The answer to this age-old dilemma is rather complicated.
IRed Wine Headache phenomena experienced by so many people that it has its very own Wikipedia page could be explained by health professionals, and whether or not casual drinkers should be concerned.
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Wine-related headaches are actually one of the center’s topmost cases but knowledge is limited.
The type of oak casket used in fermentation may play a role, but it’s not clear which oak is worse. Some who experience wine-related headaches wonder if they are actually allergic to sulfites. This is rare, and there are more sulfites in white wine, suggesting it isn’t that.
Wine drinkers could be suffering from dehydration, given that alcohol acts as a diuretic (this is true for all alcoholic drinks), which is the root of the problem for many. Another explanation may be a depletion of magnesium: Alcohol is a major depleter of magnesium, chronic headache sufferers seek out 400mg of magnesium supplements per day, and see if that doesn’t help.
There’s not much-published research on wine headaches: Teague unearthed a 1988 Lancet study, titled “Red Wine as a Cause of a Migraine,” where two groups of drinkers were asked to drink either red wine or a substitute (diluted vodka disguised as wine) to see if migraines came exclusively from one or the other. The participants chugged down 300 milliliters, around two glasses, and waited to see if they were affected.
The results, however, weren’t clear: some participants developed headaches, while others did not. One possible lead suggested that tyramine, a naturally occurring compound found in both food and wine, has previously been found to trigger migraine headaches but the amount of tyramine in both red and white wine is less than 2 milligrams per meter.
Histamines naturally produced in most wines, another possible culprit. There is not much evidence for the theory.
But another expert explained why histamines could be an issue told Food & Wine that genetics could play a part in how you digest and metabolize wine. In the case of histamines, certain genetic dispositions (or medications) could mean you’re not metabolizing histamines effectively, which means that symptoms like facial flushing and headaches would be much more common after even just a few sips of wine.
But maybe the simplest explanation is the possibility that hears us out you may be hung over.
You should consider your case serious if you notice an immediate reaction to the first glass of wine you’ve tasted, One drink of red wine can trigger a migraine if you’re sensitive to it, but one glass of red wine probably isn’t going to give you a hangover,
The bottom line: Magnesium supplements may help if you’re experiencing a deficiency, but not if your levels are normal.
More research is needed to pinpoint the cause of wine-induced headaches, but identifying the issue may help you minimize it as much as possible: talk with your healthcare provider if you feel that histamines may be the issue, or if you experience a magnesium deficiency. And make sure you’re properly hydrated before enjoying a bottle with friends.
Are they trying to shortchange you some milliliters of vino? Most likely no. But the real reason isn’t entirely clear.
Wine bottles are elegant. Their sloped necks come to a gentle peak. They’re supported by a stout but the understated trunk of a bottle. The color, typically rich sap green, absorbs color and emits a warm glow in the light of a kitchen or bar. The bottles themselves are sometimes as much a work of art as the wine that’s inside them.
But there’s one bit of the typical wine bottle that remains elusive: the bottom. The “dimple” or bulge at the bottom of many wine bottles is known as the “punt,” and it’s not entirely clear why it exists.
Wine bottles have had punts as long as the earth has had wine bottles, it seems, and until we have the capability to time travel, we’re left to wonder how the tradition of wine punts started and, perhaps more importantly, why we still do it today.
Do punts help winemakers cheat you of wine?
No, most punts are so small you’re not losing a single teaspoon. Some, yes, are more pronounced, but if this were really used as a cost-saving measure, you could bet most bottles would have exaggerated punts to make a good season’s wine supply stretch a bit more.
Are punts a sign of quality?
If you do a quick Google search on the theories behind wine bottle punts, you’ll quickly stumble across speculation that suggests higher quality wines have bigger punts because the bottle is more stout and sturdy. (More glass is needed for the longer punt, the theory goes, and wealthy winemakers can afford the more expensive bottles.) That’s just simply not true. A punt will tell you as much about the quality and taste of wine as the label will. That is to say, very little.
Do punts help wines cool faster?
This holds some merit. Punts increase surface area, so bottles in fridges or buckets of water might cool faster. But this theory is busted when you realize punts have been present on wine bottles long before anyone had heard of coolant for a refrigerator or even ice for that matter. So while it may help get your whites crisp and cool today, that’s not why punts exist.
Do punts collect sediment?
They actually do, but that’s not likely the reason they’re there. Sediment forms at the bottom of bottles as wine sits and ages. If you decant the wine, the sediment may remain in the valleys between the punt and bottle wall. That can help with flavor.
However, there’s no guarantee the sediment stays in place. It’s a happy byproduct of the punt’s existence, but it doesn’t seem that’s why punts were used in the first place.
So why do wine bottles have punts?
Truthfully, beats us. The best theory seems to be that wine bottle makers of yore needed a way to make sure their bottles stood flat on a table. The bottoms of hand-blown bottles may round out slightly as they cool. They may even have a sharp point because of the tools the glassblower uses. To keep this from happening (and bottles of wine from teeter-tottering off the table), glassblowers could have pushed up ever so slightly to create what we know today as the punt.
Now that most wine bottles are made by machine and are far sturdier than bottles made decades and centuries ago, the punt isn’t perhaps necessary. Instead, it seems to be a vestige of bygone days.
There are definitely cooking “rules”. But there are lots of things that were drilled into me in school and later in restaurants that I still swear by to this day, and use in my kitchen at home.
The time, money, and commitment of culinary school aren’t worth it for everyone, but there are certain culinary school tips and techniques that anyone can put into practice at home without spending a single day in (or dime on!) a white chef’s coat. Here are the most useful things I learned.
1. Sharpen your knives.
The first thing we did in culinary school was learning how to chop carrots and onions. The second thing? Learn how to properly sharpen a knife. It’s important to realize that a sharp knife makes chopping so much faster and easier. (Plus, you don’t need to use as much force when your knife is sharp, which means it’s safer, too.) Plenty of kitchen specialty stores, like Sur La Table, will sharpen your knives for a reasonable price — so it’s worth bringing them in when they’re getting dull.
2. Use the right peeler for the job.
If peeling vegetables feels like it takes forever, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong peeler. My advice? Throw away the rusty swivel one that’s been sitting in your drawer for years and order a three-pack of these Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peelers. They’re a culinary school favorite for a reason: The Y-shape makes them more comfortable to handle, and a sharp peeler makes food prep way easier. They’re also cheap enough so that when one gets dull, you can switch it out for a new one.
3. Embrace the practice of mise en place.
The French term translates to “putting in place,” and it refers to getting all of your ingredients out, measured, and prepped before you start cooking. This is how restaurant kitchens get food out so quickly and efficiently. And while you don’t need to be quite so exacting at home, it’s much easier to follow a recipe when your ingredients are all ready to go in advance.
4. Dry meat and fish with paper towels before you cook it for extra-crispy skin.
In fact, you should be drying meat and fish with paper towels before you cook it no matter what. For skin to crisp, you need to get rid of as much moisture as possible — because moisture and steam kill any chance of crisping and browning. This will also prevent the meat and skin from sticking to the pan as it cooks, which is the absolute worst.
5. Don’t default to always cranking up the heat.
Even if you want food in a hurry, ramping up the heat to high isn’t always the best way. Slowly sautéing aromatics like onions, shallots, or garlic in oil over medium-low heat will bring out more flavor and will keep them from burning and getting bitter. Cooking meat or veggies over medium heat will give them time to cook all the way through without burning on the outside. Simmering soups or braises instead of boiling them will cook the ingredients and meld the flavors without making meat tough, or breaking veggies apart.
6. Put some thought into how you cut your vegetables.
Those fancy vegetable cuts you see in nice restaurants? There’s a reasoning behind them besides just looking impressive. Smaller cuts will cook quicker than big ones, so using a mix of both can vary the texture of a dish. And veggies cut on a diagonal will be al dente on the thicker end and soft on the thinner end, which can make them more satisfying to eat.
7. Give yourself enough space to prep, even in cramped kitchens.
Space is tight in restaurant kitchens especially. Give yourself enough space by clearing the countertop of everything you’re not using appliances, flower vases, mail you put down and forgot about before you start.
8. Clean as you go.
You’ve heard this before, but a clean station is so much easier to work in. Wipe down your cutting board after you finish prepping each ingredient. Put pots, pans, and utensils in the sink or dishwasher as soon as you’re done using them. And wash your hands often.
9. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Food can’t caramelize or brown in a crowded pan. A handful of sliced mushrooms cooked in a hot pan with a layer of oil will come out brown, crisp, and deeply flavored. A whole pint of sliced mushrooms cooked in the same pan and the same oil will come out pale, gray, soggy, and far less flavorful. Same goes for roasted vegetables on a sheet pan, or browned meat in a cast iron skillet. Piling ingredients on top of each other create moisture that gets trapped which means your food will steam instead of crisping or browning.
10. Get yourself a bench scraper.
I often see beginner cooks use their knife to scrape whatever they’ve finished chopping across their cutting board and into a bowl. Don’t do that! Not only is it a bit dangerous, but it’ll also quickly dull your blade. Instead, invest in a $4 bench scraper and use it to scoop up food scraps and transfer things from your cutting board to pots and pans.
11. Know your fats — and what each can (and can’t) do.
Butter is delicious, and we used a lot of it at my French-based culinary school. But butter can’t stand up to high heat since the milk solids in it (which make it delicious) can burn. All oils aren’t created equal, either. Neutral oils, like canola or vegetable oil, don’t add any flavor but are perfect for high-heat methods like roasting, frying, and pan-searing because they can stand up to high temperatures without burning. Flavorful oils like high-quality olive oil, avocado oil, and pumpkin seed oil are less suited for high heat and are better used in salad dressings, or for finishing dishes once they’re cooked.
12. Baste fish to keep it moist as it cooks.
Basting pan-seared fish is one fancy trick I swear by. When your fish is almost cooked, add a big pat of butter to the pan and let it melt. Turn the heat down and gently spoon the melted butter over the fish. The hot butter will cook the top of the fish without drying it out, and it’ll add a ton of flavor.
13. Never toss leftover bones or veggie scraps.
When it comes to making stock, leftover bones and scraps are kitchen gold. You can make chicken stock with nothing but bones if you want. You can also make beef stock with beef bones, fish stock with fish bones and scraps, and so on. Not only is it cheaper than buying stock, but it’s also often tastier, and lets you cut down on waste. These days, I collect bones and vegetable scraps in a sealed gallon bag in my freezer, then make a few quarts of stock every time the bag fills up. You should, too!
14. When in doubt, add salt.
You know you like salt, but did you ever stop to think about why? Salt brings out the flavor, which means well-salted food tastes more like itself than under-salted food. To really maximize all the flavors in a recipe, season with a bit of salt every time you add a new ingredient.
15. And if you added too much salt? Add acid.
If something tastes too rich or heavy, a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can liven it up. Acid also cuts through salt, so if you’ve accidentally over-salted something just a little bit (which, to be honest, happens often in culinary school), you can usually save it by adding acid.
Your turn! What’s your most useful all-purpose tip for the kitchen?
Here is an article from Cooking Light about the Renegade Romaine.
Americans are being told to avoid romaine lettuce at all costs for the second time this year, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new outbreak of E. coli associated with the leafy green in 11 different states. Earlier this spring, it took federal investigators upwards of six months to track down where a similar outbreak, which claimed the lives of five individuals and sickened more than 200. This latest announcement by the CDC, coming Thanksgiving week, is a blanket ban on all forms of the lettuce, and details have yet to emerge beyond the fact that it has caused 30 plus individuals to fall ill.
Currently, the CDC is advising that any romaine is disposed of or avoided, regardless of when or where it was harvested. Many of you seemed prepared to do so—Cooking Light readers shared their frustrations in the comments section of a Facebook post yesterday, with many expressing that they had already consumed romaine recently.
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CDC Recommends Blanket Ban on ALL Romaine Lettuce, E. coli Discovered Once Again
Do not eat any form of romaine lettuce from any region, CDC warns.
With federal investigators unable to pinpoint an exact source of the outbreak yet, the risk of E. coli poisoning—and the chance of developing HUS, a rare form of kidney failure associated with a toxin in this viral E. coli strain—is particularly troublesome to many shoppers.
Some retailers have previously gone to great lengths to remove tainted romaine lettuce from their shelves, but romaine lettuce is a ubiquitous ingredient and can be found in many ready-to-eat products. In the coming weeks, as investigators work to discover what is causing illnesses in what’s sure to be more than just 11 states, taking the time to thoroughly check your meals for romaine could help you stay safe.
If you’re dining out, be sure to ask your server about any use of romaine in the food’s preparation (even if it’s not evident) and if the establishment has updated their menus. Pour over any ingredient list on pre-made or frozen food products to ensure that romaine isn’t a concern. And when you’re in the supermarket, check these eight products for romaine lettuce to be sure that all are safe for consumption:
1) Salad Bars
You may be anxious to visit a salad bar, and for good reason—E. coli bacteria can transfer on contact, so take good care when eating from any salad bar in the coming days. On the off chance that your supermarket has yet to dispose of romaine, do not buy ingredients in proximity to romaine, and remember that self-serve utensils can easily become cross contaminated. This is a good time to make romaine-free salads at home.
2) Bagged Salad Mixes
The CDC was careful to include this in their bulletin: bagged mixes like Fresh Express’ “American” blend contains chopped romaine, which could be contaminated with E. coli.
3) Ready-to-Eat Salads
Many supermarkets, as well as fast-casual chains and other food retailers, sell pre-made salads that have been massed produced in the last month. Double check the ingredient list before enjoying pre-made salads, even if you can’t see romaine in the container upon first glance.
4) Ready-to-Eat Sandwiches and Wraps
Lettuce is in nearly all pre-made sandwiches, and so it goes without saying to check these before buying. Lettuce wraps, as well as tortilla-based wraps, are of concern.
5) Grain Bowls and Noodle Bowls
Retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer a full selection of ready-to-eat entreés in their deli selections, including noodle bowls and grain bowls that contain lettuce.
6) Green Juice and Blended Beverages
You should take time to inspect all smoothies and blended beverages for romaine—while V8 juice contains an ambiguous “lettuce” callout on the ingredient list, some ready-to-drink beverages—especially green juices—contain romaine alongside servings of kale and spinach. This might also be a good time to make blended green juice at home, where you can swap romaine for other hearty greens.
This is rarer than other items on this list, but blended, chilled soups, including items like packaged gazpacho, could contain romaine lettuce.
8) Refrigerated and Frozen Prepared Entreés and Appetizers
Romaine may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind in the frozen section, but it could be of concern in prepared foods that are available for purchase in your supermarket. Take the time to double check the ingredient list, and when in doubt, ask an employee for help.
I was recently asked to write an article on why you should hire a professional interior designer. Hope you enjoy the article.
“The Devil is in the Detail”. Ever heard that phrase and wondered exactly what it meant? In short, something may seem simple at a first look but will take more time and effort to complete than expected. HGTV design shows are a great example of this, as they make it all seem so simple, but what you don’t see are the people behind the scenes making everything happen and making it look simple and easy. They are the ones that know all the details. Designing a space looks so simple till you actually start designing it. Making a space look beautiful and actually be functional are one in the same and two very different things.
A qualified interior designer will listen carefully to what you hope to accomplish in a space and will work with you to get the look you want, in the budget you want, and, in the end, it will function how you wanted it to all along. Designers do this every day, so they have “great resources”. Even the term is now archaic. I used to tell my interior design college students to pull together your million-dollar Rolodex. Now It would be your “Million Dollar Contact List”, but you get the idea; designers have a lot more resources than you do. They have worked for a long time to pull together an extensive network that gets the job done for you in the best way possible.
Oh no, but interior designers charge you for their time. Let’s see, do you complain about paying your lawyer, accountant, doctor or even your gardener? They all help to make your life easier and simpler. They are knowledgeable and in the long run, save you time and money. Using a professional interior designer does exactly the same thing. You tell them what you like, and they find just the perfect finishes and people to get the job done. You might have paid a little money, but you have not been running all over trying to find sources for what you need to be done.
The internet is fabulous for finding new and interesting products, but you have not seen or touched them so you might be in for a surprise when they actually arrive. Your designer has worked with the materials and fabricator and knows how to get them at a better price. They will save you money in the long run. There is no promise that a mistake will “never” be made, but the chances become slimmer with the experience of the designer.
People get caught up in trends. Designers will help you access what trends are classic and will be around for a long time versus the here today and gone tomorrow ones. They will help you have a chic space that will look wonderful for a long time. They will share with you what can work in your environment and what may not. In other words, put the polka dots where the polka dots look good, and that might be in a closet. Don’t get me wrong, I love polka dots, just not in my living room.
Professional interior designers work with you to have a solid plan of action and know how to get it done in an efficient manner. They can bridge the gap that may come up with you and your architect or builder if you are building a new home or remodeling an older home. They know the language and can work to get everything in the right place. It is not just furniture, but the lighting and so much more, even down to proper outlet placement. They can see the space in different creative eyes and bring it all together, so it works for you. They know that you are the one going to live there, so it should work for you more than for your builder and/or architect. Interior designers work with you to give you a home that meets your criteria, looks wonderful and at the same time functions exactly as you hope it would.
Interior Design is an interesting form of art. Some say that interior designers have to phycologists in addition to being designers. Part of what makes the best designer is the ability to listen and really hear what the client wants even when the client may not truly know what they want. It is the magic of taking an education in the principles of design, the history of design styles both historical and modern and pulling everything together seamlessly to create your perfect environment. Designing a beautiful living space takes skill and vision is so much more difficult than many people think.
How many times in your life have you gone into a space that was either overcrowded with furniture, all the furniture was matchy-matchy, or the space just did not feel inviting? If you could not figure out what to do in that space, then going forward you should hire a qualified interior designer.
by Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley ASID. IIDA. NCIDQ certified. NKBA
These images of our favorite kitchen island ideas are sure to stir up design inspiration with fun, functional features around seating, storage, and more.
Kitchen islands are critical components in any kitchen. A multipurpose surface, they allow prep work, cooking, eating, working, and entertaining. For that reason, they’re also one of the most requested features in homes, both in purchases and renovations, but kitchen islands can vary tremendously in size and style, and aren’t right for every home.
If you’re considering a new kitchen or renovation, it’s important to think about how you envision using the island, given other factors that might be at play in the kitchen. For example, a kitchen island typically requires about 36″ between the edge of the island and the edge of the countertop, so an island is unlikely to work well in a very long, narrow kitchen. If you’re planning on having multiple people working in the kitchen at once, then 42″ to 48″ should be your goal. This also goes for spaces around appliances like a sink, stove, or dishwasher, so if you’d like to integrate a sink into the island, you’ll want to plan accordingly.
In terms of the width of an island, that also depends on how you’re planning on using it, and what utilities you may want to incorporate. A typical countertop is 24″ deep, and this goes for a basic kitchen island with no seating as well. However, if you’re incorporating appliances like a cooktop into the island, you should add a minimum of 8″ to this depth; most designers usually assume about 36″ to 42″ in depth for an island, but this can vary based on the size of the kitchen and planned use. In terms of length, the average size of a kitchen island is about 3’ by 6.5’, but this can always vary.
Here are lots of ideas with just photos! Have fun looking and getting ideas.
If your dream kitchen incorporates an island, and you’re worried you just don’t have room, think of other options, like a mobile island on castor wheels that can be moved about the space, or an island that’s only 18″ deep and a bit shorter than most.
Still not sure what exactly you’re looking for in your own kitchen island, or looking for ideas and inspiration? Read on to see 60 stylish kitchens with islands, each addressing the needs and spaces of each home—everything from wheels to sinks, and cooktops to book storage. We’ll take a look at islands that demonstrate these ideas:
I love making and eating soup when the weather turns cold. Every year I just keep trying new ones. When I am at the grocery store, I just look at all the different ingredients, grab a few and always find a recipe online that works. It is kind of a fun challenge.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter ( I only had peanut butter with nuts, but just put it in the blender with the soup and it was great)
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste
1 large Roma (plum) tomato, seeded and diced (I only had cherry, so chopped fine and deseeded by wiping with a paper towel)
In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and lime zest. Set aside in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add sweet potatoes, and chicken stock. Season with cumin, chili flakes, and ginger. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender or regular blender. If using a countertop blender, puree in small batches, filling the blender just a bit past halfway to avoid spillage. Whisk peanut butter into the soup, (I added in the blender) and heat through. Stir in lime juice, and salt.
Ladle into warm bowls, and top with a dollop of the reserved sour cream, a few pieces of diced tomato, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Serve with a salad or nice piece of French Bread and it is a lunch or dinner for kings. Oh, and don’t forget to add a nice glass of wine.
Made these the other night. They are basically German Hamburgers, or as my youngest son used to say: “Hammaburgers”.
So when I made them, I had lots of left-over hamburger filling. I added some potatoes and mushroom, covered with grated potatoes a good amount of cheddar cheese, threw in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and had a second dinner.
Well, that was all fine and good, but there was still left over, so I put it in a pot, added chicken stock, half & half and there is the third dinner. None of them taste the same. How about three cheap dinners.
Prepare dough: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in sugar, margarine, egg, salt and 1/2 of the flour. Beat until smooth; add remaining flour until dough pulls together. Place in oiled bowl. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, OR let it rise for 1 hour.
In a large heavy skillet, brown meat. Add onion, cabbage, salt and simmer 30 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
Punch down dough and divide into 20 pieces. Spread each piece of dough out on an un-floured surface and fill with approximately 2 tablespoons filling. fold dough over and seal edges. Place on prepared cookie sheet and let rise for 1 hour.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with butter and serve.
I have made this several times and several different ways, but find this the easiest and yummiest. I make two sponge cakes and cut them to 7″ X 7″ squares. I used a paper cutter to make the shape in paper and then cut the cake easily to the right size. This one is cut already. I use the left-over edges to make two mini tiramisus for the family if this is going to a party. Not as pretty, but still tastes yummy.
This is basically the recipe from the Best British Baking Show. I tried America’s Test Kitchen and did not think it tasted as good or was as pretty.
For the sponge
softened butter, for greasing
4 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar (baker’s sugar)
100g/3½oz self-raising flour
For the filling
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
150ml/5½fl oz boiling water
100ml/3½fl oz brandy
3 x 250g/9oz tubs full-fat mascarpone cheese
300ml/10½fl oz double cream ( you can use 36% heavy cream)
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted (confectioner’s sugar)
65g/2¼oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), grated
For the decoration
100g/3½oz dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 35x25cm/14x10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment. BE SURE TO MAKE TWO AND ONE COULD BE CHOCOLATE
For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick. The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
Sift over the flour and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix. THIS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE QUALITY OF YOUR SPONGE CAKE
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface. I JUST USE A SPATULA TO MAKE IT EVEN.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the brandy. Set aside to cool.
When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth.
Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, cut two 18cm/7in squares from each sponge. Discard the sponge trimmings (or keep for cake pops or a sneaky single-serving trifle). OR TWO MINI TIRAMISU
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later.
Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin. Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture. Then spread one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.
Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over another one-third of the grated chocolate. Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.
Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture. Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake – this is called a ‘crumb coat’ and will seal in any loose crumbs of sponge.
Wipe the palette knife and spread the rest of the frosting in a thicker layer over the cake. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.
While the cake is chilling, melt half of the chopped chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. (Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.) Gently stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F.
Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining half of chopped chocolate and continuing stirring gently until the chocolate cools to 31C/88F or lower and is thick enough to pipe.
Place a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. Use another sheet to make a paper piping bag.
Spoon the melted chocolate into the paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe decorative shapes onto the baking parchment. Leave to set until required.
Dust the chilled tiramisu cake with the cocoa powder before turning out onto a serving plate, using the parchment paper to help lift out of the tin. Decorate with the chocolate shapes.
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 T (Be sure to save out the one T to add to the dried fruit)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg ( I always use fresh ground)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins ( I had about 3/4 cup of dried fig and apricot from another recipe, so added those to make a cup)
1 cup chopped pecans ( I only had 3/4 cup of pecans, so toasted some walnuts and added them)
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans (or you can use baking spray) and line with parchment paper if desired (I didn’t and it came out just fine but with a more delicate cake or if I’m not just making it for myself, I usually do).
Combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for about two minutes until light yellow in color. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and whisk together. Add to mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just incorporated. The batter will be pretty thick at this point. Toss raisins and pecans with remaining one tablespoon of flour. Fold raisins, pecans, carrots, and pineapple into batter until well distributed. Divide batter evenly among pans and bake about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans about ten minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
1 package cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat), at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 T milk
1 pound powdered sugar
Combine cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed about three minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and first three tablespoons of milk and mix on low to incorporate. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing on low until incorporated. Increase speed and whip about two minutes, adding additional milk if necessary to reach desired consistency. When cakes are completely cool, spread about 1/4 of the frosting on top of the first layer, spread evenly, top with 2nd layer, add another 1/4 of the frosting and top with remaining layer. Add a generous amount of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth working out with a spatula to the edges and down the sides of the cake.