Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July

So what's going on for the 4th. My dad's in Marco Island, some of hubby's family is in the Keys, 18 went to Bimini with some friends. This evening I am going to some friends house to BBQ and hang out and 15 and his friends will throw some firecrackers. My food contribution is an orzo pasta salad and a red velvet cake. The cake is at hubby's request. He really loves it and I haven't made it in maybe a year. The salad was super easy. Anyone can make it. I watch a lot of Food Network and quite a few pasta salads were made in the past few days. The one I made was inspired by both Sandra Lee and Paula Deen. Paula for the veggies that I chose to put in it plus the idea of using orzo instead of a rotini and Sandra for the dressing.

Easy Orzo Pasta Salad
Boil a box of orzo. Don't forget to salt and oil the water. While that drained, I tossed in 2 bags of frozen vegetable medleys (carrots, snap peas, broccoli and water chestnut) to the same water salting again and let that cook up for a few minutes. I chopped 1/2 can of water chestnuts and tossed it into a bowl. Added the orzo. When the veggies were done I drained and tossed them in too. I picked out the large pieces of broccoli and carrots and cut them up into smaller pieces. I poured 1/2 a bottle of creamy Caesar salad dressing (I like Newman's) and mixed it all up. I added a little more dressing to get it to the wetness that I like and put it in the fridge to chill. It's that simple.

You can pick whatever pasta you like and whatever veggies you like and I have done it in the past with an Italian vinaigrette dressing and that's yummy too.

The Red Velvet Cake recipe is adapted from the Wall Street Journal back in Feb 2007 and they adapted it from "The Confetti Cakes Cookbook" and the icing was adapted from "The Waldorf Astoria Cookbook".

It's a 3 layer cake so butter and flour 3 round cake pans and preheat the oven to 350.

31/2 cups flour (I used all purpose, they say cake flour)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process, I used Ghiradelli)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups oil (I used veg., they say canola)
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
6 tbsp. (3 oz.) red food coloring (it comes out to one little bottle)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (I used 1 heaping tsp of Dbl strength Madagascar vanilla cuz it's strong stuff)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp. white vinegar

Whisk flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl & set aside. Place oil & sugar in bowl & beat at med speed until well blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add food coloring (be careful, it may splatter). Add vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternating in 2 batches. Scrape down bowl and continue to beat just long enough to blend. (over mixing makes for a tougher batter). Place baking soda in a small dish & stir in vinegar add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds to incorporate. Divide batter into 3 pans and bake for 40/45 minutes until tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, flip and cool completely before icing.

2 cups heavy cream
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.
12 oz. mascarpone
1/2 tsp. vanilla (I use less of the dbl strength stuff)
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

Whip cream, cover in bowl and refrigerate. Blend cream cheese & mascarpone until smooth. Add vanilla and add sugar. Blend well. Fold in whipped cream and refrigerate until needed.

This is a very traditional old southern cake that recently became popular again. It's quite yummy. I hope you try it.

Hope that everyone has a safe 4th of July.

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