In our family, every year on your birthday you got to pick the meal you wanted made for the family birthday celebration. While I don’t think this is a terribly unique tradition I do think the menus that have graced our family table over the years on the occasion of my or my sister’s birthday are. One year my little sister asked for baby carrots stuck into giant black olives, canned mandarine oranges served in ramekins and eaten with shrimp forks; and her drink served out of a liquid medicine measurement spoon - she is a real unique soul, that one. I often requested supper nachos or egg kaka and my older sister’s menus usually rotated around cheesy mashed potatoes.
As for desserts we’ve each explored different sweets – french silk pie, birthday cake cones, angel food cake, brownies. There is one phase we have all gone through though, the rum cake phase. For as long as I can remember my mother’s rum cake, with it’s dense cake soaked in a sweet boozy sauce, has appeared on the table at least once a year for someone’s birthday. It’s a recipe she learned from her mother that relies on boxed cake mix and when she makes it it’s perfection.
In culinary school I made it one of my projects to recreate the cake from scratch and after a few tries – mostly figuring out the egg factor – I nailed it. It’s the recipe I now use when I’m tasked with making rum cake, as I was a few weeks ago when I made my little sister’s birthday dinner (she’s matured into a rather sophisticated menu of pot roast and salad), which also served as the impetus for this post. If you’re looking to start a new
addiction tradition give this a try immediately.
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbs – 1/4 cup rum
Preheat the oven to 350˚
*I used a spring form for the cake pictured and it works just fine but if you have the angel food pan I highly recommend using it.
It has been a long while since I last visited this space and while I have missed it I’m not going to use this post to apologize for my absence. Instead I’m going to introduce you to the reason I’ve been otherwise occupied.
He arrived in July and has been pretty much the best baby a pair of new parents could have hoped for. He was a big guy from the start – we joked he would come out a toddler – which I think helped with all the big hurdles like eating, sleeping and, well, growing making it an easier transition for us form a family of two to a family of three. He is also the sweetest, giggliest and freakishly strong babies I’ve known so he is a lot of fun to hang out and be silly with, by far my current most favorite activity. Continue Reading →
This one is going to be a quicky, mostly because I’ve been cooking like a crazy person over the last few weeks and the recipes are starting to pile up which is only contributing to the crazy person status. So I figured I’d get this recipe out there since a friend of mine, who is lucky enough to have a plum tree in her backyard, was looking for the recipe. This one is I’ve thrown together whenever I have stone fruit that needs to be used up (it works beautifully with apricots and peaches) so if you ever find yourself in the same spot then give it a go.
I’ll be honest, it’s taken me years to come around to the allure of chocolate. I was not born a chocoholic, nor do I think I would qualify myself as one today but I can say that I do occasionally find myself craving it. Last weekend while making up my Oscar party menu I found myself coming back to some of the chocolate recipes I’ve pinned to my Pinterest page. Since I’ve also been on a pretty intense investigation into stouts I settled on this recipe for chocolate stout cake. Of course, I had to futz with the recipe and my god the result is something that I have actually dreamed of. Yes mom, I am finally dreaming about chocolate. The crumb is incredibly tender and you can actually taste the stout peaking through the cocoa flavor. Continue Reading →
At the last minute we ended up having quite the crowd at our place for the Super Bowl last weekend which meant pulling together a nice spread of snacks to keep the crowd happy. I did the usual – guac, seasoned popcorn, chipotle bean dip, etc. – and Ry grabbed some bbq from our neighborhood rib joint. It was a rather impressive menu given the short notice and as I was looking for my standard brownie recipe I realized there wasn’t really anything healthy to offer so, I put the cocoa powder away and took out the banana bread recipe I’ve been trying to sort out. Usually when I get to the point when I’m trying to refine a recipe I get more diligent with my measurements and notes but since I had only a little time to get this in the oven I barely managed to make some chicken scratch notes – but definitely caught the changes that I believe make the difference. It was a pleasant surprise to to discover that in my haste I managed to get the exact flavor and texture I had been hoping for – and it was a huge hit with the football crowd. Continue Reading →
Before we cleared out of the house for the holidays I did my damnest to empty our fridge and pantry of perishables. I really really hate to waste food and I have actually come up with some of my best recipes in these last minute cupboard emptying extravaganzas (southwestern pasta putenesca anyone). This year I was actually rather strategic with my grocery shopping leading up to our departure knowing I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to cook before we headed back to the Twin Cities so I really only had some bananas to use. Instead of making a loaf of banana bread I combined a few recipes I found and did them donut style. Two batches later I found a pretty solid recipe and ended up giving them to co-workers as their holiday gifts.
Need a good last minute gift idea? Try this recipe for Heath Crunch Cookie Truffles. It makes 3-4 dozen truffles (depending on how big you make them) so you can get a lot of gifts out of one batch. But be warned, these are addictive little treats so package them up quickly or you’ll find yourself snacking on them endlessly.
I can really geek out when investigating desserts tied to holidays or various cultural traditions. I think this has a lot to do with the central role meals take during the holidays for my family. Christmas is my aunt’s molasses bars, making julekake with my mom and fresh cardamom coffeecake. New Years is something ridiculously decadent with equally indulgent breakfast sweet in the morning. Tucking into these traditions each year brings me such pleasure that over the years my eye has wandered to the culinary traditions in other cultures. I’ve made celebration breads from a middle eastern cook book, eaten my fair share of Mexican wedding cakes and dedicated a weekend to making a variety of pancake recipes from all over the world. Continue Reading →
This is banana blueberry bread.
After the last week I have a greater appreciation for both. Maritime is a band I have known about for a while and enjoyed but my real true love of them was borne last Thursday when I got to see them live. It was from the stage at Johnny Brendas that the waves of their midwestern bred indie rock emanated and the full weight of their greatness hit. The group initially sprouted from the remnants of The Promise Ring and Dismemberment Plan and the post punk pop sound has definitely stuck with them but they’ve developed their own sound over the years. Continue Reading →