Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

The past 4 weeks I have been taking a baking class with some friends (Including Miss Carol). Last night was our last class and the theme was cakes! This class alone was pretty much the reason I signed up in the first place. I LOVE cake and wanted to learn the tricks to a great buttercream and some basic scratch cake recipes. My lovely partner Meghan and I decided to make a Strawberry Cream Cake. There were a lot of steps involved, but it was surprisingly easy! It was by far the best item we made out of all the classes we went to! The most fabulous part was the Whipped Cream frosting with Mascarpone Cheese! The Mascarpone completely changed what would have been just a boring whipped cream and made it amazing! I would put that frosting on anything!

Strawberry Cream Cake

If using a cake pan, you will need one with straight sides that are at least 2 inches high; or use a springform pan.

1 ¼ cups cake flour (5 ounces)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature Pinch salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Strawberry Filling

2 Lbs Strawberries - Washed, Dried, and Stemmed
4-6 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Kirsch (Cherry Brandy)

Whipped Cream
8 ounces Mascarpone Cheese , room temperature
½ cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 cups heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in mixing bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water, and vanilla; whisk until smooth.

In bowl of standing mixer, with the whisk, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60 to 90 seconds. Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten; add remaining whites and gently fold in until no white streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto greased wire rack; peel off parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.

Halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve. Quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2 cup). In food processor, give macerated berries five 1-second pulses (about 1 1/2 cups).

In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and Kirsch until syrupy and reduced to about 3 table-spoons, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.

When cake has cooled, place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Using large serrated knife, slice cake into three even layers. Place bottom layer on cardboard round or cake plate and arrange ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer. Pour one half of pureed berry mixture (about 3/4 cup) in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake. Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge. Place middle cake layer on top and press down gently (whipped cream layer should become flush with cake edge). Repeat with 20 additional strawberry halves, remaining berry mixture, and half of remaining whipped cream; gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with remaining cut strawberries. Serve, or chill for up to 4 hours.

(Miss Carol's Cake is the Chocolate One, SO Yummy!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Million Mushrooms

On Saturday we celebrated my friend Meghan's 27th Birthday with a crazy fun party! We started with an Italian dinner & drinks and then headed out to the bars. As a co-hostess, I had to come equipped with some appetizers, so I went straight to the blogs for some inspiration.

I have been dying to try Pioneer Woman's Stuffed Mushrooms and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I decided to double the recipe because there were going to be about 20 people. Yikes, that turned out to be A LOT of mushrooms!

After all was said and done, the mushrooms were delicious, but more time consuming than I anticipated (quite a few steps). So, if you have the time and want to try a yummy app, then I highly suggest these! If you are smarter than me, you can make them the day before and stick them in the fridge until you are ready to bake. They would be a great addition to any upcoming holiday parties!

Cooking Away!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

June in October

As a yearly ritual, 2 of my girlfriends (Miss Carol being one of them) and I do Birthday dinners at a restaurant we have never been to. With our friend Meghan's Birthday tomorrow, we decided to try out June, which opened this past Spring and had great reviews. June did not disappoint (honestly, when am I ever disappointed with food?), we had a fantastic celebratory meal! Carol and I went with their burger that just sounded amazing on the menu and it was delicious! They even make their own ketchup using beets. Pretty interesting! The Birthday girl had the lamb neck, which I will admit I was a little skeptical of, but I tried a piece and its was tender, flavorful and yummy. After stuffing ourselves, we of course went for dessert, which was perhaps the best part of the meal. We ordered the Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding. It was like nothing I have ever had and really didn't even seem like bread pudding, more like a really moist and warm cake. Even Carol liked it and she doesn't eat bread pudding! If you are in the Seattle area, I highly suggest trying June, even if it's just for the dessert!
Tonight I am off to my baking class. Perhaps they will teach us the secrets to bread pudding that is to die for?


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sometimes it's Good to be Crabby

Being from the Pacific NW, I am a little biased when it comes to crab. Dungeness Crab beats out all other types in my opinion. This weekend my family decided to go to the Port Angeles Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival. After a ferry ride and what seemed like hours of driving (although I did get some good reading time in), we somehow escaped the rainy Seattle weather and made it to the nice and dry Port Angeles. Once we arrived, we encountered the typical tents selling random things (think crab hats, which some in our party couldn't resist buying) and passing out information, but we went straight to the one tent that lured us from 3 hours away. The FOOD tent. You could have crab any way possible and we sampled a good portion of the options. Between the five of us, we had a few plates of crab cakes, a couple bowls of crab bisque, crab rolls, whole Dungeness crab, and crab fried rice (we later topped it all off with some crepes). My absolute favorite was the crab fried rice, delicious!
In typical fashion, I didn't take any pictures, but it was as good as it sounds. If you are in the Seattle area, I would totally suggest making the trip out next year. Just be prepared for a long, but scenic drive to get there.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Round 2

Hello My Blogger Friends,

I am sure you aren't even here anymore considering I left this blog in the dust almost a year ago (wow time flies). I didn't blog for very long before I was overwhelmed with the idea and the self-induced pressure to think of posts everyday, so I just stopped. Although, I have been keeping up and enjoying all of the blogs that I previously read, commented on, and followed. I came to the conclusion that I enjoyed reading other blogs more than writing my own.

A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany that I really actually missed writing and MAYBE I should just
give it another go and do it on my own terms.

SO, here I am. Maybe I will make some blog friends again. Maybe my content will be a little different (perhaps a little more cooking?). Maybe I won't blog everyday. We shall see.

I don't even remember how to setup a post....yikes, back to square one!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Long Lost Blog

Ever since I returned from vacation I have been completely overwhelmed with work and the holiday season that my poor little blog has suffered. Sorry everyone! I am slowly getting through my reader and catching up with everyone. This time of year gets so crazy!
Anyway, I had a lovely and relaxing vacation with my fam! So wonderful in fact, I was so busy doing nothing that I barely took any pictures! I have not learned my lesson, I always come back wishing I had been a better photographer. And maybe taking pictures with some people in them??? I suck! There is a weak showing below, but at least you can see the beautiful ocean and pool, which is what I was looking at 90% of my vacation. We are definitely pool and sun people....not exactly the sightseeing type (we tried that one day and it was....interesting). So that is what we did! Sun, swim, FOOD, books and Yahtzee = 7 days well spent!
Now I am back in the swing of things, prepping for Christmas. I am almost done with my shopping, have already overdosed on Xmas cookies and am listening to Christmas carols nonstop.....ohhh I love the holidays!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Mahalo-Giving

An early Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I am headed down to my parents house tonight to prepare for the gluttony that will take place tomorrow. On Friday morning I am headed to Hawaii for a week with the fam! YAY!!! (Nothing like throwing on a bathing suit when you spent the previous day stuffing yourself!) I will be kicking back, soaking up some sun, drinking Mai Tais, and hanging on the beach....thinking of you all, of course! No blogging on vacation, but I will catch up with everyone when I get back!