florida cream cake

Besides red velvet, my favorite cake ever is the Boston Cream Pie. You know, I have no idea why it is called “pie” and not cake. Weird Bostonian lingo?

Anyway, I remember having my 18th birthday in the college dorms and my roommate surprised me with a BCP after falling in love with her mom’s cream pie she made for us when we went to visit her house and family a few weeks prior. 

Well, I’ve never made one, so having a dinner party at a friend’s house was my excuse to make my version of the cream pie I’ve had in my mental file cabinet for awhile now. I dont know about you but I love the dark chocolate and orange combo. That’s kinda how this came to life.
Florida Cream Pie!
My whole thinking behind this was to infuse every aspect of a traditional BCP with citrus elements. OK, I did take the short cut with a cake mix and prepared pastry cream, but I made the ganache myself.  Not gonna lie, I don’t make too many cakes from scratch because I feel like I can make a cake taste damn good with a box mix. I had about 4 or 5 citrus fruits (grapefruits, tangerines and oranges) on hand, just so I had enough zest and juice. I used the juices and zest interchangeably throughout making this. It was a little rando.
In addition to a dash of cinnamon, a tablespoon of creme fraiche and a tablespoon each fresh squeezed citrus juices, I added their zest to the cake mix. After the 9” cakes baked and cooled, I squeezed the juice of half a grapefruit over both cakes so the yummy juice could soak in. I bought pastry cream at work and added a teaspoon of almond extract, more zest and juice of the fruits and about a tablespoon of whipped topping. 

I bought a 1/2 pound block of high quality, dark chocolate and grated it, while heating up 7 oz. heavy cream on the stove with a dash of cinnamon, orange zest, teaspoon of almond extract and a splash of orange juice. Just before the cream came to a boil, I poured it over the chocolate and whisked until the chocolate was melted and smooth.
The cake was assembled and left in the fridge to set. After about 4 hours, the silky smooth blanket of ganache was poured on top. 

The cake did a little tilt as the night wore on. But, tasted good nonetheless! 


tortilla soup

I’m still here! And cooking! I really will literally quit my day job and become a full-time writer. 2011, you know what’s up.
So, a fun thing for me to do is replicate dishes from movies. Ratatouille from ‘Ratatouille’, Thomas Keller’s sandwich from ‘Spanglish’ and…soup.
Well, I really love the movie “Tortilla Soup.” My husband rented it for me awhile back… back when we weren’t the Stephenson’s yet… and when I was dipping my toes into this whole cooking thing. He said I would really like all the food in the film. Lucky me, I found it for sale at Blockbuster a couple weeks ago – they have those 5 for $20 tables, you know. We have an addiction to those tables. But, seriously, sometimes you do find a few good ones. 🙂
Anyway, since watching it again I’ve had this itch to make tortilla soup.
Chicken, Tortilla & Cerveza Soup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapenos, diced (with seeds)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beer (I used Corona Light)
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can corn, drained
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
juice of 2 limes
handful of chopped cilantro
1 avocado, pitted + diced
tortilla chips

In a large saucepan/stockpot, heat the oil on medium. Add in the diced onion, season and let sweat for 2 minutes.
Once the onion is tender, add the jalapenos and garlic. Season with salt + pepper (1.5 tablespoon of each). Stir and let cook for 2 more minutes. Pour the broth, beer, tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and corn into the pot and bring to a roaring boil. (If you like, season again with salt + pepper, only about a teaspoon of each this time). Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to a mild simmer and add the chicken breasts. Cook for approx. 20 minutes, until chicken is done. When the chicken is done, remove it and shred on a cutting board using a fork (or your fingers — once it’s cooled!). Add the shredded chicken back to the pot along with the lime juice and cilantro; stir.
Serve piping hot! with diced avocado and tortilla chips. 

It was a record breaking dinner, I think we finished our bowls in under 2 minutes. Other comments: I think the beer was fantastico! It was a last minute decision. OK, confession, I didn’t buy enough chicken broth. I panicked, looked in the fridge and grabbed the 2 month old Corona we had and in it went. I am a firm believer in improvisation. When I can, I will. When I can’t, I still do.
¡Buen provecho!