Monday, May 28, 2012

Mint Chocolate Cake

Two cakes
Chocolate Cake:
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk (or 1 c. milk and 1 tsp. lemon juice, then let sit 3 minutes)
1 c. black coffee
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Mint Frosting:
8 c. confectioners' sugar
1 c. Crisco
1 c. butter
1 Tbsp. mint extract (not peppermint!)
6 Tbsp. milk

Mint Chocolate Ganache

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. whipping cream

2 tsp. mint extract

Frosting layer 1
To make the cake: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 greased and floured 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

The original recipe called for 4 layers, and I only made 2, but if you want to do the 4 layers, when the cakes are completely cooled, take dental floss and split each layer horizontally.

Frosted cake
To make the mint frosting: Using an electric mixer on low, mix together the sugar, Crisco, and butter. It will be dry mixing, but this will ensure even distribution of the butter and shortening throughout the sugar. Then add the mint and milk. Beat on high for 5 minutes, this will make it light and fluffy.

Put one cake layer on whatever plate you want to serve the cake on. Frost the top of this layer. Then add the second layer on top of the frosted layer. Frost the top of this and the sides evenly. Chill the cake for several hours before making the ganache.

Mint Chocolate Cake
Pull the cake out of the fridge about an hour before you want to serve it. At this point, make the ganache.

To make the ganache: Mix all the ingredients together in a small pot over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat as soon as the chocolate chips are melted. Working as quickly as you can, pour the ganache onto the middle of the cake. Using an icing spatula, spread evenly over the top of the cake, letting the ganache spill over the sides.

Ready to eat!
Store in the fridge, but take it out an hour before serving again, otherwise the frosting will be too hard. This cake is delightful.

Here is a link to the original recipe I adapted:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

4 chicken breasts, diced
4 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
ground black pepper, lots and lots
2-4 whole red chilies (I used dried)
chilies in the sauce
1/4 c. rice wine
2 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp black bean sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. ginger root, grated
multiple dashes of coriander, allspice, and dry mustard
dash of cumin
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 oz. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
hot cooked rice
cashews (optional)

In a hot wok, heat 2 Tbsp. of the peanut oil, saute the chicken and garlic. Season with pepper while it's cooking. Remove chicken from wok when it is almost completely cooked. Set aside.

Kung pao chicken!
Add the rest of the peanut oil to the wok. Add the chilies and toss for a minute before adding quickly the rice wine, hoisin, black bean sauce, sugar, ginger, spices, sesame oil, soy sauce, cilantro, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Then add the chicken and bell pepper to the cooking sauce. Cook for another minute or two.

Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to thicken the sauce. Cook for another minute or two.

Serve over the hot rice, and add cashews if desired.

Here's a link to the original recipe I adapted; it's one of my favorite food sites:

Salmon with Spinach and Capers Cream Sauce

King salmon
1 large fillet of salmon, skinless
vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste
dill, garlic powder to taste
10 oz. bag of baby spinach
dash or two of coriander
dash or two of ground mustard
1/2-1 c. whipping cream, depending on how large your salmon is
2Tbsp. sour cream
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 tsp. capers, drained
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Salmon over spinach
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Season your salmon with salt, pepper, dill, and garlic on both sides, then cook in the skillet, about 5 minutes on each side. You can cover it to cook it quicker. It's done when it flakes easily. Remove to a plate.

Add the spinach to the skillet. Season with salt, pepper, dill, garlic, coriander, and ground mustard. Cover and let cook over medium heat for a minute or two, stirring occasionally. Spoon the spinach onto your serving plate, then top with the salmon.

Ready to eat!
Gently add the whipping cream and sour cream into the skillet over medium low heat. Add the lemon juice, capers, cilantro, and all of the spices you've been using. Heat through, do not boil. Spoon the sauce over the fish and spinach. Serve. Watch out for any bones that may be left!

Here's a link to the recipe I adapted:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kolokythokeftedes (Zucchini & Feta Balls)

3 c. zucchini, grated and squeezed with a paper towel
1/2 c. feta cheese, crumbled (or more!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs mint, chopped
dried dill, coriander, parsley, sprinkled very liberally
salt & pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
pinch or two of Parmesan cheese
oil for deep frying

Mix the zucchini, feta, garlic, mint, dried spices, salt and pepper, Parmesan, and egg in a large bowl. Mix in enough flour and breadcrumbs to be able to form the mixture into balls. Form the mixture into balls, and then roll in flour. Fry in oil until golden brown. Allow to cool. Serve with marinara or tzatziki sauce.

Here's a link to the recipe I adapted: kolokythokeftedes

Monday, May 14, 2012

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Pork chops cooking
6 pork chops
1 c. flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. ground sage
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
Honey garlic sauce
2 eggs
4 Tbsp. water
canola oil

Honey Garlic Sauce:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. honey 
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 tsp. cracked black pepper

Don't let the sauce foam over!
Combine the flour, salt, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, sage, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a bowl, and mix well. Combine the eggs and water together in a shallow bowl, and whisk. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, to taste. Dip each pork chop in the flour mixture. Dip the the chops in the egg wash, then a final time in the flour mixture. Press the mix into the pork chop to make sure it sticks well.

Heat a skillet on the stove with about 1/2 inch of canola oil in the bottom. Turn the heat to just below medium, and cook the pork chops about 4-6 minutes on each size. You want to make sure the outside doesn't get done before the inside.

Dinner is ready!
To make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil and minced garlic. Cook over medium low heat for about a minute, then add the honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Be careful because it can easily foam up over the pot! Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

When the pork chops are done cooking, drain on a wire rack for a few minutes, then dip in the honey garlic sauce. I served the pork chops with rice.

Here is a link to the original recipe: One of my favorite food blogs.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rhubarb Crumble

4 c. rhubarb, chopped
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. cornstarch

Dough Topping:
2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 c. Crisco
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
sugar, for extra dusting (optional)

Rhubarb sugar mixture
Preheat oven to 400 F.

To make the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Stir, then set aside.

To make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder. Stir. Add the Crisco and butter, then cut together with a pastry cutter (or you could grate the butter in, which is what I do. Makes the cutting go a lot faster). Beat the egg and milk together in a small bowl, then pour into flour mixture. Stir until just combined.

Ready to bake!
Pour the rhubarb mixture into a greased baking dish. Tear off pinches of dough, and drop them over the surface of the fruit, making the crumble look. Sprinkle with extra sugar if you want.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Here is a link to the original recipe:

It was delicious! I've made it multiple times now.