Posts Tagged ‘sweet

31
Mar
11

All right, already, I’ll write something!



Hi, Vampire Gran here. I'm sorry I haven't posted here in Vampire Gran's Kitchen for a few months. Other interests have dragged me away, as I am sure happens to all of you from time to time. I'm back for the moment and ready to share some stories of what has kept me away. Hopefully they will be of some interest to someone out there. Let's get started, shall we?

The thing about seeing some of your blog readers in person on a regular basis is they can give you a hard time about not posting.  Right, Cat and Robert H.?  Yes, I am totally guilty of not keeping up with my self-professed passion of interest.  I’m sorry.  And I wish that I could tell you all about some amazing adventures of travel or winning the lottery or some such excitement, but there has been none of that.  Well, there was a nice trip to the coast recently and I will write about that, but not today.

Truth is I have allowed other interests to tear me away from my beloved blog.  For starters, I bought a new sewing machine.  It even has a name!  Anna. I did not name her, she came into my life already saddled with that moniker.  She’s a Baby Lock brand and she is so sweet!  Our old Singer needed some TLC and the cost of having that overhauled was about $50.00 less than a brand new machine, so, you do the math.  Anyway, I’ve been having fun mending a ton of clothes around here and making some frocks for my Barbies.  I’ve also been playing a lot of pool, getting ready to be on a 9 ball team with Katie starting tonight. I don’t want to make our team look bad by being a sucky player!

In January I taught a cooking class.  My friend, Angel, is the volunteer co-ordinator at North West Ministries and she asked me to come and teach again.  I taught a tofu class there this past November and it was a lot of fun.  Last time I had a set curriculum complete with printed recipes for everyone and actually knew what I would be working with.  Angel and I thought it would be fun to do a “black box” class.  A black box test is what you get in culinary school.  You don’t know what you will be cooking until you open the box and see what your ingredients are.  Since there is a full food pantry at the church and you never know what will be there, we thought it might be helpful to the people who depend on that food to learn how to utilize it and make it tasty.  Hence, the “Black Box” cooking class.

Fortunetly, Angel had a volunteer to help me all lined up.  His name was Robert and he was awesome.  Turns out he does personal cheffing so it really turned out to be the Patty and Robert show.  He wasn’t very vocal, so I did all of the talking, but I turned the stir fry portion of the class over to him and we worked well together.  Plus he was a whiz at keeping the kitchen spic and span as we worked!

A sweetheart of a guy came in and took pictures and a little video that I will share with you now.

It’s not the greatest video, but it’s something to share with you.   I wish it had some music or narration so you could get a better idea of what we were making.  Here are a bunch of still shots where I will attempt to describe what the class was like.  I’ll share a recipe at the end of this post.

As I mentioned, there is a food pantry at the church for people in need and this is some of the pretty nice produce that was available the day I taught the "black box" class.

I'm adding olive oil to some peeled and cubed butternut squash in this shot. The photographer arrived a little late for the actual cubing of the squash. This student was fascinated with everything. She had never had butternut squash before was was ready to try it.The baking sheet was lined with foil. After adding olive oil, salt and pepper to the butternut squash, I spread it all out on the baking sheet to roast.Here I am starting to make a glaze for the squash. There is some soy sauce in the bowl and the photographer asked me to show the bowl for the picture. Not too exciting as I had not added the remaining ingredients yet.

Squeezing in some lime juice to the sauce. Fresh lime juice is better but we're using what we have on hand, remember?

Whisking it all together. There's my most curious student. Wish I could remember her name. She was pretty sweet and very enthusiastic.

He moved in for a close-up of the whisking action.

This is a really nice food pantry. They even had Portobello mushrooms! I marinade it with lots of garlic, olive oil, soy sauce and hot sauce.

We cooked this mushroom off in a frying pan.  At home I would have used a grill pan or the barbecue.  The class really was impressed with this simple, yet unusual for them, treat.

That's Robert, my volunteer assistant. Not sure what was up with the dark glasses. I'm pretty sure he could see what he was doing.

See, there really was a few more students besides my number one fan there.

I look a little confused in this shot. Getting ready to measure some rice.

Robert is on veggie chopping detail for his stir fry.

He was a lot more precise than I would have been!

I'm telling you, if you need emergency food assistance, contact NorthWest Ministries in Portland. Look how nice these vegetables are!

Let's get some onion in there.

Vampire Gran taking the squash out of the oven for a bit of a stir before adding the glaze.

Doing a little glazing action now

Still at the stove while students look on

Meanwhile, back at the prep table, Robert keeps cutting up the beautiful veggies

We're turning, we're glazing

Unfortunately, the photographer had to leave before our feast was ready, so there are no photos of the complete meal!  Everyone sat down to a meal of grilled Portobello mushroom, vegetable stir fry over steamed rice, mixed green salad with a simple vinaigrette and sweet and spicy roasted glazed butternut squash.  We did it all in a two-hour time slot, including clean up and consumption of the meal.

I love this squash recipe.  I actually adapted it from a recipe that was on Vegan Good Things (you can click on her link over there on the right under  BlogRoll).  the original recipe was for Brussel sprouts which is fantastic, but I have found that this glaze works great with any vegetable.

SWEET AND SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1/2′ – 3/4′ cubes
olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, toss cubed squash in small amount of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread on foil lined baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Roast for about 20 minutes.

GLAZE

2 – 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
juice of one lime
hot sauce to taste ( I usually free pour about 2 tablespoons)

Use the same bowl that you tossed the oil and squash in.  Mix glaze.  You are going to glaze the squash AFTER FIRST ROASTING IT FOR 20 MINUTES.
Remove squash from oven and toss in glaze.  Spread glazed squash back onto the baking sheet, reserving some for drizzling before serving, and return to oven.  Bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is tender and caramelized.

That’s it.  You are done and it is delicious.

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19
Nov
10

Don’t make me go into that kitchen!

Just give me one good reason to bake a cake and I’m all over it.  Actually, it doesn’t even have to be a GOOD reason or even a reason at all.  Or an excuse for that matter.  Ah, hell, just ask me to bake a cake.  Better yet, tell me you have something to celebrate.  I love a good celebration cake.  A couple of weeks ago, my Katie and her workmate, Patty B.,  both had work anniversaries.  These two ladies were both celebrating four years of working for the good Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.  Being a former Catholic School Girl, this still makes me slightly nervous, but the nuns are cool.  And they do love a good sweet treat!

Heaven on Earth - four layers of banana cake wrapped in a cloud of coconut cream cheese frosting

This here bad boy is a Banana cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.  To really kick up the banana flavor, I put slices of banana between each of the layers (it’s a four layer cake!).  It was insanely heavenly, right up the sisters alley, so to speak.

Here is the recipe:

CORDON ROSE BANANA CAKE

Adapted from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

2 nine inch pans, buttered and parchment lined bottoms

4 large ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sour cream
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups sifted cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
20 tablespoons unsalted butter, must be softened

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

In a food processor process the banana and sour cream until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and process briefly just to blend.

In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.  Add the butter and 1/2 of the banana mixture.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and strengthen the cake’s structure.  crape down the sides. Gradually add the remaining banana mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and develop the structure.  Scrape down the sides.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.  Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool 10 – 15 minutes on a cooling rack before removing from pans.  Allow to cool completely before wrapping.

I like to chill my cakes before I frost them.  Remove the top “dome” with a serrated knife, for a more professional look.  You can make this a two layer cake or a four layer.  My preference is four layers.  It’s best to use a cake decorating stand.  Place cake on stand, and using a long serrated knife, slice the cake into two even layers.

COCONUT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 # unsalted butter, softened
1/2 # cream cheese, softened
0.2 oz salt
0.4oz vanilla
0.2 oz lemon juice
2 oz water
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Place butter in bowl of electric mixer.  Cream for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon juice and water.  Mix on low ( I pulse it until incorporated so my kitchen isn’t covered in powdered sugar) for about 1 minute.  Once it is incorporated, gradually increase the speed to the highest.  Stop and scrape the sides a couple of time during this process. Whip until light, fluffy and very white.  Add coconut and mix until incorporated.

So rich, so insanely decadent!

Frost the cake.  I sliced about four bananas for this cake for in between each layer.  You can see them in the pictures.  So good.

I really do love to tease you with these photos!

Dear, sweet Katie brought a piece home to me.  We ate on it for three days!  So, what are we celebrating next?  Anyone?

21
Sep
09

Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

This past week, a co-worker ordered a cake from me.  It was for her Grandmother’s birthday party.  Both Katie (the co-worker) and her mother LOVE my hazelnut frosting.  So do I!  They also love chocolate.  This hazelnut frosting and buttermilk chocolate cake are perfect together.  The light, sweetness of the frosting with the dense, dark chocolate of the cake are a match made in dessert heaven.  Here is a picture of Grandma Elsie’s cake.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

The chocolate leaves were simple to make.  I went into my garden, picked some raspberry leaves, coated them in melted dark chocolate, let them sit in the freezer until firm and gently pulled the “real” leaves off.  Make sure you use leaves that are not sprayed or poisonous!

Of, course, as always with me, I had left over cake batter and frosting so I made a few things for my spouse to bring to her job.  I only had enough frosting left over for one cupcake after frosting three individual cakes and I sprinkled them with toasted hazelnuts.

Same cake, different presentation

Same cake, different presentation

I used the same Vanilla Frosting recipe that is in my Elephant Cupcake post and added 1/2 cup hazelnut paste to it.  You may be wondering where to buy hazelnut paste.  Well, it can be tricky to find.  I would suggest calling some upscale foodie markets and shops first.  If they don’t carry it in your area, go online and order it.  There are a lot of sites that sell it, just Google hazelnut paste.  Or you can try making your own.  If you have a Champion juicer, just toast the hazelnuts and put them through using the homogenizing method. 

Well, I am back to the kitchen to work on more goodies to share with you!

10
Sep
09

Asian Pear Sorbet

This has been an exciting summer for us.  We moved into our current home in March of this year.  One of the fun things about new surroundings is discovering what springs forth from the earth during each season.  The spring brought us all types of flowers (and lots of weeds!!!).  The summer we were blessed with fruit.  Two types of plums, cherries, blueberries, raspberries and Asian pears grew in abundance.

This tree is loaded with juicy goodness

This tree is loaded with juicy goodness

What does one do with so many Asian pears?  Well, of course give a lot away to co-workers, friends and neighbors.  But what about something cool and sweet?  What about sorbet!

This recipe I came up with is so simple, if you have an ice cream maker.  This is all I did.

ASIAN PEAR SORBET

4 lbs Asian pears

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tbsp vanilla paste or 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped

water

Peel and core Asian pears.  Place in a large pot.  Cover with water.  Stir in sugar and vanilla paste/beans.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to a hard simmer.  Cook until pears are tender, about 45 minutes.  Remove pears with a slotted spoon and continue simmering the liquid until it reduces to half the original amount. Combine pears and syrup and allow to cool until slightly warm.  Place pears and syrup in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Place in a bowl or plastic covered container and chill overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day,using the Asian pear puree,  follow your ice cream maker instructions to make sorbet.  Mine took about 30 minutes.

A cool offering to beat the summer heat

A cool offering to beat the summer heat

The delicate flavor of the Asian pear teamed with the intoxicating vanilla bean are a perfect match.  I hope you try this recipe because it truly is a winner.




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