Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blue Hydrangea Red Velvet Cake

I think I could sum up this post with two words....'lesson learned.'

Last weekend was Victoria Day here in Canada.  Which means that it was the first long weekend of the summer.  My pregnant cousin happened to be visiting from Calgary (that's in the province of Alberta for those of you who need to brush up on your geography).  And since this was probably the last time we would see her before she had the baby, the visit called for a Baby Shower! 

She's having a boy, so I thought that some sort of blue cake was in order.  I took my Red Velvet cake recipe, replaced the red food colouring with Wilton's Royal Blue food colouring and a dab of Wilton's Violet food colouring to make (are you ready...?) - Blue. Velvet. Cake. 
Once baked, the cake was a lovely rich royal blue colour and it even tasted great (I sort of expected it to taste 'blue').  For some reason, while I was sampling the cake, I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror - my tongue was royal blue, my lips were royal blue, even my teeth were royal blue.  (French accent - ahhh...horrible!) 
So after drinking a tonne of water and brushing my teeth (a couple of times) (...with the fancy whitening toothpaste),  I decided to scrap the idea and go back to the original 'tried and true' red velvet cake recipe.

I played around with a couple of icing techniques and (since she's having a boy) went with various shades of blue hydrangea's.   

The cake was devoured within minutes (seriously...I should have timed it) and I received lots of compliments (win!). 

I find that sometimes these mistakes are necessary for the learning process - and now I know what to do to make a person’s teeth blue...(I am going to put that into the ‘funny practical jokes’ bank)...
Maybe next time I try to make a blue cake (...I'm sure there will be a next time) I will go for a baby-blue shade instead of trying to poison myself with blue food colouring to make a royal blue cake....

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guyanese Custard Block

(I should probably premise this story with the fact that I am the Canadian born offspring of two Guyanese parents)...

It was my Dad's birthday a few months ago.  He's one of those people who doesn't really like a big fuss on their birthday (which I don't understand - I feel as though my birthday should be a national holiday).  Because he doesn't like a big fuss, we try to keep it low key, but special.

This year, I decided to flip through this Guyanese cookbook we had (dated 1973) and attempt something for dessert for his birthday from 'home' (anyone with Guyanese family living abroad knows that Guyana is referred to as 'back home' or just 'home')....
I love crazy cookbooks like just never know what you might find in them!
In it, I found a recipe for something called 'Custard Block'.....

I thought this recipe was great for a couple of reasons (1) Because it's called 'Custard Block'...that's exactly what it is.  A block of frozen custard.  And (2) because it's main ingredient is something called 'Bird's Custard Powder'.  Now, Birds Custard Powder brings back many memories from my childhood.  It's one of the first things that my Mom would let me make on my own.  It’s a custard powder, which when you add milk and sugar to it over heat - makes this gloop-y yellow custard that my dad LOVES with any sort of pie or crumble (there were equal parts pie and custard in his bowl)...

Custard block is like ice cream without all the work.  I used fat free evaporated milk, which really lightened the recipe up.  It's a great summer dessert and really easy to make.  

Fat-free goodness....
Guyanese Custard Block
Adapted from 'What's Cooking in Guyana' Cookbook
Serves 6

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Springtime Asparagus & Ham Pasta

It's Spring here in Can-adia.  Spring (to me) means that it's time to get the gardening on (hot peppers, tomatoes, herbs and the such), get a pedicure (to take care of the gnarled-winter-toe situation) and pull out the floaty spring dresses from last year.  It also means that for the next 4-5 months, the vegetables will taste a million times better than they do in the winter.

I found this recipe in a Foodland Ontario calendar that I have hanging in my cubicle at work....The calendar features a new recipe every month using one of the many Ontario fruits and vegetables that happens to be in season.  This month (May) it's Asparagus....This recipe is simple, really tasty and only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, so it's perfect for a weeknight dinner.

I find that asparagus has the beneficial side effects of reducing that ever-annoying water weight gain that happens once-in-a-while  (which is a WIN in my opinion)- I don't know if this is actually a real thing or just my imagination...either way, it is great when trying to fit into last year's spring/summer dresses!... And I am sure you don't need me to tell you that Asparagus is just plain good for you (even if it does make certain 'things' a little smelly).....

Springtime Asparagus & Ham Pasta
(modified from Foodland Ontario 2012 calendar)
Serves 5

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spelt Breaded Pork Chops with Spicy Citrus Marinade

This recipe is from the Sauces and Marinades class that I took.  It’s a quick and easy marinade to put together.  Keep in mind that marinating the pork chops overnight will make a world of difference. 

In class, we grilled these - which was good.  Personally I love breaded pork chops.  I used spelt bread crumbs because I eat a lot of spelt bread, and when it goes stale, I make breadcrumbs out of it (oven dry them, then blend them up in a food processor) - Also, I've heard that spelt is good for there's that too.  I employed my oven frying skills to make sure the breaded pork chops were nice and crispy without adding too much fat.

These pork chops are great with apple sauce and boiled & pan fried potatoes (pictured above). 

Spelt Breaded Pork Chops with Spicy Citrus Marinade
(adapted from Sauces and Marinades George Brown College Manual)
Serves 4