Cake, Food

Spice Cake with Vanilla Orange filling and Whipped Marscapone frosting

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My dear friend from grad school defended her PhD last week.  Such a landmark occasion requires cake, not that one needs an excuse for cake.  I took some shortcuts, and made some things from scratch.  I even spent some time thinking about the decoration; I found that if you have it drawn out it makes cake decorating easier.  I hope you put this cake together for the next special occasion in your life.

Ingredients:

Boxed Cake mix: prepare per direction on the box–I believe in high quality store bought short cuts, and boxed cake mix is a go to.

Filling: I used my Orange, Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean pudding. I used the entire recipe, to fill the cake.  You can find the recipe here.

Frosting: I used my whipped marscapone frosting recipe.  The recipe will make a lot of frosting.  I only used a 1/3 of it to frost the cake.  I froze down the rest.  If you were to fill and frost the cake, you might use the whole batch.  Check out the recipe here.

Method:

Bake the cake according to package directions.  I baked it in two 9″inch cake pans that I oiled and floured.  Once baked, cool the cake completely and level off the domed top.  I use my handy Wilton Cake Leveler.

Now begins the decorating.  For this cake, I used cake rounds for the first time and it certainly made cleaning and frosting the cake easy.  Not to mention, moving the cake around (from the turntable to the fridge).  But before we frost, we must fill.  I used all of the pudding mixture to fill the cake.

Now, the hardest part-covering the cake with frosting.  This requires patience, a good turntable, an offset spatula and a steady hand.  I like clean neat edges, so I get very particular about this stage.  Of course, that is my preference.  Using a butter knife to spread the frosting is perfectly fine–it will taste the same.

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I usually do a “crumb coat”.  This is a thin layer of frosting that covers all the bumps and glues together the crumbs.  I allow this chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and then I go in with the rest of the frosting and attempt to make smooth and as clean and neat as possible.

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I drew out the design for the cake and you can check it out here.  I also used candied oranges for this cake and I have the recipe for those here.  I will have to say, laying out the design before hand made a world of difference.  It was faster, cleaner and the end product looked more deliberate.  Moving forward, this might become my way of decorating–I like to call it the “paper to plate” method.

So here it is !

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Asian, Food, Poultry, Quick Dinner

Sunday Stir-fry

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I love Chinese takeout.  I love eating with chopsticks straight out of the paper container.  Alas, there is no Chinese takeout in my neck of the woods, so I have to make do with homemade versions.  I still have not figured out the secret to Asian cooking, so I take a lot of help from the store.  There is one particular brand of stir-fry sauce that I like because it is low in sugar content.  It is on the pricier side, so I stock up when the sauce goes to sale.  The rest of the ingredients, well, put in whatever you like!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp of ginger paste
  • 1 Tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp of Sambal Olek (use less if desired, I like it spicy)
  • 1/2 bottle of the Tsang Classic Sauce
  • 1 bag of frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 can of baby corn
  • 1 can of oyster mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp of canola/vegetable oil
  • Salt and white pepper (yes, white) to taste
  • White sesame seeds (garnish)

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a wok.  While the oil heats up, cube chicken

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  • Fry chicken with salt and pepper till pale golden
  • Add ginger, garlic and sambal olek-saute for a few minutes
  • Add all the vegetables and saute for 5-10 mins, till the water released from the vegetables has mostly evaporated.
  • Add the sauce and saute for another 5-10 mins, till the stir-fry comes to desired consistency.  I like it a little on the runny side–more sauce for rice/noodles !!!

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  • Garnish with white sesame seeds and serve hot !!!IMG_20190303_122239
Cake

Chocolate Orange Charlotte

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This is a special farewell and birthday cake all rolled into one.  The post-doc in our lab is leaving after 6 years and another labmate was celebrating the big 3-0 birthday, so the cake had to be special.  Chocolate and Orange pair wonderfully; infact, it is my mother’s favorite and incorporated it into her birthday cake last year.  The recipe requires several ingredients,  but I used store-bought short-cuts to help me.   I hope this cake stuns your table as much it did mine !

Ingredients:

Store chocolate cake mix (and eggs and oil, all the things that you will need to make the batter)

Orange marmalade

Chocolate mousse mix and milk to make the mousse

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2 dozen soft lady fingers ( you will not need all of them, but having extras is good)

Cannoli Filling (refer to either Chocolate Cannoli Cupcakes or Cannoli Cup recipes I have)

Method:

Bake the cake according to the package directions.  I used some of the batter to make 6 cupcakes  and saved the rest of the batter to make 2, 9″ rounds.  Allow to cool completely.  The cake layers can be made upto three days in advance.  Make sure to wrap and store the layers in a cool dry and dark place.

Heat an entire jar of orange marmalade in a saucepan.  Once the jam thins, strain through a sieve to separate the rinds from the jelly.  Save the jelly.  I put the rinds in my morning oatmeal.

Make the chocolate mouse according to package directions.

Level off both cake layers and place one layer of the cake on the bottom of a springform pan.

Line the edges of the pan with lady fingers

Brush the surface of the cake with the orange jelly and also the surface of the lady fingers which are exposed (i.e facing the inside of the cake)

Fill with mousse and top with the second cake layer.

Pour the remaining orange jelly on the top layer and let it seep into the cake.

Add the cannoli filling on the top.

Decorate the top with mini chocolate chips and pistachios.

Chill the cake for 30 mins and then remove the springform ring.

Wrap the cake with a piece of ribbon and secure with a toothpick.

Serve chilled !

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Bengali, Fish & Seafood, Lent

Shrimp Curry with Mushrooms and Potatoes

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This is a family recipe.  It is not traditional, but it is surely a family favorite.  This shrimp curry is warm and spicy and pairs perfectly with rice.  I like to have it with quinoa. I hope you try it for you next seafoood night–it is bound to be an interesting change.

Ingredients:

1lb of raw shrimp (medium sized)

1 medium onions

1tbsp of ginger paste

1tbsp of minced garlic

2tbsp of olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp of whole cumin seed

2 medium tomatoes chopped

1 large russet potatoes, small dice

1/2 cup water

1 package of sliced baby bella mushrooms

1/2tbsp of tumeric

1/2 tbsp of cumin

Chilli powder and salt to taste

Fresh cilantro for garnish

Method:

Blend onion, ginger and garlic with a splash of water.

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Heat 2tbsp of olive oil in a pot.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds.

Add the onion-ginger-garlic paste and stir and cook for a good 10-15 mins.  You want to make sure the raw taste and smell is cooked out.

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Once the onion paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add the tomatoes.  This juice of the tomatoes helps to deglaze the pan.  Saute for another 5 mins.

Add the potatoes, spices and 1/2 cup of water and allow to simmer till the potatoes are almost cook through.

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Add the mushrooms and cook till the potatoes are completely soft.

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Add the shrimp.  Make sure that most of the curry is cooked, the sauce is seasoned and the potatoes are soft, because once you add the shrimp, it will only cook for a few more minutes till the shrimp are cooked through.  Do not over cook, since the shrimp will get rubbery.

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Garnish with cilantro and serve  hot with quinoa or rice.

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Sides

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Almonds

Welcome Fall !!!!! On the first day of the best season of the year this is my recipe to you all.  Whether you use fresh or frozen, for a weeknight side dish or a holiday dish, roasted brussel sprouts with sweet/tart berries and nutty rich almonds will become a standard go to.  Try it this season and the best part is that it is super easy !

Ingredients:

1 tbsp of Olive oil

1 lb of brussel sprouts

salt and pepper to taste

chopped almonds and cranberries.  Walnuts and golden raisins would work too.  Please add much as your family likes.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F

Toss the sprouts in oil and salt and pepper.

Roasted till the brussel sprouts are golden brown, and some of the outer leaves are crispy, about 40 mins. ( temp will change according to your oven’s power)

While the brussel sprouts roast chop up your nuts and berries.

Once the brussel sprouts are done, remove them from the oven and immediately toss in the nuts and dried fruit.  Residual heat will toast the nuts and soften the fruit.

Serve warm !

Dessert, Treats

Grilled Pears with French Vanilla Yogurt, Honey and Cardamom

A guilt-free dessert.  Enough said !

Ingredients

2 medium-sized Bosc pears (Bosc works best as they are sweet and juicy)

French Vanilla Yogurt

1/2 Tbsp of Honey

A dash of ground cardamom

Method:

Fill an ice cream scoop with yogurt and put it in the freezer to harden up into a scoop

Slice the Bosc pears into thin sliver and add to a hot grill pan.   Add another pan on top of the pears to quicken the grilling.

Grill till you can see nice dark grill marks.  The natural sugar and water of the pears add to the caramelization of the fruit.  No oil needed.

Arrange the pears on a plate, and add yogurt scoop onto the warm pears.  Drizzle with honey and add a dash of cardamom.

Give into this sweet treat !