Minggu, 23 September 2012

Carrot Cake

Even something so simple as a carrot cake can become a very elegant and festive dessert when someone like the White House Executive Pastry Chef shows us how he decorates it. The frosting is delicious and the cake is moist and fruity because he adds mandarine oranges to the batter. Try it yourself and tell me what you think.

Carrot Cake:
3 cups light brown sugar, packed (16 oz, 454 g)
1 1/2 cups veg. oil (10.75 oz, 305 g)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flower 12 oz, 340 g)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (.25 oz, 10 g)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (5 g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs (5.5 oz, 155 g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (.25 oz, 5 g)
2 cups grated carrots (7 oz, 200 g)
2 (11 oz) cans mandarin oranges drained ( 312 g)
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts, lightly toasted (4.75 oz, 132 g)

Cream Cheese Icing:
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature (8oz, 227 g)
1/4 pound unsalted butter(1 stick ), room temperature (113 g)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar,sifted (2 oz, 60 g)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For The Cake

Place a rack in the center of the oven. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms wit parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the brown sugar and oil until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (this didn't work out when I tried it).

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in half of the dry mixture just to combine.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.

Beat in the remaining half of the dry mixture, just to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a spatula, fold in the carrots, 1 cup (8 oz, 225 g) of the mandarin oranges, and 1 cup (3.75 oz, 105 g) of the walnuts. Scrape the batter into the cake pans, and bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean.

Allow the cake layers to cool in the pans for 10  minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack, peeling off the parchment rounds, to cool completely.

For The Icing

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until no lumps remain, about 5 minutes.

Add the confectioners' sugar, orange juice, and vanilla and beat until the sugar is completely absorbed and the icing thickens, another 5 minutes.

To Assemble

When the cake has completely cooled, spread the top of one layer with 1/3 of the cream cheese icing. Scatter the remaining mandarin oranges over the icing.

Sandwich the remaining cake layer and frost the top and sides. Place the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts in a circle around the top of the cake.

Sabtu, 15 September 2012

Salmon for a Crowd

Most people like Salmon which makes it the perfect fish for a party or get together. In this recipe the fish is covered with a mustard, tarragon, and chive cream sauce and then roasted in the oven.

The dish can then sit in the fridge for a day and be served with some more sauce at room temperature. I wanted to see on which day the salmon tasted better, so I tried it right as I took it out of the oven and also on the next day. It was even more juicy and tender the next day!

Roast Side of Salmon with Mustard, Tarragon, and Chive Sauce
serves 8

⅔ cup mayonnaise
½ cup spicy brown mustard (such as Gulden's)
6 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 3 1/2- to 3 3/4-pound whole side of salmon with skin (about 1 1/2 inches thick at thickest part)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450°F.
Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Season mustard sauce lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on diagonal on prepared sheet. Spoon 1/2 cup mustard sauce atop salmon, then spread over, covering completely. Sprinkle salmon generously with salt and pepper. Roast just until salmon is opaque in center, about 15 minutes. Using parchment as aid, transfer salmon to platter. Cut crosswise into pieces and serve with remaining mustard sauce.

Selasa, 11 September 2012

Homemade Pita Chips with Olive Tapenade and Greek Salad

Crunchy little Pita Chips are fun to make yourself. Buy some pita bread, cut it in wedges, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning (thyme, sea salt, majoram, paprika, etc). Bake it at 375 for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve the pita chips with Olive Tapenade, Hummus or a fabulous greek salad and you'll have a great snack, or lunch, or dinner....

Greek Salad
(from Ina Garten)


  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, large-diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large-diced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced in half-rounds
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil


Place the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Olive Tapenade

1 cup Ni├žoise olives, pitted
1 cup small green French olives (Picholine), pitted
¼ cup Oven-Dried or sun dried Tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed if packed in salt
1 garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
½ tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
(¼ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves) optional
½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil and orange juice. Using the pulse button, process until coarsely chopped and well blended. Continue to process, slowly adding the olive oil and orange juice. Refrigerate in a covered container. Use as needed.
Tapenade will keep up to 1 week, refrigerated, in a covered container.

Selasa, 04 September 2012

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

This casserole has a beautiful Paella taste. However, I do admit that it takes several steps to assemble this dish. The rice has to be cooked and the eggplant needs to be baked. Other than that it is an easy to make dish that can be assembled in advance and then baked when you need it. The texture of the rice was just perfect, not too soft, and the combination of the cheeses, the tomato sauce and the saffron flavored rice with the vegetables was just perfect.

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large eggplants (about 3 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups store-bought tomato sauce (such as marinara), divided
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups), divided
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan (4 ounces), divided

     Don't be afraid to really undercook the rice so it doesn't get mushy while it bakes with the eggplant.
 1. Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; 
     Preheat to 425°. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Stir in saffron, then wine. Cook until wine reduces slightly, about 1 minute. Add broth; season with salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until rice is very al dente and still crunchy, about 6 minutes; remove pan from heat.

2.  Meanwhile, divide eggplant between two rimmed baking sheets, overlapping slightly to fit. Drizzle 1 cup oil over; season with salt and pepper. Bake, turning eggplant and rotating sheets halfway through, until tender and golden brown, 20–25 minutes.

3.  Cover the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 1 cup tomato sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella over, then 1/3 of Parmesan.

4.  Cover with a layer of eggplant rounds, overlapping so no sauce is visible beneath them. Add saffron rice, spreading out in an even layer. Sprinkle over another 1/3 each of mozzarella and Parmesan, then 1/2 of the remaining tomato sauce and another layer of eggplant. Top with remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover dish with foil; transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet.

5.  Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Uncover dish and bake until golden on top, about 20 minutes longer. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to set before serving.