Monday, August 22, 2011

Banana-Rama Cake

This evil jungle cake comes courtesy of ze Cooking Channel ( Bananas...check. Chocolate...check. Cream cheese, pecans, sugar, NUTELLA....CHECK! This cake is ridiculous and best when served ice cold. At home and at the office...this cake did NOT last long.

The original recipe calls for three layers. I cut mine down to two layers and used the rest to make two mini loaves. I would also double the recipe for the cream cheese whipped cream frosting...because you eat most of it before it even goes on the cake. least some of you will. Lastly...I added coconut flavoring instead of vanilla to the frosting.

This cake is so's dumb.

3/4 cup softened salted butter
1.5 cups packed light brown sugar
1.5 cups sugar
3 large eggs
6 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4.5 cups wheat flour
1 tb baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 (13-ounce) container Nutella)

1 softened block cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla OR coconut extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease 2-3 (9-inch) round cake pans with butter or cooking spray. In large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter.

Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Divide the batter among the baking pans. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes.

For the frosting: Prepare the frosting by whipping the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until creamy....omg don't eat it all yet. Increase the mixing speed, then slowly pour in the heavy cream and beat until smooth and thick and the frosting is the consistency of whipped cream....OK now dig in as this is the best part! Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate. Spread with 1/2 the container of chocolate-hazelnut spread. (Really only use as much Nutella as you like...this calls for an entire jar to which I only used half). Repeat with the second layer, using the remaining 1/2 of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Frost the rest of the cake with the cream cheese frosting and garnish. Place in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fried Zucchini Flowers with Goat Cheese

Every summer, my gardening friends shower me with loads of zucchini because they've grown too many and don't know what to do with all of it...other than make bread or kabobs. Lame. Rather than killing yourself over trying to avoid wasting your precious home grown vegetable...pick the flowers BEFORE they grow into zucchini. can eat those flowers without feeling like a vegan. Cooking with zucchini flowers is a completely new ingredient to me...and so far the results are fab. I was able to pick up a bunch for about $4 at Detroit's Eastern Market. The woman that sold them to me said to check inside each flower to make sure no bees are in I've seen chef's use them on cooking shows so I had an idea as to what I wanted to do with them. Stuff em and fry em. It is a bit labor intensive, but myself and fellow taste testers would give them are calling them freakin' delicious! It's a cheap and creative way to serve a mini crowd of friends!

What you'll need:

- About 12 fresh zucchini flowers (avoid ones that are opened, torn, mushy...ew)
- About 3.5 oz of softened plain goat cheese
- Fresh basil, flat-leaf parsley and chives
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour (or whatever flour you have around)
- 1 cup of ice cold water
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-2 cups of canola or vegetable oil for frying

Prep your flowers by gently rinsing under cold water and pat dry. Gently pull back the petals, but not all the way...maybe half way down. Leave a short stem as this acts as a little handle. Next...make your goat cheese.

Chop up your herbs and throw about 2 tablespoons in a small bowl. Add in the goat cheese and mix together. Add your salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Set aside.

To make the batter, in a large bowl add your egg yolks and slowly whisk in the ice water until the mixture becomes frothy. Add the flour and stir until it becomes like a pancake batter.

Start heating up the oil over medium-high heat.

Stuffing the flowers is easy....add your cheese mixture to a ziploc bag and nip off a corner of the bag so that you can pipe the cheese into each flower. I piped about 1 tablespoon into each flower and press the petals together so that it is sealed. When the oil is ready for frying, take the stem of the flower and dip into the batter so that it is fully coated and add to the oil. Repeat for each flower. You can use more oil so that each flower is submerged or pan fry. If pan frying, flip when one side is nicely browned. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel or drain rack and immediately hit them with some salt. Serve with some wedges of lemon.