Find Us On…

Archive for May, 2011

Easy as Cake

Mom and I once took this great class on canning in Chestertown, MD. It was, in fact, extremely educational and highly inspirational. But somehow we clearly missed the memo that you’re supposed to can your fruits and vegetables and not your…  sometimes foods.

This is clearly not a fruit or a vegetable, but it's so much better...

You see, today was Francesca’s fake birthday, so her class could celebrate her turning six exactly two months before she actually does, and I was assigned the task of the red velvet cupcakes (I know, we’re so typical, but at least we use the best red velvet recipe ever). But since it was early in the morning, 9:30 I believe, I wasn’t thinking straight and I joyously underestimated the momentous quantity of batter a doubled version of this recipe can make. Twenty-four servings of cake, you see, is not the same as twenty-four cupcakes. And so rather than face seventeen kindergarteners with a pile of cupcakes the size of Mount Everest, I decided to keep the excess and get creative. I started with the classic cake-in-a-cup I’ve wanted to try for so long. And while it was fun (and in my mind ever so clever, which I can say because I didn’t come up with it), the only oven-proof mugs we had were white, and oh so opaque. I knew that if I covered the top with frosting, nobody would ever get to see the beautiful red we love so much. Because seriously, what’s the point of using a whole bottle of food coloring if nobody gets to see it?

Doesn't it kind of look like a sundae?

And then I remembered. Tucked away in the next room was a huge box of Ball’s Canning Jars. I bought them to use as drinking glasses in my suite next year, but if I’m going to take ownership of the glasses, certainly nobody would object to me baking a little cake in them first, would they? And thus the canned cake was born. (Question – does anyone know why it’s called canning when it’s clearly done in jars?) These cakes are pint sized, which seems to lend itself perfectly to large individual servings. Any smaller would be sad, any larger would take a millennium to bake.

To make these fill the jars up approximately 1/3 with batter and then just bake them for approximately 35-40 minutes. (The original recipe called for 30 minutes for a normal cake layer in a pan. You can bake these with any kind of cake you want, but remember to add 5-10 minutes to cooking time, and monitor them closely because it may vary by cake). And they’re fine to put in the oven because canning jars are made to be boiled! Just don’t dip them in a pool of ice water when they come out of the oven and you shouldn’t have to worry about cracking. Then just fill the last third with whipped cream or frosting and screw the top back on for nostalgic effect. The end. As easy as cupcakes, and so much easier than pie.

Read the rest of this entry »

Indian Summer

We’ve had these twelve mangoes lying around the test kitchen for days now, which were off limits because Mom was going to use them to make mango soup. But they were getting ripe and I was getting impatient, and while the weather here isn’t exactly warm (at all) it’s going to be soon (I hope) and I knew that someday soon I would need to be refreshed and it would just stink if I let the opportunity to develop a perfect mango lassi recipe pass me by.

 

 

So I pulled out my trusty blender and got to work. There are several difficulties to successfully pulling off a mango lassi. The first is the mango. Many recipes call for Alphonso Mango Pulp, a pre-sweetened puree that you can buy on Amazon or at Indian Supermarkets. This is certainly the most authentic way to go about doing  things, and it’s made with super-flavorful Alphonso mangoes, that only grow in India. But I opted out for several reasons. First of all, I had twelve ripe mangoes sitting in my kitchen. Second, canned Alphonso mangoes are kind of hard to get, and really expensive if you do have to buy them online. And since I would never wish expense anyone (remember, I’m a college student), I decided to go with fresh. To mimic the sweetened puree, and maximize mangoey-ness, I mashed the mangoes first, to release the juices, and then mixed them with a little bit of sugar (but not too much) to intensify their flavor but not sweeten them too much. It worked perfectly.

 

Then I had to think about the yogurt. A bunch of recipes swear by goat yogurt, which I find a bit suspect. But I tried it anyway, and frankly, even if it were more authentic (which it’s not) it doesn’t taste that different from cow yogurt – just a bit more like goat cheese. It’s delicious, but it’s also much runnier than regular yogurt, so it hurts the lassi’s texture. Regular yogurt, on the other hand, passed both flavor and texture tests.

Finally I had to consider what other ingredients they might need. Some recipes call for only mango and yogurt, several call for cardamom and many others call for milk. I made one with just mango and yogurt. It tasted delicious – like a fantastic mango smoothie. But it didn’t taste like a lassi. I tried adding the cardamom – also delicious, and decidedly Indian, but definitely not a lassi. I decided to try one last time, eliminating the cardamom and adding a cup of milk. It was perfect. It was tangy, mangoey and creamy – everything a lassi should be.

 

 

Rest assured this recipe has been meticulously tested and adjusted to taste just like it would at your favorite restaurant – we would never stand for sloppy imitations. These are super healthy, and super easy to make. And they’ll be perfect for keeping you cool when, any day now, summer shows up.

 

Mango Lassi
Serves 2-3… or 1 ;-)

2 cups mango in 1-inch cubes
1 tsp sugar
1-1.5 cups yogurt (less yogurt will taste more mangoey, which I prefer, but more will taste a bit more authentic)
1 cup milk

1. Mash mangoes in a large bowl, and stir in sugar. Let stand for 20-30 minutes. There should be around 1.5 cups of puree.
2. Pour mangoes, yogurt and milk into blender. Blend until completely smooth. I recommend going on your blender’s highest setting, because otherwise the mangoes can end up stringy, which is gross.
3. Pour into glasses and try not to drink all of them yourself.

{note – for an exotic and delicious twist, add a pinch of ground cardamom}

Prête à Etudier? I am now…

I am currently quite extremely busy studying away for exams, but I’m taking a study break to let you in on a little secret. Its name is spekuloos and it’s keeping me alive.

 

Spec-you-lohse. Just for the record, the dagoba hot chocolate behind it is aweful. Do not buy it. I won it, and I keep it on my shelf because it looks nice. But it has the texture of chalk, as does the actual chocolate they make. It is not good.

 

If you live within a million mile radius of New York, you need to make a pilgrimage to Wafels and Dinges, the best food truck in the universe. No exaggeration – A million miles, Best in the universe. The truck travels with their waffles and dinges (which I believe loosely translates to “thingies” but for our purposes means toppings) around the city every day, and they can be found by their twitter feed. If you can go, order a lièges Waffle, made with dough, not batter. But even if you can’t go, because you live more than a million miles away, you absolutely must try their spekuloos spread, which you can, and should, order from their website. It’s a spread with the texture of a less sticky peanut butter, but made with “de Belgian Gingerbread Cookies.” Essentially it tastes like gingerbread without the unnecessary extra spices. It’s so much better than peanut butter. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the next Nutella (remember, you heard it here first). It’s perfect on bread, crepes, matzah, bananas and waffles, and I spekulate (sorry) it would be a fantastic glue for a gingerbread house.

Some might say this is not helping me study for my impending French and Bio exams. But as I eat the above spekuloos with a spoon, my digestive system is breaking the sugars in it down into glucose monomers (yeah, that’s right), which are giving me energy through the rather complicated cell respiration system I’m about to memorize. And hey, they speak French in Belgium, right?

*”Prête à étudier” means “ready to study.” I’m practicing my prepositions and everything!

Archives
  • [+]2012
  • [+]2011
  • [+]2010
No Kid Hungry
my foodgawker gallery