The first signs of spring signal the arrival of fresh snow crab here in Montreal, which means it’s a great time for crab cakes or one of my favourite combination of ingredients, a salad of crab, shrimp and avocado. Now there are many different interpretations of these three ingredients but here’s a fresh take which will be a lot more exciting for your tastebuds.
For the cake:
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pans
- 3 cups cake flour (sift before measuring)
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon red food coloring
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
For the frosting:
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 2 pounds (about 8 cups) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch-round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter the parchment. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Beat the granulated sugar, 12 tablespoons butter and the vegetable oil in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, until just combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on racks, then turn the cakes out onto the racks to cool completely. Using a long serrated knife, carefully slice each cake in half horizontally to make 2 even layers.
Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt; beat until smooth.
Put 1 cake layer on a platter; spread 1 1/4 cups frosting on top. Repeat to make 4 layers, ending with the cake. Cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (this is the “crumb coat”; it doesn’t have to be perfect). Chill 15 minutes, then cover with the remaining frosting.
recipe from Foodnetwork
Last christmas my good friend CJ brought me a pastry cutter for creating a lattice effect after we watched a cookery show with baked apples in lattice pastry and I’ve spent the entire year feeling guilty for not using it. That is until now of course. With a tree full of pears in the garden and a love of all things rhubarb, I combined these two great ingredients to make a Pear and Rhubarb flan for tea and thus christening my lovely pastry cutter (these are the kind of things one get’s excited by with the onset of middle age!).
The cutter is a breeze to use. The hard bit is first making the pastry!
I’m a hot-handed person meaning that by rights I should be great at making bread as the heat from the hands helps with the kneading and terrible at making pastry which needs to be lightly handled with cool hands. That said, I am gradually finding a newfound love affair with the art of pastry making as the end result is so much tastier then shop bought and I love the rustic look that can be achieved.
For this flan I used a recipe for sweet flan pastry from my now much leafed through Michel Roux cookery book.
Ingredients: (For pastry) 250g plain flour, 125g softened butter chopped into small chunks, 1 egg, 1 tsp caster sugar, sprinkle fine salt, 40g cold water (For Flan) 2-3 stalks of rhubarb and 4 pears, water, 1 tbsp brown sugar, icing sugar and mint leave for decoration
Preparation: 25 mins + 35 cooking time
1. Firstly prepare the pastry by laying the flour out on a clean surface and creating a well in the centre.
2. Add the egg, butter, sugar and salt to the well and cream the ingredients together using your fingertips.
3. Draw the flour into the centre and mix with the butter mix to form a grainy texture than add in the water and mix until the dough begins to hold together.
4. Do not knead the dough as it should be handled very lightly. Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from you 4-6 times until it is smooth, then wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge until ready to use.
5. Chop the rhubarb stalks and peel and slice the pears.
6. In a pan, add 1cm of water and bring to the boil with the tbsp of brown sugar. Add in the fruit and gently poach for 5 mins until nicely softened.
7. Leave to cool and absorb any remaining liquid. You don’t want the fruit to be dry but equally you don’t want it too wet as it will make the pastry soggy.
8. Take your pastry and roll out to fit a 9″ flan tin saving 1/10 of the dough to create the lattice work to top the flan. Gordon Ramsey has a technique to start the rolling where you use the rolling pin to first press the dough flat and make it more even before you then roll it to size. This is a great way to avoid breaking the dough by over touching / rolling it.
9. Lay the fruit mix onto the pastry and spread evenly.
10. Roll the remaing pastry and using the pastry cutter create the lattice work to top the flan.
11. Bake in the centre of a hot oven at 190C for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry looks golden in colour.
12. Leave to cool and then sprinkle with icing sugar and top with a mint leaf to serve.
Dreamy Coconut Frosting
I have been home from Maui for over a week now and I still dream of the luscious tropical deserts from my recent trip. I am totally inspired and determined to create an easy version of a coconut dessert that will reflect my trip. For a dinner party last Sunday I baked a coconut cake the day before by following a layer cake recipe from a box of cake flour and using coconut milk in place of milk and substituting coconut flavoring for vanilla.
About the Dessert
This recipe is decadent and refreshing with the richness of white chocolate and the Fresh Burst of the finger lime caviar suspended throughout the cheesecake. The finger lime bursts in your mouth with each bite and adds a new zingy dimension and taste experience to a lime cheesecake. This recipe can be made as a standard round cheesecake or as a slice. Either way, the pink polka dots of finger lime throughout the white filling looks beautiful and is fit for any high tea menu, special dessert or indulgent treat.
400 g packet Hob Nob biscuits
125 g butter (melted)
Zest of 1 normal lime
300ml thickened cream
½ cup icing sugar
500 g cream cheese (softened)
Juice of 2 normal limes
180 g white chocolate (melted)
Flesh of 3-4 Freshburst finger limes (drained & seeds removed)
3 tsp gelatine powder dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
Base: Crumb biscuits in a blender until there are no lumps. Add lime zest and melted butter and
combine. Press firmly into a 23cm springform tin. Can also use a 20cm x 28cm slice tin to serve as
Filling: Whip cream with icing sugar to form soft peaks. Set aside. In an electric mixer, beat cream
cheese with lime juice on high speed. Add melted white chocolate and beat until smooth. On low
speed, fold in whipped cream, gelatine and finally the Finger Lime. Pour the filling over the base and
smooth over the top with a spatula. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until set. Then it’s ready to serve on its
own. Also goes superbly with a raspberry coulis and ice cream.
Together we can change the way people eat by educating every child about food, giving families the skills and knowledge to cook again, and motivating people to stand up for their rights to better food. Add your voice to the conversation with your best cooking and food education tip, favorite ingredient, or tell us why you support the Food Revolution and what actions you are taking.
Jamie is hosting a dinner party for Food Revolution Day and you’re invited!
On May 19, especially for Food Revolution Day, Jamie will be having a virtual dinner via a Google+ Hangout, joining people all over the world, to talk about the Food Revolution.
Want To Join Jamie For Dinner?
Do you want to hangout with Jamie over dinner? Across the world people will be able to watch the hangout live as it happens, but if you want to take part, ask questions and interact with Jamie, then get the conversation started today by sharing your favorite revolutionary meal with us.
Whether it’s your favorite meal to cook, something your family makes together or just the best meal you’ve ever had, share it with Jamie by recording a short video of yourself making it or explaining it, or take a photo and add it along with a recipe on Google+, and across your social media platforms using the hashtag #FoodRevolution.
Remember, your revolutionary meal must be made with real food, cooked at home and eaten together – no boxed or processed foods allowed!
Jamie and the team will be checking through all of these posts and everything with the hashtag #FoodRevolution to look at all your revolutionary meals and choose some people to join the hangout on May 19 at 8pm EST!
So have a think about what your favorite meal is and start adding your images and videos tagged #FoodRevolution today and you could hangout with Jamie Oliver on the first ever Food Revolution Day!
Watch Jamie’s video explaining how you can get involved here.
Pan di Spagna (sponge cake) ingredients
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup (6.35 oz) sugar
- 1 cup (5.3 oz) flour 00
- 1/2 oz (16 g) active dry yeast (better if Pane degli Angeli)
- pinch of fine sea salt
Crema pasticcera (pastry cream) ingredients
- 1 pint (2 cups – 17 fl oz) fresh whole milk
- the yolk of 3 very fresh eggs
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) sugar
- 1/3 cup (1.75 oz) flour 00
- 1 oz (30 g) corn starch
- 2 pieces lemon rind (about 1 inch wide – 2 inches long)
- 2.5-lb (40 oz) fresh wild strawberries
- 1/2 cup (about 4 fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
- 1/4 cup (about 2 fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp Alchermes liquor or another type of liquor (optional)
First prepare the pastry cream (click to view recipe).
While the pastry cream is cooling down, prepare the sponge cake (click to view recipe).
Wash the strawberries and combine half of them with 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 2 tbsp of sugar. (Save the other half for the garnish)
Once the sponge cake is completely cold, cut it horizontally into 3 layers.
Remove the juice from strawberries and combine it with 3 tbsp of liquor (optional).
Place sponge cake base onto a serving dish. Pour some of the juice mixture over the cake, spread a layer of (cooled) pastry cream and top with some (seasoned) strawberries.
place the second layer of cake on top and repeat the same process.