Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall Coleslaw

Fall is the perfect time to make Coleslaw.  It has all the right vegetables in season -- cabbage, carrots, and radishes.  It keeps for a good long while and most importantly, the tangy-sweet dressing combined with the hardy vegetables is delicious!  You can also add other vegetables to the mix.  For the version pictured, I added one peeled, grated raw beet and one peeled, grated raw turnip.  This is a great way to hide vegetables that you or your loved ones may not like much, because once they're in the vinegar mix you don't even know they're there!

Not only is this salad great as a side dish (or even a main dish), but it's great on top of a pulled pork sandwich, or nestled alongside some BBQ ribs.  It's fantastic with anything rich and meaty, as it cuts the fatty flavor and accents the sweet tangy undertones of the meat.  Yum!

Fall Coleslaw
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes
Serves 8-10

1 head of cabbage (medium)
2 large carrots
1 onion (I prefer red but you can use yellow or white)
2-3 radishes
1 beet (optional)
1 turnip (optional)
1/2 - 1 cup sugar (if you're using lots of spicier veggies, like the onion, radishes, and turnips, you may need more sugar)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

First, finely chop the cabbage and onion.  Peel the carrots, beets and turnip and trim the root ends off the radishes.  Grate carrots, beets, turnip, and radishes on the large holes of a cheese grater.  Toss all vegetables together.  Add sugar and toss to coat.  Let sit while preparing dressing.
In a small saucepan combine vinegars, oil, salt, parsley, and mustard.  Bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit until mostly cool, around 20 minutes.  Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. 
This salad keeps very well for a week, and I believe the flavor improves daily! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

HOW TO Do a Buttercream Frosting Transfer

Have you ever seen a cake with a picture painted in frosting?  Not those that are printed on edible paper, but actually just made of frosting?  They are created using a Buttercream Frosting Transfer.  That is a complicated name for something that is actually quite simple.  Once you've learned to do it, you can put any picture on a cake.  All it takes is a picture, some frosting, and some time!  Oh, and a piping bag and tip. 

Here's how to do it. 

First, get your picture.  I often use coloring book pictures that I download online, or pull pictures from websites.  If you're selling these cakes you may have copyright issues, but for your own home use it's fine. In this case, my son wanted a picture that he drew to be on his cake, so he drew the picture and colored it in and gave it to me.  Once you have the picture, you need to reverse it, so scan it and flip it horizontally, then print it out again.  Here is my son's original picture (colored) next to the flipped black and white version:

Once you have a flipped version, cut out any excess paper (don't cut too close, leave a border), and tape it onto the back of something metal, like a baking sheet.  Then tape a piece of waxed paper on top of the picture.  You'll be tracing the picture onto the waxed paper.

Next, mix up your frosting into whatever colors you desire.  I always use this frosting recipe,
because it's perfect in texture for this.  Look at your picture to see how much of each color you'll need.  You will also need to know what color the main frosting color will be on the cake (the background color, if you will), and mix that up too.  Here are all my colors:
You may notice that I have a pre-made tube of black decorating icing.  This is because black is a very difficult color to make, and it's easier to just buy it.  Red is also difficult, so if you have a lot of red (I did a Lightning McQueen cake once and it had a lot of red!) I recommend buying the tube.  I always buy Wilton brand, and get the kind that will attach to my decorating tips.

Okay, now that your frosting is ready, the first step is to outline everything in black.  Fit your tip (#2 or #3, I used #3 here) onto the black frosting and begin to carefully outline.  This is the most important step.  If you mess up, simply scrape the frosting off with a toothpick and try again.
Here it is with the outline done:

Next you do all of one color, whichever you like.  Use the same size tip as before.  If you don't want to buy an icing bag, you can cut the tip off a Ziploc bag and use that, it works almost as well.

When you are loaded up with frosting, fill in the areas that are that color.  You don't have to worry about covering up the black lines, because you are looking at the back of the picture.  Whatever you did in black will be in front, and will look great when you are done, so don't worry.  Just don't go outside of the outlines. 

Finally, when you're done filling in all the colors in the picture, fill in the background using the background color, which should be the same color that the main cake will be.  Here is mine with all the colors and the background done:
It looks weird, but again, that's because you're looking at the back side of it.  When you look at the front it will be great!

Now take it and put it in the freezer, still attached to the metal sheet.  Leave it there for several hours at least, or even better overnight.

Once it's solid, frost the cake, the same color as the background color you picked earlier.
Then remove the frosting transfer from the freezer.  Carefully remove the tape and take the frosting transfer (still on the waxed paper) off the sheet.  Turn it over onto the cake in the location you want it, and carefully remove the waxed paper.

Finally, smooth the edges of the frosting transfer so they blend into the rest of the cake.  Then decorate the remaining cake as desired.

Ta-Da!  You're finished!

Here are some other cakes I've used frosting transfers with. They're a great way to personalize a cake!

How to Make A Great Birthday Cake

I always make my children's birthday cakes, and every time I have a grown-up taste them they always comment on how good they are.  They taste so much better than straight from a box or purchased from a store.  And they're really easy to make!  I do start with a cake mix, but then add other ingredients to make it taste homemade, and to make the texture and moisture perfect.

You can do it too, to make a birthday cake of any shape or flavor!  Here's how to do it:

Best Birthday Cake

1 standard boxed cake mix, any flavor, any brand
1/2 package of instant pudding, any flavor (though coordinate with your cake flavor)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to temperature listed on box.  Prepare a baking dish (or several if you're making a layer cake) in the following manner:  Grease the sides well with vegetable shortening.

Place the pan(s) on top of a piece of waxed paper and trace around the bottom with a pencil, then cut out the shape you traced.  Make a large "X" on the inside bottom of the baking pan(s) and then put the waxed paper on top.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, half a package of pudding, flour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, egg, water, and all the ingredients that the recipe on the cake mix calls for (usually more eggs, water, and oil).  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high for 2 minutes or until well mixed.  Pour batter carefully into prepared pan(s).  Place in preheated oven to bake.

Baking will probably take 15 minutes more than the suggested time on the box, unless you're making lots of layers.  When a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs clinging, it's done baking.

Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.  Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan, then invert onto a cooling rack.  It should come out easily, without any breakage, because of the waxed paper on the bottom.  You can peel the waxed paper off now or later, whichever you prefer.

Cool cake completely, or wrap tightly in layers of plastic wrap and freeze, before frosting and decorating.

And if you want your cake to taste REALLY good, use this frosting recipe!

Buttercream Icing
Recipe by Wilton

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1 cup vegetable shortening, NOT butter flavored
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (if you want pure white frosting, use clear vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring (can be omitted if you have nut allergies)
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tablespoon meringue powder (this can be purchased in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, or at craft stores like Michaels)
Water as needed

In the mixer, mix butter, shortening, and salt until well combined, about 2 minutes.  Add butter, vanilla, and almond flavors and mix well.  Add powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix on low until incorporated, about 5 minutes.  Test the consistency and add water, just a teaspoon at a time, until it's the way you want it.  I usually add about 2 tablespoons.  If you add too much water you can add in some more powdered sugar to thicken it up.

You can keep this icing in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  It makes enough to frost one cake made with the recipe above.