Sushi Boat? Sushi Skate!

Serve your next sushi meal (or party plater) on a mini handmade skateboard sushi tray made from laminated maple veneer just like a standard street deck skateboard. (fresh sushi not included)

I got an inquiry last week from a local skate shop that is looking for a few dozen sushi tray skate decks to use in a cross-promotion at a local sushi restaurant. I came up with this design over the weekend.

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The Too Much Chocolate Cake

This cake can be decorated just about any way you want. Fresh berries taste great with the whipped cream frosting.

 A chocolate cake that is super easy to make, and turns out moist and delicious every time? Yum! We can’t even take credit for inventing the Too Much Chocolate cake,  it came from Allrecipes.com.  But it has quickly become the go-to special occasion cake in this house, especially when paired with the Whipped Cream/Cream Cheese Frosting (also from Allrecipes.com). 

Too Much Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased pan (two round pans will make for a nice layer cake ).
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. If in doubt….underbake! I’ve had good luck taking it out even a few minutes before the center of the cake has sprung up and it’s delicious then – a little gooey and brownie-like, but still firm enough to frost. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate.
The Too Much Chocolate Cake was a big hit at a recent birthday party.

Whipped  Cream/Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.

Anyone who likes chocolate will love this cake, and it couldn’t be easier to make. Enjoy!

Return of the Weekndrs

Sorry for the long hiatus, folks. We lost our Weekndr mojo a few months back after the iMac harddrive fell victim to a power surge (note to self: back up your iTunes and iPhoto regularly).

But Santa was kind enough to deliver us a netbook for Christmas, so for this new year we resolve to bring back Weekndr. We hope you’ll tune in!

Just Another Thursday Night in South Pasadena

After a brutal commute home from a long work day, I can’t think of anything more refreshing than stepping off the Metro at the Mission Street station to find myself smack dab in the middle of the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market.

South Pasadena Farmer's Market

balloon manThe event takes over the center of town every Thursday night with vendors hawking locally grown fruits and vegetables, flowers, and other local products like honey, nuts and beans, and organic roaster chickens. And it seems like the whole town comes out to celebrate.

Even better than the groceries are the food vendors who cook up sidewalk cuisine to rival the best of them. I headed straight for the fresh tamale stand and chased one down with a buttery roasted corn on the cob. If you prefer barbeque tri tip or Peruvian or Korean or Greek or Vegan, they have something for you too.

The kids entertained themselves popping bubbles with our new friend, who we still only know as “the bubble man” (you’ll meet him later on Weekndr). He sets up camp in the grass among throngs of kids and creates giant bubbles, tiny bubbles, and everything in between, while the kids stand at attention ready to pop.

The girls topped off this night by convincing us to pony up for a pair of balloon wands, ordering up one with an alien head and the other sporting a picture of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. The five-dollar fee was the well worth the 20 minutes we waited in peace while the girls patiently watched the Balloon Man’s inflatable creations come to life.

Cereal and Grilled Cheese Cafe. Really?

What will they think of next?

They say most small  businesses fail within the first two years, so I have to wonder about the chance for success of Mix n’ Munch, a cereal and grilled cheese cafe coming soon to the heart of downtown South Pasadena.

If I had to open a cereal and grilled cheese cafe I suppose South Pas would be the place to do it. This is definitely a kid-dominated town, and I have to assume kids are the target audience here. But still, how many bowls of cereal do you have to sell to pay rent on the most popular commercial stretch of Mission Street?

Not to mention, don’t most people go out to eat so they don’t have to go through the trouble of preparing a meal? And aren’t a bowl of cereal and a grilled cheese sandwich two of the easier meals to prepare?

I’ll reserve (anymore) judgement for opening day, but if you happen to see the Mix n’ Munch sign replaced by a for lease sign, remember, you heard it here first.

Oh My Ganache That’s Good Chocolate Cake!

Southern Devil's Food Cake with Ganache Frosting

Southern Devil's Food Cake from FineCooking.com.

When I saw the devil’s food cake recipe in the recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine, I knew I’d have to make it. A ganache frosting made with a pound of dark chocolate and heavy cream, magically melted into a creamy, shiny icing, with me the alchemist of this dreamy dessert?

Cutting the cakeThe only question was when. Did a cake this decadent need a special occasion? Or like Miles and his ’61 Cheval Blanc in the movie Sideways, is the day you make the Fine Cooking Southern Devil’s Food Cake your special occasion?

I decided to make it the next day. Most of the ingredients were already in my pantry, but I did run to the market for buttermilk, heavy cream and a pound of dark chocolate (at least 65% cocoa recommended).

Something to note about this recipe is most ingredients need to be softened or brought to room temperature, even the 3 egggs. Since the gananche needs to be made at least 8 hours before the cake, I made the ganache early in the morning and set out the eggs and butter all day.

Chocolate Ganache

The devil is in the frosting. Four layers of chocolate ganache to be precise.

To make the ganache you chop up the 16 oz. of dark chocolate, then bring a pint of heavy cream to a boil. Remove the cream from heat and mix in the chopped up chocolate bar and 2 tbsp. of softened butter. When blended, simply cover with plastic wrap and let sit 8 hours.

Unusual ingredients in the cake batter – mayonnaise and buttermilk  – made the finished cake incredibly moist.

Southern Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Ganache

This cake was so rich one of the kids, who is a sweet-aholic and loves dark chocolate, only ate a few bites and accused the ‘bad cake’ of giving her a tummy ache. It’s a cake for grownups. A little goes a long way, so we gave away half the cake and still ate delicious chocolate cake for days.