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Chocolate Caribbean Rum Cake


½ cup toasted walnuts, crushed
1½ cups granulated white sugar
½ cup butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp canola oil
1¾ cup all-purpose flour or cake flour
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp.baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 box instant chocolate pudding
¾ cup chocolate milk
½ cup canola oil
4 large eggs
¾ cup dark rum, not Navy Rum, (Bacardi 8, Havana Club Anjeo)

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Glaze:
2 Tbsp. butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup amber rum

Preheat oven to 325° F

Cake

Grease a Bundt pan heavily with butter or shortening, then flour the greased pan - shake out excess flour. Make sure you get the cone in the middle covered as well! You can use walnut meal, or almond meal, or pecan meal instead of flour.

Spread crushed walnuts evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In a mixer, combine the 1½ cups granulated sugar with the ½ cup butter and 3 tablespoons oil on medium speed until mixture is well incorporated - about 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cocoa powder, pudding mix and salt.

Once well blended add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix at medium speed until the mixture resembles damp sand - about 1 minute.

Pour the chocolate milk in a large bowl then add the ¾ cup rum, vanilla extract, and remaining ½ cup vegetable oil, whisk together well. Add the eggs and finish whisking it until well blended.

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix at medium speed until it is well combined and no lumps remain, about 2 - 3 minutes. The batter will thicken as it mixes. (I know, I know, I know... I should use the blade mixer and not the whisk. So sue me!)

Pour mixture into the prepared Bundt pan.

Bake for 60 - 75 minutes, or until a dry knife blade inserted into the cake comes out clean and dry. Once ready remove from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Do not remove it from the pan yet!

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze:

Place the butter, water, cocoa powder and sugar in a heavy gauge saucepan, cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid mixture is uniform in colour.

Remove from heat then add the rum and vanilla. Stir well.  Careful! - When making this it likes to try to boil over!!

Drizzle the hot rum glaze over the cake a little at a time - continue until all the rum glaze has been absorbed by the cake. You may want to use a skewer to poke small holes throughout to allow for deeper penetration.

Once the glaze has been absorbed, gently hit the side of the pan with the palm of your hand.  Thump it all around.  Once the cake feels loosened from the sides of the pan shake it gentle side to side until it begins to make thumping or slapping sound, the sound indicates it has “released” from the pan.

Place a plate or cake server over the pan and then turn it over. The cake should fall to the plate.  There may be some walnuts left behind so gather them up and sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Let the cake sit overnight uncovered (8 hours at a minimum) before serving. It can sit for a few days even and it just keeps getting better and better as it does.

Top with whipped cream, powdered sugar or serve it plain.

White Lasagna with Chicken, Spinach and Bechamel Sauce


3 lbs chicken legs and thighs
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and minced

 

Ricotta and Spinach Filling

1 lb frozen spinach, thawed, drained well, chopped

2 cups ricotta cheese (about 1 pound)

1 cup cottage cheese, drained well
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


White Sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups milk
1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp white pepper
6 bay leaves
1 tsp fennel seed, roasted and crushed
1 tsp salt

1 1/2 lb lasagna noodles

2 - 4 cups mozzarella cheese, or whatever cheese you like, grated (I used cheese curds cause I had 'em)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and bake for 45 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, remove the meat from the bones, dice and set aside.
 

In a 3 quart sauce pan add the milk, bay leaves, fennel, white pepper and salt, place over medium low heat.  Bring to a slow boil then turn down heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. 

Once 20 minutes has elapsed, remove from heat and set aside to let cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves from the milk after it has cooled.

Place spinach, ricotta, cottage cheese, and the parmesan cheese in a medium size bowl. Mix together well, set aside.

Place a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter and cook until it stops foaming. Add, onions and garlic, sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the flour to the hot butter and onions, stirring well.  Cook for 3 minutes, continue stirring to prevent scorching. You now have made a roux! Remove from heat.

Add the hot milk (bay leaves removed right?) slowly to the roux, whisking steadily. 

Once all the milk has been whisked in, place pot back on stove over medium heat, add the cheese and nutmeg then cook, stirring continuously, until mixture comes to a boil, then lower heat. 



Add cooked chicken and sausage to the sauce, cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and set aside while you cook the noodles.

Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water until they are pliable but not full cooked, al dente, about half the suggested cooking time as indicated on the box.  They will finish cooking in the oven. Once cooked to the al dente stage, remove from heat and drain. Run under cold water to cool off, drain again and set aside.

Get ready to make some magic. Note:  I used aluminum trays for this recipe as I made a large batch for freezing a few dinners.

Using 13 x 9 deep sided casserole dish, spread a thick layer of white sauce on the bottom, about 1/3 of the sauce. Then place a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce.
 

Place half of the ricotta and spinach mixture over the noodles. Cover with another layer of noodles, add white sauce. Cover with noodles.
 Repeat with the white sauce and another layer of noodles.

Add the last half of the spinach ricotta mixture. Cover with a layer of noodles. Place the remaining sauce over the last layer of noodles.

Cover the top of the lasagna with the mozzarella cheese (I used cheese curds on this one).

Cover the lasagna with foil then bake the lasagna for 20. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until bubbling.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving, to prevent 3rd degree burns when you dive into this.

Serve topped with diced fresh tomatoes or fresh parsley, or both if you are daring.

Enjoy. I know we did.

Makes two trays of lasagna. Freeze one for later.  If not freezing or feeding a lot of people, cut the recipe in half.



Almost Cheddar Bay Biscuits



2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
¾ cup cold whole milk
¼ cup cold butter
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
4 oz (1 heaping cup) grated cheddar cheese

Butter finish:
¼ cup butter, melted
½ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° F

Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl by pressing the Bisquick and butter together with your fingertips or use a pastry cutter, don't over mix. When the butter is at a pea-sized lump stop blending. Larger lumps of butter are better than smaller in this case.

Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Mix gently by hand until barely combined. If you over mix the ingredients the biscuits will be dense and unappetizing, like a Tea Party politician.

Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased baking tray or cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

Melt ¼ cup of butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder, salt and the dried parsley flakes. Let sit for 10 minutes.

When biscuits are cooked, remove them from the oven and using a pastry brush, brush the warm garlic butter over the biscuits.
Serve warm.

Makes 10 - 16 biscuits, depends on how big ya want ‘em.

Snowy Palms Resort