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Archive for February, 2010

Recipe: Carrot Cake

Last weekend, The Boy and I celebrated Valentine’s Day. We started by cruising the Strip District Saturday morning, grabbing donuts and coffee and cheese and lobster. The Boy allowed time for us (me) to peek my head in every shop and take my time perusing the goods. This is my kind of date 🙂

After our Strip District jaunt, The Boy and I parted ways. I was to arrive back at his place around 7PM. My job was to bring dessert and come hungry.

Now I know Valentine’s Day means chocolate for many. However, The Boy is not a chocolate fan and wanting to please my own Valentine, I went for something just as delicious. Carrot cake.

shredding the carrots was a breeze with my food processor

I used Alton Brown’s recipe –

Carrot Cake (from foodnetwork.com – see recipe here) 

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 ounces plain yogurt
  • 6 ounces vegetable oil
  • Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.

In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.

With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

(Notes: I halved this recipe and baked in a round 6 by 2 inch cake pan. I used almost all the batter save for maybe a few tablespoons.)

 Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition.

Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

Yield: approximately 2 cups

(Notes: Again, I halved the amounts for the frosting. I also made this using a hand mixer.)

 The cake had wonderful flavor. This is also a carrot cake sans nuts, raisins, or anything of that nature. Although I love all those add ins, I appreciated the simplicity of this particular cake.

However, the texture was slightly off. I don’t know if I possibly messed up the measurements while halving the recipe? There was this very slight rubbery texture to the cake – like one might get when making a lowfat muffin. Hmm. I think was likely a result of my tinkering with the recipe and using a different pan.

The cake was still a hit though (loved the smaller size pan and resulting cake – more suitable for two) and enjoyed with a wonderful meal prepared by The Boy. The meal started with cheeses and meats from PennMac, served with homemade Italian bread The Boy had baked. Swoon. I was then served hand-made lobster ravioli (again, made by The Boy) in a saffron and lobster broth. Amazing. How did I get this guy again?

🙂

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Wedding Update

Remember the friends of friends participating in a Philly.com wedding competition?

They won!

Through online voting, Faye and Matt managed to beat out 500 other couples to win a wedding valued at $90,000! I have had the pleasure of hanging out with Faye and Matt on various Philly trips and they are a lovely couple.

They will be blogging about their experience here.

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Happy Birthday!

Happy 25th birthday to one of my biggest familial blog supporters, cousin Matt!

He has appeared on Snickie before. Take a look at this post.

Additionally, he has started his own blog, Bear With Me. He lives in Philly and blogs about life, work, travel, eats, etc. Check it out!

Cousin Matt and I go way back and were born a mere four and a half months apart. I wish I could provide a little ‘through the years’  photo display but I am not sure you could handle the nerd-factor. Instead, I give you a more recent photo.

time flies (and you have trouble opening your eyes) when you are having rum!

Have a good one Matt!

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On a recent snowy night (has there been any other type of night recently?) I ventured to Stagioni, at 4770 Liberty Avenue. Stagioni is actually housed in the old space of Café Roma, a short lived Bloomfield BYO. I actually enjoyed some decent meals at Cafe Roma but was excited to check out the new restaurant, menu, and general ambiance. A recent PG review also had me looking forward to the meal.

Stagioni is BYO with a per stem corking fee of $3. The place was empty when we arrived. A few more tables had gathered by the time we left, but it was a rather quiet evening. I did notice the marble table-tops throwing off a decent amount of noise, even in the sparsely populated dining room. This was not a problem for us but could be on a crowded night. The space is minimally decorated and rides the line between romantic and bistro.

Our waiter was attentive and knowledgeable and we started the meal with the house-made mozzarella. Very nice. It was milky and soft and chewy – in a good way. The mozzarella came with some arugula, olives, and prosciutto. A so so piece of Italian bread was also served. It was a little cold – warming it may have helped.

For my entrĂ©e, I ordered the free range chicken with panzanella. I really loved that panzanella. Panzanella is bread salad. If the bread didn’t shine while eating the appetizers, it was perfect in the salad. The bread was cubed and dressed in a lemon vinaigrette, tossed with olives, greens, and roasted red peppers. It reminded me of the amazing chicken we had at CafĂ© Zuni in San Francisco.  The chicken was also cooked nicely – very moist. I did pick around the skin b/c it was not quite as crisp as I may have desired.

Other entrées eaten at the table were rabbit braised in chardonnay and house-made beef braciole. Everyone enjoyed their meals. All entrées appeared (and tasted) well thought out and had great complex flavor.

We had no room for dessert but I hope to return here again. I love the local ingredient spin and changing menu Stagioni has adopted. I feel like I have not eaten at a spot like this in Pittsburgh in awhile – fresh, satisfying, and employing attention to detail.  Prices were also fairly reasonable, especially considering the quality of the dishes – I am not sure any entrĂ©e exceeded $18. This is a perfect cute date night spot or place to gather with a group of friends. Check it out!

UPDATE: I returned to Stagioni in August of 2010 and enjoyed another great meal there (homemade pasta with eggplant). The space is still tiny but I really like this spot!

Stagioni on Urbanspoon

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Snow Day!

Whew.  Two feet of snow in Pittsburgh this weekend. Ridiculous.

I made it to The Boy’s house in Southside Friday night around 6PM. The snow was just beginning, a slush forming on Carson Street.

Saturday morning we woke up to insane amounts of snow blanketing the streets. Two trees were down on The Boy’s street, one of which was hanging precariously over his car. We took matters into our own hands and shoveled and sawed, freeing his car from any type of damage. I mostly observed and took photos of course (those are on another camera – coming soon!). After this adventure, we trekked down to Carson Street  and ended up joining the crowd at a packed and jovial Fathead’s.  Clearly everyone there was a local with nothing better to do than drink. That is the Southside for you 🙂

I finally decided to make my way home Sunday morning. I shoveled out and began a harrowing drive to Shadyside. Horrible. Carson Street was horrid, Forbes Ave was horrid, Fifth Ave was horrid, all side streets in Shadyside were horrid. I miraculously made it to my street and somehow found a semi cleared spot in which to wedge my car. I finally took a breathe as I turned off the engine and vowed not to drive again until I could see some pavement.

I trudged to my building and found a huge tree blocking the entrance. Fabulous. Luckily, other residents had formed a tiny path to a side door. To note, this path also contained a down tree. This one was smaller though and could be climbed over. Lovely.

I threw down my things and have barely left the apartment since. I was able to work from home today but will likely be hiking to the East Busway tomorrow morning in an attempt to make it downtown.

I did make my way outside today for a quick grocery and gym run. Cleared sidewalks (and roads) are hit or miss around these parts, but I made it. Here are some photos from my journey. Please note this is 48+ hours after the storm and not much in Shadyside has been touched. I saw no fewer than five cars stuck, wheels spinning. Most got moving eventually though a few required a good push from some willing bystanders.

walnut near the armory

near walnut and shady

(normally) green space near walnut and shady

I did cook a bit with my time! Stay tuned for a few new recipes 🙂

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A Little Pre-Vday Cheer

So I have a bit of a random post today. Its a feel good one though – promise!

Friends of friends are involved in a Philadelphia wedding competition through Philly.com. The competition started with 500 couples and is now down to 10 – including the lovely couple I know, Faye and Matt! I have had the pleasure of hanging out with Faye and Matt during my various Philly trips. They are beyond excited to have made it this far in the competition. The winning couple will be announced on Valentine’s Day and will ultimately receive a wedding worth $90K in May. How exciting!

Learn more about them here.

If you have a moment and are feeling in the lovey-dovey spirit, here is how you can vote and get them their dream wedding!

HOW TO REGISTER AND VOTE:

Follow this link: http://philly.upickem.net/engine/votes.aspx

You must first register with the site. Click the register link near the log-in information. You’ll get a confirmation sent to your email.  Click on the link in this email – it will take to back to the website to vote.

To find our entry again and vote once you’ve registered;
1. Click “Vote”
2. Click on “view gallery”
3. You should see a thumbnail picture of us (“Matthew and Faye”)
with our white bulldog
4.Click on “vote for this couple” and you’re set for the day!

Thanks for reading and I will let you know how this all ends up!

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