Extreme Cakes: Heaven’s Dawn Cake

This is another cool cake from Jennifer, she made it for her friend Erica’s birthday. The tree is made out of fondant! It is an homage to a series of painting by one of Erica’s  favorite artists, Natasha Wescoat. Check out her Jeweled Trees series on her website

The Original Painting:

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Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)

Lemonade Insanity 6: Basil Lemonade

Eat at Joes

And we’re back! Continuing this march through lemonade flavors, here is the next item on the roster: Basil Lemonade. Not an obvious combination with lemonade, but the Italian flavor combines with the lemon citrus and they compliment each other very well.

The Basil leaves are placed in the simple syrup, and it works well when combined with a fruit puree. Strawberry Basil lemonade is a fantastic combination, some would say the best combination for a flavored lemonade.

Preparation is similar to Cilantro Lemonade. Muddle your half dozen Basil Leaves (for a two quart batch) and place them in the simple syrup while the sugar is dissolving over low heat. Ten or fifteen minutes will impart the flavor and the syrup is ready for the lemonade.

Seriously, try this with a strawberry puree like in the Strawberry Lemonade. It is a great combination.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup with six Basil leaves removed (lemon zest to taste)
  • 6 cups water

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Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Lemonade Insanity 5: Banana Lemonade

Eat at Joes

yes we have no bananas todayBanana Lemonade is a bit of a problem. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes fantastic. It’s one of my favorite flavors of all the lemonade creations we made. The problem is its shelf life. All lemonades change their flavor as they age, but Banana lemonade does so in a much shorter time.

When it is first made the flavor is great and coloring is interesting, It has a cloudier color and a more frothy texture. The banana comes through adding a smooth sweetness to the tart lemonade. After about an hour, the banana flavor becomes stronger. If you leave it in the fridge overnight, the color turns a milky brown and the banana flavor starts to taste like a peeled banana that has been left sitting out all day. So if you want to make this lemonade, plan on consuming it immediately.

Peel your banana, chop it up and toss it in the food processor. Strain it through a wire mesh strainer so that it is very fine. The banana puree looks good, kinda like baby food, when it is finished. Take about a quarter cup of this puree for a two quart batch of lemonade. Stir in the banana to finished batch of lemonade and there you have it!

Waste not want not: Chug the remainder of the blended banana for a potassium filled treat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup (lemon zest to taste)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup banana paste

Frothy Banana Lemonade

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Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Lemonade Insanity 4: Cilantro Lemonade

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a bunch of cilantro at the storeOkay, this flavor sounds a little out there. It wasn’t too bad though, and not nearly as strong as you would think. It gives a slight, fresh salsa after taste to the lemonade, and Cilantro complements the sour lemons pretty well. It may not be my favorite lemonade creation, but if someone pours me a glass of Cilantro Lemonade, I will enjoy it.

Like the Vanilla before it, this flavor was mixed into the simple syrup rather than the finished lemonade. As you can see below, it turns the sugar-water combo a nice green color.

Muddle* (yes, I learned a new word) about half a dozen Cilantro sprigs and toss them into the simple syrup. Let them sit in the syrup for about fifteen minutes or longer so the flavor can soak in.

* muddle means grind the leaves a little bit with the back of a spoon so the cilantro oils will leak out and flavor the syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup with muddled cilantro leaves removed (lemon zest to taste)
  • 6 cups water
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Rating: 4.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Double Decker Monte Cristo

The Monte Cristo is like the forefather of extreme sandwiches. Ham, turkey, and cheese that is battered and fried then sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is such an iconic sandwich that I didn’t want to change the ingredients, they are fine just the way they are. To make it extreme, I doubled the size and it turned out fantastic.

In my opinion the two secrets to a great tasting Monte Cristo sandwich are first of all, butter. Some people deep fry the sandwich, but I think in the skillet with tons of real butter gives a better taste. Second, cook the sandwich at a medium low heat, this keeps the bread from getting too dark while the cheese is melting. Cook about 5-6 minutes for each side.

I had to cook this sandwich in sections to keep it from falling over. I divided it in two, then sliced it diagonally before i coated it in the egg mixture. I made sure to dip every side in egg so it got a good coat. I put a toothpick into each slice for stability and it was off to the frying pan.

Getting the butter ready for the Monte Cristo

6 (Six!) tablespoons of real butter

Pre Cooked Monte Cristo

Bread Meat Cheese Meat Bread Meat Cheese - You get the idea

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo!

The Ingredients:

  • Egg batter (2 eggs, half a cup of skim milk and a dash of cinnamon)
  • Four slices of texas toast style bread (double thickness)
  • Several deli thin slices of real ham from Eggers Meats
  • 3 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 3 slices of real turkey breast
  • Powdered sugar
  • Strawberry preserves for garnish
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Rating: 4.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Lemonade Insanity 3: Strawberry Lemonade

The sandwich washer downer

Strawberry Lemonade is probably the most common form of flavored lemonade, it is a popular virgin drink at restaurants and juice bars. Its popularity is deserved though, because it tastes great!

One of the most important things to remember about berry lemonade of any sort is a little goes a long way. The strawberry flavor can quickly overpower the lemonade taste. Some people like it that way, but I like a nice balance between the two. Also, don’t use strawberry jam or syrup. It will add too much sweetness to the lemonade.

If strawberries aren’t in season, you can use frozen strawberries, they taste almost as good but they are generally a little sweeter.

To make our strawberry lemonade you will need a food processor, cause we want to grind the strawberries to a nice paste. a generous half cup of strawberries should be enough for a two quart batch of lemonade.

Pretty pink strawberry pasteCore out the stems, throw the strawberries into the mixer and make your paste. Next, grab a mesh strainer and pour in your strawberry paste. Use a spoon to push it through and filter out the seed and big chunks. What is left over is a lovely pink color.

Add about a quarter cup of the strained strawberry paste to your 2 quarts of lemonade and stir. The lemonade turns a nice pinkish hue.

It tastes delicious! It will be a little stronger the next day, so don’t overdo it on the strawberries. If you like the pulp, you can throw in the strawberry paste without straining it, but keep in mind you will have a fruit film floating on top.

Strawberry Lemonade good to the last drop

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup (lemon zest to taste)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup strawberry paste
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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Lemonade Insanity 2: Vanilla Lemonade

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a Vanilla BeanWelcome back! Our second lemonade is vanilla. It adds subtle undertones to your lemonade, giving a smoother, more in-depth flavor. Careful though, too much vanilla can overpower your lemonade.

There was brief discussion about using vanilla extract or even imitation vanilla extract, but I was quickly vetoed. Only the purest vanilla bean, straight from the source. Vanilla beans are outrageously expensive but a little goes a long ways. I got my vanilla beans at Huckleberry’s Natural Market

Extracting the Vanilla

I recommend checking out this video on youtube, it has a good tutorial about getting out the vanilla seeds.

You only need about a quarter of a bean four a two quart batch of lemonade. Once extracted, scrape the paste into your simple syrup mixture. Let it sit on low for at least 15 minutes to get all the flavor imbued.  Once that is done, run your simple syrup through a wire mesh strainer to get out all the little vanilla chunks and mix with your lemon juice and water

Vanilla lemonade is great on its own, and it is also an excellent flavor to mix with other lemonades. Fruit plus vanilla lemonade is usually delicious! Keep in mind like most lemonade flavors, vanilla lemonade intensifies overnight.

Vanilla Lemonade

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup with vanilla bean (lemon zest to taste)
  • 6 cups water
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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Lemonade Insanity: 1. Lemonade Prime

Lemonade Insanity!

Sandwiches aren’t the only thing I do. This summer I discovered the superiority of home made virgin lemonade. Virgin means that the ingredients are simple and pure: lemons, sugar, and water. I let my friend Jennifer try some and she was so impressed she made some of her own and took it up a notch or three; we ended up making 18 different flavors of lemonade! I’m going to share them over the coming weeks.

Lemons:

The most important thing is the lemon juice has to be squeezed from the lemons directly and used right away. Lemon juice takes on a different flavor after about twelve hours from squeezing, so freshness is important. You can use a reamer or a juicer to gather your juice in a large container. Tip: toss your lemons in the microwave for a few seconds per lemon and roll the lemon to get the most juce. We used a wire mesh strainer to keep out the seeds. This also keeps out the pulp, so if you like pulpy lemonade toss some back in the lemon juice when done. I typically add 1 tablespoon pulp per 1 cup of lemon juice.

Sugar:

Extreme Sandwiches Lemonade

Sugar in its granulated form takes a lot of stirring to mix into Lemonade, otherwise you end up with a layer of sugar in the bottom of the pitcher. The best solution is to make simple syrup. All it takes to make simple syrup is one part water to one part sugar in a sauce pan on low heat. Once all the sugar is dissolved, the syrup is ready to use. I like to add a few scrapes of lemon zest (rind of the lemon) to the simple syrup to give it a nice lemony smell. Not too much, about a quarter of the lemon for 1 cup, depending on the fragrance of your lemons

Water:

Bag of Lemons

So, what I’ve found to be the best ratio for Lemonade is one part lemon juice, one part simple syrup, and six parts water. That means one cup of juice and 1 cup of syrup will give you two quarts of lemonade, or four decent sized glasses. always pour your lemonade into a cup filled with lots of ice, the colder the lemonade is the better. Some people use about four parts water to their lemonade, but I’ve found that to be much too strong. You can always add ice to you pitcher if it is still too intense.

Straight up Lemonade will last about five days in the fridge, but it tastes the best the first day. The flavor will grow stronger the next day, both the lemon and the sweetness will intensify.

The Completed LemonadeSo there you have it, the first lemonade of my series. It’s pure and simple, easy to make and it tastes great. There is a weird feeling of accomplishment I feel after making a batch of lemonade. I hope there are other people out there that are as passionate about lemonade as we are. Check back in the coming weeks for more flavors of lemonade we have tried.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup (lemon zest to taste)
  • 6 cups water
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Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Italian Sausage Redux

My favorite butcher, Egger’s Meats makes some great sausages, so this Saturday I decided to re-visit my first extreme sandwich: The Italian Sausage sandwich.

This time I had higher quality sausage and made it a more manageable size. I toasted it under the broiler for a few minutes and man, was it good.

cooking up the tasty

cooking up the tasty

look at the wires in background. LOOK.

look at the wires in background. LOOK.

split in twain

split in twain

The Ingredients:

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Rating: 4.0/5 (4 votes cast)

Buffalo Chicken Blue Cheese and Bacon stuffed burger

Sheesh, I need to come up with shorter names for these creations. Maybe I will call it a Buffalo Debbie, because I was introduced to Blue Cheese and Bacon stuffed burgers at Debbie’s house.

The buffalo sauce aspect was something I wanted to try a few months ago, and I finally got around to it. I decided to combine it with these great burgers which I cooked on the barbecue grill. Thankfully, I got it all cooked before the bees attacked. Stupid bees.

The completed sandwich

Gooey Insides

The Ingredients:

  • About 1/2 pound sirloin burger, divided into two quarter pound patties
  • Couple tablespoons blue cheese crumbles inside the two patties
  • About 1 to 1 and a 1/2 strips of crumbled bacon, cooked crispy and put with the cheese inside
  • Hamburger bun, toasted on the grill
  • Buffalo wing sauce (1 part melted butter to two parts Franks Red Hot Sauce)
  • Two grilled chicken breast tenders, seasoned with paprika and Jonny Salt then tossed in the Buffalo sauce
  • Couple tablespoons of mayo, mixed with about a table spoon of Buffalo sauce
  • Leaf of green leaf lettuce
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Rating: 4.0/5 (5 votes cast)