where the wild things are smash cake

Where the Wild Things Are Cake

following in the same thread
as last post’s boxed confection,
i recently created a small cake
for a small bae
with a wild streak.
a smash cake was reqested
and since i figured it was going to be,
well, smashed to smithereens,
i went boxed, again.
but since it’s for a most beloved child,
we did go organic.
i still have standards y’all.

the theme was
Where the Wild Things Are,
a book i vaguely remember.
i doubt NT will recall this occasion,
though there were plenty of pictures that captured it.
in any case,
it was so easy to put together,
though you’da thunk i slaved over it
by the reactions of everyone in attendance of the party.
that’s winning at adulting,
if there were such a thing.

Where the Wild Things Are Cake

Where the Wild Things Are Smash Cake
makes 1 2 layered 6″ cake

1 box of cake mix, i used Immaculate Yellow Cake Mix
1 can of frosting, i used Wholesome Chocolate frosting
half bag of chocolate chips, a brand i like is enjoy life
1 tube of pre-made pie crust, i used immaculate ready to bake pie crust

bake the cake as per box instructions. for 6″ i baked for 35 minutes. it did dome a smidge, so it had to be leveled.

for the crown: on a lightly floured counter top, lay out the crust layer. with the mind set of an heir and a spare, i made 2 crowns. i measured out 2 10″ wide rectangles. i’m bad at math and space, so one of the crowns was taller, while the other was stubby. just make a chevron/jagged crown. using either the upside of a muffin or popover tin, wrap the crown around the base. for shininess and some color, do an egg wash. bake for 12 minutes, until gold brown. hopefully 1 of the 2 will come out. in my case, the heir died and i had to use the stubby spare. set aside, be careful, try not to break it.

for the textured bark: you can either melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler style. when the chocolate is fully melted, spread it into a rectangle on parchment paper, you want it as thin as possible, so use an off-set spatula. carefully fold the parchment paper into a roll and fridge it until set.

to assemble: lay the first cake layer on a plate or whatever you’re gonna serve the cake on. pipe in a layer of frosting, spread and then top with 2nd layer of cake. crumb coat it. it does not need to be perfect. you do want to make the top be as smooth as possible though, the sides can be bare minimum though. when ready, take the role of schmeared chocolate out and crack it. unroll the paper, you should have varied sized shards of chocolate. adhere them to the sides of the cake, you may need to dab on some frosting to get it to stick. again, it does not need to be perfect, just think of what a tree stump looks like. when the sides are sufficiently covered, re-melt the remaining chocolate shards and with a pastry brush, dab on the chocolate to the the cracks and fill in blank spots. you’re aiming for something rustic.

fridge it. take out about 30 minutes prior to smashing. top with the crown.

BAM!

Where the Wild Things Are Cake

3 years ago: tofu gyoza – vegan
2 years ago: peach ginger scones – vegan
1 year ago: summer salsa – vegan

nile + smash cake

Raspberry-Coconut Chia Pudding

Raspberry Coconut Chia Pudding

somehow we find ourselves
smack dab in the middle of june
ridiculously tangled up with
the Whole30 diet.
it seemed like the right time:
our csa started
nuria moved back to ca
it’s the month before our beach vacation

i’m not going to paint a pretty –
or ugly – picture.
it’s not painful,
we just don’t like being limited
and we miss the rice and bread and pasta acutely
but the guidelines are pretty in line with
our lifestyle already.
except for the coffee + sugar + creamer
and cereal
and sweets
ok. fine. whatever,
this isn’t the funnest.
but it’s not dire either.

since we’re not kick starting summer
with the usual smoothies
i needed to come up with something
equally delightful & cooling.
enter the chia pudding phenom.
it’s everywhere, chia seeds is the new kale.
and like, kale,
i really like chia seeds.

Raspberry Coconut Chia Pudding>

raspberry-coconut chia pudding
makes enough for 2

*note: chia seed is technically compliant to Whole30 but it should be consumed judiciously so i’ve only made this twice, i’ll likely make it a few more times before the diet is over, and will definitely make it often this summer, using whichever berries and fruits are in season.
**note: made it recently with strawberries + lemon juice and it was ridiculously delightful.

1 very generous cup raspberries, fresh or thawed
3 TBL chia seeds
juice of half grapefruit
3-4 each raw almonds and cashews, rough chopped
3-4 TBL unsweetened dried coconut flakes
few sprigs of mint, chiffonade or torn

in a bowl place the raspberries in and with a fork smash them. they don’t have to be all smashed, texture is good. add in the juice of half grapefruit and the chia seeds. mix through so that chia seeds don’t clump. set aside for 30 minutes in the fridge, or overnight.

when ready to eat, divvy up in two dishes/cups/glasses/jars and top with the chopped nuts, coconut flakes and mint.

BAM!

Raspberry Coconut Chia Pudding

3 years ago: crunchy celery salad
2 years ago: intense strawberry coconut ice cream & almond waffle bowls
1 year ago: cayenne chocolate ice cream

chia tea

Chia Tea Cooler

it’s been quiet around this parts
behind the scenes though
it’s anything but.
nuria is in her final weeks with us,
and with that comes
happy hours
dinners —
all around busyness.
on top of that
dw and i have been slowly,
but steadily,
doing home projects.
things that could be shared
but likely won’t be
because
who the hell wants to hear
about my thought process when picking
paint colors
or curtains?

in the meantime,
the weather continues to confuzzle.
it looks like it’ll go from mild winter
to mild summer,
with lots of rain and grey in between.
i could cry,
but that would just add to
the dreariness.
inspired by the few
pockets of sunshine we have had
i make this tea
to sip on while at my desk,
or sitting on the couch.
it keeps me keeping.

Chia Tea Cooler

chia tea cooler
makes 4-5 servings

this isn’t so much a recipe, but what i throw together based on what is available in the pantry

4 TBL of tea of choice (i’ve used hibiscus or in this case, a cucumber-melon green tea) or 2 bags of flavored tea of choice
4-5 cups of hot water
maple syrup, amount to taste (or honey, agave or simple syrup)
juice of one lemon
4 TBL chia seeds

brew the tea: what i do is boil the water in a pot (because even though i’m a grown up, i don’t have a kettle) and add in the loose tea or dunk the tea bags in. turn off heat, and allow to steep for 5-6 minutes. remove bags or strain the loose tea out. cool to room temp.

doctor up the tea to taste, with the maple syrup and lemon juice.

with whisk in hand, add the chia seed, one tablespoon at a time, stirring all the while. this is an important step, or else the seeds will clump and it’s gross and you’ve failed.

portion out into bottles or glasses. allow to chill in fridge.

the chia seeds will bloom and add a nice texture to the drink.

BAM!

swirl gif

3 years ago: portuguese chicken curry with chorizo and olives
2 years ago: spiced coconut pecan ice cream – dairy free
1 year ago: grass jelly with chia seeds

Guinea Hen Liver Pâté

Guinea Hen Liver Pâté

last thursday marked the 2 year anniversary
of my beloved gpa’s passing.
something he and i had an affinity for was
liver.
weird right?
as a kid, i loved the stuff.
i wonder now though
if i liked liver because he did,
or cus i really did like it.
my memories of gma’s pâté
are murky at best.
i know that she would make it as a treat.
i know that gpa and i,
during our bonding time on a sunday morning,
would share french bread chunks,
me with the soft insides
and he with the crusty outsides,
sneaking pieces of cheese
and sipping milky coffee
and generous slathers of pâté.
it was always an adventure
eating with gpa.
i credit him for introducing me to good eats,
and this was made with him on my mind.

Guinea Hen Liver Pâté

guinea hen liver pâté
i sorta followed this ingredient list, but did this method
makes 16oz

*note: there was no way gma was going to give me her recipe. she’s forgotten it and besides, she is adamant about eating BORING. bad cholesterol runs in the family, though *i* am in the clear despite genes, she would be furious if she knew i made pâté. i turned to two resources, one for the method that most looks like how gma made it and the other for the use of duck fat, instead of butter & cream.
**note: our local butcher had guinea hen liver (i saw GUINEA on the package and nearly tackled dw, i seriously thought he purchased guinea pig liver) and we hunted around the city for duck fat. thank you twitter for hooking a sister up.

8 TBL (1/2 cup) melted chicken or duck fat (we used epic)
1/4 of large red onion, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
3/4 lbs guinea hen livers (though any poultry liver is fine)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 TBL reisling (i think any alcohol like brandy, whisky or port would be fine, or NONE at all)
dash of cayenne pepper

preheat oven to 300F and bring a pot of water to boil.

in a sauce pan, saute together the diced onions and minced garlic in 1 TBL of duck fat over medium heat. leela was not going for caramelization while lebovitz totally was, i was aiming to not burn the house down. season the onions and garlic with salt and add the remaining 7 TBL of duck fat to the pan, allowing mixture to simmer away happily for a few minutes. turn off heat and set aside to cool slightly.

in a strong blender or vitamix, add in the raw livers, hard-boiled eggs, sherry vinegar, reisling, salt/pepper, cayenne pepper and onion/garlic saute mixture. blitz until smooth, and then blitz some more.

pour liver mixture into ramekin(s) (i used 2 4oz and 1 8 oz ramekin). tap bottom of ramekins to let the air bubbles out. place the ramekins into a larger casserole dish, and place into the preheated oven. very carefully pour the boiling water into the larger dish, until the water reaches about half way up the ramekins.

bake time: 15 – 25 minutes, depending on how big the ramekins used are.
because the liver mixture was divided among 3 dishes i timed it to bake for about 12-15 minutes. you’re looking for set sides but slightly wiggly middles. (so scientific, i know)

remove the ramekins from the casserole dish and allow to cool to room temp.

meanwhile, you can make a jelly to cover over top the pâté. both leela and lebovitz made completely different versions. i deferred to leela only because it’s so pretty, and i had a bunch of parsley to use up. either are fine, but i definitely think it should be done. pâté is not pretty and cover up makes it more appetizing looking.

cover and fridge overnight. when ready to consume, take it out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes prior. slather on warmed crusty bread.

BAM!

Guinea Hen Liver Pâté

previous odes to gpa:
citrus curd mille feuille
salt&pepper shrimp

1 year ago: tangerine ice cream
2 years ago: vegan japchae
3 years ago: asparagus + scrambled egg salad

Jose’s Paella

Jose's Paella

some weeks ago,
when the air still had a bite of winter
and the gloom of february seemed ever present,
(kinda like how this past weekend was,
except it’s way past the middle of march)
we had a paella party.
kinda sorta like the time
i spent with nuria’s family in barçelona.
nuria’s dad, jose,
cooked up a storm.
there was always something to eat.
and one of the things he made was paella.
every so often
i am able to convince nuria to make it for me.
it’s especially hard now that she technically lives in california,
but for the time being,
while she lives with us in baltimore,
i’m getting my fill of paella.
this was made in the dead of winter,
and as the weather warms,
and fresh spring vegetables make an appearance,
i see another paella party happening…

Jose's Paella

jose’s paella
makes enough for 6 people, or 3 very hungry people

*note: this was all nuria, i stuck my head in a few times to take pictures but she did all the cooking. from what i gathered, make sure you have your mise en place together.

1 lb sushi rice
1/2 cups olive oil
1 TBL minced garlic
2 Liters seafood stock (best if from scratch, recipe to follow)
1/4 cup white wine
1 TBL saffron or tumeric
1/3 cup simple marinara, ideally sofrito
8 shrimps, with heads on
12 mussels
1/2 lb small scallops
1/2 lb sliced squid or calamari
1 lb of white fish, cute in bite sized chunks (tilapia, monkfish, or cod are great choices)
12 bize-size chunks of pork ribs (any meat will do, even chicken)
1 big lemon, cut into 6 wedges, to garnish
1 roasted red pepper in long strips, to garnish

carefully detach heads from shrimp, using your hands, don’t cut it and in a small pan infuse the heads with the olive oil for 20 minutes. do not bring the oil to a strong boil, aim for a light simmer.

meanwhile, in a big pot add in the stock, saffron (or tumeric), white wine and marinara. strain the olive oil from heads, set aside the infused olive oil and add the heads to the pot with the stock to simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

clean the shrimp and set aside.

in a pan sautee these items separately, but use the same oil and pan: fish, squid, and meat, with a pinch of salt and garlic. mise en place each item.

in the pan that will be used to make the paella, heat the rice with the shrimp-infused olive oil, medium-high heat. make sure each grain is coated and warmed through. all the while the stock should be at a light boil, the key is to keep the stock and rice at the same temp.

add 1-2 ladle-fuls of stock into the pan, enough to cover the rice. the rice will absorb the stock gradually, like cooking risotto. stir every 102 minutes to prevent scorching. as the stock is being reduced and absorbed, continue to add ladle-fuls of the stock to the pan, stirring as well.

at around the 10 minute mark, add the fish, meat, and squid. cook for 5 more minutes.

when the rice is still on the al dente side but is just about to get soft, around the 14-15 minute, add the scallops, mussels and cleaned shrimp. place the mussels and shrimp following the same pattern as a bike tire with 6-8 spokes.

now leave the pan alone, don’t stir it, but keep the pan moist by adding stock, a ladle at a time. the cooking time of the sushi rice should be around 18-20 minutes.

turn off stove, remove pan from heat, add the lemon wedges and the roasted red pepper strips, cover sand ignore for 5-10 minutes. the rice will continue to absorb the stock and cook in those minutes.

serve immediately. any leftovers can be eaten at room temp.

BAM!

Jose's Paella

other international dishes:
african chicken stew
caribean oxtail stew
feijoada
lamb larb
vietnamese vermicelli noodle bowl