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?):
(crunch spicy tuna 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:
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Butter and flour two 9" cake pans. (*Bobby adds that you should then line each pan with a round of parchment paper.)
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.
- 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.
- Add the flour mixture to the batter in three batches alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition.
- 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.
- Cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
- 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:
- 1/2 C heavy cream
- 1 C whole milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 7 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 C superfine sugar
Directions for the Frosting:
- 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.
- Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours.
- 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.
- Add the cold paste, a few tablespoons at a time, to the butter mixture and whip until light and fluffy.
Happy Birthday, Baby! <3