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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Pumpkin Spiced Crumb Cake

Photo Dec 05, 2 18 04 PM

2017-12-04 18.43.07

My Pumpkin Spiced Crumb Cake is one of my family’s favorites. I do want to explain why I take help from my local grocery store whenever I make a cake. In the past, I’ve mentioned using box cake mixes. They’re a time saver, most importantly, there are great box cake mixes out there. First, they’ve come a long way in their quality and variety. Second, why would you break out the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and or cocoa powder, when all these ingredients are already measured and mixed for you!

I start with a basic box cake mix, building a flavor profile of the type of cake I’m looking to make. For example; If I’m making a chocolate cake, adding brewed coffee will enhance the chocolate flavor. I also like to add Ricotta cheese to the cake batter. These ingredients I’ve mentioned. ultimately enhance or make for a more tender cake.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 to 55 minutes (Baking time may vary depending on the type and size of the pan you use)
Equipment: parchment paper, 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch square pan
Yields: 9 slices

Note: I’m using a store-bought pumpkin spice for this recipe. I’ve also included a homemade pumpkin pie spice recipe below.

Ingredients For Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of cake flour
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup of chopped pecans (optional)
1 stick (8 tablespoons), melted unsalted butter

Ingredients For Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice:
teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 pinch of allspice

Directions For Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice:

In a small bowl, whisk the spices together until combined. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

For The Pumpkin Spice Cake:
1 box vanilla cake mix (16.5 oz. Duncan Hines French Vanilla)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4  cup granulated sugar
1 cup of Libby’s pumpkin pie mix
1/2 cup Ricotta cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup of water
pinch of Kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
powdered sugar for garnish

Directions:
For the topping:
Using a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, cake flour, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir with a spatula until thick crumbles form. Set aside while preparing the cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For The Cake Batter:
Spray pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper, then spray the parchment paper. Note: This will allow for easy removal.

In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add oil, vanilla extract, sugars, pumpkin pie mix puree, and ricotta cheese. Once the mixture is smooth, add 1 egg at a time until incorporated.

In a medium size bowl, add the box cake mix, pumpkin pie spice, and Kosher salt. Whisk these ingredients together. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix! Note: If you are doing this by hand, you can use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading into an even layer. Cover with the crumb mixture. If needed, break up the larger crumbs into smaller ones.

Place into oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester, inserted into the center, comes out clean, and the center of the cake barely jiggles. Remove from oven and let cool in the loaf pans for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Top the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Crispy Pork Belly

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Pork Belly seems to be one of the most sought-after cuts of meat. The Iron Chef show is who really brought this cut to the forefront. In restaurants today, it’s become one of the hottest items to order. I mean, once you’ve ordered the Pork Belly, you’ll most likely always order it no matter the style it’s being served. It’s that delicious!  I sometimes think we may be a little slow when it comes to trying new things. Many Asian cuisines, have for many years, implemented Pork Belly into a variety of their dishes.

I have a great and easy way to prepare Crispy Pork Belly at home so it will come out tender, golden, with a crispy top. This recipe doesn’t require scoring the skin in any way. This will allow you to slice it later and it will retain its integrity. I think it’s worth mentioning, that Shaoxing rice wine is available in most Asian markets today. If you adore Asain cuisine and want to make delicious Asian dishes at home, Shaoxing rice wine should be a pantry staple.

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Yields: 10 large pieces
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours to overnight
Cook Time:  roughly 1 hour 10 minutes
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack

Ingredients:
2-pound pork belly
1 cup of Kosher salt

Marinade:
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup of Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 cloves of minced garlic

Directions:
Using a paper towel, pat the skin of the Pork Belly completely dry. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and then pour them into a rectangle style baking dish that’s just big enough to hold the pork belly.

Carefully place the Pork Belly into the baking dish making sure only the meat touches the marinate. The skin on the top must remain completely dry. If the marinade level is too high, then discard any extra by pouring some of it off. Place the baking dish with the pork belly and marinade into the frig for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.. Completely line a roasting pan with foil. Pour an inch of water into the bottom of the pan. Place a wire rack on top to hold the Pork Belly.

Remove the baking dish with the marinated pork belly from the frig. While the pork belly is still in the baking dish, spread 1 cup of Kosher salt evenly over the fat cap of the pork belly as seen in the pictures above.  Next, transfer the Pork Belly onto the wire rack. The Pork Belly will cook above the water and the drippings will fall into the water.

Note: If one part of the Pork Belly is slightly lower or shorter on one side, use an oven-safe item to prop up that side so the pork will cook evenly. Bake for around 40 minutes.

Remove the pan with the Pork Belly and increase the temperature to 470 degrees F. The salt should have formed a crust which you can easily remove. You’ll be able to see the Pork Belly,  in the side by side pictures, with the removed salted fat cap above.

Once the temperature of the oven has reached 470 degrees F., place the Pork Belly back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes. The skin should be bubbly and crisp. The internal temperature should be 165-degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Crispy Pork Belly is a great appetizer and one I know you’ll make over and over.

 

 

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Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce

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I’ve been working on some new recipes for, my daughter, Melissa to try. It’s my Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce. Melissa’s led a meat-free lifestyle for quite a few years. Now, as far as any gluten allergies, Melissa doesn’t have any but Tonya, a good friend of mine, believes she may. My Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce is gluten-free. I think it’s really helpful to have someone that’s happy to try a new recipe I’m testing and get their input.

I knew this recipe needed to have great flavor, this way, the lack of having any type of meat wouldn’t be missed at all. I’m not saying that this dish is for everyone, but if you choose a meat-free and gluten-free lifestyle, I can tell you this dish does not disappoint. Also for the meat lover who just wants to cut down on the amount of meat in your diet, this is a great alternative.

Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 day plus 1 1/2 hours
Yields: 30 to 32 2-ounce meatballs
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 10-cup food processor, large mixing bowl, 6-quart Dutch oven

Ingredients For Roasted Eggplant and Cremini Mushrooms:
1 whole eggplant, top removed and sliced in half
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided evenly between the halves, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided evenly between the halves
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, divided evenly between the halves

Ingredients For Roasted Eggplant Meatballs:
1 roasted eggplant, puréed
1 pint of roasted cremini mushrooms, puréed
1 8-ounce jar of Piquillo peppers, puréed
1 jar of marinated artichokes with their oil, puréed
1 15-ounce can of Cannellini beans, puréed
1 onion diced purèed
3 whole garlic cloves purèed
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano leaves
3 tablespoon of chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups of gluten-free bread crumbs

Ingredients For Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth, unsalted
2 28-ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes
1 8-ounce jar of pureed Piquillo peppers, puréed
1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly torn basil leaves, (plus basil for garnish)

Directions For Roasting Eggplant:
The day before serving this dish you want to make the vegetarian meatballs.
Step 1: Roast the eggplant and cremini mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.
Start by cutting the top off the eggplant then slicing a whole eggplant in half.  Drizzle each half with olive oil then sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Place the eggplant halves on a rimmed baking sheet pan, cut side down, roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

At the same time, spread sliced cremini mushrooms onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil toss to coat then spread out into one even layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

This step needs to be done in two batches. Add half of the following ingredients to the food processor at a time. Start with the Cannellini beans, marinated artichokes with their oil, roasted Piquillo peppers, whole garlic cloves, diced onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Pulse until combined. Refer to the picture above. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Repeat this process with the remaining half until all the ingredients are puréed.

Once the eggplant has finished cooking, remove the flesh from each half and place into a food processor with the cremini mushrooms. Process until combined. Refer to the picture above. Add the eggplant mixture to the rest of the processed vegetables. Refer to the picture above.

To the same bowl add a beaten egg, gluten-free bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, fresh oregano, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Using your hands, mix to combine.

To ensure all of the vegetarian meatballs are the same size, use a 2-ounce cookie-dough scoop. Scoop and form the vegetable mixture into golf-size balls. Place them on baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Transfer the vegetarian balls to the refrigerator to set overnight.

Next-Day:
Preheat a large Dutch oven (or heavy bottom pot with a lid) over medium heat. Add olive oil and the diced onions. Sauté the onions until they become translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add tomato paste, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, stirring all the ingredients as they cook for another 5 minutes.

For the liquids, add chicken broth allow to come up to a bubble then let reduce by half. Next, add the crushed tomatoes and puréed Piquillo peppers, stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for 40 minutes. Turn the heat off.

Remove the pot from the heat and add torn basil leaves, stir to combine. Cover to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 275-degrees F.
Remove the vegetarian meatballs from the refrigerator. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of each of the veggie balls. Transfer the pans of the vegetarian meatballs on the middle rack for 15 to 20 minutes, just until they’re warmed through. Keep a close eye on them.

Note: Due to the fact that these are vegetarian balls, they may flatten slightly, on the bottom, during the warming process. Halfway through the cooking process, use two spoons to gently turn them over to keep the integrity of their shape.

To Serve: Ladle the hot Marinara sauce on the bottom of a serving dish. Arrange the Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs on top, ladling a little of the Marinara Sauce over each one. Garnish with Italian flat-leaf parsley and fresh basil. Serve hot.

Tip: Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs can be stored in airtight resealable bags and frozen.

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