Sunday, June 27, 2010

Not Quite Teriyaki


This recipe is inspired by my Filipino heritage and one of my favorite dishes - my mom's Chicken Adobo. I'll post the recipe for adobo some other time, but one of the base ingredients (besides chicken) is soy sauce. I love making adobo, especially when it comes out tasting just like my mom's ;-)

Sometimes, however, I'm too impatient (or maybe too lazy =P) to measure out the proportions of soy sauce, water, vinegar, etc. necessary for the tangy deliciousness of adobo. So I started just mixing things together without bothering to measure anything, and ironically (or maybe not so ironically) the initial experimentation process turned out to take longer than just following the adobo recipe in the first place! But the process has since been refined (sort of) and has led to this recipe, which I dubbed "Not Quite Teriyaki." It is basically a soy-based marinade that is sweet like teriyaki sauce, but not thick or syrupy like most teriyaki sauces. And it excludes one of the key teriyaki ingredients.

Since this was a make-it-up-as-I-go recipe, I'm just going to list the ingredients and guesstimate the measurements. I'll include some variants that I've tried that turned out pretty okay. The final marinade is highly dependent on personal preference...hence a lot of taste-testing along the way ;-) I like to use this marinade with both chicken and fish (salmon, to be exact - it's my favorite).

Base Ingredients:
Soy sauce
Sugar (or sugar substitute - I'm partial to Splenda)
Ground ginger
Garlic powder

Variants (additional ingredients)

Orange juice, lemon or lime juice (for a citrus-soy marinade)
Black pepper
Vinegar (for a bit of a tangy bite)

For the base marinade: Mix about 1-2 tsp ginger, 1-2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 - 1 cup sugar. Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup soy sauce, 1 - 1.5 cups water and mix.

What I actually do is dump some sugar in a bowl, sprinkle ginger and garlic powder over it so it makes sort of a thin layer on top of the sugar, mix it together, then add water and soy sauce and taste-test to to make sure it's not too watery, salty or sweet. Then I proceed to adjust the amount of each ingredient until the sauce taste is to my liking.

For the citrus-soy variant, add about equal amounts of soy sauce and orange juice and maybe a couple tablespoons of lemon or lime juice (or a mix of both). Again, the final product will be very dependent on personal preference.

Once the sauce is mixed, place chicken or fish in a sealable container and, using a fork, poke holes into the meat to let the sauce seep in. Pour the sauce over the meat so that it is mostly submerged. Let it sit for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. When you're ready to cook, place the meat in a broiling or baking pan and:

For fish: broil 4-5 minutes on each side

For chicken: broil 5-7 minutes on each side or bake at 375 F for 1.25 - 1.5 hours (for chicken, I think baking is better, if you have the time!)

To make a sort of "au jus" type dipping sauce with the leftover marinade, pour it into a saucepan and bring to a low boil, then let it simmer for roughly 10 minutes. Serve meat over rice or noodles (or by itself!) and pour sauce over dish as desired!

I've made this plenty of times with both chicken and fish, but am usually too eager to dig in to stop and take a picture of the finished product! Thankfully, Gayatri swooped in with her camera one time when I made salmon, pictured above with brown rice and seaweed salad - store-bought, but something I'll attempt in the future!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chocolate collar cake

It’s been over a week since we promised a chocolate cake recipe, so I think it’s about time to post one :P
Karla and I were at Borders one day during finals week, attempting to study for exams but mostly g-chatting with each other, even though we were sitting at the same table. During one of our breaks, I was browsing through a cookbook and saw a cake so pretty that I immediately wanted to go home and bake it. I settled for buying the book, and we managed to get a decent amount of studying done ;-)
Karla and I and our friend Carrie got together once exams were over and everyone was back from visiting family and, after a delicious zucchini lasagna dinner (we’ll post later!), we gave this cake a shot. The recipe is from the book Crazy for Chocolate, published by Bay Books:

Chocolate cake:
125g (4 oz) butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
1/2 cup strawberry/ mixed berry jam
1 1/3 cup plain flour
1 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder (can use melted dark chocolate)
3/4 cup buttermilk

Chocolate buttercream icing:
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 egg whites
~6 oz butter/margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz melted and cooled dark chocolate

Chocolate collar:
~ 1 oz. White chocolate melts, melted
~ 2.5 oz. Semi sweet chocolate melts, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Grease an 8 inch square (or 9 inch round) cake tin with butter.

  2. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and creamy. Add eggs and beat well. Add jam and beat until smooth.

  3. Add sifted flour, baking soda and cocoa alternately with buttermilk and mix well.

  4. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center.

  5. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack for cooling completely.

  6. Chocolate buttercream icing (recipe source: Off the Shelf by Donna Hay ): Beat together the egg whites and sugar until soft peaks form. Add the butter, a little at a time, and keep beating. Stir in vanilla essence and melted dark chocolate. (Do not refrigerate icing before spreading over cake.) Spread sides and top of cake evenly with the icing.

  7. Chocolate collar: Measure the height and length of sides of the cake and cut four rectangular strips out of baking paper according to those dimensions. If you don’t have baking paper (we didn’t!!), you can use any thick paper cut to the required dimensions and wrapped in plastic wrap.

  8. Drop dots of melted white chocolate randomly (or in any pattern you want) on a strip. Allow to set, and then spread a layer of melted semi sweet chocolate over the entire strip. Quickly stick the paper, chocolate-side in, on the side of the cake. Repeat with the remaining strips. Allow to set.

  9. Carefully peel the paper away. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

  10. Optional: if the collar doesn’t evenly match up with the top of the cake (or even if it does!), grate some solid white chocolate and sprinkle the shavings on top of the cake.

Our kitchen was kind of a mess when we were done, but it was well worth the final product!


Saturday, June 12, 2010


Welcome to the culinary adventures of two engineering graduate students! We are the Cooks of Cake and Kindness. This idea was born from months of cooking experiments as we attempted to distract ourselves from frustrating studies. It has been almost a year since we promised ourselves that we would document our successes (or failures) and, to stave off the onset of a boring Saturday afternoon, have finally sat down to write our very first post. The recipes we will be posting come from a mixture of cookbooks, other food blogs, friends, and our moms. Most, if not all, will include our own personal modifications, be it for health-conscious reasons or because we simply didn't have the necessary ingredients ;)

This first post doesn't contain any recipes. Sorry! We're just giving some background. To start, kudos to our good friend Michael Bunce for coming up with the name of our blog. "Cooks of Cake and Kindness" is actually the title of a song by a 60's band, The Californians. We think it's fitting, considering we do bake a lot of cakes, and we're also pretty nice people :P

A little bit about us...we are both mechanical engineering PhD students at Purdue University and have been roommates for almost a year. Gayatri is from India and Karla (a half Filipino) is from Michigan, and our different backgrounds contribute a lot to the variety of our dishes. We hope you will have as much fun reading about our exploits as we had living them! Watch for our first actual recipe post, a fancy chocolate cake!

~ Karla and Gayatri