Friday, March 16, 2012

The Victoria Cupcake: Gourmet Flavor for Beginning Bakers

Are you new to working in the kitchen but looking for a recipe that will impress everyone without having to work with challenging recipes or hard-to-find ingredients? Here’s your solution.  The Victoria Cupcake is easy, fun, and (by comparison) relatively low in fat because it is made without any oil!

Many of you have probably heard of the Weight-Watcher’s cake which uses a can of soda and a boxed cake mix to make a low-point dessert. This is basically just a modified version of that. I made it up last week for a friend who was not feeling well. It is essentially a raspberry red velvet cupcake with a dark chocolate ganache topping and a fresh raspberry garnish.
            Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients for cupcakes:
1 box red velvet cake mix
1 can raspberry soda

Ingredients for ganache:
1 bag dark chocolate baking morsels
1 cup heavy whipping cream
            That’s it, folks! You’ll want fresh raspberries for your garnish, but you don’t even have to do that if you don’t want to. Here’s what to do:
            Start with your cake ingredients and supplies. This will include  the ingredients listed above as well as a mixing bowl and a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
            Pour your ingredients into the bowl, leaving just a sip of soda still in the can (cans are usually 12 oz., but you only need 10 oz. for the cake). Or, you can do as I do and just take a hefty swig from the can before you pour it in the bowl!  The soda will bubble up when you pour it over the cake mix.
            Stir your ingredients together. (Remember, you are COMPLETELY IGNORING the directions on the box of cake mix. You will NOT use any eggs, any water, or any oil.)
You’ll know it’s ready when it looks like tomato sauce (no lies!).
            The batter is now ready to be poured into muffin tins. You can grease your pan directly, use paper liners, or grease metal liners so you don’t have to wash your pan. I used metal liners.
            You can now pour your tomato-sauce batter into the pan!
            Tada! Now, you’re ready to bake. Bake your cupcakes in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll let them bake for about 20 minutes.
            These cupcakes aren’t quite done. You’ll know when they’re ready when you can push down on the tops of the cupcakes and it springs back (if it doesn’t spring back, your finger mark will just stay on the cupcake - if that happens, keep baking).
            There you go! Nicely baked raspberry red velvet cupcakes. While these are cooling, you can start on your ganache.
            Here’s what you’ll need (pictured above). Heat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until it boils. (Make sure you stir frequently because once it starts to boil, it could boil over and make an astounding mess!)
            Once the heavy cream is boiling, add the entire bag of dark chocolate morsels.  
Stir until the two ingredients are a consistent texture. The mixture below is not stirred well enough:
                      When it is stirred well enough, it will look like a really thick Hershey’s chocolate syrup. You now have TWO choices for how to top your cupcakes. You can just top them with a regular ganache (which you’ve already made), which will give the cupcakes a nice, sleek, shiny look. I took the tins off my cupcakes. You don’t have to. 
            Take your cooled cupcakes by the bottoms, and dip the tops in your pot of ganache, like so:
      Top each cupcake with a fresh (rinsed) raspberry and let the ganache set for a spell. You’ll then have finished cupcakes! OR you can whip your ganache. To whip your ganache, let it first cool completely (I stuck mine in the freezer for about 15 minutes to speed up the process). Then, with an electric mixer, beat the ganache on medium speed. You’ll know it’s ready when it forms stiff peaks and is a lighter brown color, like this:
If you’re big into baking, you may have decorator bags like the ones put out by Wilton. If not, regular gallon-sized plastic bags are fine. If you have decorator tips, feel free to use them, or just pipe it on smoothly.  Spoon your whipped ganache into the plastic or decorator bag.  Push it all into one corner and twist the opening closed.

            Cut off the tip of that corner so the opening is a little less than half an inch thick. Then, start piping the ganache onto the tops of your cupcakes.
            In the picture above, you can see how the regular ganache and the whipped ganache will look very different, but equally appealing. Once you’re done with the whipped ganache, top with a raspberry and serve!
            And that, my dears, is the Victoria cupcake! Super easy, super fun, and super impressive! Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!

By our new writer Veronica
Check out her bio  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Interview with Chef Kerry Corcoran from Hyland Blue Catering

Chef Kerry catered my good friend Melissa's birthday party in February. All of these pictures are originals from the day of the party that I took. She did a fabulous job and she has the "Flava in ya ear" stamp! I recommend her to all! Thank you so much Kerry! Check out her bio and the interview I conducted with her.

Chef Kerry Corcoran hails from Brooklyn,N.Y. Her passion for food, started as a child watching her grandmother, who was an excellent cook. She attended FIT to pursue a career in fashion design, but her passion for creating delicious food was stronger. She's a lover of art and uses her art background in her cooking. Her approach to food is creative and unpretentious.

What do you specialize in?
We specialize in off site catering for any special event like corporate,weddings, birthday parties,baby showers,christenings and graduations.Our food is International Cuisine with a tropical flare.
What is your most sought after cupcake creation?
I would have to say our signature flower cupcake is the most popular among our clients.
Signature Flower Cupcakes
What is the largest event you have catered and what was the theme?
It was a family reunion for 200 people and the theme was celebrating those who had past.

What are key ingredients for moist cupcakes?
Cake flour,oil,buttermilk and sour cream.
Vanilla Cupcakes w/ Chocolate Accents
Oil v. butter which do you prefer and why?
From a health standpoint I prefer heart healthy oil which can be used to cook or accent a meal.

What is the wackiest order you have received?
It was witch finger cookies for Halloween,they were adorn with warts and blood.

What season is your busiest?
The holidays are always the busiest.
Pesto Pinwheels and Tex-Mex Rolls
What is a great meal you can whip up in 30 minutes?
Salmon en Papillote would be a great and easy meal to whip up in less than 30mins-salmon baked in parchment with your choice of veggies,citrus,herbs and white wine.Also for Asian spin add some pineapple juice,sesame oil and ginger.
Mojito Melon Balls
What is the longest you have ever worked without a break in the kitchen?
I worked 2 days straight in the kitchen for a friend's baby's shower.
What are 3 words that describe your catering company?
Innovative,unique and fun.

What would you say is your best masterpiece in the kitchen?
I love sauces so my best masterpiece would have to be my Irish cream Alfredo sauce.
Balsamic Chicken Wings
What do you love most about your job?
For me it's more than a job it's a passion and I love the freedom I have to think outside of the box.
Cornbread Souffle 
What are 5 ingredients everyone should have in their kitchen?
Fresh garlic,onions,oil,salt and pepper.
Strawberry Champagne Soup
Best cooking tip for a novice?
My advice would be to learn basic cooking techniques like braising,saute,poaching,roasting,pan roasting,stewing etc once you master them you will be able to follow any recipe.
Mini Cheese Platter

If you can cater for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would it be like?
I would cater a lavish dinner for my grandmother who past away 16 years ago.She is the reason why I'm so passionate about food.I would let her know the simple act of watching her cook as a child changed the entire course of my life for the better.
Pesto Appetizer Pizza w/ Sun dried Tomatoes, Onions, and Pepper Jam
What is unique about your catering company?
What makes our catering company unique is that we work with any budget,whether you're rich or poor in between or not sure.We will work with you because for us this is a passion.

For catering inquiries email Kerry tell her "Flava in ya ear" sent you! 
Like her facebook page 

Conducted by Celeste

Monday, March 5, 2012

Restaurant Review: Eatonville Washington, D.C

Over the weekend, I encountered quite a unique surprise within the DC area. My friend and I just happened to walk into this restaurant that brought back some southern classics with a delectable twist. The restaurant is called Eatonville and it is located on U street in Washington D.C. The place was quite spacious and cozy and the music that played in the background consisted of R&B classics from a myriad of different eras. A few places were a little tight in which the tables were close together, but not to the point where it intruded on anyone's personal space. My friend decided to try out this place and he made a great choice; as he usually does. We always like to try something new just to stimulate our palette. The menu was quite short and small and it gets directly to the point. The menu consisted of gumbo, fried catfish, collards, mac and cheese, and a few other things. The great thing about these traditional dishes were the slight great changes to the items; we each ordered something different so that we can sample each other's selection.

The appetizers were the first fantastic starting point. He ordered the gumbo; which was a great choice. Full of bold, spicy, flavors with a bit of sweet notes. The gumbo had a good amount of seafood... crab, rock shrimp, with andouille sausage. The twist was the fried okra which had a bit of crunch to it and with a scoop of white rice. The cayenne in this dish was very noticeable. The spiciness from the dish was more of kicker then the heat itself from the dish. I ordered the stuffed hush puppy; an excellent appetizer I have to say. The hush puppy was made of their homemade cornbread with tons of seasonings and hollowed out. Sauteed rock shrimp filled the hush puppy with a lemongrass chipotle cream sauce, all over a roasted tomato puree. The colors of this plate were overtly amazing. The spices were great, smokey flavor of the puree and sweetness of the cream made this one of my favorite dishes. Plus, the entree course we chose was exceptional as well. My friend had ordered the BBQ baby back ribs with local greens and fries; the ribs were wonderful if I might add. There was a great smokey flavor and the meat was very tender. The greens had awesome seasonings and even the fries were good. All in all, he picked a great dish; but I chose something very different from him. I got a salmon dish which was scented with orange and anise; this was a very different taste for salmon. Garlic mashed potatoes, spinach and arugula, and a sweet pineapple relish. Somehow with all these unique flavors; they all complemented each item on the plate. Both dishes turned out to be overtly fantastic. 
I would definitely choose this restaurant again. It has some wonderful classics, some great twist, bold spices, upfront flavors, and a lot of character. You have got to try out this spot! You would be very pleased!


Location: 2121 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C 20010
Number: (202) 332-Zora  Website: Eatonville

Conducted by our new writer Kisha