Monday, July 21, 2008

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layers Cake

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

From America's Test Kitchen


Do not substitute semisweet chocolate chips for the chopped semisweet chocolate in the frosting—chocolate chips contain less cocoa butter than bar chocolate and will not melt as readily.


For best results, don't make the frosting until the cakes are cooled, and use the frosting as soon as it is ready. If the frosting gets too cold and stiff to spread easily, wrap the mixer bowl with a towel soaked in hot water and mix on low speed until the frosting appears creamy and smooth. Refrigerated leftover cake should sit at room temperature before serving until the frosting softens.

Serves 10 to 12

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces), plus extra for dusting pans
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate , coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (3/4 ounce)
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks


16 ounces semisweet chocolate , finely chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (cold)

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high cake pans with softened butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

-Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl.

-In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds.

-Add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes.

-Replace whisk with paddle attachment.

-Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.

-Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition.

-Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds).

-Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated).

-Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.

-Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

-Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.

3. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45 to 60 minutes.


4. TO MAKE FROSTING: Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl set over saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4 to 5 minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of standing mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.

5. Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1 to 2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees). Place bowl on standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth.


6. TO FROST CAKE: Place one cake layer on serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 1 1/2 cups frosting evenly across top of cake with spatula. Place second cake layer on top, then spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Cut into slices and serve.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Spinach Salad with Strawberries

This salad is DELISH!!!
Lion House Entertaining

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup strawberry jam

1/3 cup sugar
1 cup cashew pieces
15 wontons, cut into thin strips
1 large head red leaf lettuce washed and broken into pieces
1 package fresh spinach
1/3 cup bacon pieces
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 purple onion, sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced

To make dressing, mix together vinegar, sugar, oil, mustard, salt, and strawberry jam. Mix until all ingredients are well blended. Set aside.Heat a medium frying pan and add sugar and nuts. Stir constantly over medium heat until nuts are coated and slightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Fry wontons in hot cooking oil and drain onto paper towels.When ready to serve salad, put lettuce, spinach, bacon, red pepper, onion, and strawberries into a large bowl and toss. Add salad dressing and toss. Add sugared nuts and wontons last.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Southwestern Pot Roast

-8 small red potatoes, cut in half
-3 pound beef arm roast, trimmed of fat
-1 pound baby-cut carrots
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 jar (16 oz) salsa

Place potatoes in slow cooker. Place beef on potatoes; arrange carrots around beef. Sprinkle with flour. Pour salsa over all. Cover and cook on low setting 8-10 hours. Remove beef from slow cooker; pull beef into serving pieces using 2 forks. Spoon sauce over beef and vegetables.

Rigatoni Pizza Stew

-1 lb. Italian sausage links, cut into 1/4 inch slices
-1 can (14.5 oz) Italian style stewed tomatoes, undrained
-1 can (14 oz) beef broth
-1 cup water
-1/4 cup Italian style tomato paste
-1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
-2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices (1 cup)
-1 1/2 cups uncooked rigatoni pasta (4 1/2 oz)
-1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices (2 cups)
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook sausage over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink; drain. Stir tomatoes, broth, water, tomato paste, onion, and carrots into sausage. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook about 10 minutes or until carrots are tender. Stir in pasta and zucchini. Cook 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender. Serve topped with cheese.

Lemony Fish over Vegetables and Rice

1 package (6.1 oz) fried rice (rice and vermicelli mix with almonds and Oriental seasonings)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 bag (1 pound) frozen corn, broccoli and red peppers (or something close to that)
1 pound of mild flavored fish fillets (I used tilapia)
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook rice and butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is golden brown. Stir in water, seasoning packet from rice mix and lemon peel. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in frozen vegetables. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Cut fish into 4 serving pieces; arrange on rice mixture. Sprinkle fish with lemon pepper; drizzle with lemon juice. Reduce heat.

Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with parsley.