Homemade Carrot Cake with Lime Mascarpone Icing

If you've been keeping up you'll know that my last endeavor to try cooking at home, Melt-in-your-mouth shin stew, a recipe from Jamie Oliver's cookbook, wasn't so melt in your mouth.  Let me tell you something that's been troubling me, this Cook with Jamie cookbook I bought five maybe six months ago wasn't cheap, it's a total of 447 pages with lovely photographs, very informative and most importantly contains... actually I'm unsure how many recipes it contains, but the book is a total of 447 pages so you can imagine, right?

I've had the opportunity of trying out a few recipes from Cook with Jaime, including the Melt-in-your-mouth shin stew that was yes, not so melt-in-your-mouth, none of the recipes I've tried so far have turned out at all the way I had hoped.  I want to blame the book and maybe somewhere deep down I really do, but really I blame my inability to cook... and... the cookbook. The more recipes that go horribly wrong from Cook with Jaime the more I find myself to be determined to find a recipe that works.

So, as a result of my latest let-down from Cook with Jaime I decided to instead try a carrot cake recipe from Cook with Jaime, "I WILL find a recipe in this cookbook that works!"  My persistence to find a recipe that I like and that I can do is now the driving force.

So I went at it.

First, I outlined a piece of parchment to fit my 9" diameter Springform cake pan, which I bought today for specifically this carrot cake recipe.

I Cut-out the parchment and set it inside the cake pan, I lightly greased the top of the parchment paper as well as the inside sides of the pan, I did this very simply by putting half a tablespoon of  softened butter on a small pieces of folded paper towel and just greased away.

I prepped all my ingredients which included grated carrots, separated eggs, butter, sugar, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, self-rising flower, baking soda and an orange.  Mr. Borscht laughs at my preps, but it makes everything I need to do much easier.

With the new 5-speed Cuisinart Brother Charlies recently got for me, I mixed, quite easily may I add and with enthusiasm I didn't know I could have for mixing,  the butter and the sugar until it was slightly pale and fluffy-ish.

I then beat in five egg yolks one by one and then beat in the orange juice and orange zest.  Then stirred in the flour and baking powder, once all that was incorporated I carefully added in the almonds, walnuts, spices and carrots.

That bowl of white stuff is actually egg whites and a pinch of salt that I whisked with my 5-speed blender until it was nice and stiff, well as stiff as egg whites can be.  I then took the beautiful egg whites and folded them into the carrot cake batter.

This is me folding in the egg whites into the carrot cake batter

I poured the carrot cake batter into the cake pan

The uncooked carrot cake batter didn't look very pretty but I had my fingers crossed that it might be more attractive once out of the oven.

And it was!

I let the cooked carrot cake cool down for ten minutes in the pan on a trivet and then took the cake out and let it cool completely (about 1 hour) on a cooling rack.  My new springform cake pan made taking the cake out and setting it on the cooling rack a piece of cake!  I simple popped off the sides and since I had greased the sides earlier it slipped off with ease.  I then set my cooling rack on top of the cake and carefully flipped it over, and WaLah!  You've got your cake on the cooling rack.

After one hour passed and the carrot cake was completely cooled down I made the icing for the carrot-cake, very easy!  Simply mix together cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lime zest and lime juice, this of course was made even more simple with my new handy dandy hand-mixer!  I've wanted a hand-mixer for so long and finally I have one, I'm sure my enthusiasm for this hand-mixer is annoying by now but just you try and make whipped cream or meringues by hand!

Once the icing was prepared I spread it over the carrot cake and then sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Next time I won't forget to ice the sides!

The carrot cake looked beautiful and tasted beautiful too... Though I think there could have been more carrot in it and less lime flavor in the icing, Mr. Borscht however, wished there was more of a lime flavor!  Mr. Borscht had two slices, in a row!  And this doesn't include the one he had  as a late night snack!  This makes me very happy, I think finally I've found a recipe in Cook with Jaime that works!  What next?!

Carrot cake with lime mascarpone icing from Cook With Jamie cookbook:


1 1/4 Cups softened unsalted butter
2 Cups light brown soft sugar (I used plain brown sugar because it's all I had and it was just fine)
5 Lg eggs separated (yolks and egg whites separated)
Zest & juice of 1 large orange
1 1/2 Cups sifted self-rising flour
1 Slightly heaped tsp of baking powder
1 Cup ground almonds (I bought sliced almonds & pulsed them in a grinder myself)
4 oz Chopped walnuts
1 Heaped tsp of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground ginger
10 oz of grated carrots (naturally they should be cleaned & peeled first)
Pinch of sea salt

For the Icing:

4 oz Mascarpone cheese
8 oz Full-fat cream cheese
1 Scant cup of sifted powdered sugar
Zest and juice of 2 limes (though I think zest and juice of 1 lime would have been just as good and would be suggested if a lighter lime flavor is wanted).


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease and line a 9" square cake pan or 9" diam round cake pan with wax paper

Beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy

Beat in egg yolks one by one

Add the orange zest and juice

Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder

Add the ground almonds, walnuts, spices and grated carrots and mixed together well

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff, then gently fold into the cake mix

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and put in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean (until a toothpick when inserted into cake for 5 seconds comes out clean)

Once out of the oven, leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out the cake onto a rack and cool for at least 1 hour.

Mix all the icing ingredients together and top the cake, then finish off with a sprinkle of walnuts.

Singapore's Banana Leaf

Brother Charlie and Tummy were feeling adventurous, we ended up at the Farmer's Market at the Grove and roamed for a lunch place to fulfill our adventurous needs, we decided to cross oceans today to Singapore and eat at Singapore's Banana Leaf, which we both had heard good things about.

Brother Charlie wanted Laksa soup, I wanted stir fry noodles and I wanted him to try the Paratha bread which I have had before.  But after a short discussion we've decided that would be way too much food for lunch so we agreed to share the Laksa soup and order a side of Paratha to share as well.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that coconut milk gave me the runs or perhaps it was out of pure embarrassment, but yes, as you may have guessed somehow the broth of Laksa soup is mainly coconut milk with some added spices. 

The side of Paratha came with two pieces and a side of spicy curry-like sauce, the sauce was a little spicy for my taste and too watery to be a sauce, I enjoyed the paratha plain.  Paratha is a plain semi-flaky bread that is fried in a pan, you heat one side and then the other until there nicely browned and piping hot.

The Laksa soup came up with these fried pieces of...?  Well, to be honest I have no idea what they were but they had a slight flavor to them and were slightly salty.

The Laksa soup consisted of tofu, bean sprouts, some kind of glass/jelly noodles that was, quite honestly, a bit of a trouble to eat as they didn't really want to bend, the soup also had fish balls in them which was just about the most flavorful thing in the soup.  Sadly, the Laksa soup was boring, tasteless, and the broth was creamy rich in texture- not pleasant.  

I thought to myself 'the stir fry noodles' are probably better, I've heard a couple of different people say that the food at Singapore's Banana Leaf was good and I'm almost sure we just ordered the wrong dish today.  So, though the Laksa soup was an absolute NO, I may find myself back here quite soon to try the stir fry noodles- and then we shall see!

But for now a Banana Leaf suggestion for you would be...


1 order of Paratha
1 Laksa Soup

The Damage:  $13.00 +/-

6333 W. 3rd Street
La CA 90036
9323) 933.4627

Noshi Sushi

Mr. Borscht and I have a thing for sushi, we absolutely can't live without it!  When we resided in the beautiful yet boring city of Santa Barbara there was always this one sushi place we would go to for our sushi fill, so naturally when we moved to Los Angeles we immediately began the hunt for a sushi place we can turn to should the need arise.  There are some rules and guidelines to be qualified as the sushi restaurant of our choice.

Rules & Guidelines:

1.  Must be clean
2.  Atmosphere must be casual and comfortable
3.  Service must be fast and friendly
4.  Must be affordable
5.  Must be fresh!
6.  Must be within 10miles of home

As of late we've only gone to one place for sushi, this place is called Noshi Sushi.  The more Mr. Borscht and I go to Noshi Sushi the more we love Noshi Sushi.  Last night we had sushi at Noshi Sushi, this is how it went.

Weekend evenings is always packed with a wait, Wednesday night 6:45PM we got a booth for two right away- we are pleasantly surprised by the no wait and also by the amount of white folks that are eating sushi and not just California rolls either!  I think this is really something great.

We begin with as customary Miso soup and a side of seaweed salad (not so customary).  The miso was lightly salty, less flavorful and more watery than I would have liked, if I absolutely loved miso soup this would have been a great disadvantage to Noshi but I'm not a fan of miso soup in the first place, so I let this one slide.

Tonight is the first time I try Noshi's seaweed salad and it was absolutely delicious!  Salty with just the right amount of... is that ponzu sauce?  And it is fresh Fresh FRESH!  I practically ate the whole bowl myself and really had to stop myself from drinking the sauce at the bottom of the bowl.

If you like seaweed salad I highly recommend trying it here at Noshi

First items to be served were the albacore sushi and the halibut sushi, the albacore was soft and buttery and really very quite good, however for all you beginner sushi eaters I would suggest staying away from albacore the first time around, it can be quite soft and buttery which I can understand be somewhat of a turn-off.  The Halibut at Noshi however is a DO TRY  as it was spectacular fresh with good texture, and with the toppings of scallions and ginger sauce it was mouth-watering.

To the left is Albacore sushi, to the right is Halibut sushi

Next, a plate of two types of rolls consisting of  rather large cut yellowtail rolls and  spicy tuna rolls, we also have on the plate salmon sushi, Fresh water eel (AKA Unagi) sushi, and a spicy tuna hand roll (which is the exact same thing as the spicy tuna rolls, just rolled differently).

Tummy is a big fan of Unagi, fresh water eel, this is served grilled and topped with sauce, I was a bit disappointed in the size of the Unagi here at Noshi, I've definitely had larger sized Unagi's at other restaurants as well as less bony and much softer but it is tasty all the same and Tummy will have to suggest to give this a try. The salmon was delicious and the yellowtail rolls which included lettuce was incredibly simple yet fresh and tasty in a very pure-taste kind of way, with each bite I was able to taste the lettuce as well as the yellowtail and thought it amazing how two very simple flavors were able to come through in one bite.

My least favorite on the plate was the spicy tuna roll, the spicy tuna roll at Noshi is a bit... mushy and something about the flavors reminds me of mayo, which I'm not a very big fan of.  I like my spicy tuna rolls to have dices of tuna with spicy sauce and whatnot on it, if mush and mayo aren't your thing- stay away from this Noshi roll.

Mr. Borscht and I finished our meal with a half order (5-piece) salmon sashimi plate.  The slices were thick and large and so was more like 8-10-pieces in quantity, it was incredibly fresh.  Everytime Mr. Borscht and I have ordered sashimi here it has never ceased to amaze in quality, this being said, naturally all the fish in any of the rolls and plates here are fresh which of course is key to sushi.  This is our 3rd sushi dinner here at Noshi and we both unanimous in vote that "yes' we do love it more and more everytime we come here, thus I've finally made up my mind to designate Noshi Sushi as my go-to sushi place in Los Angeles.

Couple of Noshi Sushi suggestions for all you beginner sushi eaters:

1.  Stay away from the albacore
2.  Definitely try:  Halibut sushi, Unagi sushi, salmon sushi & salmon sashimi
3.  And if you feel daring... do try the seaweed salad

1 Order of unagi sushi
1 Order of halibut sushi
1 Order of salmon sushi
1 Order of albacore sushi
1 Half order of Salmon sashimi
1 Order of spicy tuna hand roll
1 Order of spicy tuna roll
1 Order of Yellowtail roll
1 Miso soup
1 Seaweed salad

The Damage:  $41.87

Noshi Sushi
4430 Beverly Blvd
LA CA 90004
(323) 469.3458

Not so Melt-in-your-mouth beef shin stew

As pictured in Cooking with Jamie

I may love food and I may love cooking but that doesn't mean I'm any good at it, but I love to eat and I love to cook, so I do what I can to stick by it.  Cooking for me is a definite learning process all the way and it doesn't come easy as it does with many of my other friends I know, baking is always a travesty, meats are hit or miss and stews... well, until today I always thought stews were supposed to be a sure thing.

I have so much to say and share with you on my recent experience on a stew recipe I decided to try this past weekend, how do I begin?  Let me first begin by saying the most obvious, the recipe has to be good and secondly, the level of cooking the recipe calls for needs to be what your willing to do 100% and of course it would probably help if you were at that level.

Today's stew recipe is from a fairly expensive cookbook I have by none other than Jaime Oliver, the title of the recipe to be tackled: Melt-in-your mouth shin stew.  The level of cooking though the recipe does not specify is most likely easy.  There are numerous ingredients and spices that go into making this stew possible but basically you just chop everything and stew it up in one big pot.

The ingredients called for veggies including the very expensive porcini mushrooms, fresh herbs

and a bottle of Chianti, whatever is left over in the bottle I highly recommend you drink

Once all the vegetables were roughly chopped

I heated up a glug of olive oil in my new favorite, the $40 dutch oven

and threw all the veg and herbs, including the stick of cinnamon, into the dutch oven so that it would all soften on med to med-high heat.

And while the vegetables were softening on the stove, I took my 2 1/4lb of what should have been Beef Shin but what was actually just stewing beef...

And lightly coated them in some seasoned flour (2Tbsp flour + a little bit of salt + a little bit of pepper).

Once all the meat was nicely lightly coated I tossed the meat into the same dutch oven as my already softened vegetables, I gave it a good mix up for a few minutes.

I tossed in a 28oz of plum tomatoes in a can with it's juices

Along with 2/3 of the bottle of Chianti and a pinch of salt & pepper

Gave the entire dutch oven a good mix with my wooden spoon and waited for it to come to a boil.

And though Jaime Oliver never said to skim the foam, I did... because it just looked gross, plus I was just standing there waiting for it to boil.

While we wait for this dutch oven with all it's contents to come to a boil let me take the time to share with you a little story about this "shin stew".... On the day I was buying ingredients to prepare this shin stew, all was going well except when it came time to actually buy the Beef Shin.  I ran to three different butchers before I was finally told that Beef Shin wasn't in season, apparently Beef Shin doesn't do well with heat and as we all know, it's Summer!  Hence, none of the meat markets were carrying Beef Shin.  This I think was pretty vital information that would have been HELPFUL and GREAT to know, after all, I'm no butcher nor ProCook!  Instead of getting the out-of-season Beef Shin for the "Melt-in-your-mouth shin stew" I got the next best thing, stewing beef.

Once the dutch oven came to a boil, I turn off the heat, covered the top with a double layer of foil, placed the lid on top tightly and put it in the 350 degree preheated oven for 3 hour.

So far, the cooking was going all very well and easy, in a hour or so the kitchen would begin to smell very good.

I awaited patiently for my stew to be done and set the table with the fresh flowers I bought earlier just for tonight's stew dinner.

When the 3 hours were up I was pleasantly surprised to see that the wine had reduced as it should have and what looked before like wine soup was now actually a stew.  I was even more pleased with myself when I lightly poked the meat with a spoon and found that it gave way quite easily and broke into little pieces.

What was disappointing however, was the taste.  Is it actually supposed to taste like this?  I will never really know I suppose, but I followed the directions pretty exact minus the Beef Shin that wasn't in season and the porcini mushrooms that were fresh instead of dried.  The flavor and texture reminded me of Beef Bourguignon without the rich, full bodied taste.  I can't say that it was delicious and yet I can't say that it was terrible either, it was simply a hearty stew, complex in deep, earthy, winter-like flavors but lacked a very big taste... a certain something that I cannot place.  Perhaps Jamie Oliver has very English taste?

What I found to be most annoying of this recipe project I really was looking forward to was that the recipe never mentioned about the seasonal Beef Shin, had I known this I would have never endeavored to try this recipe, after all, it's supposed to be BEEF SHIN stew and what I made was actually just beef stew, which I'm sure resulted in the chewy stringy beef in my stew, this wasn't at all pleasant.

However, should you want to give it a go here is Jamie Oliver's recipe from Cook With Jamie, I hope you have better luck than I!

Olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 sticks of cleery, trimmed and roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 Bay leaves
A small handful of dried porcini
1 cinnamon stick
2 1/4 lb shin of beef, bone removed, trimmed and cut into 2"pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp flour
28oz can of good-quality plum tomatoes
2/3 of a bottle of Chianti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy bottomed ovenproof saucepan

Gently fry onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, porcini and cinnamon until lightly softened (5min)

Toss beef in seasoned flour so that it is lightly coated

Add the meat to the pan and stir everything together

Add the tomatoes, wine and pinch of salt and pepper and gently bring to the boil

Cover with a double-thickness pieces of aluminum foil and a lid and place in the over for 3hours or until the beef is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a spoon.

Check the seasoning and remove the cinnamon stick and rosemary sprigs.

Papa Cristos, Pt. 2: Spanokopita

Once Tummy finds a place that she likes, she often goes back, hence this second review on Papa Cristos.  Tummy is here to test yet again Papa Cristos by ordering another of her Greek favorites, Spanokopita.

Today is Saturday afternoon and after a nice hike at Griffith Park on a hot day, Tummy and Mr. Borscht found themselves at Papa Cristos to meet Brother Charlie.  Mr. Borscht loves Greek food, Mr. Borscht has yet to try Papa Cristos, Mr. Borscht has been on the hunt for a Los Angeles gyro that meets all the requirements, he has yet to meet the match.  Tummy has enthusiastically brought Mr. Borscht here to see if she can crack the case with Papa Cristos' gyro.

Apparently on Saturdays a Greek performer sits and plays, it's a full house

The meal in question?  Spanokopita & a small Greek side salad

The Spanokopita, a layered flaky crust encloses a spinach and feta cheese filling.  Tummy has had this countless times before at all kinds of Greek restaurants and though  Papa Cristos' gyro is too die for the Spanokopita is awfully average, then again one may argue that amongst so many other Spanokopitas this is indeed a very hard test, yes, Tummy would have to agree with this argument.  Tummy has only had one other Spanokopita that can top Papa Cristos and it too comes from a Greek restaurant in Los Angeles, this restaurant is called Le Petit Greek.

But there is a significant difference here in the type of Spanokopita that is served at Papa Cristos and the one served at Le Petit Greek.  Le Petit Greek serves a fancy appetizer Spanokopita that is much more rich and heavy in taste.  Papa Cristos serves the casual snack Spanokopita, and for this arena it is quite good... it is lighter, not as filling, not as rich but still very good - it is what it is!  There are no surprises!  This casual snack Spanokopita was exactly what Tummy wanted after a sweaty hike and so even though it didn't top the chart in any significant way it was absolutely perfect.

The greek salad consisted of greens, roma tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, olives and of course, feta cheese dressed lightly with a vinaigrette.  The salad was fresh, simple and similar to the Spanokopita, was nothing fancy.

It was as light as a Greek meal could be which was exactly what Tummy was going for.  As for Mr. Borscht and his gyro, he loved it of course.

1 Orange Pellegrino
1 Spanokopita
1 Small Greek side salad

The Damage:  $7.00 +/-

Papa Cristos
2771 West Pico Blvd
LA CA 90006
(323) 737.2970


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