December 8, 2006

Magnolia Bakery's Red Velvet Cupcakes

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The recipes in this cookbook are not so extraordinary. I think many of the recipes can be found in other American cakes and cookie cookbooks like Better Homes & Garden recipe collections. But I am very satisfied with the red velvet 3 layer cake recipe which I halved and made into cupcakes for my daughter to try if they are good enough to take to her office Christmas party. The recipe is not as simple as the vanilla cupcake recipe and requires a lot of cleaning up afterwards. But then you are rewarded with these very very red, soft and moist delicious cakes. I didn't make the Creamy Vanilla Frosting that's supposed to ice these cakes because I wanted to try this real buttercream icing with powdered egg whites, butter and sugar. This is the best buttercream icing ever, not so sweet, it is very creamy and just perfect.

I ate 2 of these sweeties after posing them, I can't help it, they're so yummy.

Red Velvet Cake with Creamy Vanilla Frosting
From MORE FROM MAGNOLIA cookbook, pages 86 & 87

3 1/3 cups cake flour
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla exract
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 ½cups butttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
  • In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • When the cake has cooled, spread the frosting between the layers, then ice the top and side of the cake with Creamy Vanilla Frosting.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting
from MORE FROM MAGNOLIA cookbook, page 126

This silky smooth frosting is made by beating together softened butter and sugar with a thick saucelike base. Be sure to follow the recipe directions exactly.

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10 - 15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, on medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.
  • Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer - set a timer!). Use immediately.

December 4, 2006

Chili With Pink Beans & Chouriços

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Hot and spicy chili with beans is the perfect dish when it's cold outside. My stick-on thermometer at 1 PM today registered a low 28°F and with a slight wind chill it feels like 25°F. It is cold!! And I was thinking of putting the Christmas lights on my front bushes later today. I guess I have to wear a thick jacket and eat lots of chili before going out.

8 ounces dry pink or pinto beans
1 pound chouriços or chorizos, diced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 Thai red chili, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped fine
16 ounces can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup beef broth
grated cheese and saltines
  • Soak the beans overnight, simmer until tender, drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute garlic and onion for 2 minutes, add sausages and saute until sausages are cooked and slightly browned. Add all the spices, cook for 2 minutes, then add all the remaining ingredients except cheese and saltines. Simmer for 1 hour. Adjust seasoning. Serve with grated cheese and saltines.

December 3, 2006

The Washington Post Book World Top 10 List for 2006

None of the fiction books I read this year made it to this year's The Washington Post Book World top 5, one non-fiction did, THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: A NATURAL HISTORY OF FOUR MEALS by Michael Pollan.

Books I read that are in the 100 best fiction:
RESTLESS William Boyd

I am baffled that THE ACCIDENTAL by Ali Smith is among the list of 100. I think this novel is incredibly awful and one of the worst books in my honest opinion.

Possibly The Worst Books I Have Ever Read In My Entire Life (in no particular order, they are all terrible):
THE FIG EATER Jody Shields

December 1, 2006

Choucroute Garnie


Choucroute garnie for dinner tonight. Just a fancy French name for sauerkraut and meat, this recipe is from my old reliable Betty Crocker cookbook. I make this dish when I only have an hour to cook dinner, it is very easy and simple to prepare and so delicious. Make sure you have plenty of hard rolls to soak up the sauce.

2 rashers bacon, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 chopped onion
16 oz drained sauerkraut
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 pound smoked beef kielbasa, cut into 3 inch pieces and scored
4 smoked porkloin
2 apples, sliced into 8 wedges
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup chicken broth
6 peppercorns, 2 whole cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley - put in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with string.
  • In a large pot, fry bacon until brown. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat, add onions and saute until cooked, add sauerkraut and brown sugar. Add the spices and meat, put the potatoes and apples on top. Pour the chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes.

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