Boardwalk Cake

Last year I made carrot cake the same night of the series premiere for Boardwalk Empire. My friend Andrew called it “Boardwalk cake.” The name stuck, and now we have a nice (though weird) tradition.

I only plan on making this cake once a year. With no food processor handy in my humble abode, shredding the carrots is a daunting task that has left me needing band aides both years. However, even if it is just as unhealthy as any other cake, which I suspect it is, it is such a nostalgic and fun cake to eat. No- I don’t have fond childhood memories of carrot cake, but something about it just makes me feel like everything is okay and I am right where I am supposed to be.

This year, I made a different icing. I added some lemon zest and lemon juice. Definitely adds a good amount of zing. My roommate Chris responded to his first bite with, “The frosting is interesting.” At first I took this as an insult. Interesting? But he assured me that it was good, and his finished plate confirmed his assertion. The added flavor seemed to capture the attention of other taste-testers as well, all of whom appeared to enjoy it. I draw the conclusion that the recipe is a keeper, but be cautious. Perhaps tone down the lemon if you want a more mild flavor. On the other hand, the vibrant frosting helped me with quantity control. With so much pow in a bit, just a little slice was perfect.

Old Fashion Carrot Cake
Bon Appétit, March 2001

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups finely grated peeled carrots
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour sheet pan or two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, oil and eggs in large bowl until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt; beat until blended. Stir in carrots and walnuts. Divide batter between pans.

    Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 32 minutes**. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife between pan sides and cakes to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

    Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake 1 hour or up to 1 day. Serve at room temperature.

    **Directions for two cake pans. I baked a single layer cake and it took about 45 min. 

    Cream Cheese- Lemon Zest Frosting

    Whip the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until combined and airy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.

    Sift the powdered sugar onto a piece of parchment or wax paper. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sifted powdered sugar into the frosting (use both hands to bend the paper so the sugar pours slowly into the bowl).

    Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. If the frosting seems too soft to spread, allow it to chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.


    Ina’s Italian Wedding Soup

    If you know me at all, you know I love Ina. And by way of transitive property, I love this soup. Math.

    A couple weeks ago, I went home to California. Yes. It was 80 degrees, sunny, and fantabulous. But weather was not the only thing I had going for me. I was fed. Very good food, from out-and-about and from home.

    I was a big fan of this soup when my dad made it for the first time last year, so I was very excited when he suggested it for a Monday night dinner. There was one catch: he would be at work and would have to pass on the apron to me. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

    Perhaps I am being a bit dramatic, as my dad already had already assembled the meatballs, chopped the vegetables, and left the recipe on the counter. And despite the fact that the only attendees would be myself, Papa Miyashiro, and Mum, I was still nervous that the soup wouldn’t be quite as good.

    No worries- the soup was amazing. My dad came home early and was able to oversee the kitchen operations. I was clearly the sous chef (if that). When I added the wine, he added a little more. When I kept the heat on high, he turned it down to a simmer. Yet, instead of being a huge blow to my ego, I am glad that I was able to learn from his techniques while cooking by his side. The man knows his stuff, and I aspire to have that confidence and ease in the kitchen.

    The meatballs are my favorite and can be eaten by themselves or in a sandy. The Pecorino Romano cheese make them incredibly savory without being too heavy. And at the same time, the soup tastes very fresh from the dill added in at the end. With all my time dedicated to finding the perfect burger in NYC with my boyfriend or grabbing a slice from Tom’s Delicious Pizza, it is easy to forget that healthy can be yummy. This is a meal you will enjoy, feel good about, and crave again soon.

    Italian Wedding Soup
    by Ina Garten

    For the meatballs:
    3/4 pound ground chicken
    1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
    2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
    2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
    1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
    3 tablespoons milk
    1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    For the soup:
    2 tablespoons good olive oil
    1 cup minced yellow onion
    1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
    3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
    10 cups homemade chicken stock
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
    1/4 cup minced fresh dill
    12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don’t have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

    In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.