Tuesday, December 29, 2015

5th Day of Christmas Frittata

By the 5th day of Christmas, the fridge is full of half eaten leftovers and veggies that are a little bit past their prime.  There is probably a flaccid potato or two complete with eyes growing in in the bin.   After a few days of eating rich foods and drinking lots of wine, there's probably a New Years Resolution forming in the back recesses of my mind...."eat more vegetables in 2016".  In addition, the college students are home from school, and my husband wakes up every morning after sleeping in asking "What's for breakfast?"  Enter the frittata!  It's a great way to clean out the fridge and feed a crowd.  .  It can withstand waiting around on the counter for those sleeping in. Plus, it's a really effective way to eat more vegetables.  Start on my resolution a little early.

A 10 inch well seasoned cast iron frying pan is the perfect cooking vessel for frittata; it holds the heat well and cooks the bottom and a quick run under the broiler finishes the top. The possibilities are endless....just use what is taking up space in your fridge.  Here's how I made mine this morning....


2 T. olive oil
1 cup potato, diced 1/2 inch  (remove eyes, but you don't need to peel it)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 c. diced leftover ham (optional)
a couple handfuls of whatever leafy greens you might have (I used kale)
1/2 c. water
salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs, well  beaten

Preheat broiler with oven rack in the center.

In a medium sized cast iron frying pan (or other oven proof skillet)., heat oil, potato, pepper, jalapeno and garlic and onion until onion is soft.  Add ham and stir until heated through.  Add greens and water and cover, cook until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.   Remove lid, and cook until water evaporates.  Add salt and pepper to taste to the vegetables.  Evenly distribute the veggies in the pan, and pour in eggs.   Cook on stove top until bottom is well set; then place the pan under the broiler until the top is also well set, about 4 minutes.   Serve with a side salad of greens.  Who says you can't have salad for breakfast?   It was always served at Selma Cafe....sure miss cooking there.

Here's to your 2016 resolutions....mine is to eat more vegetables!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Dark Chocolate Cake

I'm reading a vintage 1988 book I picked up at the Dexter Library used book sale Christmas Memories with Recipes featuring many great food writers like Evan Jones and Edna Lewis with their memories of the holiday.   Also included was a young "Martha Kostyra Stewart" ....her essay was written at her beginnings and her bio talks about her catering business and her book "Entertaining" and her video tapes.   Since Martha was on my mind, when my daughter requested dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate ice cream for her birthday, I went right to the Martha Stewart website for ideas.    I found a dark chocolate cake with a ganache, but I wanted to make a piped icing,  so I found a dark chocolate icing recipe from her cupcake book online.

Recently, I got a pair of 6 inch round cake pans because I've decided 9 inch cakes are just too much cake for us.  I've had good luck with making smaller cakes, except I have found that the cake seems to dome on the top. I usually just cut it off, but this time I left the top layer domed for a unique look.   I've yet to try the cake strip idea, but might do it the next time I bake a cake.   Here's how I scaled down Martha's recipe for my smaller cake:

Dark Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch ­processed cocoa plus more for pans
1 1/2  cups all­ purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups + 3T packed light­brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolks, room temperature
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup low­fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8­inch round cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk,  one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in chocolate and vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake
comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pans 15 minutes; run a knife around edge of each pan, and
invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, I was worried because there were comments suggesting that it came out too greasy or liquid, but in the prologue of the recipe, it said "this deep, dark, satiny frosting (thanks to the addition of melted semisweet chocolate) is a favorite of Martha Stewart Living food editors, since it has just the right consistency for spreading or piping into beautiful swirls."  I knew I wanted to do some piping, so I thought I'd give it a shot.   Reading through the comments, I found that those that had success followed the recipe temperatures exactly: the butter can't be too soft, the chocolate warm, etc.   My only question left is the recipe said it "serves 5".  What does that mean?   Originally, the recipe came from Martha's cupcake cookbook, so I thought maybe it meant 5 cupcakes?  But that wouldn't be enough to frost even this small cake.   The rose cake decorating takes a ton of frosting.   I ended up making the amount the recipe originally called for and it was the perfect amount to ice a 6 inch cake.   I still don't know what "5 servings" means.    Here's  how I made the recipe....make sure to follow the temperature instructions.

1/2 cup  unsweetened Dutch­ process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 10 oz. bags Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips , melted and cooled

Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.   Let it cool!  With an electric mixer on medium­ high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

At this point, I made the mistake of refrigerating the icing bowl until the cake was cool.   Don't do that!  It came out of the fridge like a hard stick of butter.   I had to beat it again to get it to the right consistency.   Room temp is perfect for piping the roses.   I am not a great cake decorator, but the rose cake technique is very easy.   I use a Wilton 1M tip that I got from this set.  The roses don't need to be perfect to make a stunning cake.   Here is how to do it: