Cake

Blackberry Red Wine Chocolate Cake

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Labmate’s birthday=yummy cake !!!!!

Ingredients:
For cake:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup blackberry wine or red wine
1/2 cup light olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For frosting:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup blackberry preserves
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and line three 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, whisking until thoroughly combined.

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Add eggs, buttermilk, wine, oil, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Divide evenly among prepared pans.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely.

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To prepare frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 8 minutes. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cream and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes more. Add more cream or powdered sugar as needed to acheive desired consistency.

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To assemble, level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread half of the blackberry preserves evenly on top, followed by approximately 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining preserves, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and final cake layer, flat side up.
Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This “crumb coat” will make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set. At this point if you will be coloring the remaining buttercream, add your food coloring to the mixing bowl and beat until color is uniform.

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Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream, reserving some for piping decorative details if desired. Return cake to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
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Comfort food

Yellow Lentils with Black Seasame and Red Wine

I have been giving a little more attention to the bags of lentils that were hidden in the back of my pantry.  Lentil cook relatively quickly, they are very hearty and high in protein–not mention good for the wallet.  Yellow Lentils are a Bengali staple and hence I grew up with “dal” and had it everyday.  This is my ode to a childhood staple with an adult twist ( hint–red wine).

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow lentils

2 cups water

1/4 cup red wine

1 medium onion chopped

1/4 tsp of black seasame seeds

salt and pepper to taste and little bit of olive oil

Method:

Heat a dash of olive in a pot and add the black seasame seeds once the oil is hot.  The seeds should sizzle and pop once added to the oil

Next add the chopped onion and saute till pale and golden.

Add the yellow lentils and turn them about in the oil to toast them.

Then add all the liquids, salt and pepper and let the lentils cook till they are soft and tender–but not mushed up.  You would want them to fall apart if you were make a soup but this is more like a warm lentil side dish, where you want to see the individual lentils.

Once they start to cook down adjust the seasoning according to taste ( I love lots of pepper !)

Serve hot, warm or even at room temperature with the Salmon recipe I had posted earlier–but that is just a suggestion.

Salad

Spinach Salad with a Strawberry, Basil, Red Wine reduction

I bought 2 lbs of strawberries and living by myself you only eat so many berries before they start taking a turn for the worse.  My solution to salvage fruit/veggies that could get spoiled, is to cook them.  They retain their flavor, its healthy and you won’t have to throw out food.  This is a warm reduction that you add to fresh baby spinach.  It’s a warm salad.  Feel free to add almonds, bacon bits, and even more fresh fruit like apples and pears.  Here goes.

Ingredients:

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp of fennel seeds

I medium onion sliced

1/2 cup red wine (any red wine–I normally use up half opened bottles)

sliced strawberries ( I had about 1.5 cups, use as much as you like, but keep in mind the more you use, the sweeter the reduction)

5-7 leaves of  fresh basil, sliced

Fresh cracked black pepper ( no salt).

Baby Spinach, enough to build a salad of your serving choice.

Method:

1.Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan and when warm, add the fennel.  Stir for a few secs till fragrant and then add onions

2. Saute onions till pale and then add red wine and allow to reduce, stirring in between to prevent sticking to the bottom

3.  Add sliced strawberries and basil and allow to reduce.  The strawberry will cook down and the sugars will allow the onions to carmelize.

4. Taste the reduction, if it is too sweet, you can counter-act the sweetness with a few dashes of balsamic vinegar.

5. Toss warm (not hot) reduction with baby spinach leaves and add freshly cracked black pepper.  I garnished with honeyed oats (granola would work too !!!)