Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Post Holiday Catch Up

Happy New Year! I have been a bad, bad blogger as of late so in an effort to remedy that I will do my best to play a little catch up and offer a New Year's resolution to be much more consistent in posting! I have been doing a lot of eating before and during the holidays. Baking, cooking and stuffing myself on pigs in a blanket at various parties so I will get on with it...

With the holidays came holiday cookies and lots of them. I made a dining room table of sugar cookies and chocolate chips cookies. I am going to try to branch out in my variety next year but this year I decided to stay traditional. I used the Martha Stewart sugar cookie recipe, hoping that that this would be one woman who would have perfected the sugar cookie but actually it was just okay, pretty standard and slightly too dry and bland for my tastes. Chocolate Chip cookies are best made by the Tollhouse recipe on the back of the package so that's what I did. Never challenge the Tollhouse elf.

I have always wanted to bake a red velvet cake (actually, ever since seeing the groom's armadillo cake in Steel Magnolia). It is one of my favorite cakes but I had an impression that it would be a complicated process but in fact, it was quite easy, really moist and a Christmas hit. It was different from other cakes I have made in that it used almost just as much sugar as flour and had a splash of vinegar in it.

Red Velvet Cake
Vegetable oil for the pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.

Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting (I used cream cheese frosting).

Sweets weren't the only thing I made this season, I also helped my aunt make an amazing beef tenderloin with a mushroom zip sauce. After putting a homemade rub on the meat (a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary etc), we seared the tenderloin before putting it in the oven for 30-40 minutes. While that was cooking, I took a variety of sliced mushrooms, butter, salt and pepper and some sherry and sauteed it until the mushrooms were thoroughly cooked. It was such an easy recipe but with a good cut of meat, it has a very sophisticated and rich taste.

There was lots more eating but I will spare you the gory details as we turned the page on 2007 and I am trying to cook more healthy dishes. In this effort, I have been on a soup kick. I attempted to make a Greek lemon rice soup that would mirror my favorite back home in Detroit at the Greek diner but mine turned out far too tart and the rice took over the dish. I think I would try another recipe all together that called for less fresh lemon juice and less long grain rice. My current favorite soup is by far also the easiest. You take 10-15 tomatoes (any type) and one large onion, cut them into chucks. Roast with about 15 cloves of garlic (increase or decrease amount according to love of garlic, I like lots of garlic, although in the second batch, I think I might have overdone it) for approx. 40 minutes at 350 with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Once roasted, puree in a blender and serve. It is so fresh, really healthy and super tasty. You can add a little milk or cream if you want to create a bisque or put a wee bit of parmesan on top.

1 comment:

carrie said...

tomatoes! nice photo and one of my favorite recipes as well.