Yesterday, I sifted.

Cake1

Yesterday, i sifted.  Against all of my culinary moral code, I sifted.  I sifted on a weeknight, I leveled, I waited for things to reach room temperature. I used “cake flour” instead of regular peasant flour.  I melted things and gently combined things.  I made a mess.  I inhaled chocolate dust.

I don’t do these things. I just don’t. (Well, i do make messes)  I wanted to make something.  I wanted to make something that doesn’t take 9 months to manufacture.  So I made chocolate cake.  Yesterday I followed a recipe that someone offered me for the perfect chocolate cake.  I made Ina Garten’s “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake“.  And Beatty…Beatty is cray.

As I began sifting 3+ cups of ingredients, and with increasingly poor posture, I whispered to myself ‘Why the HELL would anyone do this?’.  So I continued, remaining obedient to the recipe, sifting for 2 more minutes and then I stopped.  Is the sieve clogged?  No. No. This is just the art of sifting.  The JOY of sifting.  This is what millions of baker bloggers pretend to love to do.  It’s just that when you sift, you release one-sixteenth teaspoon of flour at a time.  Oh this is fun.  Remind me to raise hell to the recipe sharer…who is my sister…who is cray cray.  Cray2.  I continued to sift.  And then I wanted to discover the optimum sifting technique because I ain’t gettin’ any younger here.  Is it side to side?  Back and forth?  Circular, like how we are supposed to brush our teeth?  Do I run a spoon through it and force the material out?  No.  I’ll tell you what it is.  You have to rapidly rotate your wrist to the left and then to the right at 45 degrees each and then you can sift one-eighth teaspoon per rotation. That’s DOUBLE your typical yield.  You’re welcome.  And no I’m not buying any uni-function gadget to assist sifting.  Any engineer knows that is a retarded move.

And then I added the wet ingredients because first you have to combine the dry ingredients and then combine the wet ingredients and then finally legislation passed a bill and allowed us to combine the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl where everyone loves each other.  Recipes demand annoying things like “1 cup buttermilk, shaken”.  How about “1 cup shaken buttermilk” because during the comma, I already added buttermilk to the oil.  Oops.

Then I prepared the cake pans.  I lined them with parchment paper and then buttered and floured them.  Wait, what?  This make zero sense.  I’m already using non-stick pans…yet, I have to line them with parchment paper AND butter them and flour them.  WHUT?  I mean, where did these instructions come from?  The Department of Redundancy Department?

Then I thought, “at least I can put the cake in the oven and be done with this project for 35 minutes”. Oh no.  Why should we press the “easy” button?  Let’s make our own frosting too.  Okay Beatty’s about to get a verbal beatt-ing.  Now I have to simmer water in a pot and melt chocolate in a bowl over that, and then add the melted chocolate to yet, another bowl.  This game of dishwasher Inception is getting old.

Now I need to add a “large” egg yolk to two sticks of butter.  (Just two sticks.)  And just the yolk…because the whites are not allowed to mix with the chocolate? Is this Prom Night in Mississippi?  There is always egg specification…Large? Extra large? Regular?  Is there really a distinction?  It’s an EGG, PEOPLE!!!!!  A large egg doesn’t guarantee a large yolk.  There’s no telling what’s in that shell.  I know a tiny 5 ft woman who birthed a 10 lb baby.

Next, have to add  ”1 cup brewed coffee, cooled”  This time i read past the comma, but seriously?????  I have to brew coffee now?  It’s 11 pm.  I removed the Redundancy cakes from the oven and allowed them to cool.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to cool my temper, because a bain-marie is forming quickly between my temples.

And then I saw her.  I saw Betty Crocker in my kitchen, pacing, wearing a pink, ruffly, below-the-knee nightgown and rollers in her hair, nails painted glossy.  ”Look at this mess.  Look at the clock.  I invented a box for this, like, 100 years ago to mitigate your forthcoming pain.  You know who makes cake from scratch?  Women who forgo epidurals, that’s who.  And you’re a joke next to those women.  You had an elective c-section.”

I assembled the cake and iced it, employing all of my pinterest skills in icing application technique.  I finished making that damn cake.

But, I made something yesterday.  All on my own.  And it will be feces tomorrow.

*****

Download of the week: Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers Band

*****

cake 2

 

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

Recipe as posted on Food Network.com

Ingredients

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Tagged in ~

Garlic-Chili Tofu with Fingerlime Caviar and Black Rice

DSC_0356 (1280x851)

I don’t have time to weave together a nice post in MLA Handbook Format for you anymore.  With two babies, I’m now a bulleted list kinda girl.  Then one day, when they’re on the move, I’m just going to type 5 words in a blog post and you’re gonna have to figure it out on your own.

Here are my random unrelated thoughts over the last few months:

  1. I Pick Boogers.  Yeah i fish into 4 teeny nostrils to extract boogers.  I’m trying to remember what 30 seconds of my old life this replaced.  Do not even mention the bulb syringe…i will cut you….and so will Pumpkin.
  2. The Red Light Holler – “WAAAAAH!”  Really?  Obeying traffic laws supercedes yall’s massage car seat spa treatment back there.  Hang on for one freakin minute.
  3. Word of The Year: “Fussy” – My new favorite word for annoying grown ups.  Mild enough not to be abrasive, but strong enough to offend.  …and you can say it in front of kids without whispering.
  4. Closet Selections – Prior Solid Foods, I choose to wear anything in the “Spit-up” Color spectrum.  Ecru, Cream, White, etc  After Solid Foods, I choose anything from the Goodwill pile.
  5. Pajama Dilemma – I change into my pajamas around 6 pm and then I remain in them for quite some time.  And then husband arrives from work the next day and I am still wearing the same pajamas.  Do I continue to wear the same pajamas, or shall I spice it up and change into new pajamas?
  6. “Pass me the Bottle” – A statement I say to husband daily…he doesn’t always know the right answer.
  7. Love/Hate Relationship with Fleece – Slow to absorb liquids, perfect for babies’ spit-up.  Also it is the “Vegas” of strong odors.  What goes on in Fleece, stays in Fleece.  Now I get to check your diaper every 6 minutes because I SWEAR you pooped again.
  8. The Bypass – Rice Cereal?  No we aren’t doing that.  This tastes disgusting.  We are adopting the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure feeding method and we’re going to find Sweet Potatoes.
  9. Neck Fat – Thanks for grabbing where I didn’t think there was anything to grab onto, like my forehead and neck.  Ow.
  10. Poo Timer – Why must you both choose to have your morning poo while your father is in the shower?  Give him a turn.
  11. Co-Sleeping – If we must share this space, please refrain from sleeping in the Jesus-on-the-Cross pose.  That takes up a lot of real estate and my mouth is about taste a nightstand.  Also, there are no flies on my face.  No swatting needed.
  12. The Drunk Rescue – When you wake up in the middle of the night with blood-curdling screaming, I am trying to move as fast as I can to the nursery while trying to exit the very rare and precious REM state I was in, so forgive me for my inebriated stumble if I attempt to insert a pacifier in your ear.
  13. The Lost Baby Manual – I’ve fed you, I’ve changed you, I’ve swaddled you, I’ve unswaddled you and then re-swaddled you, I’ve held you, I’ve given you your binky, I sang Who Let the Dogs Out, and you’re still crying.  What do you waaaaant?????

***

Download of the Week: House Party by Sam Hunt

***

DSC_0217 (1280x1280)

DSC_0241 (1280x851)

DSC_0316 (1280x851)

Garlic-Chili Tofu with Fingerlime Caviar and Black Rice

This is not as elaborate as it seems, but impresses easily for the intriguing ingredients, the variety of colors, and the contrast of textures.

Ingredients

1 cup Hinode Black Rice

1-3/4 cup Vegetable Broth

1 Pkg Extra Firm Tofu

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

juice of one lime

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 mango or pineapple, thinly sliced

1 fingerlime (usually found in a plastic container in produce)

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 cups mixed greens (spinach, beet greens, etc)

Directions:

1. Place 1 cup of rice in a saucepan.  Add 1 3/4 cups of vegetable broth, bring to a boil and stir.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes, or until moisture is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.

2. While the rice is simmering, you can marinate the tofu.  Cut the tofu into 2″x 2″ x 1/2″ thick slices and gently press between kitchen towels to remove excess liquid.  See my tofu tutorial for more tips.  In a ziploc bag, add the prepped tofu, olive oil, grated garlic, cayenne, lime, salt, and pepper.  Marinate for about 1/2 and hour or overnight.  Remove the tofu from the ziploc bag and bake on a rack in the toaster oven at 350 degrees, 15 minutes, turning them halfway through.

3.  In a small skillet, heat the coconut oil on medium high heat, saute the garlic and the greens for 1 to 2 minutes and remove from heat.

4.  Assemble on a platter:  Arrange the greens, then add the rice (you can form the rice into a ramekin and then turn it upside down on the greens), then top with baked tofu, and then garnish with mango slices and fingerlime caviar.

Make Ahead Tips: You can marinate the tofu overnight and prepare the rice one day before.

Tagged in ~

Quinoa Vegetable Fried Rice

IMG_20140902_181029 (1280x1279)

I took a field trip this past weekend and left my husband and kids unsupervised for a few hours.  I should have used my “me time” for “me things” like general grooming like a haircut, or a manicure or something, but instead I went to IKEA.  I went with a list of things I wanted to buy to Girl-ify my home office…like a fluffy pen or something.

I forgot what a time vacuum IKEA is.  I walked through the double doors and immediately ignored my list.  Ooh a FEJKA, for $2.99.  My office needs some fake foliage.  And of course I’m going to buy the SKURAR to go with it!  Duh.  I forgot how IKEA prefers to have all of their products one exclamation mark shy of yelling at you.  FEJKA! SKURAR!  It might have a stronger effect if I knew what the hell you were saying to me.

I decided to buy some curtains for the office – ones with a very girly purple print on it.  Of course I need to buy the rod to hang the curtains.  So I went scouting for the RACKA…or should i get the beefy-er HUGAD?  Talking like this, I’m starting to feel like a primate.  This is where I remembered to buy the VASENTLIG but forgot to buy the BETYDLIG to hang the rod.  Awesome.  Forgetting something at IKEA while you have 3-month-old twins at home is like living in a remote countryside house and forgetting to buy milk at the grocery store.  Except in the country you have cows as a backup.  I don’t have any cattle at home to crap some brackets for me.

I don’t want my home office screaming that I do tech support for a living,so  I need to find a box or something to stow away my ugly “princess Leia” headset.  Forget a box.  How about this BASTIS ass-end of a cat, as a hook?  With the fear of being confused for a crazy cat lady, I put it back in the bin.

Then I got to the kids section, which I was trying to pass through, while desperately trying to ignore the scent of the cinnamon rolls in the CAFETERIA.  But of course like a little puppy I got shiny-ball-syndrome and said oooh a LEKA playmat! for $19.99!   Ooh a little potty for when I toilet-train them next month.  I was inspired to buy lots of kid things for the future, like a big green polka dot bed tent!!!!!  Excuse me, is this available in a king size?  I’m not sure how I feel about my kids having a cooler room than me.  I may knock on their door in the middle of the night and say “i had a nightmare…can i sleep here?” [insert puppy dog eyes]

The best part of the trip is actually waiting in line, overhearing negotiations between tweens and parents and seeing all walks of life outfit their digs with modern accents, which is sure to become junk in 1.2 years.   For more entertainment, you can overhear some complaints at the customer service desk.  ”The fabric of this chair broke.  We need a replacement”.  Everyone should know that IKEA textiles are not designed for the 350 lb + fast food American.  If they did make a chair for you, it would be called a FRUNTBUTT and it wouldn’t cost $39.99. (Is that mean? I’m mean.)

If Grocery Stores were laid out like IKEA it would take me 85 minutes to buy BREAD.  And I would be BROKE.  Still, I enjoyed the break and some ‘me time’ and probably had more fun than if I went for HAIRCUT.

Now go make dinner and talk like ROBOT and make up words in capital letters.

***

Download of the Week: The Kopecky Family Band – “Are You Listening”

***

QUINOA Fried Rice

I know you. You’re that person that decided to buy a giant bag of Quinoa at Costco and you said “yeah i’m gonna cook quinoa like all the time!” and you haven’t done didley with it.  This recipe is a great way to get some protein in an Asian-style meal without tofu.

Ingredients:

1 cup white quinoa
2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
2 Tablespoon butter
3 eggs, whisked
1 cup diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
1 cup diced celery (about 3 ribs)
1-1/2 cup diced onion
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups diced baby bella (or cremini) mushrooms
2 cups broccoli florets (cut into small pcs)
3/4 cups diced bell pepper
3/4 cups frozen corn kernels
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons hot (spicy) sesame oil or regular sesame oil
salt to taste
1/4 cup scallions

Directions:

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil in a saucepan (over high heat).  Add quinoa and a few pinches of salt.   Lower heat to LOW, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat but keep covered.
2. Heat 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large wok over medium-high heat and then add whisked eggs.  Stir frequently until eggs are scrambled well and then transfer eggs into a small bowl.
3.  Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large wok on medium high heat. Cook carrots, celery and onions for 2 mins, stirring frequently.
3. Add ginger and garlic and cook for another minute stirring frequently.
4. Add mushrooms, broccoli, bell pepper and corn and cook for 3 mins.
5. Add cooked quinoa, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and scrambled eggs. Stir well.
6. Remove from heat and garnish with scallions.
Notes:
The hot sesame oil just makes it spicier.  You can give it a kick by adding some Sriracha or any table chili condiment.  Even red pepper flakes will help!
You can add or substitute other veggies like sugar snap peas or bean sprouts or baby corn.
If you have Tamari (like a dark soy sauce) then substitute 1 Tablespoon of regular soy sauce for 1 Tablespoon of Tamari. Tamari will give the quinoa a deeper brown color.
Pair this with a cooling side dish: Asian Pickled Cucumber Salad

Tagged in ~