here and there

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Barbie Doll Cake


Buttercream Frosting was made for the cake that was baked in my Bundt pan


It's been a while since I have made buttercream icing and I remembered how after all the fall birthdays and making this icing for all the birthdays, I couldn't look at icing until the next set of birthdays in the fall.

The amount of fat and sugar that goes into this frosting is mind blogging, 4 cups of sugar and 1 cup of fat.

4 c icing sugar
1 c shortening or butter or a combination of both
2 T milk

Beat the shortening until fluffy
add the milk
slowly add the icing sugar and beat after each addition
add 1 tsp vanilla








Since there was an Irish theme, I decided to do a poke cake using green lime in the white cake.  My husband heard one of the kids saying "I don't eat green jello!"





I started by decorating the cake with white icing





Red Wiltons food dye was added to the white frosting until a shade of pink was made










 I can tell you that I was pleased that I did not have to make more icing.. the amount made easily covered the bundt cake, a small cupcake and Barbie's bodice.








Sparkers  always made a Birthday cake look more festive!



















Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sweet Potato Cake



The inspiration for this recipe is the Korean Sweet Potato Cake that is so popular at Korean celebrations. A sponge cake is layered with sweet potato cream filling. The sweet potato is cooked, mashed and added to the whipped cream. Cooked sweet potato  can also be added to the batter. This cake is not a favourite of mine nor my son.

I have wanted to make a sweet potato cake for some time and decided that I would for my grandchild's birthday as only her grandparents were coming for supper. The birthday party had been cancelled due to rain weather.




I was pleasantly surprised with the texture and the flavor of the cake.  The cake tasted very much like a carrot cake but seemed heavier in weight, although still moist and light.  In fact, my grandchild's grandfather instead it was a carrot cake and not a sweet potato cake.. Well in a way he was correct as it definitely was not a Korean Sweet Potato cake!

Most of the cakes I looked at on the web, cooked the sweet potato first and then added it into the batter at the end, much like a pumpkin cake.   I used a carrot cake recipe that I had made before. 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 3 cups grated sweet potato
  • Walnuts would be nice to add.
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Prepare a springform pan or  9x 13 pan
  • Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl
  • Mix wet ingredients in another bowl
  • Add dry to wet gradually, stir to incorporated everything
  • Stir in grated sweet potato 
  • Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until golden brown 
A cream cheese frosting was used to cover the cake


  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 T soften butter
  • 3 -4 c of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Mix ingredients well.  Frost the cake when cool. 




Since this was a birthday cake, I added mini bear cookies around the edge of the cake. This pleased my grandchild, as she ate only the frosting and the cookies.. then quietly asked me if I still was making her Barbie Doll Cake that I had been promising her for her party.  





This last picture is the funniest as her little sister who is 18 months, really wanted to be included in the photo! 

















Thursday, May 19, 2016

Garlicky Shrimp Onigirazu

Some times, I become very excited with all the possibilities of a recipe I come across and explore on other sites.  Onigirazu is just that recipe, easy to make, great for leftovers delicious and beautiful to look at!  

This week, I have been experimenting with a street food that has become popular In Japan in the last couple of years.  Just One Cookbook writes about it's interesting evolving history.  It is like a rice ball or onigiri but more like a sandwich which was first introduced in a cartoon twenty five years ago by the main character who loved to cook for his family.  






The recipe is very versatile as the fillings are endless.  With a little practice the small packages are easy to assemble and can be a complete meal.  Perfect for lunch!

The frist Onigrazu I made was not wrapped tight enough and I did have difficulty cutting the plastic wraping, a sharp knife is best

The ingredients I used were similar to the square Smoked Salmon Sushi that I make as an appetizer for a group.  

Garlicky Shrimp Onigirazu
for one



3 medium shrimp
1/2 carrot, grated
1-2 leaves of Romaine lettuce
3" piece Cucumber 
1 sheet of Nori
sliced avocado
2/3 - 1 c of cooked rice
Mayo
Hot sauce


  • Prepare the vegetables; I did add chopped green onions and cilantro.
  • The shrimp was sautéed in Olive oil and butter.  When the shrimp is pink, grate fresh garlic over the shrimp, cook for a minute more.
  • Place the sheet of Nori on a piece of saran wrap, a bit bigger than the sheet of Nori.
  • Layer in the centre of the Nori half of the rice
  • Add hot sauce, layer of shrimp, layer each of the vegetables, a squeeze of mayo on the lettuce, ended with the rest of the rice.

  • You should have a small package of the filling in the centre of the seaweed wrapper. 
  • Bring each end of the Nori to the centre, I did add a dab of lime juice to stick the ends of the Nori.
  • Then using the Saran wrap, bring the plastic tightly to form a small package 

  • Let rest in the refrig before slicing in half.  Leaving the plastic on as it makes for easier eating. 
  • Enjoy!   

I have just come across Kikkomaan Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce and it is dynamite.  Great flavor and heat!  





Solo eating is so much better at home!



Looks like I needed to pack the filling a little better, but still awesome tasting!




Take Two

The same ingredients were used this time but in place of shrimp, I used a fillet of smoked fish




The results were also delicious and I think the appearance of this Onigirazu is much better!




This sandwich tasted awesome with a cup of Green Tea with Roasted Rice.  

In making this recipe, I was thinking of my Cousin's wife in Southern Manitoba who has just developed a taste for Sushi. I will be checking to see what she thinks of this recipe!











Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Forest Fondue with Mushrooms

The best recipes are those that are handed down through generations.  This past Saturday, I was privileged to watch a family recipe being prepared for us.  The recipe was our friend's Mom who lives in the Jura area, the French part of Switzerland that my husband and I have visited in our travels to Switzerland. 

Fondues were so popular in the seventies.  My first fondue and one I have never forgotten  was prepared by a coworker's husband who was Austrian. This recipe was also his mom's recipe.  This Classic Cheese Fondue has become the gauge to meet when making this dish.  The table was beautifully set as we sat around a pot filled with bubbling cheese and enjoyed the leisurely pace on a cold Manitoba winter night.  Kirsch, a cherry brandy had been used to thin the cheese mixture when it became too thick.   At the end, as the cheese start to stick to the pot, a raw egg was dropped into the to and stirred quickly to remove the crust. 

The Fondue that was prepared this weekend was called a Forest Fondue.  The Fondue had shallots, mushrooms and parsley mixed into the cheese. The mushroom added an earthly layer to the creamy cheese.  



Although fondues seem to be in and out of fashion, fondues in Switzerland are timeless.

The steps in making this Forest Fondue are very similar to the Classic Cheese Fondue



Three shallots were chopped and sautéed in butter until soften. 


The cheese had been grated before starting the Fondue.  150 grams of cheese were calculated per person.   An interesting point was that 250 gms of cheese per person are calculated in Switzerland.  Gruyere Cheese and Emmental Cheese were used for the fondue.  There was some discussion that the flavors were more intense in Jura as the cheese used by his Mom is more aged than what he can find in Canada. 


Mushrooms had also been cleaned and sliced before beginning.   Once the shallots were soften, mushroom were added to the pot and sautéed until soften.  A tsp of Dijon Mustard was added to the mixture.


I imagine that this recipe first originated with the use of wild mushroom picked in the Jura area.


Wine was added and brought to a warm simmer on Medium heat.  Cheese was gradually added to the mushroom mixture and stirred until incorporated. 


More cheese was added and again mixed.  Great care was taken in watching the temperature of the fondue and consistency of the mixture while stirring constantly as he went along.  



A dusting of cornstarch was added to the top of the cheese and mixed into the cheese mixture.  A step that his Mom always did!



This skill and method of preparation of the Classic Fondue has been passed from generation to generation resulting in a silky bubbling cheese dish. 



Kirsch with cornstarch mixed into the brandy was slowly added and mixed into the warm mixture. 




Chopped parsley was added at the end into the mixture. 




Another beautiful setting prepared for this Forest fondue.







Yes, all the mushrooms were near the bottom and were easier to scoop up as cheese mixture was used up!  

As with the very first Fondue, this evening was filled with leisurely eating and good conservation.   Maybe it is because this recipe has also been tested many times before being passed down, this Forest Fondue did not disappoint.  To me watching my friend prepare his Mom's recipe so carefully and lovingly was the best part, his Mom would be so proud! 



Although our friend stated that the amounts varied per recipe, there was a lot attention to detail in making his Mom's dish..   I did find a recipe very similar to his Mom's recipe but without Parsley and Dijon Mustard.  This recipe uses Comte Cheese which is also a Swiss cheese
Comté Cheese and Mushroom Fondue Recipe and Wine Pairing at Wine4.Me/blog

By Mary Cressler

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces mixed mushrooms (I like a combination of crimini and shitake, but use your favorites), roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • ½ pound Comté cheese, shredded
  • ½ pound Emmental cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Bring a medium size heavy pot to medium heat. Add butter then mushrooms. Sauté for 6 - 10 minutes to soften. Remove mushrooms from pot and set aside.
  2. Rub the inside of the pot well with garlic and then discard the garlic. Add wine and bring to a simmer (but not a boil!).
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and Kirsch then add into the wine.
  4. Gradually add the cheeses and stir together until the cheese is melted and creamy (around 5 minutes). You’ll know it’s done when you can dip a wooden spoon into the mixture and it coats the spoon.
  5. Add the mushrooms back to the pot and stir to combine.
    1. Transfer the warm mixture to a fondue pot set over a small flame. You will want to continue stirring periodically while over the flame. Serve with bread cubes, vegetable slices, apple slices, or roasted potatoes.
    Notes
    The cornstarch is not used as a thickener here but instead is used to prevent the cheese from separating. If the cheese mixture begins to get too thick or hard, add about a tablespoon of additional wine at a time and stir. Add more if necessary. If it’s too thin, add more shredded cheese a little at a time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Moroccan Couscous with Cranberry and Turmeric




Yesterday, I picked up a free magazine "Sage, Natural living for You and Family" at our Supermarket. In the May edition in the section called Your Food, it featured Moroccan Food.  

In the article, spices are credited for many health benifits from antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and in improving digestion, not to mention the flavor and scent of spices give the dish pizzazz!



The recipe I chose is quick and easy to make.  Since I had Couscous and am trying to purge my cupboards, an on going battle, I used couscous.  Couscous is traditional made from wheat.  

The recipe calls for Millet an ancient grain with similar protein structure to wheat but is a non gluten grain.  I was eager to try this grain until I read the warning about eating too much of the grain.  Although Millet does not contain gluten, it contains goitrogens which in fact suppress thyroid activities and can lead to goitre or Hypothyroidism.   This article talks about protecting one's thyroid at all cost and avoid regular consumption of food that may harm us given the overall current environment stress on body.  In this case Millet. 

So couscous it is! Not sure I want to start using Millet just yet.




Moroccan Couscous with Cranberry and Turmeric

I c couscous
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
handful of dried Cranberry
handful of chopped Cilantro

In a sauce pan, add 2 c water to the couscous, salt and turmeric.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the couscous absorbs all the water. Add cranberries, fluff with fork. Add chopped cilantro. 

The recipe called for currents but cranberries added color and taste.  Chopped nuts and green onions would also be nice

I served this with roasted chicken breast and a Greek Salad!.