Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Look Has Landed


Generally, I would consider myself a pretty good friend, one who supports a Tart's attempt at maintaining a healthy lifestyle, however, I have a confession to make: I get sick pleasure from this look that grabs hold of Erin's face when she tastes something (often involving sugar and butter) that blows her mind. It's a look that says, "Help me. I'm scared."

It's like she's flashing forward into the near future when she'll be lying in bed and that sacred fare will come a-callin', "Hey you. Just cold-kickin' it in the fridge, all craze-a-licious and what-not. Wanna hang?" Although it's a look that slays me, I generally try and keep my desire at bay, but every now and then a certain occasion forces it to rear its ugly head...and that time hath arrived...Erin's birthday.

In search of the perfect vehicle for my amusement, I called on Deb over at smittenkitchen.com. She never lets me down...

slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
(Click link for recipe)

You start with 3 layers of sour cream-chocolate cake...

Then frost with peanut butter frosting. (I added another half Tbsp of PB.)
Deb suggests a commercial brand peanut butter as the natural kind is oily; I went natural and just blended the peanut butter first so the oil doesn't separate out. There's already so many 'bad for you' ingredients that I figured I'd cut Erin a little slack.

Tart tip: Listen to Deb: This cake is pretty moist, so Deb suggests you freeze the layers for 30 minutes first and then follow with a crumb coating. Monkeysee.com has a good instructional video for crumb coating.

Finally, you finish with a chocolate-peanut butter glaze. Corn syrup makes me want to ralph, so I subbed agave nectar and cut the amount in half. Deb poured the glaze on top and let it drape down the sides, but mine looked shabby so I just spread the chocolate all over...(The first pic is from my 2nd attempt when I made it the right way)

This cake is crazy good...

See what I mean? Now there's a certain 'thing' I'm eagerly waiting for...where is it? Come on...

Ahhhh...the eagle has landed:) Thanks Deb!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I looked up a noun in the dictionary today...

Self-control: the control of one's emotions, desires or actions by one's own will

...and I was disheartened. I was hoping it would read more like...

Self-control: the permission to eat everything in sight

...but it didn't. So I think I'm going to contact The Free Dictionary and ask them to amend it...

Self-control: the control of a non-pregnant person's emotions, desires or actions by one's own non-pregnant will...if you're pregnant, this does not apply and you have the permission to eat everything in sight as self-control isn't humanly possible for someone in your condition

Wow. That feels good. Now I just need to get Danielle over here and whip up the craving of the day...

Beachside Coconut Flan

1 cup sugar
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups unsweetened dried and shredded coconut

In a saucepan heat sugar over medium-low heat until it achieves caramel consistency. You may need to tilt the saucepan as the sugar starts to dissolve. Once it has melted, decide how dark/strong you want the caramel. The lighter the color, lighter the flavor. But be careful because it it gets too dark it can burn and taste bitter. Remove from the heat and pour onto the bottom of a flan/round tube mold or into 10 individual custard cups. Do so quickly, since caramel hardens fast.

Oh. Don't touch the scalding caramel. It burns. Like, a lot. Just ask Danielle...

"Stupid caramel."

We Tarts like to ignore our instincts. Keeps us fresh. Besides, battle wounds are cool.

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
Place sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup water, eggs and coconut in the blender and purée the mixture for 1 minute or so. Pour mixture on top of the hardened caramel in the mold or individual molds.

Place the molds in an already hot water bath (a baking dish already filled with hot water) which should come up to at least half the height of the molds, and then place in the oven.

Remove once flan has set and top has achieved a nice golden to brown tan*, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let them cool and serve or cover and refrigerate. They will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

*Our tops weren't golden brown. Oh well.

To unmold, remove them from the refrigerator at least 10 minutes before serving, so the caramel will soften. Run the tip of a knife around the flan and turn onto a plate.

Tap, tap, tap...and wallah!

Now, put your head down, elbows out and thrust your way to the front of the line. Go, go, go!

Crap! Danielle beat me.

Wow. Slow down, Danielle. Exert some self-control. Jeez.

Friday, February 5, 2010

That's a Wrap!

Welcome to the fourth and final post from our Haitian relief dinner. We previously served up Picklese, Chicken in Sauce and Accra...all three of which received rave reviews from the guests at our 'Tarty.' See, they're smiling...

Now it's time to bring you the other recipes that, like Toyota's gas pedals, really should have been perfected before delivering to the public. (It's not you Haiti, it's us.)

First up...

(Red Beans and Rice)

We know what you're thinking...how do you screw up red beans and rice? Where there's a Tart, there's a way. Perhaps it was leaving out the pork for our vegetarian friend or the fact that we neglected this dish while preparing the chicken; either way it was as bland as my first boyfriend.

This dish calls for very ripe plantains. Ripe plantains should be very brown on the outside. Notice ours are bright yellow...uh huh.

We shifted gears, choosing a Puerto Rican style known as Platanutres (Plantain chips). After frying...

...you cover with a paper towel and flatten with a glass. Then sprinkle with sea salt and...say a prayer.

Ours was not answered.

But thank goodness for the greens, which are Tart-proof.

Danielle's Greens

You can use any green...mustard, chard, kale, collard...we used a mix of fresh ones from Danielle's CSA box.

Wash and trim the stems from your greens, dry and then slice. Pour one Tbsp of water and one Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot. Add greens. On top of greens, place 1/2 onion, sliced or chopped and two cloves of garlic, sliced or minced. Sprinkle with kosher salt and a dash of red pepper flakes. Cover and heat on medium-low. When the greens have begun to wilt (the volume should decrease by half), grab tongs and begin turning while cooking for another minute or so. Then remove from heat and salt to taste. A squeeze of lemon is optional.

We like our greens a bit crispy, so we remove them from heat before they wilt too much. The total cooking time is around 5 minutes. If you like yours softer, cook a bit longer, adding more oil or water if needed.

These are yummy!!!!

Next up was this little mystery...

(Plantain Purée)

Delicious flavor, however, we were expecting something more like mashed plantains. This resembled a dessert-y soup or as Erin likes to refer to it...


We followed up with yet another enigma...

(Sweet Potato Bread)

Are you thinking what we're thinking? Blech. What's a Tart to do? In a moment of panic, we ladled the 'WTF?' over the bread and slammed it with a dollop o' whipped cream!

Let's see what Shane thinks...

"I don't know about this, guys."

And Ryan, our photographer...

"I want to shoot it. Not eat it."

Well, surely there's someone who will eat it...

"Nicoya! Come and get it!"

Ouch. That hurts.

Well, it was equal parts "OMG!"/"WTF?", but nonetheless, it was a great night. Our stomachs were stuffed and our hearts were full as we raised almost $500 for The World Food Program's Haitian relief effort. Thanks everybody!

And with the oven off, we can sit back, relax and have a glass of goodness...

well, not we. One of us is preggers.

"This is so not fair."