Sunday, July 25, 2010

Berry Layer Cake

Here is a great summer dessert that will put your local berries to good use. The original recipe makes a gigantic 4 layer cake with cream and berries in between. I opted to half the recipe and make individual size cakes as I didn't have a big enough crowd to share this with and we all know that fresh whip cream doesn't last long. You can use a 3" muffin pan which will yield 6 mini cakes.

We enjoyed these mini cakes with my oldest and best friend Kylee on her birthday. Ky and I first met at the tender age of two. Awww! Yes, well Mom say's we were making mud pies together back then and continue to share a love of food to this day. Ky is going to hate this because she is very modest but she just so happens to be the best home cook I know. I think it's because she doesn't follow a recipe and is really good at creating amazing flavor combination's on a whim. She is the only person I know that would prefer to cook on her birthday and that she did!

PS - did I mention she is an electrial engineer? Who say's girls can't be amazing cooks and break down the barriers in a male dominant career? Sorry for boasting Ky, but I'm just so proud of you!

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 large whole eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin tin (make sure to grease well as sponge cake has a tendency to stick). Sift together flour and corn starch and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar, salt and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until thick and pale (should be able to hold a ribbon-like trail on the surface), about 5 minutes. Add oil in a steady stream, mixing until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold mixture several times.
  3. Add flour mixture to egg mixture. With mixer on low speed, beat until just combined. 
  4. Evenly pour batter into muffin pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, about 17-20 mins.
  5. Immediately invert cakes onto wire rack. Then reinvert cakes, and let them cool completely, top side up.
  6. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine cream, confectioners' sugar, and remaining vanilla extract. Starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high, whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 mins.
  7. Using a serrated knife, cut cakes in half. Place one of the bottom layers on a plate. Spread a few dollops of cream on top and cover with berries. Cover with the top half of the cake and repeat cream and berries. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mikey's Fajitas

I understand that to some cooking and baking is a chore, and although necessary it can be very cumbersome to prepare meals when you have little time to do so. I know that one day I may be faced with the same challenges as a working mother.

However, I think it is possible to change your perspective of cooking and transform it from a chore to an interactive family experience. I think it’s a great opportunity to engage in active family time opposed to inactive family time. I don’t know when family time became TV time but I think my generation and even the generation one step ahead of me has a responsibility to change this. We live in a time where we don’t have to work together to keep a homestead like the pioneers did. But I think we are missing out on a very important communal component living by today’s conveniences (ordering in or picking up food to go). Although necessary at times I think that if you all work together there is no reason why you can’t commit to making dinner as a family a few times a week.

Of course the opposing argument is that it is often faster and easier for the most experienced cook to make a meal without extra hands on deck. Although I agree I am up for the challenge of working and teaching others so that I am not the only one that can whip up dinner every day. We don’t live in the 60’s anymore people and we are not house wives! Why can’t your children help rinse and spin dry lettuce while you chop up the veggies? And why can’t your spouse make the dressing?

This recipe was created by Mike and approved by Lyndsay!

  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 cups white or cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters or 1/8ths if large
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
  • kernels from one cob of corn
  • 1 carrot – julienned
  • 2 cups fresh spinach (washed and spun dry)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 4-6 tortilla shells
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1.25 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 oz water or more for liquid consistency
  1. Stir together all ingredients for the sauce.
  2. Combine all vegetables in a bowl and stir in the sauce.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add veggies to the pan and sauté until onions turn translucent.
  4. Warm tortillas in oven on LO broil for about 2 minutes each side. Careful not to crisp them.
  5. Assemble fajitas starting with spinach followed by sautéed vegetables and finishing with feta.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lentil and Bulgur Soup

I recently realized that I was a major contributing factor to the rising heat inside our suite. I thought the look on Mike's face when he came home to find me baking bread and making soup would be one of admiration.....but instead I received a look of puzzlement followed by "Hi hun...uh, why are you making soup when it's 30° outside?" Honestly I don't think I ever stopped to think that maybe I should be testing Martha Stewart's summer recipes instead of the fall ones! Either way, I'm going to go ahead and post this recipe from the March 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living with a commitment to finding more recipes that require less heat and more chill!
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper and sea salt
  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook carrot, celery and shallot until tender, about 6 minutes. Add water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in bulgur and cook partially covered until bulgur is tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve soup with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quinoa and Buckwheat Burritos

If you don’t currently have plans for this upcoming weekend I have a wonderful outdoor proposition for those of you living in or around Victoria, BC. The Organics Island Festival which is apparently Canada’s largest outdoor green festival is being held at Glendale Farms on July 10 and 11th. I’m very excited about the opportunity to sample organic and fair trade food and beverages from over 40 food and drink vendors. Not to mention the large array of vendors providing locally farmed produce and packaged goods. If nothing else it’s a good reason to get outside on a sunny day!

Speaking of is a variation of the Taco Salad I made not too long ago. Simply warm some tortilla shells and fill with a few spoonfuls of quinoa-buckwheat mixture and your preferred veggies and cheese. Roll up and serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.

Note: Omit the cheese to make this recipe vegan.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rice noodles with Coconut Curry Sauce and Roasted Cauliflower

Home sweet home! Hope you all enjoyed your Canada Day festivities or at least the day off.... We walked to the inner harbor last night to see the fireworks. One thing I love about living so close to downtown is being able to arrive at the last minute and completely avoid the whole parking frenzy. I think I can count on one hand all the times I have had to park in downtown Victoria since I moved here 5 years ago.

Seattle was a lot of fun. The market was beautiful with all the local produce and fresh cut flowers. I will point out a few very important things that friends and family forgot to mention when filling me in on their own Seattle trips. Hills... lots of them. For two people who are used to walking everywhere in Victoria we were completely uninformed of the mountain we would have to climb to get to our hotel! The high rises appear monstrous from sea level - partly because they are and partly because they are at the top of a mountain (okay, I'm exaggerating a bit)! Secondly, Seattle is not in fact sleepless. By the time we arrived on Sunday everything was closed! I was also surprised at how few restaurants were open late for those people looking for a late meal. Lastly, wine is cheaper then juice and bottled water!

Mike and I ventured out of Belltown for 30 minutes up hill so I could see what Trader Joe's was all about. I believe Mike was being strategic by not telling me just how far it was and refusing to answer to my whiny "are we there yet?" and instead distracting me with delicious homemade ice cream in a freshly made waffle cone. It was all worth it in the end. Trader Joe's is everything that my fellow food bloggers hype it up to be. It sure is nice to own a bottle of "real" balsamic vinegar that doesn't run the same price as a bottle of wine. The concept of a store selling mostly organic products without the hefty additional fees is absolutely genius.

Anyways, I'm glad to be back home cooking again. I was about ready to ask the chef in our last restaurant if I could help chop some vegetables! Here is a very, very easy recipe to whip up when you have nothing in your fridge. I sort of made this recipe up on the fly so you should alter it as you see fit. Also you can use any roasted vegetable you like or not at all.

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 heaping tbsp curry paste (or more until you reach desired taste)
  • 3 keffir leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • rice noodles
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange cauliflower florets on a baking dish and drizzle with about 1-2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and salt. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes.
  2. When cauliflower has baked for about 20 minutes, begin your sauce by heating up a medium sauce pan with 1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil. Stir mustard seeds into the oil and let them cook until they begin to pop. Add the onion and cook until they begin to turn translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for one more minute. Pour in coconut milk, tomato sauce, sugar, curry paste and keffir leaves. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add water if sauce becomes too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Serve over a bed of rice noodles and roasted cauliflower and top with cilantro. You could also squeeze some lemon juice over top to cut down on the acidity of the tomato sauce.