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Monday, November 28, 2011

Pretty in Pink Cake

Pink Ombre Cake

"If you give off signals that you don't want to belong, people will make sure that you don't." ~Pretty in Pink

(this was not my most fave John Hughes movie, 16 Candles was (long live Jake Ryan). in fact, i thought the pink polka dot shoulder-less dress molly ringwald designed was truly ugly.)

i sometimes go thru phases of not wanting this blog. it's hard work. so i disappear for a few weeks, until my journalism deadline oriented quark nags me and i bust out a post. i get tired of the Game ~ coming up with the most original material, taking pictures and then gawd help me, social media-ing it. i pretty much fail in that regard. that is, unless during the chore of said social media-ing, i come across a cake like this and damn being original, damn being better, i just want to make it. never mind that i'm not so big on plain white vanilla cake, or that food coloring freaks me out, that PINK is so NOT ME. because, sometimes it's not about me. it's about others. you know, readers. people who actually have to consume what i make. people, who for whatever reason, come to this space to look at my pictures, read my words. like i said, it's hard work, no one else is going to do it like i do.

Pink Ombre Cake

"This is a really volcanic ensemble you're wearing, it's really marvelous!" ~Pretty in Pink

Pink Swirl Ombre Cake ~ Lactose Free
8" pans ~ 4 layers

Cake: Perfect Vanilla ~ i quadrupled the recipe, 1 layer per recipe, baked at 27 minutes at 350F. i also used Organic Valley Lactose Free Milk

Icing: american buttercream frosting ~ i tripled the recipe, using soy margarine. crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of icing.

Swirls: #31 Wilton tip.

Colors: Rose & Rosa gel colors

i piped with the lightest shade first, then incrementally added a drop or two more for the subsequent darker layers. i didn't want four bowls of icing to play with and eventually wash. the layers were various shades of pink, too, but no photos available. the birthday girl loved it, it was perfect just for her.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lamb Ragout ~ Comfort

Lamb Ragout

lately i've been under blankets ~ on the couch in front of the television, or in the passenger seat while dw drives and we're treking to a destination or another, or even in bed watching a show on the iPad. it's november after all! don't misunderstand, i am not complaining. i love blankets. in high school, in bangkok, i walked around with a small blanket (i know, i was strange even back then) to keep in my lap during class.

it's a comfort thing ~ snuggling under a warm comforter, with a hot cup of tea on the side table and foodtv on the tube. i might be crocheting, dw beside me reading his reddit feed, his head on my shoulder, in turn my head next to his. i suppose we could turn up the heat, but it wouldn't alter our positions much so why bother?

as of late, i've been stocking up the freezer with stew meat, making chicken stock, daydreaming about hearty, meaty stews to breathe in to, the return air rushing back to flush our cheeks as we taste a tender herby carrot, or sip a fortified broth. last night, under a blanket, with foodtv on, dw & i tucked into a ragout of lamb ~ the soft meat giving way easily as we chewed, the aroma of thyme & rosemary heavy between our nose and the bowl.

for two hours the abode had been heavily blanketed in smells of the lamb stewing in hearty vegetables and herbs, the homemade fortified chicken stock gently simmered and tenderized the contents of the pot. it was heavenly.

this is my contribution to Taste & Create, a monthly blog event that pairs up bloggers who then recreate something from their partner's blogs. my partner this time around is Tasteful Diversions, a blog that showcases both food & crafts.

Lamb Ragout

Ragout of Lamb

fyi: ragu and ragout are different things.

i combined both recipes, nixing the garlic, wine & cheese from the former, but adding the carrots & celery from the latter. from an availability standpoint, the lemon and orange rinds were left out. from a pure laziness & forgetfulness point of view, the parsley flakes and bay leaf were also left out. this was served with couscous.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

caramel apple cake. cheddar cheese apple pie. and days that are beautiful

ginko tree

i am a few days deep back from Kentucky. it is unseasonably warm for November, but what remains the same is that it grows dark at 5pm without fail, it is a month of glutton consumption and i give thanks:

cheddar cheese apple pie

pie. a bounty of nature's sweet apples, picked for the express purpose of baking and sharing. washed down with tea, in the afternoon sunlight, with rowdy nephews underfoot. (cheddar cheese apple pie recipe below)

apple cake

or cake. to share with family, new and old, young and aged. strong spice only for the mature palette. recipe: caramel apple cake. (note: the caramel sauce is runny, i don't know how she managed to keep it on top but kudos to her. i also used roasted cashews in lieu of peanuts.)

i won't lie, it was a whirlwind time, i'd be hard pressed to tell you exactly all the places i visited, all the foods i consumed, but i can show you a few of the beautiful things i saw:

view from 5K run

finally, as promised, the cheddar cheese crust apple pie. a pie that i tasted years ago at a broad's apartment, doing crafts, gossiping and of course, noshing.

Cheddar Cheese Apple Pie
from Jenn C-P.

makes 2 crusts

3 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted soy margarine, chilled
1/2 lb shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, i used lactose-free Cabot's sharp cheddar
1/4 cup ice water
1/4 cup white vinegar

2 1/2 lbs apples, peeled, cored & sliced (give or take)
3 TBL lemon juice (i used apple cider...)
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 TBL unsalted butter, cubed (actually, i forgot this)
1 egg, beaten
1 TBL organic sugar

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in the butter until pea size crumbs form. Stir in the cheese. Combine water and vinegar and gradually stir in until the mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate over night. (note: i used a food processor.)

Preheat oven to 450° F. Roll one ball out to fit pie place. Roll out top crust and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss apples in lemon juice; drain. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Arrange in overlapping rows in pie crust. Dot with butter, sprinkle with anise seed. Cover with top pie crust. Seal and crimp the edges.

Bake on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for another 30 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven, brush lightly with beaten egg, and sprinkle liberally with the sugar. Bake 5-10 minutes more until sugar glazes.

Additional Louisville, KY Information:

Hillbilly Tea 120 s 1st street Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Annie Cafe 308 W. Woodlawn Ave. Louisville, KY 40214
Vietnam Kitchen 5339 Mitscher Ave. Louisville, KY 40214
Nam Nam Cafe 318 Wallace Avenue St. Matthews, KY 40207
basa 2244 Frankfort Ave. Louisville, KY 40206


and now dw & i are home, only to pack back up next week for a trek to NY. oh november. i am thankful for days that are beautiful.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Magic: Homemade Organic Soy Milk


do you remember that story about jack & the beanstalk, how he foolishly traded his cow for some magic beans? his pissed off mother kicked his ass, sent him to bed hungry and threw the beans out the window. when he awoke the next morning a beanstalk had grown, high up into the sky. without preamble, a ladder or a parachute, jack climbed that beanstalk.


he climbed that beanstalk 3 times, the first 2 times narrowly missing the wrath of the Giant who lived up in the sky, his pockets laden with what can only be described as Grand Theft. the 3rd & final time, the Giant was PISSED and chased jack down the beanstalk, but jack was able to cut the stalk and the Giant died. where they buried his body is beyond me.

Moral of the Story: Theiving is only possible if you have a cow and you trade it for magic beans. (disclaimer: don't take my word for it tho.)

Question of the Story: what kind of beverage do you think would've come forth from the magic beans?


the soy milk i made recently was not magic by any means, but it was magical. it reminded me of my eldest uncle Tuu. he used to make fresh homemade soy milk when i was kid and stayed over for long breaks with his family, to play with my cousins buu & kim. it's not as grainy as the asian market brands, or sweet. slightly diluted with water, i sipped it warm from the stove and added it to my bowl of cereal cold the next day. like i said, it was magical.

Homemade Organic Soy Milk

Homemade Organic Soy Milk
Uncle Tuu Style

1/2 cup of dried organic soy beans (not the same as dried MUNG BEANS. i bought mine at Whole Foods, but only after calling a variety of other organic stores in the city. for 2lbs, it cost about $4. bang for your buck dude.)
2 1/2 cups water, + 3 cups water
scant 1/4 cup organic sugar, to taste
pinch of sea salt

do this overnight. wash & rinse dried beans. in a bowl add water & soak. the next morning, dump water, pick out any beans that did not expand in size. in a vitamix add the beans + 2 1/2 cups cold water. blend until creamy smooth, white and foamy. once done, add mixture to stock pot, add the remaining 3 cups of water. bring to a gentle boil, stirring. (i wasn't very dilligent with this, there were a lot of dishes to do.) skim off top foam. simmer for about 30 minutes. add sugar + salt.

strain soy milk thru a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (again, purchased at Whole Foods). press soy beans. i finally got tired and just grabbed the cheesecloth and squeezed by hand.

serve hot or cold, either way, it's magical.

This is my entry for Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event to celebrate Vietnamese cuisine created by Anh of Food Lovers Journey and Hong & Kim of the Ravenous Couple. Sandy of Ginger & Scotch was this month's host.