Monthly Archives: September 2009

Food Carts in Portland

I’m having a late start this morning, made even later by my discovery of Food Carts Portland. It’s a blog about, well, food carts in Portland. It provides where the food carts are located, what they serve, and what the authors recommend you eat. And the cuisine selection presented on the site is just as diverse (perhaps even more diverse) as going to OpenTable.com.  You’ll find food carts specializing in cultural cuisines like Thai, African-Caribbean, Peruvian, and Middle Eastern.  Of course, the essential hot dog stand is featured as well as other specialty foods like cheese steak, pizza, waffles, and even pastry carts.  Who would have thought that Portland could have as thriving a food cart culture as New York City?  This is great!  Find yourself traveling to Portland?  Try one of the food carts showcased on the blog and let me know what you think!

Here’s a sampling of the recent highlights on Food Carts Portland:

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Asaase Ital Palace

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**All photos above from Food Carts Portland.

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Easy Bake (Lemon-Raspberry) Birthday Cake

Last weekend hubby and I were attempting to make a made-from-scratch lemon birthday cake for our beloved cousin when our hand mixer died.  And it was sad because we’ve had our trusty old Hamilton Beach since college.  With only a few short hours to spare, we had to quickly think of plan B (after all, this was going to be our birthday present, so we had better deliver).  What we ended up with turned out quite well, and I must say, a saving grace for the beginner baker (like me).  Have you guessed by now what we did?  Yep, we went for it: store bought cake mix and frosting.  But hey, it was still homemade and surely made with plenty of creativity and love!  =)

What you’ll need:

2 9-inch round baking pans

2 boxes of French vanilla cake mix

6 large eggs (3 eggs per cake mix)

2 1 1/3 cups of water (only 1 1/3 cup for each cake mix)

2 1/3 cups of vegetable oil (only 1/3 cup for each cake mix)

1/2 cup lemon curd (we used Elizabethan Pantry found at our local HT)

1 1/2 pints of fresh raspberries

2 16 oz lemon cream frosting

1 16 oz vanilla cream frosting

1 sheet of parchment paper (cut into a 11-12 inch round)

1 cake stand

Fresh flowers for cake decoration

Birthday candles

What you’ll do:

1) Preheat oven according to cake mix box instructions.  Prepare the cake mixes one at a time, according to box instructions.  Once the ingredients (water, eggs, cake mix, and vegetable oil) have been mixed according to the instructions on the box, split the batter equally between the two 9-inch round baking pans.  This is important because you don’t want the mix to spill over, so you have to split the batter between the baking pans.  Bake cakes according to time instructions on the box (usually between 28-31 minutes).  You should have a total of 4 low cakes.  Let the cakes cool completely.

2) Place the parchment paper on your cake stand, and place 1 of the 4 cakes on top of the parchment paper.  The parchment paper’s purpose is to keep your cake stand all clean and icing free while you decorate.  You’ll pull it off later on once you’re all done decorating/icing.

3) Bottom and middle layer cake:  On your bottom layer cake, spread the lemon curd until all of the surface is covered.  Once done, put on another layer of cake (this is your second or middle layer).

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4) Middle and top layer cake:  On top of the middle layer, spread the vanilla cream frosting until the entire surface of the middle layer cake is covered.  The vanilla cream frosting will hold the raspberries in place.  Once you’ve evenly spread the vanilla cream frosting, begin to place raspberries around the top of the middle layer cake, beginning outside and working your way into the center of the cake.  Once done placing the raspberries, top the cake with a third layer (yes, you’ll have one extra cake which you can use for other purposes).

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5)  You should now have a three layer cake, with lemon curd in between the bottom and middle layer and vanilla cream frosting spread and raspberries in between the middle and top layer.  The final piece is to ice the cake with the lemon cream frosting.  The best way to do this if you don’t have an icing spatula (which we don’t) is to use a butter knife.  Start by filling in the gaps around the cake between the bottom and middle layers and between the middle and top layers.  This will ensure that your cake comes out smooth around the sides.  Follow by evenly spreading the icing on the top layer, then work your way around the entire cake beginning at the side of the top layer and working your way around and down the cake.  We found that starting at the top and working your way around helps to best spread the icing.

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6)  Once you’re done icing, remove the parchment paper by gently lifting on side of the cake and pulling it off.  This can be pretty tricky, but can be done.  However, if you find it too difficult or feel nervous about messing up your beautified cake, just take the tip of your sharp knife and cut around the cake, removing the excess parchment paper.  Almost done!  For the final presentation, arrange the fresh flowers on top of the cake.  Bring along your birthday candles to place on the cake when the celebrant is ready to make his or her wish!

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PS. Sorry the pics came out a little dark and somewhat blurry. Blame it on poor studio lighting and time!

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