Sea Monster Paella

Dusting off a few things I didn't get to post this summer, I came across the super seafood paella, made at the Cape. This was probably enough to feed twice the people it was made for, but who's counting. 

The variant from prior versions was the lobster stock used. I cooked lobster separately, with spices and very little salt, removed meat and kept cooking the shell until reduced in half.  The stock is strained and seasoned with usual spices.

The other difference was the stove. It was the first time I cooked inside, thanks to the giant gas stove in the summer house. This allowed for more control of heat, which fared a better rice.

Topped with lobster and cilantro after cooking was complete gave a fresh/sweet kick to the dish. 


Rum Cake

A collegue shared a piece of an awesome rum cake a little while back. After I recovered from the buzz, I asked for a recipe.  Thank you Mark!


1 box cake mix (vanilla or chocolate, could also be crazy and use strawberry or whatever)
1 box pudding mix (vanilla or chocolate, etc.)
4 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
½ cup rum (Myer’s Dark Rum)
½ cup sour cream

Put the cake and pudding mixes in a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients. I beat the eggs before I put them in the mix. Once it was mixed fairly well by hand I used an electric mixer until it was smooth. Put mix in a bundt pan and cook for 1 hour at 325 degrees.


I found that the chocolate mixes were lighter and stayed in the proper shape after cooking. With the vanilla ones, the middle of the cake sinks down a bit once the glaze is added. Both taste equally great.
Leave the cake in the pan for 20-30 minutes before applying glaze.

Glaze (you will need to do this TWICE, once for the bottom of the cake, then again for the top):

½ stick of butter
½ cup white sugar
1/8 cup water
¼ cup rum (darker the better. I used Captain Morgan Black, but I was making enough cakes to warrant buying two bottles of rum! Myer’s would work just as well, no doubt)

Melt butter on the stove on medium heat. Add the water and white sugar, then mix. Once the mixture is boiling, let it continue boiling for 2 to 2.5 minutes. Stir it every 20 seconds or so during that time. Take the mixture off the heat and slowly add the rum, mixing it in as you go. Just to warn you, there will be a lot of steam when you do this!

Use a fork or a skewer and poke holes in the exposed part of the cake in the pan (what will eventually be the bottom). Apply the glaze to the cake in one of two ways:

Pour it on. Less effective, but quicker.
Use a brush to apply the glaze in layers.

If applying with a brush, you can do it two ways:

Apply glaze waiting just 2 or 3 minutes between layers. The glaze will still be hot when it has all been applied, and it will all soak into the cake this way.
Wait 10 minutes between applying layers of glaze. The last few layers will be cooler and won’t sink in, creating a layer of icing on the cake.

For best effect, leave the cake in the pan for 2 hours after you glaze the bottom, letting the glaze soak in. Then, turn the pan over onto a plate to remove the cake.

Repeat the steps for creating the glaze. Poke holes in the top and sides of the cake, and apply the second batch of glaze.

If you wanted to do this more quickly, you could cook ALL of the glaze at one time (1 stick of butter, 1 cup of sugar, ¼ cup of water, and ½ cup of rum, boil for 5 minutes instead of 2 to 2.5), apply half to the bottom of the cake, then immediately remove it from the pan and apply the other half to the top of the cake. I can’t vouch for the taste if you do it this way, but since it’s still rum cake, it will probably be great nonetheless.

Cabbage, Scallion and Cilantro Slaw

This is a simple side dish, or a great topper for a pulled pork sandwich which is how I purposed it.  Variations of this are endless of course but I did enjoy this combo.

1/2 medium cabbage (green)
3 scallions
1/4 cup, chopped cilantro
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tsp salt

Split cabbage half into 2, and remove core.  Slice on a mandolin or with a knife into uniform strips (short way) about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Toss with salt in a large bowl.  With your hands, squeeze cabbage strands and "massage" in the salt for about 1 minute. Chop scallions and add to the cabbage. Mix vinegar, water, sugar and cilantro.  Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss quickly.  Let stand for about 10-15 minutes and it's ready to eat.

Plum and Apple Tarte Tatin

Ever feel like a dessert to satisfy a cold weather craving? The classic tart tatin is beautifully rustic. Now enter plums, just cause they were on my counter top and I love their tartness in dessert.

4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 apples, peeled and cored
4 plums, halved and seed removed
pate brisee (pie crust dough)

In an oven safe, cast iron or stainless steel pan on medium high heat, add sugar and butter.  Mix once the butter is melted and let cook for about 5-6 minutes, add in your plums and apples and lower the heat.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  With apples only, I usually turn them half way through the cooking, but I didn't with this tart.  There was plenty of juice so I didn't think it was necessary.

Preheat oven to 385F.  Remove pan from heat.  Cover top of apples/plums with pie crust. Try to carefully tuck it down around the apples/plums.  Place pan into the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Remove pan from oven.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Take a heat proof plate and place on top of the pan, and flip the pan over leaving the tart in your plate (hopefully). 



I am not entirely sure the history behind the napoleon cake, other then the roots are obviously French. How it became one of the most popular cakes in the Russian table repertoire, other then having simple ingredients, is probably a story of its own. This is the cake served at birthdays, big holidays and occasionally just because (if someone wants to put in the time).

There are two kinds - custard and buttercream. Butter cream retains crispness of the puff pastry, but the custard kind soaks the pastry into a delectable dream. Can you tell which is my favorite? Though it's not complex to make,  this type requires some planning.

This post is most entirely dedicated to the custard, not puff pastry used. Puff pastry can be made or bought, but should be fully cooled before the custard is applied.

Serves 25 people (about 8 layers of 10x10 inch pastry)

Creme Custard

12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
5 tbsp flour
4.5 cups milk
Vanilla to taste
1 stick butter (unsalted)
1.5 cups whipping cream

Whisk yolks, sugar, flour and vanilla together.  Add about a cup of the milk and incorporate.  Temper the remaining milk on the stove until very warm. Lower the heat to medium. Add in the yolk mixture and whisk continuously until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and continue whisking sporadically as the custard cools, to prevent skin from forming. Alternatively, you can cover with clear wrap and allow it to touch top of the cream, but this takes longer.  After fully cooled, place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.  In the meantime, in a mixer whip the cream until stiff. Whip butter in a separate dish, add cream a tablespoon at a time at first working the mixture into a uniform state.  Continue until butter and cream have fully come together. In a mixer, beat whipping cream mixture with the custard, for about 5 minutes. Your cream is ready to be ladled onto puff pastry on your choice. This cake is made at least a day ahead of enjoying it, but you can always use the remaining cream in a dessert of its own, with sliced fresh strawberries.