While hubby and I had talked about the main food during our vacation, the "extras" were last minute deal. After did some quick online research, I decided to make onesie cookies for the thank you favor, cake with owl fondant figurine, and semar mendem or for this shower I called "rice in a baby blanket". I used Joy of Baking's recipe for the onesie cookies and royal icing using meringue powder. I didn't have onesie cookie cutter, so I tailored them myself using tools I had. Not having a specific cookie cutters allowed me to create different shapes of baby clothes. I'll post another entry about this once I have chance to recreate this cookies. I also found some online tutorial of how to decorate cookies using royal icing, which looked simple until I tried doing it myself. Once again, I was reminded of the importance of practice to master anything. I couldn't believe it's hard even just to make a straight line.
For the cake, I used Dorie Greenspan's vanilla cake, which only used egg whites. The butter cream is the reduced-sweetness version of this recipe. I stuck slices of strawberries in between the cake layers and soon regretted it. The strawberries made the cake watery and hard to cover. For the decoration, I made an owl figurine out of gum paste since Jocelin likes owl. So I was pretty much in the kitchen the whole time on Saturday either baking, cooking, or chopping.
I finished everything just right before the scheduled time although some were not as good as I expected. Until now, I still couldn't believe I could finish the whole thing and still had time to...take a shower before the event! Haha... I didn't have time to snap "proper" pictures of what I made though. The whole apartment was like a mess and the smell of what I cooked stayed until the next day. Nevertheless, I was super pleased that everything went well and the parent-to-be looked so happy. We had a lot of leftover what would be enough for another party. So other than what I mentioned above, I made beef rendang, Chinese corn soup, and stir fried gailan . My friends made fried chicken, cassava leaf (daun singkong) with pork, fried vermicelli, and eggplant in a hot pot.
Now we are eager to see the baby that can come at anytime soon.
I had a really great Easter break. I had a long list of school works I had to do during the break, but instead, I decided to have a relaxing weekend with hubby and friends. I'd been too busy since school started, and I realized that I'd abandoned my social life. Therefore, that weekend, I chose to do some catching up with friends, especially those who were going to move out of town soon. Other than meeting with friends, that weekend was filled with a lot of baking and cooking.
I didn't bake my usual carrot cake last Easter. The reason was, we had some fresh pineapples from Earth Fare that week. I brought home four pineapples, all for free because they gave a way two pineapples per person if we spent ten dollars or more. I shared two of them with my coworkers, and left with the other two. So, I did some recipe hunting and found a cake recipe from Mennonite Girl's can Cook's website. The cake is called "Hummingbird Cake", because it is good and can make you hum while you eat.
I changed the recipe a little bit to use as much pineapple as possible; and I ended up using 1.5 pineapple. Yes!
The most exciting part was the pineapple flowers on top of the cake. In fact, the main reason I baked this cake was the beautiful flowers shown on the MGCC website. But, alas, mine were burnt! I was doing other baking and totally forgot that I still had the flowers roasted at low heat in the oven.
Hubby went home hiding something behind his back. As he approached me, he handed me a bouquet of roses and said "happy anniversary!!!". I paused for a couple of seconds and for a moment, I thought he was wrong. I finally got it. It wasn't our wedding anniversary, but our relationship anniversary. It was anniversary of the day we decided to have special relationship. And that was.....16 years ago!
My getting surprised was justified, because hubby isn't a guy who remembers big days. He usually doesn't really care about valentine's days, birthdays, and not so much about anniversary, yet he never misses paying bills or deadlines Even if he remembers, he is not a roses type of guy. Honestly, I didn't remember about that day since we never celebrated it anymore since we got married. Yet, I told him that I had a surprise for him also. I brought him to the kitchen and showed him what I made for him.
Three hours earlier, I was craving spice cake but hesitated because I didn't have proper spice ingredients. I worked from home that day, so I could flipped through my recipe books and found a simple recipe from Dorie Greenspan's book. It was originally a yogurt cake with marmalade glaze, but I didn't have lemon zest nor marmalade, so I altered the recipe a little bit. Who would have thunk that the cake can be used to celebrate our anniversary
Yogurt Spice Cake
Ingredients: 1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Whisk in the sugar and eggs until well blended. Add in yogurt and oil. When the mixture is well blended, gently whisk in the dry ingredients. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil. The batter will be thick and shiny. Scrape it into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and starts to come away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.
We were invited to a halloween party at our friend' house, so I baked these cupcakes. I was in the mood of making dessert using pureed beet because I was crazy about the color. Since there would be a lot of kids in the party, cupcake was the first thing I had in mind. A week before, I have tried making red velvet cake using fresh beets, but the amount of cocoa was too overpowering, making the cake dark brown instead of dark red. So this time, I looked for a fresh beet cake recipe that required much less amount of cocoa powder.
I was excited when I took out the cupcakes from the oven. The color was just as I expected. Yes! What a great natural red color! My excitement dimmed when hubby and I took a bite. It tasted like beet. Hubby and I loved the taste but I knew the people at the party wouldn't eat those cupcakes. I knew a lot of people don't like (and it is an understatement) beet. Without thinking twice, we decided not to bring the cakes, and I was glad we didn't. I told my friend at the party what I made and why I didn't bring those, and she nicely said that I made a great decision. I wasn't too disappointed because we got a dozen of red cupcakes for ourselves
Have you ever bought stuffs for a specific purpose but they were used for other things because you never found a chance to used them for their original reason-to-buy? I have. It's my ramekins. I bought them almost a year ago because I was eager to make soufflé. My plan got pushed away for some reasons and I almost forgot about it. I'd used the ramekins for soup, cobbler, and other things, but not soufflé. Not until last week.
I made this soufflé on Sunday night. We had a really busy weekend, so it was really nice to have time being at home. When relaxing, I like to have our apartment filled with... sweet aroma from my oven!!! Hubby also likes to zip his coffee with something sweet, so, after hopping from one recipe to the other, I decided to make this chocolate soufflé.
I was happy when seeing the cake rose high up exceeded the rim of the ramekins. I let them sit on the kitchen counter allowing them to cool down. When I went back to check them up, OH NO! They deflated slowly but sure. I quickly garnished them to soften the gullies on the cakes' surface and grabbed my camera. Now I wonder if soufflé pictures I found online or ones in cookbooks are pictures of the cakes when they were fresh, just right from the oven.
I thought my soufflé failed because of the shrinkage, but my oh my… it was awesome. The texture was so fluffy and airy I guessed because it was flourless. It was very rich that one ramekin of it was enough for two of us.
Although trees in my area haven't changed their color yet, I can really feel Autumn in the air. The temperature has dropped since last week and gloomy sky has been persistently hanging in the sky. Having this kind of weather, my nose is longing for the smell of fall. Call me silly, but last Sunday during the church service, I smelled cinnamon and pine tree which brought my imagination to a Thanksgiving dinner scene. No! the preacher was great if you asked me why my thought was wandering around. I blamed it to the cold cloudy day
For me, Fall also means pumpkin! That's why when I stumbled upon a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake from Mennonite Girls Can Cook website, I bookmarked it right away. Last weekend, finally, I found a reason to make this dessert. The recipe was very easy to follow. Usually I overbaked my cooking because I wanted to make sure the food was cooked through. That way my cooking was almost always too dry. For this recipe, I learned to bake as the recipe says. Well...I added 10 minutes, because I didn't take out the cake right after I turned off the oven. Didn't know what the inside looked like, I was nervous when I cut it in front of my friends at church. Thanks God it turned out great. I got a lot of good feedback from people stayed for the potluck. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
Ingredients for crust: 5 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup crushed ginger snaps
1 cup crushed graham cracker
Using fingers, mix the crumbs, pour melted butter over the crumbs and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. Turn the ingredients into the buttered 10" springform pan. Using your fingers, pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 7 minutes. Set aside.
Ingredients for filling:
3 -8 ounce packages regular cream cheese, room temperature 1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups canned pure pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 tsp cloves (I used cardamom)
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Using an electric mixer beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Crack eggs into a smaller bowl and whisk until pale yellow and frothy.
Add eggs to cream cheese mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Using the same bowl as you used for the eggs stir together pumpkin and spices.
Add pumpkin mixture to cream cheese mixture and beat on low until just incorporated. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Gentle fold whipped cream into pumpkin cream cheese mixture.
Pour mixture over crust.
Wrap one large sheet of foil around bottom and sides of pan. Press against sides.
Place wrapped pan in a baking dish and fill with hot water halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake in oven that is preheated to 325º. For convection oven heat to 300º.
Bake for 60-70 minutes. Cake will still be jiggly in the centre but will set as it cools.
Cool at room temperature. Remove foil and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill and allow to completely set. Remove the ring of the spring form pan, and place onto cake plate.
Blech: sheet. Kuchen: cake. So a Blechkuchen is a German cake that is baked in a large baking sheet then cut into rectangular shapes.
I came across this recipe when I flipped through a Mennonite cookbook, More-with-Less. I was looking for a new recipe for our weekly cake/bread supply and interested in the unfamiliar title of the recipe. Searching on the internet, I found that the first page was dominated by foreign language, German. Aha! I guessed it right.
A day before, we bought some Red Delicious apples from Market Square Farmers' Market. The apples didn't look so appealing, so we were not sure if we wanted them. But the lady cut one for us to try, and maaann...it was delicious! She pointed to another basket of apples and told us that those were less sweet and the ones next to it were sour. We got combination of those three different sweetnesses and filled hubby's backpack with them.
Raised Coffee Cake (Blechkuchen)
Adapted from: More-with-Less Ingredients:
2 pkg. dry yeast
1 c. warm water
3 cup warm milk
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp salt
6 cup flour1 c. raisins combined with 3/4 c. flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine all of the ingredients except the raisins until dough is smooth and satiny. Stir in raisins, and fold the dough gently.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
2-3 red apples, thinly sliced
With back of spoon spread the dough thinly onto 2 greased 10x15" cookie sheets. Arrange the apple slices on top of the dough.
Bake 20 minutes at 375º. Cut to rectangular shapes.
I was not too happy with this torte, and there's nothing wrong with the recipe.
It started from the crust making. The recipe specifically said not to overdo the dough, and I thought I got it for the last few months I made sweet crusts. That time though, I found it didn't cooperate well. The dough was too sandy, so I couldn't form it to a ball. I thought it's because I didn't have vanilla extract. Since vanilla extract is in liquid form, I added water to the dough. When I remix the dough, I knew it was obviously...overdone.
Other thing was...it's overbaked! That day when the torte was still being baked, I was ready to go to my friend's baby shower. I asked hubby to turned off the oven 10 minutes after I left. When I called him, he told me that the cake was burnt. He did what I asked him to do, so it's not his fault. I should have taken it out before I left although the mixture was still jiggly, but apparently cooked through.
I will revisit this recipe again sometimes, and will post the recipe then.
I never cared about crumb cake until I watched one episode of Cake Boss, a cooking show by TLC. On that episode, a lady was irritated because Carlos Bakery accidentally sold the crumb cake she had ordered, to another person. Her aggravation was justified not only because the cake was gone, but also because she drove 3 hours from Boston to the bakery. Feeling remorseful, Buddy, the owner quickly started making the cake. He briefly showed the process, which looked and sounded easy but I believed it actually was not! In an hour, he successfully had his famous crumb cake ready. The episode ended with 'oohs' and 'aahs', as he invited the lady to join him eating the still-warm cake before he handed the whole box of cake for free.
That episode tickled my interest of trying to bake one when I saw the very title on Dorie Greenspan cooking book. I think the obvious difference between Dorie's and Buddy's crumb cake is the thickness of the crumb layer. Dorie's is finer and thinner, while Buddy's dominated the cake. I will try Cake Boss' recipe someday, but for now, I am satisfied with the recipe I used. I love the sexy coarse texture of the crumb. I also love the combination of berries and nuts in the cake.
There are too many things to be thankful for: Family
Our parents have been visiting us for a week. For us who live thousand miles from them, it is a rare occasion. We treasure every moment and make the most of it. We are so spoiled by them. During their visit, I don't feel the need of cooking because food is always ready. I better watch my waist circumference. Heehee...
Our other set of parents, sisters, and nieces that always be there for us.
It has been so great which allows us to have our windows open. Its makes me want to spend my time outside. Oh, and not to mention that I can wear my summer dresses and flip-flops. Woohoo!
Old friends from home that I hadn't spoken to for a long time.
Friends here that continuously remind us how big our God's love is. Our friend that graduates and ready to step on a new journey called college life.
For those reasons, I present my sweet round cheese cake with blackberry sauce for you all.
I never had luck with cheesecake until I found Dorie Greenspan's recipe. I had a great feedbacks from my church friends when I brought it to a potluck a couple weeks ago.
Have a great weekend, y'all! I may not be able to update this blog for about two weeks because we are having a field trip with our parents. See ya then!