Spring Garden Cake

Spring Garden CakeThis is a great dessert to make around this time of year when you have a special dinner AND either a weekend to dedicate to it or several evenings after work (with a little help from some friends)

I’ve been meaning to make this cake since we started the blog – which is almost 2 years ago now – and finally, for a spring dinner last week I made it with the help of my über talented friend Megan.

The Spring Garden cake first appeared in a Martha Stewart magazine probably 20 years ago. My mom had a collection of Martha Stewart books and magazines and one Easter when I was young we attempted a version of this cake. The result of our efforts was a little less refined then my second attempt, as shown above, but all that mattered was I had so much fun making all of the marzipan vegetables with my mom. I enjoyed making the vegetables just as much this time, 20 years later as an adult. My friend Megan and I spent close to 5 hours dying the marzipan, rolling it out and marking it up to make the tray of fruits and vegetables you see below.

5 hours of work

One tip – think small. The amount of marzipan you need for a single carrot is very little and radishes and cabbage leaves need even less. Take less than you think you will need and add to it if necessary.

A Carrot cake works well as a base for this spring garden cake and the version we have included here is one we have been making for years.  I first started making this carrot cake several years ago when I was in Bolivia.  With coconut, pineapple and plenty of grated carrot, this is a moist and sweet carrot cake that tastes incredible covered in cream cheese frosting. The crushed cookies and marzipan vegetables are a delicious bonus.

Spring Garden Cake

This cake would make a great centerpiece at an Easter dinner and while this is certainly a weekend project – it works best if you make the different components over a few days – the most fun will come when the cake is made, the cookies are crushed, the frosting is whipped, the fence has been cut, the vegetables have been molded (Yes… this cake really is this much work) and you finally get to assemble it all together and present it to family and friends. Like most great food and dessert – this is one to share.

Enjoy! and Happy Easter!

Ingredients / Ingredientes

Carrot cake with Pineapple and coconut / Torta de Zanahoria con Piña y Coco

  • 3 cups flour / tazas de harina
  • 3 tsp baking soda / cucharillas de bicarbonato de soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder / cucharillas de levadura en polvo
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt / cucharillas de sal
  • 3 tsp cinnamon / cucharillas de canela
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg / cucharillas de nuez moscada
  • 1 cup brown sugar / taza de azúcar morena
  • 1 cup white sugar / taza de azúcar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil / tazas de aceite vegetal
  • 4 eggs plus one yolk / huevos y una yema
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla / cucharillas de vainilla
  • 3 cups grated carrots / tazas de zanahoria rayada
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple / tazas de piña
  • 3/4 cup coconut / taza de coco

Cream Cheese Frosting / Glaseado de Queso Crema

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened / taza de mantequilla a temperatura ambiente
  • 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened / onzas de queso crema a temperatura ambiente
  • 4 cups powdered sugar / tazas de azúcar impalpable
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract / cucharilla de vainilla

Mix butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until combined, add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix into a thick frosting / mezclar mantequilla y queso crema en una batidora de pie, agregar azúcar impalpable y vainilla hasta que el glaseado este listo a su gusto.

Pastillage Ingredients / Pastillaje Ingredientes

  • 4 cups powdered sugar sifted / tazas de azúcar impalpable colada
  • 6 tbsp corn starch / cucharadas de almidón de maíz
  • 2 tbsp water / cucharadas de agua
  • 1 packet gelatin / paquete de gelatina
  • 1 egg white / clara de huevo
  • 1 tbsp water / cucharada de agua

The Martha Stewart website has a great video outlining how to make the pastillage as well as precise measurements regarding how to cut the fence / Puedes ver este video de Martha Stewart para hacer la cerca

Marzipan / Mazapán

  • SEE ‘Battenburg cake’ recipe – you will use approximately half of this amount of marzipan to make enough fruits and veggies to cover a 10 inch cake. / Ver nuestra receta de la Torta Battenburg – debes usar apróximadamente la mitad de esta receta.

‘Dirt’ / Tierra

  • SEE ‘Homemade Oreos’ recipe / Ver nuestra receta de las galletas de chocolates Oreos.
  • Crush 6 chocolate shortbread cookies in a food processor or blender until fine.Triturar 6 galletas en un procesador de comidas.

Decoration Instructions / Instrucciones

  • Prepare the Marzipan vegetables and Pastillage fence at least one day before you plan to assemble the cake / Preparar los vegetables de mazapán y la cerca de pastillaje por lo menos un día antes de asamblar la torta

Pastillage fence

  • Some useful tools for assembling the marzipan fruits and veggies are shown in the photo below / Algunos instrumentos que te ayudarán a hacer las furtas y vegetables de mazapán están en la foto abajo.

Useful tools...

  • Shortening – for your hands – to keep the marzipan from sticking and drying out as you are working with it. / Manteca – para que tus manos no se pegen al mazapán y para que el mazapán no se seque.
  • Plastic wrap – keep the marzipan wrapped in plastic and only remove what you will be using – marzipan dries out quickly / Plástico – mantener el mazapán envuelto en plástico , sacar lo que necesites y dejar cubierto en plástico pues el mazapán se seca muy rápido.
  • A small paintbrush and water – useful to help adhere leaves to stalks and joining the cabbage/lettuce leaves together if the marzipan is not tacky enough / Un pequeño pincel y agua – útil para adherir las hojas a las lechugas y tambien si es que el mazapán está muy pegajoso.
  • Toothpicks – for applying food coloring and for creating holes and creases in the marzipan / palillos de dientes – para la aplicación de colorante y para la creación de agujeros y grietas en el mazapán.
  • A roller ball tool – for smoothing edges / herramienta de bola rodante – para suavizar los bordes
  • Small scissors – for cutting the leaves of the artichokes / pequeña tijera – para cortar las hojas de las alcachofa

Marzipan carrots

  • Carrots – Mix orange, red and a little brown / Zanahorias – Mezcla de naranja, rojo y un poco de marrón
  • Leaves – Mix leaf green, yellow and a touch of brown / Hojas – Mezclar color hoja verde, amarillo y un toque de color marrón

Marzipan artichokes

  • Artichokes – Green and brown marzipan / Alcachofas -verde con marrón

Rhubarb and tomatoes

  • Rhubarb, Radishes and tomatoes - Mix Red with a touch of black and same leaf green as with the carrots / Rábanos y ruibarbo – Mezclar rojo con un toque de negro y el mismo verde que arriba. 

Marzipan watermelon

  • Watermelon – light green – mix light green with white. Dark green – straight dark green. and pink – mix pink with a touch of red. / Sandía – verde claro – mezclar el color verde claro con blanco. Verde oscuro – verde oscuro puro, sin mezclar con nada más, y Rosado – mezclar rosa con un toque de rojo.

Marzipan cabbage

  • Cauliflower – Leaf green and plain marzipan (no color) / Coliflor – Verde hoja y mazapán sin colorante

Instructions / Instrucciones

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / Calentar el horno a 350 grados
  • Butter the bottom and edges of a 10 inch cake pan. We are using a springform pan (because that is the only circular pan we have) Cut a round of parchment and place on the bottom of the pan and butter it as well. / Poner mantequilla alrededor de el molde donde vas a hornear la torta, cortar papel pergamino y colocarlo en la parte inferior del molde, agregar encima del papel un poco de mantequilla.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg) / Mezclar los ingredientes secos en un recipiente ( hariana, levadura en polvo, bicarbonato de soda, sal, canela, nuez moscada)
  • Mix the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, oil, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend until well combined. / Mezclar los huevos, azúcar morena, azúcar, aceite y vainilla en una batidora de pie hasta que estén bien mezclados.
  • Grate Carrots, dice pineapple, and measure out coconut. / Rayar las zanahorias, cortar la piña en cuadritos y medir el coco.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the egg, sugar, oil mixture in two additions, mixing until just combined between additions. / Agregar los ingredientes secos a la mezcla de huevos, azúcar y aceite en dos adiciones, es decir primero agregar la mitad de la mezcla y mezclar bien en la batidora hsta que este todo incorporado y después agregar la otra mitad.

Carrot cake

  • Add the carrots, diced pineapple and coconut and fold together with a spatula until evenly distributed. / Agregar las zanahorias, piña y coco y mezclar todo con una espátula hasta que esté todo bien incorporado.
  • Pour into the cake pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes – or until a cake tester comes out clean. / Poner la mezcla al molde y hornear la torta por 1 hora y 15 minutos o hasta que esté lista.
  • Cool on a rack for a few minutes then turn out and allow to cool completely. / Sacar la torta del molde y dejar enfriar completamente.
  • Wrap in plastic and freeze. This will make torting the cake (slicing off the irregular top) and dividing the cake in half much easier. / Envolver la torta en plástico y colocar en el congelador. Esto hará más fácil el cortar la torta por la mitad.

Assembling the spring garden cake

  • Assemble the cake with cream cheese frosting in between the layers as well as over the top and sides. / Montar el pastel con glaseado de queso crema entre las capas y también sobre la parte superior y los lados.
  • Mound about 1/2 cup of ground chocolate wafers onto the center of the cake once it has been frosted and gently spread to the outer layers of the cake – taking care not to push the crumbs down the sides of the cake. / Colocar alreadedor de 1/2 taza de las galletas de chocolate trituradas encima de la torta, con mucho cuidado.
  • Divide the plot into quarters and ‘rake’ with a fork in alternating directions / Dividir la parte superior de la torta en cuatro lados y con un tenedor, como si fuera un rastrillo mover en direcciones alternas

Planting the garden...

  • ‘Plant’ the garden with the pre-made marzipan fruits and vegetables / Agregar las furtas y vegetales de mazapán.

Pastillage fence

  • Apply pastillage fence to the outer layer of the cake – use the pre made 1/4 plots as a guide. Each quarter of the cake will have 8 pieces of fence and be divided by a fence post / Agregar la cerca hecha de pastillaje (como el la foto). Cada cuarto de la torta tendrá 8 piezas de la cerca

The cake is finished

  • Distribute Candy rocks around the outside and the cake is ready to serve or present at the table. / Colocar piedras o rocas de chocolates alrededor de la tora para una presentación increíble.
  • Enjoy! / A disfrutar!

Spring garden cake… Provecho!

 

Eggs Benedict

Eggs BenedictEggs Benedict is  a  The classic brunch dish – something most people head to a restaurant for (including us most of the time) but we want you to know that making Eggs Benedict at home is not as hard as it may seem.

We’ve made a bit more work for ourselves by making the english muffins from scratch – because homemade english muffins happen to make a tremendous difference IMHO.  I realize that not everyone is interested in making their own bread, if you are however, we follow the recipe from the book Tartine Bread.  If you start the process on a Friday night (mixing the leaven and poolish) then you can be griddling fresh muffins to split and toast on Sunday morning.  The Tartine recipe makes about 16 muffins so it allows for plenty of extras to freeze for the week ahead. 

The intimidating part of Eggs Benedict is the combination of preparing Hollandaise sauce and poaching an egg.  While the former can be resolved with a good recipe (like the one we have included here courtesy of Carol – Thanks Carol!) the latter just takes a bit of practice.  

A tip I learned during this most recent batch of Hollandaise is to first clarify the butter that you will use to whip into the egg yolks.  Using clarified butter helps to prevent the mixture from splitting.  To clarify butter, melt it in a small saucepan, pour into a jar and allow to cool.  If you do this far enough in advance the butter will re-solidify into layers and the milk solids can then be easily scraped off the top.  When you re-melt the butter you will notice that it is clear or… you know… clarified.

We’ve cut the original recipe in half here so instead of serving four this version will make enough for two generous servings of hollandaise sauce.  

Enjoy!

Eggs Benedict

Ingredients / Ingredientes

Hollandaise / Salsa Holandesa

  • 2 egg yolks / yema de huevos
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice / cucharadas de jugo de limón
  • Pinch of ground white pepper / pizca de pimienta blanca
  • Dash of Worchestershire / pizca de salsa worchestershire (salsa inglesa)
  • 1/2 tbsp water / cucharadas de agua
  • 1/2 cup butter (clarified) / taza de mantequila
  • Pinch of salt /pizca de sal

Potatoes / Papas

  • 2 large russet potatoes / papas
  • Olive Oil /aceite de oliva
  • Salt and Pepper /sal y pimienta
  • Paprika / paprika (pimientón molido)
  • 4 eggs / huevos
  • 1 tsp white vinegar / cucharilla de vinagre
  • 4 pieces of back bacon (aka canadian bacon/peameal bacon) / tocino
  • 2 english muffins, split / panecillos ingleses (english muffins)

Instructions / Instrucciones

For the potatoes / Para las papas

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment. / Calentar el horno a 400 grados y colocar papel aluminio a una bandeja para hornear
  • Wash and dry the potatoes and dice into cubes. / Lavar ,secar y cortar las papas en cuadritos.
  • Toss the cubed potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, a large pinch of salt and pepper and a shake of paprika (mostly for color) / Agregar a las papas un poco de aceite de oliva, pizca de sal, pimienta y paprika.
  • Pour onto the prepared pan, spray the potatoes with cooking spray and place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until fork tender. / Colocar las papas a la bandeja para hornear y cocinarlas por 30 minutos hasta que estén blandas por dentro.

Oven fries - hashbrowns

  • To make the Hollandaise: Fill a saucepan part way with water and set over medium heat to bring to a simmer.  / Para la salsa holandesa: colocar una olla con un poco de agua a  fuego lento ( a punto de hervir).
  • In a metal bowl that fits inside that saucepan (without the bottom touching the water) whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, white pepper, worchestershire and water. / En un recipiente de metal que va a caber en la olla agregar y batir las yemas, jugo de limón, pimienta blanca, salsa inglesa y agua.

Hollandaise

  • Set the bowl over the simmering water and continue to whisk.  Begin to pour the melted clarified butter into the yolk mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time – whisking constantly – and ensuring that the previous addition has been incorporated before adding more.  whisk and add more butter until all the butter has been mixed in.  / Colocar el recipiente encima de la olla (baño maria) y no pares de batir. Colocar la matequilla derretida en la mezcla de huevos, una cucharada a la vez, mezclando bien hasta que todo esté incorporado.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt, taste and adjust as necessary.  If the mixture is too thick, whisk in a couple tablespoons of warm water.  Place a large plate over the bowl to keep the mixture warm – Don’t keep over heat as too much heat will cause the emulsion to split and the sauce will be ruined. / Remover la salsa del fuego y colocar sal, adjustar el sabor si es necesario. Si la salsa esta muy espesa agregar y mezclar algunas cucharadas de agua tibia. Colocar un plato encima del recipiente para mantener la salsa caliente, no lo dejes en baño maria pues mucho vapor caliente puede arruinar la salsa.
  • To poach the eggs – Fill a saucepan with 3 inches of water and bring the water to a gentle simmer then add the vinegar – this will help keep the egg together as it cooks in its water bath. / Para cocinar los huevos: Llenar una olla con 3 pulgadas de agua a fuego lento hasta que esté a punto de hervir, colocar el vinagre.

Poaching an egg

  • Break the eggs into separate ramekins so that you can carefully add them to the water one at a time.  When the water is ready and the vinegar has been added, use a whisk to create a vortex in the saucepan then slide the egg into the center of the vortex.  The spinning water should help to keep the whites over the yolk and in one neat package. / Quebrar los huevos y colocarlos en una taza o recipiente para mejor resultado cuando los pongas al agua. Cuando el agua esté a punto de hervir y el vinagre esté incorporado, con una cuchara batir rápido el agua haciendo un agujero en el centro, en ese agujero colocarás cada huevo, esto ayudará a que la yema y la clara del huevo estén juntos.
  • Cook for 2 1/2 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice water bath to halt the cooking process.  Continue to cook the remaining eggs, one at a time, placing into the ice water bath when ready. / Cocinar cada huevo por 2 1/2 minutos y gentilmente sacarlos del agua y colocarlos en un recipiente con agua helada (esto evitará que el huevo siga cocinando)
  • Lay the back bacon on a foil rimmed sheet and bake in the oven at 400 degrees until browned on the edges.  / Colocar el tocino sobre una bandeja de hornear a 400 grados hasta que esté dorado en las orillas.

Fresh english muffins

  • Put it all together / Colocar todo junto
  • Toast the english muffins and begin to build your eggs benedict.  We’ve made the classic with back bacon as well as a shrimp and avocado Benny.  With the water over medium heat at a simmer – add the poached eggs back into the simmering water for 45 seconds to 1 minute to just heat through, then remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate before placing on top of the prepared english muffins  /  Tostar los panecillos y colocar encima el tocino o camarones con palta . Para calentar los huevos tienes que sacarlos del agua helada y colocarlos por 45 segundos de nuevo al agua caliente que está a punto de hervir. Sacar los huevos del agua caliente y colocarlos sobre papel toalla para secarlos.

Eggs Benedict assembly

  • The second to last step is to add a large spoonful of hollandaise sauce over each poached egg.  The LAST step is to serve it to someone you love and enjoy! / Agregar los huevos encima del tocino, colocar encima la salsa holandesa y sevir. Provecho!

Eggs Benedict… Provecho!

 

Lentil and Walnut Pâté

Lentil and Walnut PateI know we’ve found a great recipe when within the span of a week we’ve made it twice.  

As it must be clear – this vegan pâté is one of those recipes.  Several years ago, during a trip to Montreal, we went out for brunch at a vegan restaurant called Aux Vivres.  We ended up coming back to eat there twice more before we left as the food was so incredible and this is what I loved about it – it wasn’t incredible for Vegan food (as neither myself nor Fabio are Vegan) it was just fantastic food.  One of the appetizers we had during one of our visits really stuck with me and every once in a while I go on a search online for something comparable.  It was a vegan pâté served with french bread and pickles.  It was so good, and somehow I could not decipher what any of the actual ingredients were.  

Fast forward – now 3 years – and during a weekend morning spent surfing Vimeo for food related videos I found a company called ‘the real vegan’ that specialized in making something called Faux Gras and while it was made entirely with plant based foods it was often mistaken for the texture and flavor of real pâté  – the video gave away a few of the secret ingredients – mostly japanese condiments – Mirin, Umeboshi plum paste, and miso and I was intrigued so I googled those ingredients and lo and behold, through the magic of the internet I found exactly what I had been looking for since our lunch at Aux Vivres 3 years ago in Montreal. 

We’ve made this twice this week, and while I am sure it will run its course and stop being a daily indulgence I know we will return to this recipe over and over again.  This is why we started this blog, this is a recipe to share.  Enjoy!

Lentil and Walnut Pate

Recipe adapted from the Real Food Daily Cookbook via The Bojon Gourmet 

Ingredients / Ingredientes

  • 3/4 cup De Puy Lentils (AKA green lentils or French lentils) / taza de lentejas
  • 3 cups water / tazas de agua
  • 1 bay leaf / hoja de laurel
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil / cucharadas de aceite de oliva
  • 1 yellow onion (diced)/ cebolla cortada en cuadritos
  • 6 cloves of garlic – minced / Ajos cortados finamente
  • 1 tbsp Mirin / cucharada de Mirin (vino de arrroz dulce japones)
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts (toasted for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven) / tazas de nueces (tostadas por 10 minutos en el horno a 350 grados)
  • Optional – 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (we used a mix of parsley, cilantro and basil) / taza de una mezcla de perejil, culantro y albahaca cortados finamente (opcional)
  • 2 tbsp red miso / cucharadas de miso (pasta de soya japones)
  • 1 tbsp umeboshi paste / cucharadas de pasta de umeboshi (ciruelas japonesas fermentadas)
  • 3/4 tsp ground pepper / cucharilla de pimienta

Instructions / Instrucciones

  • Place the lentils and bay leaf in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for approximately 20 minutes – the lentils should be ‘al dente’ (cooked but not falling apart).  / Colocar las lentejas con las 3 tazas de agua en una olla a fuego media alto, cuando esté hirviendo reducir a fuego lento y cocinar por 20 minutos hasta que las lentejas estén ‘al dente’
  • Drain the Lentils once ready, remove the bay leaf, spread out on a large dinner plate and place in the refrigerator until everything else is ready. / Colar las lentejas y remover la hoja de laurel. Colocar las lentejas en un plato y poner al refrigerador.
  • Toast the walnuts in the oven – around 10 minutes – the remove from the pan and place in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool down. /  Tostar las nueces por 10 minutos, cuando estén listas ponerlas en un plato y colocarlas al refrigerador.

Caramelized onions, garlic and Mirin

  • Set a saute pan over medium heat and caramelize the onions and garlic in two tbsps of the olive oil. / En un sarten colocar la cebolla con los ajos y dos cucharadas de aceite de oliva, cocinarlos hasta que la cebolla este caramelizada.
  • Once the onions are caramelized – will take around 15 minutes – deglaze the pan with 1 tbsp of Mirin, stir together well, spread the onions on another plate and place in the fridge. / Cuando las cebollas están caramelizadas (15 minutos) agregar Mirin y mezclar bien. Colocar las cebollas en un plato y ponerlas en el refrigerador para enfriar.
  • Blend the walnuts in a food processor or high speed blender until they turn into walnut butter.  Scrape down the sides and add the onions and lentils and blend for another 30 seconds.  / Triturar las nueces en un procesador de alimentos hasta que se tornen como mantequilla, agregar las cebollas y lentejas y triturar bien.

Lentils, Umeboshi plum paste, and Miso

  • Add the final ingredients – Miso, Umeboshi paste, chopped herbs (optional), final tbsp of Olive oil and ground pepper, then blend until completely smooth. / Agregar miso, umeboshi, perejil-albahaca-culantro y una cucharada de aceite de oliva. Triturar todo hasta que este suave.
  • Serve with crackers or a sliced baguette with cornichons on the side. / Servir con pan francés tostado o con galletas.

Lentil and Walnut Pate… Provecho!