Sunday, July 22, 2012

Strawberry Jam Cake and Homemade Vanilla Icecream

That is a really lousy picture of a pretty decent dessert.

After my success with the world's largest strawberry rhubarb pie, I decided to try and bake a cake.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  Living 5,500 feet above sea level makes it a daunting task.

But let's start with the ice cream recipe.  Normally, I use a sweet cream ice cream recipe from my trusty Ben & Jerry's book.  Today I wanted something a little less fussy, because I was  also fixing dinner and baking a cake.

I googled "easy vanilla ice cream recipe" and this is what I found.  I like it because it only has a few ingredients, and it doesn't require eggs!  That turned out to be a really good thing, because later, I needed all 3 of my eggs to make the cake!

With the ice cream churning around in my ice cream maker, I turned my attention to the cake.  I found this recipe in the July/August 2012 issue of "Tea Time" magazine.  The recipe was for fussy little individual cakes.  I made the batter and baked it in a 13x9 pan.

Strawberry Jam Cake

2 cups cake flour (I used AP because at my altitude, it gives more structure)
1 teaspoon baking powder (I used about a quarter teaspoon less, again because of altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar (I subtracted 2 tablespoons- altitude)
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring
1/3 cup buttermilk (I used about 4 tablespoons more- altitude)

Preheat oven to 350- I baked mine at 375 to adjust for altitude.  Grease a 13x9 cake pan- I used my pyrex.

Mix everything from the flour to the baking soda in a medium bowl.  I used a whisk to get everything really incorporated.

Cream the butter and sugar in your mixer until light and fluffy- about 4 minutes on high speed.  Add the strawberry jam and mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each addition.  Add vanilla and a tiddly bit of food coloring.  Now alternate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Make sure everything is well incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixture every once in a while during the process.

Pour the batter evenly into your prepared 13x9 dish.  Bake for about 25 minutes- but start checking for doneness at about 15 minutes.

Here's the frosting recipe:

Strawberry-Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam (I added a little more for additional strawberry flavor)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Red food coloring (I didn't use any)

Put everything in the bowl of your mixer and start on low speed until everything is incorporated.  Switch to high speed to whip in some air to make it light.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

This was another clean out the ice box adventure...

I made the dressing first. In a cereal bowl, I put about 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt, maybe 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons mango chutney (store bought), a little curry powder, salt and white pepper. To that, I added maybe 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken, some minced celery, a couple of handfuls of pecan pieces and some chopped dried cherries. A nice addition would be some chopped scallion, but I didn't have any. I mixed it all up and that was that. I had it for lunch yesterday with crackers. Today I put it on a toasted croissant with sliced cucumber and kale.

This did not suck.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Frustration and Procrastination

I guess those two things go hand in hand.  Procrastination may not be the correct term, though.  Perhaps laziness is a better noun.  I don't know.  All I know is I'm tired of short changing my family and myself when it comes to procrastination about preparing meals.

Of all people, I should be the one constantly turning out new and wonderful dishes- especially in the summer when I'm not teaching.  I have absolutely no excuse.  But still, it happens.

Take today for example.  I have been in and out of the kitchen all day.  I made home made chicken stock, buttermilk Kentucky biscuits and rhubarb jam.  But when 3:00 rolls around, I haven't the slightest idea what to do for dinner- nothing defrosted, no recipe ready and waiting... Why is that?  I think and write about food 85% of the time, and the other 15% is spent reading about it.  So why am I so lazy about preparing meals?

Maybe it's cooking for another person that throws me off.  Devin has different taste in food.  Things I would eat for dinner, I'm not so sure he would.  I always have to stop and wonder if he's going to like what I fix.  Which is completely ridiculous, because he eats whatever I put in front of him.  He has never complained (except that one time he told me dinner smelled like dog food).

Perhaps it's all the dazzling options.  There are very few foods I don't like.  As much as I read about food, I could go for any of a thousand things at any given meal.  I stock a pretty decent pantry and freezer- but to utilize them effectively I have to plan ahead- and that is my big downfall.

So if I know planning ahead is my Achilles Heel, then I need to get better at it.  Make a list of what's in my freezer, then go to the pantry and plan meals around it.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?

As soon as we finish eating the take out brisket I picked up, I'll get right on that.  :)

Rhubarb Jam

I have the good fortune of a mother in law who grows rhubarb. She came to visit us last weekend and brought me quite a huge bundle. I made a strawberry rhubarb slab pie with some of it (blog post to follow later) and this morning I made jam with what was left.

I found this recipe in my Rachel Ray magazine.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups rhubarb, sliced thin

In a medium skillet over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water, stirring frequently. When the sugar has disappeared, add the rhubarb and cook 10 or 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and broken down. Cool and put it in a container.

This isn't a huge batch jam. It made enough to last about a week, and maybe share with a friend.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Unsupervised Foodie ridiculousness

Today's lunch consisted of putting the last of the steelhead trout and roasted tomatoes on a small frozen cheese pizza. That makes it gourmet and fancy, right?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Unsupervised Foodie Snack

What is this? It's what happens when I am left alone for a while.
Specifically, this is lightly salted kettle cooked chips (brand makes no difference), Brie and Gorgonzola cheeses- baked at 375 for about 10 minutes.
I can't take credit for the idea- I have to thank the fine folks at Bar.Food in Savannah, GA for the original dish. But I can tell you there have been many happy committee members sitting in my kitchen, munching on this. Try it yourself- I promise you won't be sorry!
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