I meant to post this ages ago, it’s just too good (and tasty) not to post at all, even though Mike’s birthday was almost a month ago. His one request for his birthday was that he have a cheese cake. I found this recipe on Epicurious, it was very very easy to make (all in one blender) and tasted amazing. It’s also not quite as bad for you as most cheese cakes are, which is always a plus.
Chocolate Marble Cheesecake
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp softened butter
15 ounces (1 3/4 cups) part-skim ricotta
8 ounces lowfat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
1 large whole egg
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or to taste)
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon amaretto (if desired)
3 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant-espresso powder
3 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate chips
Directions (this was great, I just added everything into the blender)
Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter in a bowl and then press down into the bottom of a spring form pan
Purée ricotta in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, egg, egg whites, almond extract, flour and salt; puree until smooth.
Whisk amaretto, 2 tablespoon hot water, cocoa powder and espresso powder in a bowl until well combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Stir 1 cup plain filling into chocolate mixture. Set aside.
Pour remaining plain filling into prepared pan.
Drizzle chocolate filling in a circular pattern over plain filling. Using a knife, make circular strokes to create swirls in the plain filling.
Bake until cheesecake is firm around the edge and slightly soft in the center, 45 to 55 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan. Let cool on a rack. Chill 6 hours or overnight before removing sides of pan.
Since I’ve had a “bachelor weekend” (or a hot weekend with the kitten), I was watching some french television last night and happened across a fun version of the ever ubiquitous Pachebel’s Canon.
I think the funniest part is that I was watching it and thinking, “Is that the Moulin Rouge?” I was there for a show two years ago, but then I told myself it’s silly to assume that of all the potential venues in the world, just because it was french it would be there. Turns out it was there. Maybe all french concerts do take place at the Moulin Rouge.
This past week was Pride Week and to wrap up there was a giant parade this afternoon. I almost didn’t go (I had forgotten it was today) but I could hear it from the apartment, so I rushed down. I can only guess at how long it was since it started before I got there, but I got to see more than a half hour of it. It was pretty fun, not as risque as some in the bigger cities, but still lots of good times.
Mike and I have taken to watching Cake Boss, the new show on TLC about the Italian/Jersey family that owns a bakery. It’s horribly addictive and really entertaining. It’s obviously gotten to me too because besides trying to fake jersey (JOY-zee) accents all of the time, I also attempted making my first “fancy cake”.
I did of course make Mike a cheese cake last week for his birthday but those are relatively uncomplicated because they don’t involve any decorating (at least mine didn’t). Once you had the batter, you were done. This cake was a bit different. I’m not really that much of a baker, but I like a new challenge, so I took on the duty of making Mike’s mom’s birthday cake today.
It was a plain white cake with buttercream icing. It was actually quite simple to make, the only tricky part was cutting the tiny little cake into two slabs. Also, since most of our stuff is in boxes pending the move in two weeks (!!!!), I used the spring form pan I had out for the cheesecake. This turned out to work super well, since it made the cake very easy to get out of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or 8″ spring form pan.
In a medium bowl (or blender), cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.
Cream room temperature butter with a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract.
Pour in milk and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add food coloring, if using, and beat for thirty seconds until smooth or until desired color is reached.
That’s right, I was hardcore enough to make buttercream icing with nothing but a wooden spoon and a bowl. No KitchenAid for me!
Once the cake was cooked, I let it cool down and then released it from the spring form pan (super easy I might add). I waited a bit longer for it to cool. While I was doing this I started mixing up the buttercream icing. When the cake was all cool, I used a big serrated bread knife to cut the dome off the top of the cake. I then cut it in to two slabs. Two reasonably thin slabs I might add.
On the bottom slab I put some of the buttercream icing and then added some of my mom’s homemade raspberry jelly. I then carefully put the top slab back on and “dirty iced” it as Buddy (the cake boss) would say. This is just a thin layer of the icing to lock in all of the crumbs.
Then it was off to the fridge for about an hour (in which time we went and got the card and present). Then I put a nice thick layer of icing on it and decorated it with fresh local raspberries.
I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. No fondant, but we’ll work on that. I guess I’m just not quite a cake boss yet.
So since I’m all gung ho about the new condo, but can’t move in until after August 7th, I was looking around for a program to make a floor plan or better yet, one of those cool models that always seem to be on HGTV.
In my search I came across Google SketchUp. It’s a free 3D modeling program that, for being a 3D modeling program, is relatively intuitive and easy to use, plus it works on PCs and Macs. I’ve never done any modeling before, 3D on the computer just isn’t my schtick, but I hacked together a reasonable model of the condo. The best part about SketchUp is that people have already made tons of “components” like fridges and doors and furniture, so you don’t need to worry about modeling complicated items if your a newby like me.
So here is my condo, I haven’t really added any of the interior yet, as is quite obvious. Though I did add the blue front door. I’ll make an update once I’ve added some “furnishings”.
So Mike and I got a place (as I announced Saturday). Now comes the fun/stressful part of furnishing it.
Because when we were moving out of our apartment this April (the lease was up) and moving into a furnished sublet and we didn’t know where we would be living come fall (since it all depended on grad school acceptances) we sold most of our furniture. Of course, saying that makes it seem like we actually had a lot of furniture to sell. It was mostly desks, two bookshelves and a cruddy bed.
So now we are faced with the daunting task of furnishing a large condo by ourselves with next to no existing existing furniture. Right now the tally is 1 ikea desk and a somewhat broken futon.
We of course want (need) to be resourceful on account of still being in perma-student land, but we also are design geeks and don’t want the place to look like the inside of a thrift store.
We’ve been noticing that it’s very hip and cool now to have the 60s/70s style fiberglass chairs and we thought, “Hey, there are a ton of those around campus that are just sitting in heaps.” To make matters cooler, I just stumbled across two sites that I think will help us in our quest. Plastolux and Chairfag. I actually found the latter in a link from the former. Lots of modern style DIY plus how to refinish the nifty fiberglass chairs we just happened to come across.
I’ll post some photos later.
PS the chairs were made in Canada, which is think is super cool
I’m a huge fan of falafel, but I had never considered trying to make it until Mike suggested the idea. We normally have a can of chickpeas on hand because we like to make our own hummus, so I looked up a basic falafel recipe and came up with this one on All Recipes, called Sean’s Falafel. Of course, I didn’t have all the ingredients it called for on hand, so I listed what I actually used.
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
dash of onion powder
1 tsp dried parsley
3 heaping tsp minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry bread crumbs (this was roughly 2 slices of bread)
oil for frying
In a large bowl mash chickpeas until thick and pasty; don’t use a blender, as the consistency will be too thin.
In a small bowl combine egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, baking powder, and garlic. Stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. Form 8 balls and then flatten into patties. I actually made my balls smaller and got 14 in total.
Though falafels are usually deep fried, I’ve had bad luck in the past trying to put that much oil in a frying pan, so I pan fried them in some olive oil until they were brown on both sides.
To go with the falafels, Mike chopped up some tomato, cucumber, orange pepper and olives and mixed in some feta. We put this mixture on a toasted greek style pita (the kind with no pocket). It was super tasty and didn’t even take long to prepare.
Again life has gotten temporarily in the way of posting. I have a good reason though: Mike and I are now home owners!
(condo owners to be more precise)
It’s all happened very fast. We made an offer early Saturday afternoon and they accepted it late Saturday afternoon. Now we get to think of all the fun stuff like decorating and painting. We’re thinking about these things because that takes a little edge off the “HOLY COW WE ARE PROPERTY OWNERS?!”
And we went to a cat show on Saturday, not showing a cat, just to check it out. We’re cool like that.
I promised some food posts and here’s the first one: Mike’s birthday breakfast. Please excuse the photo, I know it’s not very artistic, but it was early in the morning and we were both hungry. So the breakfast consisted of: Eggs benedict (poached eggs with homemade Hollandaise sauce) with smoked salmon and a homemade blueberry scone. As part of his birthday present, I gave him a Pantone mug. Which I put some of his favourite tea in. I’m quite proud because I didn’t ruin the eggs. I’m not a huge egg eater myself, so I had never tried poaching eggs before.
For the few who are wondering, his Pantone is Orange 021C and mine (because I couldn’t resist getting one for myself) is 363C.
Yes, I do realize that it should say “You’re a towel,” but it looks like the grammar police weren’t out that day. This is actually from Canada Day, I’ve been meaning to post it for a while. I think it’s just about the cutest piece of graffiti I have ever seen. It reminds me of something my friend Sandy would do (or even me, but alas I am not the culprit). This is just something to tide people over until the cooking extravaganza of tomorrow.