Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Free and Easy Bake-Along #25 - Bake-Along 1st Anniversary Layer Cake

Bake-Along is one year old! I can't believe  that it has been one year since my first Bake-Along with Lena! This Bake-Along idea was first started when I realized that I needed that "push" to encourage me to bake from my ever increasing collection of cookbooks. There are times when I look through my cookbooks and decided on a bake, when another one caught my eye, and another one, and another one! Most of the times I could not make up my mind and these are pushed back to later and sometimes forgotten until something or someone sort of reminded me of my bookmarked recipes. So in order to commit myself to bake from my many cookbooks, I decided to have someone to bake together with me. That leads me to Lena of Frozen Wings, (Hi Lena!), I noticed that she has made several recipes from the same books that I have. And she seems nice, which she is! So I sent an email to Lena about my idea of a Bake-Along, I was ready to be rejected! LOL! I was feeling a little foolish sending her an email about this crazy idea of mine, when she does not even know me! After all, we do not know each other very well and the only correspondence we had was through our comments in each other's blog, and we have just recently knew each other through blogging! Imagine my surprise and excitement when Lena replied that yes, she is interested! Gosh, someone actually is interested in this crazy idea of mine! She must be as crazy as me, looks like we will get along fine after all! (wink! wink!)

That settles it! We emailed each other almost every other day to discuss on this Bake-Along. Finally our first Bake-Along, chosen by Lena, was posted on 19th May 2011, Streusel Pizza. It feels nice to have a partner in baking, especially when that recipe was bookmarked and I never did came round to make it, which I finally did. Then Lena suggested inviting Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, whom I am not familiar with, but that was taken care of soon enough. And Zoe joined us in our second Bake-Along. (Hi, Zoe!). 

Now a year later, with 24 bakes behind us, I am really happy to have Lena and Zoe as my baking partners.  I did manage to crossed off about 20 recipes from my cookbooks for our Bake-Along, YAY!! During the months of Bake-Along, we have received some enquiries from our blogger friends who has shown interest to follow along. Of course, we are very happy and thrilled that Bake-Along has sparked an interest in some of our blogger pals, and we took a step further to start the linky tools so that anyone who is interested can join and blog-hop along with us. And we include a theme bake each month, so that it is easier for our friends to join us, as not everyone may have the same cookbooks. During this one year journey of Bake-Along, I have the pleasure to know some awesome home-bakers and their wonderful blogs (Hi, ladies, you know who you are!! :). I deeply appreciate your constant support! Thank you for baking along with us! 

Today's post is "Bake-Along 1st Anniversary Layer Cake". Layer cake is something that I very seldom make, mostly because I am totally lousy at frosting and decorating any cake!  But then again, I would prefer to eat plain cakes without any frosting, so that is why I keep away from frosting most of the time. So I made a simple chocolate cake layered with chocolate ganache and top with the same ganache at the last minute, last evening! Yup, I was usually so organized when it comes to our Bake-Along, was ready at least a week in advance, but not this time! I was busy the last couple of weeks and was not around during the weekends, so this is my simple layer cake. I did plan on making something else but have to settle with this instead.

I made half the recipe, so this is a rather small cake, only 7". Since I do not have any other things in my pantry except the coloured sprinkles and white choc chips, I used that to decorate the sides and top. Haha, looks kinda funny!! See what I mean with my cake decorating skills???  

 Putting aside the unattractive look, this cake is really moist and chocolaty with intense chocolate flavour.

Happy 1st Anniverysary, Bake-Along!
A special Thank You to everyone!

Please visit Lena and Zoe and our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below.


Be sure to join us in our next Bake-Along, where we will be baking Pear and Maple Crumble from Bon Appetit Dessert Cookbook, page 409, or you may get the recipe here, and post it on 12 June. The linky will stay open until 18 Jun. See you!

Chocolate Cake
(source from "Delicious Cakes" by Amy Heng)
Ingredients :
250gm butter
370gm soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 eggs, lightly beaten
320gm plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
100gm cocoa powder (dissolved in 280ml hot water)

Chocolate Ganache
300ml whipping cream
600gm cooking chocolate (chopped)
  1. Line and grease a 10" round baking pan. Preheat oven to 170C.
  2. Sieve plain flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. In an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Gradually add in eggs and mix until well combined.
  4. Add in one third of flour mixture alternately with half of dissolved cocoa on low speed until combined, repeat with remaining flour and cocoa mixture.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until done. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes and turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Slice cooled cake into 3 layers horizontally and spread with ganache. Pour ganache over cake, letting it coat around sides of cake. 
  7. Decorate as desired.

To make Chocolate Ganache :
Heat cream in double boiler until hot. Add in chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool until chocolate has thickened slightly before using.

Kitchen Flavour notes :
~ made half the recipe using a 7" round cake pan, baked at 170C for 38 minutes.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moroccan Meatballs In Tomato Sauce : IHCC

Another week of Rick Bayless recipes over at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I'm having a good time cooking from unfamiliar zone!  This week's theme is "Potluck", we are free to cook any of Rick Bayless's recipes.

This dish uses very little ingredients, I have everything in my pantry, except of course, the lamb and fresh parsley. I was curious as how it would turned out with so little ingredients, and was surprised when I had a taste of the sauce after cooking. Delicious!

The meatball mixture are made up of minced meat, cumin, paprika, chopped parsley and salt, they are rolled into 1" balls. Rick says to use a 10 inch saucepan or skillet, as size is important. Well, listen to what the chef says! The 10" saucepan fits all the meatballs perfectly in one single layer! But to swirl gently to coat the meatballs with the sauce, this I can't do, I'm afraid clumsy me would get the sauce out of the pan instead! Hey, I'm not a chef, just look at that pan of meatballs, I can't do it! So I use a spoon instead, to scoop and cover the sauce all over the meatballs! Continue to simmer until the meatballs are fully cooked, about 15 minutes.

These are really delicious! Both the meatballs and the sauce have the pleasant scent of the cumin. The meatballs are chewy and delicious! Here I have used a mixture of lamb and minced pork, as I'm afraid that by using all ground lamb, the smell might be too strong for my kids, as we do not eat lamb very often. So I have used a third of ground lamb with two thirds of ground pork.

The sauce is very tasty and sweet with a slight tinge of sourness. We had this served over spaghetti.

But the next time, I'm gonna double up on the sauce if I'm having this with pasta, as my family loves lots of sauce over their pasta, especially the hubby!

Please stop by I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) to see all the other yummies from Rick Bayless's recipes.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded

I'm sharing this too with 

Moroccan Meatballs In Tomato Sauce
(source from : The Splendid Table, recipe by Rick Bayless)
1-1/4 pounds ground beef or lamb
3 teaspoons paprika, divided use (Moroccan paprika is medium-hot - add a little cayenne if yours isn't hot enough for you)
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided use
12 large fresh parsley sprigs, divided use
1 large garlic clove
one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 small onion

  1. Make meatballs : Place beef or lamb in a large bowl. Measure in 1-1/2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon of the cumin, half of the chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix or knead to thoroughly distribute flavorings through meat. Roll meat into 1-inch balls (about 1 tablespoon meat mixture), laying each on a plate as rolled. Set aside.
  2. Make sauce : Turn on food processor. Drop garlic through feed tube. Let machine run until garlic is chopped, then stop. Remove lid and scrape down garlic from sides of processor. Add tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste and onion. Add remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin and parsley. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until nearly smooth. Scrape into pan or deep skillet that is about 10 inches across (size is important here). Set over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Cook meatballs and serve : Remove pan from heat. Nestle meatballs into sauce in a single layer. Swirl pan gently to ensure all meatballs have sauce over the top. Set over medium heat, set lid slightly ajar and cook 10 to 12 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Taste and stir in more salt if you think necessary. If sauce is very thick, add a little water. Spoon onto individual plates and serve.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Watermelon And Lettuce Salad

I was browsing through some of Ina Garten's recipes and instead of making more cakes and bakes, I decided to try one of her salad recipes. Salad is not something that we eat as often as our Western friends do. We do eat veggies everyday, mostly in quick stir-fry dishes as part of a main meal, and we do have our own local-style salads. Salads like the one below are often made during parties or get-together, or maybe as a side when we have Western meals at home. 

This is a simple salad from Ina Garten that only have two main ingredients, the watermelon and arugula. I replace the arugula with butterhead lettuce. Ina used Parmesan Cheese, and I used Cheddar cheese, which I think, any cheese will do. We love salad, I'm lucky that both my kids love veggies ever since they are toddlers and they are not picky in most veggies that I've cooked. They love salads like this where they are lots of fresh green veggies.

Of course the star of this bowl of salad are the watermelons, everyone's favourite! Juicy and sweet! 

A nice salad with a light dressing, which I added 2 tablespoons of honey. Keep the watermelon and lettuce in the refrigerator to cool. When it's time to serve, simply drizzle dressing over, garnish with shredded cheese and serve. Lovely when the watermelon is cold!

I'm submiting this post to "Cook Like A Star" where the celebrity star for the month of May is Ina Garten, hosted by my baking buddy Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids. Are you a fan of Ina Garten or have always wanted to try one her recipes, you can do that during the whole month of May and simply link to "Cook Like A Star", for more details, please visit Zoe.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad
(source from : foodnetwork.com, Ina Garten)
1/2 pound baby arugula leaves
2 pounds seedless watermelon, 3/4-inch-diced (3 pounds with the rind)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound chunk Parmesan cheese 
2 tbsp honey (my addition)

Place the arugula and watermelon in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour enough dressing on the arugula to moisten. Toss well and place on 6 salad plates.

With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan into large shards and sprinkle them on the arugula and watermelon. Sprinkle with salt and serve.