Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rum Cake - two birds, one bite

Now that our favorite Country Cleaver is finally Mrs. Ben, I suppose I should *finally* finish posting the recipes from her shower. Times like this when I wish I could still blame grad school... But I don't have any excuse, really. But there's another post coming with an actual update...

In the mean time... Here's my favorite from the party - drunk cake. Have a snack AND catch a buzz at the same time. Okay, well these were miniature, so there's not much of a buzz... But these can easily make one large bundt cake by just adjusting the pan. Also - a quick note about "mini bundt pans": they really vary in size. Unlike "cupcake tins", there is not a uniform size. I got the cake recipe from her greatness Martha Stewart, and based on the cooking times and quantity... her baking tins were from a different planet. So, I halved the recipe, had many leftover, and watched them very carefully (so my cooking time is an estimate...). I did *not* use her glaze - it wasn't nearly drunk enough. I did find a wonderful version from Bacardi, and everything is combined below.

I'd like to apologize for the lack of story with this post, but I also want to add that this cake is so good that it doesn't need a story, an excuse, or a history - just make it. Then put it in your cake hole.

Rum Cake
Cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, her holiness.
Glaze recipe adapted from Bacardi (I could not find an original source)


Baking spray or shortening
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Buttermilk
scant 1/4 cup Dark Rum
2 sticks Butter, room temperature
1 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
5 large Eggs

1/2 cup butter (not margarine - don't play me like that)
1/4 cup water
1 scant cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded (optional)
1/2 cup + 3/4 cup rum

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously coat the mini bundt pan in cooking spray or shortening. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl (or measuring cup), combine the buttermilk and rum.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars. Beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one a time, combining between each addition. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredient mixtures, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.
  3. Fill each cavity ~1/2 full with batter. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles. Bake for 10-12 minutes (will vary depending on pan size) or until the cakes just start to brown, and bounce back to the touch. Let the pans cool for a few minutes in the pan (just to set), then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Once cool, gently poke each cake a few times with a fork. Using a pastry brush (or just... a pour spout?), sprinkle the cakes with 1/2 cup of rum, and let that soak in while you prepare the glaze.
  5. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Then add the water, sugar, and vanilla bean (seeds and pod). Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat slightly, and boil for about 5 minutes to cook the sugar. Remove from the heat, remove the vanilla bean pod, and slowly add the rum. Let the glaze come to room tempterature in order to thicken, then pour/spread over each cake. Enjoy!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prosciuotto Crostini-gasmic

This next bite is my single favorite mouth morsel from the infamous bridal shower of the great Country Cleaver.

It's time for... Prosciutto Crostini.

Guys, let's rap for a minute. The following is real math. I could provide a proof, but it's all on your taste buds. The rap:
[Bread] + [Jam(sweet)] + [Creamy] + [Salty] = Party(Mouth)
There is literally nothing more that you can ask from this snack. Nothing. Not one darn thing. Just trust me. This can be dinner - it has meat on it. It can be breakfast - it's got jam, which is fruit-esque. It will dance on your taste buds. It will marry your saliva. Not to be crude, but you might need to change your pants. You challenge my poetic love? Then I triple-dog-dare you to make them. Then come back and look me in the eye and try to tell me it sucked. 

That's right - you won't have a single bad thing to say.

Like most of the tidbits we made for the shower - this is insanely easy. This dish isn't so much "cooking" as "flavor-profile-assembly".

The following recipe makes at least 2 dozen pieces.
  • 1 loaf sourdough baguette (french baguette will do if you can't find sourdough)
  • ~4 oz Fig jam or preserve (if chunky, you may need to run through a food processor to make it spreadable)
  • ~4 oz. Whole-milk ricotta
  • ~8 oz Prosciutto (paper-thinly sliced)
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  1. Slice the baguette into slices about 1/4 - 1/2" thick, on a slant (you need to be able to bite these). 
  2. Lay out all the slices on a baking sheet or clean counter for easy assembly.
  3. Spread enough jam on each slice to just cover the slice (too much will ooze with your bite). 
  4. Dollop about 1 teaspoon of ricotta on top of the fig on each slice - again, too much will ooze.
  5. Place one a thin piece of prosciutto on top of the stack - it won't take much. You can pre-cut the meat in the package to help you portion it evenly.
  6. Crack pepper on top of the whole lot.
  7. Put. It. In. Your. Mouth.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Devil in My Kitchen

For the whole story about Megan's Bridal shower... click here.

So here's the thing about my experience with Deviled Eggs - people hate to love them. You will never have many left-over deviled eggs at a party. But people will not request them, or comment on them. But they will lick that plate clean. Seriously. And it may be a regional thing - I don't know how people in the South act about them (my research tells me that it's serious business), but in the West, they're not really sought after. But if you make them... they will come. It's like a good egg salad sandwich. You don't normally tell people that's your favorite. You lie and say it's something passe like turkey. Because only 10 year olds love an egg salad sandwich. On some lightly toasted rye. And maybe some lettuce. And a little bacon if you're feeling crazy. Alright - maybe I'm 10 at heart. I love eggs to the same capacity that my dad hates them. That's okay - I'll eat his.

Some history: yes, I actually researched before the shower. Back to the trend in the mid century: stuff things into other things. Deviled eggs? Whole lot of egg-ception right there. An egg stuffed with ITSELF. Apparently, these things have been around in some form for centuries. And for the last century, they've been quite the international traveler and remaining quite popular in most of Europe.

Deviled eggs remain a beautiful platform for many other things. Very versatile... You can make the filling with onion, celery, and/or diced olives. You can add heat with jalapenos, flair with curry, or tang with pickles. Top with salsa, brisket, or caviar. Infuse with flavors from Caesar salad, barbecue, or sushi. And then when you're full that day, try something else! Seriously guys - these things are freaking amazing.

And obviously I made them for the shower. They were a little plain, but more purest than anything. But here's the problem I always have with making deviled eggs... recipes for them are the worst! Different eggs have different moisture content - so they'll need different amounts of fillings to reach the desired consistency.

So you will find below the ingredients that I used. The yolk mixture is so easy to taste along the way. I always start with the mayonnaise and mustard to get the main consistency right. I'm not a huge fan of relish in the eggs, but I love the texture of minced celery. I like to top sprinkle the top with just a bit of paprika and seasoned salt for both color and they brighten the flavor profile. For this special occasion, I also topped with minced parsley, though you can omit this. You can make these in any quantity - from one egg up to your army-sized needs. I find that 6-12 eggs (making 12-24 servings) is enough for most parties. Finally - I piped the filling. There is no shame in using a spoon. But even if you don't have a piping tip, I just think it's easiest to put all the filling in a zip-top bag, trim the end, and fill that way. You almost always need with 2 spoons, or a messy finger, and I lose the least amount of filling by using the bag method.

That's it!
  1. Eggs
  2. Mayonnaise
  3. Mustard (I like Dijon)
  4. Finely minced celery
  5. Seasoned Salt
  6. Paprika (if you're feeling spicy)
  7. Lemon pepper (if you're feeling zesty)
  8. Other things to add-to-taste: Relish, salsa, caviar (on top), or pesto.