Archive for March, 2009

Kiddie Attempts

Every Tuesday, I spend my afternoons cooking with a group of kids for their after school activity. I enjoy having little helpers in the kitchen who are always eager to peel carrots, beat eggs, mash potatoes and do almost any kitchen task that would usually seem boring.  The recipes that we use are often simple and of course, child friendly (meaning, something that the kids would actually like to eat, so no green leafy salads). What they don’t realize is that I like incorporating vegetables into my recipes and often camouflage the taste with cream or cheese. Hee hee.

Ham and Cheese Assembly Line

Ham and Cheese Assembly Line

This week, inspired by the unexpected rain, we made a big pot of tomato basil soup, paired with a Monte Cristo sandwich (which is basically a french toast style ham and cheese sandwich). I got a lot of eeeews when I mentioned the word tomato. One seven year old girl even said she was ‘not a fan.’ But thanks to the wonders of all purpose cream, the kids devoured the soup and even asked to take some home. Unlike the soup, the sandwiches didn’t need any campaigning. The kids were sold once they saw the Cheeze Wiz.

the kids couldn't wait to eat the sandwiches

the kids couldn't wait to eat the sandwiches

French Toast Ham and Cheese paired with Tomato Basil Soup

Monte Cristo sandwich paired with Tomato Basil Soup

What recipes do you like cooking with kids?

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Attempt #1: Chocolate Cake

img_4578I recently ate at Chili’s and had their Chocolate Lava Cake. Cocoa memories caused a really bad hankering for chocolate. Since this occured on a weekend, I was understandably lazy and would not leave the house. So instead, I rummaged through my cookbooks and opened one of my favorites – Nigella Lawson’s How to be A Domestic Goddess. I stumbled upon her recipe for a Dense Chocolate Cake. It looked and sounded a lot like what I was craving for so it was all systems go for my first attempt at baking a cake. I usually stay away from baking and am more used to cooking, but my craving convinced my that this was not as difficult as it seemed.

The recipe was quite simple and easy to follow. Almost idiot proof. In about 20 minutes, my cake mixture was in the 375˚oven baking away. After it cooled, I tried it and was deliriously happy! Not only did it satisfy my craving, but it was actually good! Although it was not dense as the recipe implied, it was very moist, fluffy, and not too sweet. I was in chocolate heaven. I would have eaten it as it was but I received a very wise suggestion to add some caramel filling. I turned to the reliable world wide web and found several recipes on caramel fillings. I ended up using a can of condensed milk and mixing it with some Karo syrup and bits of chocolate.

I am obviously very happy with the result of my first cake baking experience. So happy that I told myself that this was actually blog-worthy.

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

  • 1 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 1-2/3 cups dark brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 9 x 5-inch loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand-held mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next, fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat. You want the ingredients combined: you don’t want a light airy mass. Then gently add the flour, to which you’ve added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.  The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won’t come out completely clean.

Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before turning it out.  Don’t worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do so because it’s such a dense and damp cake.

For the Caramel filling, combine one can of condensed milk with 3 tbsps. of butter and 2 tbsps. of Karo syrup. Simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens even more. Cool mixture and pour over cake or serve on the side.

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