The Mediterranean Diet would suit me just fine...
I have recently been introduced to olives. I'm not sure I love them yet, but last week I had a craving and Henry's had blanched almond stuff olives. Paired with sourdough bread, extra sharp cheddar cheese and Pomegranate wine (yes, from pomegranate juice) and watermelon for dessert, this dinner was all kinds of delicious. I actually only ended up eating about 1/3 of what you see there because it was so satisfying, I was pleased as punch!
Along the olive thread, Jonathan and I tried some spicy persian style (??) olives this week at the farmer's market and I was in ecstasies. What a fantastic burn on them! I need to explore this fruit a little more...
For the love of Italian Butter Rum cake
I have been trying to emulate a particular cake for quite some time now called Italian Butter Rum Cake, also found at our local farmer's market.
The necessities for this cake:
- It must be a bundt cake. Something about this shape just works.
- The cake is very, very moist with a light flavor rum.
- The topping has a layer of nuts that do not fall off the cake when you eat it.
- There is some kind of sauce or syrup poured over the top of the cake that makes it even *more* moist and a little bit sweeter.
Off to the market, I bought a bottle of Rinaldo black label rare reserve dark rum and 2 boxes of cake mix. I didn't want to make the cake from scratch, so I decided to go with the appropriately named Butter Yellow Cake mix from Betty Crocker, I think. To reconstitute this cake you need to add 1.25 cups of water. I have a different cake recipe that calls for 1 cup of sherry wine to the batter for the flavor of the sherry, so I used that knowledge and substituted 1 cup of the water with 1 cup of the rum. I was lazy and only used oil in place of butter in the cake.
Now for the topping. I had pecans and walnuts, I had brown sugar, and I melted butter. I figured these were good ingredients to start with, now to find the right combo:
Section One: pecans AND walnuts + brown sugar on the bottom of the pan.
Section Two: pecans + melted butter.
Section Three: pecans.
Result? FAIL CAKE.
The cake part was WAY too alcohol-y. After 2 bites I was feeling flushed. So here's the first captain obvious lesson learned: Rum is strong.
The topping wasn't much better. Pecans are better than walnuts because of their sweeter meat, but the sugar section became hard and gross and the liquid butter was displaced by the batter and was just absorbed upon cooking. This was not the rich and moist result I anticipated.
I made the cake mix with 1/3 cup rum + vanilla extract + butter as called for.
About 1.3 cups of chopped pecans went into the bottom of the pan, poured the batter on top carefully so as not to displace the nuts.
I shaved 5 minutes off the baking time.
Meanwhile, I melted some butter, mixed in a few tablespoons of brown sugar, a dash of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of rum. When the cake was done I spooned this onto the nuts and the sides of the cake.
Result? Not too bad.
The cake was MUCH better, I could get the accents of the rum flavor without getting knocked out, but then I think the rum in the sauce ruined it. Too many nuts, and the cake was still not as moist or as sweet as it should be. The cake part was still lacking something in my opinion.
Next time: 3/4 cup nuts for the top, possibly with cubed cold butter in the bottom of the bundt before adding batter.
Vanilla pudding mix to the cake plus poppyseeds I think.
The sauce should have more sugar and vanilla, less butter and no rum.
Everyone loves Irish food... or at least Corned Beef Hash
Last night we had corned beef with boiled potatoes and cabbage (yum). There were plenty of leftovers which of course means Corned Beef Hash for breakfast!
Pretty simple: chop up potatoes and onions, fry in a bit of oil (cook these together and before you add the meat) until your onion are carmelized and your potatoes are crispy. Add a bit of garlic and the meat until warm and you're good to go!
The potatoes above are too big and there were too many and the meat was crispier than I would have liked as I threw it in the pan all at once. I think maybe smashing some of the potatoes would be tasty as well.