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Carrot Cake that Wows... does anybody know this recipe???

I've adapted Ina Garten's recipe and I've been making it for the past couple years to extremely good results. I've changed some proportions a bit in addition to heavily modifying the instructions- the end result is something extremely moist, rich, and somewhat light at the same time. For frosting it really does depend on how long or how vigorously you whip it: leave it on a slow speed and it's quite dense but put it on high it's light and fluffy. Finally I top it with candied orange zest, which is the perfect accompaniment that cuts through the richness.

3 extra large eggs
2 ½ CUPS granulated sugar
1 ½ CUPS vegetable oil
1 TABLESPOON pure vanilla extract, divided
2 TEASPOONS cinnamon
¼ TEASPOON nutmeg
1 POUND carrots, grated
2 ¼ CUPS all purpose flour
2 TEASPOONS baking soda
1 ½ TEASPOONS kosher salt
1 ¼ CUP raisins
1 ¼ CUP walnuts, toasted and chopped
¾ POUND (1 ½ PACKAGES) cream cheese, room temperature
1 CUP (2 STICKS)unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ POUNDpowdered sugar
2 large navel oranges
¼ CUP grand marnier, freshly squeezed orange juice, or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
In a stand mixer, beat the eggs and 2 cups of the sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. While mixing, slowly drizzle in the oil... the end result should be almost a mayonnaise like consistency. Add half of the vanilla, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, afterwards scraping the bowl. Add the grated carrots and stir to combine. Sift together 2 cups of the flour, baking soda, and salt, and while on low speed add to the wet ingredients in thirds, waiting until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next. Toss the raisins and walnuts together with the remaining flour, and fold into the batter by hand.
Scoop the batter into lined cupcake tins about ¾ of the way up. A 2 oz ice cream scoop works perfectly, which holds about a ¼ cup. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take the cupcakes carefully out of the tins and let cool on wire racks.
In a small saucepan heat the Grand Marnier and sugar together until dissolved. Using a cheese grater with a medium grate, run the oranges down the entire length, rotating them as they go down creating long laces of rind. Be firm enough so the rind doesn’t tear, but not so hard as to get the pith. Simmer the orange rind in the syrup for 10-15 minutes until they turn soft and slightly translucent. Drain and let cool.
For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter, remaining vanilla, and powdered sugar until combined. For a rich, dense frosting leave the mixer on low, and for a more lighter, fluffier one beat on high (the lighter frosting will melt more easier than the denser one). Generously frost each cooled cupcake with icing, and top with a pinch of candied orange zest.

Nov 05, 2011
fattychalupa in Home Cooking

Which FoodNetwork Hosts/Shows Do You Miss?

Hulu has become my source for real cooking shows now (I dont have the cooking channel) and my favorite show is now AvecEric, hosted by Eric Ripert. It's part behind the scenes of high-end restaurants and part cooking show hosted by himself and it just reminds me of the good old days when Food Network actually taught you something. For instance, he mentioned that whisking butter into a reduction will make it cloudy and that swirling it instead will give it a mirror-like finish. I haven't learned something so useful in years!

Which FoodNetwork Hosts/Shows Do You Miss?

There have been countless threads already about how the network is just plain terrible, but I wanted to look back at the glory days and remember the shows that I used to actually enjoy-

-The Best Of
As a kid I thought it used to be a tad boring but now that I've grown up I realized how good it actually was... It's like a high-class normal version of Diners Drive ins and dives

-Sweet Dreams
Oh Gale Gand, come back to me. How I dearly loved your show. One day I will sneak into the FoodNetwork headquarters vault and steal all of your tapes. Alas, now you've been replaced by Anne Thornton

-Sara Moulton
Years ago i thought she was a bit uninteresting as well, but you know what? I learned a heck of a lot from her when I was a kid! Her French Apple Tart holds a special place in my heart

-From Martha's Kitchen
Pretentious? Utterly so. It was like watching the life you could only dream of having. However, she was still utterly informative and her guests were always entertaining

-Everyday Italian
I'm talking about her first few seasons where she was a bit on the shy side and taught honest to goodness humble Italian food. It's sad that I miss a show that is still relatively recent.

-How to Boil Water
Before that douche Tyler Florence and that idiotic blonde girl took over. The french chef and the hostess were extremely entertaining and hey- this show taught beginners how to cook in a non-condescending and non-prepackaged way... I'm shaking my finger at you

-Jacque Torres
Simply because he was the only one who catered towards professional amateurs who knew there way around the kitchen

Special Mentions:

-Calorie Commando
Simply because every single one of his recipe makeovers looked like a trainwreck- it was entertaining to see how bad his recipes turned out

-The old Paula Deen
As in the paula before she moved into her new house and now has to have her sons on every episode...

And if you need refreshing: a list of past and present FN programs

Need help with a 60 person cocktail party on a budget!

Some of you have asked me to keep this thread updated, so here goes:

-bride felt lukewarm about the haute pocket idea, so on the fly I came up with crostini topped with caramelized onion jam, a slice of steak and topped with bleu cheese, which she loved, though next time I probably shouldn't experiment with a recipe when dealing with client

-made carrot cakes and cupcakes and stashed them in the freezer 1) so they don't dry out and 2) so the cakes would be easier to split in half

-grocery shopped for the dessert items; finalized menu

-made cream cheese frosting; stashed that in the fridge

-Final Cost for Desserts: $38.55

-lazy day afternoon, began working on a painting and then painted an address placard for the house

-went shopping at sam's club, then albertsons

-picked up REAL tablecloths because I can't stand the look of paper disposables (I subtracted the cost of these since I was planning on keeping them for myself)

-bought 4 lb of shrimp- might not sound like alot but they were 70-90 a pound, and i plan on putting one shrimp per skewer along with a cherry tomato and a bocconcini

-made the walnut cookies (recipe from Simply Recipes)

-The vietnamese bbq was scrapped in favor of the original idea of Korean BBQ since the restaurant was swamped- Fine by me because there is a Little Korea in my area with a plethora of markets that sell pre-marinated beef. After calling ahead to my local H-Mart (a Korean supermarket chain) to ensure they had atleast 9 pounds of beef, I headed over there. Before I put in my order at $5.99 a pound I did a quick search (thank you Yelp app) to see if there were any other places around me, and lo and behold just down the street there was a smaller market that had the same exact marinated rib-eye for $2.99/lb... Score....

-Cooked the bulgogi

-Made the Artichoke Dip; marinated the shrimp (loosely followed a recipe from Ina garten)

-Caramelized the onions and seared the steak

Current total: $211.48

Tomorrow I have to
-go to the house early to set up and see what I'm working with
-last minute shopping, including plastic cocktail cups/napkins
-call around asking if there's any old flowers I can take
-make the champagne cocktail (which I decided to be the only cocktail of the night, as beer bought by the couple will also be served)
-toast the crostini
-cook the shrimp
-assemble the shrimp skewers

All in all the whole process was a lot more easier than I expected, due to the fact that I drastically altered the menu to only 4 savory items (one which was mostly pre-made), 3 desserts (one is just assembling a s'mores platter), and one cocktail, and as a result i should be well under budget, all thanks in a part to all of your recommendations

However, one last set of questions for my CHOW friends:
-what's an "elegant" (a.k.a. less casual) way to present what is essentially chip and dip?
-would serving ice in a champagne punch type of cocktail be a travesty?
-the bulgogi meat right now seems a bit thin to skewer: with the extra money would a lettuce wrap with some shavings of radish and carrot be a better option?
-what's an elegant, non-messy to present skewered items?

Jun 02, 2011
fattychalupa in Home Cooking

Need help with a 60 person cocktail party on a budget!

With the party just a couple days away, here is the final menu:

-Spinach Artichoke Dip (bride's request)

-Haute Pockets: Puff Pastry squares filled with caramelized onions, gruyere, and roasted red peppers- thinking about making these ahead of time and freezing, and then baking the morning of

-Shrimp skewers: marinated in mustard/garlic/herbs: because U-15 shrimp would be way too expensive I'll be using a smaller variety, and perhaps skewering them with cherry tomatoes and basil to make almost a salad type of hors d'oeuvre

-Vietnamese Grilled Pork (Thit Nuong): I can have our family's restaurant make this for me which is a huge help. (And the best part is it'll be free) Will either do skewers or some sort of lettuce wrap

-DIY Smores

-Mexican Wedding Cookies: Last minute request of the bride: because of this I decided to axe my originally intended Lychee-Pomegranate Panna Cotta (a bit disappointing because i was really looking forward to making it but at the same time it is for the better since it is a huge space taker in the fridge, the layered effect is time consuming, and pomegranate juice is downright friggin expensive)

-Orange Scented Carrot Cake (bride's request): one 9 inch round decorated like a wedding cake and 30 or so cupcakes

Any other suggestions are still appreciated!

May 31, 2011
fattychalupa in Home Cooking

Need help with a 60 person cocktail party on a budget!

I forgot to mention this before, but the party will be taking place at the couple's house- Both the kitchen and backyard are small to say the least, meaning that

1) the party will most likely be focused all throughout the house since everyone can't fit in the backyard
2) Most of the cooking will be done in my kitchen (which I prefer) during the week, stored in bags, and then assembled/reheated at the party

I've sent a tentative menu to the coupel for them to pick and choose what they would like to have- all of the selections are mostly things that I can make during the week leading up to the party or atleast the morning of the party.

-Rosemary roasted cashews
-spinach artichoke dip
-roasted shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce
-some sort of pulled pork and coleslaw appetizer (trying to think of an easy way to serve this- either small sandwiches or a type of toast or crostini)
- some sort of chicken salad in wonton cups
-steak panini with roasted peppers and pesto (leaning away from this as it would take up too much time beforehand)
-Small BLAT sandwiches with basil mayo (if they choose this hopefully i'll find a way to make it beforehand)
-"haute pockets" : saw this on foodnetwork one time- puff pastry squares which I'll fill with bacon, cheese, and onions
-One-bite Skewers and kabobs: I usually don't like to do this but i'll have to cook the meat during the week and skewer them the day of the party to reheat in the oven/chafing dishes. Thinking of korean bulgogi, flank steak with zucchini, and mustard-garlic-herb chicken
-some type of sticky wings i'll make during the week and heat beforehand as well
-Chorizo and potato empanadas
-fresh fruit platter
-lychee pomegranate panna cotta
-DIY smores bar
-assorted cookies and bakery items I'll buy
-mini chocolate tiramisu cups
-cups layered with almond cake, chocolate mousse, and berries

And also I sent them some alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktail suggestions
-Fresh Strawberry Lemonade
-Pomegranate Cosmopolitans
-Raspberry Mojitos
-Passion Fruit and Peach Coolers
-Tropical Champagne Punch

As a result of the smallish kitchen I will be working in and the sheer amount of food being done by one person I've axed any thing that needs to be made or served immediately, and I'm going to try to fit in the cost of renting chafing dishes into the budget as I'm not sure the couple's oven is equipped to heat food for a 60 person party. They have requested however for spinach artichoke dip and a carrot cake that I've been making for a couple years now that I've adapted from Ina Garten's recipe- one round one that I'll decorate to look like a traditional wedding cake and then another batch for cupcakes.

Now what I do need help with which I hope you guys can answer is:
-what's a cost-effective way to serve all this food buffet style? This isn't a backyard bbq where I use disposable foil pans
-This might sound stupid, but after mixing the cocktails the morning of the party, what's a good way to store/dispense them? I don't plan on buying 3 $20 beverage dispensers just to be used once.
-The come and go concept is really giving me a headache on how much food/drink to make. I'm guessing each person will stay for an hour (hour and a half max), so I was planning on 8-10 pieces each. How many drinks should I assume per person?
-How much ice should I get per person, and what's a good way to store it during the day? I don't have time to buy ice an hour before the party, since I assume I'll be busy getting everything ready.

And as a final note- the party will be in 2 weeks, and while I will try to keep all of you up to date as much as I can most of the time I'm too lazy or just too busy to take pictures while I cook or during the event. Its probably the main reason why I stopped writing a blog that I started a year back

May 21, 2011
fattychalupa in Home Cooking

Need help with a 60 person cocktail party on a budget!

First of all, thank you all for your advice and suggestions: I will definitely be taking them into account. I'm actually a graduating high school senior, and am my sister's little brother, and have been cooking for the quite a long time actually.

I've just talked to the couple and they have cleared up a few things and I have to admit my original post definitely made the situation far worse than it really is once I was told of all the details:
-the couple will be paying for all of the alcohol, which I was not informed of until yesterday
-the party will still be for 3 hours with the same number of guests at the same time. However, the bride has made it clear that the party isn't meant to be a replacement for a meal, but more like a pre-dinner affair. She believes that guests will be stopping by for at the most an hour and then heading off to dinner on their own. While this definitely eases the situation, it does complicate the estimates of how much food I need to make

Again, thank you for all of your suggestions, and to clear things up if I felt that this would've been too much work or that I was in some way being taken advantage of I would've told them to hire a caterer a long time ago

May 20, 2011
fattychalupa in Home Cooking

Need help with a 60 person cocktail party on a budget!

My sister's friend who is going to be married is hosting a cocktail party for those who cannot make the wedding, and lucky me my sister volunteered me to cater the event. Don't get me wrong- I love to cook and am totally willing to do it but I'm finding it hard to see eye to eye when it comes to their allotted budget. I remember a Top Chef episode where the contestants somewhat successfully catered a high end 60 person cocktail party for 60 people on $350, but the part of my situation that is somewhat irritating me is the fact that
- the party includes 60 people
- it going to last for 3 hours during the evening when most people would usually eat dinner, which means most likely the food must be substantial enough to serve as a meal
-the budget has to include decorations/ambiance
-the budget moreover is also including all of the drinks!#@*$!

As a result i gave what I thought was a conservative estimate of $10/person, which I thought was actually on the cheaper side, which my sister automatically ruled out as too expensive, so I'm going to have to stay around $400.

Right now the only strategies I can think of so far are:

- leaning towards cheaper proteins: flank steak and chicken thighs instead of breasts for kebabs
- definitely NOT stocking a full bar- I'll most likely have 3 choices of cocktails that I'll make beforehand and shake with ice during the party upon request
- I know for a cocktail party with such a large amount of people one should maybe have around 8-10 different choices but do you think I could save some bucks by limiting the selection down to 5-6?
-This is supposed to be a special event, I know, but I honestly don't think there's a way to reasonably rent or include actual glass/stemware, any utensils or tablecloths. It's definitely going to have to be plastic/disposable drinkware and paper tablecloths
-Luckily I just invested in a lot of outdoor decorations including battery operated lanterns, cafe lights, candles, and a firepit, so most of the decor should be covered
-since I plan on bringing over a portable firepit, I might make a platter for DIY s'mores to offset a possibly small volume of desserts

Any other tips you guys might have to help me out?

May 18, 2011
fattychalupa in Home Cooking