It has been a little while since I spent a day playing in the kitchen and baking. I’ve done some cooking, although not much really interesting lately, but I decided that with the latest cool snap it was time to crank up the oven and bake an actual cake.
Probably anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s remembers the orange Betty Crocker cookbook. I think every house had one and unlike a lot of cookbooks today that are specific to one type of food (grilling, vegetarian, sauces, desserts) this one has just about everything you can think of in it. It definitely reflects the times when you read through some of the recipes, but for desserts, for cakes, I love this cookbook. I found a copy at a used bookstore in California when I lived there (I think for a dollar since it was pretty beat up on the outside) and snagged it. While I don’t go to it often for meals, I definitely go to it for baking ideas. Classics have a place.
The cake came straight from the cookbook and I actually followed the recipe. For the icing, however, I just went with the basic buttercream with the caramel sauce I made a month or so ago that was languishing in the fridge. The result – a cake Bob called “excellent” and one of my “best efforts.” Given that he generally likes what I bake, I’m taking that as a high compliment.
- 1.5 cups whipping cream
- 3 eggs
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- .5 teaspoon salt
Heat over to 350. Grease and flour pans (I used two 9 inch cake pans)
Beat cream until stiff. In separate bowl, beat eggs and vanilla until thick and lemon colored. Fold eggs into whipped cream. Stir together remaining ingredients and gently fold into egg/cream mixture. Fold until well combined.
Divide into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before icing.
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- .5 cups caramel sauce
- confectioners sugar to taste (about 1-1.5 cups)
Beat butter until light and airy. Add caramel sauce and mix well. Slowly incorporate confectioners sugar until the icing comes together and no longer has a distinct butter taste.
Every now and then I come up with something that just works. It isn’t often, but sometimes I do. This was one of them.
At the farmers’ market I found these incredible yellow peppers and some heirloom tomatoes. The garden has given me kale and basil, so I figured I could make up something with all of those. Bob isn’t a huge fan of peppers, but the yellow and orange ones he can do, so I thought he’d eat the filling and leave most of the pepper, but he ate the whole thing. The peppers were incredibly sweet and the filling had a deep flavor that was great on it’s own, but complimented the peppers so well.
Keep in mind that this was something I threw together and all quantities are estimations.
- 2 large peppers
- 1 cup Israeli Couscous
- 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pecorino cheese (or other hard grating cheese), divided in half
- 4 kale leaves
- 3/4 cup basil leaves
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup almonds
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
Peppers: Cut the top of the peppers off and remove the seeds and veins of the pepper. Coat in olive oil and lightly salt. Roast in 350 degree oven while you prep the filling.
Pesto: combine basil, kale, lemon juice, garlic, almonds and a pinch of salt in food processor. Blitz until everything is finely chopped. Add 1/4 cup cheese and about 1/4 cup olive oil and blitz again. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.
Couscous: Heat a large pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot add onions and tomatoes. Cook for about five minutes, pressing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon every few minutes to help them burst. (you could also chop the into small pieces then add them about half way through cooking the onion.) Season with salt and pepper. Add couscous and cook for two minutes more. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pesto and most of the remaining cheese.
Put it all together: Remove pepper from oven and carefully (they are hot) fill each pepper with couscous mixture. Sprinkle a little cheese on top and return to the oven for about twenty minutes. There should be enough filling left for a third pepper, but I took it for lunch the next day instead of making another pepper.
The other day Bob and I did one of our favorite things – wine on the back patio. We had a nice glass with dinner, then finished them outside enjoying the warm weather. The pets joined us and I love the shot of Alinea on the table. You can’t see her very well, but I still love how it came out.
In the glass is a Gruner Veltliner that I love. We’ve also tried a Nebbiolo recently and while I generally really like Nebbiolo, I didn’t like this one. I tried to have it with food, but I just could not get past the Robitussin taste.
Pet pictures (’cause they are cute):