27 May 2012

Delrich Margarine

Last summer, I wanted to go to the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, but it was mostly open while I was at work. This year, since I work part-time, I get Fridays off, so I went there after a disastrous interview (I made so many mistakes that I can't choose the worst one). Although the whole exhibit was interesting (and I would definitely visit again, as it is free and informative), my favourite part was the little exhibit about food additives. I do wish that there was a whole museum dedicated to food additives or something! The Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson and Wales University is the closest I've gone, and possibly my favourite museum ever.
(Click the image to get the full size and to read all the fine print).
This is a photo of the one advertisement that intrigued me, about Delrich Margarine. Of course, it seemed a little crazy to me when I first saw it, but nowadays, we have similar weird food items. For instance: squeeze-to-create icing, simultaneously microwavable one tray main course + veggies + dessert, and coloured, sweet (aspartame, sucralose, etc.) powder that you pour into water. So I guess having a colour-able margarine isn't that silly.
Back then, apparently you couldn't sell margarine pre-dyed (because that would be fraud! --yet today this kinda thing is so prominent today). Because margarine was cheaper than butter, to feign high status, many women (yes, women) would throw the white margarine into a bowl and add yellow food colouring, and then package up the yellow margarine. To end this tedious task, Delrich added a yellow pellet into the margarine packet, so then the margarine would be white, but you could easily squish it around to make it yellow. This product was discontinued because the dye was deemed unsafe, at some point.

When I was young, we always bought margarine in Australia, which is a little weird because butter probably wasn't even that expensive (lots of cows there). I recall all the margarine I've ever had to be yellow. Either way, I have stayed away from margarine since moving to the U.S, although I'm not really sure why.

15 May 2012

Portal Cake!

Today I made a Portal cake but failed at making jelly. This is a very sad day.
My brother finished his AP exams today, and as he is going to college next year, this is a graduation/belated birthday/end-of-high-school/congrats on [college name]! cake. I wanted to make a Team Fortress 2 cake but I couldn't figure out what object to make. Pyro? Sandvich (in other news, I got a Dalokohs bar yesterday!)? Natascha?
So, I stuck with Portal's black forest cake, even though none of us like fake cherry flavouring or maraschino cherries. My brother likes orange juice though, so there's orange juice in the cake and jelly. He also likes coconut, so the whole cake is covered in chocolate coconut ganache.

Unfortunately, he has not eaten the cake (and I don't think he will) because he had a bad day with bad news and dinner was ruined.

On the bright side, this means that the cake is now mine. Look at the lush back yard. It's been barely a week and the lawn needs mowing again.

The cake recipe is from here.
Changes I made:
1. I substituted 100 g flour with whole wheat flour, and 15 g with wheat germ. No one will notice!
2. Instead of 240 ml of milk, I used 120 ml milk + 120 ml orange (put in LAST--acidic, reacts with baking soda).
3. I used 1 tsp baking soda instead of 1/2 tsp.
4. Less sugar! ~250 g instead of 400 g.

I made three layers because I only have 17-cm diameter cake pans (6.69-inch, as opposed to 9-inch). Later, I realised that the Portal cake only has two layers!! Boo. I used all three layers in the end though. My cakes weren't flat, so I shaved off the cake tops until they were parallel to the bottom of the cake, meaning that each layer was thinner.

The first and only "black forest cake" I've ever had was on my 10th (or 11th?) birthday. We bought it from ParknShop, and although it was labelled as "black forest cake", it was actually a chocolate swiss roll with jelly and cream filling. I wanted to emulate that, so I made cherry orange jelly for the filling of the Portal cake. However, although the jelly set, it was extremely watery and had the consistency of thick jam. A lot of it oozed out so I ate it. I'll just pretend it's chocolate cake "infused" with cherry orange flavouring...

The chocolate ganache recipe is from here, although I changed it up a lot.
All you have to do is simmer the heavy cream and throw in all the chocolate, and then all the coconut.

100 ml heavy cream (but maybe fatty milk will suffice?)
150 g dark chocolate chips
150 g shredded coconut (sweetened...but you should use unsweetened)

You MUST wait for this to cool down as much as possible before you spread it on the cake or else it's just going to drip/fall off. As it was super sticky, I couldn't figure out how to ice the cake with it. It turns out that you can scoop some ganache onto the back of your giant spoon, and spread it UPWARDS onto the sides of the cake. After an hour or so, the ganache will be solid enough that when you poke it, only some oily substance gets onto your finger (as opposed to a glob of ganache).

This coconut ganache gives a great "Portal"-esque texture to the cake. Initially, I was going to make a zillion chocolate shavings to press onto the cake. I am EXTREMELY glad I didn't have to endure that tedious task.

The white icing is fat free yogurt + powdered sugar + coconut, in a ratio of 1:6:6. You only need a tiny bit. The red blobs, which are supposed to be maraschino cherries, are actually gum balls that we are never going to eat. We only had 7, so I cut one in half (to make two halves).
We don't have real candles so I used a peppermint stick thing taped to a paper flame that says "congratulations!" on it. I took a lot of pictures because this cake looks really pretty (and tastes good, according to me and my sister, who ate a lot of cake scraps and icing).

11 May 2012

Crispy Stuff!

As a backup to my (no, it's not failed! It's just...premature) croissants, I decided to make some crispy cracker-crisp things because I accidentally bought too much flour.

 I used this recipe but instead of using poppy seeds, I used wheat germ to make these extra wheaty. I suppose they're pretty healthy, as there is mainly whole wheat flour, wheat germ and sesame seeds. Unfortunately, because of the black sesame seeds, they are really not photogenic. Basically, you bake a huge, thin, rolled out piece of dough. Then you break it into crackers. Next time I will probably just poke lines with a fork so that when I break them, they will be more evenly-shaped (or, I could just give someone a huge sheet of cracker with cut lines and then these crackers can be a thing cool kids bring to school for snack. Haha.). My sister shoveled this stuff in her mouth along with the risotto leftovers from yesterday (she eats risotto now! Surprise surprise!).

 Incidentally, my mum bought some "Chinese Spaghetti Sauce" (its Chinese name is "sauce to mix with noodles or rice"). With a name so funny, who can resist using it? There's a lot of oil in the product, along with cubes of something that tasted like sardines. It turns out that it's tofu and gluten, and it tastes absolutely delicious! The name cracks me up every time. It would be even more hilarious if it had been spelled as "Chinese Spaghetty Sauce".

10 May 2012

Sticky Buns

Hey! So I'm back! Back to cooking stuff, since it's summer break now!

Anyway, during reading days, we Eco Reps sponsored a trip to the Farmers Market at Clark Park, and my roommate got some sticky buns. They look good. I'm not a huge fan of them though. They're super sweet and syrupy, and slightly malty. The raisins and cinnamon sugar completely saturate one side, but the middle is pretty dry (I guess you can heat it up).