Monday, November 22, 2010

Bobby Flay's Red Velvet Cake

I'm back! I can't believe it's been two weeks since I posted. So many things to talk about!

Visiting with my friend was a nice taste of home right before the holidays. We adventured a little, ate/drank a lot, and overall just enjoyed each other's company. Here's a picture from the Marine Corps Birthday Ball we attended:

We ventured up the road to explore the local pottery village. It was awesome! Tons of cool pottery, beautiful sights, and even some sweet shop pets. One of the best parts of our week together, though, was definitely the food. (No surprise - if you know me or my bestie, it's a no-brainer that we love good food.)

We popped by a cafe on the way home from touring the pineapple farm/winery and OH.MY.YUMMY. The food was just *perfect.* Here are some shots of our smorgasbord (is there a Japanese word for that?):

(yaki udon)

(crunch spicy tuna roll)

(rainbow roll)


While I haven't learned how to craft Japanese classics yet, I did get by with making hubby's birthday cake. It was my first "layered" cake and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. Here is Bobby Flay's Red Velvet Cake - moist with hints of chocolate, it's an easy (and elegant) change from your standard cake and frosting. 

Prep and Bake Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Ingredients for the Cake:
  • 3 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 C buttermilk, at room temperature
  • Frosting, recipe follows
Directions for the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Butter and flour two 9" cake pans. (*Bobby adds that you should then line each pan with a round of parchment paper.)
  3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.
  4. Cream the butter, sugar, and oil in a stand mixer fitted the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three batches alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition.

  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  7. Cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans. 
  8. Let cool completely before frosting. 
  9. Slice each cake into two layers and frost.

    (The frosting picked up bits of the cake and I just kind of went with it. Peppermint-speckle cake, anyone?)
Ingredients for the Frosting:
  1. 1/2 C heavy cream
  2. 1 C whole milk
  3. 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  4. 7 tbsp all-purpose flour
  5. 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  6. 1 1/2 C superfine sugar
Directions for the Frosting:
  1. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the vanilla bean and discard. 
  2. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours.
  4. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and the sugar is totally dissolved, about 6 minutes.
  5. Add the cold paste, a few tablespoons at a time, to the butter mixture and whip until light and fluffy.  
Happy Birthday, Baby! <3

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cafe's Closed [For the Week]

Just taking a minute to let you know the cafe will be "closed" until next Monday. 

After being separated for two months, my hubby and I were reunited with our sweet boxer Banks yesterday. My best friend was gracious (and patient and loving!) enough to fly all the way across the world to bring him to us and to play for the week. 

While I'll miss the blogosphere for the week, I can't wait to spend quality time with my loved ones. Plans include: castle ruins, beach trip(s), pedicures, and military balls - with a healthy dose of wine and shopping thrown in the mix. 

Ciao for now!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brea's Pumpkin Bread

Living on Okinawa, while amazingly beautiful and rich in culture, can often be lonely. I am so thankful to have a few friends from home who live on the island with me.

One of these dear friends (the one I adventured into the great blue (green, really) yonder with to find Cafe Kugafu), had a little housewarming/BBQ/get-together last week. One of our other friends from back home came, too, and it was great getting to sit down and chat just like old times.

My friend mentioned that she had been cooking/baking up all kinds of pumpkin goodies lately for her son's school. Of course I perked up - I'm still on my pumpkin kick! She was gracious enough to share this very simple and very delicious pumpkin bread recipe. I made a little loaf for me/hubby and a giant loaf for hubby to take to work. I was lucky enough to have *just* enough batter left for one more little loaf that I plan to make tomorrow.

  • 2 C pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 2/3 C water
  • 3 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. 
  2. Grease 3 loaf pans.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix.

  4. Fill loaf pans half full. 
  5. Bake for 1 hour. (If making muffins, bake for 25 minutes.)
Et voila!
(P.S. I'm loving these cheap, but decorative 1/3 lb disposable paper loaf pans I found at the ¥100 shop!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lamb Koftas with Tomato, Basil, and Feta Salad

The first time I tried lamb was on a date with hubby (then-boyfriend) at Lebanese Taverna in McLean, Virginia. Being with a handsome, smart new guy was romantic enough, but the sights and smells really warmed the atmosphere.

When our meals were delivered to the table, the smell was overwhelming. I'd never smelled lamb, but wow. It was earthier than I would have expected (something I've come to love about it). Hubby took a bite and told me how much it reminded him of the local food he had in Iraq.

Since then, we've made lamb a couple times on our own and every time it has turned out fantastically. (Not because I'm a fantastic cook, but because lamb is so versatile and savory on its own!) I have found that too much lamb in dishes can be overload. For me, it's best when there's a smaller-than-usual quantity of lamb but with plenty of sauce (and naan or flatbread).

This recipe comes from The Confident Cook by Lauraine Jacobs. Because we don't have a propane tank for the outdoor grill at the moment, we used our grill pan (which I LOVE). That being said, we didn't use skewers for the koftas as they wouldn't have fit in the pan. No worries - just shape the lamb into the same oval cylinders as you would if you were using skewers and use tongs (rubber-tipped if you're using non-stick a pan) to flip.

Ingredients for Koftas:

  • 2 lbs minced lamb (ground lamb works, too)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp spicy paprika
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • small bunch fresh flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
  • *I love lamb with Greek (plain) yogurt and recommend about 3/4 C for dipping and garnish. 
Ingredients for Salad:
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz. feta cheese
  • large bunch basil, shredded
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
Directions for Koftas:
  1. Place all the kofta ingredients in a large bowl. Work the mixture together really well, kneading the spices into the meat. The longer you knead, the better the texture will become. Try to do this for at least five minutes.
  2. Wet your hands and work the mixture into longish oval cylinders to thread on to skewers. This should make about 12.

  3. Heat the grill, turn the heat to low and cook the skewered meat for about 10 minutes on one side, and then a further six minutes on the other. Times are approximate as it will depend on how thick your koftas are and how hot the grill is.

Directions for Salad:
  1. Slice the tomatoes in half. 
  2. Cut the cheese into cubes about the size of tomatoes.
  3. Combine the tomatoes and feta in a small serving bowl.
  4. Toss the shredded basil on top and dress with a little salt and pepper and the olive oil.

    Et voila!

    Shared here:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!