Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Only on your birthday.

In a perfect world I could serve a cake with one slice missing. I could make a cake in the daylight hours, cut a slice out and spend 20 minutes taking pictures, changing settings, creating the scene around the plate. In this way I could photograph properly; in the right light, at my leisure, before people arrive instead of quickly rushing to snap pictures and then scurrying off with a slice for a rushed mini photo shoot while everyone else eats and mingles. If I could just take one slice out I wouldn't have to worry that my pictures won't come out in the dim evening light. If I could just take one slice out, I could even put it back untouched. I could be clever about it and spread the frosting just so.* Then no one would notice right away. They may, however, find it strange when they don't see me snapping away at the shutter and would quickly discover what had transpired. Of course since it's a perfect world, it would be okay.  

However, since we don't live in a perfect world, and I can't actually take a slice out of a cake made for someone else, I reserve this right for my own birthday cake. 
It's my birthday, it's my cake, I made it, I do what I want. 
I took a piece out this afternoon, photographed it and ate it, right there as I was lying on the floor with the camera. Then without even thinking twice I cut another one and ate that too. 

If I had predicted what part of this cake I would like best I easily would have guessed the frosting; but when I tasted it, it was not the frosting, but the actual cake that demanded another taste. Sure the frosting complemented it nicely but it was the cake that I wanted to keep eating bite by delectable bite.

I'm not sure why I made a carrot cake. It's certainly not my favorite cake but something pulled me to it. When I thought of what I would make for today, I didn't even blink twice. This was it, I was certain - I wanted this cake. My mouth must have already known the warm autumn flavor that awaits, my nose already taking in the rich cinnamon emanating from my oven and lingering on as it bakes. I think it was the frosting that caught my attention, after all what sounds better than fresh ricotta lightly sweetened with maple syrup?? In the end though, the frosting was a bit disappointing, forgettable, the maple flavor almost too faint to detect. On the other hand the cake, well the cake was perfect. Moist and richly flavored with cinnamon, the prefect texture thanks to finely ground carrots instead of coarsely grated. I did as Shannalee suggested and baked it the day before to let the flavors come together, don't skip this step and you too will posses a deep seated need to cut a slice (or two) before you serve it to anyone else. Just remember, only on your birthday.

*This is sort of like the cut-a-piece-of-cake-from-middle-and-fill-it-with-frosting trick 

Spelt Carrot Cake

I used a 10-inch spring form pan because I didn't want to buy a 9-inch round - either works fine.
Replace the white whole wheat flour with white spelt flour to make this gluten free. Next time I might even just try 100% whole grain spelt flour.

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain spelt flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raw turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs
3/4 cup olive oil
1 pound carrots processed finely in a food processor

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs lightly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add egg and oil, and mix through. Add grated carrot, then mix till combined. Bake in a greased nine-inch-round cake pan lined with greased parchment paper, for around 35 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin.

Ricotta Maple Frosting
To address my disappointment in the frosting - next time I'm going to try smoothing out the ricotta in a food processor and straining it in cheesecloth (the way I would for cannoli filling). Then beating it with vanilla and maple syrup and gradually adding just a bit of powered sugar to thicken it as needed. If its not too thin without the powered sugar then I'll leave that out and add 1 extra tablespoon of maple syrup instead. For now I have left the recipe as is.

2 cups fresh ricotta

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients together with a spoon
Frost cake.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shameless Promotion

One day last spring, maybe sometime in May, I received a strange comment on The Simple Spatula. A woman asked me for my email to discuss publishing some of my posts. I assumed it was spam or some kind of junk but for some reason I emailed her anyway. It turns out it was not spam or junk but actually true. Since then I've been working with the Slattery Media Group in Australia to publish Foodies of the World. It's a compilation of photography and recipes from bloggers all over the world and I have 2 posts published within it's covers. Which ones you ask? Well, you'll just have to buy a copy and find out ;). It will be released on this friday October 1st and I'll share some more information then. In the meantime you'll just have to sit tight.

Monday, September 27, 2010

As Requested.

Meet the roommates, Chris and Katherine.

 Someone made us laugh...

That's better...

Bellweather dry hard apple cider from the market...

Some kitchen pictures as requested by Lena...

 My room - still packed up, no bed, no furniture. I'll get there.

Our living room is a mess. It's mostly my fault - I have too many various flours and mason jars and no where to put them yet. I'll post some pictures once we get our act together.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The act of cooking.

Although I eat my fair share of pizza and can't resist a good Chinese dumpling, I'm adamant about avoiding takeout when I move. It's never really been intentional but I realized that I pretty much never order food or go out to eat in the days that I spend unpacking. I don't think it really has much to do with the food but rather the act of cooking itself. It brings some semblance of normalcy to otherwise upside down days. It's a reminder that not everything has changed; I can still cook. I can still put an egg in a pan and in a few minutes it'll turn out sunny-side up. I can still beat butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour and make a homey cake (with plums stuck in the top)

Eggs with spicy zucchini and peppers
serves 1

olive oil
1 egg
1 egg white (you can freeze the yolk for a later date)
1 baby zucchini, sliced into coins
half a red bell pepper, chopped
thinly sliced parmesan cheese
hot paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Crack one and and one egg white in a bowl. Make sure not to break the yolk, set aside.
heat olive oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat.
When oil is hot add zucchini and red pepper.
Add hot paprika salt and pepper to taste (I like to do this early on because it will cook into the edge of the zucchini and make a bit of a crust if you use enough).
saute the zucchini and pepper in olive oil until zucchini is golden, about 7 minutes.
push zucchini and peppers to one side of the pan and pour a tiny bit of oil on the empty side. Let it heat up then slide the egg and egg white into the pan. The white should spread to encompass the vegetables but the yolk will stay neatly nestled next to it. Add salt and pepper to the egg and cover with a lid. Cook until egg white is set and yolk is desired consistency (I like mine more runny). About one minute before yolk is done, lift lid and place slices of parmesan on top of eggs and vegetables. replace the lid and heat until melted.
Remove from the pan and enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let's get my priorities straight.

This city is so LOUD. All. The.Time.
I signed my lease on Monday and moved into my new apartment Tuesday. I have two roommates (who y'all will meet in a later post), and a fire escape where I can sit in the mornings; just like I did on my balcony in Binghamton. Only this time it's not quiet - even at 5:30am. I'm actually sitting on it as I write this and getting some really weird looks from people walking up the avenue, but who cares, I'm outside. I don't know if I would make it here if I couldn't be.

Just so you can get a feel for my priorities here: I'm sleeping on an air bed until I can transport my mattress, I forgot sheets, I have no furniture except 3 camping chairs, I haven't even changed the light bulb in my bathroom or connected the internet - but within six hours of moving in I cleaned the kitchen top to bottom, organized the cabinets, set up appliances and stocked the fridge with food. Ha! I barely cleaned the bathroom first  [okay, that's a lie I definitely cleaned the bathroom first thing]. I'm always the most grossed out by bathrooms and kitchens - now that both of those are clean and organized it doesn't really bother me that the floor is dusty [haven't bought a vacuum yet], or that I have no kitchen table [let's face it I'd rather be on the fire escape anyway]. At least there are vegetables [and apple cider!] in my refrigerator and I won't contract something from the shower.

Plus, not having any furniture is kind of fun, it makes the apartment seem bigger. Maybe we'll do this super minimalist style: Each person gets 1 floor cushion, 1 mug for coffee/tea, and a singing bowl to learn patience. Or I guess we could just be normal furniture-loving Americans and buy a couch.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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