Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yellow Cake with Meringue Buttercream Frosting

I feel like I’ve been on a never ending search for the perfect cake recipe. I even attended a class at the Institute of Culinary Education about Making and Decorating the Perfect Birthday Cake. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the recipe - it seemed a bit heavy. Recently, in my search for a cake, Kritsa (Krit’s sister) shared the following recipe with me. I have found that cakes made with oil, instead of butter, tend to be more moist, so this cake worked in that sense, and also included wine which was a surprisingly delicious addition.

To complement the cake, I used a strawberry filling and a meringue buttercream. I think it would also work well with a simple whipped cream frosting.

Happy baking!

Fragrant Yellow Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dry, fragrant white wine
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for about 1 minute. Then pour mixture into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes (until cake pulls away from the sides).

Strawberry Filling


  • 2 cups strawberries – fresh or frozen, halved
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch

Ingredients listed are approximate. Add ingredients at your discretion and to your taste. Lemon juice, rind, additional sugar, honey etc may all be added as needed.

Add all ingredients together over low heat and mix until sauce begins to thicken. Mash strawberries or use an immersion blender to smooth out sauce.

Meringue Buttercream

*recipe from the Institute of Culinary Education


  • ½ cup egg white (about 4 large eggs)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tbls. vanilla

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently and constantly until egg whites are hot and sugar is dissolved (about 140 degrees or too hot to put your finger in for 5 seconds). This will take about 3-4 minutes.

Take the bowl off the heat and whip the meringue by machine using a whisk attachment, until thick and cooled, about 5-10 minutes. (**Be patient! It is very important that the mixture is cool to the touch so that the butter you add in next does not melt). Switch to the paddle attachment and beat in the butter until the buttercream is smooth and spreadable. (**If it becomes a funny texture at some point during the process be persistent and keep mixing until it becomes smooth).

Use the buttercream immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature and beat smooth by machine. Just before using the buttercream add in flavoring. Beat in the vanilla and continue beating until smooth.

(For a different flavor, you can substitute 2-3 tbls. of lemon juice, 3 tbls instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbls of water, or 2-3 tbls liqueur etc. for the vanilla).


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Veggie Burger Salad

Some days I just don't feel like cooking. One of the many benefits of living in the city (yes, THE city) is that I can order any kind of food, at any time. But, that becomes unhealthy and expensive. So here is a quick, Sandra Lee style meal, that does the trick when you don't feel like making anything fancy.

A veggie burger salad may sound gross, but don't yuck my yum. This salad incorporates fruit and cheese my favorite salad ingredients. And some very low-fat protein which is important as well. It's a copy of a salad I've had from the restaurant Penelope Now that I'm not in the neighborhood anymore I've taken to making it myself.

Happy Salading!


  • Lettuce (your favorite type)
  • Red onion
  • Goat cheese
  • Granny smith apple
  • Boca Burger (or your preferred Veggie burger brand)


Pre-cook one veggie burger per person and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad. Slice red onion and apples. Toss onions, apples, goat cheese and sliced burger into salad. Dress with a balsamic or lemon vinaigrette.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Swedish Meatballs

One day Krit requested Swedish meatballs as a fix for his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. So, I found a recipe and whipped some up. A friend had some leftovers and has been requesting them for over a year now. For his birthday, we had a Swedish meatball making lesson. We made two batches of meatballs, rice, potatoes and cucumber salad. We tried to stick with some Swedish recipes but found that challenging… here is our best attempt. Below is the recipe for the meatballs and links to the other recipes.

Glad Matlagning! (Happy Cooking)


  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, dried out
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground (*Yuck – I skip this step)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 handful fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup lingonberry or red currant jam, plus more for serving

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and the milk; stir with a fork and let stand for 5 minutes. Put 3 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet and let it melt over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, (and caraway); season with salt and pepper. Saute until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Put the ground beef and pork in a large bowl. Add the shallot mixture, egg, parsley, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the milk out of the soaked bread crumbs, add the bread to the meat mixture, and mix well using your hands. Pinch off about ½ cup worth of the meat mixture and roll it around in your moistened hands to shape it into a cue ball-sized meatball. Continue forming the meatballs and putting them on a platter; there should be about 20 meatballs.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. When the foam starts to subside, add the meatballs in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan. Saute the meatballs until well-browned on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Remove the meatballs to a platter lined with paper towels as they are done.

Discard most of the fat from the skillet and return it to the heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and swirl it around to coat the pan. Sprinkle in the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve into the fat. Pour in the chicken broth, and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen the bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer and stir until the liquid is reduced and a sauce starts to form; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and stir in the sour cream. Return the meatballs to the sauce and stir in ¼ cup of the lingonberry jam until combined. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Shower with chopped parsley and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve the Swedish meatballs with additional lingonberry jam on the side.

Additional Recipes:
Here is the recipe for the potato salad. I prefer to avoid mayonnaise, so here is a recipe with a mustard, olive oil and vinegar dressing. Delish.

The cucumber salad was simply dressed in cider vinegar, a simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water), salt and pepper. We added some slices of red onion for extra color and flavor. The detailed recipe for the cucumber salad is from the Joy of Cooking.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Split Pea Soup

This soup is the perfect example of why simple, uncomplicated food is sometimes the best. Additional vegetables, spices or ham hocks really aren't necessary. With some grilled cheese it is the perfect comforting meal for lunch or dinner on a cold day. If you want to fancy it up, make some homemade croutons and serve as the starter for a dinner party.

The recipe came from the Food Network's website. I'm not Emeril Lagasse's biggest fan, but BAM, this one is good.

Happy souping!


  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (*about 1 medium onion)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbls. chopped garlic (*about 2 cloves)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound dried green split peas (rinsed)
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • Hot sauce

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf and split peas and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30-45 minutes, until the peas are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Add the milk and blend until smooth. Add hot sauce, and additional salt and pepper to taste.

(The blending process is easiest with an immersion blender. If you don't have one, you can always do this in batches in your regular blender, but you may want to wait for it to cool a bit).