Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chocolate Whiskey cake with Baileys frosting

I promised all my friends I'd bake them cakes in March and April, mainly so I could bake all the delish recipes I've been dying to try, and then not have to eat them. A fellow whiskey-loving friend who periodically ensures there is Cutty Sark in my life recently had a birthday, and having seen these over on smittenkitchen, I decided I'd try them.

The first problem was that they're cupcakes and I needed to make them into a cake. Luckily, trawling the comments revealed a fairly straightforward formula for it. The second and larger problem was the lack of Guinness in our lives and not enough knowledge of beer to know what I could use to substitute it. I decided to ditch the beer entirely - a bad mistake I found out later when the cake itself tasted really bad. Then I needed to get my hands on Baileys, but that was solved by a quick search online, after which I made my own Irish Cream. DAYAM it was good.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bechamel/cheese sauce

This one is always in demand when I say pasta. All my friends, especially the little boys, get this glint in their eyes and OOF has burnt his fingers many times trying to taste it too early.

This is a combination of a bechamel, and some sort of cheese sauce we used to eat with macaroni as kiddies. It usually serves 4, and is lovely in lasagna or with mushrooms. It also is the base for the veggie pasta sauce I make, with spinach ground into the sauce to turn it green.

MinCat's favourite pasta sauce

Somewhere in my time in the US, I realised that tomato sauce is REALLY easy to make - it just takes time. I usually make a huge batch that lasts for about four meals of two people each. It freezes very well, and lasts in the fridge up to a week (I've never been able to resist it longer.)

The basis is tomatoes and onions, with a ton of garlic. After that, toss in whatever you want. Obviously, the more veggies you put in, the more texture it will have; but that's not a bad thing, especially for vegetarian pasta. For pizza I recommend slicing things thinly or sticking to leaves and minced peppers, because that way it doesn't mound up on the pizza, ans leaves you free to add other toppings.

Pizza from scratch!

It took two tries to get this right, and I'd say it still needs work, but I'm SO EXCITED! =) I've been wanting to try pizza dough forever, especially since people tell me it's easy. (Apparently not for me.) So I scooted over to, yup, you guessed it, smitten kitchen, and dug this one out. The first time I tried it I made my usual overestimating-the-power-of-ingredient-mapping error, and tried to have a slow rise in the fridge. Guess what happened? I came home and it was a rock hard, ice-cold ball. Took me over two hours to get it pliable, and of course it didn't rise at all.

The second time I left the dough to rise outside, after activating the yeast. It worked much better, only it took a good 2 and a half hours. The dough was not very pliable; in fact I think it might need more water here in Hyderabad. I don't know how it is supposed to turn out relative to bread dough, but it was a lot harder and tougher.

My second big problem was that I neither have a pizza stone nor a big oven. Never fear, I improvised a pizza stone by using the back a steel plate (good South Indian kitchen) that I heated in the oven, and then oiled with caution to prevent sticking. I needed to roll the dough out really thin though, but the end result was fabulous!

Tortilla de Patatas or Spanish Omelette

I've ALWAYS loved this. Yum. And seriously, don't listen to anyone if they tell you not to put other stuff in, I used to fill em full of mushrooms and paprika and whatnot. I wouldn't advise offering that to a Spaniard though. Especially one far from home. I finally took photos of the process this time, so can remove the unwieldy description of how to cut potatoes!