Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Makes My Life Easier-Straws Instread Of Dowel Rods

That Rose Levy Beranbaum is one smart lady.  This is another tip that I learned from her book The Cake Bible and it has saved my butt like a million times.  Use straws instead of dowel rods to support your larger cakes.  Her theory is that the straws displace less cake and so therefore can support as much weight as a dowel rod.  It works great for me because a pack of like a million straws is what, a dollar?  And then I have them around whenever I have a cake that needs a little extra support.  I use them whenever I am doing a tiered cake or when I am using a slippery filling like lemon curd.

To use straws for supports: Insert straws into cake before frosting but after filling.  Where you place the straws is going to depend on what you need to support.  For tiered cakes, I insert the straws in a circular pattern the circumference of the next tier with some in the middle for added support.  If I am using them for slippery filling, I place the straws all around the cake.  I like to use quite a few straws.  The above cake is a 12 inch round that I was going to put 2 more tiers on top of, so I used 7 straws. 

After inserting the straws, pull them up just a bit and cut them off at the spot where the cake mark is on the straw.  Push them back down into the cake and frost like normal.

*This is not a sponsored post.   Rose Levy Beranbaum has no idea who I am, I just think she and her book are amazing and I wanted to share what I learned with you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies

Happy Memorial Day!  I hope all of you are enjoying your extra long weekend.  These cookies are a riff on my go to chocolate chip cookies.  For some reason, I always love to tinker with my classic recipe.  I was reading my latest issue of Bon Appetite and there was a little blurb about adding a cup of cooked quinoa to your favorite cookie dough recipe.  For whatever reason, I instantly had to try it out.  

Quinoa is an edible seed.  It is gluten free and high in protein, fiber, magnesium, and iron.  It needs to be cooked to soften it and make it palatable.  It is very tasty on its own, or added to salads but this is the first time I had ever heard of it used in a sweet.

The result?  The dough by itself was quite tasty.  The quinoa added a nice chewy texture.  When baked, however, the quinoa became more crunchy.  It wasn't bad, more just different.  My husband did not care for them, but he hates it when when I tinker too much with a good thing.

uncooked quinoa

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter at room temperature ( I chose butter because I thought the quinoa might thicken the dough like oatmeal does.  It did not, so feel free to substitute margarine in place of the butter.)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cooked quinoa
1- 10 ounce package chocolate chips ( I like Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips)

Beat together the butter, shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the whole wheat flour and all purpose flour.  Stir in cooked quinoa and chocolate chips.

Drop on a greased cookie sheet by the teaspoonful.  These cookies are made with real butter and spread a bit when they bake so do not place them too close together.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Cooked Quinoa
1/2 cup dried quinoa
1 cup water

Pour water and dried quinoa into a small sauce pan and stir together.  Allow to simmer over medium heat until all of the water is gone.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bananna Nut Muffins

Like chocolate chip cookies, it seems like everybody has a favored banana bread recipe.  But in case you don't, or you are looking to switch it up a bit, I thought I would share mine.  I've shared a banana bread recipe on here before, but honestly, I prefer this one.  This is the one that my mother always made us growing up.  I don't really like bananas, but love this bread and my husband will leave 1 banana out of the bunch to go bad every time so I will make this bread for him.  It is gloriously easy, because everything is mixed in 1 bowl and can be, actually should be, mixed by hand. The nuts are optional, the whole wheat flour can be switched back to all purpose, but I think that each adds nice layers of flavor and texture.  This time I made them into muffins for easier transport and visual pleasure, but this recipe makes 1 nice loaf too.

 Banana Nut Muffins makes about 18 regular sized muffins or 1 regular sized loaf
1 banana (as black as you can stand looking at it without there being mold on it, it makes the fruit sweeter)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons oil
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped nuts (I like walnuts best)

In a large mixing bowl, mash together the banana and sugar until a thick paste is formed.  Stir in milk, egg, and oil.  Stir in baking powder and flours.  Allow the dough to be a tad lumpy.  Scoop batter into muffin pan lined with cupcake wrappers.  Fill the wrappers 3/4 of the way full. (If making a loaf, pour batter into greased regular sized loaf pan.)

Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Bake loaf for 55-65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool and eat (although this bread is so good warm so sample at least 1 muffin warm slathered in butter).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interesting Things

Oh man, I just realized that I have literally posted NOTHING in the month of May.  What a huge slacker!  When the weather turns nice here, I find myself with limited kitchen time.  Other people though, have still been posting and so here are some interesting things that I have bookmarked this week:

I love anything to do with bacon.  This Bacon Jam from King Arthur Flour looks so interesting.

This Quinoa Salad from Annie's Eats looks so fresh and tasty.

Joy the Baker's Lavender Lemonade seems so fancy yet so easy.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake from Not Without Salt.  Just Yum!

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