Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

My new favorite cake, and an old favorite soup...

I had my friends around for the usual Second Saturday Soup and Studio, this weekend.  Very little art got done, though Kit crocheted and tore out the same 20 stitches for a couple of hours, and Courtney managed to hook half a dishrag.  Darla got brave with painting a yellow background on a canvas, even going so far as to blend white in over the top, without my help.  We mostly just ate soup and laughed (really hard at a few stories).

Jill was the exception.  Jill, who has had a recent creative breakthrough, not only doodled another very cool pattern, I heard today she has actually ordered custom fabric printed from it, after someone suggested it here on Saturday.  Jill has agreed to writing a story for 365 Being very soon, probably the spring issue, about how the woman who steadfastly refused to consider doing so much as a doodle less than two months ago, is now dabbling in fabric design.  You can find the photos of her doodle journey on facebook, if you look for 30 Days of Doodle.  May I just say, "YES!!!!!!!"

I promised last week to post the soup recipe, and here it is, Chicken Tortilla, along with a bonus recipe for Squash and Sage Cake.  Yes, sage, and it was so insanely good everyone wanted the recipe.  Much thanks to my herb gardening sister Robin, who sent me the recipe, which I only tweaked a tiny bit.

Mamacita's Love in a Bowl:

Chicken Tortilla Soup
 1 chicken, roasted, with drippings (Do this the easy way, in an oven proof bowl.  The roasting rack is just a  pain to wash, and thoroughly unnecessary).  Cool, skim fat, pick meat from bones, and chop into bite-sized pieces.

In a big soup pot, combine:
   Two 32 oz cartons natural chicken stock
   Two 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
(You can of course substitute homemade stock and a heap of fresh diced tomatoes, if you have the time and inclination.)

As this is coming to a boil, toss in:
   1 large onion, coarsely diced
   2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
   4 stalks celery
   1 can hominy
   1 can black beans
   3 tablespoons cumin
   3 teaspoons chili powder
   2 tablespoons garlic, minced

Boil gently until veggies are tender, then add the chopped chicken, and
   1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Serve with fresh corn tortillas, sliced into strips like noodles, or just top it with crushed corn chips. 
  
This is super-mild, so if you like some heat, serve it with Crystal, Yucatan Sunshine, or your favorite hot sauce on the side.  It seems most Minnesotans can handle the cold, but not the caliente, so I have learned to add it to my own bowl.

Squash and Sage Cake with Maple Frosting
Don't let its unassuming looks fool you.  This is not just cake, but an experience waiting to happen to your taste buds.  The cake ingredients combine to create a complex flavor that is truly indescribable, though everyone around the table tried.  We sounded a bit like wine connoisseurs, talking of notes and hints.  
First, prep the squash:
  2 medium sized acorn or other non-stringy winter squash

Cut these in half, discard the seeds, and place them face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes.  If you discover an extra half hour has gone by, do not panic, just set aside whatever sidetracked you, and proceed calmly.  The moisture is trapped in by the skin, and when you flip them upright and peel off the very brown surface (a yummy little snack), the flesh underneath is perfectly soft.  Scoop it out and measure out two cups.

Set oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 9 x 13 baking dish (mine is ceramic, so may have needed longer cooking time than a standard cake pan)

In a sauce pan, combine
   3/4 cup butter
   6 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
and warm this until the butter melts.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sage-butter and the 2 cups squash with
   2 cups brown sugar
   3 large eggs
   2-ish teaspoons vanilla
   2 tsp ground ginger (resist the urge to add cinnamon, cloves, etc.  this isn't that kind of cake)
   2 tsp baking powder

Stir thoroughly until no lumps of baking powder remain, then stir in
   2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
   1 cup chopped walnuts

Spread in prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool and frost with maple buttercream:

In a mixing bowl, on low speed (unless you like to dust the kitchen), combine
   4 tablespoons butter
   2 cups powdered sugar
   2 tsp maple extract

When fairly blended, stir in enough milk to make a smooth frosting, a few tablespoons at a time.  Put most of this on the cake.  What you do with the rest is between you and the spatula.

This is very moist, so eat the day you bake, and cover left-overs loosely.  There probably won't be left-overs.

After the 3-D sculpted Christmas tree cake that became a very good trifle, I swore off cake baking, but I made an exception for this cake, since I had especially asked my sister for new ideas for cooking with herbs.  I will bake this again.  Many times.

When I'm not testing recipes on unsuspecting friends, I'm usually painting pretty cool walls.  You can see my portfolio at theartofthehome.com.

And when I'm not painting walls, I'm usually writing about them, or recipes, or something (or cajoling my friends and family into writing about them for me) for 365 Being.  I take my "Boss of Everything" title there a little beyond the offices to bring you great stuff, like Jill's doodles, and Robin's herb advice, which should appear in the Spring issue.  You try these recipes, while I go call my sister and tell her I just announced she's writing something for me.  More on the bookazine at 365being.blogspot.com and 365being.com.

For those of you who know my darling business partner in 365 Being, Cathy Isles, I should mention that Cat's father passed Sunday morning.  He had been ill, and Cat cared for him at home until the end.   She will miss him dearly, but says he was ready, and the release from the illness was a blessing.  I've seen a number of messages on facebook talking about how sweet he always was.  Must be where Cat gets it.  May the next bit of beingness be a delightful surprise to his sweet soul.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love your blog...you write like an easy chair...very relaxed...at least that is what it sounds like as I read it....so thanks for all your efforts and inspiration!

Dawn-Marie deLara (formerly Quinche) , Artist in Wonderland said...

Thank you. I like that description very much! Thanks for taking the time to read my musings.