Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A rainbow of flavors

For my daughter's birthday party, I found some really beautiful cakes and cupcakes, all rainbow colors. The colors were brilliant, crazy, and unnatural. I know many (most) people have no problem using artificial colors, but I try to go the natural route and would be cheating to do her party. Plus the idea of making my own food coloring sounded like a fun challenge. I read a couple of blog posts that gave several options for creating the colors. I wanted bright colors but didn't want to sacrifice flavor either.
What I ended up doing:
The base cake was Heavenly White Cake found on I changed it by using 1/2 AP flour and 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour. I also used egg whites from a carton, rather than fresh eggs, and they didn't beat up to a meringue, but all worked out well.

Red - pureed strawberries. We went berry picking a couple of Sundays ago and I pureed about 1/2 cup to make strawberry cakes.
Orange - they said pumpkin worked well and gave a lot of flavor, but carrot was great too. I had a large can of pumpkin puree and Shara wanted the pumpkin, but it seemed like a lot for such a little batch. I bought a small jar of carrot baby food and used that. What Shara liked about the pumpkin idea was the pumpkin pie flavor, so I added a little ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Yellow - took the advice to use stale turmeric - I mixed it with some water and heated it to try and dissolve the powder. It still had quite a bit of flavor/odor, so I put in a bit of almond extract.
Green - I forgot to save some of the turmeric which I had planned on mixing with the blue, so I used the India Tree colors I already had. Cheat, but not as bad as grabbing the Wilton.
Blue - Boiled purple cabbage that was in the freezer from last Fall's CSA! and mixed with some baking soda. It did turn blue but was very watery and wouldn't give any flavor to the cakes so I mashed up blueberries and added some baking soda.
Purple - Grape juice concentrate

I haven't tasted them, but they do smell good. The textures range from a little rubbery to normal cake. They look very nice though. Putting them together will be interesting. Shara wants these to be skewered, like this:

Six mini-cupcakes per child is a bit much, but we can always pack up leftovers.

Follow-up - the kids actually payed attention to the flavors and had a fun time trying to guess what each one was. No one really liked the purple grape, but they didn't like the grape juice in the morning either. I think the favorite was the carrot with pumpkin pie spice. I also realized days after that I had used the wrong measurement for the egg whites. I thought a 1/4 cup of the pasteurized egg white = 1 egg white, but it = 1 egg. Obvious now, but at the time, not so much. I'm sure this is why they were a little rubbery. But they were also really interesting and the colors worked out better than I thought they would.

Monday, June 18, 2012

B is for Bacon Cake and Birthday

Shara's Happenings: Recital 2012: Obviously Shara did great. They all did. She had 4 dances and 4 costume changes - Tap > Ballet > Jazz > Ballet. We were both glad I went bac...
blurry, but it tastes great!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Farmer's Dinner - Beets!

Had a yummy dinner this evening - beet greens sauteed in a bit of bacon fat; roasted baby beets with a little lime juice & honey; mesclun, grape tomatoes, and avocado salad; scallops & cod simmered in Frontera's Key Lime Cilantro sauce, and homemade corn tortillas.

This weeks CSA (only got a 1/2 share this year):

  • head lettuce
  • 1 pint Strawberries!
  • bunch of radishes - sauteed a few with last weeks turnips
  • 1 head Broccoli - roasted
  • bag of spinach - sauteed w/ garlic, ginger, onions & mushrooms, added to Basmati rice
  • 1 bunch baby Beets - not in CSA
  • bag of mesclun - not in CSA

Saturday, June 02, 2012

2012 Scooper Bowl

2012 Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl -I want to go! I've never been but heard it's great - all the ice cream you can eat from 10 ice cream manufacturers. If you go, let me know how it was and think of me!

Friday, June 01, 2012

lentil, lemon and tuna salad - French Fridays w/ Dorie

As I read the ingredients I wondered where I could find preserved lemons and seemed to remember seeing them at Ocean State Job Lot. They have a very good selection of pickled items, olives and vinegars. The reason I remembered seeing the lemons was because we saw olives stuffed with lemons, not actually preserved lemons. However, after looking in the couple of places I had to go during the day and not finding lemons, I went to Job Lot and ended up getting the olives because it was the closest thing they had. Pulling out the bits of lemon wasn't as time consuming as I thought it would be, but it turned out that the olives had such a great lemon taste, making a tapenade with those would have been amazing. The whole family enjoyed munching on them.

The rest of the salad was very easy. I cooked the lentils a little too long, but I was the only one who seemed to notice. I made the lentils with water, garlic, a clove, salt, and a bay leaf. It worked fine because the garlic really came through. I also cheated with Giada's tapenade from Target. Obviously this was super easy to make and had me wondering where this recipe had been hiding. I may end up making this every couple of weeks or so. We had it over lettuce with some other veggies from Langwater. Shara took the leftovers for lunch at school and I ate her leftovers for an even later lunch!