Cashew Brittle Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hubby and I like the sentiment behind Valentine’s Day BUT we abhor the commercialism of it.  So we usually stay home – he gives me flowers and I make something special for dinner, or at the very least dessert.

So, I wanted to make something for my Valentine.  At the same time, I wanted to try and see if my little electric oven could bake a chiffon cake successfully.  Of course the cake could not be a big one, since the oven is small… and since I already knew that the top would have a tendency to “burn” I had to figure out what to do to prevent it.

First I had to choose a recipe.  All my recipes were for large tube pans and because the ratios were uneven it was very difficult to scale down even by half.  Not that I was any good in Math anyway!

So, I googled “small chiffon cake recipe” and the results were plenty… and a bit confusing… in any case I settled for this one, which I had to adapt and modify (just a little bit) because I didn’t want a coffee chiffon cake, I wanted a Dayap chiffon cake.  Dayap is the local lime.  It has a fantastic flavor and I had a difficult time finding it in the markets.  I finally found a couple of plants and after some time, managed to have reasonable harvests!!!

My modified recipe –

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh dayap juice
1/4 cup oil
7 tablespoons cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Prepare everything beforehand – preheat the oven to 325*F, line a 6×4-inch round pan with greaseproof paper (I did not have a small tube pan), separate the eggs and prepare all other ingredients.

Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until the mixture is full of bubbles.  Add sugar by tablespoon, and beat until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, mix the yolks, sugar, dayap juice, oil, flour and baking powder together until just mixed.  Fold into the egg white mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and “bang” the pan on the table once or twice to remove any big bubbles.  Bake…

Here is where it gets a bit tricky…

Within 10 minutes, my chiffon cake rose beautifully, but the top had cracked and was very very browned already.

So I switched the top heating off and moved the pan to the lower rack.  Another 20 to 25 minutes, the cake was done.  (The “black” lines correspond to the top heating element!)

Except that it got slightly deflated upon cooling…

But all is well that ends well, the cake was generally a success since hubby loved the texture!  It was a bit different from the usual chiffon cake that I make (an American recipe and a Filipino one),  Somehow it was a bit heftier but still soft and tender.

It might have been just a tad tart but with the sweet filling and caramel icing, as well as the cashew brittle garnishes, the tartness was somehow balanced.

I sliced the burnt top off, and halved the cake in the middle for the filling (to make it a 2 layer cake)

Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetie!

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I first made this about 5 years ago, during the Christmas season.  That time, one recipe made 2 5.5-inch cookie cakes that I gave away as Christmas gifts, or I make for friends who gave them away.  That time also, I would drizzle chocolate on top – it looked so much nicer.

But this time, I made a larger 8-inch cake and served it plain, without drizzled chocolate.  But I put in way more chocolate chips!!!

The recipe I based this cake on is the world famous Nestle TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

BUT…

(1.) I halved the recipe… AND reduced the sugar a tiny bit because –

(2.) I used 1-1/2 cups of bittersweet chips for half a recipe (instead of just 1 cup)

(3.)  I spread the cookie dough in a buttered, then papered, then buttered again 8-inch round layer pan.

(4.) I baked it at 325*F for about 22-25 minutes (might have been a bit longer because I wanted a browned top.)

The cookie cake was for hubby’s friend, whose birthday was last December.  We only celebrate now due to the hectic Christmas season giving us no time to do so…

Despite being delayed, hubby’s friends loved it!

Corn Fritters

I love corn. And while the sweet Japanese variety is delicious, I love the local (or native) white corn even better. Especially when it is fresh and perfectly cooked. Sometimes though, there’s way too much corn on the cob for us to consume. And when that happens, corn fritters are my favorite “recycled” food…

I’ve made corn fritters before.

But this particular batch is different because I used… yes, you guessed it… native corn kernels shredded from their cobs.

The recipe is from this book – I bought it as a gift for BFF but I liked it so much that I bought another one for myself!

The recipe is on this page, but can also be found online.

Two questions came up after I made these corn fritters.  First, why use another recipe when I already had one?  And, second, why buy the book when the recipe can be found online?

Well, to answer the first question… I like trying new recipes… and the picture looked a lot better than what I used to make so why not? And I am glad I did because this batch of fritters looked better than my old ones! Although I did not faithfully follow the recipe (read on for what I did).

As for the second question… the answer is simple. I like books. So even with the ease and convenience of e-books, and even if I have virtually run out of bookshelf space, I will buy a book if it is worth it (and there are A LOT of books that are worth it!)

Anyway, for the changes that I did… basically I omitted the lime juice (hubby is not a fan of the sour taste) and substituted regular flour for the cornmeal (I didn’t have cornmeal!).  Also, instead of cayenne pepper, I used ground black pepper (at least about 1/2 teaspoon!)

Truth is, I like this fritter recipe better than my original one. So this one gets a permanent slot in my “book”! (pun intended) 🙂

Soy Sauce Fried Eggs, v2 and v3

Breakfast is not complete if it doesn’t have an egg, specifically fried.  I guess I got used to it because it was a staple when we were growing up.

Nowadays, hubby is served eggs for breakfast too.  On most days they’re plain fried eggs, or maybe scrambled eggs.  But once in a while, he gets a special treat… like today!

These fried eggs with soy sauce is a childhood favorite.  I had forgotten the original recipe and tried to re-create it a couple of years ago. My first attempt was not bad, but something was missing.

Sometime later I tried again, and it was better.  The resulting dish had more depth –

1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1/2 tablespoon mild vinegar
1/2 tablespoon mild honey
1 tablespoon water
dash of sesame oil

The procedure is uncomplicated — fry some eggs, sunny side up.  Place in serving platter (not a flat or shallow one but not a deep bowl).  Mix the sauce ingredients and heat slightly; pour over the eggs.  My variation here is that I added a “century egg”.

[side note:  I found the cookbook sometime after (which is as old as me – it was published the year I was born!) and  I was happy to discover that my recreation was pretty close.]

Hubby liked it, but when he heard there was honey, he asked if (next time) it was possible to skip it…

Fast forward to “next time”, i.e. now – I reformulated my sauce recipe (procedure is the same) …

1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soya sauce)
1/2 tablespoon sinamak (local spicy sap vinegar)
1 tablespoon water
dash of sesame oil
pinch of chili powder

Hubby prefers it this way.  I did explain that the soy sauce I used is a sweet one, but he was ok with it!

Enjoy!!!

 

Panettone, No Knead

Officially, at least in my country, Christmas is NOT over. Somehow, we start in September and go on until the first Sunday of January of the coming year! So the stores still have their Christmas decorations and displays, as well as their Christmas music blaring.

As for me, I did very little Christmas baking/cooking, if at all. I had asked hubby if he wanted fruitcake (he usually did) but lo and behold, he asked me to hold off on making fruitcake. Meanwhile I anticipated his saying yes and already bought some mixed dried fruit and mixed glazed fruit! I thought, oh well, I could always make something else later on and simply stuck the stuff in the fridge.

But as soon as Christmas day passed, I got an urge to get into the kitchen and do something.

This is what I came up with… considering I already had some “Christmas” fruit mix in the fridge.

Just in time too, for New Year’s Day lunch, when my mom and 2 brothers came over for a meal.

As usual, I chose a no-knead bread… and of course, from my favorite book – The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

The recipe can be found here.  (I halved the recipe.)

Super Fudgy 5 Chocolate Red Wine Brownies

I am discovering that I like red wine.  It started with a gift of Sangria (a particular brand which I will not mention for now) earlier this year.  I know friend T says bottled sangria is an abomination (her homemade one is simply fantastic) but not knowing how to make sangria (and not wishing to start anyway), this specific bottled one is good enough for me.

Anyway, hubby and I recently discovered moscato red wine!  How we got a taste of it?  Well, someone gave us a Christmas gift of moscato red wine… it was actually a regift (we know because the giver neglected to check the wine bottle and there was an inscription that was addressed to – NOT US! hahahaha)

Anyway, I was still experimenting with brownie recipes… and I figured, why not go for broke?  Use whatever chocolate I have ( 1-unsweetened baking chocolate, 2-bittersweet chocolate, 3-cocoa, 4-dark choco chips, and 5-semisweet choco chips) and why not the red wine too?

So here they are!  They are the fudgiest, most chocolatiest brownies I have ever made!  That it had a crinkly, cracked top was a delicious bonus!

In Someone Else’s Kitchen, part 2 of 4

Let’s talk about apple crisps.

I started making apple crisps when I realized that the very real possibility and probability that I would never succeed in making my mom’s apple pie.  I got the filling right but somehow my crusts were always wrong.  So apple crisp was what I came up with.

The recipe that got me started is Dorie Greenspan’s, from her book “Baking My Home to Yours”.  As always I adjusted to suit my taste… which meant I skipped some and added others…

Anyway, this was the dessert I made for our host last week.  Why?  Because it is easy to make, with ingredients commonly available, and impressive, too.  The best part?  It bakes while we have dinner and when it is served, it is perfect straight out of the oven!

The ingredient list is fairly easy too.  The beauty of modernization is that virtually anything can be found anywhere. So even when I am 250 kilometers away from home, I can find the ingredients that I need.  The nearby supermarket and specialty shop had everything, even real cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg!  Dishes aren’t a problem too, since there were plenty of disposable aluminum pans – in various sizes and shapes at that.  But silly me, I forgot to buy the oats…

(truth time – the pic above is NOT the apple crisp I made in someone else’s kitchen.  I forgot to take a pic of that one)  The one I made in friend G’s house is one I made from memory and I somehow got the sugar amount wrong – I put in waaayyy too much, so it was a tad on the (really) sweet side.

picture courtesy of friends G and J. The topping is all flour, no nuts

Like I said, it is easy to make –

First, generously butter a 6-inch square baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 375F.

Peel and core 2 large Fuji apples and 3 to 4 small Gala apples.  Slice into wedges.  I slice mine in varying thickness because I like a bit of crunch and a bit of mush at the same time.  Toss the apple wedges with 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar, 1 teaspoon apple pie spice ( or cinnamon), 1 cinnamon stick (broken in half), 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 tablespoon whipping cream, juice from 1 fresh calamansi, and 2 tablespoons flour.  Place the apples in the buttered baking dish.

(a short note here – the original recipe called for maple syrup, which is a rare find in my country, so instead I use a mix of vanilla sugar, butter and cream)

Stir together 2/3 cup of flour, 2/3 cup oats (not instant), 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or cashews (optional), 4 to 6 tablespoons vanilla sugar (I usually use 5 tablespoons), a pinch of salt, and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg.  Plop 75 grams of soft, unsalted butter in the mix.  Use a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a food processor, as you prefer but I personally use my hands!  Mix until just clumpy; don’t overdo it.  Scatter over the apples.

Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the topping is a lovely brown.  If the topping gets too browned, cover with aluminum foil.

Best served with cold whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

 

In Someone Else’s Kitchen

We had a lovely vacation (read as hubby had a couple of meetings but the kid and I relaxed and enjoyed the cool air!) and our generous host fed us scrumptious meals.  Of course I had to reciprocate!

(Flashback to some 3 decades ago, when I cooked paella for 20 people in someone else’s kitchen!!!)

It is not easy cooking (meddling???) in someone else’s kitchen, mainly because I have no idea where anything is!  But what is quite nice about the kitchen of someone who likes to cook is that the kitchen would definitely have the basic tools and then some.  Since friend G had an oven, I gladly made use of it.

My menu consisted of 4 parts – protein, carbohydrate, healthy (veggie) and something sweet.

For the protein, I thought roasted salmon was perfect!  And again my favorite recipe comes from Mark Bittman.  With a bit of a twist, though.  The online version of the recipe is slightly different from the book version –

First, I used half butter and half olive oil, which I seasoned with pink salt and freshly cracked peppercorns… and about 1/2 tablespoon of dried dill seeds.  Off in the oven it went until the butter melted and stopped fizzing.

I then placed 4 pieces of salmon fillet slabs, about 220 to 250 grams each, skin side up, into the pan and back to the oven it went and stayed for about 5 to 7 minutes.  The fillets got flipped to get the skin side down.  And then I sprinkled some more pink salt and crushed peppercorns over the top.  It went back into the oven for another 5 to 6 minutes, just until it was done.

 

Salmon Roasted in Butter and Dill

When I think of experimenting in the kitchen, I browse and peruse my cookbook collection. One of the first books I reach for is Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”.

It is there that I found a super easy and very tasty recipe for salmon.

I used half butter and half olive oil, and fresh dill, following the secondary instructions for ‘Salmon Roasted with Herbs’.

The recipe can be found online – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/04/mark-bittmans-roasted-salmon-with-butter.html

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding

The easy way to do this is to use a boxed chocolate cake mix and a boxed chocolate pudding mix.

But it is just as easy to use a favorite one-bowl chocolate cake and an easy from-scratch pudding recipe such as Hershey’s Quick Creamy Chocolate Pudding, which was what I did, except that I used half a recipe (for both cake and pudding) because I wanted a small cake.  But I also wanted a little oommph for the pudding, so I made a few changes…

Prepare the chocolate cake and bake as usual.  When the cake is done, remove from the oven and poke holes in it using the handle of a wooden spoon.  Start cooking the pudding.  When the pudding is done, pour over the hole-ridden cake.  Press plastic wrap on the pudding and chill until set.

My Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding –

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt and milk in a thick saucepan.  Cook until thick and boiling.  Simmer at boiling for about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla and Irish Cream, mix well.

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