Friday, April 17, 2015

Foodie Friday: Angelica's Carrot Cake

I love a good mystery novel. Thrillers, police procedurals, cozy mysteries, I love them all. Lorna Barrett's Booktown series combines bookstore & foodie happenings into one fun series AND she shares recipes like this one!

Angelica’s Carrot Cake

6 cups grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
4 eggs
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in the raisins.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. When completely cooled, frost with maple butter cream frosting.

Maple Butter Cream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
2 3/4 cups Confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Place the softened butter in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 30-40 seconds until whipped. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Sift the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl. Beat with mixer for 30 to 40 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and add the brown sugar and maple syrup. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy; scraping sides of bowl as needed. Stir in walnuts until just until mixed and spread on the cooled cake.


It's National Haiku Day!



I still hate my job
Gets on my nerves really bad
But it pays the rent.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

15 Question Book Meme

This was originally a 15 question fantasy/scifi/horror meme as seen here, but I decided to make it a general book meme instead.


What was the last book you finished reading?

Live Right & Find Happiness by Dave Barry

What was the last book you did not finish reading?
Just the Sex, Ma'am by Tina Folsom. It was getting repetitive.

What was the last book you read that you liked but most people didn’t?
Not sure, to be honest.

What was the last book you read that you disliked?
Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

How long do your 1-sitting reading sessions usually last?
If I'm at home, a couple of hours.

What are you currently reading?
The Dark Side of the Road by Simon R Green

Do you like it so far?
I only just started it, but yes.

How long ago did you buy the book you are currently reading?
About 2 weeks ago via Amazon.

What was the last physical sf/f/h book you bought?
Jinn & Juice by Nicole Peeler

What is the genre/sub-genre you like to read the most?
My tastes are kind of all over the place. I like cozy mysteries, especially the ones featuring food and/or books. I like Regency era romances. Humorous fantasy/sci-fi.

What is the sf/f/h sub-genre you dislike the most and why?
anything with Zombies. Just don't like them.

What is your favorite electronic reading device?
I have a Kindle Keyboard and I like it much more than I thought I would. It was a gift from a former friend. I never thought I'd want an e-reader, but it IS great for traveling. The poor thing is developing problems now due to it's advanced (in computer terms) age & heavy use, so I'm debating upgrading to a Paperwhite.

What was the last sf/f/h eBook you bought?
Boundary Crossed by Melissa Olson (not my cousin, but I got a huge laugh at the coincidence)

Do you read books exclusively in 1 format (physical/electronic)?
Nope. I'm a reading slut- any format is fine!


Do you read eBooks exclusively on a single device?

Mostly yes. I have my Kindle as mentioned above, but my tablet also has the Kindle app. I use it more for games, but have read a book or two on it while waiting for the Kindle to recharge.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Today is....


National Library Worker's Day!

So go say thank you to all those librarians out there!

I'd like to thank Donna, Karen, Linda, Angel, and all the others at my branch library. Also Mom & all of her former coworkers who were amused by my lack of restraint and eagerness to check out as many books as I could carry!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Foodie Friday for the Ambitious- Gordon Ramsay's Beef Wellington

Ready for an adventure? Try making this for your loved one/s.

INGREDIENTS

For mushroom duxelles:
1 pound cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For herb crepe:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chives, minced
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more if needed for pans

For beef Wellington:
2 pounds filet mignon
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
1/2 pound prosciutto di Parma
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon whole milk


DIRECTIONS


To make mushroom duxelles: Add mushrooms to a food processor and process until completely smooth. The consistency is similar to wet hummus.
In a pan over medium heat, add mushroom paste, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface and cook on a medium-low heat until the moisture in the paste has reduced and the mixture has the consistency of a spreadable pâté. Remove from heat and let cool.

To make herb crepes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and chives. Whisk in milk, water, and 1 tablespoon of melted butter, until smooth and emulsified.
Heat a crepe pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Add 1/4 cup of the batter. Rotate pan in a circular motion over the heat to completely cover the surface with the batter. The edges of the crepe will begin to curl slightly as the crepe cooks. Cook for approximately 45 to 60 seconds, then flip crepe to cook the other side. Each side should be a pale golden brown. Remove from heat. Add more butter if needed to the pan and repeat process with the remaining batter. Set crepes aside.
Preheat the oven to 400º F.

To make steaks: Pat filet mignon dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and black pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When the oil begins to smoke, add the filet mignon and brown from 1 to 2 minutes on all sides. You want to create a nice sear on the outside of the steak but leave the inside raw. Remove from heat and place on a cutting board to cool.
Cover cooled filet with Dijon mustard.

To roll the beef Wellingtons: On a cutting board, lay out a long piece of plastic wrap. In the middle of the wrap, lay out a crepe. Spread mushroom duxelles over the crepe. Lay out the prosciutto on top of the duxelles. Place filet in the center of the crepe and gently wrap the crepe around the filet. Trim off any excess and use the plastic wrap to tightly wrap the steak.
Lay out a clean, long piece of plastic wrap. Gently roll out puff pastry until it is a 1/4-inch thin. Place the wrapped steak on one end of the puff pastry and wrap. Pinch the ends closed and trim off any excess puff pastry. Use the plastic wrap to tightly seal the puff pastry. Pop it in the fridge for about 5 minutes to let it firm up again.

In a bowl, mix together egg yolk and milk.

Place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Remove Wellington from fridge, remove the plastic wrap, and lay the Wellington seam-side down on the baking sheet. Baste the top of the puff pastry with the egg wash and bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 125º F, or to whatever temperature you prefer your steak.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing into medallions. Serve warm.


Notes
If, like me, you have family members who won't eat meat with any vestiges of pinkness, try cooking the steaks a little longer before cooling/wrapping them.

Don't do what one friend did and forget to remove the plastic wrap from the Wellingtons.

If you don't feel like faffing about with the crepes, you can skip them. Just carefully spread the duxelles on the the steak and make sure the pastry is tightly wrapped. It may be a little soggier since the crepe isn't there to absorb cooking juices, but will still be good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Geeky Confessions

I'd say it's safe to consider myself somewhat of a geek. I don't rabidly follow fandoms, but I sort of belong to a couple. I tend to like fantasy novels, comic book based movies (Avengers- Loki rules!), science fiction movies, fantasy & sci fi TV shows, etc. That said, I don't participate in everything, so here are my confessions to that effect:

1. I don't Cosplay.

Costumes are great. People are really creative with quite a lot of them. I am not one of them. I don't have the time/patience/money to fool around with creating a costume, nor do I have the figure for most of the ones I would like to do. That doesn't stop all cosplayers, but it's a deterrent for me.


2. Tolkien bores me to tears.


This one shocks all my die-hard geek friends. I'm sorry, but the books were overblown (how many times can you read "I am so-and-so, son of so-and-so, son of so-and-so" and not want to scream?) and I've tried reading them at various stages in my life with no luck. The movies were way longer than they needed to be, but they did beat hell out of reading the books.


3. I no longer enjoy RPG's.


Not table-top or live-action. I've been in some groups that were really good, and I've been in some groups that went straight to hell because none of the players could agree on what kind of campaign we were in. Hack & Slash is fine if that's what EVERYONE wants to play, but I'm one of those players who likes character development & interaction. The last group I was in devolved into giant whine-fests and just totally turned me off gaming forever.


4. I'm not a fan of video games either.

I play things like Candy Crush & Cookie Jam because they're simple, mindless, and designed for solo players. I don't like fiddling around with controllers and buttons and all the faff you have to do to make a character take two steps and fire a bow or what-have-you.


5. I don't like Cons.

This is mostly attributed to my social anxiety disorder/dislike of crowds. I've been to several and enjoyed aspects of them, but was just to uncomfortable to really enjoy myself. Also, while I would love to meet more of my favorite actors/authors/whoever, I can't stand in those lines and I'm not paying that kind of money to meet anyone!


6. Blood & Gore? No thanks.

I admit to liking certain horror movie franchises, despite the gore content, but overall I can live quite nicely without it. I had to stop reading vampire novels because so many authors went over the top in graphic details. Ditto for shifters. And I loathe zombie stories.


7. I LOVE LOKI.

Well, Tom Hiddleston's version, anyway. I've always had a thing for bad boys (Michael Fassbender's Magneto is another one I would happily molest given a chance) and he hits all the right notes.





Friday, April 3, 2015

Foodie Friday: Reuben Egg Rolls

These are remarkably similar to a dish Mom had me try at one of her favorite, although now sadly defunct, restaurants when she still worked in downtown Wilmnington. Total calorie bombs, these aren't for the faint of appetite!

Ingredients

2 Cups Cooked Corned Beef, chopped
1 Cup Cooked cabbage, chopped
1/2 Cup fresh sauerkraut
4 slices swiss cheese, diced
1/2 Cup Thousand Island Dressing
1 egg, beaten
2 Cups canola oil
Egg roll wrappers

Directions

In a medium bowl combine corned beef, cabbage, sauerkraut and swiss cheese. Mix lightly until combined.

Heat your oil to about 350 degrees. While oil is heating, make the egg rolls.

Lay one wrapper with the points facing you like a diamond. Brush with egg wash. Add another wrapper directly on top and brush again with egg wash. Place 3-4 tablespoons of the corned beef mixture on the wrapper closest to you. You can also add about 1 tsp. of the Thousand Island Dressing before closing up the egg rolls.

Fold both sides over toward the middle and push down filling towards you. Begin to roll from the bottom to form egg roll. The egg wash will seal the egg roll.

This should make about 8 egg rolls. Let egg rolls set for about ten minutes, covered with a damp paper towel. Carefully add about 4 egg rolls into the hot oil and fry for about 5-6 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Serve with grainy mustard or Thousand Island dressing.


**my notes**
I loathe Thousand Island dressing, so I'd either eat them plain or with a good mustard.