Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuna Croquets and Wilted Spring Salad with Mushrooms

This is a quick wilted salad bursting with garlic flavor, sized just right for one person as an entrée, or good for two servings when paired with a starchy side. If you are making this for two people I would suggest using 2 cans of albacore, and making 4 croquets total.

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Garlic Clove
1/2 cup Raw White Mushroom
3 cups 50/50 Mix
1 tsp Parmesan Cheese, Grated
1 can , drained Solid White Albacore In Water (5oz/142g)
1 tbsp Sandwich Shop Garlic & Herb Mayo
0 tsp Salt*
1/2 tsp Pepper*

Heat up 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Mince the garlic cloves and add to the oil in the pan until the garlic aromas have been released and the garlic has been slightly browned. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add to the garlic. Sauté in the pan for several minutes (5 - 8) until they have released their liquids and have browned up.

In the meantime, mix the drained tuna with the 1 Tbsp of garlic and herb mayo in a small bowl. Score the mixture in half and scoop the halves out and form into balls. Set aside.

When the mushrooms have browned add the salad mix to the pan, one handful at a time. Use tongs to toss the salad in the pan, so the leaves become evenly wilted. Pull the salad out of your pan and set aside on your serving plate.

Put the pan back on the heat and pour in 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Place the tuna croquets into the olive oil and let sauté until brown on the first side. Do not move them around or they will fall apart. Once a brown crust has formed, after 2 - 3 minutes, flip and allow the second side to brown.

Sprinkle the tsp of Parmesan cheese onto the wilted greens and plate the finished croquets on the plate.

* You may want to enhance the flavors more by squeezing on some lemon juice, onto either the greens or the croquets.

I didn't get any pictures in because I was hungry. Oops.. Next time I will have my camera handy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Banana Rama Part 2

In honor of my boyfriend's birthday, I made him a cake flavored like one of his favorite desserts: Banana pudding. He absolutely adores bananas and the cake was a big hit with everyone who tried it. It was a "semi-homemade" concoction; I augmented some store bought ingredients to keep things simple.

Banana Pudding Cake

1 box Yellow cake mix
Water, eggs, oil, as called for in the cake mix
2 Bananas, mashed
1 box instant banana pudding
2 cups of milk
1 container of vanilla frosting
Nilla Wafers, crushed

Prepare you cake pans by greasing the bottoms and sides, either with a cooking spray or butter, or whatever your preference is. To make removing the cakes easier you may want to grease the bottom, then place in a piece of parchment paper that has been cut to fit the pan, and grease the paper.

Make the cake mix according to the directions, i.e. stir in the water, oil, and eggs until blended. Fold in the mashed bananas until well blended. Pour cake mix into greased pans and bake according to the directions on the box (approx 30 minutes for 2 8" pans at 350* F).

While the cakes are baking prepare the pudding according to the directions on the box. (Basically Whisk the powder and the milk together until smooth and slightly thickened.) Cover the pudding tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator to finish setting.

Also, while the cakes are baking, Crush a few handfuls of Nilla Wafers. You can pulse them in a food processor or pop them into a large plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin until the break down into crumbs. Set the crumbs aside.

When the cakes are done, (a fork or toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean)remove from the oven and allow to cool. I prefer to let the cakes cool completely before I try to remove them from the pan, but if you are in a hurry, let them cool at least 10 minutes, then cool the rest of the way on a plate; this particular cake is quite moist, I think it would fall apart if you place it directly on a cooling rack.

To help get the cakes out of the pans, run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen up the sides. Then just flip the pan over on top of a plate or round covered with parchment or plastic wrap, and let gravity do the rest. The parchment at the bottom of the pan (now the top) should keep the cake from breaking into sections as it falls out.

Once the cakes have been removed you can cut them into halves. Using a bread knife, keep the blade level as you score the outside of the cake. Using the score lines as a guide you can cut through the center and they should be even.

Layer your first piece onto a foil or plastic covered cake round, with strips of parchment paper just around the edges. You can make your own rounds with recycled cardboard, old pizza boxes work well. They should be the same diameter or slightly bigger as your cake.

Now you can start building your pudding layers, scoop about 2/3 of a cup of pudding onto the first layer and smooth it out to about a 1/4" away from the edge.

Next, careful place on the second layer, and repeat the pudding layer, then the third layer, and the last of the pudding.

Last, place your top layer on. Trim up the sides if they are uneven (save the trimming for a taste test :) )

I like to start icing the sides first, then the top. Use a thin layer as a crumb coat on the sides. Scoop the rest of the icing out onto the top and carefully smooth out, and down the sides until evenly coated. The sides don't have to be perfect, since we will be covering them with Nilla Wafer crumbs.

To add on the crumbs, carefully pick up the cake in one hand and scoop the crumbs into your other. Holding the cake at a slight downward angle, press the crumbs in, one handful at a time going around the edges until the cake sides are completely covered. I recommend doing this over a large platter or cutting board, or a wide shallow bowl to catch the falling crumbs. Once you have crumbs all the way around you can gently knock off the excesses back into the bowl/platter.

That's it! You can slice up another banana to decorate the top, but hold of doing so until just before serving time as the bananas will eventually start to brown (or in my case, slide off the top).