Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

The finished cake
Just four ingredients

The first cake layer sitting on the pieces of parchment paper.

The iced cake before the pieces of parchment paper were pulled out.

All that was left that night - not much!

Keith’s birthday was a few days ago and I made a butter cake from a box mix. My preferred brand is Duncan Hines and they also make really good brownie mixes.

Yes you could make a cake from scratch but why bother when there are delicious box mixes which are so easy to make. The frostings however, I made from scratch: cream cheese frosting for the middle and a plain buttercream to ice the whole cake. The end result was that the two of us plus the four friends who were at dinner almost polished off the whole cake! Everyone had at least two slices and one of our friends actually had seven slices, albeit some of the slices were really thin. I think he would have liked to finish it off but maybe out of politeness though it better to leave at least a little something on the cake stand! Both frostings were delicious, but I think the next time I would just make it all cream cheese frosting.

In one of the pictures you see how I kept the cake plate frosting free. I saw this on TV when the 'Barefoot Contessa' Ina Garten was frosting a coffee cake she was making for a friend (she always seems to be cooking for her friends on that show!) Cut parchment paper into about six strips of approximately 3" x 6" and place under the cake. Ice the cake and then when done, carefully remove the pieces of paper leaving a clean cake plate.

So here’s the recipe for cream cheese frosting which would be excellent on carrot cake or on cupcakes. The amount to ice a round 9 inch cake is given and then in parenthesis [] is the amount if you are making just enough as filling.

For one 9” round cake

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened [4 ounces]
½ cup butter, softened [2 ounces]
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar [1/2 cup]
1 tsp vanilla extract [1/4 tsp]
4 tbsp milk [1 tbsp]
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Mix in the milk until desired consistency is reached.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mak Cik's Vegetable Acar

My aunt (or Mak Cik in Malay) is well known for her Vegetable Acar (pronounced 'ut-char') which is pickled vegetables in a spicy, vinegary and sweet base. I like to eat it as a side dish when I eat plain chicken or beef ramen or sometimes just on it's own as a snack! Unlike the Korean Kimchi, this is not as pungent as it does not use garlic. Without the addition of the peanuts, the acar can actually last refridgerated for about 6 months (or about 1 week with the peanuts).

Makes about 8 – 10 20-oz jars

2 pounds (about 4-5) carrots, peeled and cut into 2”x1/8” sticks
3 pounds (about 6-7) pickling cucumbers, deseeded and cut into 2”x¼” sticks
4 pounds (1 large) cabbage, separate the leaves and cut into 2" squares

Spice Mix
5 tbsp chili powder
4 stalks lemongrass
2 big onions
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp galangal powder
1 tbsp belacan powder
2 cups white vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
½ cup oil
1 cup ground roasted peanuts, optional
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, optional

To prepare the vegetables:
  • Boil a big pot of water and add in ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup sugar and 2 tbsp salt. Lower heat to simmer and blanch vegetables for 1 minute, a few handfuls at a time. Use a salad spinner to spin dry. Set aside.

For the spice mix:
  • Finely grind the lemongrass and onions with ¼ cup water. Mix in the chili, turmeric, galangal and belacan powders.
  • Heat ½ cup cooking oil, fry ground ingredients for spice mix for about 1 hour until fragrant and oil rises to the top. Add in vinegar, sugar and salt.
  • Cool then add in the vegetables and the ground roasted peanuts if used. Mix well.
  • Keep in clean jars for at least 1 day before eating.
  • Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top before serving.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Heavenly Delicious Butternut Goodness

I love butternut squash so much so that I could eat it every day! The cold winter weather is the perfect time to make this because the hot oven then also heats the house. We had some of the squash with roasted chicken and green beans for dinner one night and the extra came in handy when I made it into roasted butternut soup the next day. I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled and knew that I wouldn't be able to eat solids for a couple of days. The good news was that I only had to have two wisdom teeth from my bottom jaw pulled as the two upper ones were impacted; the bad news was that the pain didn't just last a couple of days, it lasted more than a week!


1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, cut into 1/2" slices
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp minced fresh herbs ie. rosemary, thyme, sage etc

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Mix all the ingredients and lay on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake for 30 minutes