Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Best Yellow Layer Cake

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Cooking note: Be sure that your sour cream is at room temperature before you make the frosting. Using cold sour cream will result in the chocolate seizing a little, leaving little bits (like chocolate chips!) throughout the frosting.

Makes 5 cups of frosting, or enough to frost and fill a two layer 9-inch cake

15 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 to 1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double-boiler or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave for 30 seconds, stirring well, and then heating in 15 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted.) Remove from heat and let chocolate cool until tepid.

Whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup and vanilla extract until combined. Add the tepid chocolate slowly and stir quickly until the mixture is uniform. Taste for sweetness, and if needed, add additional corn syrup in one tablespoon increments until desired level of sweetness is achieved.

Let cool in the refrigerator until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Should the frosting become too thick or stiff, just leave it out until it softens again. However, I found that the frosting didn't seem to thicken up very well at all and was more runny than I expected.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gullivers Corn

This is another MUST HAVE for my Thanksgiving and Christmas feast. A family favorite. If all you know of creamed corn is the gross canned kind, give this a try. It is AMAZING. I promise everyone will ask for it every holiday. Believe me. When I show up to a celebration people are looking at me to make sure I've got this in tow. ;)

20 ounces frozen corn
8 ounces whipping cream
4 ounces whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch of white pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT butter and flour in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn to low and simmer for 5 minutes. In another (small) pot, melt butter and add flour. Add butter/flour mixture to corn and mix well. Remove from heat and serve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grandma Paul's Yams

This is the most delicious recipe for doing your Thanksgiving Yams or Sweet Potatoes or whatever you prefer. Me? I prefer yams for their color...and I think that the color means that they are better for you. As for the way it tastes, you can't go wrong with either.

For this recipe there are two parts. There's the potato part which ultimately ends up with mashed potatoes. The second part is the candied pecan topping. This is what really makes the dish deliciousness.

I have to give the credit to my Grandma Paul for this one. She makes it every year and I can't celebrate a Thanksgiving or Christmas without it! I'm pretty sure my sisters feel the same! And since it's Thanksgiving I'd like to give my 'Thanks' to my handsome hubby and darling children. Everything else pales in comparison to them.

I ask that you read the entire recipe through before you begin. There are two parts here so you need to make sure you have ALL of the ingredients.

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.

The yam/sweet potato mixture:
2 lbs yams or sweet potatoes
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

The pecan topping:
8 ounces (1 cup) chopped pecans
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter

Peel sweet potatoes or yams and cut into 1 inch cubes. Put the sweet potatoes or yams in a stockpot of water until it comes to a boil. When it comes to a boil turn it to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, mash and let stand for 15 minutes.

Combine yams/potatoes with the brown sugar, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla until smooth. Spread into an 8 X 8 baking dish.

In a separate bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar flour and butter. Spread over the top of the yams/potatoes.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cranberry Pudding Cake

1 c sugar
2 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 c evaporated milk
Pinch of salt
3 TBS melted butter or margarine

Mix & add 2 cups washed cranberries.
Place in 9x13 pan.
Cook @ 350’ until light brown.
Test w toothpick.
Remove from oven and cool.

1 c sugar
½ c evaporated milk
½ c butter
1 tsp vanilla
Place all ingredients in sauce pan, boil. Remove when it starts boiling.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grandma's Brisket Recipe

Brown Sugar
2 PK Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix
2 Bottles Heinz Chili Sauce
1 onion, sliced

First rub a little brown sugar on the brisket.
Cover the brisket with 1 packet of onion soup mix.
Cover it with one bottle of chili sauce.
Layer on about half of the sliced onion.
Sprinkle the 2nd packet of onion soup mix over top.
Cover it with the 2nd bottle of chili sauce.
Layer on the sliced onions.
(you have 2 layers of the same stuff happening here)

Cook in a crock pot on low for approximately 6 hours. I believe you can also cook it in the oven around 300' for 6 hours, make sure it is covered but I really like making it in the crock pot. It never dries out that way.

Note: The sauce makes for excellent gravy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

I've been on a bit of a squash kick lately... Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque, Stuffed Acorn Squash and Wild Rice, Zucchini Spuma, Parmesan Spaghetti Squash, and the list goes on. I guess that's just what happens as the leaves change colors and the weather starts turning colder.
Well during this spree, I have discovered what may well be my favorite new squash recipe, featuring the Italian squash.... Zucchini!

Now, this is not a dessert, so don't let the words "zucchini" and "cheesecake" in the title gross you out. This is seriously amazing! Ben and I made this recently with some friends, served with Sage Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions and a yummy salad and it was a big hit. I found the recipe on the 101 cookbooks website and, due to lack of ingredients when I decided to make it, improvised a little bit. I am, however, giving you the original recipe.
Bon Appetit!

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

To shred the zucchini use a box grater - most micro planes are too fine, you want shredded zucchini, not mush. Feel free to play around with the "add-in" ingredients - for example, use whatever chopped herbs you like. I had dill on hand, and I like how it tastes with summer squash, so dill it was. I suspect anything from chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or chives, to spices, chopped spinach, or corn could work here. Also, when I have the time and inclination I'll drain the ricotta through cheesecloth to get even more moisture out of the cake, but to be honest, most times I won't bother. Lastly, I use a springform pan here, but you could use an equivalent baking dish or deep tart pan as well.

2 cups zucchini, unpeeled & grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 325F degrees, racks the middle. Butter/oil a 7-inch springform pan.

In a strainer, toss the shredded zucchini with the salt and let sit for ten minutes. Now aggressively squeeze and press out as much moisture as you can. Set aside.

In the meantime, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and continue mixing until well combined. Now stir in the shredded zucchini. Fill the springform pan with the ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for sixty minutes. If there is any moisture left on top of the cake at this point, carefully use a bit of paper towel to dab it off. Now sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20 -30 minutes or until the goat cheese is melted and the cake barely jiggles in the center (it will set up more as it cools).

At this point, if the cake is baked and set, but the top isn't quite golden, I'll zap it with the broiler (just about a minute) to get a bit more color on top. Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes, then release the cake from its pan. Cool completely, serve at room temperature drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Serves 8.

Benihana's Salad Dressing

Yum, I love Benihana's Ginger salad dressing. So Greg’s been ordering Benihana's when he stays late at work, and I'm obsessed with the salad dressing its so good.
So I went online and found this recipe that claims to be from the restaurant, and well it’s pretty darn good. Let me know what you think.

Benihana’s ginger Salad

3/4 cup Chopped onion
3/4 cup Peanut oil
6 tablespoons Rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons Water
3 tablespoons Fresh chopped ginger root
3 tablespoons Chopped celery
3 tablespoons Soy sauce
4 1/2 teaspoon Tomato paste
4 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
4 teaspoons Lemon juice salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until very smooth. Makes enough to fill a tupperware squeeze bottle. Refridgerate. Note...I found the 3 Tablespoons of fresh ginger root to be a little hot, so you might try using the chopped ginger in a jar because it is a little milder than the fresh. Also, you can add a little more soy sauce if you would like! It has the best flavor after it has been refrigerated a day or two.