Friday, August 29, 2008

Chocolate Cake in 5 Minutes

I received a challenge from my Grandpa, and I had to take it up. He loves to forward me pretty pictures, amazing stories, and pretty much anything else that catches his fancy. The other day, this was an e-mail called Cake in a Mug. This e-mail detailed a chocolate cake that could be made in the microwave, using less than 5 minutes total to prepare, and dirtying only one tablespoon and a coffee mug. I was intrigued, to say the least!

Tonight, as I wait for Lo Gung to return from his day at the US Open, I decided the time was nigh for a bit of chocolate cake!

The recipe is as follows:


4 tablespoons cake flour(plain flour, not self-raising)

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons baking cocoa

1 egg

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil

3 tablespoons chocolate chips(optional)

a small splash of vanilla

1 coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla essence, and mix again.Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!"

I followed the recipe exactly...and it turned out OK! The texture is a little weird, but that's not surprising, really - the cake relies on steam for the leavening, so it's essentially a steamed cake. The only change I would make would be to add a teeny bit of salt, to bring out the chocolate and sugar. The cake rose to about 4" above the edge of the mug, but deflated almost instantly when I opened the door of the microwave. (Honestly - I had the camera to my eye, ready to focus and shoot...and by the time I got the door open, the cake was gone back inside the mug!)

The cake does get a little rubbery as it cools...but what steamed bread doesn't? Besides, it doesn't really stick around that long anyhow! (I held off just for you, my loyal readers - otherwise, I would have eaten the whole thing before writing this post! As it is, a lonely little bit of cake is sitting on my plate, cooling...but I think I ought to go put it out of its misery now!)
This would be excellent with a bit of whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream..and OF COURSE, a huge mug of milk!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Three Kinds of Dip for your Next Party

All of my favorite food blogs (Smitten Kitchen, Paupered Chef, Wednesday Chef, etc.) have gorgeous pictures of the amazing dishes they make. They also all live in tiny apartments on the East Coast, but I digress. I think it's safe to say that I fall in neither category!

Rocket science these are not. Fine dining, these are not. But they're yummy, quick, and made from pantry staples! They also make my pregnant heart happy.

The first two recipes are from a Japanese friend in our last ward, and the last is from my sister (who blogged a gussied up version here) She can gussy up all she wants- I'm all about quick and simple. And cheap. I like that, too.

Wasabi Dip for Vegetables
Prepared Wasabi paste

I use about an "inch and a half" of wasabi paste, and 1/4 cup mayonnaise.

Miso Dip for Vegetables
Miso paste

Again, about a 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and a scant Tablespoon of miso. I use a dark paste, because we like the rich flavor. This is entirely to taste, so adjust accordingly.

Black Bean Dip
1 can black beans, undrained
jarred salsa

Whir together in a blender- I like about a cup of salsa (half a small jar) to one can black beans. If you want to gussy up a little I think this would be yummy with fresh cilantro and some lime juice blended in. But I had a very plain salsa on hand.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

MKMW - My Home Week

I have to admit - this week was kind of tough! Lo Gung was traveling all week, and it was really hard to get up the gumption to make an entire meal...for myself and a toddler. I think we did pretty well, though! I wanted to make something that felt "Southern." I don't think my grandmother's roots get NEARLY enough tabletime in my house. I wanted to explore my Welsh roots with a faux-sausage recipe I found this week, too, but I just ran out of time! There is still a quarter of my loaf of bread left, and we're going to toast it and eat it with my father's Crab Dip recipe tonight. Yummy!
On the menu -
Pioneer Woman's Yogurt Chicken (adapted, because I wanted to use what I had on hand*)
Garlic Creamed Spinach
Mashed Carrots (with a little whole milk and brown sugar)
No-Knead Bread with Blueberry preserves
* I omitted the fresh parsley from the yogurt mixture and used seasoned (regular) breadcrumbs...again, it's what I had on hand. I also used a few chicken drumsticks, instead of chicken breasts. YUCK. My meat ended up tasting really gamey, but I think it was a meat issue rather than a preparation issue. I'll definitely use boneless, skinless chicken breasts next time!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chinese Fried Rice

Fried Rice


Cold, cooked rice (This is important because hot rice will be too mushy.)
Canola Oil
Minced Garlic
Eggs, scrambled
Chopped Green Onions
Diced Fresh Ginger
Dark Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Left-overs (cooked, or fresh, meat and vegetables) (I used left-over grilled chicken breast and grilled eggplant from Monday's dinner, and added some carrot ribbons)

1. You can use a wok, but I have better luck with a thick-bottomed dutch oven over medium high heat. (My wok is really thin and EVERYTHING sticks to it.) Add 1 T. canola oil and add your garlic. (We like garlic, so I add about 1 1/2 tablespoons.) Stir or shake the pot. If you like ginger, add that here too - about the same amount you used of garlic. The idea is to cook the and ginger and flavor all of the oil in the pot. Make sure your garlic doesn't burn!

2. When your oil smells delicious, whatever is going to need to cook the longest. If you're using raw meat, it's raw meat. If you're using carrots or fresh broccoli, add those. The idea is to get everything done at the same time. Don't cook this step to DONE, just cook it until you know it COULD be done in the next 5 minutes.

3. When your ingredients are cooked about halfway, add your beaten eggs. (I used two.) Scramble those up with your ingredients. You can add your green onions here - you don't want those as cooked as the other ingredients. (Since I was using already-grilled egg plant, I added my eggplant AFTER the eggs - I just wanted to heat it up!)(If things start sticking or looking dry, add a little more oil. This is Fried Rice, afterall!)

4. Finally, add your cold rice. (I had about 3 cups of left-over rice, by the way.) Work quickly and make SURE you break up any rice clumps - nothing's worse than a bunch of lily-white rice in a fried rice bowl! When all the rice is broken up, and all the ingredients are mixed through, you can start to season. Using sesame oil, soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar, make this dish your own.
Here's a guide:

Sesame Oil - adds a nutty flavor, but too much can be bitter. Go for about 1 teaspoon and see how you feel after that.

Sugar - obviously, makes it sweet. This is an important partner for the sesame oil. Start with about 1/2 teaspoon.

Soy Sauce - adds the salty factor. Don't go overboard - about 2 teaspoons should get you started.

Dark Soy Sauce - this gives color, sweetness and depth. Dark soy sauce is much darker than normal soy sauce and tastes kind of like molasses. Use about 2 teaspoons of this and see how that works for you.

When everything is hot through, you're ready to go! This dish will keep hot for quite some time, and with some vegetables on the side or some dumplings, it makes a VERY filling dinner. I like serving this when I have guests over since I can have it all done cooking when the guests are SUPPOSED to arrive, and it will still be hot when they ACTUALLY arrive. The thing you want to be careful of, though, is steaming the rice after you're done cooking it. If your fried rice needs to wait a while, make sure to vent the lid so the steam can get out. Trust me - that mess of rice, oil, eggs and chicken will keep hot in the pot for quite some time.

To make it pretty, like the restaurants, pack your fried rice into a small bowl before turning it out onto a plate. Garnish with more green onion and serve with dumplings and vegetables.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Potato Meatball Soup, and a side note on meatballs

There's no pictures (how do you make soup look appetizing in a photo?) but we had a great soup for dinner tonight. Start to finish took about 45 minutes, and since everything went into the pot and then left to simmer, it didn't heat up the kitchen (or ME).

This soup might be good with the addition of canned tomatoes, or other vegetables, if that strikes your fancy.

One note on the meatballs- I try to keep a Zip-Loc bag of my meatballs in the freezer. Spaghetti with meatballs is a favorite meal for Ernie, and cooking it is a snap with the meatballs already made. I mix 1 pound of hamburger with a little tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, and dried herbs. Coat a jelly-roll pan with olive oil, coat your hands with olive oil, and make the meat mixture into balls about the same size as a small cherry tomato. I like little bites of meat. Cook at 425 for 7 minutes, and flip them all with a turner. Cook for another 7 minutes, which should be plenty of time if they're small. They don't fall apart, and have the most wonderful browning. Let cool, and flash freeze before storing in a Zip-Loc.

We served this with wilted spinach salad with warm feta dressing, a Serious Eats submission from The Paupered Chef's Nick Kindelsperger. Surprisingly, that salad is a new favorite for Wonder Daddy. For a guy who likes just about everything, finding a new *WOW* favorite is a big deal! Check out his gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce too, another "hit" this week. If you can add one more food blog to your reader, I heartily suggest Paupered Chef.

Meatball Potato Soup

4 russet potatoes, cubed
bacon salt
dried basil, celery seed, savory, and rosemary
olive oil

Cube the potatoes and put in a medium pot or dutch oven. Cover with about 2 inches water. Season with 1 1/2 tsp bacon salt (or other seasoning salt if you haven't yet succumbed to the marketing pressure), and the dried herbs and spices. Add 3 or 4 dashes of olive oil, and let simmer till potatoes are soft. Add frozen meatballs, return to simmer, and let cook another 15 or 20 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese.