The origin of the Red Velvet Cake is much disputed. Traditionally, the caked got their red hue from the cocoa used in the batter. Today's cakes use red food coloring or even beetroot juice to give them that deep red color.
For the Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons (15g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (187g) well shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons red gel food coloring (or 1 1/2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring)
3/4 cup (170g/ 6oz) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons (23g) neutral-tasting oil (such as vegetable, sunflower, or corn oil)
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (238g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup (227g/ 8oz) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups (340g) powdered sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (340g) cream cheese, cold straight from the fridge (cut into 1-inch pieces)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (28g) sour cream, optional
To make the cupcakes:
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 338F. Line two 12-
cup cupcake pans with 16 paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to combine. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl or a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, gradually add in the sugar, then slowly drizzle the oil. Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating together, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until lightened up in both color and texture; 4 to 5 minutes. The color should turn very pale (almost white) and texture should look soft and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a spatula, then resume mixing on lowest speed. Add in one-third of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Pour in half of the buttermilk mixture and beat lightly until combined. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and ending with the remaining flour mixture, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix until just combined and a smooth batter forms, being careful not overmix.
6. With a rubber spatula, give the batter one good, final stir to make sure that everything is well incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the 16 cupcake liners, filling them up 3/4 of the way.
7. Bake until the cupcake's center springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached, about 20 minutes. Resist the urge to open the oven's door while the surface is still looking wet, or the cupcakes might risk sinking in the middle.
8. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. While the cupcakes bake, make the Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting.
To make the Frosting:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl and an electric handheld mixer), beat the butter until lightened up and creamy; 2 to 3 minutes.
2. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, followed by the salt. Raise the speed to medium-high and whip until lightened in both color and texture; about 5 minutes.
3. With the mixer still on medium-high speed, add one piece of cream cheese at a time, one after the other, mixing well after each addition so there are no lumps. Continue whipping until light and fluffy, and air pockets have formed.
4. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream (if using) just until incorporated. Frost the cupcakes using a regular knife or pastry bag fitted with plain or star tip.
from Board Member, Bert Jackson
This was a favorite soup special at my vegetarian restaurant, the Sweet Life Café It’s vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and tastes great. It’s ready in under an hour but is even better the next day.
1 Lg onion, chopped
3 med carrots, chopped
1 head celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 new potatoes, chopped
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, slightly crushed
2T olive oil
1T curry powder
1 clove garlic, minced
6 C water
Half a 6 oz can tomato paste
2 t sea salt
2 T fresh or dried parsley
Sauté all vegetables in olive oil. When onions are translucent, add curry and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes until veggies are well coated with curry. Add the chickpeas, tomato paste and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 45 min. 10 min before finish add sea salt and parsley.
Courtesy of Chef Brandi, KAM Appliances
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook Temperature: 350
Cook Time: 14 Minutes Yield: 12-18 cookies
2 3/4 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Softened Butter
1 cup White Sugar
4 TBSP Brown Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Candied Fruit
1. Preheat Oven to 350, Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicon pad.
2. Cream butter, vanilla, egg, brown sugar, and white sugar.
3. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder.
4. Fold in candied fruit.
5. Shape cookie dough into desired shape (only minor flattening and spreading occurs)
6. Bake for 10-14 minutes.
You may add pecans or walnuts to the candied fruit mixture, just do not exceed 1 ¼ cup of fold in mixtures. You may also make them into little balls instead of a flat cookie and shake in powdered sugar when they have finished baking.
Chef Kay is a long-time supporter of our organization who recently joined our Board of Directors. She has provided us with this recipe for Cranberry Relish that she adapted from the Doubleday Cookbook. It's been a family favorite ever since!
Kay’s Cranberry Relish
2 bags (12 oz each) fresh cranberries, rinsed and any leaves/stems removed
3 navel oranges
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped candied ginger (optional if you don’t like ginger)
¼ cup port or rum (optional) – substitute 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Orange Juice
1. Using micro plane zester or fine holes on box grater, grate the oranges to remove the fine layer of peel. Reserve peel and put aside.
2. Remove skins and seeds from oranges and chop the flesh roughly – be careful to reserve any juice.
3. Using scissors or knife chop candied ginger into small ¼" pieces.
4. In medium saucepan put cranberries, chopped orange, orange zest, salt, raisins, candied ginger, port/rum and orange juice. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently until most of the cranberries have popped and mixture is thick…. Cranberries will release natural pectin as they cook. Be careful not to scorch mixture if heat is too high.
5. Let mixture cool and then ladle into containers. Relish may be frozen.
By Bert Jackson
This is a very easy dish to make. Don't let its simplicity fool you, the flavors combine for a stew that is extremely satisfying and delicious. It was very popular at my vegetarian restaurant many years ago. We adapted it from a recipe in Frances Moore Lappé's Diet for a Small Planet.
1 1/2 cups green lentils
3/4 cups short or medium grain brown rice
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups water
While not necessary, I like to soak my rice and beans overnight with a piece of kombu (a type of sea vegetable). It helps make the beans more digestible for those who are sensitive. Wash then rice and beans, drain, then cover with water. Discard the water the next day.
A large cast iron pot is ideal .
Chop the onions and sauté in the olive oil until cooked. Add the drained rice and lentils. Sauté everything together for about five minutes. Add the water and salt, bring to a boil then simmer for about an hour, until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Be sure to stir occasionally. Once the heat is off, let it stand for another half hour or so, and give it another stir.
M'Jeddrah is traditionally served hot over salad greens with a vinaigrette dressing. Use romaine lettuce or similar, the heartier leaves will stand up better to the heat. The hot/cold, smooth/crunch combinations are delicious!
Bert Jackson currently sits on the board of the Cape Cod Culinary Incubator. He spent seven years as owner of the Sweet Life Café in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, a ground-breaking vegetarian restaurant.
Written by: Chef Alan Zox, Ph.D
Matt’s Organic Gardens, located in Dennisport Massachusetts, represents a unique approach to gardening. Not only do the owners, Matt and Janet, introduce organic plants that are ready to grow in your own garden, but they offer vegetable selections that are immediately ready to prepare in your kitchen for breakfast, lunch or dinner the very evening you have chosen to prepare them.
Further, Matt’s family provides farm features that include organic fertilizers, soil amendments, bag and bulk compost, along with many varieties of vegetables. For example, Matt and Janet and their staff grow over 65 varieties of small and large tomatoes, along with garlic, eight varieties of kale, 12 different cold crops of lettuces, hot and sweet international peppers, and over a dozen varieties of eggplants.
Because these vegetables can be picked when you are ready to eat them, they taste better than your average tomatoes or eggplants found at your local supermarket. Moreover, staff will educate you to have an ongoing balanced eco system for growing your vegetables at your home garden. In fact the availability of crops you can eat on demand, and prepare when you wish for your loved ones makes your meals that much more delicious.
Learning from trained garden staff about these many organic vegetables educates the consumer to be better informed about the source of the food produce you can buy on a daily basis. And if you are interested in foods that are better for you such as organic foods, you will be better able to make what you consume and grow for others.
Given the many ways organic vegetables can be eaten, especially among organic tomatoes, here are three delicious recipes that will capture your imagination this season.
Recipe #1 Caprese Salad: with Beefsteak Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil
This combination of delights can be prepared in minutes. Merely cut and layer the tomatoes, moz and Basil. ingredients in raw form or pan fry with salt and pepper and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Recipe #2 Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho Soup
This is a thirst quenching summer soup from Spain. By adding watermelon to tomato juice with a touch of Sherry wine vinegar, you will create a wonderful new flavor. Combine 2 tbs of sweet summer watermelon with 2 lbs of locally harvested golden or red tomatoes, cored, chopped and pureed. Add 1 tbsp red wine vinegar with sea salt and ground pepper. Add one diced celery stalk and chill for 2 hours.Yum!
Recipe #3 Roasted Red, Plum Tomatoes
These delights are fun to make and and far less expensive to use for cooking when you make them yourself. Begin with 5 lbs. of plum tomatoes. Expect to be able to dry about 24 halves. Heat your oven no more than 180-200 degrees leaving oven slightly ajar with a wine cork for about 2-3 hours. Check them after one hour and every 30 minutes thereafter. Make a pie with them; Snacking is nice, too.
By Chef Alan
Cod Fish is a delicious white fish popular on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. It’s easy to eat because it has layers of flesh next to one another with very few bones getting in your way. In fact, all parts of the Cod are eaten including the head and cheeks and internal organs such as the liver. The smooth meat of the Codfish is beautiful to look at and so very tasty to eat.
Cod can be broiled, baked, fried or braised. It can also be eaten in other ways. For example, as early as 985 the Vikings learned to eat codfish by hanging it in the frosty winter air on their boats. This created a hard wood-like plank which could be eaten like hardtack. In contrast to the Vikings, the Basques located in the Northern reaches of Spain had salt which enabled them to dry and salt cod and survive longer voyages. Further, the Basques had the advantage of a brighter sun in the Mediterranean waters where they fished thus being able to dry up their sea salt more easily in order to create sea salt which was used to dry foods and avoid food spoilage. (See Mark Kurlansky’s Cod:A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World)
Will Cod fish remain as accessible as it has been historically? Scientists and fishermen differ on this but the fish has become increasingly rare due to a number of modern day technical changes including the aggressive bottom fishing of trawlers where Atlantic Cod spend the majority of their time. And the physiological nature of Cod which leaves them less able to escape the nets which catch them. Finally, the nature of Cod is not an aggressive one. Unlike Blue Fish or Striped Bass, Cod does not fight for its’ food. It lives on the bottom of the sea and feeds itself by eating anything and everything its’ wide-open mouth consumes. It could sadly be the end of an era if the Cod population disappears. We can only hope it’s not too late. Here’s a simple recipe you can make which is easy to assemble in less than 25 minutes,
Roasted Cod Fish with Onions
1- Heat the oven to 425F. Using a metal sheet tray, place a large piece of aluminum foil into the tray; pour all the oil into the pan on the foil. Place onion slices on the oiled tray.
2-Place tray in oven and roast until onion slices are brown – about 7-10 minutes.
3- Cut piece of cod into three equal portions. Place each of the 3 slices of cod on top of the 3 slices of onion.
4- Sprinkle the paprika, tarragon and garlic over all the fish. Add one tablespoon of butter on top of each piece of cod. Sprinkle the parsley over the fish and place one thin slice of lemon on top of each piece of fish. Cook for 15 minutes leaving the temperature at 425 F. Your knife should easily slip into the side of the fish and come out without any moisture showing.
1- Wash the chard thoroughly and dry in salad spinner. Remove largest 3 outer leaves and remove the center vein in each of the 3 leaves. Cut across the 3 leaves to form ribbons of chard.
2- Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan over medium heat. Put the cut leaves into the frying pan and add the minced garlic and shallot. Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes using tongs to toss the strips of chard 2-3 times.
3- Shake the soy and the mirin into the frying pan. Toss all ingredients over medium high heat. Using tongs, place strips of chard on each plate and top with piece of cod.
By Chef Alan Zox
Seafood Reubens are becoming more and more popular on Cape Cod. Not to be confused with Corned Beef Reubens, the seafood version has a delicious range of options. But all of these seafood dishes have a common thread which involves the briny scent of the sea which means they are still fresh. If they smell too much like fish they are not fresh. When fish is fresh or frozen shortly after they are purchased or caught, they are delicious eaten roasted, grilled, fried or sautéed. Try these sandwiches with cod, tuna, soft shell crab or halibut. They are all wonderful.
Cooking a Seafood Reuben is easy if you simply coat your fish with crushed Ritz crackers, and then place 2 tablespoons of butter on top. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for 20 minutes and remove. I used panko in the recipe below because it’s made of rice and is gluten-free, unlike Ritz crackers. I also enjoy using sauerkraut with seafood Reubens, but it may not work for you. Coleslaw seems to work better for many people. Just follow the instructions below and you may discover a new way to savor Father’s Days. Enjoy!
Recipe: Seafood Reuben with cod or soft-shell crab
Mayonnaise Recipe Yields 1 ½ cups ¾ cup canola oil
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
By: Alan Zox
Mother’s Day is a time to remember and to celebrate the mothers in our lives. It’s always fun to make a special meal or to eat at a delicious restaurant when the weather is starting to turn warm and temperate.
Mother’s Day in the United States was given birth by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia in the early 1900s. It was conceived in collaboration with the department store owner John Wanamaker who held a special Mother’s Day event. Jarvis started a letter-writing campaign promoting a unique day for mothers. By 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Ironically, however, as time passed, Ms. Jarvis became disenchanted with the commercialization of the holiday. In fact, by 1920 she had become the holiday’s biggest critic. Rather than giving candy, flowers and greeting cards to their mom, Ms. Jarvis worked diligently to see Mother’s Day removed from the calendar.
Here’s one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes, which is always popular on Mother’s Day. For me the holiday has become one of my most enjoyable.
Mother’s Day Chocolate Cake
(Adapted from the celebrated cook Ina Garten)
2 Tbsp butter
1¾ cups all purpose flour or gluten free flour 2 cups sugar
¾ cups cocoa powder
2 tsp gluten free baking soda
1 tsp baking powder or gluten free baking flour 1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup brewed coffee
Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
6 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter – room temperature
1 extra large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1½ tsp water
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Using parchment paper, trace two outlines of the cake pans.
2. Spray pans with cooking spray and then place a sheet of parchment into each of the cake pans. Butter and flour the pans again with parchment in the bottom. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined.
3. In a separate bowl or large cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
4.Slowly add the brewed coffee. Mix just to combine. The resulting batter will be thin.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check to see if done with a toothpick. If no crumbs stick to toothpick the cakes are done. Cool in pans for 30 minutes. Turn them out on a rack to cool and carefully remove parchment paper.
6. Measure your chocolate for the frosting, and place in a heat-proof bowl set over a small pot of simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
7. To bowl of stand mixer or using hand-held mixer, beat 2 sticks of butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, the dissolved instant coffee and vanilla, and continue beating. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Beat the frosting to remove clumps. Continue beating at medium speed until frosting is smooth and creamy. Then add melted chocolate and beat until combined.
Frost the cake:
Place the first cake on a flat plate. With an offset spatula, spread with frosting more than a ¼-inch thick. Place the second layer on top, and spread frosting evenly on top and sides of the cake. So good…
Contact Chef Alan with any questions or comments about the cake. Look forward to hearing from you.
By: Chef Alan Zox
March 27, 2019
Grilling and smoking fish are two cooking methods that create wonderful flavors and delicious meals. But they are distinct and unique from one another. Knowing the differences will enhance your cooking skills and delight your families and friends.
Lightly smoking your fish for no more than 5-10 minutes will at a low temperature of 200F- 225°F will yield delicious results. Using a piece of tin foil or a special grill smoking box containing alder or apple wood chips placed on top of white coals will do the trick. You can shorten the cooking time even more by poaching or braising your fish beforehand in a Court Bouillon flavored with fresh herbs and then following up with a few minutes of smoking. Alas, there is no set recipe to follow. The flavor you are after will depend upon the time your fish is in your covered smoker, the type of fruitwood chips used, and the variations you experiment with in your bouillon.
Grilling or steaming your fish are more familiar techniques than smoking for many cooks since grilling and steaming take less time than cooking at a lower temperature. And that may be why salt-water fish, like burgers and beef steaks, are normally grilled.
Several facts about cooking fish are essential to enhancing seafood cooking prowess. For example, only selecting fresh fish that have firm flesh and a moist appearance is certainly the most important factor. Avoid fish that smells too “fishy”. Fresh fish should smell briny like salt water.
Several saltwater fish are ideal for grilling including Halibut, Salmon, Stripped Bass, Swordfish and Tuna among others. Derrick Riches, the grilling and BBQ consultant, recommends oiling your cooking grate to avoid sticking before you start grilling -- especially when cooking fish fillets. Using a grilling or fish basket makes the task of grilling fillets easier and prevents them from falling apart when turned. Thick cuts such as fish steaks hold together better and make grilling much easier. Seasoning seafood is not really necessary. I enjoy adding very few spices or herbs since the fish alone is so delicious. A pat of butter and a squeeze of lemon at the end of the cooking process are usually sufficient.
The length of time you grill your fish varies by taste but 10 minutes per inch is a good guideline. You can also tell when the fish is done by using a fork to flake the fish apart or use a thermometer – fish should reach a temperature of 145° F.
Here’s a recipe that children and adults enjoyed at a recent family reunion in Florida. I fed 17 cousins— all healthy eaters— a version of Paella that was simple to cook when using Southern Grouper. In more northern waters you can achieve a similar outcome with fish such as Halibut, Striper, Swordfish or Cod, among others. If you experiment with other kinds of fish please advise. I will post it on my blog!
Paella with Saltwater Flat Fish
For the Vegetable stock:
9 cups water
1 roughly chopped carrot
2 celery stalks chopped
1 onion chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Paella:
2 cups Arborio (also called Risotto) Rice
1 medium sweet onion diced fine
1 large carrot, diced
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pinches of Saffron, dissolved in ½ cup water
1.5 lb flat fish fillets, cut into 3 x 2 inch slices
1 15 oz. jar of roasted red pepper, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
½ cup chopped parsley
Lemon wedges for serving
Optional: 8 oz. fresh shrimp, or cleaned squid cut into rings
1- Make the stock by simmering the water with the vegetables, bay leaf and salt and pepper for 45 minutes. Strain, return to the pot, and cover to stay warm.
2- To a 12” frying pan or paella pan add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat. Sauté the diced onion and carrot until translucent before adding the saffron and rice and sauté until the rice is coated with oil and slightly crispy.
3- Add the heated broth to the rice a ladle at a time stirring well and simmering until the rice is al dente – firm to the tooth – about 20 minutes.
4- Submerge the slices of fish and (if using) shellfish into the rice along with the peas and roasted red pepper. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, parsley and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes to warm up the vegetables and cook the fish. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Enjoy!