Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Once in a blue moon...
All will be forgiven however when you get a load of what I've got to share with you today. Maybe not quite as exciting as finding out where the cardinals are nesting this year, but close, very close.
I realize the Food Network has become a bit passé in certain circles, and in a little over a week the idea that channel has become too old school may (or may not) be reinforced by the debut of the newer, presumably hipper Cooking Channel (set to replace the Fine Living Channel on Memorial Day). I read somewhere the Food Network owns the Cooking Channel so I doubt one will take the other on in any confrontational way, but browsing the shows pitched the Cooking Channel seems to feature a series of younger, attractive faces. Doing what exactly, we will soon discover.
My point (and I did have one at some point back there) is that I started out a long time ago watching cooking shows on Public Television and so eventually when the Food Network came around it was an easy sell for me. Whether or not it has since become too commercial or has been eclipsed by other network offerings or web based enterprises I cannot say other than to voice my own subjective opinion. What I do know is that I still enjoy getting their "Recipe of the Day" email updates.
Whether or not I ever prepare the actual dish featured it almost always gets me looking at some recipe somewhere, and as a result, something to eat happens here at Austin Agrodolce.
Because whether or not I am posting, we sure enough are eating here.
So what do I have up my oven mitt today? None other than Chinese Five Spice Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes.
CUP CAKES! Planning ahead a little, what wouldn't be fun about cupcakes on the upcoming holiday weekend? You can grill up a storm, swim, spit watermelon seeds all you want, but if you want folks to know it is a special occasion, if you wish to make the point that by golly there is something different about this long weekend as opposed to any other, then in my book somebody is going to need to trot out some little iced cakes. Pronto.
As is usual around here, "somebody" means me. But before running these up the Memorial Day flagpole for the entire family, a test batch was called for.
I already had a large bunch of organic carrots hanging around the crisper bin so once I located a can of crushed pineapple and that neglected bottle of Chinese Five Spice I was good to go.
I broke my own rule about sticking strictly to the recipe for the first try and substituted organic apple sauce for the oil. Heeding the comments posted on the recipe site I decided to make half the icing recipe, and as it turns out, these were both good calls.
The cake has a tendency to stick to the cupcake liners a bit, (which may or may not have to do with not using oil) but I don't mind going to the extra "effort" to get that last bit of cake off the paper, especially when it means I don't have the cooking oil calories to fret over. Hell, if I accidentally eat some paper I'll just count it as extra fiber.
Following that same line, I used Neufchatel rather than cream cheese for the icing, just to stave off the idea that eating cup cakes during bathing suit season somehow represents flawed thinking. Pffft. That's what those extra big "beach" towels are made for anyway, am I right?
You'll note (if you read the recipe that is) this calls for 1/4 cup of crushed pineapple. The smallest can I can find is 8 ounces, so rather than make a double batch of cupcakes I used up the rest of the fruit in a batch of carrot salad. I mean, once you've got the grater out and your counter is already looking a bit like a carrot exploded there, why not? Grate a few extra carrots for some salad and you can shave a few minutes off that upper body workout (at least for one arm....).
I mean what if the recipe yielded nothing but a dozen bits of nastiness? I wouldn't want to come back here, take the post down, apologize, blah blah blah. So yeah, I tried one. Before lunch. Without icing because again, who wants a bowl of icing with only icky cakes to put it on? What luck that the cakes turn out to be delicious, moist, and just spicy enough to be really interesting. After my not so bold initial recipe departures, the only other change I'd contemplate would be to add chopped nuts (pecans being my first choice). A bit of crunch is never a bad thing in a cupcake and after all, these are already carroty pineappley good for you.
Speaking of yields, when I followed the directions to fill the pan 3/4 full, I ended up with 17 cupcakes rather than 12. I don't know if I have some mutant pan or if the silly thing shrank in the wash or something, but there you have it. 17 cupcakes (16 after taste testing). And that halved recipe of icing provided on the Food Network site provided gracious plenty to ice every single cake with just enough left in the pan for me to get two good finger swipes in and thereby totally obliterate what was left of my appetite.
Oh - you might note a couple of paint swatches and a stick in the last photo? The reason for the not so much posting lately is that we've been painting our living room and home office and then taking advantage of the chance to rearrange all the art in both rooms. We did it slowly, taking lots of breaks, mostly occasioned by the need to oh so carefully disconnect the television components and computer equipment. But we are all done now, everything is up and running as it should be, only now surrounded by gorgeous COLOR.
Which I gotta say, makes me a happy happy gal. Five Spice Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Don't wait for a holiday weekend or a paint job finished to try them, but if you do? You won't be sorry!