Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Four:(On Kids, College and Cakes)

Well, arriving home last night couldn’t have been any cuter. 

I came home slightly grumpy after a $300+ eye doctor bill because of some crazy astigmatism that I have – making the cost of the appointment and the contact lenses about a gazillion times more expensive than that for the normal far-sighted folks.

But, as I walked into the apartment, there was laughter and wafts of baking chocolate and perhaps an essence of alcohol?

This was truly a sight for sore eyes. 

My two oldest were in the kitchen baking together.  Emma wanted one of Spencer’s famous (at least in our household) cakes to bring back to college.  Spencer will use any excuse to make a cake, but this excuse was a good one, because he loves his big (albeit 6 inches shorter) sister.

What kind of cake for the college kids?  Well, of course it has to have chocolate, and maybe a little liquor.   Voila!  A spelt chocolate Kahlua cake.   

Tim, being the good dad and cautionary fellow he is, warned Emma not to give the cake to any of the drivers on the trek back to school.  I assured Tim that when baked, the liquor is baked off and so the cake would not be truly intoxicating, except maybe for its delicious taste.  Still, we got the assurance that the kids would not “eat and drive”.

Now, I was lucky to try the frosting, but the kids simply would not let me break into the cake to try it, so we will have to hear comments from the college kids way up North on how they rate it.

SPELT CHOCOLATE KAHLUA CAKE (adapted from and modified to be mostly organic, all natural, and without regular wheat)

Kahlua Chocolate Spelt Cake
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar packed
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup strong cold brewed coffee
3/4 cup Kahlua

Kahlua Frosting   (this was not the typical way Spencer likes to make frostings.  He usually does butter cream on the stove top, but he took the confectioners sugar short cut in order to make it in time for his sister’s departure to college)
6 tablespoons butter
1 pound of sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons hot coffee

Kahlua Chocolate Spelt Cake
Butter and flour 2 9” cake pans
(it is best to put fitted parchment paper on bottom of the buttered pan)
Preheat oven 350 F.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites till frothy; then beat in sugar until stiff peaks forms. Set aside.
In a larger bowl (or in the KitchenAid Mixer if you have one), cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking soda together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with coffee and Kahlua; blend well. Fold egg whites into batter.
Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Cool 10 minutes. Invert on wire rack.  Remove from pans. Cool before frosting.

Kahlua Frosting
In a large bowl, cream 6 Tbsp butter and a pound of confectioner’s sugar. Add 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 Tbsp Kahlua and 2-3 Tbsp hot coffee; beat until smooth.
Gently frost.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Three (On Birthdays and Giving Thanks and Complicated "007" Cakes)

"007 Cake"
Happy Birthday, Tim!

My husband was blessed with being born during the Season of Giving, so every seven years or so, this year being one of them, Tim's birthday falls on Thanksgiving.

Spencer gets quite revved during holidays because they provide a great excuse to make great cakes.  A double holiday leads to double the reason to make a doubly good cake.

We dubbed this cake "the 007" given the timeliness of the newest James Bond flick, and because of all of the gadgets that were used to create it.  But, as an afterthought,  we realized that this "the 007" was also appropriately dubbed for this Double Occasion: Thanksgiving with our crew of 5 and Tim's 52nd.


This is at least a two person job (another double).  No person (especially a 14 or 15 year old) should be expected to make this alone.  Spencer spent approximately 5 hours making this incredibly delicious and rich concoction of layers of chocolate, butter, sugar, coconut, and pecans.  I spent about 6 hours following him around and cleaning up every bowl, gadget and pan it took to create this Double Occasion cake.

Ingredients (adapted from but revised significantly to meet our spelt and all natural requirements)

1/2 cup water
4 ounces German sweet chocolate
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups organic cane sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
1 cup milk (need to make into buttermilk with lemon)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon
2 1/2 cups organic white spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 egg whites

1 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/3 cups flaked organic coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions (REVISED 11/24/12)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch round pans. 
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, make the buttermilk by mixing the milk and fresh lemon.  Set aside until curdles. (About 5 minutes)
  5.  In a small saucepan, heat water and 4 ounces chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. In a large bowl (or KitchenAid Mixer), cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated.
  7. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then, fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
  8. Pour into 3 - 9 inch round baking pans, which have been greased with butter.  Best also to cover bottom with parchment paper cut to fit the baking pan.
  9.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto wire rack.
  10. To make the Filling: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.
  11. Spread filling between layers and on top of cake. In a small saucepan,

ENJOY - and then go for a 30 block walk (twice!) in order to work off some of the double calories gained from this double treat.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Two (Spelt Crumb Cake to Carry Your Worries Away)

Yesterday I thought I would never escape my doldrums. I was more tired than I remember being in years.  My only option was to nap.  Finally, I had escaped into a dreamy bliss of not knowing where I was or having a care in the world. 
Nearly three hours later, I woke to the joyous sounds of Emma arriving home from college.  “PARENTS!! I AM HOME! NEW YORK, I AM HERE!”  
And, then everyone barged in on my pillowly bliss.  “HELLO MADJA” proclaimed Emma.  Then, Olivia and her pal Ying, showed up like little chirping birds.  “We’re hungry! We’re hungry!” Then Spencer chimed in waiting for that moment for me to wake.  “Mom, it’s time to make a cake!!!” Then, Tim came in with some hot chocolate.  
So, I got up, tucked away my worries and proceeded to the kitchen.  While I made meatballs, Spencer tried out his “new” KitchenAid (thanks to a friend) and made the best spelt crumb cake ever!


1 and 1/2  cups organic white spelt flour
1 cup organic whole spelt flour
1 and 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
2.5 TBL organic molasses
2/3 cup BUTTER
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
2 beaten eggs
1 and 1/3 cups of milk with 1-2TBL freshly squeezed lemon juice (let sit for at least 5 minutes)
1 cup chopped walnuts

A cake to carry your worries away

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Set aside.
In a medium bowl. combine flour, sugar, and molasses.  Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Set aside 3/4 of a cup for topping.
Stir in baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and all spice into remaining crumb mixture.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk and lemon.  Add wet mixture to dry and mix together.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish.  
(If you have a KitchenAid, first mix the dry ingredients on low, and then add the wet ingredients and mix on medium until ingredients are all mixed together)

Combine nuts with reserved crumb mixture.  Mix together in crumb form and then sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

ENJOY!!!  Savor each piece with your family and friends, tuck your worries away, and be sure to save a piece for friends. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles, Day One-Hundred Seventy One (On Being a Flexitarian - Vegetables with Chicken)

noun \ˌflek-sə-ˈter-ē-ən\

Definition of FLEXITARIAN  (
source: )
: one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish
flexitarian adjective
flexible + vegetarian
First Known Use: 1998

This recipe is dedicated to my formerly vegetarian, now flexitarian friend.   We both aspire to be completely meat free in our diets, but sometimes we just need a little comfort food – both for our bodies and our souls.

Baked Chicken with Vegetables, or in Flexitarain Lingo: Baked Vegetables Accented by Chicken. (adapted from A Taste of Lebanon by Mary Salloum)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 green peppers, de-seeded and sliced in rounds
2 large tomatoes sliced in rounds (field tomatoes are great for this)
2 large onions sliced in rounds
2 large zucchini sliced in rounds
1 large leek sliced in rounds
4 potatoes sliced in rounds
1 chicken cut up, or two-three bone-in breast of chicken
1-2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 tsp dried basil
4-5 cloves of garlic (crushed with salt)
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley (destemmed and chopped)

Set oven at 400F.  Wash and dry chicken (I do this by cleaning with salt and then rinsing – taught to me by my mother and grandmother).  Place all vegetables and chicken in roasting pan.  Add oil and all remaining ingredients.  Coat vegetables and chicken with oil, herbs, and spices.  Cover roasting pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until chicken is tender.

This is an easy comfort meal.  Perfect with Spelt Right rosemary bread - toasted with EVOO.  The kind of food to enjoy after weathering a storm.