Welcome! I’m Nalena and I am a wannabe baker and cook. I love to toodle around in the kitchen creating tasty treats and food while avoiding going to the gym. I reside in the funky neighborhood of Capitol Hill in Seattle, though it’s not as funky as Fremont; we don’t have a life-size rocket or a massive statue of Lenin. We do have a statue of Jimi Hendrix, but it is tiny in comparison to the rocket and Lenin. By the way, that Lenin statue is for sale, at a measly $150,000. It did come all the way from Russia after all.
I am married to a computer guy, by the name of Jon, who reads an exceptional number of books (an average of three novels per week, no joke) and who designed this blog space for me with his savvy skills. I have a feeling he will also become the editor-in-chief of this blog, as I like to make up words and write grammatically incorrect sentences. C’est la vie. Oh, he also likes to do origami, like really complicated origami. Right now sitting next me is one of his creations, a perfectly cute green turtle.
In this blog here I will share the recipes I create in our tiny kitchen. Jon will make guest appearances here and there, and is usually also cooking up a storm alongside me. I am a pseudo-pescetarian. So it’s unlikely for you to find any dishes with meat, but trust me, you don’t need meat to make delicious food. I am inspired by folks like Mark Bittman, Deborah Madison, Michael Pollan, Ded (from Smitten Kitchen), Heidi Swanson (101 Cookbooks), and Martha Stewart, among others. I like simple, made-with-love food. My hope is to inspire others to try out something new in their kitchen. And don’t forget to let me know how it goes.
As I write this in grey-sky Seattle, my parents are parading around Europe. They are on a three-week trip through places like Madrid, Paris, Luxembourg, and Venice. So, to not die in jealousy and sadness that they didn’t bring me along, I decided to make use of the many carrots from our CSA Box (Community Supported Agriculture) and make a carrot cake to distract myself. I was inspired by Sweetapolita to make a four layer cake with plenty of cream cheese frosting between each layer of cake. I used a carrot cake recipe from Epicurious, which used fresh ginger in the batter. I loved the kick the ginger gave to the final baked cake. If you own a food processor, I recommend using it to grate the carrots using the grater attachment. It will save your arms, I promise. And to celebrate fall I added some maple syrup to the cream cheese frosting. I love how it all turned out.
PS: If you live near me and want some cake please come visit me. I can’t eat all of this cake!
PPS: I am still working on the links and getting some more content up. It will be up soon enough.
Carrot Cake (from EpiCurious):
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups grated peeled carrots
- 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Butter bottom of pan and then line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and ginger. Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off waxed paper; cool cakes completely.
Frosting (adapted from Glorious Treats):
½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes, but should still be cool)
8 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream, heavy whipping cream (or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds)
*Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
*Add maple and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
*Slowly add the heavy cream.
*Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)
To put cake together (from Sweetapolita):
Slice cakes horizontally in half. Place top of 1 cake, dome-side down, on a platter. Spread with a third of the coconut icing leaving a narrow border of cake around edge. Lay the bottom of that cake, cut-side down, on top. Spread with half the remaining coconut icing, leaving a narrow cake border. Top with the bottom half of the second cake, cut-side down. Spread with the remaining coconut icing, leaving a cake border. Top with the final layer, cut-side down. Spread with plain icing right to the edges. Garnish withwalnuts. Best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.