dude fude, food, mommies, recipes, Uncategorized

The Big Cake

Tiara Cake

I like to use birthdays as an excuse to make a new cake. Or make an tried and true cake that challenges my decorating abilities. Thus, the Tiara Cake came to be. It’s in honor of M’s 5th birthday, which is today.

Having a child turn 5 is one of those milestones, where you say to yourself, “Five years have already passed! I can’t believe it’s already been 5 years.”  And 5 is big, because your child is playing iphone games, has decided to be an astronaut, and uses the word awesome. You may have even seen a glimpse of the teenage years to come and the accompanying fashion and attitude, and yet, you still have a little girl who likes her princesses.

And so, in honor of the occasion (and for the party), we decided that the cake would not be shaped like a tiara itself but have a tiara (image) on it. (I wasn’t about to start drawing Ariel herself, in frosting). A tiara, which M will likely be wearing today, seems a solid symbol of both princesshood and birthdayness, and it’s not too complicated to represent in sugar products. It had to pink, of course, although I started out thinking it would be silver, only to find that frosting doesn’t come in silver, not at any local store anyway. M had also requested that I write, I love you and put some hearts on the cake.

For her party, we are also having a pinata, which has all six princesses (I guess Repunzel hasn’t made it into the hallowed center six for good yet) hanging out at their castle. I am expecting that by next year the princess interest will have waned, and we’ll be onto something else. I think we’ll be ready.

The cake is devil’s food cake with white chocolate chunks (again, for surprise) and a cream cheese lemon frosting.

The frosting is easy and reliable and delicious:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened

8 ounces cream cheese cut into 4 pieces, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

I mix up the first two in the kitchen aid, add the second two, sift in the sugar. Mix but not too much. And it keeps in the fridge for week.

I’ll post the cake recipe if it turns out to be very delicious. Now, I’m just hoping my fairy godmother prevents it from raining…

Close up
dude fude, food, recipes, Uncategorized

Cupcakification–year 5!

I like surprises. I’m not gaga crazy for them, but I do seem to have a thing for a little something something in my cake batter. Today we weren’t making the big birthday cake (more on that later) but just some cupcake bites for the kids at school. M wanted vanilla so we went simple, except for a little chocolate surprise in the center. We added Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips (these are currently my favorite chocolate chips) in the middle of each.

many gotten eaten

Actually, I wanted it to be more like a chocolately pudding bite, so I probably needed a hunk of chocolate for that (or pudding). Chips weren’t really right, but they’ll still be a little surprise for the kids, and that is always fun.

Into cold storage they went until Thursday when they’ll receive their Meyer lemon icing. M seems to be fixated on that flavor … also rainbows. We’re going to add a little candy rainbow. I talked her out of the blue sky, white clouds (that we saw on Martha Stewart’s website–too big for our “bites,” but we’ll approximate. I’ve been looking up candy stores (I may have to go south for this…) and baking stores in SF.

they cooked for 11-12 minutes

Apparently, Sugar and Spice in Daly City is good, but I haven’t been there yet. I’ve been looking for silver frosting (Sur la Table didn’t have it) for the big cake, but I may just give up and go with pink(s). And, yes, that cake will have a little surprise as well…

They look good!

Here’s the cupcake recipe–it’s Amy Sedaris’s recipe:

Yield:

24 cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • 2 In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, two teaspoons vanilla, salt and baking powder.  Add flour and milk in batches, starting and ending with flour. Stir until batter is smooth and satiny.
  • 3 Fill paper-lined muffin tins with batter. Bake at 375° for 18- 20 minutes.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/amy-sedaris-vanilla-cupcakes-181181#ixzz1Ft5qshpd

Um … the best part!

yum

Finished product:

We love these little guys...
Getting ready to go to school
recipes

Make This! (dude fude: cranberry sauce)

Cranberry Sauce

This is the best and easiest cranberry sauce ever. I’ve been waiting a year to eat it again. It comes from the now defunct Cookie Magazine (which I really kind of liked).

Here’s what it is:

4 ripe pears (any variety)

2 12-ounce bags cranberries (fresh or thawed frozen)

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar (but I’ve used no sugar, it’s still great)

1. put pears and cranberries on sheet pan.

2. dot the fruit with butter and sprinkle it with sugar

3. roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, stirring once about halfway through.

Just do it.

dude fude, food, mommies

dude fude: curried rice and black beans (blog-worthy meal)

The problem with brown rice and homemade black beans is that they take a loooong time to make and, like many other good things in life, require planning.  However, these beans go from bag to bowl in the shortest time possible and the curried rice is about the same.  These are both Cook’s Illustrated recipes (which never seem to fail, well maybe once…) except that I don’t measure everything exactly. 🙂

The thing about these two things are, they are soooo good and make lots of leftovers, so it really is worth it.

Black beans taste better than they look

Black Beans

Put in a big pot:

1 medium onion minced

6 or so cloves of garlic

1.5 Tb coarse salt, a little less of regular salt

2 bay leaves

1 green pepper chopped

1 lb of black beans (picked over–I measure them out and then pour them in stages on a plate, picking out any that don’t look good)

12 cups of water

Bring to a boil, skilling foam off the top, then lower, partially cover and cook for around 2 hours.  Mine took less.   The liquid doesn’t totally cook down (and in fact if you run out of liquid add enough to cover the beans) but I store it with the liquid which is great for reheating, or cooking down in other dishes.  I just use a slotted spoon to drain the liquid off for immediate eating.

Curried Rice with tomatoes

Curried Rice

This, I just tried for the first time, but as M said, “This is soooo good!”

In a medium sauce pan put:

2 Tb butter, melt,

then add 1 chopped onion (cook 3 minutes)

then add:

1.5 ts curry power

1 Tb minced fresh ginger

1 or 2 cloves of garlic through the press

1/4 ts salt

cook 1 minute

Add I large can diced tomatoes (I used the really amazing! best in the world? San Marzano imports)

cook for few more minutes.  Set aside

Preheat over to 375

Put 1 1/2 cups of brown rice in a 8 inch sq. baking pan

add 1/4 ts salt

cover with 2 1/3 cups boiling veggie broth or water with veggie bullion cubes (as I did and then let cubes dissolve)

cover with tomato/onion mixture, spread out over rice

cover with two layers of foil (not sure this is necessary, but I did it)

bake for 70 minutes

then take it out and you can add frozen peas and then cover with a dish towel for 5 minutes, then uncover for 5 and eat.  Likewise, you could do the same with raisins.  It’s a bit of trouble, but it’s really tasty.

I usually add yogurt on top and sliced avocado and tonight we chopped up some cilantro as well.  I should of taken a photo of the food on the plate, but I didn’t think of it, and then it was gone…

dude fude, mommies, Uncategorized

birthday time

It’s coming up on M’s birthday and it’s cake planning time.  As for the party with her school friends, I’m not going to do the gymnastics/jumpy meetup with decent pizza and bad cake (with apologies to the parents who do or, or do it better than pizza and bad cake… I’m still not doing it).  The kids do seem to like it, but I can’t throw a party where I know the food won’t be great.  And since when do kids really prefer decent food?  I’ve read that picky eating is genetic, but I’m not sure I buy it.

M likes decent food but she loves really good food.  She has recently informed me that she likes salmon sushi.

And yes, I am a bit predisposed to birthday parties with more adults than kids at this point, and cupcakes (or cake) that everyone loves, like silences-the-room-loves.  The cupcakes I made last year were like that and their was no cake left behind on plates.  (Here’s that recipe. I didn’t use the marshmallow frosting.) Kids usually just eat off the frosting, even if it’s that horrible sweetened shortening that most grocery stores use.  Last year’s cupcakes had a chocolate layer and graham cracker bottom, so they were worth eating, thoroughly.

I just discovered this cupcake website (with thanks to Naomi Aviv) which looks very interesting.  I want to find that cupcake that hits the sweet spot for kids and adults alike and of course, something for sweet M on her 4th.   I will keep you posted…

dude fude, food, Uncategorized

dude fude-French green beans and shallots

Since I just wrote the blog post that cannot yet be published, I thought I’d share, instead, an excellent and easy way to prepare veggies, although I mostly do it with French green beans, broccoli, or asparagus.

Shallots are small onions that carmelize easily and delisiously.

Slice several shallots.  Cut up veggies in the size you want.  I usually cut the ends off the beans and cut them once or twice.

Put olive oil (or butter) in a 12 inch skillet (and let me just confess now, that once I got the 12 incher, I stopped using the 10 or 8, even to cook small things.  12 is my go to skillet.)

Throw in shallots, medium heat, let them cook until they are brown.  Put in vegetables and cook until it tastes good and they get very green.  Add salt.

The crazy thing is, the next day, there are good to the third power–like candy–and never enough left over.

food, Uncategorized

Dude Fude-Lentil Soup

When I finally purchased my iphone, I felt, and I say this without irony, that I had acquired a new best friend.  And while that may reflect a bit (just a bit) on my current life situation, I think many of us have a long history of deep love and admiration for our tools.  Good design cannot be underrated in its affect on quality of life.  I touch, countless times, that little iphone and enjoy in the doing the task much more than I might.

All this is to say that the immersion blender makes the lentil soup and most soups for that matter.  Ah, and the joy of the blend…

However, needing or having to buy an immersion blender flies in the face of the concept for Dude Fude and the ease of making. I assume most people do not, and should not,  have this tool.

AND you can wait for your lentil soup to cool and dump it into your regular blender (in stages) or you can eat lentil soup unblended, in which case chop everything very small.

In any case, Lentil soup is easy and delicious.  I do these steps fairly casually with imperfect measurements and it always works.

In a big pot, saute 1 large onion with chopped fresh parsley and thyme (or dried if you don’t have fresh) in olive oil or butter.

After about 7 minutes (stirring occasionally), add 1 or 2 chopped carrot (s) and 1 chopped stalk of celery (chop finely if you won’t be blending), and 3 cloves of garlic.

Add 15 oz (1 can of diced tomatoes)

Cook for another 5 or so minutes, scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan

Add 5 cups of water  (or chicken broth) and 1 1/2 cups of French (smaller and browner) lentils (wash and check for stones), 1 teaspoon of salt, a couple of bay leaves if you have them.

Cover partially and let cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are cooked.

If you’ve got the immersion blender, you can just put that in the hot soup blend (if you are using your regular blender, you’ll need to let the soup cool.  I let mine cool, only barely, but hot soup can jump up, so be careful.

Then add more salt to taste and pepper.  You can add a 1 tablespoon of sherry (or red wine) vinegar  and 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard for kick (although often I leave this last step out.

I freeze what I don’t eat in small batches, because it reheats beautifully.

Enjoy!

food, Uncategorized

the alchemy and the ecstasy

Can one desire too much of a good thing?

Picture 3

Shakespeare poses this question in As You Like It (Act IV, Scene I ) through Rosalind and the idea come very much into our vernacular. I couldn’t resist the google search.

Picture 2

It’s one of the those questions that has an obvious, knee jerk first answer and then a deeper second one.

Thinking I had answered–for myself, anyway–the chocolate chip cookie question, I was forced the other day, due to an absence of brown sugar, to deviate from my tried and true method and improvise.  A few days later I served the cookies, straight from the freeze, for dessert to my brother and his girlfriend.

Brother’s girlfriend:  These are possibly the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.  I love the texture of them frozen.   But, I generally like burnt cookies so, maybe that’s it… There’s something a little…

Me:  …bitter about them?

Brother: But I don’t like burnt cookies at all, and I love the deliciousy goodness of these. (Digression to the time I accidentally caramelized ghee, making the world’s most delicious butter spread.)

Brother’s girlfriend: Finally, a cookie we can agree on.

They clasp hands.

Spurred on by such enthusiastic eaters, I decided to make another variation of the cookies.

This time, I omitted brown sugar again, and added an equal amount of raw honey as white sugar.  I also used two kind of chocolate (Callebaut 60% and Scharffenberger 70%) for the “chips” part.

The molasses variation uses 1/4 cup of molasses and 1 cup of white sugar.  I used the Guittard chocolate chips for this batch.

Because:  can you really desire too much of good thing?

food, Uncategorized

dude fude-the stir fry

dinner

You eat more stir fry, straight from the pan, standing up in the kitchen when you’re meant to be cleaning up.

Your daughter kisses your arm after getting up from the table.

She asks for more vegetables and eats two helpings of pasta.

She sucks at the little florets of oily, seasoned broccoli and picks out the onions to eat, when only last night she told you, she didn’t like onions.

You both eat in concentrated silence.

You grate just a little bit of parmesain on the pasta parts of both plates.

Your daughter claims she doesn’t want to eat dinner, but pulls up a chair anyway.

You put two plates down on the table, each filled; half with the freshest, most delicious stir fry and half with perfectly salted pasta.

You turn off the fan and leave the kitchen.

***

Boil water. Salt it more than you think you should.  Then add even more salt.  Cook pasta.

See what’s in your CSA box.  Today in mine:  onions, red peppers, zuccini, baby brocolli, garlic.  Herbs from my garden (basil, thyme, greek oregano).  Chop everything.

Put olive oil in a pan.  Add garlic and spices with a little salt and pepper.

Cook onions

Add peppers

Add zucchini and broccoli

Cook until everything is almost done.

Add more garlic and some of that extra salty reserved pasta water until your stir fry is perfect (like mine was tonight) or even if it’s just pretty good, it will still be delicious.  The pasta too. It will remind you to always salt your noodles.

food, Uncategorized

Dude Fude – ChocolateChipCookies

This picture doesn't do them justice

Most recipes for CCC are basically the same, especially if you eliminate the ones that use shortening or margarine, which as you know, I always do.  If you’re not going to use butter (and the highest quality butter you can find) I need to convince you to do so.

That being said, I’m going to tell you the four secrets of knock-your-socks-off CCC.  Like many other interesting things in life, raising something above the level of adequate requires altering the temp, chemistry and consistency as you move through the process, and a v. simple process it is.

Secrets revealed:

1.  Mix butter and sugar on high for 4 minutes.  It becomes the most satisfying light colored fluffy mix.

2.  Toast the pecans.  I do this in my toaster over on the small tray on a light toast–straight from the freeze.  This is huge.

3.  Really good chocolate (this goes back to my use the best ingredients credo, but I’m repeating it.  Currently, I’m using a brand of chocolate bar called Theo (made in Seattle).  It’s really, really good and I like having the thin, irregular chunks.  Chocolate chips, at this point, seem like spam.

4. Put the batter into the fridge for 36 hours before baking.  (I haven’t done this yet, but I usually wait a day).  I refer you to the NYTimes article on this subject.  They also have a thing about cookie size, which I am currently disregarding (but haven’t yet tried).  The reason to do this is that the butter gets hard before it goes into the open so it cooks before it has time to spread.  Thus, these cookies are thicker but still soft.  Eureka!

So… here’s the actual recipe.  I mix things in the following order which both expedites the process and mixes the flour the least possible amount.

Begin:

1/2 cup butter into the bowl of a Kitchen Aid, if you don’t have one, I reluctantly offer an electric mixer instead.

Add 3/4 of a cup of sugar, I do equal parts brown and white.

Mix this for 4 or 5 minutes.  It alters into the lightest butter/sugar mixture ever.  It’s v. soft.

the pre batter batter

to this add

1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Mix ‘er up again.  Scrape down sides, mix again.

Then add 1 1/8 cup of white flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

(it’s so beautifully simple)

Mix until all the flour is just barely absorbed (once you’ve added flour, you want to mix as little as possible

beauty shot
beauty shot

Add 1/2 cup toasted pecans (give or take) and 1 cup chopped up chocolate.  Mix just a little more.

Taste with spoon.  Feel v. happy.  Put in fridge for 24-36 hours.

I made about 12 cookies from this but you could fewer bigger ones.

Preheat oven to 375 and cook 8-10 minutes.

Notice that the cooked cookies aren’t quite as good as the raw batter.  Think this over.  Taste cookies the next day.  Realize they are now as good as the cookie dough.   Marvel at this.