Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wonder Chocolate Cake

I loved making this as a kid for a few reasons: 1) the part about making 3 holes and then trying to keep everything from spilling out, 2) mixing it all up in one pan, and 3) yumminess!

Today I do mix it in a separate bowl with a trusty wooden spoon because it's easier to get at all the dry ingredients (in a square pan they sometimes get left unmixed in the corners, though this isn't a serious problem). It's a relatively quick little cake to whip up, and is very moist.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift or whisk together:
1+1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup sugar

Make 3 holes in the dry ingredients and pour in:
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (almond extract is also good)
1 tablespoon vinegar

Pour 1 cup cold water over everything and mix well, though don't worry about every little lump. In this particular case I also stirred in about 2/3 cup coconut. Pour into an ungreased 9" square or round pan and bake for 35-40 minutes; top may crack a little.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter 2009

I didn't have any Easter plans this year, but I did want to make something egg-y and spring-y. Hence, the following recipes....

Curried Egg Salad:
This comes from Gourmet by way of Epicurious.com. I love the combination of the sweet, tart apple, the bite of the onion and cayenne, and then the curry.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1+1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, 1/4 inch dice
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Whisk together the mayo, lime juice, curry powder, mustard, and cayenne. Add eggs, apple, onion, cilantro, and stir to mix, adding a bit of salt if necessary (shouldn't need much).

Cucumber Avocado Soup:

I am reminded by this, the first batch of the year, that I LOVE THIS SOUP! (And also, I LOVE AVOCADOS!) I have no idea where it came from--I only have an index card with a list of ingredients scribbled down and instructions to puree. It's very simple and quick, but you do need a blender or food processor. Also, you might want to start off with nonfat or low fat yogurt--once you've gone over to the dark side of full fat yogurt it's hard to go back!

1 English cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped (these are the really long ones in plastic wrap)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 - 1 jalepeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup cold water
1 avocado, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 scallions, chopped
1 cup plain yogurt
salt & pepper

Puree. Eat.

This does need a liberal amount of salt and/or lemon juice to season. Alternate adding them until you get the taste you like.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

French Potato Salad

This is adapted from "Cook's Illustrated" (July/Aug. 2002), although I had been making something very similar to this, SAUCISSON LYONNAISE from Trade Secrets for a Three-Star Chef (Doubleday, 1994; a wonderful little cookbook) for years already. The main difference is that the latter recipe has bits of kielbasa mixed in. I've included those instructions at the end.

2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons salt
1-3 cloves garlic
1+1/2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, peeled & finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
optional add-ins: capers, minced chives, chopped cornichons
salt & pepper

Place potatoes, 6 cups of cold water and salt in a large pot; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium. If you want to "mellow" the garlic, dunk it in the simmering water for about 45 seconds, then mince. Simmer potatoes until tender but still firm, abut 5 minutes. With a large slotted spoon, spread out potatoes in a rimmed baking dish. Reserve cooking water.

Whisk together mustard, vinegar and garlic. Mix in oil and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water. Sprinkle potatoes with freshly ground pepper, then cover with dressing. If there doesn't seem like enough liquid for all the potatoes, add in more cooking water and another splash of vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Toss shallots, parsley and any other add-ins with the potatoes. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Serve warm or store in the refrigerator.

Take one pound of kielbasa and cut into a few large chunks. Boil them for 10-15 minutes; skins will split. When cool enough to handle, take off the skins completely and cut into "bite-sized rounds." Add into salad with parsley & shallots.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I'm not going to write out this recipe because I don't know if it will ever become a "regular" like the others I have posted are. I wanted to try these just to see if I could--apparently they are very temperamental. It was an interesting exercise to convert grams to ounces, then weigh out (as opposed to measuring) all the ingredients. They seemed to come out OK--nicely chewy and certainly cute!--although some cracked, which is BAD (I guess). I added in a tablespoon of instant espresso, hence the brown specks.

Here's a link to the recipe I used:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oatmeal Coconut Crispies

I made these recently for my friend Sally's 85th birthday and she liked them so much I thought I would make her some more. When you're 85, you can have as many cookies as you want!

My brother and I have made these since we were kids. They are from a cookbook I practically memorized as a kid, and still enjoy today: Betty Crocker's Cooky Book (still in print, I think). These are on the sweet side--you could probably cut the sugar a bit. And sometimes I use a combination of white and whole-wheat flour to pretend they're healthier.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (maybe you could use quick cooking--I've never tried)
1 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, sugars, eggs & vanilla until fluffy. Blend in flour, soda & salt; then rolled oats and coconut. Drop rounded teaspoons on a parchment-lined cookie sheets. They will spread, so make sure there are 1.5"- 2" inches between drops. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.