Archive for March, 2007

Coffee Cake or Coffee in Cake?

March 28, 2007

Coffee cake can mean a sponge cake with a streusal mixture of nuts, sugar and cinnamon layered in the middle and on the top of the cake.

It is eaten while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea at breakfast time or other times of the day.

However, coffee cake should surely be what it says – a cake where you taste the coffee.

You make a sponge cake which either has coffee essence added or you dissolve instant coffee in water and add to the batter.  Hence when eaten you taste the coffee along with any frosting that also has coffee incorporated in it, thereby making it a true coffee cake whether you drink coffee or tea with it.

It seems difficult to find a coffee cake recipe, meaning coffee in flavor – it must be an English or European thing.  Yet such a cake does exist.

So the difference must be in the fact that a coffee cake with streusal topping is a North American thing and a coffee cake where you taste the flavor must be an English/European thing!

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Spinach Soup.

March 21, 2007

It was supposed to be a very warm day, but we woke up to cloud and cool temperatures.  This continued throughout the morning so by lunch time it felt more like having  soup instead of a salad.  I had some fresh spinach left that needed using and decided to make spinach soup.  A first for me.  I had this recipe from Farmgirl Foodie, but because I was short on time I omitted the rice and instead thickened it with cornstarch.

 It is a very good soup, and I would do it again.  If I didn’t use rice, I might use potato instead for a thickener, but for a first off it was not bad.

Then later in the afternoon wouldn’t you know it, the cloud cleared, the sun came out and it did warm up to the projected temperature for the day – 75F!.

Tea For Two!

March 16, 2007

“Tea for two please.”   You may be out shopping with a friend or meeting a friend for afternoon tea. 

In England this is a common occurrence where you find a nice teashop with old English decor and you ask for a pot of tea for two.  Or you might be ordering full afternoon tea which usually starts with dainty cucumber sandwiches, or egg, or salmon sandwiches.  Various fillings are offered in different tearooms.  This is often followed by cakes and along with it is a pot of tea for two.

In the south of England, Devon and Cornwall,  afternoon tea could easily be a Cream Tea which comprises of scones with strawberry jam and thick clotted cream – a specialty in Devon and Cornwall.  This also can be followed by cakes along with a pot of tea.  Some say you spread on the jam first and top off with cream, while others will say you spread on lots of cream first and top off with jam.  Whichever way you choose, it must be good.

Personally I would always spread jam on first and top off with cream.  Yum!  It’s a long time since I had a cream tea, many years in fact.  Time I made a visit and headed down south to enjoy.  Now how much are the flights?

Clotted cream and more cream,  not good for the arteries, but as my motto goes ‘all things in moderation!’

Now all of this could spoil your evening meal.  The alternative would be to have a main meal lunchtime and have the tea late afternoon and something lighter in the evening.  Whatever you choose afternoon tea is a very pleasant way of passing an hour or two.

Chocolate and Green Tea?

March 14, 2007

I heard on the radio the other day a program talking about the benefits of green tea and the various blends available.  The guest on the program sells green tea through a toll free number, but he has a chocolate and green tea blend which sounds very delicious and since both green tea and chocolate has antioxidants which we need in our body that would be a double  dose!  That can’t be bad.  The only snag right now is this particular tea is only available through this one distributor and I didn’t take down the number.  So the only thing to do is either a search on the net or wait until it reaches to store.

Green Tea, The Good Drink.

March 12, 2007

Green tea is frequently in the news, whether it be on TV or in the newspaper or articles in one magazine or another.

This tea is full of antioxidants and we are told by drinking at least one cup a day, more is preferable, that it may protect from heart attacks.  It can keep the blood pressure steady and healthy and it is a good drink to protect against cancer and even cancer patients can benefit from it.

I know one person who had cancer and started to drink green tea among other good things he was taking and last year was pronounced cancer free.  He was not on medication nor did he have treatments of any kind, so the cancer was not serious enough as I recall, but he had to be careful.  Whether green tea helped, I don’t know, but since there is so much written about it, it surely does not hurt to drink it.

 I personally don’t like green tea, but recently I discovered a blend, of which there are several blends, but this one is Green Tea and Earl Grey tea.  Now Earl Grey tea I quite like, though I rarely drink it, so I thought I would give it a try and I must say I like this blend and most days I now drink Green Tea/Earl Grey.    

If this means it is good for me, my heart, the arteries, blood pressure, cholesterol, help to cut the risk of cancer and whatever else it is supposed to be good for, then I will drink a cup a day, even more when I can, in between the number of required glasses of water and regular tea that I enjoy. 

Oh, and  not long ago I read a recipe on green tea cupcakes!  Now there’s a thought, though I don’t make cupcakes.  Muffins are more my thing so maybe there’s a way of incorporating green tea into a muffin recipe.  I will do a search and see what I find.

Now It’s Carrot Cake and Olive Oil!

March 7, 2007

I have just  been reading some blogs on carrot cakes.  Very interesting.  The thing that puts me off the most to making this cake is the grating of the carrots.  I make it from time to time when I feel in the mood of not minding to grate carrots.

 I have a few recipes in my collection and so I made a carrot cake yesterday.  It was light as a feather and well received by all.  Delicious.  Perhaps when one finds a good recipe out of a collection it would be a good idea to ditch the remainder, because how often would you use them, having found one that is particularly good.

I always make my carrot cakes without the frosting!  Why?  Too much sugar and I am not a lover of cream cheese.  Instead I serve it with banana and French Vanilla yogurt which is equally as good.

I have a recipe for carrot cake muffins taken from Barefoot Contessa herself and they are good too. 

So many cooks use so much butter which might give the finished product a good taste, but too much, too often are not good for the arteries.  So what to do?  Whenever possible, and that is quite often I use olive oil instead for making cakes, muffins and suchlike.  I would like to use it for cookies, but more often than not olive oil does not produce a good cookie.  I do have a couple of recipes given out by a large health store online for chocolate thumbprint cookies using cocoa instead of chocolate and they are good.

I cook with olive oil all the time and often use it in the skillet, though I have read many times that when it is heated it is changed and can be carcinogenic.   I always use it to make a sauce instead of butter.

I have just read an article that said the best oil to use in the skillet is coconut oil which is more healthy.  I would  not have thought of it and can’t say I have seen it in the store, though the article did say it can be found in health stores, so I’ll have to take a look.

 So even for carrot cakes olive oil can be used instead of butter and it turns out just as good.  I know olive oil can be used in making muffins and I do so all the time in place of butter.  It can also be used in some sponge cakes and I have tried it in one recipe which has olive oil as part of the ingredients.  It also turned out good.  So I guess sometimes one has to experiment and see what happens.

Cupcakes all the Rage!

March 2, 2007

Just today I pick up another magazine and there is a section on cupcakes.  Just when I thought I had seen all there is to see in cupcakes there is lots more.  For the Love of Cupcakes,  this time geared to kids and I guess parties whether it be a birthday party or just a cupcake party!

They print two basic cupcake recipes, one vanilla and the other chocolate – pretty straightforward, but then we get into the decorating of them.  There’s the Owl cupcake, Frog cupcake, Ladybug cupcake.  There’s  one called All Aboard cupcakes which is a train of cupcakes set on red licorice that make the rail tracks.  Cappuccino cupcakes and to top it off a carousel of  cupcakes all decorated in what looks like fondant in white, purple and pink with fondant animals around.  You have to see that to really appreciate it.  It looks very good, but it must be very sweet.

So it just goes to show that cupcakes are all the rage right now and who knows how long it will last.

Cupcakes or Muffins?

March 1, 2007

Cupcakes have been making an appearance for some time now.  They have frequently been made on Food TV and recipes are often in food magazines.

 What is the difference between cupcakes and muffins? As far as I can see cupcakes are made by creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs and flour, thus making a sponge mixture and then they are decorated by frosting on top.

I found a cupcake blog with lots of recipes of all different varieties, enough to blow your mind.  It did mine!  What a selection, just take a look at it – www.cupcakeblog.com and you too will see there is just about everything you can think of under the sun!!

Muffins are often made by adding liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.  Sometimes butter and sugar are creamed in a recipe, but not always.  Nuts, apple, bran, chocolate chips or whatever else is the theme of the muffin when added and hey presto!  Bake.

There is no frosting on top.  At most sugar and nuts would be added as a topping before baking.

So cupcakes might be the ‘in’ thing at the moment and muffins are baked as the mood suits.