I love you...

like a [phat] kid loves [cheese]cake

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Iron Power!




6 blood tests [7 if you include the botched one], 4 medications, and endless blueberry smoothies later, the doctor still does not know what's wrong with me. BUT, this is what she does know. I am......*drum roll, please*

* Chronically anemic. Like, four year's worth happening right now.
* Severely dehydrated.

Until my iron levels improve drastically, they can't run any other blood tests, which include those for thalassemia or Vitamin D.

Oh, I am negative for strep and mono, which makes things odder because now there is no explanation for my spontaneously ballooned throat glands that made it impossible to breathe, let alone eat or talk.

Since the semi-diagnosis, I have been on a major diet change. Basically: all-iron-all-the-time. What does this mean for my dessert cravings? Hell.

But fear not, because I will not let anemia crush my baking! In fact, I just cranked out this killer recipe with some leftover bananas. The cake was made with walnuts, but substitute almonds for more iron. The eggs add some nutrients, too, although in this version, I used blended tofu since my roommate doesn't eat eggs. The result was still a moist cake with a great caramel crunch top!

Take that anemia!

CARAMEL WALNUT UPSIDE-DOWN BANANA CAKE

Topping:
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves or pieces [or almonds]

Cake:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup tofu, pureed
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3 large)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

For topping:
Spray 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Bring butter, sugar, and corn syrup to boil in medium saucepan, stirring constantly until butter melts. Boil syrup 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Spread topping in prepared pan. Let topping cool completely.

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Beat in tofu, then mashed bananas and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 2 additions just until combined. Spoon batter into pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Cut around cake. Place platter over pan. Holding pan and platter together, turn over. Let stand 5 minutes, then gently lift off pan. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When Life Gives you Lemons...Make Pancakes!





Oh blog, how have I missed thee.

Not that you had gone anywhere. This was a classic case of "Too busy, will update later" that turned into "I have a blog?" Epic phail.

But since I have been sick for the past four days and the doctor still can't figure out what is wrong with me, I have been prohibited from any activity whatsoever except for school. And only cus that's mandatory. And so I no longer have any excuse to hide behind as to why I haven't updated! I've still been cooking/baking, but this homegirl's gotta prove it!

As of July, I have experienced a major pancake obsession. You name 'em, I love 'em. Buckwheat, blue-corn-pine-nut [a specialty of New Mexico that I just fell in love with when I visited], good ol' fashioned buttermilk, I just adore them!

This is a tweak on an old pancake recipe I've had lying around for years. The original called for milk and cornmeal, but I like the denseness that buttermilk provides. Add some lemon zest, and I found myself with a fresh new pancake!

I've also recently been trying to devise other pancake toppings. Maple syrup and butter, while delicious, bores me after a while. On the morning that I made these, I had some plums in the fridge, so a quick boil with some sugar [brown sugar, the only sugar I ever use] revealed a tasty compote and a wonderful sourness to the sweet pancakes!

Even my brother loved them, and he's one of my biggest critics...success!

Ideas for next time: Orange zest; ricotta cheese; mascarpone, nectarines?

Lemon-Cornmeal Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs, separated
Zest of 2 lemons

1) Preheat a griddle to medium heat. Whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk and 3 egg yolks.
3) With clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites until they hold firm peaks. Fold in lemon zest.
4) Add the dry ingredients to buttermilk mixture, and then carefully fold in egg white mixture, being careful not to deflate them.
5) Drop batter by 1/4 cups onto griddle. Don't flatten them or they will deflate. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook for a minute longer or until browned.

Yield: 18 pancakes

Plum Compote

4-5 plums, diced
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

Bring plums and sugar up to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until thickened and plums have broken down.

Serve hot over pancakes.