Archive for August, 2009

Devil Duckie Cake

Monday, August 31st, 2009

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it around these parts, but back in high school I had an amazing job that allowed me to spend entire afternoons decorating ice cream cakes. Seriously, the days that I was put on cakes were my favorites and I would spend hours in the back room singing the praises of the industrial mixer, brill, and wondering how long it would be before the purple dye would fade from my hands.

When that job ended, I decided to keep making cakes as a hobby. I have now switched to baked cakes (not enough room in my freezer for the cake), and try to keep my cakes quirky and fun. My latest cake was created for my friend Sean’s Birthday BBQ this weekend:

Full On Duckie

This guy here took about six hours to make from start to finish. Mind you, this includes cooling time for the cakes, and making my own frosting and gum paste. I use a boiled frosting because it tastes like marshmallow, but it really isn’t the easiest stuff to work with. If your cake gets too warm, things can get pretty ugly. The bottom of the cake also has some airbrushing done with Wilton’s Color Mist. There was a sour cherry cordial filling between the layers of the bottom tier (the non-duckie) part of the cake. The duck shape was made using a duck shaped pan. I am not that experienced with sculpting yet, and I wanted to make sure this cake worked out.

Overall, I think the little guy was a hit. Now I just wonder what kind of cake I should make next…

PS – If you want to see more angles of the cake, click on the pic to check out my photo stream.

Summer Salad

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Another bento created by a need to use up stuff in the fridge.

Aug 18, 2009

contents:

nappa cabbage salad with steak, cucumber and carrots
cheddar babybel
watermelon and blueberries

It was very hot the week I made this one, so the idea was to use leftovers from the fridge that I would be happy to eat cold. So the only real work required for this bento was a little knife work.

I *heart* bentos

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Hearts

A little something from last week.

Contents:

pork
almonds and dried apricots
light babybel cheese
pattypan squash
grape tomatoes and roasted red peppers

Irn-Bru

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Today we have another treat from the Scottish Heritage Festival. Throughout the day, my friend and I kept seeing people carting away these cases of what I thought was orange soda. Sure, I thought it was strange, but maybe the Scots all just really “wanna Fanta?”

Well, it turns out it wasn’t Fanta, or Crush, or Sunkist, or whatever. Instead it was Irn-Bru (iron brew). It’s blinding brightness was just too strong for my friend to resist and she grabbed a diet one to enjoy with her meat pie. It’s hard to explain what this stuff tastes like, but after one sip, I was pretty content to allow my friend to enjoy this unique taste sensation all by herself. The flavor is a bit citrus-y, but there are so many other flavors mixed in there that it doesn’t last long before your mouth is under a sugary siege of “huh?” At one point I though it reminded me of those times as a kid where I would eat an entire roll of Smarties in one go, at another point the flavor made me think of Red Bull. Later research proved that Irn-Bru has 32 flavor agents, so um yeah…that’s a lot of flavors. No wonder my tongue got so confused.

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Bentos?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Once again, I have been finding it difficult to leave the yummy a/c of the living room to venture out into the kitchen in order to make bentos.  However, since I’ve recently booked a trip to London, I really need to start thinking more about being frugal and remember just how good sweating can be for my pores.

Here is a bento from a few days go:

Foods

Contents:

pan fried cube steak (small pieces coated in seasoned flour and fried in pan with oil or butter)
sauteed mushrooms with Italian seasoning
dried apricots
yellow plum tomatoes from porch garden
lemon for iced tea (i drink several cups a day)
babybel cheese

Is there anything else in here other than sugar and butter?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Since my friend grew up in Cornwall, she has attended many highland games in her time and knows a bit about Scottish goodies. Thanks to her, I am able to give you a quick run down of a few popular Scottish sweets.

Let’s start with the most horrifying:
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Please understand that I am not calling it horrifying because it’s not good. Quite the contrary in fact. It’s deliciously EVIL. One bite of this stuff (which is solid and grainy like penuche or maple candy), and I turned to my friend and asked in dismay “Is there anything in here other than butter and sugar? I’m going to need that artery later.” She just grinned at me and said “Vanilla probably…but that’s pretty much it.”

Bless her heart, she was right!
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We just forgot the condensed milk. I would imagine you could make this at home pretty easily, but to be honest, just cream together some butter and sugar with a fair amount of vanilla and you are pretty much there. I think this was discovered by someone who was making cookies one afternoon and just gave up a quarter of the way through. Imagine this: “Huh? I’m out of eggs? And flour? I don’t care, you ungrateful little snots are going to eat it anyway. Do you have any idea how hard I had to work to soften that butter?! Besides, we won’t know the dangers of high cholesterol for years anyway. Hopefully we’ll all be dead from heart attacks by then.”

Oh Butter Tablet, if you were a man, I would make out with you then slap you for being so presumptuous!

If it’s not Scottish…

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Everyone should have one of those friends.  You know what I mean, the kind that calls you up and says “I’m gonna be at your place in 20 mins.  Make yourself look presentable and bring a tooth brush.”  You jump into their car, pray that you remembered to charge your cell, and make sure to tell a loved one to have the bail money ready.

Oh yeah, it’s the best!

This weekend that friend of mine, who knows me disturbingly well, took me to an event that I would never think to go to but ended up LOVING.  Think of it, big burly men throwing trees, culinary treats that involve pounds of butter and cow innards, and…wait for it…..BAGPIPES!  Um, yes, yes, yes!  HOORAY!  B, thanks again.  You take me to the best places.

I am happy to report that I attended my first Scottish Heritage Festival this weekend.  No, I am not a lick of Scottish, but who cares when there are Highland Games to be seen on the Cape?

Since the primary focus of this blog is food, I am going to do my best to focus on the goodies we ate while at the festival. And since I had a lot to learn about Scottish goodies, my friend made sure I tried almost everything. For the sake of my typing fingers and your attention spans, I am going to split this up into more than one posting.

Let’s start with the savory:

Haggis Puff:
haggis puff

Haggis-y Goodness

Meat pie:
Meat Pie

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The sauce on the side is HP and we were promised that this was the real stuff and not the kind from Canada that you find in markets around here. Since I’m only a mild fan of the stuff, I couldn’t tell the difference. The meat pie was yummy, but pretty much tasted the way you would expect it to. The crust was good and crispy and the inside was nicely seasoned. The haggis puff was a bit stronger in flavor and I think I liked it better because of it. The puff pasty was standard and not much to write home about, but the haggis was surprisingly good. The irony flavor of the liver is really tamed down by the seasoning and oatmeal on the inside. If you are comfortable with organ meats, this is child’s play. For those of you who are new to this kind of eating, I would imagine this would be a nice place to start. Think white or blood pudding only made with liver instead. Mind you, I think that was beef liver and not the traditional lamb, so the real stuff is probably a lot more intense than this was. Still, not a bad choice for tea.

All That Orange

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Sweet zombie jesus have we seen a change in weather this week.  From constant rain, it’s been hot and humid and still quite yucky if you ask me.  When the humidity is weighing you down, it’s so hard to convince yourself that you should be spending time in the kitchen.  The result for me, has been less bentos.  I’ve been guilty of just throwing stuff in a gladware and then running upstairs to hide in my air conditioned bedroom.  For the sake of you dear bloggers, I did come up with a little something of the monochromatic variety.

All Orange

For contents, just click on the pic and you’ll be wisked away to flickr where you can see the embedded notes by hovering your mouse over the pic a bit.  Ain’t technology grand?  Now I gotta go make sure The Boy hasn’t eaten all my lime freezy pops!

Historical Failure – Part 2

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

There are probably several places I went wrong: trying to make dinner at the same time I pieced together my pasty, using cheap store brand pie dough, not really measuring or adhearing to a recipe, just randomly using some beef that was cheap and therefore in my budget.

I was feeling pretty good about things until it was time to put the pasty together.  The dough ripped and I have no gift for crimping.  They were ugly, but I was hoping that they would at least taste good.  Also, I had plans for strategic photography so no one would know any better.  I placed the pasties in the oven and crossed my fingers.

While I relaxed and watched more BBC, disaster was happening in the dark recesses of my oven.  Mangled and leaking, I had nothing to do other than hang my head in shamed as I pulled the pasties from the oven and into the cruel harsh light.  I knew that nothing was going to make these bad boys look good.

This is the best one:

At least it tastes good....

This is the worst (it fell apart as soon as I tried to lift it off the silpat):

Fail

There is a silver lining, for as terrible as they looked, The Boy loved them.  He ate two in one sitting and begged for more.  I was flabbergasted because all I could taste as I ate them was bitter failure and defeat.  I do plan to try again, perhaps making my own dough, or trying a real recipe.  I suppose the trick would be to take my time and enjoy the process rather than try to beat the clock and prove that I am a master of multitasking. But sill, I think I’m going back to bentos for a bit.