Monday, March 29, 2010

Vanilla Cake w/ Orange-Mascarpone Crema and Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce


If you know me, you probably know that I like to complicate things. Just ask my husband. I juggle two kids' schedules, and my own three or four freelance jobs. If something seems too easy, I tend to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Just take my recent development of this dessert idea: Vanilla Cake with Orange-Mascarpone Crema and Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce.

It started out so easy. I bought a pound cake from Willy Street Coop and topped it with the crema and sauce, and voilĂ --baked good disappointment (though, I must say this is not the norm for the Coop). The cake was too dry, and not complimentary to the soothing crema or the zing of the raspberry sauce.

I envisioned a nice, moist cake, sort of like a cheesecake, but without the cheese, and thought, why not try a tres leches cake, soaked in evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream? How to make it simple? Boxed cake mix. I have since learned that some cakes are meant to hold liquids (like sponge cakes) and some are not. Boxed cake mix falls under the "not" category. The glob of super gloopey vanilla cake swimming in tres leches sat in our fridge where I dared not serve it--even to my willing family.

Where to turn next? After some research, (which many, many people have done before me, but remember, I like to complicate things) I decided to make a sponge cake to support the tres leches.

Scared of creating another creamy swimming pool, I topped the cake with just a bit of the tres leches. (Photo depicts this rendition). It was not enough to moisten the sponge cake. I finally remembered that I didn't want a tres leches cake in the first place, and that this was supposed to be a simple dessert, and reverted back to a pound cake, choosing a moister one that I found at Whole Foods.

The crema and sauce are simply divine and would go well over or in any cake--chocolate, vanilla, tres leches or cheesecake (though I might eliminate the crema). And I think the tres leches would be make a great base for French toast. I have not yet found my ideal serving medium, though waffles have worked quite well. The search continues. Any ideas?

Meanwhile, I am moving on to simpler things--I bought a slow cooker! All I need is the perfect combination of ingredients.....

Vanilla Cake w/ Orange-Mascarpone Crema and Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce

Orange-Mascarpone Crema (adapted from Mark Miller)

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
8 oz mascarpone
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp Grand Marnier

1. Whip all ingredients in medium bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Raspberry-Chipotle sauce (make ahead)

Ingredients:

1 pkg frozen raspberries
1-2 small chipotles in adobo (to taste)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp brandy

1. Simmer all ingredients, covered until raspberries release juices. Blend.

Serve over any cake with whipped cream or crema. Garnish with mint.
Other serving suggestions: Reduce sugar by half and use as base for raspberry vinaigrette, or as glaze for fish or chicken.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

(Edible) Healing Salve




I am a firm believer that we are what we eat. Day-to-day I feel much better, cleaner and more energetic if I eat healthy food that is grown as naturally as possible.

I also believe that we are what we wear.

I'm not talking about clothes, necessarily (though I do have a friend who develops rashes if she wears new, unwashed clothes--yuck!). I'm talking about body care products, like lotions. There is increasing awareness about eating locally and healthily, but many people don't think twice about what they slather onto their
bodies.

I remember making a face mask as a young teen. I think it contained egg, honey and avocado. My mom joked that I would be better off eating it (she was also probably calculating the cost of the ingredients and thinking how that could feed all of us for dinner!). She would probably say the same thing about the recent batch of salve I made. It's a delicious mix of high-quality oils, essence from flowers from my garden, and beeswax. Yeah, pretty tasty stuff.

Salve is one of the easiest and most useful body products to have on hand. Making salve at home is super-easy and way more affordable than buying it. I spent about $35, including jars and have eleven 8 oz mason jars. And it's the one kitchen cooking project that leaves your skin feeling great! I use it as a lotion, diaper cream, healing salve for burns, cuts and rashes, calluses from drumming, and as lip balm. I don't know if I'd be better off eating it, but I could. And that makes me feel good inside and out.

Otehlia's All-purpose Salve

10 cups of oil
(I use a mix of grapeseed, coconut oil, pure shea butter, canola oil and olive oil)
1/2 cup lavender flowers
1 cup calendula flowers
8 oz beeswax beads
a few drops of pure, organic tea tree, lavendar oil, or other scent if you like


1.Boil and dry about enough canning jars and lids (I use small, widemouth jars) to hold 10 cups oil.

2.You can make less, if you want, using ratio of 1.5 oz beeswax per 2 cups oil.

3.Heat oils in large stock pot over very low heat. For easier clean up, use a stock pot that can be especially designated for salve.

4.Add in flowers and let heat for 1 hour or so, until flowers can release essence. Do not let them sizzle and fry!

5.Strain oil through small mesh strainer into a bowl, or large Pyrex container.

6.Stir in beeswax beads immediately until melted. The above proportions will make a pretty firm salve. Use less for softer salve.

7.Pour into clean, dry widemouth jars and let cool to room temperature before putting on lids.

8.Store in fridge or cool, dry room. It keeps refrigerated for months!!