Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bacardi Rum Cake with Royal icing and Color Flow Icing

The weather outside had been chilly, and I had been wanting to bake again. Since I had learned how to make flowers from royal icing, it made the task easier. Made a rum cake and frosted it with some of the flowers I made after I got back from vacation.
I made the glazed cake earlier, and frosted it smooth after it was cooled. Had made the flowers previously, and stored in an air-tight tuberware after drying. When the children went to bed, I did the basketweave frosting, the rope frosting, and added the flowers to the cake. Then I added green frosting for the leaves.
For Sandra, who had been asking for my rum cake recipe, here's it is, as promised!

BARCARDI RUM CAKE (tried and true recipe of Carroll Pellegrinelli)
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
1 18-1/2 ounce yellow cake mix
1 1-3/4 ounce instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Barcardi dark rum
1 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Barcardi dark rum

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 9-inch pans(used 2 oval pans in the picture). Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pans. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 mins. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle glaze over top of cake. Use brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.

Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Vacation Eats

We drove to Todos Santos to see the Hotel California that was immortalized by Eagles' song. Had a pleasant lunch there before heading to the beaches.

Went to the famous Cabo Wabo that's owned by the red rocker Sammy Hagar. Forgot to take pictures of our dinner, but it was tasty!

The 1 lb. Grilled Red Snapper was delicioso! The restaurant Mariscos Marzatlan was filled with locals and tourist alike, and the food were excellent!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Great Eats on Vacation

We had a wonderful time laying by the pool, splashing in the ocean, and eating out! Here are a few of the places we visited...

Ate at the Desperados Restaurant

Ate at El Pescador...

Monday, November 27, 2006

More Vacation Pictures

We rented a car, and drove up the coast to a couple of secluded beaches, Todo Santos, and La Paz.
The famous Hotel California where we had lunch. I only managed to get a picture of the shop next door to the hotel as we were driving away.

The beach of Los Cerritos facing the Pacific Ocean. We rented an umbrella there. Shared the beach with a couple of surfers and a guy fishing with his dog.

La Paz. There was a nice paved walkway along the shore, and they had an Applebees there. However, the wait staff didn't speak much English that day...
The arroyos (natural dry creek beds) which were filled with water during the hurricane season. We are glad that it's dry now! We drove by many arroyos along the highway...

An interesting sign on one of the side streets. It said 'Husband for Rent.' We didn't check it out though...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Short Vacation

We were away for a short trip south of the border, and have some pics to share...

Picture of Land's End from the beach

Vendors on the beach
The waves, and una mas margarita, por favor...
It was lovely, with waking up to the high 70's, walking on sun-baked sandy beaches, and listening to the waves every night...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tilapia en Papillote

Many years ago, on my first trip to Paris, I was shopping with my girlfriends on Champs-Élysées when we stumbled into one of the many trendy cafés. It was after 1pm, and the place was packed. I did not know if it was the joy of sitting down in a cozy chair after hours of walking, but we had a delightful meal, and our combined knowledge of the french language seemed to amuse our waitress. Maybe it's because we used 's'il vous plait' alot and she liked that. Anyway, I ordered a fish dish 'en papillote' and I devoured it! Since then, I have enjoyed cooking my white fish dressed with herbs and baked in a paper wrap. It keeps the fish very moist as it's steamed in the packet.
2 pieces of tilapia seasoned with salt and pepper
2 pieces of parchment paper, cut into a heart-shape
Julienned ginger
Juice of half a fresh Lemon
1 Tbs Butter, cut up
1 Garlic, minced
2 Scallions, sliced
1 Tbs light soy sauce (gives it a hint of smoky flavor)
1 Tsp Flat-leaved parsley
1 tsp Fresh Thyme
Splash of White wine

Heat the oven to 450. Place a layer of thinly sliced potatoes on the parchment. Add fish on top. Squeeze the lemon juice on the fish, follow by layering ginger, garlic, scallions, parsley, thyme, butter soy sauce, and a splash of white wine. Season with fresh ground pepper. Fold the parchment and seal all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 mins depending on the thickness of fish. Serves 2.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday Breakfast

Aha! It's Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when some of the shopping places opens as early as 5am to attract the holiday shoppers. We chose to stay in for breakfast before heading out. With all the leftover turkey dinner from yesterday, we had a fun time making meals today. Made a turkey benedict and cranberry samosa for breakfast, made broth out of the turkey carcus (I froze in ice cube trays for future soups and stir-frys), and made turkey wontons for dinner. Oh, and of course there were lots of turkey sandwiches too!
Making turkey broth from the turkey carcus with added vegetables like onions, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper.
The resulting broth.
Turkey soup for a cold day!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gobble Gobble!

On this day of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for our blessings, and for our family and friends around the world and here at home... Happy Thanksgiving to all!

We had a 12 lb. Red Bird Fresh Turkey from our neighborhood grocery store, and a 12 lb. Organic turkey from Whole Foods. One was roasted upside down, while the other was roasted the traditional right side up way. Both did not have stuffing inside to speed up the time of cooking. And both came out beautifully.
This was the organic turkey roasted breast-side up.

On a lighter note:
A girlfriend send me this cartoon, and I wanted to share it... Hope it got a smile out of you too!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stir-up Sunday

The dried fruit were soaked in Irish Whiskey for four days.
Everyone gets to stir up the pudding for good luck!

It's time for Christmas Pudding again, and many have started this process already. This Sunday, the weekend before Advent that is also known as 'stir-up Sunday', is the last chance to make this christmas pudding. I have started to 'plump' up the dried fruits three days ago, and am going to steam the pudding today. The family each gets to stir the pudding for good luck before it goes into the steamer for 7 hours. I am making my pudding with butter instead of suet or crisco, so I'm keeping my fingers' crossed that it will turn out okay! Will keep 'feeding' it till Christmas! Here's the recipe that I have adapted from Gourmet, with several changes of ingredients.

Christmas Pudding
Fruit Mixture (To be made 4 days ahead)
1 lb Thompson Seedless Raisins
1 lb Seedless Dried Cranberries from Wild Oats
1/2 lb Dried Apricots
1 orange grated and juiced
1 lemon grated and juiced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 c Irish Whiskey

Pudding Mixture
1/14 lb fresh bread crumbs
1 c scalded milk
1 c Guiness
10 eggs, beaten
1 c sugar
1 tsp salt
Irish Wiskey
Prepare the fruit mixture and keep it refridgerated for four days, stirring it daily.
Soak the bread crumbs in milk and Guinness. Combine the well-beaten eggs and sugar. Blend with the fruit mixture. Add salt and mix thoroughly. Put the pudding in buttered bowls or tins, filling them about 2/3 full. Cover with foil and tie it firmly. Steam for 7 hours. Uncover and place in a 250°F. oven for 30 minutes. Add a dash of cognac to each pudding, cover with foil and keep in a cool place.
To use, steam again for 2-3 hours and unmold. Sprinkle with sugar; add heated cognac. Ignite and bring to the table. Serve with hard sauce or cognac sauce.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Red Beans, Sausage and Rice

Was looking for a hearty meal for a cold weeknight, and I wanted to use the ham hock that sitting in the freezer. Since I didn't want to run to the store, and have most of the ingredients on hand, I adapted this recipe from Holly. It came out a tad salty on it's own, but went great with the rice.

1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 cup sliced Kielbasa sausage (or andouille)
1 small smoked ham hock
2 cans 365 kidney beans
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups cooked rice
3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

In a large pot over high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, sausage and ham hock and saute for 2 more minutes.
Add the beans and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in the Creole-style seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit, covered, for about 20 minutes. Discard the ham hock.
Serve with rice topped with green onions.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Salmon Ala Barbara

I remember a time when making friends and socializing was so easy. These days, my priority are my kids, and it's not so simple trying to schedule life around naps, playgroups, swimming, the frequent colds, teething, and 'off' days. Also with friends all over the country and the world, we tend to email or play phone-tag. So, I always send pictures of the children for the holidays (just like most parents, no?). And, it's always a blessing when our friends respond kindly.

A dear friend, Barbara returned an email to Hubs recently, and gave me this wonderfully simple recipe for salmon that is simple and tasty! This is what she wrote: "My latest really quick meal is to take a handful of coriander seeds, ground them, press a layer on or as the chef's say "crust" a couple pieces of salmon (coho or Atlantic best), add salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and saute in olive oil, on high, two minutes on a side covered. Can't beat it." Hip, Hip, Cheerio Barbara!

I made it without the cayenne pepper, and the children loved it with their steamed veggies and mashed potatoes! Thanks Barbara!

I always welcome any of your favorite recipes! :P

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pandan Chiffon Cake

One of the many tasty snacks I enjoyed while growing up, the pandan chiffon cake is moist, light, green, and fragrant with ingredients like pandan leaves and coconut milk. Many bakeries in Singapore and the neighboring countries sell it, and is a popular snack among locals. Pandan leaves, also known as screwpine leaves grow in abundance in tropical countries, but I have to resort to frozen ones or pandan paste over in this part of the world. Fortunately, there is a good pandan paste from Indonesia (the butterfly brand-Kopi) that is recommended by my asian friends here. So, I made this variation with my high altitude chiffon cake recipe. This is my first attempt at pandan chiffon cake ever!

Note: I substituted 1 tsp pandan paste in place of vanilla and used coconut milk in place of water. I also used a tube pan for this, and did not grease the pan.

I love this green cake!

So, what do you do when you have to cool your pandan chiffon cake upside down, the cake is taller in the center, and the beer bottle opening is too big for the tube pan??? For me, I looked for a long pair of chopsticks, stuck it into the bottle and it did the trick! :)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I used to love carrot cake. Then I OD on it when I was pregnant, and had stayed away from it for awhile. Now, the cravings back (and no, I'm not), and this time I shared with the family! Found this old recipe for carrot cake that I adapted from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and decided to try it again. This carrot cake recipe has no pineapple in it, and is pretty good. Here's the recipe:
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz. package cream cheese
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
2 tsp vanilla
6 c shifted powdered sugar
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Beat cream chese, butter, and vanilla till light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 c of powdered sugar, and beat till spreading consistency. Makes 4 cups.
Carrot Cake
4 beaten eggs
2 c whole wheat flour
2c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
3c shredded carrots
3/4c cooking oil
1 cup raisins, dusted with some flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 round cake pans. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda. In another bowl, mix eggs, carrots, and oil together. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir till combined. Stir in raisins. Pour into cake pans.
  2. Bake for 30 mins or until toothpick inserted to the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins. Remove pan, and cool thoroughly.
  3. Frost tops and sides with Cream Cheese Frosting, and sprinkle chopped pecans over frosting. I omitted the pecans.

Note: Keep cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

High Altitude Chiffon Cake

I love chiffon cakes. Any kind, any flavor(almost any). It's light, airy, and 'healthy' without butter, and is an excellent base for real buttercream frostings!
I have had several requests for the recipe to my last chiffon cake, and this guy from Hub's work tried to 'boost' it. So, I have decided to share it here. Had received this from a friend in Castle Rock, Colorado a while ago, and she had received it from a friend in the town of Taos, New Mexico. Though it's been wonderful to have this recipe, it's time to pass it on. Thanks A, for giving me this recipe. This is for you JPat, SY and JC. Enjoy!

2 1/2 c cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c canola cooking oil
4 egg yolks
3/4 c cold water
1 tsp vanilla
6 xlg egg whites, beaten with 1/2 tsp cream of tartar to stiff peaks.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the next four ingredients and mix on low speed. Fold in egg whites. Pour into 2 lined and greased 8 inch cake pans. Baked for 30 mins or until done.

Note: this is a basic, plain chiffon cake recipe for making layered, frosted cakes. Great with your favorite buttercream frosting. I welcome any feedback or suggestions!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Going Bananas!

Since I learned to bake, I have the pleasure of making a variety of quick and easy banana breads in my ever-evolving kitchens, mainly due to a frequent bunch of over-ripe bananas hanging on my banana stand that is urging me to make something out of them. From muffins, bread puddings, to fritters and cakes, we have enjoyed a plethora of aromatic banana bakes in our abode! So, why does my hunt for banana bread recipes still exists? Maybe it's my quest for the perfect banana bread for that moment... sometimes it's with chocolate chips, then other times it's with various nuts or dried fruit accompliments. I have studied recipes that included jello puddings(?) to honey, and have tried many recipes, some less memorable than others. And lately, I have swap ingredients to wholewheat flour, oats, and dried apricots to my banana breads. Yet I continue to venture into the wonderful world of web to look for more ideas and new techniques. Ahh, the hunt contines... Here's a recipe that suits the present craving... :

Banana Bread adapted from Todd's Banana Bread
Makes 2 loaves
1 stick butter, room temp.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup honey
4 eggs
6 ripe bananas, mashed
Sift the following 3 ingredients together:
3 cups wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Add these last:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup quick cooking oats

In mixter, blend the first three ingredients (butter, sugar, and honey). Add eggs and bananas and mix. Put the dry ingredients (next 3) together and add flour mixture into bowl and beat till mixed together. Fold in nuts and oats. Pour into loaf pans, and bake for 50-60 mins, or until done.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Easy Fruit Torte

This is a quick and easy recipe from To Elegant but Easy, and I have come across several reference of this recipes on the web... You can use any dried fruit, and I chose prunes because it's a great way to get little ones to eat prunes.

Prune Torte
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 c unbeached flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
pinch of salt
Prunes, sliced in halves
2 tsp cinnmon mixed with 2 Tbs sugar

Preheat oven at 350. Cream butter and sugar. Add flour, baking powder, eggs, salt and mix well. Spoon batter into ungreased 9 inch springform pan. Cover top with fruit. Sprinker cinnamon mixture over the top. Bake for 40-50 mins, or until done. Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shells and Garbanzo

Had to make a vegetarian dish in a dash tonight, and adapted this recipe from J.

2 cups shell-shaped pasta
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (25 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 ounce) can Muir whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
2 Tbs tomato puree mixed with a dash of fish sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Stir into pasta and add garbanzo beans, tomatoes and juice, tomato puree, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Heat through, adjust seasonings and serve.