I’ve moved my blog over to the website of my new online cooking show Building Blocks.  On our show you learn to make your own ingredients for more fun and flavorful cooking.  You can find the blog here.  Please come check us out and tell your foodie friends!

We have episodes Making Coulis and Making Beef Stock up which include some of my favorite recipes, like meat pie and strawberry lemonade.  We have already shot our next episode, a lesson on Italian red sauce “Sunday gravy” with guest cook Vinny Pasceri.  Look for that late next month.  

I’ll leave this site up but disable the comments.  You can contact me at kim[at]buildingblocksshow[dot]com or go to the new  blog location and leave a comment there.

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This Hello Kitty cake was for my niece’s 7th birthday.  I was so excited when I heard she wanted a Hello Kitty theme, because I thought it would be super fun to do and it was! 

To make the cake I followed instructions and used a template from DLTK’s craft page.  The template basically just gave me a guideline for cutting the oval for the head and triangle ears.  On top of the chocolate cake I cut out, I spread chocolate frosting.  Then I used Wilton fondant to cover the frosting.  I’ve actually been wanting to try a recipe from one of my cake decorating books for the fondant, because the Wilton one doesn’t taste good, but the home-made version isn’t pure white, which was important for the kitty.  Decorating the fondant was the fun part.  I used sour candy ribbon for the bow, jelly bean eyes and licorice whiskers.  Fun, fun, fun!  I attached the candies with royal icing (A.K.A. Baker’s glue).  I highly recommend this cake for a first sculpted and fondant cake.  It was my first and it was so quick and easy to put together.  Thanks so much to DLTK for the ideas!!

 (A note about the photo:  The shot is skewed a bit.  The eyes and nose were actually further down than they look in this picture, which is accurate for Hello Kitty.)

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This is a cake I made the other night to take to a friend’s house for dinner.  It was super simple and super quick.  My husband didn’t think I’d even get it done in time, but because it is baked thin on a jelly roll pan it cooks fast and cools just as quickly.  It helped that I had a fantastic box mix on hand – Dr. Oetker Organics.  (I’m still looking for a light, fluffy recipe for making chocolate cake from scratch!  Please let me know if you have one!) 

After the cake cooled, I spread chocolate frosting across the entire top, sprinkled chocolate pieces on, and rolled it up using the parchment paper I lined the pan with before cooking.  What you see in the picture is only about half of the cake.  I cut off each side at an angle to make a nice log shape.  I then poured chocolate icing on the top (using the recipe I used for the petit fours, below), sprinkled with cocoa and decorated with chocolate pieces.  This was really the best tasting chocolate cake I have had in a very long time. 

Here’s the frosting recipe that I filled the cake with.  It’s from the back of a Bob’s Red Mill cake mix package:

4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup earth balance butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup rice milk
Microwave chocolate in small microwavable bowl until melted.  Cool 10 minutes.  Beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk in a large bowl with electric mixer until smooth.  Gradually beat in melted chocolate until well blended. Immediately frost cake.  Frosting will begin to set up after about 15 minutes.

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These are the petit fours I made to take to Christmas dinner at my parents’ places.  What I thought was really nice about them was the fillings.  I made a cashew filling for the chocolate cakes by soaking a cup of the cashews in water overnight, then draining them, adding 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and mixing in the food processor.  I did a similar thing with the almond filling for the lemon poppy seed cakes, but with more sugar proportionally and using a mix of powdered and white granulated sugars.  I think I added vanilla flavor as well.  The leftover almond filling was fantastic in croissants the next morning. 

I used Bob’s Red Mill cake mixes for both.  The nice thing about Bob’s mixes are that they’re mostly whole grain and still quite tasty.  I don’t think anyone noticed a difference once they were filled with nut spreads and covered in icing.  The toppings were a really nice lemon glaze and a chocolate icing.  I got the lemon glaze recipe off the back of the cake mix package.  The chocolate icing was great.  Here’s how I made it:

Melt 2 T earth balance butter and 2 T semi-sweet chocolate pieces together.  
Add powdered sugar and rice milk until you reach the desired consistency and sweetness. 
I think I used about a cup of sugar and a quarter cup of milk.

The peppermint petit fours were frosted with a Wilton recipe royal icing and then dipped in crushed candy canes.   

Here are some pictures of the cake I made for my husband’s birthday back in September.  It is an ode to his beloved horseless S4 carriage. 

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The cake is chocolate with a raspberry coulis and whipped cream filling (recipe:  whip cream then mix in raspberry coulis and enough gelatin to give body, cool to set).  The frosting is typical Wilton method.  Both the rings and the “30” are cut from fondant and painted with silver food powder mixed with raspberry vodka.  It smelled so fantastic while I was painting! 

The restaurant we celebrated at was Tosoni’s, our very favorite in the Seattle area.  It is a little Belleuve hole-in-the-strip-mall and had it not come so highly recommended we would never have tried it based on outside appearances.  Once you get inside; however, you are transported into a a different time – a slower and more delicious time.  The mood is romantic with simple white table cloths on all ten of the tables and a wall of wine.  But don’t worry if you don’t see the plonk you want.  The owner, Walter, is always happy to go in the back and pull something special out of storage for you.  His taste in wines is excellent and he has sat down with us to share a glass on many occasions.  We had some bin 707 (Penfolds) there a few months back that was quite the steal. 

I haven’t even gotten to the foods and  my mouth is already watering.  Every time we go in the menu is new.  It is written in chalk above the kitchen window.   It is a fantastic mix of creative yet simple European dishes.  I believe Walter is Austrian.  He sources food from where it is best – New Zealand lamb, Australian lobster, and local vegetables.  But don’t worry if you don’t see anything on the menu that your allergies will tolerate.  The staff is always willing to help you find something safe.  When I asked the waiter about one dish he talked directly to the kitchen to get a straight answer and the chef offered many dishes that could be made without dairy.  Since the restaurant is tiny and the chefs are visible, I was able to hear the entire conversation and knew there wouldn’t be a misunderstanding.   The one dish that is consistently on the menu is a breaded portabella mushroom appetizer.  It is absolutely to die for.  

Here is the ice cream cake I made for Louise’s baby shower last weekend.  It is chocolate with Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream and no-butter icing.  I learned a ton while doing this one.  Putting the cake together was actually very easy.  Malissa made the cake, cut it in half and gave it to me.  I lined the bread pan it was made in with plastic wrap, leveled the top of the cake off and put the bottom in the pan.  Then I put the ice cream which had been sitting in the fridge for a while into a bowl and stirred it until it was smooth (1 & 1/2 pints).  I spread the ice cream over the first layer, added the top and squished it down.  I then froze the cake overnight. 

Decorating was where it got difficult.  Most recipes online say to decorate with ice cream.  I didn’t know why, so I used regular frosting, which I thought would be easier to work with.  So I put the icing on top, which looked great and proceeded to ice the sides.  Then came the avalanche.  All the icing on the sides slid down to the counter.  Great.  So, apparently frosting doesn’t stick to ice cream.  Lesson learned and no frosted sides for this cake. 

Were I to do this again I would also find a deep freezer to keep it in.  I was only able to have it out of the freezer for a few minutes at a time before it would melt, but a Malissa’s house, where she has a proper freezer, after two hours in there it could then be left out for 20 minutes before melting. 

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Here is the giant cupcake I made for Anna’s 1st birthday last week.  The mold was a cake pan Anna’s mom, Malissa, found online.  It was two pieces – one for the top, one for the bottom and served about 12 people.  It was a really fun one to decorate.  I made a filling from raspberries and cream.  To do this, I made a coulis, added a handful of berries, whipping cream and a partial packet of geletin and cooked for a few minutes.  Then I chilled it for an hour, whipped it up, and put it in the cake.  I added too much geletin, but other than that it was excellent. 

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Update 1/27/08:  Malissa says you can buy the cupcake pan at Target or Sur la Table.  Click the Sur la Table link for pics of professionally decorated giant cupcakes.  I wish I’d seen those before I made mine. 

Here is the butterfly cake I made for Audrey’s 2nd birthday.  It was decorated with the star tip and then I used sparkly pipe cleaners for the antennae.  The main problem with the cake was that it’s not a good shape for filling because it’s not flat on top and I ended up with the two wings separated when I sliced it for filling.  Also, it had been so long since I’d done a filled cake, I forgot to put stiff frosting on the edge of the first layer before filling and when I put the top layer on, all the filling came out.

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JoyofBaking.com has a great information page about yeast

My husband loves this recipe.  It’s a great family meal. 

 

Note:  An apple pear is not me being indecisive or confused, it’s a small pear that looks like an apple.  Other types of pear may be substituted if this is not available. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Sauté in bacon fat and canola oil: ½ white onion, diced.  Once translucent, add 8 oz white muchrooms, diced.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add 1 cup brown rice and sauté for a few minutes.  Add 2 cups water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Add 1 apple pear chopped into chunks on top of rice five minutes before rice is finished (do not stir in), return lid and finish cooking. 

Wash and pat dry one whole chicken, neck removed.  Rub a generous amount of salt all over the body and neck cavity.  Mix ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary, and ½ teaspoon chopped thyme.  Rub onto chicken under the skin, directly on flesh.  Brush skin with 1 T butter. 

Put chicken in roasting pan surrounded by the cooked rice.  Cook birdie for 55 minutes at 400 degrees, or until a safe poultry temperature is reached.  Stir rice half-way through so it doesn’t get too crunchy on top.