Demand-a-Dish: Special Dinner Guest Edition!

Hola amigos!  So, some very kind and culinarily-skilled friends have invited the entirety of Clan SFL over for dinner this weekend.  I offered to bring dessert with the condition that precisely WHAT dessert I bring shall be the subject of this week’s Demand-A-Dish.  So, with some modified input from my friends, I present this week’s poll – vote away, mateys, and determine the gustatory fate of my gracious hosts…

Why Can’t You Be More Like Kevin?

So, one glorious fall day a year or so ago, Mr. SFL and I were taking a kid-free ride in the car.  There was a minivan in front of us, the rear window of which was asymmetrically decorated with those booster decals.  You know, the thing with a baseball, or a megaphone, or a flute and their kid’s name? I really don’t understand why people think these are a good idea. Lecher Pervypants:  ‘Hey Tyffany – your mom asked me to come and pick you up from cheerleading practice.  The Lexis broke down and she had to take it to the shop.’ Sigh. I just don’t get it. I mean, I understand that parents want to trumpet the accomplishments of their kids, but what happened to the fine tradition of the braggy holiday newsletter? I know my parents had those awful oversized booster buttons with pictures of a young SFL doing whatever it is I did, but they would have never plastered my face or my name on THEIR CAR.  

Also, I don’t like how only certain activities get praised. It seems like judgment by omission. Kids are doing things WAY cooler than sports – why aren’t their parents honoring them via vehicular homage? What about a skateboard? Where is the 21 sided-die for the proud parent of a D&D kid?  An eyeliner tube to symbolize your love for emo-lovin’ Junior?  Maybe just a limp sock for your son who is in a period of self-discovery?  

 

KEVIN!

KEVIN!

 

 

But I digress…

So, Mr. SFL and I pull up alongside the decal-laden minivan.  As I note previously, they were asymmetrically arranged, with just one decal on the left side and four or five on the right.  Which bothers me on a fundamental level.  If you are going to ‘decorate’ your vehicle, do it with an eye to the visually pleasing.  But as we get closer, I realize that there is a method to the decal madness.  On the right side, a multitude of various symbols proclaim the athletic prowess of one “Kevin.”  Young Kevin, it appears, is quite the polymath – baseball, basketball, football, track – a real year-rounder.  Contrast this with left side of the minivan, where we have but one sad lonely baseball decal for some lazy shit named Cody.  It seems Cody doesn’t try hard enough.  Cody seems to think that he only needs to get off his ass one season a year.  

Well, we finally pass the minivan and I can see it is being driven by an older female – Mom.  Mom is in the process of vigorously chastising the scowling and slouching sluggard in the passenger seat.  And I don’t blame her, as I know instantly that this is Cody – I can tell by the smirk on his face. I don’t need to hear them to know that Cody has been pulling the same old routine, slacking off, playing video games when he should be studying, talking to that slutty cheerleader, Tyffany, at all hours of the night.  Well, I don’t know about his Mom, but I have had about enough of this – Cody needs to get his shit together and soon.  Doesn’t he realize how much his Mom worries about him?  Can’t he see how he is tearing this family apart?

Cody, you bastard, why can’t you be more like Kevin?

 

Leave the Gun, Take the Cake

Okay, so I committed some totally gross negligence the other day and forgot to post my carrot cake recipe.  And yes, it is one of mine.  Normally  I wouldn’t post a beta recipe, but this one was really good and I don’t think I will be tweaking it.  You may tweak it however the hell you want, but in doing so you will lose some of its perfect essences.  Some random tips and comments to start – I let the butter and cream cheese get all the way to room temp before I do anything with them.  Also, I made this as a cake with 2 layers.  You could probably stretch and get three if you feel compelled to do so.  I would recalc the measurements and increase the batter calls by 1/2.   Except I would use 5 rather than 6 eggs.  But that is just me.  You may feel daring enough to make a 6 egg cake and then try to layer it.  Rock on.  Also, I don’t use cake bands.  Mainly because I have a life that is already riddled with crazy – I don’t need anymore.  So, recipe…

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Cake Batter-

 

2 cups AP flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom 

1 cup unsalted butter 

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs

3 cups peeled and grated carrots

1 1/3 cups chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

grated nutmeg (I don’t know how much, just grate some in there)

 

Frosting

 

16 oz cream cheese (use the real stuff; there is no such thing as ‘fat free’ cream cheese)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup REAL maple syrup

 

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter and flour 2 9 inch round pans.  You can line it with parchment if it makes you feel fancy.  In one bowl, mix flour, soda, salt, and dry spices ‘til thoroughly combined.  In mixing bowl, beat butter, then cream in sugars ‘til light and fluffy.  Add oil, then vanilla.  Still beating, add eggs one at a time.  Keep beating ‘til light and fluffy again.  Add ALL the dry mix and slowly stir until it is all incorporated.  Add grated ginger and nutmeg and beat for a minute or so.  Add carrots and nuts and beat ‘til combined.  Divide batter into the two pans and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until pick stabbed in center comes out clean.  I know this is hard for people with poor impulse control, but LET THE CAKES COOL COMPLETELY before you turn them out of the pans.  Wait at LEAST an hour before frosting.

 

Make your frosting – beat cream cheese and butter until – yeah, you guessed it – light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and beat ‘til combined.  Add syrup and beat on medium until frosting is creamy.  Stick bowl in fridge and let it cool for a while – it is much easier to frost the cake when the frosting isn’t runny.

 

Cut a huge wedge and eat the hell out of it.  Don’t even bother with a fork.  Just use your hands.  

 

Yummmmmm...

Yummmmmm...

Carrot Cake is Good

So, I FINALLY got around to making my own birthday cake – this week’s Demand-A-Dish winner, the Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.

Behold the batter:

 

Carrot Cake Batter

Carrot Cake Batter

 The cakes a’ coolin:

 

carrot cakes

carrot cakes

The pristine finished product:

 

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

 Cake as enjoyed by me:

 

Mmmmmm....carrot cake

Mmmmmm....carrot cake

Community Activists: They Are Coming FOR YOU!!!

Yikeys!  I had NO idea what Obama was up to until I saw this website. The brilliant minds behind this site are bravely letting their voices be heard and risking being silenced by the ObamaNation to let you know (presumably because Glenn Beck told them to) that Obama is planning to arm his liberal supporters and turn them into an SS-esque military group.  

I am totally scared, y’all.  I don’t think we can pretend any longer that “community activists”  are not the largest threat to our way of life.  Right now, Obama is plotting to take away all our guns and give them to those overeducated peaceloving Phriends in Teach for America.  First they will try to educate us – THEN they will KILL us!  And ACORN is actually behind their own “demise” – trying to trick us into believing that they are being unfairly targeted and shortsightedly disbanded, when in reality they are all about to undergo costly “Face-Off” medical procedures (at taxpayer expense) so that they can be reborn as “real” Americans and infiltrate the teabagger festivities.   Also – I hear that all those hairy-armpit chicks in AmericaCorps are receiving ninja training akin to that in the Kill Bill movies.  In fact, I would not be surprised to discover that Tarentino, being an ardent supporter of the the nazi-socialist agendas of education and art, is a secret CZAR and is training thousands of treehugging hippies in the art of iaido right now.  

Hold me.

 

Ride of the Czars

Ride of the Czars

Demand-A-Dish – Special Birthday Cake Edition

Happy Birthday Y’all!  I had many wonderful suggestions for my birthday cake.  Here is the poll – VOTE and tell me what cake to bake!

I Wanna Be the Girl with the Most Cake

Someone just asked me what birthday cake I would make for myself.  And of course, my immediate reaction was “Let the people vote!”  Seriously, I don’t really know what my ideal birthday cake is.  There are just cakes I love to bake.  For example,there are cakes that I love to make for other people on their birthday:

Raspberry Mocha Cake

Raspberry Mocha Cake

Cupcakes I made for my wedding:

 

Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake

 

And various kids’ cakes:

 

lego cake

lego cake

 But for my OWN birthday, I would like to bake something fun and tasty.  Or fancy and elegant.  Something challenging, but rewarding.  So, what cake do YOU all think I should bake?  Comment away!

Fix me a PLATE – Italian BLT Pizza

I am toying with the notion, suggested by one of my brothers, of having a weekly post that offers tips and recipes for, as he put it, ‘dudes who love bacon.’  Of course, it won’t be just restricted to dudes.  But I do like the idea of having a weekly post that features an easy-to-make dish (not to insinuate that dudes can’t cook – of course they can – I just mean something easy because it is the middle of the freaking week and something easy would be nice) or something unusual or creative.  Or just bacon-tastic.  SO…  With that in mind, what follows is one my my favorite dishes.  My version of an italian BLT pizza.  You can use a pre-made crust or dough, but I have included my recipe for pizza dough if you want to go all out.  Pizza crust is actually a snap to make and SO much cheaper when you make it from scratch.  Anywhats, if you have any questions, put them in the Comments.  Also, if you can think of a good snappy sarcastic name for this new blog feature, Comment that as well.  I don’t have a picture of the BLT pizza, so enjoy one of my vegetarian BBQ chicken pizza for now:

 

Pizza...

Pizza...

 

ITALIAN BLT PIZZA

 

CRUST:

2 cups and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, plus extra as needed

1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus extra to taste

2 teaspoons dry active yeast 

Fresh ground pepper

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 – 2 tablespoons semolina flour

 

TOPPING:

1 small onion, julienned 

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of decent balsamic vinegar

4 oz chevre

4 oz pancetta, diced

2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin

2 heads belgian endive, finely chopped width-wise

1 – 2 sprigs fresh basil, rinsed, dried, de-stemmed, and chopped.

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

 

This takes about 30 minutes to assemble and 30 to bake; assembly and pre-bake times can overlap to shorten the total time needed.  Use a pizza or baking stone for best results.  This dough will make thin and crispy crust with a 16” diameter circle or a 14” x 14” square crust. 

 

CRUST:

 

Place stone on lowest rack and preheat oven to 475°.  Using a fork, stir flour, yeast, salt, and pepper in large bowl ‘til combined.  Add olive oil and warm water and stir ‘til combined.  Briskly stir with fork for an additional minute.  Dough will be wet and very sticky to handle.  Sprinkle extra flour on hands and dough and form dough into a ball and set in bowl.  Sprinkle dough with flour and turn over in bowl; sprinkle with more flour.  Cover bowl with towel and let rest for 10 minutes.  Working quickly, pull heated stone from oven and sprinkle with semolina flour.  Rub flour on hands and pat the dough flat and place on center of stone.  Stretch the dough into your pizza shape as best you can without creating holes.  You may use a rolling pin, though this isn’t necessary.  Using your fingertips, poke pizza all over so that it is dimpled but do not break through or form holes.  Drizzle with olive oil and spread so that the crust is lightly oiled all over.  Sprinkle with salt.  Return the stone and dough to the lowest rack and pre-bake the crust for 12 minutes or until top begins to show golden-brown areas.

 

TOPPING:

 

In small skillet, fry the pancetta until crispy.  Remove the pancetta from the pan and place on a towel to drain off the excess grease. Without removing any remaining pancetta bits and grease from the skillet, add the julienned onions and butter to the skillet and saute.  Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and saute until onions are translucent and softened and “carmelized.”  Remove from heat and set aside.  Microwave chevre for 25 seconds on high to soften.

 

When crust is finished prebaking, remove it from the oven.  Spread softened chevre all over the crust.  Using a spatula, spread the onions and their sauce evenly over the chevre.  Spread the pancetta evenly over the chevre and onion mix.  Place sliced roma tomatoes evenly over the top of the pancetta.  Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the crust is as brown as you like.  Remove from oven and sprinkle sliced endive evenly over the pizza, then top with the chopped basil, then salt and pepper to taste.  Slice and enjoy!

 

Coq of the Walk

Okay, okay, so I know this post is seriously delayed, but let me tell you folks – making coq au vin is a many-day adventure.   So, I went with the traditional (read: pain in the ass) method, save that I opted to use a ‘poule’ rather than a ‘coq.’  That is all they had at the Earth Fairer.  A quick aside, if you are going to have poultry, I heartily recommend spending a few extra dollars and going to EF or similar fancy rich hippie store.  We aren’t rich hippies; we also don’t eat meat every meal.  I would rather be flexi and frugal and go for the good stuff when we go carni.  EF’s chicken is totally worth the extra $ or two; it is local and normal and tastes like freaking chicken.  NB, though, that it will suck up marinade because, unlike supermarket chicken, it is not pumped full of shit, and may actually be Chickie Nobs.  

Anyhoodle, I used an old Bon Appetit recipe as my guide.  Saturday I made my prep and grocery lists and hit the market.  

Early Sunday morning, I set the mis and started the prep work.  Yes, I used a Cali Pinot because, as noted above I am not a rich hippie and this bottle, although unfortunately named, did the trick nicely:

 

mis - coq au vin

mis - coq au vin

 

The mirepoix:

 

mirepoix

mirepoix

 

Next, marinade:

 

Coq au Vin, somewhere in the middle...

Coq au Vin, somewhere in the middle...

 

 

Then, several days and about a million steps later, the end result:

 

Voila le Coq au Vin!

Voila le Coq au Vin!

Special thanks to my wonderful family members who were lovely guinea pigs.  The coq (yeah, poule, I know) was very tasty.  You could almost taste each of the painstaking 5,684 steps in every bite.  Every last bit of chicken was eaten and we still had room for my S-I-L’s delicious raspberry and plum strudel.  All in all, I would rank this as a Demand-A-Dish success.

And the Winner is…

…COQ AU VIN!  

Yo, Coq au vin – I’m real happy for you, and I’m going to let you finish, BUT [insert your comment here]

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