Friday, November 30, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie: Beef Cheek Daube with Carrots and Elbow Macaroni

I've been away for about 6 months and am so happy to be back...trying to adjust back to my previous schedule which included cooking with friends and blogging.  Missed you all and all your great ideas and suggestions!

I admit that when I read about cooking beef cheeks for dinner I was ready to skip another recipe.  I probably could have found them...the Mexican store meat department sells everything...nothing wasted.  But, I struggle to walk through their meat cases where they often have cow or pig's whole heads and other scary me nightmares.  But as my adopted Russian daughter once told me, Americans are the only ones in the world who don't use I guess Beef cheeks are just ordinary fare for some...and might even be tasty, but........

So I purchased a small chuck roast, as suggested by Dorie, and I must say today's challenge recipe makes a delicious roast.  I cut the roast into  pieces about 2" X 3" which I figured would fit well onto my plated dish.  And the other change I made was to use up some potatoes.

Hubby thought he was helping when at Thanksgiving he brought home several bags of cheap potatoes...after I had done all the shopping and had our potatoes.  They were only 79 cents for a 20 pound bag so he thought I'd need a few.  And they are rather gross potatoes.  Not uniform in size and a little gnarly looking.  So I use them at every opportunity in some kind of disguise.  For today I cooked and seasoned and mashed up a bunch for the bottom of our bowls.  Then I topped the potatoes with the braised roast chunks and then added the carrot-pasta mixture.  It is delicious and hearty, and a nice change from all the turkey leftover cooking.

I've had Mexican  dishes where chocolate is used as a seasoning and I love these foods, however, I've never added chocolate to my "daubes."  This chocolate addition is a great idea.  We love it!  It adds a rich and sweet flavor to this dish.

I'm excited to see what you all have done.  Happy Holidays to everyone.  I can't believe that December begins tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends!  Such a cherished time of year to focus on family and friends.  Great foods, such as today’s cake, make our holidays even more special as we celebrate this season.

I’ve disappeared for about 6 months; have not even opened my blog where I record what I  bake and cook with friends, and I’ve missed out on enjoying all  your tips and creativity as well as your friendships....and I'm sure, lots of wonderful food.  So many things have happened over the past few months, some hard and some wonderful; all very time consuming.  Out of necessity, I've had to put aside some of my hobbies even though these kinds of hobbies benefit those I care about.

I’ll write more about my adventures over the past 6 months later, but I’m happy to be back and am excited to see what you all are doing.

I purchased the new Baked Elements cookbook a couple of months ago and actually tagged  the Pumpkin Almond Cake as the book's recipe to bake first.  Due to ongoing events, I’d not been able to get to this recipe.  Even though it fits into fall baking perfectly, I had no time to try a new recipe, even though this one is quite routine.  I actually opened our Baked Sunday Morning site in error while working on another project, but was delighted to find this recipe for today’s assignment.   Even though I’ve been in the kitchen for days preparing and cleaning up our Thanksgiving feast, I couldn’t resist this recipe that had earlier caught my eye.  I have family and extras coming for Sunday dinner and am ready for a new dessert.

This Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting is truly a great cake.  I doubled the recipe to feed my expected crowd, turned it into a huge layer cake, and it is delicious and beautiful and a little different from our usual fare.  My frosting is not as smooth as in the given photo because I used Trader Joe’s Chunky Almond Butter...I would do this again.  We loved the crunch along with the moist, dense pumpkin-almond cake.  Even though the toasted almonds garnishing the top give some good texture, we liked the little chunks best.  Hubby commented on all the layers of flavors in this recipe; he loves them.
My large slice is cut only1/3 across this large 10" cake (meaning someone cutting from the opposite side could end up with a slice almost 7" deep...this is a really big cake!).  The recipe calls for a 9" cake pan, however, my 10" pans were filled just past the top when baked.  I would have had extra batter if 9" pans were used.

This recipe has a perfect combination of spices, pumpkin, and almonds, creating a pleasing dessert that is almost healthy.  There are no overpowering flavors, just an enjoyable blend of many flavors that are especially craved at this time of year.

For sure, this Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting will become an Autumn staple in our house.  I’m excited to see what you all are doing and to have the chance to say “Hi,” and also to wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season!