Friday, December 31, 2010

Guy's Big Bite: A McConaughey and Fieri Feast

Pin It Guy's Big Bite: A McConaughey and Fieri Feast

This episode aired Saturday, December 18 but I just watched it this morning as I am slowly catching up on my DVR taped Food Network shows. I really enjoyed this one hour Guy's Big Bite: A McConaughey and Fieri Feast and the recipes Matthew and Guy made looked delicious. To start things off Matthew made This Rum Ting drink for Guy and him while they cooked up Matthew's Malibu Oysters, JKL Pesto Pork and Veggie Roast, Soy Glazed Green Beans, and Farro Salad with Citrus Vinagrette. To compliment their food, Matthew made another drink Just Keep Livin' Margarita. You can find all the recipes from this episode on the Food Network site: http://www.foodnetwork.com/.

In between Matthew and Guy's cooking feast they shared stories about Guy coming over to Matthew's place in Malibu and cooking for hours and jamming on drums. Matthew also shared a little bit about his family, and the nonprofit he started Keep On Livin' which offers after school programs that teach teens healthy living and exercise in their lives. Guy and Matthew shared real nice chemistry and seemed to enjoy cooking together and chatting it up for the camera to die hard Guy Fieri fans like me. I am also happy they changed the intro for Guy's Big Bite - it's rockin' just like Guy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Barefoot Contessa's How Easy Is That? Cookbook Review

Pin It Barefoot Contessa's How Easy Is That? Cookbook Review

Ina Garten - How Easy Is That?
One of the Christmas presents my husband got me was Ina Garten’s new cookbook Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips. I started reading the cookbook last night, and finished it this morning and am so excited to try these recipes. Ina offers helpful tips and makes thoughtful recommendations on equipment and kitchen stuff one should have handy and gadgets she does not bother owning. Most of us do not have an enormous kitchen as Ina has to stock everything we would like, but everything she recommends is practical and can work even in small kitchens like mine. Some pots I have not purchased yet since they are so expensive, but Ina offers affordable alternatives. There are 68 easy tips and some I already do, but Ina has given me new ideas for my kitchen space. I also love the Contessa's simple pictures of beautiful place settings for her dining table.

The recipes are simple, sound delicious, and the pictures are beautiful. I have seen some of these recipes on the Food Network already and remember wishing there were such a thing as smellavision. The book has six main sections cocktails, starters, lunch, dinner, vegetables and desserts. If you love to entertain friends and family, this cookbook is a treasure trove. The recipes are also perfect for family dinners or just for two as in my case. I have made many Ina recipes and they always come out great so I am eager to make many of the ones in this cookbook.

The main theme of the cookbook is the word "easy." Ina is keeping it simple by using easy ingredients, providing easy shortcuts, easy techniques, easy menus and easy recipes. I cannot wait to make Foie Gras With Roasted Apples, Roasted Vegetable Frittata, Tarragon Potato Salad, Greek Lamb With Yogurt Mint Sauce, Spaghetti Aglio E Olio, Easy Parmesan "Risotto," Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, Chocolate Pudding Cream Tart and Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. I want to make so many other recipes as well but I will make these recipes first.

-Sophia/Two Frys

Monday, December 27, 2010

Darkened Red Velvet Snowball Cake

Pin It Darkened Red Velvet Snowball Cake

Darkened Red Velvet Snowball Cake
This is the first time I made a red velvet cake, but I did not want to follow a traditional recipe or use cream cheese frosting since I use this frosting on Ina Garten's Coconut Cake that I often make for my loved ones. On Christmas morning, I made this Darkened Red Velvet Snowball Cake for my hubby and me. I love the richness, better taste, and color of dark chocolate cake so I used dark instead of milk chocolate hence the darker red color. I used the cake recipe ingredients from Redbook Magazine www.redbookmag.com/recipefinder/red-velvet-snowball-cake-recipe but not the cream cheese frosting. For the frosting, I made a Fluffy White Frosting from http://www.cooks.com/ so you can go there and search for "fluffy white frosting" and pick the recipe you like best. 

Slice of Darkened Red Velvet Cake
I used Mounds Sweetened Coconut Flakes for the top of the cake and loved the taste and freshness of the coconut flakes. The Redbook recipe divided each 9 inch cake layer in half so you have four layers, but I kept mine a two layer cake. When you frost the cake, be sure to let it set for at least three hours before you serve it. I think this is the moistest cake I have ever made with dark chocolate in the mixture. It is so delicious and beautiful as well.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Cookie Baking

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Holiday Cookie Baking

I did not finish final exams and papers until December 20th, so I only had a few days to do Christmas gift shopping and holiday baking. Needless to say, I am still tired and recovering but am thrilled it is my final semester of classes and next semester is all about the thesis and graduating. Phew... Baking cookies I find takes a lot of preparation, patience and space. My kitchen is very small so this was a major challenge. On December 23rd, I spent nine hours baking and decorating cookies. I found it relaxing and had fun!

Decorating Icing, I didn't use the color dyes but had them out just in case I needed them
I used four cookie sheet trays since I could only put two trays in the oven at once and always had the other two ready to go as soon as they cooled and when it was time to switch. I placed parchment paper under all my cookie sheet cooling trays for easier clean up afterwards from my decorating mess. I also wore my awesome Guy Fieri apron since I was using colored icing and did not want to stain my clothes. It is a messy job.

Betty Crocker Decorating Icing
I did not make the dough from scratch and simplified things by using one package of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix and two packages of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix. I ended up with about seven dozen cookies. For each Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix (in addition to the ingredient instructions), I added 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of milk and 1 teaspoon of clear Vanilla Extract. When you are mixing the dough use a large mixing bowl, put on gloves (or not) and get in there and use your hands to incorporate everything perfectly. Mix all the ingredients until a stiff dough forms. I recommend chilling the dough for at least half an hour so it is easier to work with. I do not have granite counter tops so I used my large wood cutting board and lightly sprinkled flour on it and the rolling pin so the dough would not stick. I separated my dough into quarters since my working space was small. I had to use flour with each section of dough.

Some of my gingerbread cooling

My funky snowmen!
The icing I used was Wilton Red Cookie Icing, Wilton White Cookie Icing, and Betty Crocker Decorating Cookie Icing in White, Blue, and Green. The Wilton Cookie Icing requires you to place bottles in the microwave for a few seconds until you get the desired consistency. Be careful not to leave the bottles in there for long. If you need the icing to soften up more just keep microwaving for a few seconds until you are happy with it. You just snip the tips and you are ready to use them. Always test them on a paper towel first to make sure it flows the way you would like it to. If it is too runny, wait a few minutes to use it. I have yet to master using these, but I think I did a fine job for the novice cookie baker that I am.

Assorted cookies drying
Gingerbread boys and girls
I used several cookie cutter shapes: gingerbread, circle, star, heart, snowman, icicle, and Christmas tree. The issue I had was the fact that I have no artistic talent whatsoever so this was a serious challenge for me. I was a little nervous at first but after I got going I had so much fun. You see my gingerbread peeps aren't perfect and neither are the designs. I guess you can say my cookies reflect my personality which is all over the map. My cookies baked for seven minutes so baking time is quick. You may need a few minutes more so keep a close eye on them. You have to cool the cookies completely before decorating them. I waited an hour.

Gingerbread men

Tree Ornaments
Before placing your shaped cookies on ungreased cookie sheet trays for your baking marathon, make sure they cool completely. Using the royal icing is alot of fun but not as easy as it looks. I had to use a toothpick when placing decorations on the icing and had some overflow accidents. The toothpicks were helpful and I recommend using them. Using sugars and sprinkles were much easier since you just dust them over the icing. I also burned a little spot on one of my fingers so be careful - those cookie sheet trays are so hot when they come out of the oven! Ouchy...

Stars!
Decorated icicles and stars
When you flood the cookies using the icing squeeze bottles they flood quickly so be sure to start in the center of the cookie and work your way out. Be sure to put your sprinkles and sugars on the icing before it dries or they won't stick on. Toothpicks also work great to help spread the icing and remove any bubbles to get an even surface. The great thing about using the icing squeeze bottles is having enough left over so just put the caps on and store them for the next time you bake cookies. 

Christmas Trees

Hearts
After you have finished decorating the cookies, do not store them in your cookie jar or holiday tins for at least six hours or your cookies will stick to each other and they will be ruined. I put them in cookie sheet trays overnight and covered them lightly with aluminum foil so they could try completely.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pillsbury Christmas Tree Shape Sugar Cookies

Pin It Pillsbury Christmas Tree Shape Sugar Cookies

Pillsbury Ready To Bake Christmas Tree Shape Sugar Cookies
I have to give all the credit to Pillsbury for their Ready To Bake Christmas Tree Shape Sugar Cookies. Hubby bought these to see if we would like them. They are delicious and there's hardly any work involved except for placing the dough onto two cookie sheets. Place the cookies about two inches apart and follow baking instructions. Keep an eye on the temperature for your oven and monitor them since they bake super fast between eight and ten minutes. Just cool the cookies for a few minutes and transfer them to a serving tray. If you want to place them in a cookie tin or your favorite cookie jar wait until they cool completely or they will break apart. I broke two and had to eat them immediately since I was being impatient. That's all there is to it.

Pillsbury Ready To Bake Christmas Tree Shape Sugar Cookies
If you are planning holiday festivities you can buy all sorts of designs from Pillsbury and bake a variety of them. It will look like you did alot of work but you didn't. They will look pretty on a platter and impress your guests. They are very tasty as well so you can't lose.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Apple Pie

Pin It Apple Pie

I decided a few days ago I would make an apple pie, and the results were amazing. The taste exceeded my expectations. To keep things simple and as mess free as possible, I used Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts and I highly recommend it. Our apartment smelled so delicious for hours.

Apple Pie
I followed the recipe exactly as listed on the Pillsbury site (see below for link) and it was very easy. There is also an accompanying video to make the process as smooth as possible. The longest prep time was actually peeling, coring, and slicing the apples. I recommend using firm Granny Smith apples and a glass pie plate.

Recipe:
Perfect Apple Pie

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownies

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Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownies


I have to be honest and thought these brownies would be great but I had no idea they would surpass my expectations and be "Off The Hook" as Guy Fieri would say! I am a huge fan of Ghirardelli as it is and when I saw this at my local Stop & Shop I remembered it was on Oprah's favorite things list of this year so I decided to try it. I usually make brownies from scratch and have tried some other boxed brands like Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker and they are all really good, but this is the jewel of chocolate brownie mixes in a box.

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownies out the oven!
I used an 8x8 glass Pyrex dish. The mix comes with chocolate chips and I added one teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract. I was blown away. They are so rich and moist. If I had a rating system this would get 5 out of 5 stars. I really hope you make this for yourself. It is insanely delicious.
 
A nice piece of yummy brownie
Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Pin It Pumpkin Pie
I love to make Pumpkin Pie around this time of the year, and this Pillsbury recipe is super easy.

Pumpkin Pie ready to go in the oven!

To use this recipe, go to:
http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/easy-pumpkin-pie/5793eb83-dca1-45e0-96e1-7f73af9e282f/

One of my favorite things about this Pumpkin Pie is the smell all over the apartment. I just love it. It feels so warm and welcoming in the kitchen and smells delicious. I cannot wait until hubby and me eat it. Yum!
Pumpkin Pie fresh out the oven!
Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Cookies

Pin It Halloween Cookies

Today, I baked 2 dozen Halloween cookies. I used the Wilton 12 Cavity Nonstick Cookie Pan discussed in my former post. I bake a lot especially cakes, but have never used a pan with the different shapes in it so did not know how they would come out.

Halloween cookies Allen and I baked/decorated
Things to know before you set out to do a project like this:
  • Don't set your expectations high if you are a novice like me.
  • Don't give up and try again if you fail.
  • Keep cleaning as you go along because you will make a mess.
The first batch I made had too much dough and the outlines of the shapes were not clear. For the second batch, I put less dough and pressed hard into the cavities of each design. As a result, this batch had better defined indentations even though they were thinner cookies. They looked better too.
Halloween Cookies
I am not an artist so using the decorating icing was harder than I thought. I can barely draw stick figures. Allen did great and decorated about half of the cookies. For beginners, I think we did a fine job! Some of the icing wouldn't stick on the cookie enough or too much came out so you can tell where that happened. I later learned this icing is better for cakes and is not good if you need to stack cookies. Next time, I will either buy Wilton's Royal Icing or make my own and dye it in different colors. Poor Frankenstein, I made a globby mess on him and my bat looks silly. It was quite an experience and fun either way. 

Halloween Cookies
Allen and I did not decorate some of the cookies, since this took way longer than I thought it would. I ate 3 of these cookies and love the taste. I used Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix which only needs 1 egg and 1/3 cup of butter. Working with the dough was messy and took some getting used to. After this experience, I read somewhere that the dough should be refrigerated until it hardens up a little so it will be easier to work with.

I will be baking more cookies for Christmas and hope the decorating process gets easier as I go along. You will see whether I progress or not in the months and years to come. We will enjoy eating these cookies!

-Sophia & Allen/Two Frys

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wilton Goodies for Halloween Cookies

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Wilton Goodies for Halloween Cookies

I want to make decorative cookies for Halloween and good thing I have a Target nearby because I found what I was looking for. I bought Wilton 12 Cavity Nonstick Cookie Pan. It features frankenstein, spider web, mummy, cat, bat, haunted house, candy corn, pumpkin, spider, R.I.P. tombstone, ghost, and cauldron. It will be fun trying to decorate these cookies and hubby is helping me. Pictures will be posted.

Wilton 12 Cavity Nonstick Cookie Pan
For decorating cakes and cookies, I purchased Wilton 9-Piece Cake Decorating Set. The set contains 4 decorating tips, 2 standard couplers, 2 bags and instructions. Round Tip 5 is for outlines, dots, printing, and writing so this will be the one I use for cookies. The other three tips are star tip 18 for stars, shells, zigzags, and rosettes; petal tip 104 for bows, ruffles, sweet peas, and rosebuds and leaf tip 67 for basic leaves.

Wilton 9-Piece Cake Decorating Set
I bought Wilton Decorating Icing in Kelly Green, Black, Red and Royal Blue and their tips fit right on them so that should be simple enough, right? I will make my own white icing so I think I have a good variety to start with. I also got Spooky Sparkling Sugars so my cookies should look pretty. 

Wilton Decorating Icing, Spooky Sparkling Sugars
The Halloween section at Target is so fun and full of really cool stuff. I am partial to anything with skulls and bones and found these Skull Placemats for $1.99 each. They are so cool!

Skull Placemats

-Sophia/Two Frys

Monday, October 11, 2010

Skull Platters

Pin It Skull Platters

I got 4 Skull Platters for $1 each at my neighborhood discount store this morning in the Halloween section. I keep finding different stuff every week I go there. These Skull Platters go great with decorated Halloween cookies, cupcakes and candies. You can even serve hors d'oeuvres in these platters.

Skull Platters
-Sophia/Two Frys

Monday, October 4, 2010

Skull Ice Trays and other Halloween Goodies

Pin It October is my favorite month for many reasons. The fall weather is great and I find the coolest stuff for Halloween. Today, I bought 4 Skull Ice Trays for $1 each. I love them! There are 10 skulls per tray and have many uses. They would complement any drink or can be used as desserts. For the ice trays, you could use them as chocolate molds or freeze your favorite smoothie, lemonade, sangria, etc. You could also freeze water with fresh mint or fruit slices such as strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, lemon, or lime for seltzer or water. You will have delicious fresh flavor that is good for you.

Skull Ice Trays
Closeup of Skull Ice Trays
Last week, I got this plastic Skull Goblet at my neighborhood Rite Aid for $2.49. It's fun for the holidays but since I love skulls I will use it all the time. The goblet is filled with Diet Cranberry Ginger Ale and looks real cool.

Skull Goblet

I bought this foam Silver Glitter Skull and Skull Tablecloth at the same discount store I found the Skull Ice Trays for $1 each.  
Silver Glitter Skull
Have you found any cool Halloween goodies in your neighborhood? I would love for you to share in the comments section.

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Peach Upside-Down Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pin It Peach Upside-Down Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Cake

I was thinking of a way to use 3 peaches I had and decided to make this cake this afternoon. It is very rustic looking and tastes great. Enjoy a piece or two with your favorite cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. This is my recipe. I hope you try it.
Peach Upside-Down Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Cake
Cake Ingredients: 1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour (I like King Arthur 100% Organic All-Purpose Flour)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peach Ingredients:
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3 peaches thinly sliced (remove core)
1 cup dark brown sugar

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Use a 9x13 inch baking pan and put butter in pan to melt in oven for a few minutes. Keep an eye on this since you do not want the butter to burn. Take out pan and sprinkle dark brown sugar over the melted butter. Then place the sliced peaches on top.

In a mixing bowl, beat vegetable oil and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Then add remaining ingredients starting with half the amount of flour, then all the wet ingredients, and finish with the remaining flour. Mix well until all the ingredients are blended. Pour batter over peaches.

Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. (Check oven at 35 minute mark since ovens vary). Insert toothpick and if it comes out clean, it is ready.

Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes and then turn upside down on a large square serving plate or use a large wood cutting board. Let it cool for another 20 minutes before serving.

Add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you want. It's delicious.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dip & Salsa Tasting With Trader Joe's

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Dip & Salsa Tasting With Trader Joe's

Last night, hubby and I had a dip and salsa tasting from products we purchased at Trader Joe's. We love Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers. They are delicious and have a nice crunch. Each chip is aptly shaped for dipping so you should have just the right amount in each bite. Only gripe was we found broken chips in the bag so I don't know if this is always the case.

Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers
I have had raita before and loved it but I cannot say the same for Trader Joe's Raita An Indian Style Yogurt Dip which I did not like at all. I felt there was way too much mint which overpowered the other ingredients instead of complementing them. I did not enjoy the taste at all. I will not purchase this again.

Trader Joe's Raita An Indian Style Yogurt Dip
We actually purchased Trader Joe's Pineapple Salsa in Livermore, CA on our summer vacation before I knew a Trader Joe's was opening on the Upper West Side. This salsa is so delicious and chunky. It has a perfect balance since it is not too sweet or spicy. The taste is just right. If you don't want spicy, I recommend it. It has a wee bit of a kick but not much.

Trader Joe's Pineapple Salsa
I have always been a fan of hummus and love Trader Joe's Mediterranean Creamy & Smooth Hummus. Just mix the contents well before you serve. This hummus is very tasty and has a nice texture. I love it and plan to eat the rest with raw veggies instead of the dippers.

Trader Joe's Mediterranean Creamy & Smooth Hummus
-Sophia & Allen/Two Frys

Monday, September 27, 2010

Goodies for the Kitchen and Chives Lemon Aioli Recipe

Pin It Like many New Yorkers, we live in a small apartment but I tend to buy gadgets and things for the kitchen I have no space for. Anyways, the week of my gallbladder surgery my hubby got me this adorable Cheeseburger Timer to cheer me up. I love it and use it all the time!

Hamburger Timer
Shopping at Target last week, I bought Nordic Ware International 101 Cookie Cutters (why not 100?). Since I am planning to do more baking and plan to participate in the Great American Bake Sale, I thought this would be fun to have and it costs less than ten bucks. I have used many of the shapes already. To make sure the dough does not stick to the cutter put it in flour first and then do your cutter shapes in the dough. The cutters work great. At target, I also purchased this nifty Chefmate Cake Carrier which is very handy when I bring my baked goodies to my family.

Nordic Ware International 101 Cookie Cutters
These are some of the cookie cutters
Chefmate Cake Carrier
Another thing I did not have until yesterday was a Lemon Squeezer (thanks hubby). I used it last night when I made Chives Lemon Aioli for burgers and much more juice comes out than if you were to squeeze the lemon with your hand. You also don't have to worry about the pits falling in your recipe. I have a Lime Squeezer as well but if you can only get one now, buy the Lemon Squeezer since a lime will fit in it and is more versatile since it is larger. I saw an Orange Squeezer on the Food Network the other day and hope to get one soon.

Lemon Squeezer
Chives Lemon Aioli
2 tablespoons of Mayo
Squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon
Thinly chop 7-8 chives
1 teaspoon of coarse black pepper
For an extra kick, add 1 teaspoon of Sriracha HOT Chili Sauce
Mix together and chill for 2 hours
Serve on burgers, as sandwich spread or dip for veggies, very yummy!

-Sophia/One of Two Fry's

Great American Bake Sale:
http://gabs.strength.org/site/PageServer?pagename=GABS_homepage

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spinach Ricotta Ravioli and Cheesy Breadsticks

Pin It Spinach Ricotta Ravioli and Cheesy Breadsticks

In the spirit of Sandra Lee's technique of semi-homemade with store bought ingredients, I whipped up this delicious dinner tonight in about twenty minutes. Recipe below.

Spinach Ricotta Ravioli and Cheesy Breadsticks
Trader Joe's Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with Fiore's Famous Garlic Sauce Bring large pot of water to a boil
When boiling add 1 teaspoon of olive oil
Add coarse kosher salt
Carefully drop in ravioli and cook for 4-5 minutes
Drain

Sauce
1/4 cup of Fiore's Famous Garlic Sauce
1/2 cup of Chicken Stock
1 teaspoon of Olive Oil
Simmer for ten minutes on low heat
Mix drained ravioli with sauce
Top with Grated Parmesan and a handful of roughtly chopped flat leaf parsely and serve immediately

Cheesy Breadsticks
Pillsbury Breadsticks Original
Follow package instructions
Bake for about ten minutes then take out real quick and generously sprinkle each breadstick with shredded cheddar cheese
Return to oven for another 2-3 minutes
Mind your oven as they are all different
Serve along the pasta

-Sophia/Two Frys

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trader Joe's Opens on the Upper West Side, NYC

Pin It  Trader Joe's Opens on the Upper West Side, NYC

Trader Joe's 72nd Street and Broadway, Grand Opening
Allen and I were thrilled when we found out Trader Joe's was opening a store on the Upper West Side. Finally, this would be the closest location to us and it wouldn't take as long on the crowded subway to get home than Trader Joe's downtown Union Square location. Trader Joe's opened its doors on Monday and we went Friday evening. It was very crowded but we were able to move around just at a slower pace. We wanted to see everything first time around so we know where eveything is on subsequent visits. I was happy to see favorites like Goddess Dressing. The store has everything I have seen at other locations so I was very happy with the selections in all categories.

When you enter the store, you take an escalator or elevator down one level to shop and there is a second lower level for even more shopping. We were there around 5pm on a Friday evening so unless you live around the area and are just going in for a few things go earlier or later. In the future, we will try and avoid heavy crowds at this time. The lines were so long but employees helped to keep it organized and it went real fast. There are so many registers so don't let long lines deter you from shopping.
Hubby with 3 of our bags from our Trader Joe's shopping
You can buy Trader Joe's cool selection of green reuseable bags from $1 and up or bring your own. You can ask for paper bags for no extra cost instead of using plastic bags. We brought two bags from our August vacation in California we purchased when we stayed with hubby's parents in Livermore. We filled up both these bags, bought another one and in total, came out of Trader Joe's with four bags of goodies. We are so happy Trader Joe's has opened in this location.

-Sophia and Allen/Two Frys

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake & Coconut Cake

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Barefoot Contessa
At Home Cookbook
When I first saw Ina Garten make Beatty's Chocolate Cake and Coconut Cake on the Food Network it wasn't long before I made both. I was not much of a baker until I started baking these two cakes and now I am hooked. I also love cookbooks and consider Ina Garten one of the greatest chefs in the world so it's no surprise I own alot of her cookbooks. Ina is a big inspiration to me much like Julia Child. I bought Barefoot Contessa At Home since it has both cake recipes and soon fell in love with the other recipes in this cookbook and the others I own. I recommend trying Ina's cakes and let me know what you think. You will probably love them so much you will bake them all the time like I have for my hubby and family members. These cakes are incredibly rich tasting.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake -
Ingredients
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) [I use 2 9-inch] round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

I made it for my hubby's birthday, love the candle (hee hee)
Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut) [I use Ghirardelli]
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Coconut Cake -
Ingredients
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract [I use 2 teaspoons]
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Coconut Cake
For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature [I use 1 8 oz.] 
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract [I use 1 tablespoon]
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

Coconut Cake
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. [Instead of frosting I use pineapple preserves.] Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

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Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys