Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stereotypical American food, conference edition

So Americans have some kind of gross eating habits.  When I was at my conference in early May, I went to a restaurant that I shall not name in Columbus with a bunch of Europeans.  They immediately noticed the most disgusting (and stereotypically American) item on the menu: deep fried hamburger.  Several of them ordered it.  I took a picture.  I think the worst part was most of them ate the whole thing.


So for those of you who don't know the reason why this is the first time I'm posting in all of May, it's because I was traveling for the first 17 days.  First I was in Columbus, OH for a conference (and I am leaving tomorrow for a related conference).  Then I went to Europe.  I stayed with a friend in southern Germany and visited several German and French cities as well as Luxembourg.  We finished off the trip with a Paris visit.  The whole trip was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, I don't have a camera so the only pictures are those she took in Paris.  The unfortunate part about returning to the States is that the bread there was so amazing, I don't think I'll ever be able to eat store bought bread in the U.S. again, even from the bakery.  This isn't a huge problem since I bake about 80% of the bread that I eat, it's just cutting out that remaining 20%.  It does mean that I need to expand my repertoire, however.  Since I've been working from home, and will continue to at least 4 days a week (this is of course, including weekends), I have the opportunity to do things like attempt baguettes, which require longer proofing time than other breads.  I started with a fairly simple recipe and liked the outcome except the crust did not brown as much as in their pictures.  I left it in the oven for about 45-50 minutes, which was definitely too much, the crust was thicker and the inside drier than the baguette should have been, but I was waiting for it to turn "dark golden brown."  In retrospect, I should have baked them at a higher temperature.  My oven claims to go up to 500F.  That being said, I made the baguettes on Thursday morning and they were gone by Saturday afternoon... and I didn't share with anyone.

Baba Ganoush

Hey all, sorry for not posting for several months.  Boy do I have a backlog of stuff I've made.  I'll start with the most recent since I remember it.  I'm certain I'll forget a few things, but prepare for a barrage of posts!

As of lately I've had more hummus cravings that I ever remember.  And I've figured out what it is that I've been craving about hummus: the tahini.  Tahini is basically sesame seed butter and I am a pretty big fan of sesame seeds to begin with.  But hummus is old news (I've been making it almost weekly and I am sorry for not posting, it never turns out exactly how I want it to).  The other similar dip that I know with large quantities of tahini: baba ganoush.  Instead of pureeing chickpeas, one roasts and purees eggplant.  It sounds scary, but honestly, you probably can't tell that it's eggplant.  Even before I liked eggplant, I liked baba ganoush because it basically tastes like tahini and garlic, just like hummus (or at least my hummus).  Plus, I busted out the liquid smoke flavor, since I don't have a smoker or even a gas burner.  And this made my baba ganoush delicious.  What's even better is that it purees much better than chickpeas in my magic bullet.  I think i may not add enough olive oil to hummus, but baba ganoush needs a lot less.  I served it with both carrots and, when I ran out of those, toasted pita.

Baba Ganoush
1 eggplant
2 Tbsp tahini
2 small cloves garlic
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
dash of chili powder (to taste)
dash of liquid smoke (optional)

Broil eggplant until soft, turning every 10 minutes or so.  This took about 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool, until you can handle it.  You can speed this along by peeling the skin off.  Once it's cool enough, scoop out the pulp and put it in a Magic Bullet (or food processor or blender) with all the other ingredients and blend until smooth.  Serve with pita or veggies.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Apricot Walnut Bread

Hello all,
Whoops, I didn't get a picture before some of it disappeared

I didn't post in March!  I haven't really been making much food due to the fact that I have free food Tuesday and Wednesday (and sometimes more) nights and I've been out of town or finding more free food, so I've just kind of been throwing together things I've already made.  Even for Pi Day, I made Caramelized Pear Tart.  I've neglected Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks (I haven't been around on weekends).

But one thing I've still been trying to make is bread.  And I made a few different kinds, none worth mentioning.  But this one was quite good.  I found the recipe on Serious Eats.  It's not sweet (it's the first bread I've ever made without adding sugar or honey), but it's soft and tasty.  The crumb is much nicer than other kinds of bread I've made.

Walnut-Apricot Bread

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 package) yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1 cup raw walnuts
14 dried pitted apricots (I used Turkish)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, and one cup of the bread flour.
2. Put the walnuts, apricots and olive oil into your food processor, blender, or other capable device, and process it until it is a mostly smooth homogeneous mixture. This should make about a cup, but a little more or less is fine.
3. By the time the walnut mixture is smooth, the flour mixture should be bubbly. Add the rest of the bread flour and the salt to the flour mixture, and knead with the dough hook until it begins to come together.
4. Add the walnut mixture to the dough, including all the liquid that may be separating from the walnuts. Knead until the mixture has incorporated fully into the dough and it starts becoming smooth.
5. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes before continuing.
6. After the rest, continue kneading with the dough hook until the dough is smooth, shiny and elastic.
7. Remove the bowl from the mixer, form the dough into a ball. It shouldn't be sticky at all at this point. Put the dough ball back into he mixer bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest until doubled in size, about an hour and a half.
8. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
9. Take the dough out of the bowl, knead it briefly, and form into a tight ball. Place it, seam-side down, on the baking sheet. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and set it aside to rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.
10. When the dough has doubled, slash the top. Be decorative if you want, or just slash an "X" in the top or make parallel lines or a square - whatever you prefer. To recreate the slashes I made, first make the large X in the top of the bread going almost to the base of the dough, then make short slashes in-between the long ones. Use small, sharp scissors to make tiny snips around the short slashes.
11. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. If it seems to be browning too fast, turn the oven temperature down to 325°F.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Broccoli Crunch Salad/Tasty Veggie Sauce

I made this for the Superbowl, that weekend that I cooked like 5 different things (and I've barely made anything since), along with the chickpea cupcakes.  The salad was typical, but the dressing... the dressing is amazing.  I just whipped up a little more and bought broccoli slaw at the grocery store (it was a buck for 4 servings, what beats that?) and covered the broccoli slaw with the dressing and it makes a tasty snack or side dish.  And I could practically drink the dressing, and quite honestly, it wouldn't be the worst thing for me.

I found the recipe at 101 Cookbooks.  I'll save you a post about the salad, but I'll include the dressing recipe.  I'm sure a similar dressing would be good with cashews.

Lemon Almond Veggie Sauce
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup almond butter (I just blended 1/2 cup blanched almonds until they formed a nut butter consistency because I am not about to spend $8 for a jar of almond butter when I can get a pound of almonds for half that)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey (I used a tasty orange blossom honey, which I am in love with)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I just used a splash)
2 tablespoons hot water

Make the dressing by sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash the clove and chop, smash and chop - turning it into a paste. In a small bowl whisk the salty garlic paste with the almond butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy. Taste, make any adjustments and set aside.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mole Chili

It's Superbowl Sunday!  And the Packers are playing!  But nothing feels more like the Superbowl than chili.  Or maybe that's wings.  But I've always had a thing for eating things out of bowls during the various bowls.  And for the Superbowl, it should be something, well, super.  And it's chili time of year.  I was looking for things to bring to for a party, and I bookmarked this recipe a while ago.  It's not a lot different than what I usually make, but cooking the veggies with spices before adding the beans and tomatoes adds depth of the flavor.  I'm found the recipe on Mozzarella and Merlot at some point, and thought it sounded good.  And it is, though I didn't have much chance to savor it since I was trying desperately to find a granola recipe online and then trying to finish before my roommate started the dishwasher so I could put my bowl in.  Usually I think that chili is one of those things you should just wing, but I'm including the recipe since the technique of simmering the flavors first is a worthwhile change.

It was a hearty chili, full of veggies, so it's very healthy, but like I said, just a little more complex than what I usually make, but not that different (except for the extra veggies).  I guess saying "hearty" is a given when we are talking about chili though.  It was good, but probably not ideal with the sourdough I bought yesterday.

To make this more "mole" like, you should probably cook all the spices together for even longer, like a few hours, before adding everything else.

Mole Chili
Adapted (liberally) from Gourmet, when it was still a magazine
1 large dried chili, chopped (you could also you red pepper flakes here)
2 fresh hot peppers (jalapenos, Thai chilis, whatever you got), chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of cinnamon (I used my good, complex, sharp Vietnamese cinnamon)
2 medium onions, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 lb chopped spinach (frozen is fine)
1 tsp grated orange zest
Pinch of sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened baking chocolate (finely chopped) or cocoa powder
1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup water
2 15-oz cans of beans (I used 1/2 cup dry beans that I cooked yesterday, about a half cup each of red beans, kidney beans, and black beans, since that's what I had on hand)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro/sour cream/chopped chives for garnish
In a large, heavy saucepan/soup pot, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook until they are softened and begin to brown.  Add garlic, and cook for about one minute.  Add chili peppers, cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano and cinnamon.  Cook for another minute, then add bell pepper, zucchini/squash, and spinach.  Cover the pot and let it cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the vegetables softened.  Add zest, sugar, chocolate, water and tomatoes (with their juice).  Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon so that there are chunks in the chili, but notwhole tomatoes. Cover again and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans and cook until beans are heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chili Flavored Chocolate Chickpea Cupcakes

Some of my readers may know that I'm currently not eating dairy, but that has made me crave chocolate (particularly in the form of brownies and the like) more than usual.  The good news is dark chocolate (at least true dark chocolate) by definition does not contain dairy.  The bad news is most good brownies use butter.  However in my obsession with looking at pictures of baked goods, I discovered a pretty cool concept: putting chickpeas into baked goods, sometimes instead of sometimes in addition to, flour.  This was a chocolate chickpea cake, which is gluten free and dairy free (as long as you grease the pan with oil rather than butter).  It's like a flourless chocolate cake, only the chickpeas serve as a flour like substance.

I once read a blog about an obsession with cumin that even beats mine and the author said she puts cumin with chocolate.  This intrigued me and I've been meaning to try it since, but haven't had a good opportunity (actually, I was thinking about making cumin truffles this year, but ended up making lavender instead).  I think that the chickpeas kind of encourage play with savory flavors, but I could see where some people might find these extremely weird.  They are kind of reminiscent of a chocolaty chili, more than a chocolate cake, especially since I used my magic bullet to "puree" the chickpeas and it missed a few.  But I made these to bring to a Superbowl party (go Pack go!) tomorrow and had to try one to make sure they were acceptable and not super weird to serve to other people.  I ended up eating 2.  Whoops!  I adapted a recipe from Serious Eats.  I'll let you know how they go over at the party tomorrow, they might not be as good cold.  However, I think they do a good job of incorporating Superbowl-y flavors, that is, chili, in a chocolate cake.  I had a picture that I deleted right after I sent it to my computer, but it apparently did not make it to my computer.  Maybe I'll add one tomorrow.  Maybe i should frost it with avocado buttercream (and maybe something gold?), but i think that may go to far.

  • 5 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 1 (19-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • dash cayenne pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 12 muffin tins in your preferred method.  The recipe suggests butter and cocoa, I just used baking spray.
  2. 2
    In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate by microwaving in 15-second intervals, stirring with a rubber spatula each time until melted. Alternatively, heat, stirring constantly, over double boiler until melted.
  3. 3
    Puree beans, eggs and vanilla in a food processor (or using an immersion blender) until smooth, about 1 minute. Add sugar, baking powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt and blend to combine, about 20 seconds.
  4. 4
    Add melted chocolate and blend to combine, scraping down sides of bowl well as necessary. Batter will have a thick, pudding-like consistency. Transfer batter into prepared pan and bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  5. 5
    Allow cake to cool for 15 minutes on wire cooling rack before inverting onto serving platter. Cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.

Tofu with Brussels Sprouts and Apples

So this is a dish that contains two ingredients that most people avoid, but that's a shame.  This is one of the first times where I actually enjoyed the tofu I cooked.  And the bitterness of brussels plays nicely with the maple syrup.  However, I thought the dish as a whole was a little bland, so I would probably add more garlic next time.  For the record, I halved the amount of brussels and apples to make it for one, since it doesn't work well for leftovers (but 4oz of tofu is roughly a serving, I may have used slightly less than that).  However, I set aside the other half for a quick already prepped dinner on Monday after my run.

But it's a healthy, quick and tasty (vegan) dinner.  I found it as a one pan recipe on 101 cookbooks.  I did  prep everything a little ahead so that I could cut up the tofu and let it dry on a cloth for a little while and then it came together quickly when I decided I was hungry.  I just ate it with some sourdough bread that was on sale.  I was planning on having chili tonight, but decided that was probably too similar too my lunch and dessert, which I'll post about in a little bit.  But my point is that sourdough bread is not the ideal accompaniment.  I'll make chili tomorrow.
1 large, crisp apple, cut into bite-sized wedges
1 lemon, juice only
4 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into tiny-inch cubes (see photo)
a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
a couple splashes of olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
a scant tablespoon of maple syrup
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped (I used walnuts because I already had them toasted and they are cheaper, but I didn't chop them)
12 ounces (3/4 pound). brussels sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
Soak the apples in a bowl filled with water and the juice of one lemon.
Cook the tofu in large hot skillet with a bit of salt and a splash of oil. Saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, wait a few seconds, now stir in the maple syrup, and cook another 30 seconds or so. Drain the apples, and add them to the skillet, cooking for another minute. Scrape the apple and tofu mixture out onto a plate and set aside while you cook the brussels sprouts.
In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the shredded brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious.
Stir the apple mixture back into the skillet alongside the brussels sprouts 1/2 of the pine nuts - gently stir to combine. Remove from heat and enjoy immediately sprinkled with the remaining pine nuts. This isn't a dish you want sitting around, the flavors change dramatically after ten minutes or so, and I think that is part of the reason brussels sprouts get a bad rap. Even I don't like them after they've been sitting around.
Serves 2 - 3 as a main, 4 as a side.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole

I love veggie burgers.  I love real burgers too, but I consider veggie burgers to be a different food.  My favorite are those that are made with real food, rather than textured soy protein.  EVOS has a nice actual vegetable patty.  I've had some awesome black bean burgers.  I even ate a black bean and (get this, those who know me) mushroom burger once and loved it.  I've tried them before (or was that just lentil burgers) and they turned out a little bland.  So I decided to follow a recipe.  But I changed it.  And I thought they would be a little bland, but they really weren't.  But they are even better with avocado and tomatoes (and spinach and steamed veggies as in the picture).  Or you could top them with barbecue sauce or hot sauce.  To be honest, I tried the little pieces that fell off, and thought they lacked spice, which is probably due to the fact that instead of chipotle peppers in adobo (which I do not like, for some reason).  However, the final product was quite good.  You could add more, or you could leave it as is if you want to eat it with other things and appreciate all the flavors.  For the spice, I planned on using jalepeno, couldn't find my jalepeno, so instead used chipotle and chili powders, quite frankly less than I listed below but I didn't measure, and a little water for moisture.  I'll copy the recipe and change what I did.  But one thing I did do to add more flavor: I used my leftover bread crumbs from the Daring Cooks, which were garlicy and parsley-y.  I didn't have quite enough, so I threw a little wheat bran in to dry the batter a little.  These are probably a little bland to eat bare, but who eats a burger of any sort bare?  They are tasty and a nice canvas that you could dress up, rather than a single entity of goodness. And tomorrow I will serve it with the steamed veggies from last night to make a colorful and healthy lunch.  A few of the faculty members in the Geometry-Topology group restarted weekly lunches of the group, and I'm very excited about this endeavor.  The first one is tomorrow, and I can show off my healthy and delicious lunch.

  • 1/2    of a medium avocado, seeded and peeled
  • 1  tablespoon  lime juice
  •     Salt
  •     Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup garlic bread crumbs
  • extra bread crumbs, wheat bran, or oatmeal, enough to make dough hold together
  • 3  tsp frozen cilantro cubes
  • 2  cloves  garlic
  • 1  15-ounce can  black beans, rinsed and drained (or about 1.5 cups cooked from dry, which is what I did)
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper (or really, anything spicy, extra chili powder is fine)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1    egg
  • 1  small  plum tomato, chopped


For guacamole, in a small bowl mash avocado. Stir in lime juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place torn bread in a food processor bowl or blender container. Cover and process or blend until bread resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer bread crumbs to a large bowl; set aside.
Place cilantro and garlic in the food processor bowl or blender container. Cover and process or blend until finely chopped. Add the beans, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, and cumin. Cover and process or blend using on/off pulses until beans are coarsely chopped and mixture begins to pull away from side of bowl or container. Taste and add salt and pepper (or any kind) if needed.  Add bean mixture to bread crumbs. Add egg; mix well. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties.
Lightly grease the rack of an saute pan and preheat. Place patties on pan. Grill directly over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until patties are heated through, turning once halfway through grilling.
To serve, top the patties with guacamole and tomato.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dinner: Blackened Tilapia with Avocado and Steamed Vegetables

I was very excited about this dinner.  And it was delicious.  It was however, not photogenic.  Apparently I did not season my cast iron skillet well enough and my tilapia stuck to it and did not look pretty.  And I mushed the avocado with lime juice last night so it turned brown.  And my veggies were done about 10 minutes after the tilapia.  But I decided to try to eat healthier this year, and this was exactly the kind of meal I had in mind: I want to eat more fish, more olive oil and avocados, and more steamed veggies (and a broader assortment).  So I'll just explain what I did, but please excuse me for not posting a picture.

This was my first time cooking fish and my first time using my cast iron skillet, both of which I was excited about.  The cooking fish was super easy.  I chose tilapia because it's extremely mild and gave me lots of room to play with, and also responsibly raised tilapia was on sale at Whole Foods last week, and I put it right into the freezer.  The cast iron skillet part needs a little work, but I'll get there.  I'll try seasoning it again.

Blackened Tilapia
One tilapia filet (I actually used half, but had lots of extra marinade)
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp chili powder (the American kind with cumin)
1/4 tsp paprika
pinch ground thyme

1/2 avocado
1 tsp lime juice

Mix up oil, lime juice and spices in large flat bowl or plastic bag (go for the bowl, it's reusable)
Coat tilapia and leave in for 30-60 minutes
Heat cast iron skillet (or grill or similar cooking thing)
Cook tilapia for 2-3 minutes on each side until it's flaky
Mash together avocado and lime juice.  Serve with the fish.  Yum!

Steamed Veggies
1.5 red bell peppers (I can never actually cook full peppers, too much of them always ends up in my mouth)
3 small summer squash
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp parsley
Cut veggies into bite sized pieces, whatever you consider those to be.  Remove stems from thyme and chop parsley.
Steam veggies until slightly more firm than desired consistency.  Then cook in pan for a few minutes with olive oil, thyme and parsley.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Single Coconut Lime Cupcake

I found this recipe for a single coconut lime cupcake and I thought it was pretty much the greatest idea ever, making a single cupcake that is.  This was adapted (that is divided) from a Vegan cupcake book (vegan works well since there are no eggs, which makes it divide better), and I decided to try it and if it worked well, experiment with my own ideas more regularly.  I love cupcakes, but I hate that they make so many and they are hard to transport if you frost them before transporting them, but frosting them after transporting them doesn't necessarily work well either.  So I thought this was a great thing to try to play with.  As for the cupcake, I think I may have added too much lime juice, the batter was a little runny and the cupcake was VERY limey.  The texture was different from a regular cupcake, maybe a little sticky/spongier, but definitely not bad.  That was probably due to the fact that it was vegan and not the fact that it was a recipe for one.  But remember, when you are dealing with such small proportions, you have to be fairly careful with measuring.  I wasn't super careful because 1/4 Tbsp is hard to measure, so I just went for a little less than a tsp.  The frosting is an avocado buttercream which is great since I gave up dairy and am trying to eat more avocados.  Also it's tasty, but I unfortunately cannot eat it by the spoonful since it is WAY to sweet.
The divided recipe is here, and the original is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Single Coconut and Lime Cupcake
  • 1 + 1/4 T soy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • Tiny drop of white vinegar (I used white wine, it is after all, only a drop)
  • 1/2 T sunflower (or any other light-tasting) oil (I used canola)
  • 1 T raw sugar (just use regular)
  • Drop of vanilla
  • 1 + 3/4 T self-raising flour (scant 1/8 cup)
  • 1/2 t cornstarch
  • 1 t fresh lime juice
  • 1 t shredded unsweetened coconut
  • pinch lime zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.  I used the toaster oven.
  2. In a small cup, mix the soy milk and vinegar and allow to curdle.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the soy and vinegar mixture, sugar, oil and vanilla for about 1 minute or until most of the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Sift in the flour and cornstarch. Mix well to combine.
  5. Stir in lime juice, coconut and optional lime zest.
  6. Pour batter into one cupcake paper/tin and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  7. Cool on a wire rack completely before icing. Makes one cupcake.
Lime Avocado Buttercream
  • 1/4 of a medium avocado
  • 1/4 t fresh lime juice
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • pinch lime zest (optional)
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the avocado and lime juice until smooth.
  2. In batches, sift in the icing sugar and cornstarch, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in the lime zest if using. Makes about 2/3 C frosting.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fail Cake

Maybe this is a bad name for this cake, seeing as it is the easiest cake ever and even a slight imperfection still leads to an okay cake.  Maybe I can call it fail cake because it wards of failure.  Last year I made it for a couple of my friends before their qualifying exams and both passed all parts.  However, I failed the first time I made it because I forgot baking soda.  I almost did it again today, and I realized why.  It was listed between the cinnamon and cayenne/chili powder, though those are two things I kind of lump together and add together and don't read carefully between them.  Forgetting the baking soda is kind of a problem because that is the only leavening in this cake (though it might be Kosher for Passover otherwise?), however it still turned out okay.  But this is seriously the easiest cake ever.  In fact, it is easier than boxed cake mix.  So I had the time and energy to make another to share with my qual studying friends, and I brought the first cake into the math department and called it fail cake because, it was the failure and the good one went to my friends.

As for the actual cake, anyone who knows me, knows I love the chocolate, cinnamon, chili combo more than just about anything else.  So this is definitely something I'm into.  It's also slightly fruity from the balsamic vinegar.  It does have a bit of a kick from the cayenne.  This time instead of using 1/4 tsp cayenne, I used a 1/2 tsp of chili powder (the American kind with cumin and oregano, as opposed to the Indian kind), which made it a little more mild but a little more complex.  Also, this cake is vegan and fat free.  This does not, of course, mean that it is healthy, it has no nutritional content, it just means it could be worse.  The original had canola oil I guess, but the recipe I got it from said they missed it, made it without and it was great, so I just follow their recipe.  There is also a glaze for it, I'll include it, but I never made it.

The one warning is make sure you work quickly after adding the liquids.  Baking soda is the only leavening and it only rises once, that is when it reacts with the acid, so your only rise comes pretty much immediately.

Here you go:
Mexican Chocolate Cake (that's it's real name)
From Serious Eats
1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
1/2 c cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (I use Kosher for baking)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 (you might want to even wait a bit if you have a slow oven, as this shouldn't sit around once you've mixed it up and it comes together SUPER quickly)

Grease a 8 inch round pan

Mix the dry ingredients.  Don't forget the baking soda; I wrote it in an order so you hopefully won't miss it like I did.  Make two wells in the dry ingredients...

Now work quickly.  Add the balsamic to one well, the vanilla to the other and pour the cold water on top.  Stir until just moistened and still slightly lumpy.  Pour into pan, put into oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.