Saying Goodbye to Cheap Ethnic Eatz with the Best of 2015

So this is it! Not only is this the last post of 2015, but it will be my last post under the name Cheap Ethnic Eatz! I announced a few days ago my new name for my blog rebrand: CulturEatz.

The end of the year and the last post of 2015 are the perfect setting to say goodbye to Cheap Ethnic Eatz. I want to thank every member who’s ever joined the dinner group I ran from 2007 to 2011. They are the ones who inspired me to start a blog in the first place. Cheap Ethnic Eatz will have lived for 8 1/2 years. It has changed a lot over the years. And now it is a cocooned caterpillar that is about to emerge into a beautiful butterfly.

Best of Cheap Ethnic Eatz 2015

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Lemon Cupcakes are just Beachy

Got a party in the works? How about serving up these adorable beach themed lemon cupcakes and cake! No special skills are required to prepare these sweets and your dessert just may steel the spotlight from the honored guest!

As you get older you realize that one of the most important things in life is being well surrounded by people you love. Or to keep certain people close enough to you that they are willing to plan a huge party for you. Just kidding! On May 31st 2015 the party organization team of Sue and Evelyne threw a big 50th Birthday bash for our dearest friend Michele. It was an absolute pleasure to plan Michele’s birthday as she is like family to me and I know it is a mutual feeling. So one more time: Happy 50th Birthday Michele!

Beach themed Lemon Cupcakes tier

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Bridesmaids: Food ‘n Flix Roundup

At the beginning of this month, I announced that I would be hosting Food ‘n Flix with my chosen movie Bridesmaids. I love all the groups I am part of but I have to say there is a level of exchange with this group I just don’t get with others. Not only do we cook from a same inspiration, we also discuss the movies. It creates a real virtual conversation. And this month we welcomed 2 new members: Wendy and Joanne. We hope to see them regularly and perhaps you would like to join?

bridesmaids shower

Many saw this movie for a 2nd or 3 rd time, and a lot saw it for the first time. And boy were the opinions varied this month. Like many who saw Bridesmaids for the first time this month, I have to admit the first time I saw the movie I was not super crazy like everyone else was. There is a lot of slap stick comedy.

I know I am not alone with my initial reaction but I found a really good quote online from Roger Ebert saying this movie: “seems to be a more or less deliberate attempt to cross the Chick Flick with the Raunch Comedy. It definitely proves that women are the equal of men in vulgarity, sexual frankness, lust, vulnerability, overdrinking and insecurity.” I did see it again a year later and really enjoyed it. I got passed the gimmicky stuff and saw more into the heart of the movie. For this challenge I now saw it for a 3rd time and I can definitely say it is a favorite comedy. 

bridesmaids movie

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Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf and Cupcakes

It’s Food ‘n Flix time again! In this monthly group a ‘host’ picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe you want. This month’s pick is hosted by Tina at Squirrel Head Manor. Tina picked a movie A Good Year, which is based on a novel by Peter Mayle. Like most of his books, the setting is Provence, the land of lavender – my inspiration!

lemon lavender avocado cupcakes 07

About 10 years ago I went on a Peter Mayle reading rampage. I read so many of his books I do not remember if I read this one. Apparently that would be a good thing not to remember as the book is very loosely based. That said it was a very cute romantic comedy movie.

Max, an unethical business go getter, inherits his uncle’s house in Provence, the house where Max spent a many summers as a boy. His trip for a quick sale becomes extend as he is in hot waters with the UK government. Well his presence upsets many people in this small French town, including the wine maker who works on the now for sale land and Fanny the lovely eventual romantic interest. What does the future hold for all three characters? Well I hope I wetted your appetite enough to get your hands on the movie.

lemon lavender avocado cupcakes 02

There is lots of talk about wine and food in the movie but nothing for me really stood out. What did stand out was a “situation” that occurred twice in the movie: the cleaning lady chases away scorpions with fresh lavender to save the terrified visitors. So I looked it up online and indeed lavender is a scorpion repellant. Who knew!

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That is when I knew my recipe would showcase lavender buds. I searched high and low for a really ‘out there’ recipe. Most people would find a lavender recipe exotic but I have actually use it in cooking several times. For this event I settled on the curious Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf by Sheena on Allrecipes.

lavender fields 1

It so happens that this summer 4 of my friends and I headed out of town to visit a local lavender field. Walking along the 2 toned purple plants up and down the longs field was such an amazing experience. At the midway point the farm had set up a bunch of Adirondack chairs. Imagine 5 lovely ladies sitting in a row just enjoying the calming smell. We we so relaxed and happy, it was hard to leave the fields.

lemon lavender avocado cupcakes 09

I had recently run out of edible lavender buds so I bought some while at the farm, perfect for this really creative recipe. I hope you were not to put off by this combination of lavender, lemon and avocado but actually it worked really well together. The avocado acts at the fat for the recipe and you only have hints of it on the palate. I will admit the lavender is intense here if you are not used to it. There recipe was for 2 loafs but since I only have one loaf pan I used half the batter for cupcakes which I topped with a pretty raspberry!

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I found that the flavors mellowed a bit after a day, so if you have the willpower wait for the next day to try a slice. I brought only one cupcake to work for an adventurous colleague. When my other colleagues found out I was reprimanded quite severely for underestimating their open-mindedness. I made amends by bringing half the loaf in the next day. And they proved me wrong as I mostly got positive comments.

Yields 2 loafs or 12 large cupcakes

Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf
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Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed avocado
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsps dried lavender
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the avocado and lemon juice with the last egg. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the lavender and lemon zest; mixing just enough to evenly combine. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour (about 25 minutes for cupcakes). Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
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http://cultureatz.com/lemon-lavender-avocado-loaf-and-cupcakes/

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Such a gorgeous shot of the batter with the lavender and lemon peel

lavender fields 2 lavender fields 3

Total coincidence I was wearing purple nail polish, I swear.

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Seeing Green for St Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s day is a religious Irish holiday but countries all over the world love to celebrate with parades, parties, lots of libations enjoyed while wearing your finest greens. Did you know the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day?

I just love a holiday that allows grown-up to behave like silly children. That can be interpreted in different ways on Saint-Patrisck’s Day. Have fun and be safe. And I also enjoy an event that invites us to consume foods that can be of an unusual and bright color. Here are a few fun green recipes you will find on Cheap Etnic Eatz.

Peach Monster Smoothie

Peach Monster Smoothie Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes

Happy Easter and Happy Chocolate Day

I am not one to join the bandwagon of crazy popular food recipes sometimes. And that would explain why this is my first ever attempt at cupcakes. Got nothing against them, cute cakes in a muffin cups. Just did not bother making any. Until this week  as I had to bring a small dessert for 2 at a friend’s place for dinner. It seemed like the perfect thing to bring.

I also had no more milk and not much butter left so I had searched for a recipe that omitted these ingredients. Well surprisingly I found one quick enough and it is actually a vegan cupcake recipe. No eggs, no milk, no butter. And yes they are awesome and moist. The secret! The chemical interaction between the baking soda and vinegar which bubbles up and creates air pockets. Brilliant!

Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes

Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes adapted from Diana Rattray

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • your favorite white icing recipe
  • 2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • green food coloring

I made half the recipe for 6 cupcakes

Preparation:

1. Grease a muffin pan or line with cupcake papers. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Mix in the wet ingredients to the dry ones and beat on medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth and well blended.

4. Fill the prepared cupcake cups about half full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden pick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake.

5. Mix your icing with the matcha powder and green food coloring. Ice, decorate and serve. Makes 12 cupcakes

By the way the matcha flavor is quite subtle but it works with the overall taste. And no need to be fancy with the icing. I had leftover store bought icing from the Cake Pops challenge so just used that.

Camp of Cupcake Madness

Today was the day of a long awaited Montreal event: Cupcake Camp Montreal 2010. This event took place at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth. This was the second year this event takes place in Montreal. Cupcake camp is a 100% volunteer organization that sells cupcakes and has a cupcake competition for the soul purpose of raising funds for charities. This year the recipient charities are Kids Help Phone and Tablée des Chefs.

Last year it was a small event. This year the word got out and it was total madness. Last year it was held at a restaurant, 700 people showed up, 3,500 cupcakes were up for sale and $8,000 was raised. This year the event was help at a huge location, almost 20,000 cupcakes were up for sale, people came in the thousands (2,500 made it in, 2,000 could not get in) and over $34,500 was raised.

The 8 cupcake treasures I took home, see list at bottom

The doors opened at 1pm and we arrived around 1h30pm. We lined up for over 45 min (outdoors and indoors) to get in. There were so many people is was crazy. When we were inside the hosts would politely ask over the speakers for people to leave if they were done as there were 2,000 people waiting outside to get in and the room had reached maximum capacity. It was a madhouse and you had to fight with a smile to get to a cupcake table. It was not only a sugar rush but a cupcake adrenaline rush too! I know of 2 groups of people who gave up and did not wait to get in.

Double line outdoors, and it was COLD

Our gang

The 1,000s of people inside the room

This year’s event was a major success, bigger then possibly imagined. And there were cupcakes everywhere. We were a small gang and separated..the core foodie group sticking together. And we came up with a system: each take a bit out of our cupcakes. I tried a chocolate cinnamon chipolte cupcake; a blue yam and pistachio icing  cupcake; a curry coconut icing cupcake; a fig with blue cheese and violet cupcake; a double chocolate cupcake…those are the ones I remember. Lots of cupcake pics coming up!

Blue yam and pistachio icing

Sorry, but WTF????

A sweet Sheppard's Pie rendition topped with a sweet potato chip

So many cupcakes, I am seeing fuzzy

And here are a few competition entries. Clebretity judges included Chuck Hughes, Nadia G of the Bitchin Kitchen, food critique Leslie Chesterman, Bob le Chef,Ricardo and more.

Montreal themed cupcakes

It was such a madhouse I don’t know if I would have the courage to go again but I do think everyone should experience Cupcake Camp Montreal once in a lifetime. So next year go and get there early armed with patience. It does bring out the kid in all of us.

The 8 cupcakes that made it home:

  1. Chocolate and butter cream icing
  2. Apple something, can’t remember
  3. Vanilla and chocolate chips
  4. Matcha with a mochi on top
  5. Feta, zucchini and rosemary, only savory one I saw
  6. Vanilla with roasted marshmallow topping
  7. Chocolate and tofu
  8. Raspberry, pomegranate and blood orange jelly, white velvet cake and cream cheese icing!