Monday, January 3, 2011

Simply Divine Red Velvet Cake

When you add two things to a box cake mix people can tell. When you add two of the BEST things to a box cake mix, everyone says YUM. That's what I did with this red velvet cake recipe. Because seriously, it's going to color everything no matter what you do. In fact, my nails still look like they've been painted red, and they haven't been anywhere near that color for more than a month!

To make regular red velvet cake mix shine, simply follow the box directions - cutting down on the amount of oil you add. My recipe called for 1/3 of a cup, so I used 1/4 - it's just a few tablespoons difference, but I replaced with with fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
Spray/Greece cakepan (I forgot this step)
Red Velvet Box Mix
1 Meyer Lemon (rind and juice)
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips (I used trader joes semi-sweet parve chips)
1/4 cup oil
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup water

Blend ingredients together according to package directions, lessening slightly the amount of oil and water, replacing with juice of one meyer lemon. Add in chocolate chips, place in pan and bake according to package. The flavor combination is really great, got nothing but compliments all weekend.

My new favorite way to serve cake is in little cupcake servers - it's really colorful, easily transportable and provides a reasonable serving size so that the 'second' piece is considered before consumed. I know I've seen it before, but I was reminded of the trick by a friend's mom at his aufruf (wedding weekend). I think it's genius.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Amaretto Orange Blossom Challah French Toast Casserole

The girls and I call this Grown Up French Toast!
The recipe needs to be prepped about 8 hours prior to cooking. If you're planning a grown up breakfast for dinner, that means you can set it up before you start your day. If you plan to serve this dish for breakfast or brunch, just set it up the night before.
Grown up French Toast - Dressed with Tangelo Zest!
  • 1 loaf of whole wheat challah
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk (or skim milk)
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom water*
  • 1/2 cup amaretto
  • 1 tbsp sugar in the raw (or more if you don't plan to add powdered sugar or syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash of cardamom
  • Dash of salt
Cut loaf into medium thick slices.
Arrance slices in overlapping rows in a 9x13 pan sprayed with vegetable oil.
Combine remainder of ingredients in a bowl and wisk until blended.
Pour over the bread in the pan, making sure to cover all slices.
Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight (8 hours or longer).
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes until puffed and lightly golden.

The flavors married with the maple syrup - so much so that I might try baking some in next time. I also had to warm this, so poured a little more amaretto over the top before putting it back in the oven at 200. Special thanks to my friend Sam for the low butter/dairy/fat content of this recipe. It didn't feel lacking at all.
*A note on Orange Blossom Water: This ethnic delight is used in north african and persian cuisine and can be found in some ethnic food aisles. Occasionally, I have seen it as an additive to bottled drinking water, which I've used as a sometime substitute. Alternately, you can use a splash of orange juice or triple sec. It won't be quite the same, but still tasty.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Frittatas: 3 ways

Everyone has different tastes - but these non-dairy frittatas are so easy to make that preparing a few variations are just as simple as one.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For vegetables, start with a big pan (I use my flat wok) so that you can make ingredients en masse. If you're going to go from stovetop to oven, make sure your pan is oven safe.

Mushroom and Onion Frittata
1lb cremini/baby bella mushrooms (I picked mine up pre-sliced at Trade Joes).
2/3 sweet onion
8 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
Spicy Garlic (Grinder Blend from Kirkland - or garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes)

Sautee mushrooms - I used the Pacific mushroom broth and sherry instead of oil.
Sautee onions. (Season with salt, pepper, garlic to taste.)
Place in baking dish, pour in egg and soymilk mixture.
Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until eggs set. Typically, with a frittata one starts the egg setting process on the stove (it speeds up the process), but given that I making 3 to serve a day later, I went with this more foolproof method.

Because I made three different kinds I used the "cut once" method with this whole prep process. For eggs, that meant I did the cracking and mixing into one big bowl - 18 eggs in total with 12 oz of soy milk. Some pepper and salt. Because I had non-mushroom lovers amongst my guests (when will my friends grow up and embrace the delicacy?), I cooked those separately first and then all the onions at once, splitting them amongst the mushroom pan and then stirring in the spinach for the next two frittatas.

Lox, Spinach and Onion Frittata
1/2 lb Spinach
2/3 Sweet Onion
6-8 oz Lox
5-6 Sprigs Dill (or 1 tbs dried dill)
8 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

Add spinach into the sauteed onion mixture, until cooked through.
place in baking dish.
Add fresh dill and salmon in small pieces.
Pour egg mixture into dish. Stir and bake for 45 minutes.

Pastrami, Spinach and Onion Frittata
1/2 Spinach
2/3 Sweet Onion
2 Tbs Jack Daniels Mustard
1/2-3/4 lbs Pastrami
8 eggs
1/2 cup soy milk

Add spinach into the sauteed onion mixture, until cooked through. (I did two at once and divided)
Add in pastrami and mustard to the pan with onions and spinach and sautee a bit.
Place in baking dish.
Pour egg in mixture. Stir and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, make sure the eggs have set (they shouldn't wobble in the middle), slice and serve.
I heard from guests and found that when the savory eggs wound up with maple syrup they married quiet well.