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April 2009

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake slice1  

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾  teaspoon salt

½  teaspoon ground ginger

½  teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup water

1 pound carrots (6-7 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups)

1 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped    

1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.

2. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, then finely chopped pecans.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.

4.  Place one trimmed cake  on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with cake spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 1 day, covered) before serving.


Mini Crab Cakes


Mini Crab Cakes

4 slices Pepperidge hearty white bread

3 Tablespoons oil

Salt and pepper

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat

4 saltines

3 scallions, green part only, minced

1 tablespoon minced italian parsley

2 tablespoons finely minced red bell pepper

1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. tabasco or hot sauce or pinch cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1.    Adjust  oven rack to the lower-middle position and hear the oven to 300 degrees. Pulse 2 slices of the bread in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 6 pulses; transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining bread and transfer to the bowl (you should have about 3 ½ cups crumbs.) Toss the crumbs with oil, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper. Spread the crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and dry, about 20 minutes. Let the crumbs cool and then transfer to a shallow dish; set aside.

2.    Gently toss the crab, 4 tablespoons of cracker crumbs, scallions,parsley, red pepper, Old Bay, Worcestershire, and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl. Gently fold in the mayonnaise using a rubber spatula. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in the beaten egg. If necessary, add the remaining 2 tablespoons cracker crumbs as needed until the mixture just clings together.

3.    3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Using a tablespoon measure, portion and form the crab mixture into 36 tablespoon-sized cakes roughly 1 ½ inches in diameter and a ½ inch thick. Place cakes on the sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4.    Line another sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. When the crab cakes are chilled, coat them completely with the toasted bread crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Lay the breaded crab cakes on the prepared wire rack.

5.    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 500 degrees. Unwrap crab cakes and bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the cakes are firm, 12 to 15 minutes.

6.    To make ahead: cover the crab cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to a month. (after the cakes are completely frozen, about 4 hours, they can be transferred to a ziplock bag. Transfer bake to a greased wire rack before baking and bake as directed at 500 degrees. (frozen cakes will bake in about the same amount of time)

Broiled Salmon with Mango Chutney


Broiled Salmon with Mango Chutney and Crisp Spiced Crust

If you prefer to cook a smaller 2-pound fillet, ask to have it cut from the thick center of the fillet, not the thin tail end, and begin checking doneness a minute earlier.  If you can find only chunky mango chutney, puree it in a mini food processor until smooth.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

1 medium clove garlic , minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 

1/2 teaspoon paprika 

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

1/4 teaspoon table salt 

3 slices high-quality sandwich bread , crusts removed

4 ounces plain high-quality potato chips , crushed into rough 1/8-inch pieces, about 1 cup, (thick-cut and kettle-cooked preferred; ridged chips in a pinch)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves 

1 whole side of salmon fillet , about 3 1/2 pounds, pinbones removed and belly fat trimmed  

1 teaspoon olive oil 

3/4 teaspoon table salt 

 Ground black pepper 

3 tablespoons smooth mango chutney  -

(Silver Palate Mango Chutney or Sharwood’s  Major Grey Mango Chutney)


1.     Adjust one oven rack to uppermost position (about 3 inches from heat source) and second rack to upper-middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees.

2.     Heat butter in small skillet over medium heat until melted. Off heat, add garlic, ground cumin, paprika, ground cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Set aside.

3.     Pulse bread in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until processed into fairly even 1/4-inch pieces about the size of Grape-Nuts cereal (you should have about 1 cup), about ten 1-second pulses. Spread crumbs evenly on rimmed baking sheet; toast on lower rack, shaking pan once or twice, until golden brown and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Toss together bread crumbs, crushed potato chips, butter-spice mixture, and parsley in small bowl; set aside.

4.     Increase oven setting to broil. Cut piece of heavy-duty foil 6 inches longer than fillet. Fold foil lengthwise in thirds and place lengthwise on rimmed baking sheet; position salmon lengthwise on foil, allowing excess foil to overhang baking sheet. Rub fillet evenly with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil salmon on upper rack until surface is spotty brown and outer 1/2-inch of thick end is opaque when gently flaked with paring knife, 9 to 11 minutes. Remove fish from oven, spread evenly with smooth mango chutney, and press bread crumb mixture onto fish. Return to lower rack and continue broiling until crust is deep golden brown, about 1 minute longer.

Vanilla Cake Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla cake slice

Vanilla Cake:


2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon baking soda 

3/4 teaspoon table salt 

1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

6 large egg yolks, room temperature

3 large egg whites, room temperature



1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.


2. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.


3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.


4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.


5. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours. 


Easy Buttercream:



3 tablespoons heavy cream 

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

 Pinch table salt 

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar 


1. Stir the cream, vanilla, and salt together in a small bowl until the salt dissolves.


2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Reduce the speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar, and beat until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes.


3. Beat in the cream mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.(If using a hand held mixer, beat for 8-10 minutes)


To Make Ahead

The frosting can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Before using, let stand at room temperature to soften, then whisk briefly to re-fluff.







Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis

Panna cotta 2   


Panna Cotta is a heavenly Italian dessert that literally means "cooked cream". This custard-like pudding has a rich flavor and silky smooth texture, in fact, the texture is what this dessert is all about. This is the perfect dinner party dessert as it is can be made ahead, and makes a stunning presentation, especially with the vibrant raspberry coulis.

Download Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis recipe

1 cup whole milk 

2 3/4 teaspoons gelatin 

3 cups heavy cream 

2 inch piece vanilla bean, slit lengthwise with paring knife 

6 tablespoons granulated sugar 

Pinch table salt 

1.  Pour milk into medium saucepan; sprinkle surface evenly with gelatin and let stand 10 minutes to hydrate gelatin. Meanwhile, turn contents of two ice cube trays (about 32 cubes) into large bowl; add 4 cups cold water. Measure the cream into a large measuring cup or pitcher. With paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds into cream; place pod in cream along with seeds and set mixture aside. Set eight wine glasses or 4-ounce ramekins on baking sheet.


2.  Heat milk and gelatin mixture over high heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved and mixture registers 135 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1½ minutes. Off heat, add sugar and salt; stir until dissolved, about 1 minute.


3.  Stirring constantly, slowly pour cream with vanilla into saucepan containing milk, then transfer mixture to medium bowl and set bowl over ice water bath. Stir frequently until thickened to the consistency of eggnog and mixture registers 50 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes. Strain mixture into large measuring cup or pitcher, then distribute evenly among wine glasses or ramekins. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap, making sure that plastic does not mar surface of cream; refrigerate until just set (mixture should wobble when shaken gently), 4 hours.


12 ounces fresh raspberries (or thawed if frozen), or blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries (fresh strawberries hulled and sliced, if using)

5 - 7 tablespoons granulated sugar 

1/8 teaspoon table salt 

2 teaspoons lemon juice 


1. In medium saucepan, bring berries, 1/4 cup water, 5 tablespoons sugar, and salt to bare simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally; cook until sugar is dissolved and berries are heated through, about 1 minute longer.


2. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor; puree until smooth, about 20 seconds. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl, pressing and stirring puree with rubber spatula to extract as much seedless puree as possible. Stir in lemon juice and additional sugar, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Stir to recombine before serving. (If too thick after chilling, add 1 to 2 teaspoons water.) The panna cotta can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 4 days.


To Unmold and Serve:

1.    Pour 1 cup of boiling water into a small bowl, dip a ramekin into the water, count to three, and lift the ramekin out of the water.

2.    Using a moistened finger, press lightly around the periphery of the cream to loosen the edges. Dip the ramekin back into the water for another three-count.

3.    Invert the ramekin over your palm and loosen the cream by cupping your fingers between the cream and the edges of the ramekin

4. Gently lower the cream onto the plate and serve.