This vegan cake is made without milk or eggs and is moist, dark and delicious. It is a simple snack cake that can be put together in minutes without any special tools or ingredients provided you have unsweetened cocoa on hand. It is easy to make at the last minute for unexpected guests. Cakes like this one were developed during the depression era when butter and eggs were expensive or unavailable. For the holidays, I like to use mint flavored chocolate candies to make a light topping for the cake. All it really needs is a dusting of powdered sugar, but you can make that even more attractive by placing a pretty doily over the cake and sprinkling the sugar on top of that. Carefully remove the doily, leaving the pretty design in place.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water
Icing, mint chocolate candies, or powdered sugar as desired for the top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together. Sift into an 8x8 inch ungreased cake pan. Make three depressions. Pour oil into one, vinegar into the second, and vanilla into the third well. Pour the water over all, and stir with a fork until the batter looks even in color and well blended.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or the top springs back when pressed lightly. Top with Andes Mints or chopped Frango Mints while the cake is hot and spread them over the surface after they have had a couple of minutes to melt, frost with your favorite icing when the cake is cool or dust with powdered sugar.
All you need to know about defrosting and roasting the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving.
Salt and Pepper
The star participant in most American Thanksgiving dinners is the turkey. For me, there were two key discoveries that I made over the years that made Thanksgiving preparations much easier.
The first discovery was what to do with the huge (18-25 pound) frozen turkeys I usually choose when refrigerator space is at a premium. For many, many years I have been purchasing a large frozen turkey four days before I need to cook it. I double-wrap it in store plastic bags. I double-wrap that in store paper bags. This is my first line of defense to keep the turkey insulated. I put it in a large well-insulated plastic cooler and leave it until marathon cooking day. I usually turn it over by the third day, ensure it is still cold enough in the cooler and if it seems like the thawing is getting close to done, I add gel ice packs to keep it under 40 degrees when the top of the cooler is closed. When I am ready to cook the turkey, it is defrosted enough to handle and there is still ice in the bird’s cavity. We have never had a problem with over-temperature birds and all my guests have survived without issues. Before putting the cooler back in storage, we wash it out well with chlorine bleach and water or antiseptic wipes.
The second discovery was the process of spatchcocking a turkey. What was that you say? Spatchcocking, sometimes called butterflying. It is simply the process of cutting out the backbone of the turkey with a pair of poultry shears and the help of a heavy, sharp knife. The turkey is then put on a sheet pan skin side up, and pressure is applied to the breastbones to crack them and flatten the turkey. One Thanksgiving, I was having trouble getting enough leverage to crack the breastbones of a very large turkey. I placed the turkey pan on the floor and got down on my knees to lean on the breast with more of my weight. At that point my sister came into the kitchen, looked at me poised over the turkey with my hands pressing on the breastbone and deadpanned with a doleful look, “I think it’s too late.” Your turkey will not need CPR! If you like, you can remove the wing tips at this point. Season with salt and pepper, brush with oil and bake at 450 degrees F until the turkey thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. A 12 pound turkey will be done in a little over an hour. An 18 pound turkey will probably be done in an hour and forty five minutes. Check for doneness earlier than you think possible! The turkey will be golden brown and both the dark meat and the breast meat will be perfectly cooked in record time. It is magic that you can get moist breast meat and cooked dark meat all at once while freeing up extra oven space for sides because the turkey is not as tall as it would be with a traditional roasting method. Do not attempt to carve the turkey until it has set for at least 15 minutes to allow the juices to distribute through the meat. Carving before the turkey has had a chance to set will cause the juices to end up on your carving board, not in the turkey.
The turkey pictured here was moved from the roasting sheet pan to this aluminum foil lined pan for photos and so I could work on gravy using the lovely pan juices and browned bits while it set. The position you see it in is the position your unroasted turkey will sit in as you put it in the oven.
When the turkey had set, I carved it by taking the breast portions off the bones with my fingers and a small knife and cutting them crosswise into slices. The drumsticks and wing portions were left whole. The thigh meat was sliced.
My family loves this salad. It is a great dish for taking to potlucks as you can feed a lot of people without spending a lot of money. I have doubled and even tripled the recipe for parties and it always seems to disappear. Cabbage is one of the superfoods that should have a bigger role in our diets. It is low in calories, high in fiber, and a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family which is associated with a reduced incidence of a number of cancers. You can buy coleslaw mix, but cutting your own cabbage will give you a fresher salad and save you money. If you are concerned about nut allergies, toasted sunflower seeds make a substitute for the almonds. If you are serving vegetarians, you can use Top Ramen brand Oriental flavor, which contains no animal products. To turn this into a full meal, add shredded roasted chicken or sautéed tofu cubes (dredge in corn starch to get them to brown well) to the salad. This makes 4 generous servings as an entrée.
1 head of cabbage, grated or sliced thinly* You can use a mixture of green and red cabbage for variety. (2 - 2 1/2 lb. cabbage = ~9 cups)
4 whole green onions (scallions), sliced into thin rings
1 3-ounce package ramen noodles with chicken flavor seasoning packet
1/4 - 1/2 cup of slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup salad oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, but white vinegar is fine too.)
Cilantro leaves (optional)
I love almonds, so I use the larger quantity. Toast the almonds in the oven, microwave, or while stirring in a small heavy pan on the stovetop, but watch them carefully as they can burn easily. If you are using a 350 degree oven, it will take about 8 minutes and you can reduce the chance of the nuts burning by placing them on a silicone sheet such as Silpat. Set aside to cool.
Crush the ramen noodles while they are in their original bag. A small mallet, hammer, or meat pounder used gently does a good job. It helps to put the ramen noodle bag in a larger plastic bag to avoid getting noodles all over the place if the bag breaks.
For the dressing, dissolve the sugar and the chicken seasoning packet from the ramen noodles in the vinegar in a small jar. Add the salad oil and black pepper to taste and shake to mix.
The cabbage and onions can be prepared the day before, mixed together and refrigerated in the serving bowl or a plastic bag. The almonds and noodles can be prepared the day before and mixed together and stored in a plastic bag at room temperature. The dressing can be made the day before and refrigerated in a small jar.
Mix all the ingredients together shortly before serving. If you like cilantro, don’t forget to add it now. This salad will still taste good on the second day, but the cabbage and noodles will soften after storage with the dressing on them.
*To slice cabbage, cut it in half through its core. Put the flat side down and cut in half once again through the core. Holding one of the quarters vertically, slice the tough core part out down the length of each quarter. Put one of the flat sides of the cabbage quarter on your cutting board, and make very thin slices across the wedge. Start making slices at the pointy end and continue making slices until you finish at the core end. Now you can use your knife to slice the pile three or four times across all the slices to make smaller pieces.