Black Bottomed Cupcakes

I'm feeling good my Peeps. I was finally able to take a yoga class yesterday after about a month - I know! Seriously - absence. What a huge difference. I'm watching the garden veggies really start to take off. I'm at the end of the school year and I am finally feeling the knot in my stomach loosen just a little bit. I've been sleeping in the last couple of days (thanks G20 in Toronto! NOT!!!) and believe me 8 AM is lightyears away from 6 AM - No jokes. Time to dig in to something chocolatey.

As I said in a previous post, I've really just been skimming through by the skin of my teeth. Light little 'shop-as-needed' trips, baking and cooking fast to make sure there is stuff to eat but not necessarily being able to enjoy the experience (also, being thwarted by missing ingredients - my pet peeve). Well, that is going to end for a little while at least.
My first relaxed bake is these black bottomed cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. They sound grand AND I don't have to make icing (Sweet). These sound familiar, like something I might have had as a kid, something my Mom might have made but I can't remember exactly - maybe she can clarify. Either way, who doesn't love cream cheese? Who doesn't love chocolate (ok, don't answer that one KT ;-)? Who doesn't love cupcakes?

Black Bottom Cupcakes
(The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)
1 1/2 doz cupcakes

Cream Cheese Filling

1 1/2 8 oz packages of cream cheese (not softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1 lg egg at room temp.
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup veg. oil (preferably canola)
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line two 12 cup muffin tins with 18 cupcake papers.
Cream Cheese:
Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a med. sized bowl until smooth. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the choc. chips. Set aside.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat together the oil and sugar. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Blend well after each addition.

Scoop cupcake batter into bottom 2/3's of each muffin cup. Drop a small scoop of the cream cheese filling on top of each cupcake. Bake for 30 - 35 min. or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool the cupcakes thoroughly before removing from the tins.

Garlic Scapes and Asparagus - Seasonal Food

Well honestly until about a month ago I had never heard of these things. Garlic scapes. Didn't have a clue what they were when I first saw the words in print. Turns out though that garlic works a bit like onions. There is more than one edible part to an onion and so, also, with garlic scapes. The stem of the garlic eventually starts to spiral as it grows but never gets nearly as pungent as the garlic bulb itself. There are tons of recipes out there (seriously... who knew?) using garlic scapes in pesto and that kind of thing.

So, my friend KT was at the Riverdale Market recently and picked up some of these garlic scapes. A grower from Belleville ON brought them in. She got so much of it that she (well, I should really correct that and say her hubby b/c he's the main cook in the fam) couldn't use them all up. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the 'too much' part. What's more, she also couldn't use up all of the delish (seriously delish) goat cheese that she picked up at the market. So 'guess-who' got that too !!! Yeah! I love it when friends go to the market.

Now, what to do with these things. As I mentioned, I saw lots of 'pesto' recipes for garlic scapes, a garlic scapes and brie pizza, garlic scapes stir fry... nothing was hitting me. I also wanted to incorporate that gorgeous goat cheese. So I chopped the garlic scapes, threw in some asparagus that needed some assistance, a little onion, a little goat cheese and VOILA. We have pasta sauce!

Garlic Scapes and Asparagus Pasta
serves 4 - 6

2 - 3 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups of chopped garlic scapes
2 cups of chopped asparagus
3 tbsp fresh herbs of choice (parsley, basil, oregano - nice choices)
salt to taste
1 cube of bouillion (I used organic vegetable)
1 cup goat cheese
1 cup milk or cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 cups of uncooked pasta (4 cups of cooked pasta if you are using leftover) - I used Penne

In a large pan, heat the oil and add the onion, frying it until it softens. Add in the garlic and fry together for a couple of minutes. Add in the garlic scapes and the asparagus. Saute until they begin to look a little limp (this could take about 7 - 10 min). Add in the herbs, a little salt and bouillion and mix in until it's like a paste.
At this point begin to boil some water for the pasta (if not using leftovers).

Once the paste forms add in the goat cheese and mix until melted in. Once melted in, add the milk or cream and the parmesan. Check for taste and adjust if necessary.
Drain the pasta and toss into the sauce.

Another Smoked Paprika recipe and a change of allegiance

As you all must know by now, I loved Gourmet magazine (well, most of the time) *sigh*, RIP. What you might not know is that I'm addicted to magazines. I have a serious addiction that I constantly have to contain. I could seriously spend unbelievable amounts of money on monthly magazines (this is both disturbing and embarrassing for me to admit due to both my commitment to better my environment and my 'tight-wad' tendencies - OK). Which is why I was so happy to discover that one of the teachers at my school runs a magazine drive each year for the students (prizes for magazine subscription sales - you get the picture) and teachers get a tidy discount on their subscriptions. Well, I'm like a kid in a candy shop, right! Where do I start. I did get two subscriptions to prominent Canadian magazines that have everything in them, including recipes. Now they aren't half bad, these magazines, but let me take you back with me to 2002 (Yes, another World Cup Year) when we went off to London (Yes, during the World Cup) to spend time with friends/family and generally be tourists. It was in the Sainsbury's near D's cousins house that I discovered magazine heaven and it was there that I discovered that Brit magazines blow the crap out of north american ones - yes... all popular north american ones. No jokes!

Back to the present, I discovered at my local Chapters that I can get BBC's Food magazine. Yes... I pay through the nose but damn, that thing is worth five of the other magazines that are half the price. I'm hooked again and I'm sorry to all my North American food magazines but I'm divorcing you and hooking up with a foreigner.
Here is just one of the recipes that converted me forever...

Patatas Bravas with chorizo (from BBC's Good Food magazine)
serves 4 (they say it's an appetizer but I like it as a meal)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves (I used 3), sliced
1 red chili (didn't have, it didn't matter)
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch smoked paprika (I used about 2 tsp in total)
salt to taste
500 ml (approx.) of canned, chopped tomato
2 lb new potato halved or quartered (steamed for about 10 min. to soften)
250 g (I used about 2 - 2 1/2 cups) chorizo sausage chopped in large chunks

my addition:
4 cup of spinach
Heat a little oil in a med. to large pan and fry the onion, garlic and chili until the onion softens. Add the spices and stir. Add in the chorizo and let it sizzle a bit with the spices. Add in the tomato and spinach. Mix the spinach in so it's covered in liquid and begins to boil down.
Simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes to let the liquid escape and the flavours to get stronger. Once it's boiled down, add in the steamed potato and mix it all well. Check the taste and adjust as necessary. Put a lid on the pot and let it sit for a bit before serving.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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