October 2020


Andorran Portabella Omelet

October 15: National Mushroom Day

We debated the spelling of the big, meaty, mature Cremini mushroom. Is it “portobello”, “portabello”, “portobella” or “portabella”? There is an official Mushroom Council that accepts two spelling versions—“portObellO” and “portAbellA”—but uses the latter for consistency. Back in the 1980s, marketers were trying to popularize the not-so-pretty portabella. “Bella” means “beautiful” in Latin so including this name in the spelling made this mushroom seem more glamorous. Nevertheless, it is a delicious and hearty ingredient in a rustic omelet.

For National Mushroom Day, put portabella mushrooms in this Andorran portabella omelet.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups portabella mushrooms, de-stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
  • ½ cup gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare the filling for the omelet by slicing the portabella mushrooms and shallot, chopping the tarragon and grating the cheese.

Season with salt and pepper. In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Sautee the sliced shallots until wilted and brown. Add the slices portabella mushrooms and cook until softened (around 5 minutes). Sprinkle the tarragon over the shallots/mushrooms mixture. Season with salt and pepper and cook a minute more. Transfer to a plate.

In the same skillet, melt the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of butter. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Pour the beaten egg over the butter and cook until the bottom of the egg has solidified.

Put the shallots/mushrooms mixture on one half side of the eggs and cook until slightly set. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the mixture. Fold the other half of the egg over and cook for another minute until the cheese has melted a little bit. Slide the omelet onto a plate. Sprinkle with fresh chopped tarragon or garnish the top with a sprig of fresh tarragon. Serve hot for two people.

Notes

  • Chop up the portabella stems and use in other recipes.
  • Search our blog for more omelet recipes.
  • Search our blog for more recipes containing mushrooms as an ingredient.

Toilet Paper Cake

October 10: National Cake Decorating Day

COVID-19 stinks! The global pandemic ruined many celebration plans so Islander wanted to make those “crappy” birthdays happy. She made this fake toilet paper cake for her friend, Karen B., renaming her “Karen-ovirus” on the quarantine birthday signs she also designed for the social distance celebration.

Islander picked up a real cake, a Japanese cream roll, from their mutual friend, Yukiko H., (who was pregnant at the time), at curbside, then drove to Karen’s house where her husband Ken allowed her inside their dining room to quickly decorate in a black and yellow motif, complete with caution tape, disinfecting wipes and real toilet paper. They sat on the opposite sides of the dining room, more than six feet apart, while Ken and Islander sang through their masks “crappy birthday” to Karen. She then fanned the flames from the candles—no blowing them out to prevent droplets—so everyone can eat Yukiko’s cake (she texted Karen her birthday wishes safely from home). After Karen opened her gifts from the quarantine-labeled bags, the “party” was over within half an hour. It was a short but sweet—and safe—social distance celebration.

How heartwarming it was to see a friend after several weeks in lockdown. But until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, we must continue to abide by CDC guidelines and help “flatten the curve”. When it is safe to socialize once again, then that will be a celebration in itself!

For now, make an easy toilet paper cake and learn a sugar arts skill during quarantine and on National Cake Decorating Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • White fondant
  • Black or dark brown fondant
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting the work surface)
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Water

Materials 

  • Styrofoam cake dummy (5 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall)
  • Black cake board (10 inches)
  • Rolling pin
  • Ruler
  • Nested circle cutters
  • Paint brush or water tube brush
  • Fondant cutter/embosser tool
  • Duct tape
  • Yellow alphabet stickers

Directions

Prepare a clean work surface and dust with powdered sugar. Knead and roll out white fondant about 1/8 inch thick. Use a 5-inch round cutter for the top of the toilet paper cake. Use a 1 ¼ inch round cutter to make a hole in the middle. Set aside and keep covered to prevent the fondant from drying out.

Knead and roll out a more fondant about 1/8 inch thick. Roll a long piece to cover the sides of the styrofoam (we rolled approximately 17-18 inches long), allowing for overhang. Use a ruler and cut 6 inches wide to fit the height of the styrofoam. Smear vegetable shortening on the sides of the styrofoam. Roll it on the fondant and smooth it down to stick.

Turn the styrofoam right side up. Use a water brush to attach the end of the fondant to the other, allowing a little bit of the fondant to drape down (we forgot to “square off the end” and left it rounded). Use a fondant embosser tool and a ruler to create perforated lines on the sides. Knead and roll out a small piece of black or dark brown fondant about 1/8 inch thick. Use a 1 ¼ inch circle cutter to fill the hole of the 5-inch white fondant circle.

Smear a little vegetable shortening on top of the styrofoam. Press the white fondant circle on top and then the middle black/dark brown circle in the middle. Smooth out all sides of the fondant with fingers dipped in powdered sugar. Using nested cutters, lightly press rounds on top to create texture. Place a piece of duct tape under the finished styrofoam and position it on the black cake board. Brush a little water underneath the overhanging fondant to stick to the board. Use yellow alphabet stickers to spell out a message. Surround the finish piece with real toilet paper and empty rolls.

Notes

  • Instead of a styrofoam cake dummy, bake a real cake using 3-4 round layers about 5-6 inches in diameter. Frost and fill between the layers and crumb coat the sides with vanilla icing before applying the fondant.

  • Islander was fortunate that she had all the cake decorating supplies already. Some were gifts from friends, others were already purchased from the shops and the rest were swag bag samples from the sugar arts shows that she had attended pre-covid. This toilet paper cake was meant to be a fun project to try during quarantine.

  • Search our blog for other cake decorating ideas.

 

Coronavirus Cake

October 10: National Cake Decorating Day

Highlander’s birthday was at the height of a national stay-at-home order this spring due to COVID-19. We had to find ways to celebrate creatively, safely and quietly (drive-by parades and front lawn decorations are not allowed in our tiny townhome community anyway). Islander decided to decorate a coronavirus cake (it was humorous to some friends but understandably controversial to others). But we already had the limited ingredients in our pantry when store shelves were nearly empty from panic buying.

Since it is National Cake Decorating Day, this post focuses more on decorating a coronavirus cake than on a recipe (use your favorite cake mix and frosting recipe). A ball-shaped pan is needed (thanks to Brother Justin Q. for giving one to us some years ago). We made the spike proteins using red fondant. It turned out cute and was a unique cake for Highlander’s birthday during a global pandemic.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Vanilla frosting
  • Black food coloring
  • Orange nonpareils and green jimmies/sprinkles (optional)
  • Red fondant

Directions

In a mixing bowl, dump the red velvet cake mix and stir in the water, eggs and oil.

Mix until the batter is smooth. Divide in the greased halves of the ball-shaped cake pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes or until the cake is baked through. Cool the cake completely.

Slice off the round tops to level the cakes. Place on cake on top of the other, with one half on the bottom. In a large bowl, tint the vanilla frosting with a little black food coloring to make a gray color.

Frost the cake, let it dry and smooth it out with Viva brand paper towels. Use a small round piping tip to gently press circles on the frosting.

Randomly place clusters of orange nonpareils and green jimmies/sprinkles around the cake. Roll out red fondant into a long skinny rope (1/4 inches thick). Cut 1-inch long pieces and shape the bottom as a spike and the flatten the top. Roll out red fondant and flatten to 1/8 inches thick. Cut small triangles.

Let the triangles and fondant spikes dry before using water to assemble them. Let dry and harden again.

Insert spikes into the cake. Refrigerate to set. Top with matching red candles. Slice, serve and celebrate that you are not sickly from the virus.

Notes

  • Colored frosting gets darker overnight so tint the vanilla frosting a lighter gray if desired.

  • We pray that there will be a vaccine/cure for the coronavirus. Please stay healthy and safe!

« Previous PageNext Page »