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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Black Pepper Tempeh

I just got a new cookbook: Super Natural Every Day from Heidi Swanson. I leafed through the cookbook and a lot of things look interesting and yummy. This is one of them.

I've tried to make tempeh several times but it's never really good. The recipe on the back of the package tells you to pan fried it with a little bit of oil and 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, until browned. I don't know you can just rely on soy sauce as the only seasoning, except maybe sushi, but even then I still need wasabi and pickled ginger. In the end the tempeh is usually pretty oily and blah tasting.

But let's back up for a second. What is tempeh?

Tempeh is a soy product originating from Indonesia. Similar to tofu in that it's made of soybean, but tempeh has different nutrition and texture than tofu. Tempeh, or tempe as it is called in Indonesia, is made by naturally culturing and controlling the fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine and can usually be found in the vegetarian section of your grocery store. You can read more about tempeh and see pictures of several tempeh dishes here on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

This week's cake is the most interesting because everyone who made it used different pans and different berries combination. But everyone agrees that this cake is a winner.

As such is what Hanaa exclaimed. "This week's cake was a winner!" is the very first sentence in her post. She used a very unusual and pretty heart-shaped pan. Her genoise "rose beautifully and is probably my most successful (aka high) genoise to date." So she split it in half and layer it with her homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves. Topped with neat rows of sliced strawberries, it's a cake that makes anyone wants to eat it.

Jane made the Red Fruit Shortcake a couple of weeks ago. She baked the genoise in a 9 inch round pan and used fresh strawberries and dried currants. The cake was a hit. "Everyone seemed to really like it. I added the creme fraiche topping to it as well. It was a really light dessert with all of the fruit and tasted very fresh." Jane also made the Chocolate Feather Bed. Showing her devotion in making this cake, she made a trip to the grocery store to get the extra eggs needed to make up for being 9 grams short in egg yolks. The trip paid off, with her saying "I am definitely a fan of the chocolate feather bed."

The only person who stayed faithful to the recipe and made the cake in a flan tin is Melissa. Though unfortunately, as it is winter in Canberra where she lived, she was unable to find reasonably priced berries. "I priced Raspberries at $10 a punnet and strawberries at $4 a punnet. I'd probably need about three punnets to fill the flan. So, I may look for other options to feed my family." Melissa, always on the cheerful side, is still excited about the cake. "I've only done half a job but I'm really thrilled with this. It came out beautifully and now I just need to find some seasonal fruit."

Monday, June 27, 2011

HCB: Red Fruit Shortcake

This is Red, Blue, and Purple Shortcake. So named because in addition to strawberries, I used blueberries and frozen marionberries.

I didn't use raspberries, as the recipe prescribed.

I planned to do so. Last Thursday I went to the grocery store and bought strawberries and raspberries, 2 pounds each. They were on sale, so I thought why not!

I went home and told hubby that 1 pint of raspberry is for me and 1 pint for him. I also warned him that some of the strawberries will be for dessert. So don't eat it all, I said.

On Saturday morning, I wanted about to start on the cake. First order of business, macerating the berries. I opened the fridge and found strawberries but no raspberries. Asked husband and apparently he had eaten all of the raspberries.

They were that good! :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

This week's Mud Turtle Cupcakes is well loved. Everyone who made it raved about it. And it is so fun to see everyone's little turtles all lined up for photos.

Poor Jane. She had to make the caramel twice. Her first batch burned because "the heat on the stove was too high." The second batch took longer but the result was worth it "voila! yummy caramel." The cupcakes were a hit, with Jane herself dubbing it "heavenly" and one of her housemates giving it 10 out of 10.

Alice also had some difficulty with the caramel. It started to smell like burning at 280 degrees. She let it on to about 330 degrees when it started smoking so she called it good. The caramel turned out a bit too strong for her, but it still got rave reviews at her wine and cheese party/book club meeting.

These cupcakes triggered some childhood memories for Melissa. It reminded her of the chocolate caramel toffee turtles, one of the first thing she made when she was little. Back then, her attempt at making the turtles was "complete time-consuming failures. The caramel toffee never set hard enough, instead pooling into blobby bits of sticky stuff with pecans and chocolate oozing out everywhere." This time (some 30 years or so later), she had a different result. "No disasters now." The cupcake turned out and the caramel worked. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

HCB: Mud Turtle Cupcakes

This cake is my 77th cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes.

It feels so good to say that.

I have been saying that I have 17 cakes remaining. That number seem so small in comparison to 77, and yet, if I bake one every week I have 3 months left.

I can't wait!!!

It's not because I don't like being part of HCB. But at this point in the game, where the end feels so near (what's 3 months!?!) but yet so far (still 3 months!!!), I am itching to finish. 

I can smell and see the finish line (okay, I am being a tad melodramatic).

But wouldn't you be?

I am not very excited to make this cupcakes. Like I said last week, a cupcake named "mud" does not make me think "yum."

Still, I woke up on Sunday morning feeling quite excited.

Not necessarily about "mud," but about photography. Cupcake photography, in this case.

Friday, June 17, 2011

FFWD: Roasted Rhubarb

This is the first time I purchased rhubarb. It's not a staple in the house. I can't even remember the last time I had a rhubarb dessert (I know it paired well with strawberry, that's all I know :)).

This is very easy to prepare. Cut up rhubarb into 1 1/2 inch slices, toss with sugar and lemon. Let sit for 5 minutes until it's a bit juicy. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the sugar melted. Take off the foil and continue baking for a few more minutes until the juices are boiling and the rhubarb looks like it's gonna melt - like in the photo above.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

I never know what to write in the intro for Last Cake, Next Cake. I usually start by summarizing what everyone did and only then I could come up with think of something smart to say. This week, being FREE CHOICE week, it feels even harder to think of something. Maybe it's because I haven't finished my tea yet. Or is it because I'm still dreaming of my bed?

We have quite a few bakers who took this week's FREE CHOICE as an opportunity to catch up. Almost everyone made something different but everyone loved their choices.

Vicki made the Chocolate Financier and the Red Velvet Cake. The financier should have been an easy cake to make, she said, but in a scatter-brain moment she grabbed espresso powder instead of cocoa nibs. Also forgetting to add cocoa powder, she quickly poured the cocoa powder in the piping bag and "squished around to incorporate it." Fiasco isn't over, as she underweight the batter and it burned. It's still a hit though. "These little gems are not too sweet and the espresso powder gave them both a lovely flavor, burned and all. The family nibbled them up quite quickly." For the Red Velvet Cake, Vicki used beet juice instead of red food coloring, resulting in a "pinkalicious" cake. The roasted beets produced hardly any juice, so quick thinking again, she pureed and smashed it to get more juice. The color of the cake is a big hit to her little granddaughter.

Kristina made Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Neoclassic buttercream. She wanted to try her Lyle Golden Syrup that she found a while back but never used. She brought the cupcakes to work. "Only 2 cupcakes came home, so I think they hit the spot." At the end of the post, Kristina added that apparently she has made these cupcakes once before, back in June 2010, though back then she frosted them with leftover raspberry cloud cream from the freezer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

PPB: Cherry Rhubarb Lattice Pie

I've never made a pie with rhubarb before. I think I've had it and it was pretty good, but it was so long ago that I don't remember.

Whenever I make pie, I usually make apple pie.

This weekend, I thought I should make something different.

Since I am in love with Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cream Cheese Pie Crust, I want to make a pie that use this pie crust.

So I leafed through the book.

Technically, I can make any pie with this crust, I think. But I was curious to find out what comes with the pie crust.

I found 2 interesting ones.

Cherry Rhubarb and Strawberry Rhubarb.

Which one?

Undecided, I thought "let's see what's available at the store..."

I got to the store and found both cherries and strawberries.

I picked cherries.

They looked fresher, while the strawberries looked too ripe.

Now let's get baking!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

When I started writing the LC NC summary on Monday night, only 2 people (Lois and myself) baked this week's cake. So I started my summary by saying that this is the saddest Last Cake, Next Cake summary in the history of Heavenly Cake Bakers. I proceeded to mention that being very sad about this, it might drive me to drink horribly or stuff myself with half the cake (the latter option being more interesting than the former).

By Tuesday morning, we have Melisssa in the mix.

3 people.

I thought I can still proceed with my sad comments above and the threat to go on drinking/eating binge.

By Wednesday afternoon, we have 5 participant.

Oh well, I guess I have to change my post. It is no longer a sad party but quite a festive one :).

We also have people like Katya and Kristina, both have made this already and are nice enough to post a link to their cakes. Thanks guys!

Every single baker this week who made the Swedish Pear & Almond Cake had issues where their cake stuck to the pan. This is really puzzling. I've posted a cry for help over at Rose's forum, though haven't received any "solution" as to why.

Lois, who has been looking forward to making this cake because she loved almonds, did so unsuccessfully and successfully. Unsuccessfully because the top part of her cake stuck to the pan. Unfazed, she wrote "it wasn't pretty, but the taste is fantastic!" She then tasted the cake with some Ajerkoniak (Polish Egg Liquor that she made).

Melissa, also a lover of almonds, could not find almond paste so she used marzipan. Listing new techniques of "mixing the flour and butter together, not the butter and sugar as very interesting." She used her newly-purchased bundt tin, though sadly her cake did not quite turn out the way she expected it to be. One side of the cake looks a bit browner than the other (because of her uneven oven), some pears did not make it to the bottom of the pan, and part of her cake stuck to the pan. No matter. Her family raved about the cake and  3/4 of it were eaten quickly.

Farmer's Market

I went to the Farmer's Market the other day. I liked going there. They don't have a lot of produce. There are 2 produce sellers and the rest of the 15 or so vendors sell ready-to-eat food like salsa, bread, pickles, ice cream, pop corn, pastries, green chile, burritos, burgers, gyros, dog bath product, Mary Kay. Hang on, the dog bath product and Mary Kay are clearly not edible, which makes me wonder why they are at the Farmer's Market.

To each their own, I suppose.

The weather was good. A bit warm - we reached 90 degrees - but at 9 AM it was still a nice 70 degrees :).

I got a good variety this time. Some asparagus, potatoes, a couple of zucchini, tomatoes (a must!), cucumber, and garlic.

Total damage: $8.50. Not bad!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

HCB: Swedish Pear and Almond Cream Cake

I must tell you now that this cake is so good! I had some expectations about this cake, having heard from Monica and Rose that it is good. I am still surprised though, not because I don't believe them, but simply because I did not expect it to be this good!

But first, let's start at the beginning. It started with beautiful free range eggs and butter.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

FFWD: Warm Weather Vegetable Pot Au Feu

I have been absent from FFWD for a while. The last time I participated was March 10 for the Beggar's Linguini.


Realizing that, I thought I better start cracking so I made both the Vegetable Pot Au Feu and the Roasted Rhubard last weekend.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

There is not a lot of participation this week. Only 6 people - including myself - made the trifle. I suppose people have other plans that involved things more exciting than laboring in the kitchen making this trifle. My grand plan of scheduling it for the long weekend so we have more time composing it backfired? Oh well, I have no regrets. The trifle was made, eaten, and everyone happy.

"The day Rose's Heavenly Cakes arrived, this Chocolate Raspberry Trifle is the very first page I saw.  It stunned me" - says Vicki. She quickly added that she has dreaded making this recipe because her nemesis is genoise. Fortunately this time the genoise turned out great, "no hidden flour balls and it rose to the required height." She loved this cake - "the custard alone would make this recipe worthwhile" with eldest granddaughter wanting to "jump into a swimming pool of custard."

Lois celebrated US Memorial Day in Poland, invited friends over and served Spanish food and this trifle for dessert. She couldn't find raspberries so she used cherries, making her trifle "Black Forest-like." She made a 9x13 cake so they could fit into her "very flared salad bowl." Complete in her substitution, she used cherry preserved instead of raspberry. Though she noted that it takes more time to use fresh cherries, as they have to be "lovingly and patiently sliced and pitted." The trifle is a big hit with her dinner guest, with one friend said "you couldn't buy something like this: it's so special. It should be for a wedding or something."

Kristina halved the recipe and made it while her husband "was cutting the rafters for our shed’s roof." In the midst of that, she also did a couple of loads of laundry. If you're not impressed yet by her energy and multi-tasking ability, while the cake is cooling she went outside to help Jay with the shed. "Later, just before supper, I came back in for assembly of the cake." She loved the flavor combo of the trifle, though thought the cake was a tad soggy. She brought it to work, where "like always, it disappeared quickly."