Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chicken Tamales

I really enjoy making tamales. Yes, the process is long, but they are so good. It's one of the rare times I eat corn based products.

I made these for a family dinner. Initially, my brother Brian wasn't going to come, because he said he hated tamales. But, since I was serving taco's as well, he decided to attend. After I unwrapped the first tamale and gave it to him, he looked at me in surprise and said - it's better when you don't eat the peel (meaning the corn husk)...I guess if I ate the corn husk, I wouldn't like them either.

This is shown with a green chili sauce. I'm not including the recipe for this, because, quite frankly, I bought it. Yes, it's probably a rather odd short cut to take when I hand made everything else for the dinner, but the picture didn't look great. The red salsa made it look like the tamale was bleeding, so we will just consider the green sauce a bit of picture fluff.

When I'm making dishes like this from chicken, I like to use chicken thighs. There is little danger of the meat drying out, and the result is really nice juicy chicken. You can fill these with a variety of things. I had planned on making some sweet tamales, but I had a but more tamale filling than I had tamale batter, so I ended up making them all savory. My family all loved them, so that's good.

The recipe should easily serve 6. Any leftover chicken can be made into tacos, it really is a nice filling. I use an easy method to keep the corn husks closed - I wrap each tamale in aluminum foil to steam. The tamales are more moist, and easier to store that way as well. And, I don't have to tie each shut individually like I did the last time.

For the Chicken:

4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
1 T. oil
1 can green chile's
2 jalapeno's, diced fine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. smoked paprika
4-6 cups water

Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Saute chicken thighs, skin side down, until skin is brown and some fat is in the pan. Remove the chicken (it will still be quite raw). Add oil, jalapeno's, and onions to the pan, and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, chile's and smoked paprika. Put chicken back in the pan, and cover with water. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer (covered) until chicken is fall off the bone tender, about 3 hours.

Cool chicken and shred, discarding bones and skin. You can strain the chile's and onions out of the liquid (reserving the cooking liquid) and add to the chicken if you would like (I did, but it is completely optional). Set aside

For the tamales:

Corn husks, soaking in warm water
5 cups corn flour (masa)
1 T. kosher salt
1 T. baking powder
1 cup lard or shortening
reserved cooking liquid, strained and cooled

In a large bowl, add the masa, salt, baking powder, and lard. Mix together until lard is well incorporated into the masa. Add cooking liquid until mixture resembles a thick paste, or thicker mashed potatoes. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, and check on it again, it may need more liquid. If you run out of reserved liquid, add water. The total water needed should be approximately 3-5 cups.

Assembly:

Find a reasonably sized corn husk, and place 1/4 to 1/3 cup tamale mixture in the middle. Spread out on the corn husk in a rectangle. Place 2-3T. chicken mixture in the middle of the tamale, and fold, encasing the filling in the tamale dough. Fold over the edges of the corn husks, and wrap in aluminum foil.

Steam the tamales in a steamer for 2-3 hours, until, when one is tested, they are no longer doughy and cooked through. Serve hot.

These will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator after being steamed, and heat very well in the microwave.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

German Chocolate Cheesecake!


Aren't they cute? I finally used my individual cheesecake pan, and they are just so cute!

Remember my brother Matt's birthday cake? Well, I had some left over Coconut Pecan frosting (I made a double batch), and thought it would go perfectly with a lightly chocolate cheesecake. I was right!

The cheesecake was a bit of an experiment for me. I'm used to making triple chocolate cheesecake that no one can finish a slice of...I'm saving that recipe for later! I wanted to try to create a cheesecake recipe that wasn't as rich or as sweet, but still had a ton of flavor. I think I was quite successful, this recipe was great.

I also tried to broil a few of these after I had put the frosting on, and those were very tasty as well. I'm only going to give you the cheesecake recipe here, the frosting is the same from the last post.

This recipe makes 24 miniature cheesecakes or a small 8" one.

Milk Chocolate Cheesecake

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 T. coffee

For the crust:

2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1/3 c. melted butter

Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into cheesecake pan. Preheat oven to 350.

Beat cream cheese for about 1 minute, until softened. Add sugar and cocoa powder and beat 2-3 minutes, until lightly whipped and all one color. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla and coffee. Make sure mixture is evenly colored and lump free.

Pour on top of crust. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes for miniature, and 1 hour for 8". Cool until starting to set, then spread frosting over top of cake. Store in refrigerator, but serve close to room temperature for best creaminess.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"German" Chocolate Cake (Matt's Birthday)


Cake three in my April/May birthday series! I can almost always rely on Matt. His tastes evolve a bit, but it takes a while to change. He's allowed me to perfect my German Chocolate Cake over the last few years. Actually, last year, his fiance Fawn didn't want any cake because she "didn't like German Chocolate frosting". I sent most of the left-overs home with him (I think there was a piece and a half left), and he texted me later, saying "Fawn ate my cake". So I was able to convince someone this cake is delicious.

Last year, I followed the recipe on the German's box for the cake, and modified the recipe on the box for the frosting. This year, to be honest, I didn't want to spend the extra cash on the chocolate if I didn't have to, since I have really nice cocoas at home. So, after some reading, I modified a Hershey recipe for German's Chocolate Cake from their site. Since I was happy with my frosting recipe, I created the same recipe this year.

Technically, since there is no German's chocolate in this cake, it's not a German Chocolate Cake. However, since "I" decided what makes a German Chocolate cake is mostly about the luscious coconut pecan frosting, I'm going to call it that anyway.

This cake really is not for the chocolate lover. It has a very mild chocolate flavor, complimented by the buttery caramel pecan and coconut frosting. I will include the recipe for the Coconut Pecan Frosting, and the modified Chocolate Cake. However, I wasn't 100% happy with the Chocolate Frosting, so stay tuned for that recipe until it's perfected (I'm close!).

German Chocolate Cake
(Cake modified from Hershey, frosting modified from German's Chocolate Cake box)

For the cake:

1/3 c. (90mL) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use dutch processed)
1/4 c. (60mL) hot coffee
1/4 c. (60mL) hot water
1 1/2 c. (345 g.) butter
2 1/4 cup (250 g.) sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups (240g) all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
1 cup (240mL) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 (180). Grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans. Alternately, you can use spray and parchment paper (my preferred method).

In a small bowl, combine coffee, water, and cocoa, stir until smooth. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add buttermilk, flour, soda, and salt, mixing well after each. Pour evenly into prepared pans, and smooth out. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until middle is just done. Cool completely.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

3/4 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 c. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup coconut

In a saucepan, combine cream, sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, and butter. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly until very thick. Remove from heat, add coconut, vanilla, and pecans. Cool slightly, and frost and fill cake.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alien Vegetables for Earth Day


You are probably wondering what an alien vegetable is. Well, it's a vegetable that is alien to your kitchen (and sometimes mine), but probably shouldn't be.

I have been going through a vegetable rut during winter. There really isn't much to chose from here during the winter that looks any good, or at least I don't think so.

Enter the parsnip (on the right). And fennel (on left). For most of you, the only time you have probably tasted parsnip is cooked in ham for a special occasion (like me). But, honestly, I love the little things. They add a great flavor to mashed potatoes, just require a bit longer to cook than the potato. They are good peeled, sliced and roasted as well.

Fennel is another story - it's a recent addition to my kitchen. And, as you can see, the one I got looks a little bruised. But, it is delicious. I peeled off the first few layers of skin, cut off a bit of the bottom, and tasted the inner portion, and it tasted good. I was surprised.

All the things I have read about fennel told me it had a "mild licorish flavor". Well, that is true, but the taste is much much milder than I expected, and not sweet at all. For some reason, I thought it would be sweet.

I decided that roast vegetables was what I was in the mood for, and roasting these two together with some small yellow potatoes was great. Just what I needed!

If you are introducing new root vegetables to your veggie-phobe, I strongly suggest roasting them with some potatoes for a great side dish. There is just something about the carmelization you can get in the oven that makes vegetables taste great - without adding a ton of fat.


Roasted Vegetables

1 medium fennel bulb, peeled, and cut into 2" chunks
2 parsnips, peeled, and cut into 2" chunks
1/2 lb. small yellow potatoes, cut into 2" chunks
1 T. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. fresh basil, cut finely
1 t. parsley, cut finely

Preheat oven to 450f (220c). In a shallow baking pan, toss your vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 20-35 minutes, turning every 10-15 minutes, depending on browness of veggies.

Sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving (not shown). Serves 2-4, depending on what you serve it with. Or, if you are like me, serves 1.5, since they were so good that's all I had.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Orange Vanilla Cupcakes (Tim's Birthday)

Did I mention that April is one of our "birthday months"? 5 birthdays I bake for in April/May give me lots of opportunity for experimentation.

Tomorrow, I'm taking these cupcakes to Tim. I've already eaten 2, and my brother managed to eat 3 in about 5 minutes. They are quite addictive. Tomorrow, I don't think I will eat one - I'm more interested in Dim Sum in Seattle...

I've been toying with a grapefruit cupcake recipe for quite a while now. While I was generally happy with the results, there was just something missing. Maybe it's that raw grapefruit zing on my tongue, I don't know. I decided to alter that recipe for Orange cupcakes.

These are delicious. While my original aim of having them taste like Dreamsicles didn't necessarily come true, they are still the same flavors. The cupcake is light and moist, and the flour paste frosting compliments that taste perfectly without over powering the orange flavor. If I had any, I would have added a tablespoon of Grand Mariner to the batter, but the liquor store was closed. It is Sunday, after all!

Orange cupcakes

1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, softened
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup (300 g.) sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
Zest of one Orange
1 cup (8 oz) orange juice (I use not from concentrate because I like that better)
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups (290 grams) all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 (180C).

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by orange zest, salt, and baking powder. Add 1/2 the orange juice, then the flour, followed by the remaining orange juice. Make sure batter is well mixed and doesn't have any lumps.

Divide among 15-20 cupcakes. Bake 12-17 minutes, until just done. They are best when they don't brown. Cool on cooling rack while you prepare frosting

Flour Paste Frosting

5 T. flour
1 cup (8 oz) milk
1 cup (8 oz) butter
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla

In a small sauce pan, heat flour and milk until it forms a thick paste. Cool in the refrigerator.

Whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add COOLED flour paste and vanilla, and mix until you can no longer feel the granulated sugar between your fingers when you test it.

NOTE: If you are new to this frosting, it is easier if you blend the sugar in a blender for about 30 seconds. It helps with the texture.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chicken and soy rice


I seem to go through crazy phases about what I eat. This winter, I was all about pasta. My mom thought that was quite funny. After all, I didn't cook rice for almost 3 weeks, which is almost unheard of.

If you think I eat a lot of chicken, I also eat a lot of rice. So, this recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients. It's a new recipe, and came out of a conversation I had with Caleb about Chicken and Rice. The way he was talking about it, it sounded a lot like risotto, but it's not really. And, I veered from his mom's recipe a bit by adding soy, and using scallions instead of regular onions.

This is a pretty quick and simple dish - took me about 30minutes to cook from start to finish. Of course, I did have some roast chicken in the fridge, so all I had to do was prepare the rice. It's a great dish to add to a nice salad, or some roast root vegetables.

Chicken and soy rice

1 cup rice (I used calrose)
2 T. oil
3 scallions, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2" ginger, cut into small cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (this is about 1.5 cans)
2 T. soy sauce
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high heat. Fry scallions in hot oil until crispy. Drain on paper towel and set aside. Saute ginger until lightly browned, then add garlic and cook for 1 minute until garlic is lightly toasted. Remove from pan, and set aside.

Add uncooked rice to the saute pan, and saute for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Add chicken broth and soy sauce, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer rice for about 20 minutes, until cooked through, and little liquid remains. Add the reserved garlic, ginger, and scallions into the rice.

Serve with chicken on top. Serves 4 people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gnocchi with brown butter garlic


Do you have a recipe that you are just scared of? Well, gnocchi is mine. I have never tried it, but have heard so many horror stories.

I didn't have much of an issue, to be honest. The only thing I really struggled with was trying to make them into little "C" shapes with the tines of a fork. That part wasn't so successful. But, my gnocchi were light and fluffy.

I chose to bake my potatoes. Since I had heard that one of the biggest dangers of gnocchi is moisture, and I live in a fairly rainy climate, I decided to try to do some moisture control from the beginning.

I got this recipe from a cool site - 101cookbooks.com. It seemed to be the most straight forward. I created the sauce on my own, since I have had gnocchi in brown butter and sage sauce before, I tried it with garlic, since, well, I love garlic. It was really great.

This recipe serves 6-8, so don't be too scared by the amount of butter in the sauce.

Gnocchi - Recipe adapted from 101cookbooks.com

2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup eggs (this is about 1 1/2 large eggs)
1 t. salt
1 cup flour (more or less)

Bake russet potatoes until fully cooked (350 for about 90minutes, or 6-8 minutes in the microwave). Cool slightly, peel, and run through a ricer. I used the larger plate on my ricer. If you don't have one, lightly mash potatoes on your working surface. Be careful to not overwork the potatoes.

Cool potatoes until they are just slightly above room temperature. Pour lightly beaten eggs over your potatoes on a cutting board or work surface. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour and the salt over the eggs and potatoes, and gently begin incorporating the eggs and flour into your potatoes, adding more flour until the dough is uniform and just a bit moist but not sticky. Separate into 8 sections.

When I was mixing and kneading the dough, I found that my metal dough scraper was invaluable to this. My dough got really sticky, and required quite a bit of flour - about 1 1/4 cups.

Roll each of the sections into a uniform rope about the same width as your finger. Cut into 1" pieces. Dust with some more flour. To shape the gnocchi (my least successful step), roll the gnocchi gently on the tines of a fork, shaping into a small "C" with the imprint of the fork on the outside. As I practiced this technique more, I discovered it was easier if I cleaned the fork periodically as well as held the fork off my cutting board while I was shaping.

While you are shaping the dough, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. After shaping, place gnocchi in boiling water. I did this in about 8 batches. You need to be careful to not crowd the gnocchi so they don't stick together. They are done when they float, remove to a plate and make your sauce!

Brown Butter Garlic Sauce

1/2 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
Gnocchi, from above

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Continue heating butter until a light brown color. Add garlic, and saute until garlic is softened. Remove garlic from butter. Remove enough butter from the pan until just 1/8" remaining. Add gnocchi into butter, covering the bottom of the pan. You may need to do a few batches. Don't add gnocchi if it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan. Fry the gnocchi in the butter until lightly browned. Remove to heated serving dish. Repeat, adding browned butter when needed. Serve sprinkled with the reserved garlic.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ryan's Birthday Cupcakes (Lemon Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with 7 minute frosting)



It is becoming a tradition in our family for me to bake a birthday cake for everyone's birthday. I really enjoy this - another excuse to bake! And, I think they do too. It allows them to pick whatever cake/pastry they want for their birthday. And, have it homemade. So far, only one person has picked to have a cake from a store.

This month, Ryan is the first to have his birthday. The original plan was to have a white layer cake with lemon curd filling. This was the cake my mom has had for as long as I can remember (but the bought from a store version), and Ryan loves the flavors, so it's what he picked. Unfortunately, due to a family illness, we had to cancel his birthday party. I didn't think it was fair to cancel the cake though, so I made him cupcakes instead.

I have had this lemon curd recipe for a long time. I can't even remember where I got it. I wanted to experiment with the vanilla cake, I haven't yet found one I love that is all purpose. I really enjoyed this cake, but it is a bit delicate. I also wanted to try something different - 7 minute frosting. I wanted to evoke the texture and flavor of lemon meringue pie. I think I succeeded. Next time I will take a blow torch to the tops.

Yes, the picture does look a bit messy, but it does illustrate a good point - this is great fluffy sweet frosting, almost like marshmallow fluff and meringue combined. However, you need to let it set. And setting takes a while. If you try to eat or cut before it sets, you get a river of frosting. But, I think you can see the tasty lemon filling.

Lemon Curd

3 eggs
2-3 lemons, juiced and zested (you should end up with about 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1 T. lemon peel)
2/3 cup sugar
4 T. butter, at room temperature

In a saucepan set on low to medium heat, add eggs, lemon juice, and sugar. Heat gently, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches about 160 degrees, or becomes very thick, about the consistency of sour cream. Take off heat and add butter and lemon zest.

Cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain and refrigerate until used. The lemon curd can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teas. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teas. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 12 muffin cups.

In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla. Beat 3/4 cup flour, followed by 1/4 cup milk. Add vanilla, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the remaining flour, followed by the remaining milk. Make sure batter is smooth, but it will be a little thick.

Place in muffin cups and bake 12-15minutes until golden brown. Cool 10-15minutes before starting to fill. While cooling, prepare your frosting.

7 minute frosting

3 egg whites, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 t. cream of tarter
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt

Bring 1 quart of water to boil in a sauce pan. Decrease heat to medium to medium high. In a heat resistant bowl (stainless steel or glass), combine the eggs, sugar, water, and cream of tarter. Place the bowl over the simmering water and begin whipping with a hand mixer on high speed. Continue beating for 5-7 minutes, until triple in volume, and mixture feels warm to your fingers. Remove from heat and add the extract and salt, beat for an additional 1-2 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before using.

Assembly:

Make a small hole in the cupcakes, you should ideally want about 1 T. lemon curd per cupcake. The easiest way to do this is with a teaspoon, removing any cake in a small circle. Fill with chilled lemon curd.

Gently top with frosting. If you don't want to pipe the frosting on the cupcake, the best method is to take about 2 T. of the frosting and place it directly on top of the lemon curd, gently moving the frosting to cover the cupcake without disturbing the lemon curd.

Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving (or your cupcakes will look like my picture)!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

The weather here has made me....annoyed, to say the least. After an absolutely beautiful March, it has rained every day for more than the last few weeks.

My mind automatically turns back to comfort food. I thought my Chicken and Dumplings would be the last of comfort food for a while. But the weather, ugh! It doesn't feel like spring anymore!

I really enjoy making my own pot pie. I love putting together different flavors, as well as exploring familiar, traditional ones. Of course, I do cheat by using puff pastry instead of making a traditional pie dough. I usually save scraps of pie dough for my various pot pies, but I was out of scraps. Maybe this will be incentive to make a pie. I know I have to do that soon as well. I still have little wild blackberries in my freezer!

I normally don't precook my vegetables. You just need to make sure they are cut about the same size. Of course, you can substitute frozen for fresh, but I like to have at least some fresh vegetables around the house, and I enjoy chopping veggies - it's soothing to me.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 cup cooked chicken, diced or shredded into bite size pieces
1 cup diced potato (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup peas (I use frozen)
1/2 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1/2 cup pearl onions (again, I used frozen)
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 16 oz can low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
2 t. chicken base paste (I love better than boullion), or 1 cube boullion
1 sheet puff pastry, cut into cute little shapes (I usually use a water glass to cut rounds)

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, mix together the chicken, potato, carrot, peas, celery, and onions. Set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add flour, and cook for about 2 minutes, until very light brown. Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking to not get any lumps. Add milk, salt, pepper, garlic, and chicken base. Heat until just under boiling again. Mixture will be very thick, but that's ok, the vegetables will release enough moisture to soften it in the oven.

Stir sauce mixture into the vegetable and chicken mixture. You can taste it at this point, but the seasoning should be a little strong, and will mellow in the oven.

Place the mixture into a deep dish pie pan. Smooth out, and arrange your puff pastry on the top of your pie. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1hour.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Almost Ultimate Coconut Cake



Coconut cake is becoming a traditional Easter Dessert in our house. It started a few years ago when I made a coconut bundt cake for Easter. The main reason I wanted a coconut cake was I had a new awesome bundt cake pan that looked like pineapples, and thought coconut cake would be good in it.

Well, that was a hit. Ever since then, I have been perfecting my coconut cake recipe. I finally settled on a heavily modified recipe, losely based on Ina Garten's Coconut Cake recipe. There were some things that I insisted must be in a coconut cake which weren't in hers, but I really liked the solidness of her recipe.

After changing many ingredients, I was finally happy with the cake, now on to the frosting. For a few years now, I have been making a coconut version of one of my favorite frostings, one made with flour paste. So, I was set there.

Now, on to the filling - lets be honest here, this cake isn't filled - yet. I haven't come up with a good filling recipe. I thought I had it this year - a coconut vanilla bean home made pudding, mixed with whipped cream. But, it didn't taste right, so back to the drawing board for that one. It's ok, really, no one but me noticed it missing the filling.

This is a very rich, dense, coconuty cake. The entire cake and frosting is infused with coconut flavor, mostly thanks to the heavy use of coconut milk. And, yes, this picture of my cake slice looks like I stuck my finger in it, because, well, I stuck my finger in it. You should see the other side.
Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting:

For the cake

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 room temperature eggs
2 teas. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1 cup coconut milk (be sure you shake the can well to mix the coconut milk before opening and measuring)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I use the sweetened from a bag), chopped fine.

For the frosting

5 tablespoons flour
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 t. vanilla

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

In another bowl, mix together the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing well. Follow the dry ingredients with 1/3 of the coconut milk. Repeat this twice until all ingredients are incorporated into the batter. Once you are confident the batter is uniformly mixed, add the coconut in, and divide the batter between two pans.

This cake batter is very thick and rich, so be sure to smooth out the pans. Bake at 350 for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before taking out of the pan.

While the cake is in the oven, you can start the frosting: In a saucepan, mix the flour and coconut milk together and cook on medium heat until very thick - the consistency of a thick pudding. Place in a bowl and put in the refrigerator until very cold.

When the flour paste is ready, beat the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Add the flour paste and vanilla and beat the frosting until you can't feel the grains of sugar between your fingers.

A note on this recipe - this is a fairly good size cake, and while I enjoyed the amount of frosting, my brother mentioned his wasn't frosted enough. So, if you like a little cake with your frosting, you may want to double the frosting recipe.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Roast Chicken, part 1


Ahhh, the chicken. I have told many people that if chicken were a vegetable, I would happily be a vegetarian. But, unfortunately, it's not. I still love it though - in any shape and form.

I consider a perfectly roasted chicken one of the ultimate dinners. A piece of roast chicken, a salad or whatever fresh vegetables are in season, and some roasted potatoes, and that is a great meal.

So, this is my beginner version of roast chicken. If you have never roasted a chicken, never fear - we'll start off easy, then work our way into a few other fancy ideas.

Let's start off with the basics - a very simple recipe with a few tips and tricks, to make a great roast chicken.

And, as a side note, I know this picture is, well, not the best. My kitchen is tiny and dark, but I am trying. I didn't realize how difficult it was to take pictures - especially of steaming hot food. And, anyone that knows me, knows that I can't let it go to waste...

Simply Roasted Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken, 3-5 lbs is best
2 t. salt
2 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1 t. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375.

Take chicken out of the package and wash thoroughly. Be sure to wash inside the cavity as well as the entire outside. Now, get some paper towels and dry the chicken thoroughly. The best way I've found to do this is to put the chicken, breast side up, in your roasting pan (I use a 9x13 square pan), then pat the skin dry, and dry the inside.

Mix the salt, pepper, and garlic powder together in a small bowl. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the mixture on the inside of the chicken. Rub the olive oil over the dried skin, and sprinkle the remaining seasoning mixture over the skin. Pour about 1 cup of water into the bottom of your baking pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. I usually cook to temperature, until the breast is about 160, and the thigh is 170. Let rest 5-10 minutes before carving.