brown sugar bundt cake

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I follow the blogger  Food Librarian who has a whole page devoted to bundt cakes. I chose this one because of its simplicity; all the ingredients are either in the refrigerator or the pantry, and therefore can be whipped up on the spur of the moment. Instead of glazing the cake with the brown sugar glaze below, I merely dusted confectioner’s sugar on top.

Brown Sugar Bundt (Food Librarian)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 50-55 minutes

Cake:
1 cup butter (227g), room temp/70 degrees
2 1/4 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 cups (386 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 ml) whole milk

Brown Sugar Glaze:
1/2 c (100 g) packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract

Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pan: 12-cup Bundt pan. Butter and flour pan generously.

1. Dry ingredients: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

2. Cream & Combine: Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter with sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape sides of bowl.

3. Combine dry & wet: On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in three additions and milk in two additions. Don’t overmix.

4. Bundt Pan: Spoon into bundt pan and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.

5. Bake: Place pan in the oven (never put a Bundt pan on a tray – air needs to circulate through the hole in the center of the Bundt pan). Bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs, about 60 minutes. Check early, mine was done in at 55 minutes.

6. Cooling : Place Bundt on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert and let cool completely on a wire rack.

7. Glaze: In a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, milk and salt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla and let the glaze cool and thicken slightly. Pour glaze over cooled cake.

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Chocolate Malt Layer Cake – Savory Simple

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Jennifer Farley of Savory Simple says: “Chocolate Malt Layer Cake is dense, moist and totally decadent. Chopped malted milk balls add flavor and crunch. You need this dessert!”

I recently saw this recipe on Facebook though it was published a year ago. It certainly looks as if it had lived up to Jennifer’s adjectives (“dense, moist, totally decadent”) so I am determined to try it this weekend. However, I noticed some gaps in the instructions; e.g. how to add a perfectly smooth straight border around the crushed Whoppers in the middle of the cake top. I have an idea how she did it. Let you know how this cake turns out in a few days!

Source: Chocolate Malt Layer Cake – Savory Simple

pig in a blanket: sausage wrap with wasabi mayo, tomatoes, scallions and arugula

For NaBloPoMo Day 3, here is a great breakfast or brunch idea! This variation on pig in a blanket was inspired by the Food Network show Sandwich King. Instead of wrapping the sausage in a roll, wrap it in a crepe.

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This is the Thai version of a bratwurst–but never mind its lack of authenticity. It still tastes pretty good! Any sausage will do. I spread some wasabi mayo on the crepe, sprinkled some sliced scallions and tomatoes, and added some arugula (rocket). Delicious.

Here’s a basic crepe recipe:
Makes about 6 pancakes

1 cup flour (I used tempura flour–it was all I had on hand)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil

Cooking spray

Beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk, water, salt and cooking oil . Heat a 10 inch skillet. Spray with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of batter in the skillet and swirl it around. The edges will start to come away from the pan. When the bottom is browned, flip and brown the other side.

Pigs

6 sausages, grilled
chopped tomatoes
chopped scallions
arugula
wasabi mayo

Spread a crepe in a plate. Smear with wasabi mayo. Put a grilled sausage in the middle. Sprinkle tomatoes, scallions, and top with arugula. Roll up and eat.

Suggested toppings:
Caramelized onions
Chopped avocado
Anything you like!

NaBloPoMo Day 2

Exactly one year ago in November I did NaNoWriMo while I was revising my dissertation. I needed to decompress so I wrote a novel. Now a lot of people would do others things but that’s what I did. I did get behind in my word count, and I remember riding in the train up to Laos and tapping out 5000 words on my laptop. This year I didn’t think I could write a novel again. A lot has changed in my life; I’m working again,  but I am pretty sure I can blog daily. I didn’t get off to a great start–I missed Day 1. I have a great excuse though…I was baking! I bought some fresh young coconut juice at the Suan Luang market in the morning and by afternoon, it was in a Young Coconut Lime Chiffon Cake.

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a look at my top posts

According to My Stats, these 10 posts from my site,  were the most viewed to date. What surprises me most about number 1 is that it is so simple to make. Perhaps its status reflects a trend among readers. These two  tags, “gluten-free” and “vegan” demonstrate concerns about health and nutrition. However, that doesn’t explain the popularity of the next most viewed recipe, which is a copycat version of a famous cake. In fact, the top 10 is decidedly eclectic. What stands out to me in these popular posts is the fact that fresh, natural ingredients have all been used. Even the paradise cake, a three layer multi-colored cake, was made with natural food colors. Cooking good tasting nutritious food is a worthy goal, and it seems that readers agree with me.

  1. Gluten-free brown rice flour pancakes with strawberries
  2. Hawaiian paradise cake, version 1.0
  3. Kanom krok: Thai coconut-rice pancakes
  4. Chicken with garlic, basil, and cilantro
  5. The versatile crustless zucchini quiche
  6. Mocha chocolate icebox cake
  7. Yogurt marinated oven-fried chicken
  8. Chocolate raspberry pavlova
  9. Turkey, leek, and winter melon shepherd’s pie with mashed cauliflower
  10. When life gives you lemons, make spaghetti al limone

While these popular posts go back to when I first started blogging on WordPress in 2011, for me, 2013 was a year of learning more about cooking and baking. The lesson learned that baking by weight leads to a more successful product is something that I will always remember whatever I bake.  This year I feel I was bolder; I  began to tweak recipes. I revisited an old favorite, Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cookbook recipe for banana tea bread, and personalized it. In my evolution as a cook, I have followed but also adapt recipes. To take it to the next level, to develop my own recipes,  I am still learning! From this year alone, these posts are my personal favorites. I selected them based on their taste, texture, and eye-appeal. They were simply memorable–and fun to cook, bake, and eat!

  1. Downy yellow bundt butter cake
  2. Strawberry Snow Fro-Yo
  3. Chinese barbecued spareribs and sesame noodles
  4. Homemade ginger ale
  5. Easter dinner for two
  6. Low-fat broccoli tomato fritters
  7. Banana bread with rum and almonds and turbinado sugar topping
  8. Butternut squash soup with coconut cream.
  9. Roasted Asian vegetable mac and cheese with chorizo and garlic-panko topping
  10. Fried cauliflower rice with Chinese sausage and seasoned shiitake mushrooms

Sawadi pi mai from Bangkok!

Foodie Joanie

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sour milk cake with cranberries

back in bangkok

Greyhound's Coconut Piek
Greyhound’s Coconut Piek

I’ve been off the blog for some weeks now because of the move from New York to Bangkok. I’ve been cleaning out my kitchen cupboards since I got back, and when my cleaning lady came yesterday, she did the heavy work of cleaning the exteriors. The very next two days we got here, we went to IKEA Bangkok to buy some shelf units called Varierra to extend our storage space–we have a tall cabinet for glassware with only one shelf. All the glasses and mugs were nested. So untidy, not to mention a lot of breakage.

Last night I cooked a meal in my clean kitchen. I miss my Calphalon cookware which was duly packed on August 15 and is sailing over the Pacific by ship, not due to arrive until sometime in October. While I make do I have been re-visiting my favorite places to eat. Of course I had to go to Peng Kee at Seacon Square for my crystal cake fix (Kanom Goh Sen or Mochi Sticks). That was after I had a bowl of fresh homemade noodles at Chiseng Lamian. Other foodie adventures: We went to Bangkok Hospital for dinner at Fuji; some of the best restaurants in town are in hospitals. They make the medicine go down easier. Then I went upscale to Greyhound at Emporium where Asian fusion is their claim. I had the Coconut Piek (literally “wet coconut”) for dessert, a visually stunning concoction featuring saku or sago a delicate shade of Blue Curacao blue but without the Blue Curacao, served with salty coconut cream, slivers of fresh young coconut, and a scoop of coconut sherbet for sweetness’ sake. So delicious. 

nutella bars made with oat crisps
nutella bars made with oat crisps

Since our arrival in Bangkok, I’ve been shopping at the supermarkets and looking at the prices. For instance, avocados here are more expensive than New York. What would be a local substitute for an avocado, I wonder?  I’m determined to find something not only budget friendly but also tasty! My first attempts at finding substitutions are conservative if not successful. I transformed my TJ Cocoa Almond Bars recipe into Nutella Oat Crisp bars. Substituting oat crisps for graham crackers resulted in crumbs that are dry and crunchy, making these chocolate bars taste like Nestlé crunch bars. The oat crisps, BTW, came from IKEA. IKEA, you’re my everything! This morning I turned leftovers into breakfast. I did a riff on the Egg McMuffin with a fried egg and a stick of gai yang (grilled pork) sandwiched between two broccoli-tomato fritters. It was good!

fried egg and gai yang (grilled pork) sandwiched between two broccoli-tomato fritters
fried egg and gai yang (grilled pork) sandwiched between two broccoli-tomato fritters

Since good food is the stuff of (my) life, my blog is going to shift focus. Still writing about preparing and eating food  but now I will also write about adapting my favorite recipes and new to local ingredients.

with the wildman in central park

This is Steve Brill aka The Wildman, a self taught botanist and forager. For three hours on Saturday, he taught me and 34 other people to appreciate the plant diversity in Central Park here in New York as delicious dinner accompaniments or herbal remedies for ailments. We learned to pick out sassafras and juneberries, jewelweed and field garlic, among others, from a green blur of trees, hedges, and undergrowth. Steve is a storehouse of plant lore, a storyteller, joke teller, painful punster, and as if all that isn’t enough, he is a human beatbox. While we were there, Yahoo’s Blue Ribbon Hunter  Chef Alison Fishman  was filming Steve for an upcoming show.

I’m not terribly adventurous when it comes to food. I am no Anthony Bourdain though I like to watch him and experience the tastes vicariously. I once accidentally ordered sweetbreads in a restaurant, and it wasn’t what I thought it was. My husband has teased me about it ever since. Normally I stick to more conventional cuts of meat–what I know. So that I should go on a foraging expedition for food is truly adventurous. I timidly tried the tender cattail stalk–it tastes like cucumber–and though I love garlic, I rejected the field garlic because it was too pungent. But I did savor the sharp mustard taste of Poor Man’s Pepper and the Sour Kids’ lemon flavor of sheep sorrel. However, I was reluctant to dig up any of these plants, though Steve insists they are sustainable so it’s okay to take them out of the Park. No, my reason for not taking them was more pragmatic–how would I use them in my cooking? So rather than waste them, I nibbled and crushed leaves and smelled them, then I decided the only one I’d try at home was the Northern Bayberry. I will put the leaves in a Jamaican pepperpot soup.

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Meeting Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen

How does she do it? That’s what I wanted to know! Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen talked about her successful food blog at the Apple Store on 14th Street in Manhattan. In her slide show she showed us a picture of her New York kitchen. It is actually smaller than the Teeny Tiny Kitchen. And she puts out a food blog from that tiny kitchen. Now, that’s awesome. So what’s her secret? There isn’t any. She talked about blogging, commenting, cooking, parenting, and writing a cookbook, but all comes down to good writing. Like Dianne Jacob in Will Write for Food she recommends Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I read it about 5 years ago the summer I started writing my dissertation proposal. I thought it lyrical and wise, a book about life and writing about life. That’s just what food blogging is all about too.