Friday, June 29, 2012

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 062912

Monday: Subway 6" Italian BMT: $4.58
Tuesday: Rubio's shrimp taco platter: $5.69
Wednesday: Carnitas on a coworker
Thursday: Dairy Queen QP flame-thrower burgers for two: $10.75
Friday: Sushi Plantation on the boss

Total: $21.02
Total for the year: $880.39

Monday, June 25, 2012

Toasted Almond Pound Cake

I've shied away from this recipe in the past because of the cake flour requirement. And the sifting. And the ground almonds. Now that I have the stuff and the know-how, it's time to bake me a pound cake.

My intention was to make the fresh berry sauce that was supposed to accompany, but I got lazy. And really, the pound cake was really good even without it. If you want to check out the sauce, click the link below. 

Toasted Almond Pound Cake
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c sliced almonds, toasted, ground
1/4 c sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

If you haven't already, place almonds on baking sheet; bake at 350°F. for 6 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool.

My oven wasn't fully preheated; the nuts took about 20 minutes to get toasted.

Process in food processor until finely ground.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat butter at medium speed 1 minute or until smooth and creamy.

Add 1 cup sugar; beat 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in almond extract and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

Stir in ground almonds.

Beat sour cream into batter at low speed.

Continuing at low speed, beat flour mixture into batter for 10 seconds.

Finish stirring batter with rubber spatula until completely blended.

Grease bottom of 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with butter; sprinkle with flour.

Spoon batter into pan. Level with spatula; tap pan firmly on counter to settle batter.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and edges of cake pull away from sides of pan.

After 52 minutes of baking, my toothpick did not come out clean. I baked the cake another 5 minutes and it was done.

Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Run knife around edges of pan; invert cake onto wire rack. Cool completely.

I wish I had taken a photo of this cake when sliced. There were flecks of brown almond bits throughout and it was just so pretty. The cake was almond flavored without being too crazy nutty and was slightly sweet without causing a craving for milk. Nicely moist, it was just fine without the berry sauce.

I'm definitely going to make this again. I have to know if the berry sauce really does make it a flavor explosion.

  • unsalted butter: $0.59
  • sugar: $0.36
  • eggs: $0.96
  • 1 tsp almond extract: $0.49
  • vanilla extract: $0.04
  • sifted cake flour: $0.66
  • sliced almonds, toasted, ground: $2, SWAG
  • sour cream: $1.12

Total: $6.22, but I'll round up to $7 to include baking soda and salt. That makes each of 12 servings $0.58.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sieves and Sifting Flour

My mind was set on buying one of those sifter things, the ones like a big measuring cup with the wires inside you turn with a crank on the side. Wandering through Chef's Toys, I could only find colanders. No sifters.

Asking the sales lady about them, she recommended this set of three sieves instead, saying they are more versatile, proposing shaking excess flour from chicken for frying as an example. I can see that happening. Sold.

After washing and drying each one thoroughly, I got started on the prep for the next cake.

The middle-sized sieve was placed over a large bowl.

A couple of cups of cake flour were dumped into the sieve.

And I shook the sieve about 30 seconds, trying to be careful about keeping it situated over the bowl. Look, it's flour chunks.

The chunks were returned to the cake flour stash, leaving this fine, fluffy, sieved cake flour from which I measured the necessary quantity for cake.

Set of sieves, about 7, 9 and 10" in diameter, available from Chef's Toys for $23 plus tax.

Cilantro-Lime Corn Saute

The first and only creamed corn recipe I tried had way too much cream in my opinion but was otherwise pretty good. When I saw this recipe I couldn't help but notice that it only had a smidge each of milk and sour cream. Sure it sounded a little weird to me, particularly with the lime, and I was a little hesitant since it's "skinny" creamed corn but at least it wouldn't be soupy.

Cilantro-Lime Corn Saute
from Cooking Club of America
click to print

3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 c chopped onion
3 c corn kernels (from 3-4 ears corn)
2 tsp grated lime peel
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk milk and sour cream in small bowl; let stand at room temperature while preparing corn.
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook onion 4 minutes or until beginning to soften and just starting to lightly brown, stirring frequently.
Stir in corn. Cook, covered, 3 minutes or until slightly softened, stirring once.
Uncover; cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until almost tender with a slight bite, stirring frequently.
Increase heat to medium-high; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until corn is crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Stir in lime peel, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Remove from heat; stir in sour cream mixture and cilantro.

Uh, this was not nearly as good as the Tarragon Creamed Corn I ate with the Tarragon Butter Roasted Chicken. I saw where it was going and what was happening, that it should've been stopped before milk and sour cream were added. The corn was delicious until that point! Upon addition of dairy, some curdling happened. Yes, lime juice and dairy means curdling. I went ahead and squished the milky lumps as much as possible, but I did catch the occasional sour cream blob. That was just weird. And weirder when following a bite of Bolognese Meat Loaf.
When I do this again, I'll skip the sour cream and just use heavy cream. The creamy aspect wasn't overkill in this recipe (nor was the dish soupy),  the lumps were not appetizing. However I'd certainly consider skipping the dairy altogether since it is really good without. And I'll have it with something complimentary instead of an in-your-face main dish.
  • milk: $0.08
  • sour cream: $0.28
  • unsalted butter: $0.09
  • chopped onion: $0.27
  • corn kernels: $1.77
  • lime: $0.25
  • fresh cilantro: $0.50

Total: $3.24 or $0.81 for each of four servings.