Thursday, May 21, 2009

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Once again the internet had a very timely idea-- Tuesday's NY Times Dining Section had a recipe for Watermelon or Canteloupe Agua Fresca and there was most of a watermelon simply languishing in the fridge. In my usual fashion I proceeded to throw the recommended proportions out the proverbial window, and this is what resulted:

Mom gave it a "Lovely!" on presentation and a "Delicious!" on taste.

(Oh, by the way, I'm not in Carrboro-- I'm recovering from wisdom teeth removal. Hence the yellow-house backdrop here.)

In a large blender (or multiple batches), combine:
7 cups of diced watermelon
2 cups water
1 T. granulated fructose (or about 1.5 T. sugar)
2 T. lime juice

Blend until smooth. Strain into a large pitcher to remove seeds. (I think the NY Times people used a finer strainer than I did, but I like the pulp-- suit yourself.) Sample and adjust lime and sugar. Refrigerate. Stir before pouring, as the pulp rises to the top. Garnish glasses with a sprig of mint.

Optionally, experiment with adding rum, and let me know how it goes!

Enjoy a glass on a lazy summer afternoon for a break from those tiresome mint juleps. :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ooie-Gooie Vegan Chocolate Stout Cake?!?

Yes you read the title right. This cake is not only chocolaty but also just happens to be vegan and contain beer. The beer is the secret to the oh so wonderful ooie-gooie factor. This has very quickly become my favorite chocolate cake recipe. It's easy, fun, involves some interesting chemistry (my favorite part) and it's unlike any cake I've ever tasted. It's incredibly moist and rich and the beer really only serves to enhance the chocolate flavor. There is a certain element of experimentation with this recipe, I think the flavor could be greatly changed depending on the kind of beer you used. I would love to make one with a Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout but honestly it'd be a waist of a really good stout, I think you are better off just drinking that one ;) Enough chit chat, lets get down to business shall we?

Recipe(makes two 9'' round cakes, three 8'' round cakes, one 9x13 pan or more cupcakes than I care to count)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose or pastry flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used dutch process but regular is fine too)
1 tsp. salt
One 12-oz. of any stout of your choosing

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. In a separate, larger bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt.
4. With a spoon, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour oil mixture into the well. Fold together with spatula until just combined. Pour the beer and water over the mixture. Beat well with an electric mixer on low speed. The batter will be very runny, don't worry, it's supposed to be.
5. Fill desired cake pan almost completely to the top. These cakes don't rise hardly at all so you can fill the cake pans quite full. Two round cake pans take about 45mins to bake but the rule of cake applies as always, stick a toothpick in it and take the cake out when it comes out clean.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Preciously Perfect Pound Cake!

As we all know it's strawberry season and in my humble opinion, good strawberries require good pound cake. And really, on the last day of exams, what could be better?

Now as far as cakes go, pound cake is one of the easiest, it doesn't even have to be frosted, just topped with fresh whipped cream. The following is the recipe I used, sorry there aren't more pictures, it was just too tasty not to break into right out of the oven!

One cake requires:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (cake flour works too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract

1.Do not preheat oven! This cake goes into a cold oven because it needs to come to temperature gradually or it doesn't cook evenly.

2.Oil and flour a 9 inch bread pan.

3. Mix flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

4.Mix cream, vanilla and almond extract together and set aside.

5.In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

6.Add eggs and yolk one at a time, fully incorporating one before adding the next.

7.Add flour mix in three parts alternating with cream mix, start and end with flour. (progression should be 1/3flour mix->1/2 cream mix->1/3 flour mix->1/2 cream mix->1/3 flour mix) Be careful not to over beat but make sure everything is well mixed

8.Pour mixture into baking pan smoothing out the top with a spatula.

9.Put pan in oven and turn on to 350F

10.Bake for 1 hour, take out and let cool 5 mins in pan before transferring it to a cooling wrack.

11.Enjoy with strawberries and fresh whipped cream!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Key Lime Pie

Easy as pie! Key lime pie is so refreshing, perfect for spring/summer. It's also a great way to use up those stale graham crackers you have sitting around (and you know you do). It's one of my favorite desserts to make in the summer, and I've never heard any complaints when I announce that a key lime pie is in the works...

  • crumbs from 1 package graham crackers (not a whole box)
  • about 3 T. butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. key lime juice (if you can't find it look in the mixer section of your grocery store near the seltzer and grenadine)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT fat free)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • zest of 1/2 of a large lime (or all of a key lime)
  • 1 c. fresh cream
  • 2-3 t. sugar

Preheat oven to 325F.
Mix together graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into the sides and bottom of an 8" or 9" pie dish. If it crumbles instead of sticking to the sides, add more butter. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove to cool but leave the oven on.

Stir together filling ingredients (use some of the lime juice to rinse out the sweetened condensed milk can). Admire the cigar-smoking smiley face.

Pour into baked crust. Bake for 12 minutes, or until filling is set. Allow pie to cool fully to room temperature.

Whip cream until soft peaks form, adding the sugar after a few seconds of whipping. You want to taste the cream, not overwhelming sweetness, so use good cream and go easy on the sugar. :-)

Spread whipped cream over pie and garnish with curls of lime rind. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Pictures of the pie to follow, I haven't topped it yet.