Archive for January, 2012

January 22, 2012

Earl Grey Velvet Cupcakes

by horseradishsauce

I found this Earl Grey Red Velvet Cake recipe a while ago and I’ve been wanting to try it. My friend had a Mary Kay party yesterday, so I decided to make these. The majority of people at work are Army guys who eat frozen food or eggs and protein powder for the majority of their meals, and they tend to class all food into “good” or “bad”, which is not the audience you want to try out new and unusual recipes on.

‘The Island of Dr Gâteau’ is a very cool blog by a cognitive neuroscientist who experiments with food and writes about the biology and psychology of eating. She makes many variations of red velvet (Vanilla Chai White Velvet and Burnt Butter and Pecan are the next ones I’ll try, I think) and I decided to try her Earl Grey Black Tea Red Velvet Cake.

As it turns out, all the ladies at this party were middle-aged school teachers and they were all on diets. My friend who was selling Mary Kay is a triathlete, so she ate two cupcakes. I’m working on a six pack so I wasn’t planning to eat any, but I love Earl Grey so I had to try it. It was amazing. I think this is my favorite cake I’ve made. Dr. Gâteau said the taste was subtle, but I think it was quite strong in mine–a deliciously light, almost citrus flavor from the bergamot.

I didn’t follow Dr Gâteau’s recipe exactly–rather, I used her idea of steeping Earl Grey in butter the night before and used that butter in the Red Velvet recipe I usually use. The only issue I ran into was that, while I steeped the tea in enough butter for both the cake and the frosting the night before, after melting it, steeping the tea, refrigerating it, melting it, and putting it through a sieve, I was 4 tablespoons short and had to use non-Earl Grey butter in the frosting. In the recipe below, I’ve added my guessed amount of extra butter needed for the flavoring.

The original ‘Anne’s Eats’ recipe uses vegetable oil instead of butter. I don’t know how steeping tea in vegetable oil and then refrigerating it would turn out, though. As Dr. Gâteau points out in her recipe, fats hold odor and flavor molecules better than water, so I think it would still work. I don’t suppose vegetable oil would quite solidify, but I think the point is to let it absorb the flavors for 24 hours more so than have it solidify.

I also didn’t add food coloring, and they turned out a nice pale brown. I found a recipe for red velvet using grated beets to color the cake, so I might try that next time, for I do love the color of beets.

Earl Grey Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from ‘The Island of Dr. Gâteau” and “Annie’s Eats”
Yield: 1 9 x 13 sheet cake or about 24 cupcakes

For the Earl Grey Butter:

  • For a full 24 cupcakes, use 4 sticks of butter. For a half recipe, try 2.5 sticks. Expect to lose about 4 tablespoons in the melting/solidifying process.
  • 3 heaping tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey (1 heaping tablespoon is about 5 tea bags)

For the Cake:

  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups Earl Grey butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring (optional. Or use any color you choose OR 1 cup finely-grated beets)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

*OR make your own buttermilk:

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon milk

Put vinegar/lemon into 1 cup measuring cup. Add milk to complete 1 cupful. Let stand for 5 minutes. Utilize.

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (if you use cold cheese and butter, the consistency will be better. If you’re beating the frosting by hand, use room temperature cheese and butter)
  • 5 tablespoons Earl Grey butter, at room temperature (add regular unsalted butter if you didn’t make enough tea butter)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup strong Earl Grey tea (steeped for 10 minutes)
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


The night before you want to make the cake:  If you’re making a sheet cake, save the wrappers for greasing the pan on baking day. Melt the butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Once it is melted, take it off the heat. Add in the loose-leaf Earl Grey tea and stir. Leave at room temperature for an hour, then transfer to covered bowl and place in the fridge overnight.

The next day: Place the re-solidified butter in a saucepan again (you may have to microwave the bowl for 20 seconds or so to get the butter to dislodge) and melt over a very low heat until liquid. Strain out the tea by pouring the liquid butter through a sieve into a bowl (when I did this, some of the leaves got through the strainer. You could hardly see them in the final cake and they weren’t noticeable in texture). Press the tea into the sieve with a spoon in order to squeeze out the butter that it has absorbed. Leave the butter at room temperature for an hour, then place it back in the fridge for an hour or so, checking it regularly, until it has firmed up and is the consistency of soft butter.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  If making cupcakes, line cupcake pans with paper liners. If making sheet cake, grease and sift a little flour into a sheet pan (this just keeps the cake from sticking. It’s unnecessary. I use the butter wrappers so you may as well…).
In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, butter, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat until somewhat blended (it won’t really blend, and as soon as it’s smooth, it’ll separate again. Don’t worry about it).  Mix in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners or pour it into the single sheet pan.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes (more like 30 for a sheet cake).  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract and the tea.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

January 15, 2012

Beet Salad

by horseradishsauce

I found this recipe for stuffed beets. I made them and decided that stuffing them is only worthwhile for feeding other people, because peeled beets are slimy and hard to hollow out and you end up with extra stuffing anyway. If you’re like me and tend to feed yourself by standing half-clothed in the kitchen eating mostly with your fingers because you live by yourself so goddamit you’re gonna do whatever you want—then just chop up the beets and make a salad. It’s quite scrumptious.

So here is a recipe for beet salad, modified from Diana Bauman’s Stuffed Beets recipe (found here)

Beet Salad
Recipe adapted from “A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa”, which she adapted from “1,080 Recipes”


  • 4 cooked beets
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the beets and put them whole in a pan of cold water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beets are tender.
2. Once the beets are tender, remove them from the water and let them cool a few minutes.  Their skins should slip off.
3. Peel the beets and dice them.
4. Scoop the yolks out of the hard boiled eggs and set aside.
5. Finely chop the whites.
6. Combine the diced beet, egg whites, onion and cilantro in a bowl.
7. Whisk together the vinegar and oil in another bowl, stir in the egg yolks, and season with salt and pepper, then pour over the beet mixture.
8. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tags: , ,
January 7, 2012

3-Minute Banana Bread or Carrot Cake (Single-serving)

by horseradishsauce

First post-Iraq post!

Today is one of those days where I was planning to go to the gym earlier so I didn’t make lunch—but then I ate a bunch of gummy bears and shopped for furniture online and now it’s 1310 and I need to go buy a mattress. Well, now I want food before I go shopping. I am also procrastinating because I hate shopping for anything.

I went into my kitchen and spotted a brown, overripe banana. If I hadn’t eaten all my oatmeal, I would make oatmeal with a banana and walnuts. Instead, I decided to make a banana and walnut mash of goodness. But no, wait! How about banana bread?! Banana bread it is.

I know everyone’s been posting microwave single-serving desserts for a while now. I think it’s funny everyone “just” discovered that you can make baked things in the microwave. Perhaps they were never up late procrastinating  studying for finals.

This is a quick, sloppy banana bread recipe for the lazy or those in a hurry.

What you need:

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • a handful of walnuts (shelled of course. Unless you like to eat the shells.)
  • about 2 1/2 tblsp whole wheat flour
  • maybe 1/4 tsp baking soda or less.
  • about 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • two dashes of nutmeg
  • two dashes of allspice
  • about 1/2 cup of water
  • a bowl
  • a fork
  • a microwave

Peel the banana. Put it in the bowl and mash it up. Crumble the walnuts and put them in. Add the dry ingredients. Pour in enough water to make it a little wetter than cookie dough and more viscous than normal banana bread batter.

Cook it in the microwave for 2 minutes. It will be sticky at that point, but I like my banana bread sticky, so I went no further.

Now it’s time to buy a mattress.

I've been eating oatmeal in this bowl for the past 5 days without washing it. Mmmm

It may not look particularly appetizing--but it's a single serving. Nobody's judging your skillz here.

P.S. I made carrot cake the next day.

5-Minute Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots
  • 3 tblsp Whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tblsp molasses
  • 1 tblsp honey
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • a handful of walnuts, crumbled

Shred the carrots. Mix the dry ingredients. Mix in the water, molasses and honey. Mix in the carrots and walnuts. Cook for 3 minutes. Consume.


January 6, 2012

5-Ingredient tortilla soup

by cillefish

(makes about 3 bowls).
You can cut corners and make it faster, but the flavor is better if you give the chilies the full 15min soak and the soup the full 20min simmer.

• 1/2 white onion, chopped
• 1 Tbsp olive oil

• 1 guajillo and 1 ancho chili, seeded and de-stemmed

• 1 can chopped tomatoes salsa-style (or normal ones plus some salsa)
• 4 c chicken / veg stock
• 1/4 tsp oregano

Stir-fry onions in oil until soft. Meanwhile, in a pan on medium heat, toast chilies by pressing flat with a spatula on each side until they soften up a little bit (I wait until they get toasted-looking). Microwave or heat up some boiling water, enough to cover the chilies. Let them soak, completely covered by water (put a lid on top), until softened, 15-25 min. Dump everything but the chilies into a food processor or blender, slowly adding in chilies to taste. Dump the whole mix in a pot, boil, then simmer for 20min.

Pour in bowl over tortilla chips. Optional toppings: guacamole, shredded cheese, olives. ** In case you’re thinking I can’t count, I didn’t count the olive oil as an “ingredient” since it’s there just to help the onions along…

Adapted from this