Monday, April 28, 2008

Ladies Tea Party in the Park

Stealing the theme from this blog, Rebecca, Dani, Andrea and I had one of our own. All dressed in our ladiest attire, we went to Kiwanis Park and had a nice picnic in the shade of some trees by the lake.

We sat there and ate fabulous food and drank a variety of ice teas and lemonade, while watching people go by with looks of surprise and envy on their faces as they saw us.
There was indeed a lot to be envious about: It was arguably a fairly hot day - but we had shade where it was very pleasant. We also had lots of ice teas to cool us down after the bike ride to the park. We had yummy food and desserts to eat with the teas. And to top it all up: we looked awesome!

Andrea's awesome quiche and bean salad and one of Rebecca's teas

Our desserts: Farmers Market bread with grapefruit curd that Dani made, strawberries and fortune tacos.

I attempted to make fortune cookies, but they turned out more like fortune tacos, as Rebecca suggested. Everybody enjoyed their fortunes nonetheless. I think it's extremely appropriate that Rebecca got the one that said: "You should get more exercise" after she already biked 48 miles that day, and just before going for a night hike in South Mountain...

Rebecca's cool bee napkins

A surrey ride around the lake

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Two Cakes

Friday was Mark's birthday. He wanted a coconut cake. But since we planned to go to a vegan restaurant on his birthday, and expected to have yummy vegan cakes, I didn't bake his coconut cake until Saturday. And since Saturday was Passover, and we went over to my aunt and her family to celebrate, and I brought a Kosher for Passover cake with me, we didn't eat the coconut cake till Sunday night (which was actually Mark's birthday by his recently-discovered Hebrew date!).

We indeed had a yummy vegan blueberry cake at the vegan restaurant. No pictures, though, despite my carrying the camera with me at all times... It had a blueberry (vegan) cream cheese frosting that was simply delicious!

On Saturday I therefore baked two cakes. The first was made of a potato and absolutely no flour, oil or dairy (which qualified it as a kosher for passover, healthy, and kosher pareve, respectively). I would like to emphasize that it was made out of a real whole potato - not potato starch (a common substitute in Passover baking). My aunt and uncle were amazed with the cake almost as much as they were amazed by Mark's Hebrew capabilities.

Don't the strawberries simply look gorgeous?

The recipe for this cake is taken from the Vegetarian Times magazine. You can't see it from this angle, but this cake really holds itself - despite the lack of flour and leavening agents, it is quite tall! The original recipe says you should process the cooked potato, pecans and sugar till smooth in a food processor, which I don't have, so I just chopped the pecans by hand and so the result was not very smooth, but I think it gave the cake a nice crunchy bite.

The second cake of the day was the birthday coconut cake. I combined recipes because Mark wanted buttercream frosting and not egg white frosting, which is what most coconut cake recipes come with. So the cake recipe is taken from here and the frosting from here. Although I substitute coconut milk for the milk and added about twice as much of it than was required to make it taste more coconutty.

Oh, and since I didn't have 2 9" pans, I used 3 8" pans instead and got this 3 layer cake instead of two :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Philly Cheesesteak and Other Cheesy Things

Last Friday Mark made pizza. We like to have pizza whenever he has time to bake one, the question is: which kind? There's Sicilian, pan, thin crust, Mexican, Swiss... I like having the thick crust and Sicilian, because they're really big and we always have leftovers. The thin crust are so thin we always finish them the same day. So Mark came up with a way to eat the eggs without breaking them: he made a double batch of thin crust pizza and refrigerated half of it for later use. It worked wonderfully!
So Friday we had this pizza:

And last night, all he had to do was to get the dough out of the fridge, shape it, wait a little, top it, et voila!

On Saturday Mark wanted to make loaves of bread for lunch sandwiches, and to my request he made it whole wheat. They turned out very nice:

But he didn't want to have them the same way he always does - so we decided on trying the philly-cheesesteak style. Neither of us had ever had that famous sandwich, not even the vegetarian version (which we did plan to have while in Philly, but because of a certain David Letterman we ended up not going there at all). So we had to look it up online and make the required modifications, all the time thinking that we have veggie steak strips. But then when we looked in the freezer, we were very disappointed.
However, resourceful Mark came up with another idea: using the veggie-roasted-without-the-beef slices, which should work fine since the steak needs to be sliced thin anyway, according to the original recipe.

Mmmm... caramelized onions...

AND - for dessert - we had some cream cheese pie: graham cracker crust, topped with chocolate, strawberries, all buried under cream cheese-sweetened condensed milk goodness.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rolling a Pumpkin

Last Friday Mark made a pumpkin roll. This is one of his favorite types of cake - he doesn't have many, so it's an honor just to be on the list.
It's filled with low-fat and fat-free cream cheese mixed with sugar and a bit of lemon juice.

On Sunday we made gnocchi again, this time with regular potatoes - and it was just yummy. I don't crave restaurant gnocchi anymore - they were never really good - at least, not as good as one can make at home - now that I know we can make it ourselves.

I was so hungry and impatient to try the sauce, that I completely forgot about taking a picture. So here are the leftovers, ready to be our lunches for the next day.

This time we decided to use the gorgonzola we had, before it gets any greener, for the sauce. But we never have cream or even half and half, and all the recipes for gorgonzola sauce recommend using cream. So how can you make a creamless creamy sauce? Here's the answer:

3/4 cup milk (we only have fat free)
1/4 cup white wine
2 tsp corn starch
gorgonzola (about the size of a small piece of cake), crumbled
salt & crushed peppercorn to taste

mix 3 first ingredients on medium heat, add cheese when liquid is warm, stir till it melts.
It's very yummy, although I'm sure not as rich as sauce with real cream. But I think the cheese is fatty and strongly-flavoured enough to make it a healthy-though-deliciuos choice.