Elfreths Alley Cat

A one stop place for all you food, history, and DIY needs.

Butterfly Cake

This was a birthday cake for two special people.  I was inspired by clockwork lemon who had a lovely tutorial for gum paste butterflies.  So I spend hours painting and decorating butterflies.  This is more fun than I have had in a while.

Aria2ndBday_18

Oooooh pretty.

I used pre-made gum paste, gel food coloring, and all the edible glitter and confetti I could get my hands on.  All of this is available at craft stores like AC Moore or Micaels.  I have a feeling I will be doing this more often, it was really simple if you like painting and sparkles.  And if you don’t like sparkles we can’t be friends.

butterfly

You can obviously make and cake you want.  This one was Lemon Vanilla Bean cake with Strawberry filling and Pastry Cream, with Buttercream frosting.  I will post the recipe if you guys want.

Aria2ndBday_15

Pan Fried New Potatoes

I first read this recipes in an old Gourmet Magazine (RIP) and decided instantly it would be made with dinner that night.  I don’t have the original recipe, just the shorthand I jotted down on the back of a receipt so I didn’t forget, so I guess this is an adaptation. The potatoes are boiled first, then kinda smashed, then pan friend and the result is nothing short of potato heaven.  There are no words to describe its fluffy, airy, crispy, buttery, wonderful goodness (but you can start with fluffy, airy, crispy, and wonderful) It took a couple of tries to perfect the technique of smashing them just right so they become little pancakes rather than hash browns (still tasty, by the way).  This is always a mouthwatering side with pretty much anything.  It is just a great dish to have in your repertoire.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs cleaned new potatoes
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Boil the potatoes on high until they can be pierced with a fork.  Drain and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Meanwhile heat the oil in a heavy pan.
2.  Using a fork (for smaller potatoes) or a potato masher (for large potatoes) gently smash the potato into a little patty.  This is the hardest part of the recipes and takes a little practice.  You want to keep as much of it in tact as possible so it is best to apply slow but firm pressure.


3.  Using a spatula, transfer the potatoes to the pan with the heated oil, cooking 10 minutes on each side.
4.  While the potatoes are cooking, mix the butter, salt and Parmesan until the form a paste


5.  When the potatoes are done getting all crispy and wonderful, remove them from the heat and crumble the cheese/butter mixture on top (and seriously, any dish that involves a cheese/butter mixer is already awesome)

I promise you that once you make these they will become your go to potato recipe. 

A Visit From Miley Cyrus

A Visit From Miley Cyrus

Thanks to People Magazine for the shout out!  This was seriously one of the craziest things.  Right up there with the time I got drunk with Ben Franklin in my kitchen, but that is a story for another time.

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Image

Cookie Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (about half a lemon’s worth)
  • Sanding Sugar for decorating (you can use regular sugar, but then you miss the added crunch and general sparkly quality that i love so much)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a mixer with paddle attachment beat on high speed sugar, butter and shortening until light and fluffy (about 2 min)
  4. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs and mix until it is fully incorporated. Then, add the flour mixture all at once and mix at medium low speed until it is just combined.
  5. Using a rounded ½ tablespoon, roll the dough into balls and then roll them in the sanding sugar.
  6. Place the dough about 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges start to turn gold.  Let cool completely on rack.

 Filling Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about ½ lemons)
  • ½ teaspoon citric acid (or sour salt, it is usually with the spices in the supermarket) It really gives the filling the tartness to balance the sweet buttery cookies.  It is really worth it.

 Using a pastry bag (or a plastic sandwich bag with the corner cut off) cover one cookie and top it with another of the same size, squeeze until the icing goes right to the edge. Then dive head first into a pile of them with a milk IV and hope to one day fit into your clothes again.

Cherry Rum Cakes

Cat Santamauro ‘brought the crowd to its knees’, says Rick Nichols of The Inky, with this recipe. That was my first time ever being reviewed.  I glowed for weeks after that.  Or maybe it was the amount of rum.  Hmmmm.  Either way, you should try this recipe.  I promise you won’t ever regret it.  My brother described them as “like a really awesome jelly krimpet” 

Imagethis is a twist on the traditional favorite you’ll find on any Caribbean vacation. A friend once described rum cake as “exotic and intoxicating”.

Rum cake is usually made with walnuts, but I like the warmth of the pecans but if you prefer walnuts, go crazy. This cake is best served the next day because it give the Rum Syrup time to really soak in, but if you can’t wait there is no wrong way to eat this.

Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened.
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup spiced rum
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 lb cherries (Note: Have them thawed if you are using frozen. You can even use cherry pie filling just rinse away all the syrup in a colander.)
  • ½ finely chopped pecans

Rum Butter Glaze

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup rum

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Grease the pan you are using.
  3. Cream butter and sugars till smooth.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, pudding mix, and salt. Mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Add milk, eggs, rum, oil, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  6. Sprinkle the bottom with nuts, then add the cherries, and finally add the batter.
  7. Bake (instructions below)
  8. When the cake has been removed from the oven prepare the syrup by heating the butter, rum, water, and sugar in a small sauce pan till sugar is totally dissolved.
  9. Remove the cake from the pan and slowly pour the syrup over giving it time to absorb until all the syrup is gone.

Baking Instructions:

The lovely thing about this recipe is you can make it in any size pan. This particular recipe makes a bunt cake. Or a 9×9 sheet. In the photo I halved the recipe and used a 1 quart round pan. For parties I have made mini cupcakes which are wonderful. They all take different times. Your best bet is to check every 10 mins. until the toothpick comes out clean.

Baking Time:
Mini cupcakes take about 20 min
9×9 pans take about 45 min
Full bunt pans take at least 60 min

Times are approximate. Every oven cooks differently, so check it often.

 

 

Antique Framed Botanical Watercolors

What you Need

  • 4 pieces of artwork (I chose 4×6)
  • 4 Ivory Mattes fitted for 4×6 artwork, and 5×7 frame
  • 4 5×7 black matte frames
  • Ivory Acrylic Paint
  • Paint Brush (I used a 1 1/2″ brush)
  • Scrubby Stuff (I used a bottle brush and some weird thing I got at Home Depot)
  1. Obviously, I did the paintings first.  I made them roughly 4×6 as I figured that would be a readily-available matte size at AC Moore.  Now, when it comes to art I have to be particularly frugal; I love my darling dearly but he just doesn’t think “new watercolor brushes” is ever a reasonable budget item .  
  2. So I got the cheapest frames available — they were $3, with an additional 40% off.  All I can say is you can tell; the frames were very hard to work with when it comes to assembly.  Caveat emptor, I suppose.  They worked, but they were a pain in the butt.
  3. I started by taking the flat black frames and making them look at little “antique”.  I achieved this by thinning out some white acrylic paint until it is similar in consistency to Elmer’s Glue.  Cover the whole surface of the frame.  
  4. Start brushing the wet paint with something abrasive, like a bottle brush or that weird brush thing I got at Home Depot (I think it is called a graining comb, it is from the Martha Stewart section)
  5. Wait five minutes, then very lightly brush off the extra paint with a paper towel.  You will want to make sure you leave some paint in any creases and little streaks on the frame to make it look old.
  6. Next, just assemble the art to the matte with tape and attach the frame.
  7. Note:  You don’t have to make your own art either — just go to an old book store and find something with interesting visual.  Look for sheet music, pictures of architecture, maps, paintings, or museums.  Pretty much anything can look like art in a matted vintage frame.

Botanical Watercolors

My next project is to make some more art work for the house.  I decided to make four botanical watercolors representing each member of the family.  Did you know you have a birth month flower?  I didn’t, but apparently you do.  I was very dismayed to find out mine was a carnation.  That is just unfair.  I already have to deal with my birth stone being garnet (otherwise known as poop colored ruby).  However, I realized that I was looking at the British list.  On the American list I was a snowdrop which made me very happy indeed. Last night I did the paintings because nothing says a wild saturday night like a glass of scotch and paintings of flowers.  Eh, that is how the did it in the olden times* Next, decorative frames and a cute layout.  Stay tuned for more developments.

* I have no evidence anyone in the olden days drank scotch and painted on Saturday nights.  They were probably cooler than that.

Clockwise from top left Daffodil (March), Lilly of the Valley (May), Snowdrop (January), and Larkspur (July).  By tonight I should have the next step.

Addictive Sugar Cookies

The perfect sugar cookie recipe has been something that eluded me for a long time.  They were never quite right, either too tough, too cakey, or too bland. Over the years I have tried many alterations of this recipe in order to get the perfect flavor and texture.  These are crunchy yet chewy, buttery, sparkly, and all in all a perfect beautiful cookie. Oh, and they are addictive like heroine.  The combination of butter and shortening seems to be the trick to the texture.  It gives it the buttery flavor and the shorting keeps them slightly chewy.  Also, you don’t have to chill the dough which is a huge bonus to me because when I want cookies, I want them NOW.  I have used these as a wonderful base for ice cream sandwiches. They are also good spread with jam. Hell, there is pretty much no way to not enjoy these.

Ingrediants

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Sanding Sugar for decorating (you can use regular sugar, but then you miss the added crunch and general sparkly quality that i love so much)

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a mixer with paddle attachment beat on high speed sugar, butter and shortening until light and fluffy (about 2 min)

I have always loved the look and smell of creamed butter and sugar.  It is what first got me interested in baking as a kid.

4. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs and mix until it is fully incorporated. Then, add the flour mixture all at once and mix at medium low speed until it is just combined. 
5. Using a rounded table spoon, or a small ice cream scoop (that is a Martha Stewart tip, thanks Martha!) roll the dough into balls and then roll them in the sanding sugar. 
6. Place the dough about 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet.  (I know the common wisdom is to use parchment paper, but I have always used aluminum foil, sue me.* 

* Unless there is a legitimate reason to not use foil, in which case. . .please don’t actually sue me.  I can only pay in cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool completely on rack.  Then dive head first into a pile of them with a milk IV and hope to one day fit into your clothes again.

Dank Fried Rice

Dank Fried Rice

This recipe has evolved over the years into one of my most wonderful dishes.  It is also not a very precise recipe.  You can pretty much use as much or as little of the ingredients as you want.   It is very hearty, and while it could be used as a side dish, I always eat it as an entree. The usage of “Dank” came from my little brother who called me one day asking “hey, can you give me that recipe for that dank fried rice”

Ingredients

  • 1 package of tofu, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes (I use firm tofu)
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I prefer sushi rice, but regular white rice would work.  It just doesn’t have the same sticky fluffy texture)
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1/2 package of edamame
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

1.  Start the rice cooking (I use a rice cooker because, well, I always messed up rice without it, it is pretty awesome)
2.  Chop the bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook over medium-high heat until very crispy but not burned.  Remove from heat and let drain on a paper towel.  Set aside.
3.  Now, cooking something in bacon grease is delicious but obviously rather terrible for you.  To avoid your arteries screaming in pain, what I do is empty nearly all of the bacon grease from the pan, but leave a tiny coating, then I add some olive oil which takes on the flavor of the bacon without being quite as heart attack-y.
4.  Simmer the garlic for 1-2 min until it is golden. 
5. Add the chopped tofu and cayenne pepper and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally.

6. Boil and shell edamame.  Set aside.

7.  Cook scrambled eggs (I use a whisk while cooking because it gives it a finer curd which mixes better with the rice) Set aside.
8.  Add the rice to the tofu mixture when it is done cooking.  Pour the soy sauce over the rice and mix and stir until evenly colored.
9.  Add to the rice the eggs, bacon, and edamame, stir everything together and serve.

Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Blackberry Sauce

Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Blackberry Sauce

I first made this cake because I had leftover buttermilk I didn’t want to go to waste.  So I looked for any recipe involving buttermilk. This one caught my eye.  Around this time of year, I am always craving lemon because it’s so light and refreshing.  Ok, that’s a lie, I *always* crave lemon.  What makes this recipe unique is the combination of white flour and cornmeal.  The white flour makes it soft and fluffy like a traditional cake, but the cornmeal gives it a slightly coarser grain. Just add coffee for the perfect dessert . And it’s very, very easy to make.  My litmus test for a cake being easy is not having to use a stand mixer.

Ingredients For Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2  eggs

  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon peel*

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 stick melted butter

* Note: Please use fresh lemon zest. If you don’t have a grater,I got mine at the supermarket. The difference is well worth the effort. The kind you buy in the spice section is like comparing fresh cooked bacon to bacos. If you don’t use fresh zest I will find you and yell at you.  Or at least give you my best withering stare

Ingredients for Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Blackberry Sauce

  • 1 pint fresh (or frozen) blackberries
  • Pinch of grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons blackberry brandy

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour an 9 inch round pan.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, lemon peel, butter and vanilla.  The buttermilk mixture will be lumpy.  That happens when the butter cools, not to worry.
  • Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture just until just moistened.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
  • Let the cake cool for about 5-10 min and then take it out of the pan by flipping it onto the plate.

Glaze

  • Prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and lemon juice until nice and smooth.  There really is no trick to this.
  • Pour the glaze on the top of the cake and let it soak in for about 15 min. 

Blackberry Sauce

  • Throw all the ingredients into a small pan and cook for about 10 min until all juicy and a little bubbly.  Smoosh the berries with a spoon a little to release the juices (smoosh is an official culinary term, shut).  Let cool for about 20 min to let the sauce thicken. 


Place the sauce over the sliced cake and dig in.  See, told you it was easy.

Adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lemon-Cornmeal-Cake-with-Lemon-Glaze-and-Crushed-Blueberry-Sauce-352048#ixzz0lTciRm3R

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