Inga's Indulgence

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Leftover Makeover

Somehow, don't ask me how, I got stuck with the 20 lbs of cake that were left over from  my brother-in-law's wedding. After being carelessly dissected and wrapped in aluminum foil, the cake (and all its parts) was thrown into my freezer. I guess I hadn't visited my freezer in a while, because yesterday on the 3 week anniversary of the wedding, I discovered the forgotten cake.

I have to admit, when the urge for something sweet beckons, there are no limits. I've been known to pick at things completely covered in freezer burn, that probably should have already been disposed of. But this cake, though it wasn't exactly past its expiration, just didn't stimulate me in the least bit. It was a bland white sponge, with a bland white buttercream that tasted like a greasy concoction of crisco and sugar. I had to either throw it out, or turn it into something else, enitrely. Being the cheapskate that I am, I was soon left with only one option. But what to do? A trifle of some sort? Nah, too easy. And then it came to me - rum balls!

When in culinary doubt, turn to the liquor cabinet for advice. But don't quote me on that one.

Rum Balls
(yield: about 20 balls)

6 cups leftover cake (sponge with some sort of cream filling will do), crumbled or grated, if frozen
1/4 cup dark rum
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup sprinkles (you can use coconut flakes, grated chocolate, or chopped nuts in addition to, or instead of, the sprinkles)

Combine the crumbled cake, rum, and corn syrup in a large bowl. Work the mixture together with your hands to form a dense, moist dough. If it seems too dry, add a little more rum. Roll the mixture into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball, and then roll into sprinkles or other desired toppings. Indulge immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shrimp Antipasto Salad

DHA was on the brain this morning, as I realized that I hadn't eaten seafood in weeks. In the mood for a satisfying light lunch, I whipped up a beautiful salad of shrimp, garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers, and a couple of other flavorful helpers. The colors on my plate reassured me that I was doing something right; it did taste right afterall :)

Shrimp Antipasto Salad
(yield: 2-3 servings)

1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 bayleaf
1 lemon, sliced
1 lb shrimp, skin on
1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 large roasted red pepper, julienned
1 plum tomato, medium dice
1 cucumber, medium dice
1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Poach the shrimp: Fill a deep saute pan 3/4 of the way up with water. Add the peppercorns, bayleaf, and lemon slices. Bring to a simmer. Season heavily with salt. Reduce heat to low, and add the shrimp. Simmer until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from poaching liquid. Once cool enough to handle, peel the shrimp.

In a large bowl, combine peeled shrimp with garbanzo beans, roasted pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and romaine lettuce.

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt together in a small bowl. Continue to whisk as you slowly stream in the extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss to coat.

You can serve this salad right away, or let the flavors mingle in the fridge for a couple of hours. Your call. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baby Gourmet - Autumn Eats

Fall is quite the delicious season in its celebration of root vegetables, warm spices, and big bowls of hearty goodness. If you haven't done so already, there couldn't be a better time than now to introduce your baby to flavor, and no one said it has to be complicated...

Autumn Spiced Sweet Potatoes
(yield: about 2 cups)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tbsp butter

Place the sweet potatoes and water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and add spices. Simmer, covered, until sweet potatoes are completely cooked through and tender, about 16-18 minutes. Add milk and butter, and mash to desired consistency (you can puree mixture in a food processor to achieve a completely smooth texture).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

I love chocolate, and I love Merlot, and I know they work well together. But never in my wildest dreams, did I imagine that they could live in the same bottle. I guess I live in a cave, because apparently chocolate Merlot sauce is all the craze nowadays.

While visiting Napa Valley, my mom was nice enough to pick me up a bottle of Provenance Vineyard's Merlot Chocolate Sauce (made by Anette's Chocolate Factory). Ever since, I've been brainstorming recipes or just things that I could bathe in the stuff. Let's see, just a few that immediately come to mind - berries, ice cream, cheese, foie gras, steak, YUM!

Since I am yet to try other candidates in this category, I'm not necessarily preaching this particular one, but it is pretty good. Grabbing the essential aspects of both the chocolate and the wine, this sauce achieves a nice balance. My only complaint is that the chocolate does taste a little hershey syrupy to me. A darker and more bitter chocolate flavor would have probably worked better here. But all around, it's still good stuff!