Friday, February 18, 2011

What's been Growing

Some weeks ago I wrote about tea and posted some pictures of mint. I had started to root mint in a cup of water and was extremely impressed with my green thumb. Shortly after that (week or so) I took the mint to my mom to plant in her yard. When she came to visit me last Tuesday she left a pot in my kitchen with my baby mint rootlings (my own word) all mature in dirt!

 I feel so attached to this plant. My first and only house plant at this point. I do intend to stick him out on the patio soon, but I am so impressed with him. I want to keep the little mint close to me in my kitchen window.
 I am already rooting another kind of mint, Persian Mint and have high expectations. I started  this from a half wilted pathetic fragment of mint. I wasn't sure if it would survive, but it did! Insha'allah it will grow and eventually mature into a pot like my Mr. Minty....yes I named my mint and I have the intention to make a name tag for his home pot.  

"Let them eat Cake"

This recipe is a new favorite of mine and after three successful cakes I feel confident enough to share it with all of you. I like to find simple recipes that can be modified relatively easily. This white cake is flavored with Vanilla, but could easily be replaced with lemon, orange or any other flavor you may fancy. If you don't have extracts you can use lemon, lime or any citrus zest for a nice flavor (I feel zest has a fresher flavor). 
 If using a powder flavoring agent like Macha add about a tablespoon or less to your flour mixture ( you can do a test cupcake and always add Macha if needed) .
If you are planning to dissolve a powder like instant coffee, do this with the milk already in the recipe. Use about a tablespoon of the one cup milk (in the recipe) and warm it, add your instant coffee (mix well), incorporate it into your wet ingredients. Have fun and don't be scared to experiment with flavors.
For a more colorful cake try adding food coloring. Sometimes cake tastes better if it matches the flavor. For example you are making a cake with lime zest or Macha add a bit of green gel food coloring to get a soft green.
Part of a great tasting cake is the frosting. This in my opinion can make or break a cake. The worst thing is having a super sweet frosting that overpowers the flavor of the cake. I highly recommend making your own frosting. Don't be afraid. 
 I made a layer cake the other day and used a thin layer of strawberry preserve in the center with whipped cream cheese frosting, but light on the sweetness. I then mixed another batch of cream cheese frosting with a bit of strawberry preserve and red gel coloring for the all over frosting. After chilling the frosting I applied it to the cake surface and refrigerated. While this pink cake was chilling I made an icing for piping decorations with powdered sugar, vanilla, a pad of butter, and a bit of milk. 
Over all the sweetness was moderate and the cake  had a freshness to it that surprised me. Next time I plan to add fresh strawberries in the center to perfect this spring inspired cake.
Have fun !

White Cake!  
  • 2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup milk

  •  Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour cake or cupcake pans.
    2. In bowl #One- mix together with a spoon flour, baking powder and salt.
    3. In bowl #Two- using electric mixer - combine the butter and sugar until fluffy & mix in eggs one at a time and vanilla.  Scrape the sides of your bowl don't worry about over mixing.
    4. Add bowl #One ingredients into bowl #Two mixing alternately with cup of milk. I like to put a lot of air into the batter in this stage so mix away! When the Batter is light and fluffy your done mixing. You may wonder what is light and fluffy? When you take a spoon full of batter it should feel like a spoon full of air.
    5. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. If doing cupcakes check after 20min. Make sure to do the toothpick test into the center of the cake(s). Allow to cool before decorating.

    Sorry, no picture of my last cake. Don't worry I plan on making cupcakes soon. Expect good things!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Kitchen Cuteness

    Russian doll measuring cups & Lily Pad tea infuser

     I spotted these little ladies at World Market, wouldn't you know it was the last set in the store! The tea infuser was also just a chance find at a Ross store. I am currently cleaning and updating my kitchen. I realized I had way to many things that didn't benefit me at all cluttering up my small kitchen. Over the last month I have let go of all my chipped dish ware, extra drinking glasses, and random silverware. I am really satisfied with the results.  My kitchen is looking cleaner and more organized and I can actually see what I have and need.

    Recently my husband brought home a new tea from the International Market. I think it is totally funny and retro in package design. The tea is loose leaf and has a bold leaf flavor. When I asked my husband to explain the flavor he said, "It taste like real tea, not like the other (Lipton), that tastes like used tea repackaged". I agree the color is much darker and it is great to drink with milk. Don't let the old school box design fool you, the tea is actually sealed within the box in an air tight bag. Over all I am totally happy with this brand and would recommend it for everyday use.

    Shay El Wezza (tea goose)

    Shay El Wezza (tea goose)

    Wow! I need a cup of tea!