Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beet Cake -- Seriously

I know it sounds bizarre, but then think of all the things we eat now and don't even think about it. Artichokes? Fiddle Ferns? Buddha's Hand? (Okay, this weekend my friend, Kathy, and I were told that this last one really is a novelty and that we'd probably be better off using Meyer Lemons. ) But anyway...I'll post my recipe, but you must see this video. If you love it like I do, take a look at their other videos at tiger in a jar

So, here is my version of Beet Cake:

Chocolate Beet Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz's website
I'm always looking for new ways to use familiar ingredients. Harrison is fairly used to this by now. But even he looked at me sideways when I told him I wanted to make beet cake. 
8 oz beets, unpeeled, rinsed and scrubbed free of dirt (You can use canned beets (infinitely more simple, but if you haven't roasted beets yourself, you might try it.)
7 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup hot espresso (or water) -- even very strong regular coffee would be good here
7 oz butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder (the darkest you can find, natural or Dutch-process)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 cup superfine sugar -- no need to buy superfine sugar. Just whirl your granulated sugar in a food processor or blender for a few moments.
1. Butter an 8- or 8 1/2 inch  springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. If you don't have this, use a lightly greased and parchment lined 8 inch cake pan (round or square).
2. Boil the beets in salted water with the lid askew until they’re very tender when you stick a knife in them about 45 minutes. Drain then rinse the beets with cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip off the peels, cut the beets into chunks, and grind them in a food processor until you get a coarse, yet cohesive, puree. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a cheese grater.) If you are using canned beets, skip all of the cooking and just puree them. 
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring as little as possible. You can also do this in the microwave, but be very careful that you don't scorch your chocolate.
4. Add the butter to the warm chocolate and let them melt together.
5. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
6. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter is melted. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, then stir the egg yolks together and briskly stir them into the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the beets.
7. In a stand mixer, or by hand, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold them into the melted chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix.
8. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
9. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF, and bake the cake for , or until the sides are just set but the center is still is just a bit wobbly. Do not overbake.
Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kitchen Sink Cookies

This was a crazy weekend. My sister, her oldest, her youngest, Harrison, and I all visited my mother this weekend. It was a blast, but at some point I think I lost my mind because during dinner preparation on Saturday, there were six people in my mother's 10 x 10 kitchen. I was making two versions of gingerbread (Yes, two.) My mom was actually cooking dinner. My sister was cutting up fruit for a salad with one hand and holding her daughter with the other. And the boys decide they want to "make something -- something weird." Sigh. We land on kitchen sink cookies --probably not my most inspired moment, but we had limited time (no Harrison, we aren't going to make Danish pastry), limited resources (Yes, the chocolate chip cricket recipe looks interesting, Ryan, but we don't have any crickets), and limited space (the two of you get this much -- 2 feet -- of counter. Keep the mess here .)

So, here's the basic recipe. Below are some of the wonderful add-in's the boys decided to use.

1 stick of softened butter (salted is fine, but then leave out the additional salt)
1/2 c brown sugar -- I like dark brown, but go with what you like
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla -- yes, pure vanilla.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 c plus 2T whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt


  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until incorporated completely.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the flours, soda, and salt and stir until combined.
  3. Gently fold the dries into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir until barely combined. Don't over mix -- they'll be chewy and awful. 
  4. Gently mix in as many or as few add-in's as you want.
  5. Mound evenly spaced on a lined baking sheet. And bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.
Harrison's creation: cheddar goldfish, broken OREO's, potato chips, chocolate chips
Ryan's creation: smashed banana, honey, chocolate chips, pecans

Other ideas: broken candy bars, dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, crackers. You can get really wild and add in some herbs... pecans with rosemary sounds yummy to me. Citrus zest, gummy candy, caramels, sea salt, black pepper, coffee grounds, oatmeal... 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A new year -- a new book and roasted vegetable cake

YAY! Love? Maybe is finally out. I am so, so happy. This was definitely a long haul with lots of different editors and drafts. But, this time around I really learned attention to detail and how to be patient (two lessons I pretty much hate.) I think it came out really great though. Here it is:

From the cover of Love? Maybe:
Just because Piper's birthday is on Valentine's Day does not mean she's a romantic. In fact, after watching her father and then her stepfather leave, she's pretty sure she doesn't believe in love at all. Then her friends concoct a plan to find them all Valentine's dates, and somehow Piper finds herself with the most popular guy in school. But true love never follows a plan, and a string of heartfelt gifts from a secret admirer has Piper wondering if she might be with the wrong guy. 

In this heartwarming romance, true love is more than a maybe - and it might be closer than you think.

Every year I have this urge to go back through all of the photos I've taken over the months. There are a few that stand out. Here's one from Halloween. It makes me smile. One ninja and one? Ummm. Well, I just pulled some things out of my garden and added a couple of fake bumble bees and butterflies.

This week we made something new --roasted vegetable cake. I know it sounds gross, but it was AWESOME. We messed with it a lot from the original recipe, adding more carrots and taking out the sweet potato. I know... I just don't like sweet potato. I know I should because it's so good for you, but I just don't.

So here it is. We're going to focus on Valentine's over the next few weeks both because of my new novel and because I do like any chance to give  out (and receive!) candy.

Roasted Vegetable Cake
Courtesy of


  • 8 eggs
  • small container of part skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese (we used low fat, but you could use fat free (eww) or regular.
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to taste
  • 4 Tolive oil for drizzling over the vegetables
  • 2 grams butter to saute the spinach
  • 3 large waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced (this is where the sweet potato comes in if you want to substitute one or more for the regular potatoes.)
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, skin removed (or do what I did -- I just bought a jar of roasted red peppers.)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 large carrots diced
  • 6-8 oz baby spinach leaves

  1. Place the eggs, ricotta, cream cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a food processor and mix until smooth -- With a minimum of help, H was able to do everything with the food processor -- easy and it was fun for him.) If you don't have a food processor, all of this can be done by hand. It just takes more time.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Peel and slice the potatoes (and sweet potato if you are using one.) Drizzle with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft enough that you can pierce through them with a fork.
  3. If you are roasting the peppers yourself, char each pepper over an open flame using a pair of tongs. When the peppers have blackened, place them in a large bowl and cover with clingwrap for a few minutes. Carefully peel the skin off the peppers. Otherwise, you can use store bought peppers as well.
  4. Heat a pan with some olive oil and saute the carrots and onions until soft.
  5. Heat a pan with some butter and lightly saute the spinach. Remove from heat and set aside. (You can just use the same pan as above. No need to clean it. Just dump the onions and carrots out.)
  6. In a large round cake pan (I used a nine-inch spring form pan.), layer the potato slices, the sweet potato, red peppers, cubed pumpkin, and then pour over the egg mixture. Finally, add the sauteed spinach. Allow the mixture to settle for around ten minutes.
  7. Bake the frittata for around 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert this through the center of the cake.
  8. Remove from the oven and slice and eat it.
Options: I think when we make it again (and we will -- it was YUM!) I'll add some browned and chopped veggie bacon -- of course you could use regular bacon -- we're veggie in my household. I also think adding some green vegetables like roasted asparagus or broccoli.