Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Friendly dragon and a brave knight

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

My mom has been making this cake for nearly her whole life. And I believe my grandma was making it before then. Needless to say, it's a family favorite and when we're together it rarely stays in the pan more than 2 days. Even when we're not all together! Call us weird, but we like to have a piece in a bowl with milk. Personally, I only do that with this cake. Why? Good question. Habit? Genetics? Of course, in the interest of graciousness, I will still eat it if there is no milk available. Vanilla ice cream is always a good substitute.

Lest I bore you further...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
(if you're not using a metal pan, reduce 25 degrees)
My experience is to bake 30 minutes in metal pan, 40 in glass.

Grease a 9 x 13 pan

Combine in mixing bowl:
2 c. flour
2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Combine the wet ingredients:
1 c. sour cream (light sour cream works too)
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla

Measure and reserve:
1 c. hot water

Make a "well" in the dry ingredients then add wet ingredients and the hot water. Mix with an electric hand mixer just until completely blended. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, depending on pan. Spread on the frosting when the cake is completely cooled. Serve, devour, and try to share.

I've also made this cake in two 8" round pans. You'll have to adjust the baking times accordingly.

Icing/Frosting for whole cake: (or buy ready made)
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar (sift out any lumps)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
3 T. butter, very soft, almost melted
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. milk

Combine the first 4 ingredients, then pour in some of the milk and continue stirring the icing. If needed, add more milk, but just enough to keep the icing firm, but still spreadable.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Spaghetti Squash Gratin
from Vegetables by James Peterson, p. 197
Makes 6 side-dish servings

1 2 1/2 lb. spaghetti squash
9 fresh sage leaves
1 garlic clove, minced/crushed
2 1/2 c. grated Swiss gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces)
3/4 c. heavy cream
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Cut the squash lengthwise and place halves, flesh side down, in a baking dish with enough hot water to come 1/4" up the sides of the squash. The water prevents burning and helps steam the squash so it cooks more evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the squash is soft when poked with a knife - about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Spoon out and discard the seeds. Scrape along pulp with a fork and pull out and reserve the shreds. Leave the oven on at this point unless you're baking the squash in advance.)

With butter, rub the bottom of a medium (8 cup or slightly larger) gratin or baking dish.

Finely chop 6 of the sage leaves and toss the "spaghetti" with the chopped sage, garlic, 2 cups of the cheese, the heavy cream, and salt to taste. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the dish -- the squash layer should be about 1 inch thick -- and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Arrange the remaining 3 sage leaves on top of the gratin. Bake approximately 45 minutes. If the top of the gratin doesn't turn golden brown in the oven, slide it under the broiler for about 1 minute to brown it. Remove from oven, grind fresh pepper over it and serve immediately.

I've adapted the above recipe in a few ways. Since gruyere is, here at least, nearly $16/pound, I've been known - or maybe unknown - to substitute asiago for half the gruyere. Sometimes I've even completely replaced the gruyere with half asiago and half romano. Do what you like. Also, being that I like garlic - as do most of my friends - I use at least 2 cloves, depending on their size.

Bon appetit!