Posts Tagged ‘food’

Few dishes scream out “comfort food” like meatloaf. My Mom’s meatloaf was awesome, and she’d cut a huge slab of it onto my plate, with fantastic butter-loaded Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles on the side. I couldn’t stop eating it.

I never thought of making meatloaf when I moved away, because it gave my Mom something special to make for me when I came home to visit. She was thrilled that there was a dish she could make that I would devour every time, without hesitation. (The others were her roasted lamb and Lithuanian pierogis called koldūnai (kol-doon-ay).

But now that my Mom is in an assisted living facility, I’ve had to take meatloaf matters into my own hands. I never got my Mom’s exact recipe. But I had an idea of what went into it, so I gave it a shot.

The standard mix for my Mom’s meatloaf was one-third each ground beef, pork and veal. I go 2/3’s beef and 1/3 pork instead, unless I can get my hands on humanely-raised veal from a farm down the road. My Mom used Lipton onion soup mix in her meatloaf. I chose to stay away from packaged ingredients which have chemicals and preservatives. And instead of layering slices of bacon on top as many people do, I fry and chop the bacon and mix it into the meat, giving my meatloaf delicious smokey bacon goodness in every bite!

To keep this dish gluten-free, I use GF breadcrumbs. I buy loaves of Udi’s frozen gluten-free bread, toast the bread slices, then put them in a food processor to make great-tasting bread crumbs that have all the flavor of regular bread crumbs, without the gluten.

 

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4 strips bacon, fried and chopped
1 yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
pork fat or olive oil
2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup ketchup
2 eggs

 

Fry the strips of bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and chop it fine. Set it aside.

Keeping the rendered bacon fat in the pan, sauté the onion with it until translucent. Add the salt, pepper and garlic. Set the pan aside, letting it cool to room temperature.

 

 

In a bowl, combine the meat, bread crumbs, ketchup, bacon, eggs, and the sautéed onion mixture. Form it into a loaf and place it in a loaf pan. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

 

Delicious, caramelized meatloaf. Leftovers are always welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been experimenting with my coffee rub, one that combines coffee with cocoa powder, brown sugar, salt, garlic and onion. I’ve tried it on various cuts of beef, on chicken, and pork…and it works well on everything!

 

A Berkshire pork belly, cured for several weeks, then rinsed.

 

I took some of the rub and cured a beautiful Berkshire pork belly with it, to make bacon. I simply scored the fat side of the belly, then massaged both sides of the belly with the rub, and placed it in a container in the fridge for several weeks. I flipped it over every few days to allow both sides of the belly to come in contact with the liquid that formed when the salt in the rub extracted moisture from the meat. After several weeks, I removed the belly from the container and rinsed it well with clean water, drying it with paper towels. I then re-rubbed the pork belly with more of the coffee rub and placed it in the smoker for 2 hours at 250 degrees, smoking it with hickory, my favorite wood for bacon.

 

The pork belly, re-rubbed and ready to smoke.

 

It just so happened that on the weekend I was smoking the belly, I decided to smoke a couple of racks of pork ribs for myself. These also came from a beautiful heritage Berkshire pig, and I coated them with the coffee rub, allowing them to rest in the fridge for 24 hours putting them in the smoker.

 

The Berkshire pork ribs, rubbed and ready to smoke. I cut the racks in half for easier handling.

 

Since the ribs and belly were in the smoker at the same time, the ribs first smoked at 250 degrees with hickory along with the bacon, for about 2 hours. Once I removed the bacon, I dropped the temperature of the smoker to 225, and smoked the ribs for 2 more hours. I then removed the ribs, sprinkled them with a little more coffee rub, and wrapped them in aluminum foil, before returning them to the smoker for another hour.

 

 

The ribs, and the bacon, were absolute perfection!

 

 

The ribs, smoked for several hours.

 

Re-sprinkling a little coffee rub on the ribs.

 

Wrapping the half-racks in foil. Some go back to the smoker, some head for the freezer to be enjoyed later.

 

Since I had 2 full racks of ribs, more than enough for several meals, I cut each rack in half before smoking for easier handling. Once I wrapped them in foil, I let a couple of them cool on the counter before placing them in a freezer bag and putting them in the freezer for future use. Already smoked and cured, all I’ll need to do is take a foil package out of the freezer, and place it in a 250-degree oven for a couple of hours to warm the ribs up and make them fall-off-the-bone tender.

 

The ribs, after another hour in the foil.

 

Here’s my coffee rub recipe. Make a lot of it and use it on everything from burgers to whole chickens to pulled pork sandwiches.

 

3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground coffee (use your favorite)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

 

Rib perfection!

 

Here in New England, oysters are plentiful. We don’t just slurp ’em down: we go out and dig our own…we have our favorite buck-an-oyster bar for any given day of the week…and we debate over the best variety, from east coast to west, north to south.

So when a friend of ours who lives on Cape Cod dropped off about 5 dozen Barnstable oysters she just dug that morning, it was cause to celebrate.

oysters

Fresh oysters deserve an amazing cocktail sauce, and my recipe kicks butt: lots of horseradish, lots of flavor, and a secret ingredient: vodka. Not only does it give it a kick, it keeps it from freezing solid, so I can keep the cocktail sauce in the freezer until I need it.

2 cups ketchup
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot, or other hot pepper sauce
5 grinds of fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon good quality vodka, like Tito’s

Combine all the ingredients. Store in a tight plastic container in the freezer.

 

Fresh shucked oysters with pickled red onion ice.

Freshly shucked oysters with pickled red onion ice.

 

When I’m in Portland, Maine, I visit one of the best oyster bars in the country: Eventide. Besides some wickedly creative dishes, they consistently have a fantastic variety of fresh oysters to choose from. And they offer a variety of “accoutrements” to go with them: anything from a red wine mignonette to kimchee ice. My favorite is the pickled red onion ice. All you need is a shot glass with a freshly shucked oyster inside, a half-shot of chilled vodka on top, and some pickled red onion ice, and you’ve got the best oyster shooter on planet Earth. I even suggested the shooter to the manager at Eventide. It has yet to make it to the menu. (But I remain hopeful!)

 

An oyster shooter with pickled red onion shaved ice. Bottoms up!

An oyster shooter with pickled red onion ice. Bottoms up!

 

I’ve managed to come up with a pretty good version of the pickled red onion ice at home, and I serve it alongside my cocktail sauce.

2 large red onions
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

 

Peel and quarter the onions. Drop them in a medium-sized pot and cover with about a quart of water. Bring it to a boil and cook it down until it has reduced to a cup of concentrated onion water after straining.

Bring the strained onion water back to the stove, and on medium heat, add the sugar and vinegar, stirring. When the sugar dissolves, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature before pouring it into a container and placing it in the freezer.

When it’s time to eat oysters, remove the block of red onion ice from its container, and, using a fine metal grater, shave the ice over the top of the freshly shucked oysters and devour immediately!

 

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Bone broth has become all the rage…and why not? Bone broths are nutrient-dense, easy to digest, taste great and heal the body. Many people with bad digestion, or “leaky gut,” swear by it.

I love the flavor, and I never really thought of making my own bone broth until I visited Sweet & Salty Farm, a local dairy farm in Little Compton, RI. They’re in the business of making cheese and yogurt, so they rely on the females to supply them with all the grass-fed milk they need. But sometimes the females also produce a male calf, not exactly useful on a dairy farm. So…they become veal.

Unlike the horror stories you hear about at factory farms, where calves are taken away from their mothers almost immediately, the folks at Sweet & Salty allow their calves to feed off their moms and graze in the field next to them, until they reach a size and age that no longer requires their mother’s care. When mom is willing to let go, only then do they go.

 

 

Those are the veal bones that I use to make my veal bone broth. Much like making a stock, the ingredients are simple and healthy. It just takes time to make a really delicious and healthy bone broth, cooking the broth ingredients for at least 24 hours…48 is better! I usually start the boiling process on a Saturday morning, letting it boil all day, literally until I go to bed that night. I turn the heat off, then restart it the next morning and boil all day again before pouring the bone broth into containers. I replace the water as needed.

 

 

It goes without saying that you need a large pot. I just recently bought a huge 30-quart stainless steel pot with a strainer for lobster cooking. It’s also perfect for making bone broth. I fill the pot with clean, filtered water and put it on high heat.

Meanwhile, I heat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

The pan of bones and veggies goes in the oven.

 

 

4  or 5 lbs. grass-fed veal bones
large pot clean filtered water
4 onions, quartered (no peeling needed)
4 carrots, roughly chopped (washed, but not peeled)
4 stalks celery, roughly chopped (washed)

 

I cook until the vegetables are slightly caramelized and their flavors are concentrated. I remove them from the pan and toss them in the pot of water. I put the bones back in the oven until they start to release their fat and flavors.

 

The veggies are ready for the pot. The bones stay in the oven a bit longer.

 

 

Once the bones have a nice brown color to them, I put them and the veggies in the pot. Any fat that was released by the bones also goes in. (This fat is healthy and full of flavor.)

Then it’s time to boil…for a very long time. I replace the water in the pot as needed, starting the boiling process on high heat, then reducing to medium, cooking with the pot covered, letting it cook for as long as I can.

 

 

After 48 hours, I finally get delicious bone broth that was worth all the effort: hearty, satisfying, healthy.

Rather than try to skim the fat off a huge pot of bone broth, I choose to portion out the broth in pint-sized containers, and keep them in the freezer. Then, when it’s time to use the bone broth, it’s easy to scrape the fat off the top of the frozen broth before I re-heat it. But I have to tell you: I don’t usually do that! The fat is go-o-o-d!

 

 

I leave spices, salt, pepper and garlic out of the bone broth, choosing to add them to the broth later, depending on what I’m using it for. If I’m simply sipping the bone broth by itself, a little sea salt as I reheat it is all that it needs.

 

A batch of bone broth that will last a long time!

 

 

I use bone broth to make tasty soups and stews, sauces and gravies, to flavor rice, or just heat it and drink it as is.

 

 

I love shrimp scampi, and had the need to satisfy my cravings the other day. But what started as a simple scampi recipe, turned into something a bit more. I may never make scampi the same way again!

 

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1 lb. wild-caught American shrimp, peeled and de-veined
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons Spirgučiai (see below)
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced
oregano, for sprinkling

 

Thaw the shrimp under cold water. Place in a colander to drain.

Spirgučiai is a Lithuanian favorite: chopped bacon and onions, fried until crisp and usually sprinkled over anything and everything in Lithuanian cooking. I always have some in my fridge, already prepared and just waiting to be used.

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt, oregano, onion, pepper and Spirgučiai.  Heat only until everything melts and combines. Don’t let it burn. (If you don’t have Spirgučiai, all you need to do is take a couple of slices of bacon, chop them up, and fry them in a pan until crisp. Keep the bacon and the fat in the pan and then add the butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt, oregano, onion and pepper.)

In a small sheet pan lined with foil, lay the shrimp in a single layer and cook them halfway in a pre-heated 400-degree oven to remove the moisture from the shrimp.

Take the pan out of the oven, and drain off the moisture, if any. Pour the butter mix from the saucepan all over the shrimp and toss to coat. Return the shrimp to the oven for a few minutes, until they’ve heated through and are almost completely cooked. (Careful: never over-cook shrimp!)

Take the pan out of the oven, and place pieces of mozzarella on top, garnishing with a little oregano. Set the oven on broil and cook until the cheese has melted.

Slice with a spatula and serve on top of pasta, making sure you get some of that buttery scampi sauce.

 

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As a low-carb option, you can serve this on broccoli or roasted spaghetti squash.

I had a ridiculous harvest of shishito peppers in my garden this year, all from a mere eight plants. They were so prolific, I ate blistered shishitos almost every day for weeks on end…and that was after I gave away pounds of them to friends.

I was at my wits’ end. The season was waining, but I had bags and bags of shishitos in my fridge. Then on Instagram, my friend Ron exclaimed: “Pickle them!”

I had no idea you could do that!

 

Pickling shishitos…why didn’t I think of this sooner?

 

So, thanks, Ron. You saved the harvest! And by the way… While the pickling brine was boiling, I blistered and ate another batch of shishitos! (Needed to do something while I was waiting… )

 

Blistered shishitos gone!

 

The original recipe for pickled shishitos suggested that I boil the pickling spices and then combine them with sliced shishitos. But I didn’t like the idea of having whole peppercorns and other spices getting stuck in my teeth. I wanted their flavor, but I didn’t want to bite into them whole. (If you’ve ever accidentally bitten into a peppercorn, you know what I mean.)

So I strained the brining liquid after boiling, and then combined it with the shishitos. I got all the flavor, and none of the grit.

 

I cut the stem ends off the shishitos, then sliced them into rings.

 

 

2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
2 tablespoons pickling spices
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 pound shishito peppers, sliced into rings

 

Boil a couple of Mason jars in a large pot to clean them. Let them air dry completely.

In a saucepan over high heat, combine the vinegar, water, garlic cloves, sugar, pickling spices, black peppercorns, and sea salt. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and let to boil for 5 to 8 minutes.

The take pickling liquid off the heat and strain it into a bowl. Discard the spices. Add the sliced shishitos into the pickling liquid, mixing well, and let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes.

Spoon the mixture into the Mason jars and seal them tightly. Let them cool to room temperature. (You should hear the lids of the Mason jars make a popping noise to seal properly.)

Once the peppers have cooled, place the jars in the fridge and let them sit in the fridge for a week or so until the flavors combine.

 

 

The pickled shishitos are great on salads, sandwiches, cheese platters, and anything else that needs a kick in the pants!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will be the most amazing fish sandwich you’ll ever make.

There. I said it.

 

 

There’s no other way to describe this sandwich, something that shouldn’t work in some ways and yet is absolutely perfectly crunchy and delicious. It starts with the cole slaw, ideally made a day in advance…

1 medium cabbage, sliced thinly
2 medium carrots, peeled, and finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Kosher dill pickle juice
1 teaspoon celery seed (not salt)

You can use a machine, but I like to finely slice my cabbage with a kitchen knife, cutting as thin as possible. Place the chopped cabbage in a large bowl.

For the carrots, peel them to remove the outer skin, and throw that away. Continue to peel the carrots into paper-thin slivers until there’s no carrots left. Finely chop those slivers and add them to the cabbage.

Add the mayonnaise, pickle juice, and celery seed, mixing thoroughly. Keep it in the fridge, covered with plastic, until ready to use.  The next day, before using, taste it and decide whether you want more mayo or pickle juice. Mix it well before using.

Like a classic pulled pork sandwich, the slaw will go inside! But it needs a sauce to tie it all together. Make this a day ahead as well.

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon Tony Cacherre’s Original Creole Seasoning (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt (skip if using Creole seasoning)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (skip if using Creole seasoning)

Tony Cacherre’s Original Creole Seasoning is a personal favorite, and it works well in this sandwich. You can find it in many stores, and online. But if you don’t have it handy, salt and pepper do the job.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Keep it in the fridge, covered, until ready to use.

 

 

 

Cod or other white fish, preferably fresh, cut into sandwich-sized pieces (about 4″ square)
1 cup all-purpose flour (or Cup4Cup gluten-free flour, see below)
1 teaspoon celery seed (not salt)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 eggs
1 cup corn flakes, crumbled (or Corn Chex for gluten-free, see below)
avocado oil or other oil for frying

My brother-in-law treated us to a huge stash of grouper that he caught on a recent fishing trip. I used that instead of cod the last time I made this sandwich, and the results were fantastic. I suggest you use whatever white fish is your favorite.

Cut the fish into pieces that will fit the bread you’re using, and make sure the filets are the same thickness. Don’t make them thicker than 1/2″ or they’ll stay raw in the middle when you fry them. Set them aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour, celery seed, salt and pepper and cayenne (if you’re using it). Mix well.

In another bowl, crack the eggs and scramble them.

Put the corn flakes (or Corn Chex) in a plastic bag, squeezing the air out of it. Crush them into oatmeal-sized pieces, then pour them into a third bowl.

Heat a heavy pan with a couple of inches of oil. One by one, take the fish pieces and dredge them in the flour mixture, then into the egg, and then into the corn flakes, pressing into the corn flakes to make sure they stick to the fish.

When the oil in the pan is hot enough, fry the fish pieces on both sides, until cooked through and golden brown. Place them on paper towels to drain.

 

Pepperidge Farm Marble Swirl Rye Bread (or gluten-free bread)
Swiss cheese, sliced
Melted butter

Pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble the sandwiches, take a slice of the rye bread and spread some of the sauce on it. Place a piece of the fried fish on top, then cover it with some of the cole slaw. Place a few thin slices of Swiss cheese on top of the cole slaw. Take another slice of rye, slather it with the sauce, and place it on top of the slaw, sauce-side down.

Brush the top of the sandwich with the melted butter, and place the sandwich on a sheet pan. Do the same with the rest of the sandwiches.

Place the sandwiches in the oven and bake them until the cheese melts. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.

 

The gluten-free sandwich in the forefront.

 

What I changed to make this sandwich gluten-free…

 

My go-to all-purpose gluten-free flour is Cup4Cup. It works really well in any dish that requires all-purpose flour.

 

Not all corn flakes are gluten-free, and the ones that are can be hard to find. I found that Corn Chex cereal is a good substitute. It’s gluten-free, and has a nice crunch.

 

The Pepperidge Farm Marble Swirl Rye Bread is the ideal bread to use for this sandwich. But I made a pretty darn tasty gluten-free version using this Schar bread, found in many supermarkets.

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by a recent episode of “Good Eats, the Return” with Alton Brown, I was craving poke big time. I had almost all the ingredients…..sort of.
Alton prepared tuna. I had salmon.
Alton used white soy sauce. I had dark.
Alton used chopped macadamia nuts. I had cashews.
Alton used yuzu juice. I had a lemon.
None of my ingredients were that drastically different, really, and when I combined them, I found that I had prepared one helluva poke indeed! (Poke, pronounced PO-keh, means “chopped into pieces” in Hawaiian.)
I used 6.5 ounces of salmon because I had a nice, big 26-oz. filet that I cut into 4 pieces.  Up to 8 ounces of fish will do fine with this recipe. And tuna would be just as tasty as salmon here.
If you’re going to go through the trouble of making poke—and for that matter, eating it—the freshness and quality of the fish is extremely important. I never eat farmed salmon (anything labeled Atlantic salmon is farmed.) It’s amazing how many so-called fine sushi restaurants serve Atlantic salmon. You can tell it’s farmed by the weird white and orange zebra stripes on the flesh of the fish. Farmed salmon would look gray if it wasn’t for the fact that farmers feed them pellets to change the color of their flesh to a more appealing orange.
Wild-caught salmon is just that: caught off the coast of the Pacific Northwest or Alaska, they feed on their all natural diet of shrimp, krill, and small fish…not food pellets and antibiotics. The salmon flesh is a beautiful natural bright orange, thanks to a shrimp-heavy diet. And the flavor is beyond compare.
I get my wild-caught salmon on line, shipped frozen from reputable distributors like Vital Choice. I cut the salmon into usable pieces while it’s still frozen, then re-wrap the pieces carefully and put them back in the freezer. When it’s time to eat, I move the salmon from the freezer to the fridge, letting it thaw overnight.
6.5 ounces wild-caught Alaskan salmon, in the refrigerator (thawed, if previously frozen)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons untoasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped raw cashews
One scallion, green and white parts finely chopped
Keep the salmon in the refrigerator until the very last moment.
In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and lemon juice. Whisk them together.
Chop the cashews and add them to the bowl, mixing them in.
Cut the root ends off the scallions, chop the green and white parts finely, and add them to the bowl, mixing them in.
Remove the salmon from the fridge, and remove the skin if it is still on the fish. Cut the fish into half-inch cubes. Add the salmon to the bowl and gently mix all the ingredients together. (You don’t want to break up the fish.)
Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, if you can wait that long!
Time to eat!

Pork chops were a favorite of mine growing up, but my Mom cooked them only one way: breaded and fried in a pan full of oil. They were good, but they were greasy, and my Mom was not big on seasonings. And she cooked the hell out of it. It was time to improve on the original.

Using the best quality pork I can get, like heritage Berkshire pork, makes a real difference in flavor. It also matters to me that the animals are humanely treated while they’re on the farm. No factory-farmed meats.

 

chop 1

 

 

2 Berkshire pork chops
1 egg
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (gluten-free works, too)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
olive oil

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Set up 2 bowls. In one, crack and scramble the egg. In the other, combine the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, granulated garlic and granulated onion.

Place an oven-proof pan on medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Once the oil is hot, coat the pork chops in the egg wash and then coat them with the bread crumb mixture. Place the chops in the hot pan to brown and sear on one side. After a few minutes, flip the chops over in the pan and place the pan in the oven to finish cooking.

 

chop 2

Remember, good pork does not need to be cooked to death! A light pink to the meat is OK. You want to cook the meat to about 145 degrees, letting it rest for at least 3 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

My daughter spent a week this summer vacation at a YMCA camp on Cape Cod: Camp Hayward in Sandwich, MA. Established in 1928, Camp Hayward (and its partner camp, Camp Burgess for boys) is a wonderful experience for kids from 7 to 16 years old.

Part of the camp adventure is to sign up for various classes, but unfortunately, the baking class was full by the time my daughter signed up for it. So she went with singing and nature instead, slightly jealous that the girls in the baking class were making fabulous desserts every day.

When I picked her up at the end of the week, the first thing she asked me was if we could bake some cake pops. I said sure, never having actually baked them myself.

I’m no slouch to baking. Back in the days when I could devour an entire loaf of bread without gaining a pound, I baked my own Italian style loaves and baguettes every week. I made home-made pizza at least once a week. And banana bread was a breakfast staple. But cake pops? I needed to do a little research.

We both love Red Velvet cake, so that was an easy choice. We decided to bake from scratch, because we didn’t want a box full of chemicals. The same for the cream cheese frosting: what could be better than using fresh cream cheese and butter, not a can of shortening?

The steps are pretty simple: you bake the cake and let it cool. Then you crumble the cake into a bowl, and slowly add the frosting, a little at a time, combining it with the cake crumbles until you’ve got larger crumbles that stick when you squeeze them, without being mushy. Rolls the cake crumbles into balls, shove a stick into them and freeze them for about 20 minutes. Melt some white chocolate, and dip the frozen cake balls in the chocolate. It will harden in just a few minutes.

Let’s start with the Red Velvet Cake…

 

Our food coloring was actually pink, not red, bit it worked!

 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ounce red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

You want to get 2 bowls ready: one for the wet ingredients and one for the dry. I use the bowl from a stand mixer for the wet ingredients, because they need to be whisked and the dry ingredients will be folded into the wet later.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly oil and flour a large pan that you will use to bake the cake.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Use a whisk to mix them together.

In the standing mixer bowl, combine the wet ingredients: the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Use the whisk attachment and mix them well.

With the mixer running slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

 

 

Pour the batter into the cake pan and place it in the oven to cook for about 30 minutes. I like to check it at the 25-minute mark to see how it’s doing, using the old toothpick method.

Remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then flip the pan over, gently dropping the cake onto a cooling rack, and let it cool completely.

 

If a toothpick pulls put of the cake cleanly, it’s done!

 

While the cake is cooling, you can make the cream cheese frosting.

 

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar (plus more if needed)
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

In a standard mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until it’s light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the vanilla, then raise the speed to high and mix briefly until the frosting is fluffy. (You may need to scrape the bowl once in a while.) Store it in the fridge until it’s a bit stiff before using. It keeps in the fridge for several days.

 

You might need a few taste testers on hand to let you know if the frosting is any good…

 

The final touch is a crackly sweet cover of white chocolate. I simply break some pieces of Baker’s white chocolate into a glass bowl, and microwave it, going with pulses of 10 seconds at a time until the chocolate has melted beautifully. To make about 12 cake pops, you’ll need 3 boxes (12 ounces) of white chocolate.

 

Baker’s is a brand name, not just a description!

 

 

So we begin…

 

Get a large bowl, and crumble the baked and cooled Red Velvet cake into fine crumbs with your hands. Let the frosting warm to room temperature, and taking a spoonful at a time, incorporate the frosting into the cake crumbles, again, using your hands. You want the crumbles to get bigger, but not mushy. Keep adding spoonfuls of frosting and mixing gently until you get nice large crumbles, but before it gets too wet!

 

 

Using an ice cream scooper, or simply your hands, make small balls, pressing the cake crumbles together. Take a stick, dip it into the white chocolate, then stick it into the cake ball, pushing the stick in about half way. Place the balls with sticks in them on a sheet of non-stick aluminum foil or wax paper and in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

 

 

Melt enough of the white chocolate to half-fill a tall glass. (A tall, narrow glass will fill higher and completely cover the ball when you dunk it.) Hold the frozen cake balls by the stick and dunk them in the melted white chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Place the cake pops right-side up by jabbing the sticks into foam or an egg carton.

 

 

If you want to decorate your cake pops, you need to do it right after dunking, because the white chocolate hardens quickly.

Because we made our cake pops a bit too big, we encountered a couple of problems. The cake didn’t freeze enough, so it slipped off the stick when dunking it into the white chocolate. And we couldn’t use the egg carton method because they were top-heavy, so we simply placed them back on the non-stick aluminum.

 

 

Our cake pops resembled caramel apples more than cake pops! (My daughter decided to call them cake meatballs.)

But in the end, it’s all about the taste, and I think she was happy with the way they came out!