Birthday Cakes - 3 Dimensional

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Posted by Dharm



3-D cakes, also known as Novelty Cakes are lovely to look at and also give the impression of being extremely difficult to make. How many of you have looked at cake books that feature 3-D cakes and sighed enviously, if not in defeat?
I used to be like that but no more! That’s not entirely true. The cakes featured in books are still way beyond my league but I guess the point that I am trying to make is that the cakes shown in books are not only made by professionals, but the pictures are taken by professionals too! So there is no need to sell yourself short by comparing yourself with a pro now is there.

This article will attempt to show you that you can do it at home - with a little patience and creativity.

Novelty Cakes are really not that difficult to make. The trick is to work within your comfort zone. If you are not familiar with sugarpaste, then stay away from it. If you are afraid of fondant, then wear a string of garlic around your neck. One thing you need though, before you take the plunge into 3-D cakes is a good idea and a little faith in yourself. Okay, so that’s two things you need. So shoot me.

The very first time I ventured into 3D cakes was for my son’s 5th Birthday. You see, as I mentioned in my previous post, the best thing about making cakes for your own children is that it never has to be perfect. They will love you (and the cake!) no matter what.

I was planning to make him a Formula One race car and I knew that I could just trace a car design on to a rectangular cake and ice it. Nonetheless, I wanted to make an extra special cake for him and at the same time raise my ‘skill’ level. And so I took the route of a 3-D cake.

That's how I ended up making a Ferrari F1 cake for my very first 3D attempt. Sounds complicated? Yes, it sure does. It certainly Sounds complicated but it really isn't as I will attempt to explain. With all things, a little bit of planning goes a long way.

I'm an F1 fan myself. Have been for many, many years. So I knew what F1 cars looked like. This is also where my Engineering training came into good use! I figured what I needed was a Plan View (View looking from the top) of an F1 car. The plan view, coupled with the picture in my head of what an F1 car looks like would enable me to construct a 3D F1 Car out of cake. I guess all that time sepnt, many years ago, studying Technical Drawing using Third Angle Projection would come in really handy now! That was my plan.

Okay, so did I lose you? Sorry... Let me try again.

As always when you are trying to find information - Search The Web. I was looking in particular for an F1 car in Plan View. As I said earlier, this means a view from the top. (like in the diagram below - you Have To appreciate that I drew this (okay, maybe traced it) for you okay!!).


The plan was starting to come together. Now I needed to bake the cakes.

Did I say cakes? Yes! I baked two rectangular cakes. Why two cakes for only one car? Well, the car needs a track to run on doesn’t it? So anyway. Two cakes. The first cake acted as the roadway or base for the car. I iced it with buttercream icing – black for the road and green for the side of the track or runoffs. The sides of the cake was iced with a brownish green just to differentiate it from the actual track. To finish off the track I used strawberry flavoured rolled wafers to act as the Rumble Strips, or kerbs. My track was now complete. Now for the car.

Using the second cake, I cut the outline of the car out using the Plan View and that resulted in a piece like this:



You're starting to get the idea now arent you!! Now referring to the plan view again, I cut out a rectangular piece that would serve as the Front Wings for the car. Next, I cut out another piece that that resembled a rectangle with a half cone on top. This was the Engine cowling.

Finally, the Rear Wing was fashioned by cutting a squre piece of cake and covering it with a rectangular piece. Not exactly the way a Rear Wing should look but hey, its just a cake okay!!!

The cake was then assembled on a cake board and covered in a rather thick buttercream before being smoothened down with a spatula dipped in hot water. I let the cake rest for a while before lifting it using a spatula and cake server to place on to the ‘track’. You may notice that my car didn’t exactly sit very straight but at this point in time, I was just thankful that I had managed to get the car onto the ‘track’ without any damage!




The four tyres were fashioned out of icing sugar, a little butter and cocoa, rolled out into a ball and then flattened in the shape of tyres. The wheel suspension was simply chocolate biscuit sticks pushed into the cake and tyres. To give further detail and authenticity to the F1 car, I printed out my sons name, the Ferrari logo as well as the Number 5 – as the number of the car as well as my son’s age – on to Overhead Projector Transparency sheets. I then cut these out and ‘stuck’ them to the cake.

And there you have it – a Ferrari F1 Car. I added two Lego men to the cake and that made my son even more excited!




When my daughters 3rd birthday came up a few months later, I carried on with the theme of 3-D cakes. My daughter loves all the Disney princesses and in particular Ariel, the little mermaid. It only seemed logical to make her a mermaid cake!

All things must start with a plan. The plan in my mind was to buy a doll-pick (a doll with only the torso while the bottom half is a pick to stick into the cake). This would be the body of the mermaid. I would have the mermaid sitting on a rock and then fashion its tail out of icing. Not only did I have a plan, it also sounded do-able!

What I did was to make one large rectangular cake and a much smaller dome cake. The rectangular cake was iced in blue and green – for the sea. I didn’t make the icing too smooth but rather used the spatula to make little billows – for the waves.
The dome cake was cut somewhat jagged and then covered in chocolate and placed at the top half of the cake – like a rock. I then stuck the doll-pick into the ‘rock’ but left it sticking out just a little so that I could fashion her ‘hips’ and ‘tail’. I used a mix of butter, loads of icing sugar and some liquid glucose (you can also use Corn Syrup) to give the icing some pliability. I coloured it a dark green and then rolled it out into a sausage shape. I then flattened one end of it and cut the ends to resemble the fish tail. Now it was just a matter of draping the tail on to the rock and shaping the ‘hips’ to join nicely to the doll-pick. I then cut the end of a drinking straw into a semi-circle and used that to make scales on the tail!

To finish off the cake, I drizzled more chocolate around the base of the rock and then sprinkled some brown sugar around it – to make it look like sand. I placed some chocolate shells around the rock and used fish shaped candles for the final touch.


Just last year, I made this Pirate Ship cake for my son’s 6th birthday.


In the interest of saving space and since I already posted it before on my own blog, this is where you can find the full instructions for the Pirate Cake.

And just last month, I made this Dora themed Pinata Cake for my daugther’s 4th birthday. This was a lot of fun to make and even more fun to crack open! Again, full instructions are detailed on my blog.




So there you have it! 3-D cakes are possible with a little imagination and are really not that difficult to do.

I still owe you tips on hosting Theme Based parties but rest assured that I will cover that soon! Till next time…..





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This Post was written by Dharm from Dad ~ Baker & Chef



Short-cuts or cheating?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Posted by Abby



In the UK there has been a lot of discussion about the latest Delia Smith cookery book How To Cheat at Cooking.

Delia has always been a cookery writer who has caused polarised views. Her first book was published in 1971 and she has appeared on British TV on a regular basis since 1973 making her an old friend to some and the source of many tried and trusted recipes. For others, her cooking style is heavy-handed, uninspired and the step-by-every-step recipes patronising.

However, the controversy that she has unleashed with this book, and the associated publicity machine that has been cranked into action, has been much more than the normal polarisation. Delia has recently made some unwise comments about the pointlessness of considering where your food is produced (what foodmiles?) and how (why bother with organic?). But more fundamental has been the discussion about the cheating her new book advocates.


A recipe for shepherd’s pie advocates the use of tinned mince, frozen diced onions, ready-prepared diced vegetables and a topping of frozen mashed potato, trimmed leeks and ready-grated cheese.

For some this isn’t cooking, it’s food assembly. For others it’s recognition of the realities of modern life and the amount of interest and time that people have to spend on food preparation.

Personally, “recipes” such as this make me feel a little ill (tinned mince? bleugh!), and a lot angry. Angry because expensive short cuts are being presented with a big shiny label of “this is proper cooking” stuck over them. Grated cheese is twice the price of a block of cheese. Pre-prepared vegetables are similarly expensive. Products such as tinned mince will contain additives and preservatives, which none of us need to consume. I don’t even want to think what kind of meat they contain

And it’s not as though Delia doesn’t know how to do “proper” cheat recipes that don’t rely on over-priced, additive-packed ingredients. The same book contains a Greek lamb recipe containing ingredients in their natural state, a baked tortellini dish takes advantage of the fabulous fresh pasta that many supermarkets now stock and her Caribbean chicken contains cheats that I barely notice.

This is the kind of cheating which we need to be encouraging people to embrace in an effort to reduce the chore that cooking can become. And hopefully the many folks who buy this kind of how to cheat cookery book will choose these recipes and feel liberated as a result.

What are your favourite cheat meals?

The picture above features a new vegetable cheat – slice and fry courgettes in a little butter, add some crumbled feta and cook until the cheese melts, sprinkle with basil and serve. The veggie shepherd’s pie in the picture is slightly less speedy…




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This Post was written by abby from eat the right stuff.



10 Things Men Hate About Women

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Posted by Meeta K

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There are some things that you may do unknowingly or intentionally that really bother men. They can easily turn a good thing into a lost opportunity. These things are powerful enough that they can be the reason a man stops calling after one, two or three perfect dates. So keep these things in mind when you're with your man..

10. Pretending To Be Pure & Chaste
Many women pretend to be pure and innocent. More likely than not, this isn't the case. It just comes off as dishonest. You're entitled to have just as much fun as a man, and shouldn't feel ashamed about it. Men would prefer it if you would be yourself. Pretending to be pure won't make you appear more attractive. To be honest, men actually prefer women who've had some good experiences with men and sex.


9. Critical Of Other Women
Ever notice how some women can be overly critical of other women? You may have even found yourself doing this from time to time. Women love to nitpick at everything about another woman from hair and make up, to the color of her shoes. But let's be real for a moment. Only a woman will notice if another woman's outfit isn't perfectly coordinated, or if her purse is out of fashion. It comes across as catty and very immature to men.


8. Jealousy
Jealousy is a big problem and will send even the best men packing. If you're constantly asking him where he's been, and who he was with, you don't trust him. Trust is an essential component in a healthy relationship. Some men simply second guess everything a man says, and turn his words into an argument. If a man compliments you, don't fight him about it. If a man feels that he can't speak to you or be around you because everything he says or does (or doesn't do) will be used against him, he will only resent you. This is a common condition among many women. This is why for many women it raises a red flag if their man spends time with another woman. She doesn't want him associating or being friendly with any female but herself. In time men will get tired of this and move on.


7. Being Needy
Now, men appreciate a woman who enjoys her man and shows him. But this is a very different thing from being needy. However some women are very insecure and need their man to hold them and tell them everything is ok. Once in a while is understandable, but when this is a everyday occurrence, it is a turnoff. No man dreams about being an emotional crutch.
Ever here the phrase "Thou dost protest too much"? Well ironically that's the case here. Many women who proclaim from mountaintops about how independent they are, are usually the most needy. Remember a relationship is just as much about "we" as it is about "you" and "me."


6. Speak in code
This may popularly be referred to as Woman-ese. The most classic example is when you ask your man how he's feeling or what he's thinking. It's almost certain that by asking this question, you are thinking something. So, you ask men this in order to see if he's thinking the same thing you are. Sorry to say this just irritates men. It's not like men don't have thoughts, feelings an opinions. You are simply approaching it the wrong way. If you are curious about a man's inner thoughts and feelings, ask him a specific question. If you are simply asking these questions, hoping he says just what you wanted to hear, then you will be sorely disappointed. Men are not mind readers. It only sours the relationship by expecting your man to know what's on your mind.


5. Invade & Disrespect A Man's Personal Space
Now yes, once you move in with your man, you start to share the same space. But many women have this desire to snoop and change a man's Surroundings. Have you ever found yourself snooping through his things, for no reason other than curiosity? Have you put pink fluffy covers over the toilet, or told him he can no longer have the basement for his workbench, big screen tv, or hobby stuff?
Yet, if a man did the same with your things it wouldn't be so funny would it? The idea that "what's yours is mine, and what's mine is mine" doesn't sound so amusing when you're on the opposite end of the statement.


4. Being overly emotional
Women who cry over everything are simply an eyesore to men. Men enjoy that women are more delicate, and sensitive then they are. However, if a woman is crying and whining everyday about something new, it becomes bothersome. No man enjoys hearing a woman cry. Honestly what's he going to do other than say "there, there sweetie"? A good man will always be there for you. But if you're always in need… Well, you know how the story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" ends.


3. Treating Shopping As A Sport
Shopping is a necessary thing at times, and can even be fun. But many women go a little too far. Men are not slaves to fashion. So going out every day to see what new items are on the sales rack isn't on his list of priorities. We've all seen it. You go to a shopping mall, and you see a group of men huddled together, bored out of their minds, holding their girlfriends and wives purse. All things in moderation. Sure a guy may not mind and even enjoy going out with you for a day and doing a little shopping. But if this turns into an everyday event, he will no doubt be looking for the nearest exist sign.
If you are one of these women, use the internet to your advantage. At least this way you can browse the latest fashion news without overwhelming your man about it. This will make your shopping time more effective, because you will know what's available, and how much you should pay for it.


2. Talking Too Much
It's no secret that if you ask a woman how her day was, that it will easily turn into a 45 minute conversation. Now men enjoy listening and being with a good woman. But they really have little interest in hearing every detail about your day. It's really not necessary to recite the details of your day like you're reciting minutes at a court hearing. What's worse is when you repeat the important parts of your day ad nauseum. Keep it simple and brief. Give him the Cliff's Notes version of your day, instead of a cover to cover reading of the minutes.


1. Using Sex To Get What You Want
Now, using your sensuality to encourage a man to do something, or ask him a favor in a sweet caring way is a smart thing to do. But if you withhold sex and affection in order to get what you want, that is manipulative. Sex is supposed to be a loving expression between two lovers, or just the satisfaction of animal lust. But it surely isn't supposed to be a tool to manipulate your lover.
Men don't want to feel as if they have to pay for sex. All this will do is tell this man that women are "things" to be bought. And as a woman, while it may be nice at first, you would never approve of men treating women as if they are something to be bought. But by withholding sex for money or favors, this is the message you send.


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This Post was contributed by Vicky from Got A Crush

Springtime at the Teahouse Lunchbox

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Posted by Glenna


Looking for spring in my Lunchbox.

I've been feeling awfully "springy" this week, what with finally getting over the virus that took over my life and good humor, and the official first day of spring being this Thursday. Gor lunch this past weekend I decided to go with a theme and that theme was Springtime at the Teahouse. Cheesy, huh? Oh well. Cheesy can be fun. That's what makes Teahouses fun: cheesy girly fun. And what do you eat at a teahouse? Quiche, of course! And fruited muffins. And salad.

My lunchbox is made up of Quiche Florentine, Blueberry Muffins, Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Brandied Peaches from The Amish Country Store.

Quiche Florentine

1 Tbsp Olive oil

3-4 green onions

1 large handful fresh baby spinach

commercial pie crust

3 eggs

1 cup milk or half and half

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute green onion until tender. Add spinach and stir around until just beginning to wilt. Remove from heat.

Use 9" deep dish homemade or commericially prepared pie shell OR lay pie crust into bottom of 8" x 8" square baking pan. I use this because my lunch box is rectangular. It's works a little better than cutting my lunchbox meal out of the middle of a round pie shell. Spread half of the cheese onto the pie crust. Top with onion and spinach mixture.

Mix together eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour over the cheese and spinach mixture. Top with rest of the grated cheese and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until eggs are set (or measure 140 degrees on a meat thermometer.)




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This Post was written by Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food...and nothing to eat.


How to make deviled eggs

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Posted by Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)


‘Tis the season for eggs, whether painted, dyed, tea-stained, or hidden on the lawn. While you’re having fun decorating your eggs, don’t forget to make some to eat, too.

Kids love deviled eggs, and by learning to make them, they learn how to hard cook an egg, peel it, create a filling with their own choice of embellishments, and use a pastry bag to make their egg beautiful.


How to hard boil (or hard cook) an egg

• Start with very fresh eggs, preferably from a farm stand.
• Place eggs in a heavy, flat-bottom pan, and cover with one inch of cold water.
• Place pan over high heat, and bring to a boil.
• Just when the water comes to a rolling boil, remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.
• Your eggs are ready!

To peel an egg: Drain the water from the pot, and gently agitate the eggs in the pot to crack the shells all over. Then, under running cold water, peel each egg, dry on a clean dish towel, and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.


Deviled eggs


First, a basic version:

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, yolks mashed in a bowl
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp distilled white or cider vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste (you won’t need much, if any)
Paprika or the thin tops of chives, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the mashed yolks with the mayo and mustard. Stir in the Worcestershire, Old Bay, vinegar and pepper. Add salt if you need it.

Slice a tiny bit off the outside of the white egg halves, so they'll sit flat on the platter. Fill the whites evenly with the mixture (with a pastry bag, which makes them look pretty, or with a spoon), and sprinkle a tiny bit of paprika on each for garnish. If you wish, stick a small piece of chive or two on the top!

Now, for variations:

1. Mix in some avocado with the egg yolks and mayo.
2. Mix in some sour cream with the yolks.
3. Mix in some chopped tomato, or parsley, or dill.
4. Mix in some dried herbs.
5. Mix in some dry onion soup mix.

In other words, have fun!





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This Post was written by Lydia from The Perfect Pantry

Cutting-Edge Safety

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Posted by Meeta K

Nupur_DT_March

 

My sessions in the kitchen usually begin in a typical fashion- by pulling out a knife from a drawer and a cutting board from the back of the counter, and by the ritual chopping of a few vegetables. However, my introduction to cooking did not begin with any sort of training on knife skills or knife safety- like most home cooks, I am self-taught when it comes to these things. A few months ago, I was volunteering as an assistant in a culinary training class taught to unemployed adults (in an effort to find them employment in the restaurant business) and got to participate in a real knife skills class taught by a real chef!

It was a pretty eye-opening experience, and I stared with awe as the chef taught fancy-schmancy French knife cuts like bruoise and batonnet, all with ridiculously exacting proportions. The real ideas that I came away with were regarding knife safety in the kitchen. The knife is such a commonplace kitchen tool that we sometimes forget that it is a bona fide weapon!

Here are some very basic (far from cutting-edge) tips that have become a habit for me now. If you have a child who is a budding cook, it may be a good idea to teach them these basic tips as they start out in the kitchen. The first few tips call for being conscious about where the knife is at all times, even while you may be busy cooking:

  1. Never cover a knife. Say there are dishcloths lying around a messy kitchen. Be conscious of the fact that a dish towel should never be placed so that the knife underneath is hidden. Next thing you know, the cloth and the knife will get pulled up in one go.
  2. Don't place knives in a sink. Once other dishes and soapy water cover the knife, the blade becomes dangerous to the next person reaching into the sink.
  3. Do not grab blindly for a knife, or grope in a cabinet for one. Reach for the handle deliberately and grasp it well before lifting it.
  4. If a knife falls off a working surface onto the floor, do not reach out and try to catch it before it falls. This is a tough one, because we tend to act on reflex and try to catch stuff before it falls. With a knife, remind your brain to just stand back!
  5. When the knife is sitting on a cutting board, place it at the edge of the cutting board that is farthest from the table edge (and you), parallel to the table edge, with the blade facing away from the table edge.

I have tried to depict this in the picture above. The next two tips are helpful for kitchens with multiple cooks, like when friends come over to cook:

  1. Never hand another person a knife. Lay it on a flat surface and let the other person pick it up from there.
  2. When walking around the kitchen with a knife, hold it down by your side, perpendicular to the ground with the blade parallel to your thigh. This keeps the blade out of the way should you stumble and fall forward, etc., or when you are walking past other people.

Other tidbits:

  1. Here is a knife tip that most of us are already aware of: a dull knife is much more dangerous to use than a sharp knife. This is because one needs more force to use a dull knife, making it more prone to causing injury if it slips.
  2. Storing knives in a knife rack or a wall-mounted magnetic strip is a great way to keep from having to rummage from them in crowded drawers. If they have to be placed in a drawer, keep the drawer free of other clutter.
  3. Here's one trick that my mother taught me: place a dish towel under the cutting board to hold it in place while it is being used.

Finally, if there is a minor cut despite all precautions, wash the cut carefully and keep some anti-bacterial ointment and band-aids handy. Here's to safety in the kitchen! If you have your own knife safety tips, please share them with us.


Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Nupur from One Hot Stove

Tiffin Tuesday - Bibimbap spring

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits



Getting into the spring feeling (even if the weather is not cooperating) with a springy, colourful bibimbap bento!


Bibimbap is a simple Korean dish that is colourful, delicious and ideal for bento! It's basically rice with different vegetables (and sometimes meat if you're of the meat-eating persuasion), egg and a spicy sauce called Gochujang. You heat it, stir everything together adding enough of the sauce to fit your taste and desire for spiciness and eat!
In restaurants, this is often served in sizzling hot castiron bowls, which add crunch to the rice and fire to the spices! But even without it, it's a delicious dish.

Mine is the extra-quick microwave variant, since I just bought my first microwave and it came with a steamer set:
Steamed corn, soy sprouts, spinach and slices of egg-log all steamed in the microwave with a little salt, sesame oil and sugar seasoning. I put different spices on each separate heap to differentiate the tastes a little. Egg is easily steamed in the microwave by adding a bit of water to a cup of whisked egg. I learned that trick from my Chinese friends, who spice it with tasty szechuan pepper!
The shredded carrots with balsamic vinegar are leftovers from a vegetarian pasta sauce. And the red sauce decorating it is the Gochujang, which I bought at an Asian supermarket and simply squeezed from the bottle. Technically I should add soy to make it Chogochujang, but I didn't bother as it tastes nice enough!

Here's to hoping spring will come soon...



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This Post was written by jokergirl from Were Rabbits.


Best Sweet Cabbage Recipe

Monday, March 10, 2008

Posted by Meg Wolff



Do you like cabbage? Well, here's a sweet and tasty dish that I promise, will make you a cabbage lover!

Cabbage belongs to the cruciferae family of vegetables along with kale, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. According to the George Mateljan Foundation: "Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is also a very good source of fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids. Cabbage is also a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and protein."

Cruciferous vegetables also contain substances which promote detoxification of the blood and tissues and helps to fight cancer.

My Korean friend once commented that Americans don't have many breakdown foods in their diet. I was curious what she meant. She explained that in Korea they eat a lot of cabbage, scallions, leeks, and daikon which help to break down fat in the body. And I got the picture! The people living in Korea are lean.

This recipe can be cut in half and made as a side dish or you can add one 8-oz package of tempeh and make it a one-pot vegan meal. Or, if you have meat eaters in your family, cooked, cubed ham or organic beef could also be added in place of the tempeh.

THE BEST SWEET CABBAGE
1 head green cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raisins (dark or golden)

1 cup water, filtered
2 tablespoons mirin (a Japanese rice wine, I use Mitoku or Eden brand)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I use Mitoku or Eden brand)
2 tablespoons of tahini (MaraNatha Organic No-Salt Added Raw Sesame Tahini)

2 tablespoons rice syrup (Lundberg Organic)

1/4 cup parsley, fresh chopped

1 8-oz package vegetable tempeh (Lightlife Organic) or meat

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


In a 5-quart stainless steel soup pot, add the olive oil and cabbage. Turn flame to high and after it heats oil turn down to medium-high flame and saute for 5 to 10 minutes. Add water, mirin, soy sauce, tahini, rice syrup, raisins, tempeh (or meat) and sea salt. Bring back to a boil on high flame. Cover, turn to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If liquid reduces during cooking, add slightly more water as not to burn.
Serve garnished with parsley.

Serves 4 to 6



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meg Wolff from www.becoming-whole.com

Singing the Praises of Farro

Friday, March 07, 2008

Posted by Ann



My sixteen year old daughter Sophie decided to stop eating meat about two years ago. This decision was not because she doesn’t like meat—she still thinks fondly of chorizo and beef stew—her decision was a moral one and she has been true to it. While my partner, Jack, and I are unrepentant omnivores, we respect her choice and really enjoy coming up with meals that will satisfy all of us.

She does still eat dairy and fish, so the obvious solution is fish or baked Macaroni and Cheese. But you can’t serve those dishes over and over—just as you can’t rely on stir-fry with tofu (which seems to be what everyone makes for a non meat eater and which she is heartily tired of!), so I like to find ideas that will feed her body and her mind—meals that are new and exciting, as well as dishes, like Vegetarian Shepherds Pie, that evoke her memories of favorites from her meat-eating days. Memory plays such an important part in our enjoyment of food, but making new food memories is important too.

A new food to us, farro is the oldest cultivated grain in the world and the ancestor of all modern wheat. Evidence of cultivation has been found in Damascus as long ago as 7700 BC and more recently was the standard ration for the Roman Legion. The great news is that farro retains nearly all of its nutritional value in the kernel, so that even after processing it contains high levels of proteins and carbohydrates. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, thiamin, niacin, iron and potassium, and it’s also easy to digest. It does contain gluten, but is tolerated by many wheat sensitive people. Nutty and chewy, faro is almost impossible to overcook and lends itself to all sorts of preparations from the Roman salad of farro tossed with tomatoes, olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar to pilafs, risottos or stews. We like it with escarole, and Sophie enjoyed it so much she agreed to paint an illustration for this recipe (below).

Head of Escarole, by Sophie Bearman


Farro with Escarole
Adapted from a favorite pasta recipe
Serves 4 - 6

2 cups of farro
Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large heads escarole, washed and drained, roughly chopped
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cover the farro with water and let it soak for 30 minutes. Drain it and put it into a large pot with 2 quarts of water and some salt. Simmer for about 30 minutes. The faro will not absorb all of the water, so fear not.

Roughly chop the heads of escarole and then clean the leaves by soaking them in a sink filled with water. Spin them dry in batches. You’ll have a huge amount of escarole and wonder how in the world this will all come together, but it will.

In a large (4 quart) stove-top pan or stockpot, heat the olive oil and cook the sliced garlic until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic chips from the pan to drain and reserve. Leave the pan with the oil ready to use again.

About ten minutes before the farro is ready heat up the oil in the garlic pan, and add the crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add the roughly chopped escarole, tossing to wilt it in the flavored oil and wilting it into the pan in stages. Once all the escarole has fit into the pan, add the vegetable stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.

Drain the hot farro well and add it to the escarole pan. Add the lemon zest and toss to distribute. Turn the heat off and add the butter and cheese, toss to melt. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the garlic chips.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Ann from Redacted Recipes

Introducing Ann of Redacted Recipes

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Posted by Meeta K

We have a few new members on the Daily Tiffin. Today I am introducing to you a lovely person and my Daring Baker colleague, Ann.

I am so glad Ann contacted me and as we discussed her ideas I was certain they were perfect for the blog. Ann is a lively and full of energy type of person and you'll be loving her articles.

The best thing for me to do is allow Ann to introduce herself.

Though technically born long enough ago to be counted as part of the Baby Boomer generation I consider myself a First Generation Punk. I have three amazing children, one ex-husband, two cats and a lovely partner named Jack. I live in New York and make my living as a senior software consultant. An ongoing constant interest has been a love of reading and writing, but I think I am happiest when I am working with my hands-- which would explain why I have combined cooking and writing into my blog, Redacted Recipes. I am also co-administrator of The Mini
Pie Revolution Headquarters
.


Hope you'll help me welcome Ann to the team.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Tiffin Tuesday - Stir-Fry Salad

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Posted by Petra Hildebrandt

I've just discovered a new way of adding healthy veggies (and color and crunch) to my lunchbox:




One of the great time-savers on those all-too-busy days for me are frozen bagged vegetables, especially when it comes to Asian stir-fries. (For those who live in Germany, my preferred brand is Frosta - 100 % taste, with a zero-tolerance policy to additives, even non-declarable additives are off-list in their production process). But until I read on the bag that you could use these vegetables for a salad, the thought never crossed my mind.

This is, essentially, a real quick-fix meal. I used half a bag (or about 8 oz) of the wok veggies, gave them a quick stir-fry in my steel wok until everything was thawed and started to soften, added some grated fresh ginger and a splash of rice vinegar, and drained everything. You can do this ahead the night before. When cooled, add a little chopped scallion and your favorite dressing (I used olive oil, fish sauce, a dash of rice vinegar, pepper and a pinch of chili powder), and your lunch ist ready to be packed.

The other goodies are fresh fruit and sesame pretzels (sesame in the dough) - I made a large batch of sesame grissini and pretzels recently, and popped the pretzels into the freezer, grabbed what I needed from a bag the night before packing the bento. Now that's what I call frozen assets :-)





Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Petra from Foodfreak