Wednesday, February 28, 2007

One Year Old

In the beginning, there were cupcakes. And they were good.

It's hard for me to believe, but this blog was started a year ago today.

I'm going to try and get a new recipe up today but, until I do, I just wanted to express how grateful I am to the people who visit and comment here, especially fellow bloggers Lis, Kevin, Rachel, Peabody, Emily, and Bibliochef. They are part of a community of talented, thoughtful people in the food blogging world, and I feel fortunate to come to the table and dine with them.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Junior Mint Brownies

The idea for these brownies has been bouncing around in my brain for a few weeks. I'd found this recipe but was disappointed that the mints weren't an ooey-gooey layer in the midst of a chewy brownie, but melted with butter and incorporated into the batter.

So I set to solve that problem and came up with the following recipe. If there were one thing to change, it would be to increase the amount of Junior Mints. I had a 4.75 oz box (movie size) and it didn't cover the batter as fully as I'd have liked. I added some mini semi-sweet chocolate chips hoping they'd melt a bit.

The end result is satisfying -- chocolately, minty, delicious -- but that gooey layer isn't there! There is a layer, but it's not as squishy and thick as I'd hoped, and the brownie itself is drier than I'd prefer. I think I'm going to play with this recipe again and see if I can't get it closer to what I'd pictured (the Platonic ideal of Junior Mint Brownie, if you will.)

Having said that, are these good? Yep.
Sates a chocolate and mint craving? Yep.
Worth making? Yep.

Junior Mint Brownies

6 tbsp butter
6 oz semi sweet chocolate
¼ c cocoa powder (not dutch process)
¾ c flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. mint extract
1, 4.75 oz. box Junior mints
½ c. mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing for 2 inches of overhang. Grease foil, excluding overhang.

Place butter and 6 oz. chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute at 40-percent power; stir. Continue microwaving at 30-percent power in 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate and butter have melted. Let cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.Place sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat, scraping down sides of bowl until well blended.

Scoop half of the batter into prepared pans (it will be very thick), smoothing the it as best you can with a rubber spatula. Top with Junior Mints, distributing as evenly as possible, and mini chocolate morsels. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the mints, flatting dollops as best as possible.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then, using the foil, lift brownies out of pan. Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Grade: Flavor, A; Texture, B

Saturday, February 24, 2007

5 Things About Me meme

The lovely and inventive Rachel of Coconut & Lime, Food Maven, and Cupcake Supernova tagged me for a 5 Things About Me meme, and being a blogger, I am only too happy to divulge.

#1. I have an MA in Media Ecology (New York University) and a BA in Communication Arts (Marymount Manhattan College). This means that I spend an awful amount of time thinking and talking about a) the effects of mass media on society and b) the dynamics of interpersonal communication. In response, I typically receive blank stares. I’m learning to restrict my pontification to the college classroom (see fact #2) where I have an interested and, let’s face it, captive audience.

I am media junkie. I love to read (books, newspapers, and magazines are mass media, people, and don’t you forget it!) but since getting a laptop two years ago, most of my reading is done online. (Yes, I am pondering the effects of a switch from print material to digital content on my cognitive thinking.) I spend an obscene amount of time online, and that’s while the TV is on. I love good television and movies (The Sopranos, Dr. Strangelove, BBC’s production of Pride and Prejudice, Annie Hall) but I also love the bad/cheesy ones (Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Thornbirds). I think American Idol is a scourge upon society.

#2. I teach Communications and Media Theory at Monroe Community College and Finger Lakes Community College. Not having a Ph.D. or the desire to get one (the old saw that "academic politics are so bitter because the stakes are so low" is true) makes it difficult to get a full time gig at a traditional university (and given the political atmosphere...), so I’ve been focusing my efforts at the local CCs, primarily MCC.

I used to teach Freshman Composition and Introduction to Literature at FLCC (see next fact) but then I was hired by MCC to teach media/communications, and I jumped over as quickly as possible.

Teaching Freshman Comp and Intro to Lit was great – when I had interested students. Unfortunately, I frequently had a room full of people who weren’t good writers/readers and had no interest in changing that; they just wanted their required 3 credits, thank you very much. (You haven’t experienced hell until you’ve tried to lead a discussion on Young Goodman Brown with 23 students who not only haven’t read the story, but didn’t buy the textbook.)

But I digress: I LOVE teaching media/ communications: it’s my field of study and, because it’s typically the students’ field too, they’re engaged in the material. There are few things as satisfying as teaching a subject you love to a class that loves the subject. Plus, I caper around like chipmunk on caffeine, using lots of reality TV examples, and students typically enjoy the show. I am saddened by the death of Anna Nicole Smith, primarily because I can never again say “TrimSpa, baby…” in a breathy voice without hitting a somber note. (And I did do that in class. A lot.)

#3. My other job is freelance writing for GV, which is a technology trade book (oooh, look at the lingo!) for government, educational, and corporate markets. Some articles have been a blast to write, and others make me fall asleep just … thinking … of ... zzzzzz ...

I have the kicking-est editor in the world: Mark Pescatore. He is not only a damn fine boss, but a damn fine human being. (And he just got engaged. Yay, Mark!)

My writing experience is what led to (or maybe, “conned my way into”) teaching Freshman Comp and Intro to Lit. Prior to teaching and freelancing, I was an associate editor at GV’s sister mag . From September 1999 to December 2000, I was the ghost writer for this columnist. My email address for this job was accidentally released by Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign committee in 2000. This was a full-time job, and I was also a full-time grad student. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was also the same time I started growing grey hair.

#4. I’ve been working out for about a month and a half and have lost 12 pounds. I’m high strung and quick to anger (look up “Type A personality” and there’s a picture of me, brow furrowed) and hoped that by physically exhausting myself on a regular basis, I would start to chill out. Ironically, I have more energy and stamina, creating a greater ability to bitch even more people out.

#5. I’m a good writer but I’m a fantastic editor (modest, too, and this does not actually mean I am perfect). I actually like editing better than writing and can (and will) spend 20 minutes playing with a single paragraph. I am a big fan of parenthetical statements (as I’m sure you’re already aware).

#6 BONUS FACT: I met my husband through an online dating service. Not any of the wholesome ones either. The kind of porny one. (It was edgy in 2001, I swear.) I did not go on one bad date using that service, either. It was awesome, and I felt like Wonder Woman.

So now, I tag Peabody at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody and Kevin at Acme Instant Food. Dish it, guys!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chicken, Corn & Black Bean Stew

This is an adapted Everyday Food recipe and, I must say, it's a very nice winter meal that comes together fairly quickly. (It's also the first recipe I cooked using my new toy -- a non-enameled Chefmate Dutch Oven. Only $25!)

The recipe calls for lima beans (yeeccch) and Worcestershire sauce (none in the house) which I swapped for black beans and delicious red wine (a lovely local wine: Eclipse by Heron Hill Winery -- scrumptious) respectively. You'll need to add more salt to the stew if using wine rather than Worcestershire, but that's a small price to pay for the mellow yet rich flavor red wine adds to the stew.

Lastly, the recipe called for a teaspoon of dried thyme but when I make this again, I'll either reduce that amount or leave out the thyme entirely. I think it gilds the lily.

Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Stew

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (optional)
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (also called "chicken thigh cutlets")
6 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup dry red wine (or more...)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
1 can(15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

Heat oil in a Dutch oven (or other 5-quart pot) over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, thyme, 1 1/2 tsps salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste; add chicken, tomatoes, wine, and 1 1/2 cups water (feel free to add more wine and less water, though be sure to save enough of the wine for drinking with dinner). Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover, and cook until chicken is opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot; stir in corn and black beans, and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, shred chicken meat with two forks. Return chicken to pot, and stir to combine.

Serves 6.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dark Chocolate Chunk Banana Cake

This is a community recipe from the WW recipe board ("From the kitchen of JOANNA_K") and is one of the few that doesn't use margarine, cool whip, or instant sugar free pudding. (Margarine, cool whip, or instant sugar free pudding: sounds like a Sandra Lee recipe, doesn't it?)

The only problem was that the recipe didn't specify how much banana to add. So I tossed in three bananas mashed -- and then forgot to add the milk. (Oops. That's what you get when you're distracted.)

The result is a thin, slightly spongy cake. It won't win any blue ribbons, but it will sate a banana craving.

I imagine it would be much better with the milk.

Dark Chocolate Chunk Banana Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
sprinkle of water
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease and flour one 13x9 pan.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. In separate bowl, combine bananas, egg, applesauce, and milk. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture just until blended. Add the chocolate chunks and pour batter into pan.

Mix all topping ingredients together except chocolate, adding enough water just to dampen flour and brown sugar. Stir in chocolate and spoon topping onto cake.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serves 24.

Grade: B- (Actually following the directions would probably yield a higher grade...)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Polvorones de Canele

Another day, another trip around the world for Sadie's class. This time, they're "visiting" Spain, so I baked up a batch of Polvornes. Essentially, these galletas are Mexican Wedding Cookies sans nuts (read more about this type of cookie here).

I'm not really a fan of Mexican Wedding Cookies -- too buttery -- but I really like the presence of cinnamon here. I'm not a convert, but it's a good recipe nonetheless.

Polvorones de Canele (Cinnamon Cookies)

For the Cookie:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the sanding sugar:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.

In a medium bowl, cream together 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and butter until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture to form a stiff dough. Shape dough into 1 inch balls.
In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; roll balls in cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until nicely browned. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Grade: A

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Effortless Hot Cocoa

Our house.

Looking down the street.

My car in the driveway, buried in a snowdrift.

Outside, there is 16 inches of snow on the ground. It's getting deeper each hour. The sky is grey, the wind is cold, and the snowflakes keep falling.

It's the perfect day to cuddle up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa.

To me, cocoa is the mellower cousin of hot chocolate. Both are delicious, but hot chocolate is more of a dessert: a deep, dark, sometimes syrupy, special occasion beverage. Hot cocoa, on the other hand, isn't as rich or intense; it's an every-winter-day drink. Especially as it's so easy to make. It only requires a little more effort than those from a mix, but it's infinitely more delicious. You can play with it a bit, too: I like to add a smidge of cinnamon, but you might leave that and the vanilla out and drop in some peppermint extract instead.

Or leave out the cinnamon or mint, and serve with a good, fluffy marshmallow.

Effortless Hot Cocoa

1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (I like Ghirardelli or Hershey)
1 to 2 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract.

In a mug, blend cocoa, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. In another cup, microwave milk until hot, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add about 1/3 of the milk to the dry ingredients, stirring to dissolve the sugar and blend the cocoa. Add the vanilla and the rest of the milk, stirring to combine.

Serves one.

Grade: A

RRC 6: Food of Love Round-Up

It's Valentine's Day and, beloved retro fans, I would like to cordially invite you to an old school Food-of-Love spread.
To start the day, Emily of Appetitive Behavior baked up Cinnamon-Nut Rolls from The Illustrated Good Housekeeping Encyclopedic Cookbook, 1965, Vol.1., which advises that "everyone (particularly men) likes something good and simple." (No lace teddies for Good Housekeeping's women, just a solid white Cross Your Heart bra and matching briefs, thank you very much.)
Oh, were we talking about food?

Anne-Marie at A Readable Feast is tickled by what Victorians fed their children. "Children were allowed small glasses of wine at the dinner table. Alcohol was a traditional sleep aid for all ages back then. This posset was a classic drink that nannies would prepare for kids in their care who were having trouble falling asleep. They even had special posset pots to make them in, some of which are very collectible today."

Anne-Marie suggests using it today as an adult night cap, but it's Valentine's day and you've got to get the kids to sleep somehow.

But if you don't want to drug your children, perhaps you can share a family meal with them. Freya at Writing at the Kitchen Table cooked up a Retro Meatloaf .

"Sure, it may seem about as romantic as Boston Baked Beans," Freya writes, "but Paul [her honey] loves Meatloaf and what more romantic way to celebrate love than to cook your loved one food that they love?This is the ideal retro food photo. Patry wrapped meat, accented with a boiled egg and a ketchup heart!

If you do decide to serve the kiddies liquored posset (and, honestly, that's the best way to go) you and your beloved can enjoy Haalo's aphrodisiac, Oysters Kilpatrick, all by yourselves.

Haalo, of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once, was worried that serving Oysters Kilpatrick, instead of "au naturel [...] wouldn't be met with feelings of love, more like a flood of tears over my act of desecration." But all ended well in the end: "keeping the oysters under the grill for less then a minute meant they didn't go rubbery and in fact the sauce and bacon worked well to heighten the sweetness in the oyster."

Now that dinner is out of the way, it's time for sweets.

Kathy Maister's Start Cooking whipped up a classic chocolate fudge. Chocolate is definately associated with Valentine's day but, as Kathy points out, we "don’t need a holiday to think about chocolate!"

Elle at Feeding My Enthusiasms got her food processor going for these scrumptious Chocolate Shortbread Hearts. The recipe comes from the 1980 edition of Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.

Brilynn from Jumbo Empanadas has her Valentine salivating with her grandmother's recipe for Self-saucing Pudding Cake (served with Brilynn's own Strawberry Ice Cream).

If you're not in the mood for chocolate sweets, there's still plenty of treats to choose from.

Breadchick from The Sour Dough took a break from kneading to bake up this Old Fashioned Coconut Cake from the McCall’s Cookbook Collection called Cook Your Way Into His Heart with Our Man-Tested Menus.

Here's the book's opening paragraph: If it’s true that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then all a girl needs to achieve that end is a working kitchen and our man-tested menus. [...]We can almost guarantee that you can cook your way into his heart - and live happily ever afterward.”

Holly at Craving Cleaveland baked up a One-Egg Cake from the 1910 cookbook (get this) Cupid at Home in the Kitchen. She gets an extra rose for attempting a recipe consisting on one sentence.

Margaret at Kitchen Delights bested Betty Crocker AND Duncan Hines with her gorgeous St. Valentine's Day Pavlova.

Finally, Jerry Russell at Cooking by the Seat of my Pants set a romantic scene with Tipsy Pudding. It comes from Fannie Farmer's The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, published in 1918, suggesting that Fannie was all about getting men drunk.

And that's it! Thank you to everyone who participated and have a very happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Honey Tangerine Lavender Biscotti

I don't know how this bottle of dried lavender got into my cabinet, but it needed to be put to good use.

And, as the snow continues to swirl, and the temperatures continue to dip, I needed to remind myself of seasons -- warmer, sunnier seasons -- that aren't winter.

So I found a recipe for lavender-inflused biscotti and modified it a bit. They're mildly sweet and largely taste of citrus, but the floral notes of the lavender poke gently through, adding complexity to the cookie.

They remind me of the light green grasses and pastel flowers of Spring, which is only 37 days away. (Or 36. I'm not sure.)

Honey Tangerine Lavender Biscotti(adapted)

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp egg beaters (or approx 2 eggs)
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ tsp honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tsps tangerine zest
2 tsps dried lavender blossoms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk sugar and eggs to a light lemon color; stir in honey, vanilla extract, zest, and lavender blossoms. Sprinkle dry ingredients over the egg mixture; fold in until the dough is just combined. Add more flour until dough becomes less sticky (I used about 3 more tablespoons).

To shape the dough into a log, lightly sprinkle flour on the work surface, on top of the dough, and on your hands. (Use just enough flour to form the loaves; you don't want the logs to be covered with flour.) Divide dough into two parts and shape each piece into a loaf approximately 3 inches wide, 7 inches long, and 3/4-inch high. Place loaves onto baking sheet with 3 to 4 inches of space between them.

Bake 25 minutes or until dough pops back up when lightly pressed with a finger. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Reduce oven to 275 degrees. Using a long serrated knife, cut logs diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices. Turn the slices over, onto their sides; return slices, on baking sheets, to oven. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes. NOTE: Do not crowd the biscotti slices on the baking sheet for their second baking as they need the hot air to circulate to enable them to crisp up evenly. Remember biscotti will continue to crisp up as they cool.

Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks. Store biscotti in an airtight container. They will keep well for a few weeks. Yields about 27 biscotti.

Grade: A-

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Retro Recipe Challenge #6 Deadline: Only 36 Hours Left!

Only 36 hours to the Retro Recipe Challenge #6: Food of Love deadline! Email your entries to RetroRecipeChallengeATgmailDOTcom by tomorrow, February 11 at 11:59pm EST.
Full challenge details can be found here or here.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Fine Chocolates in Boston/Cambridge?

So this year's Valentine's* Day is both bad and good.

Bad: Shane will be out of town all next week for business training.

Good: he'll be in Boston, with access to a number of sophisticated chocolatiers.

I'm in the mood for some artisenal chocolate. I want to taste salted caramels, truffles with tropical fruit infusions, and bon bons spiced with chili or curry. Any thoughts? LA Burdick looks very good, although their chocolates might be a bit on the tamer side of things. What do you think? If you have suggestions for great chocolatiers in the Boston area, please let me know!

*I can never decide where I want to put that apostrophe. Valentine's Day indicates that the day belongs to St. Valentine, but Valentines' Day indicates that belongs to valentines, or loved ones. Both work and I can't decide. Argh.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

This is not a low calorie recipe.

Monday night had me craving chocolate and peanut butter. If I could have snorted it, or taken it intravenously, I -- I would have looked for another option.

The point is, I really wanted some peanut butter in my chocolate. And I found it in here, substituting a boxed brownie mix for the chocolate batter. (I know a lot of foodies turn their noses up at boxed mixes, but I don't think that's warranted for a good brownie mix.)

These are amazingly good. Rich and fudgy chocolate is complemented by sweet peanut butter reminiscent of the pb in Reese's peanut butter cups. But putting how delicious these are into works is difficult, particularly when your mouth is filled with them.
The only thing I might add is 1/3 to 1/2 bag of semi-sweet morsels to the chocolate batter. But never mind; they're scrumptious with or without extra chocolate.

Actually, I think I have to stop typing and go get another brownie. Excuse me.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies (adapted)
1 boxed brownie mix for a 13x9 pan, prepared according to box directions

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Line a 13x9 pan with aluminum foil, spraying the bottom of the foil-covered pan with cooking spray.

Prepare peanut butter swirl: using a stand mixer, beat peanut butter, sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, and egg until well blended.

Spread two-thirds of the prepared chocolate brownie batter into the bottom of the pan. Top with 6 large (or 12 small) dollops of peanut butter mixture. Top with remaining 1/3 of brownie batter. With tip of knife, cut and twist through mixtures to create swirled effect.

Bake brownie 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from edge comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.

When cool, cut brownie lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces.

Yields 24.

Grade: A

Monday, February 05, 2007

Retro Recipe Challenge # 6 (Food of Love) Deadline in One Week

It's seriously cold here (today's high with be 12-degrees F, but the wind chill will make it seem like it's 15 to 20 below) yet nothing would warm the cockles of my heart more than some RRC#6: Food of Love entries. ("Please, sir. Can I 'ave some more?")

Email your entries to Please RetroRecipeChallengeATgmailDOTcom by this Sunday, February 11 at 11:59pm EST. Full details can be found here or here.

Stay warm!


Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake

I am not becoming a vegan. I am not becoming a vegetarian. I like meat and dairy way too much. (In fact, I'm thinking about getting this t-shirt.)

But maybe -- once in a while -- I can dabble with recipes from the veggie side.

I'd wanted to make a cake using chai (inspired by my lust for these drool-worthy cupcakes and muffins) and, while searching for a recipe, stumbled upon the Susan V's impressive Fatfree Vegan Kitchen.

I know what you're thinking: vegan cooking = malevolent soy & seaweed concoctions. I'm not entirely convinced that's not true, but Susan V's blog goes a long way toward changing that perception. Vindaloo Vegetables? Black-eyed Pea Gumbo? Southwestern Black Bean Potato Salad? Yes, please! (Plus, did you see that NY Times' article on vegan cupcake chef, Chandra Moskowitz? Those cupcakes looked pretty damned good!)

So on Friday night, I baked up Susan V's recipe for Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake. I was, and am, amazed at how well things turned out.

The cake, targeted at breakfast, is more like a muffin (next time, I'll try baking the batter in muffin tins). It's dense, moist, and just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet-breakfast craving. Plus, the recipe lends itself to a bit of playing. Chopped nuts (mmm, pecans), raisins, a bit more almond extract; any one of these (or a combination) would fit into the recipe well.

The cake reminds me of the apple-zucchini-carrot-coconut muffins I'd grab at Amy's Bread on the way to work. Those were so good, and I'm glad to have found a recipe that (though the ingredients aren't the same) reminds of Amy's amazing baking. (Now all I have to do is find the cute paper muffin liners Amy's Bread uses, too.)

A few notes: the spiciness implied by chai in the recipe's title isn't really there. In the recipe, however, Susan V suggests adding more ginger to increase the cake's bite. I had just enough ginger in the pantry to add an 1/8 tsp. more than is called for so, while the cake's flavor has rich depth, I wouldn't call it spicy. (But again, kick up the ginger or even the cinnamon to achieve that goal.)

I substituted rolled oats and apple cider vinegar for quick oats and regular vinegar, respectively, and baked the cake in a 9-inch square pan. I also preferred the cake at room temperature than warm out of the oven.

Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake (slightly adapted)

1 cup strong chai tea
1/3 cup uncooked quick oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger (use more for a spicier cake)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut, 2 tbsp reserved

Prepare the chai ahead of time by steeping two teabags one cup of boiling water until cool.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine the dry ingredients (oatmeal through sugar) in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the chai, applesauce, vinegar, extracts, and all but 2 tablespoons of the coconut. Mix well, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle with the reserved coconut and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 9.

Susan V's nutritional breakdown: 179 Calories; 2g Total Fat; (11% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 273mg Sodium; 3g Dietary Fiber; 3 Weight Watchers Points.

(Tell me you don't admire a chef who supplies her own nutritional breakdown! Yay, Susan V!)

Grade: A

Friday, February 02, 2007

Craaaazy Formatting

I don't know why the posts' formatting is wacky. I suspect another errant squirrel shorted out the Blogger servers. Hopefully, everything will be back to normal soon but, in the meantime, let's pretend this is the latest in avant garde art.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffeecake

Despite high member ratings, this cake is a disappointment. The cinnamon streusel is good, but it's so scanty, it might as well not be there. (You can see it in the picture above, capping the cake, and running through the middle like a racing stripe.)

The cake flavor resembles that of a biscuit, which is great for biscuits, but not what I'm looking for in a cake. Plus, the texture was heavy and too chewy.

It's not a horrible cake, just bland and boring. I won't be baking this one again.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffeecake
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, and stir well. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; sprinkle 1/3 cup of the walnut mixture into pan. Set walnut mixture aside.

Combine 1 1/4 cups sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl, and beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Measure 2 cups of batter; set aside. Pour remaining batter into prepared pan; sprinkle remaining walnut mixture over batter. Pour reserved 2 cups batter over walnut mixture. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 16 servings

CALORIES 249 (26% from fat); FAT 7.3g (sat 1.4g,mono 1.9g,poly 3.3g); PROTEIN 4.9g; CHOLESTEROL 28mg; CALCIUM 63mg; SODIUM 175mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 1.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.1g

Grade: C-