Monday, January 25, 2010

Olive Oil Cake

This recipe was passed on to me by my West Coast Homey (you know who you are). She said it would be perfect for a brunch and she was right. Mom's birthday brunch was a delicious carb-fest (did I mention the bread detox is over? Hallelujah!), complete with hot bagels, popovers and jam (more about them later), and homemade granola, yogurt, and berries. I didn't think we needed a yellow cake with chocolate icing at noon to top it all off, so I finally got to try out this recipe, which originated with Iron Chef Cat Cora. It was pretty good, very moist and almost like a very flavorful muffin. My friend told me to reduce the amout of olive oil used, and the recipe posted here reflects that change. Part of me thinks there's still something that could be adjusted -- more OJ, less milk? Not sure. If you figure it out, let me know.

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, (I used slivered almonds)
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan. (I used a bundt pan, which was nice since there's no icing.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, olive oil, milk, vanilla, orange juice, and lemon zest. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Whisk until well blended. Fold in the almonds.
Pour the mixture into the buttered cake pan. Bake for 1 hour. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and place it on a plate.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Felt For All Occasions

I have been meaning to make a felt wreath for a year. I was inpsired by Crispina Ffrench's (daughter of the Dolphin Studio Ffrenches) tattered scrappy wreaths, but my taste is a little more "hemmed" in than hers. So I had an idea to make 3D representations of roses out of the felt, which I actually got around to doing last Presidents' Day. They have been hanging out in a Ziplock bag in my craft drawer ever since. 

So when I found myself on a shopping expedition to Michael's with my best friend and her seven-year-old daughter, I picked up a wooden wreath frame and a hot glue gun, and wouldn't you know it, 6 hours later my wreath was completed.

I made it with Valentine's Day in mind, but it's the kind of thing I would keep up until I got sick of the color red (which doesn't happen very often.) But, as it turns out, I'm going to give it to my mom for her birthday. I always try to get or make her something sentimental or one-of-a-kind (she is a one-of-a-kind type of lady), or do something for her, as was the case with her dinner party last year

So this year, she'll be receiving the long awaited felt rose wreath! 

Here's a close-up on the roses, which I made by folding and raveling a spiral of felt into a rose-type shape, fashioning the ends to look kind of like leaves, and sewing through the middle to secure.

I'll also be helping her host a birthday brunch this Sunday and baking the birthday cake, a recipe for Olive Oil Cake that came highly recommended from a friend. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Worst Nightmare: Bread Detox

This week I am on doctor's orders to go on an elimination diet, which means no sugar, dairy, wheat, corn, caffeine, eggs, citrus, or solanaceae (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant.) Oh and no nuts or dried fruits because they contain sulphites. You cut all of these items out of your diet completely for one week, then reintroduce them one at a time, giving each item 48 hours to see if your body has a reaction.

Holy mackerel. I'm on day two and the panic has not yet subsided. I've done this sort of thing before except I was allowed to eat wheat and potatoes. They are definitely my safety blanket. I mean, a world without bread and french fries? Not a world I want to live in! This being the case I shelled out close to $6 for a loaf of gluten-free bread yesterday, only to discover that, at best, it's a third cousin twice removed from bread I have known and loved, even when toasted and smothered with almond butter (organic).*

For dinner last night I made a butternut squash soup, but I put a sweet potato in it (usually the recipe calls for a regular potato too). I must have been kidding myself, because after I ate said soup I googled "sweet potato solanaceae" on my Blackberry only to discover that sweet potatoes are on my Do Not Eat list too. Sigh. At least Mr. SevPrez will have something to eat this week. He was quite alarmed to find out that I came back from Whole Foods with nothing for him. What can I say, walking around the market, forsaking all my favorite foods (it's high season for citrus fruits right now) the world seemed to be closing in on me. I couldn't be trusted to have any warm baguettes in my cart.

I know it's early, but I think this may be the hardest thing I have ever done (okay maybe it's tied with the boot-strappers we did on Saturday, it's been a tough week). The good news? I can still eat any and all animal proteins, which includes bacon. ; )

*After calling my naturopath to clarify the nut rule, nut butters are also on the DNE list unless they specifically say "no sulphites." A trip to Whole Foods yielded no such product.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Third Felt Pillow...

Was a present for my youngest niece. Sometime in the future her room will be upgraded to a "big girl room" and my sister-in-law very sweetly commissioned a pillow. She also, very sweetly, let me decide what it should look like. The ideal client! 

It took a while for the big idea to come to me. Let's see if you can figure it out. I will give you a hint: it's my niece's favorite food.

Any guesses? They are ice pops! I don't know if my niece really gets it, but I do know that when she opened the present on Christmas Eve she promptly put the pillow on the floor and laid down on it. That is exactly what you want someone to do when you give them a pillow! Success!

The good news is I have another commission in the works, also for a little bambino. This is good news because it's an excuse to buy some more felt in different colors. Viva la felt!