coconut sour cream cake

Easter Cake

Coconut Sour Cream Cake

No, I have not abandoned you, Cooking con Booze – it’s just the past few weeks have been full of holidays and visitors and weddings and all day dance parties. Factor in recovery time for all of these events and I have been busy either boozing and grooving or vegging on the couch with grapefruit juice and a headache.

Before my schedule got hectic I made this Easter cake. Shirley Corriher’s book, Cookwise, is worth buying for the chocolate chip cookie recipe alone. And prior to this, that’s all I’d made from it. But now having burned through a whooping TWO recipes in the book I’m going to elevate it to the CCB pantheon of cookbooks, even though the book itself has not a single recipe that features booze. I added it here.

The booze: rum

The other stuff: for the cake–sugar, butter, flour, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, vanilla, butter, eggs, oil for the icing–sugar, sour cream, coconut flakes, vanilla

The cake: Shirley is like a one woman American Test Kitchen, so not only are you supposed to cook from her recipes, you’re supposed to learn valuable lessons about food science and chemistry and why your cake will have a different  consistency if you beat the fats for longer, etc. I have only retained tiny morsels of cake knowledge which I will share with you below.

Folks, when baking, the temperature of all your ingredients is important. Something about bubbles, I think. Anyway, to insure proper temperature place the bowl and the whisk you plan to use and 1 1/3 c sugar in the freezer for about 20 minutes before you get started.

Meanwhile get all your other ingredients out of the fridge. You want them to be room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×2 inch cake pan. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and stick it to the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle with flour.

Here’s another thing to know about – sifting is really important! So spread out a piece of parchment paper and sift 1.5 cups cake flour (all-purpose if you can’t find cake flour), 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Now do it again. At least two times to get out any lumps. Combine 1/2 cup of buttermilk (at room temp) and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside.

Cream one stick of butter (room temp!) on a medium speed in a mixer (you can use a handheld mixer) with your frozen whisk fitting until light in color. About 3 minutes. Add the sugar from the freezer in a steady stream with mixer running. Continue to beat for 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Add the 2 eggs and 3 egg yolks (also room temp) one at a time, beating on medium for about 30 seconds after each. Continue to beat until the mixture is light and airy. Should be a couple minutes.

Stir in 1/3 cup of mild-flavored oil (like vegetable or walnut). Fold in half the flour mixture with a large rubber spatula, scraping down the sides to make sure everything is mixed in. Fold in half buttermilk mix. Repeat with remaining halves of each.

Pour batter into the pan. Smooth  the batter with the rubber spatula. Bake until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. The sides should just be beginning to pull away from the pan.

Now you will want to pour yourself a drink and watch an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Resist! You need to make icing and the icing needs to chill for a half hour so you need to do it NOW! Sorry, did I stress you out? Don’t worry, this icing will only take second. Ru can wait. 

The icing: Stir together 1.5 cups sugar, 1 16 oz container of sour cream, 12 oz of unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 1.5 tablespoons of dark rum. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

That’s it. FOR NOW! Mwah ha ha.

No really, take a break.

Cake done, yet? If so, remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small knife and flip onto a cooking rack. While the cake is still a little warm slice horizontally into 3 even layers. If you screw it up it’s OK. As long as you have one nice layer to put on top, no one will know. I had a giant hole in one of my layers. See…

No big thing, just cut off a little more from another layer and cover it up. Pour 1-1.5 Tbsp fo rum on top of each layer. Ice all layers generously, with 1/4 to 1/3 of the icing. refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

The tips: Use the right kind of flour. I only had bread flour and pastry flour, so I used a half and half combo. 10 minutes later I flipped to Cookwise’s intro on cake baking and read that these flours contain more gluten than all-purpose or cake flour and will weigh your cake down. Too late for me, but not for you.

Regardless, this cake is amazingly delicious, and it has a lot to do with the incredible sour cream icing. It’s crazy spreadable too, resulting in a very pretty cake. Next time I think I’ll use less sugar so you can really tell it’s sour cream. Will also probably use more rum.

So, don’t be intimidated by how long this recipe it. It took me longer to type up this post than to make the cake. Cake recipes are always long, and trust me, this one is worth it.

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aside: tiffin

Accessories!

Tiffin
Asides is where I tell you about my favorite kitchen crap. Towards the top of the list is this contraption, the tiffin. If you bring your lunch to work, it is a must. 3 separate stainless steel stackable tins allow you to conveniently carry multiple items to and fro without filling a tote bag full of bulky tupperware. You can also fit a mini bottle into a tiffin, if you’re so inclined. I’m just saying!

Tiffins can be purchased lots of places – including here and here.

That’s a slice of coconut sour cream cake up above. I made it for easter and it was pretty damn incredible. It has rum in it – will post details soon!

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black-eyed peas and dried herbs

Mmmmmm! Monochrome.

Black-eyed Peas with Dried Herbs

I love black-eyed peas. I really do and I can’t tell you what makes them so spesh, but I love the way they look in a dish, they are a delicious and essential ingredient in cowboy caviar, plus they’re a southern food staple and y’all know I have a soft spot for that region’s cuisine. Make em up fresh and you’ll get better texture than the canned stuff. Last Monday I made a big pot and D.M. and I used them in various dishes throughout the week. This is the only one that involved alcohol.

The booze: beer

The other stuff: black-eyed peas (dried or canned), bay leaves, dried whole chilis, garlic, paprika, thyme, oregano, salt, olive oil, rice

The directions: This recipe basically involves quickly throwing all the ingredients into a pan and simmering for 15 minutes or so. The only time-consuming thing here is cooking the beans and cooking the rice, so if you’re going this route, factor in the soaking and simmering and 30 minutes or so of rice cooking.

Once cooked, drain your beans and place about 2-2.5 cups in a bowl with about 1/2 bottle of beer to soak. Meanwhile, chop 2-3 cloves of garlic and heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot throw in a dried chili or two, stir once, throw in your garlic, stir once, throw in your black-eyed peas and all the beer and add 3 bay leaves and spices. I do this according to taste but roughly use 1.5 teaspoons of oregano, 1.5-2 teaspoons of thyme, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and 1.5 teaspoons of salt. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. Serve over rice with hot sauce.

The tips: Don’t be fooled by how basic this recipe is. It is delicious and light but still filling and will certainly feature in the cookbook devoted entirely to beans and rice that I will one day write (this is a good idea! why hasn’t someone already done this?). 

You can mix it up by tossing in additional ingredients. The first time I made it I added a walnut sauce (walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil and salt pureed in the food processor). I bet it would also be good with any fresh herbs you have on hand. Cabbage always seems to work out when you throw it into random recipes. Next time I think I’ll add the pine nuts that have been sitting in my freezer since who knows when.

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carrot and avocado salad

Puh-puh-puh pretty.

Carrot and Avocado Salad

Is there anything more exciting than colorful carrots? Yes, of course. Lots of things. Like the 5 cent wine sale at BevMo, a week of warm weather in San Francisco and income tax returns. But if you’re making a dish with carrots and you have the option of buying ones that look like tie dyed t-shirts, then by all means, do it, dude!

I’ve been drinking a lot of this 21st Amendment beer lately. Something about the cans, which are $1.25 a piece at the grocery. Sometimes you don’t want a whole six pack. Sometimes, you’re trying to keep an eye on expenses, and buying drinkable beer in bulk runs about $10 – $12 ’round these parts, so sometimes it’s nice to just throw a couple cans in the basket and be done with it.

I found a recipe on the internet for carrots braised in beer around the same time I was turned on to this recipe at smitten kitchen so I combined the two of them and braised the carrots, then decided I actually wanted burnt and crusty rather than tender and buttery so I roasted them too.

The booze: beer

The other stuff: carrots, avocado, cumin seeds, carrot juice (optional), salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

The directions: Scrub carrots and cut into inch segments, halve the larger segments, and throw into a skillet with 1 cup of beer and 1/2 cup of carrot juice over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and cover. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes till liquid is reduced by half. During this time, change your mind about wanting braised carrots and decide you want to roast them instead. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Dump braised carrots, including liquid onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cumin seeds (or ground cumin) and roast for 15 minutes, or until nice and dark and crispy looking.

Meanwhile, slice your avocado, spread out on a plate. Add roasted/braised carrots. Drizzle with olive oil, extra salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.

The tips: Not all things you cook con booze will taste like booze, especially if you burn off all the alcohol by boiling and then roasting your food. In a different recipe I might recommend getting the delicious beer flavor back in the mix by adding a little tipple to top off the finished product. This works well in soups or pastas – but not really with a salad. So all you can do with this one is pour yourself a glass of something to drink along side your dinner. And it really is a nice, fresh, colorful and hearty meal. Perfect for summer days – days which are fast approaching! We had a taste of them  two weeks ago. Now it’s back to semi-freezing.

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black beans with bok choy

 

A weekday staple. 

 

Black Beans and Bok Choy

I could live happily for the rest of my life eating only black beans and rice. One day I will fill you in on my secret for making the perfect black beans. It does not have to do with adding booze, though booze of course, always helps.

These black beans are a fancy pants version of the straight-out-the-can kind I normally go for. And by that I mean there is a legit green-vegetable in here. You could also add mushrooms!

The booze: dry vermouth

The other stuff: baby bok choy, garlic, ginger, black beans, peanut oil, soy sauce, water,  mushrooms (optional), egg (optional), brown rice

The directions: Chop bok choy into rough pieces, keep the stems separate from the leaves, these will take longer to cook so you’ll want to add them to the pan first. Heat a tablespoon or so of peanut oil over med/high heat (you could use another oil here if you don’t have peanut, but peanut oil smells the best). Add the bok choy stems and mushrooms (if your boyfriend with the mushroom allergy is still out of town) and saute until shrooms are brown and the choy is tender.

Meanwhile, drain a can of black beans and soak them in a bowl with vermouth – about 1/3 of a cup. When the bok choy stems are cooked through add the leaves and some water (1/2 cup or so) and the beans, plus the vermouth and sliced or minced garlic (2 cloves) and minced ginger (1 T) and stir. Cook for a few more minutes till everything is steaming hot. Add soy sauce and salt to taste. Serve over brown rice.

 
The tips: Don’t cook off all the liquid. It’s delicious and salty and boozy. You want this dish to be slightly soupy.

And the leftovers – yep – put an egg on them.

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blood orange bourbon marmalade

 

This is a two day recipe

A pain, I know.

 


Blood Orange Bourbon Marmalade

I am moving from San Francisco to Philadelphia in July and one of the things that is concerning me about this move is whether or not I will be able to get blood oranges on the east coast. Fretting about fruit is surely a sign that my transformation into Northern California stereotype is complete and I should immediately decamp for the mean streets of New England or probably just the “Real America.” I may be a San Francisco softy but, you know, I really like being able to buy every ingredient needed for this recipe–liquor, designer fruit and sugar– at the same store. I also like to know they can all be had at 9am on a Sunday if that is when I want them. Which brings me to the other thing I’m going to miss about California – the luxuriously lax liquor laws.

Back to blood oranges. They are pretty much gone from the farmers markets now but I found them the other day so I bought 2 lbs and instead of eating them fresh decided that the reasonable thing to do would be to preserve their delicious tart flavor, in case I need a blood orange hit in the coming months. This recipe is based on one from The River Cottage Preserve Handbook. I hacked it a bit because I was worried about the finished product coming out too sweet. Also I became impatient with the setting process. See below for details.

The booze: bourbon

The other stuff: 2lbs oranges (blood oranges or other), a couple lemons, sugar, water

The directions: Juice all of the oranges into a large bowl. Set peels aside – you’ll want to cut them up into chunks or thin slices or whatever you prefer once you’re done juicing. When all the oranges are sliced, put the slices in the bowl with the orange juice and cover with 10 cups of water. Let refrigerate overnight.

After refrigeration, dump the oranges/orange water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until the orange peels become soft – approx. 1.5-2 hours. Squeeze in lemon juice, approx. half a cup. Now here’s where the recipe calls for you to add 10 cups of sugar. This seemed like way too much sugar, since I was looking for tart and tangy. So I added 6 cups, which I believe was still too much. Next time, I’ll go with 4 cups – tops.

Once you add the sugar stir until the marmalade reduces and sets. It’s pretty obvious when this happens because what once was water starts to look like jam. My recipe said this would take 25 minutes, but really it was more like an hour. I imagine the setting would have occurred faster if I had used the 1 to 1 water to sugar ratio. And since I was running late for a movie, I actually went ahead and poured off about 4 cups of water. The result was still too sweet for my taste – that’s where the bourbon comes in. After removing the set marmalade from the heat, stir in 1/2 cup of bourbon. Fill warm, sterilized jars with marmalade and seal immediately.

Thoughts and tips: I use marmalade and jam interchangeably in the directions above, and I assumed when I started this recipe that they were the same, though it struck me afterwards that maybe marmalade is meant to be very sweet? An internet search revealed the essential difference between jam and marmalade has to do with the use of whole fruits (used in jam, not used in marmalade) and citrus fruits (used exclusively in marmalade). Regardless, I advise cutting the sugar here unless you are some kind of sugar fiend. All the sugar overpowers the delicious tart-ness of blood oranges. Still this marmalade is pretty great. The whiskey goes a long way to cut the sweetness – you can really taste it, so it’s kind of like spreading a cocktail on your morning toast.

Not sure what to do with all your marmalade? Besides toast, I think it makes the perfect after work snack with cheese and bread. I like to make an open face sandwich with baguette, marmalade and sharp cheddar or goat cheese. Really whatever’s in the fridge is fine. This snack plus beer=happy me.

General preserving tips can be found here. I used to put everything in a water bath just to be safe, but you can be less paranoid about bacteria when working with alcohol so I just washed the jars in soap and hot water, placed them in a low oven for 10 minutes before I filled with the marm. and let them seal themselves.

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quinoa with mushrooms

 

Welcome to the blog, drunkies! And a life of cooking con booze

 

Quinoa con Mushrooms

D.M. is allergic to mushrooms and we never ever cook them because even the smell makes him ill. But D.M. has been out of town for a week, so I’ve been throwing them into everything, including this recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking.

Do y’all eat quinoa? If not, you should. You can basically substitute it for rice in anything and it is way better for you. Also faster to cook, and delicious when you maki it with wine. They’ve been eating it for thousands of years in Bolivia and Peru and 60 years ago NASA identified it as the perfect space food because it contains so many essential vitamins and nutrients. It’s so good for you, I sort of feel like you can count eating it as a workout. Anyway,

The booze: white wine

The other stuff: olive oil, garlic, onion, quinoa, salt, water, red pepper flakes, mushrooms, black pepper, cheese

The directions: Heat olive oil (use as much as you want – I used around 2 tablespoons) over medium/high heat. Add garlic (1-2 cloves, minced or sliced) and onion (1/2, chopped) and saute until onion is soft and translucent. Add 2 cups of quinoa (rinse it in cold water before you use it – it can be weird tasting if you don’t), 1-1.5 cups of white wine and pinch or two of salt. Bring to a boil and let boil for a minute or so. Don’t boil all the liquid off if you want to taste that delicious wine.

Add 2 cups of water and boil again, then lower heat and let simmer until the liquid is gone. The quinoa will release these tiny white spiral things, which is totally normal. Add cheese. I used goat cheese this time. I think you could really use any cheese.

While you’re cooking the quinoa heat up some more olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) in a skillet over medium/high heat. Shake some red pepper flakes in there and add some salt and sliced mushrooms. Stir occasionally for a few minutes till the the mushrooms are brown. Remove from heat  and spoon on top of a bowl of quinoa. Salt and pepper if you’d like.

The tips: If your final product is not booze-y enough for you, don’t be afraid to dump some of the white wine from your glass into the dish. I certainly did.

If you have leftover quinoa, eat it for breakfast the next morning with a fried egg. Everything is better with egg yolk.

 

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