More From My Birthday Dinner, Oriental Salad Recipe

Ramen Oriental Salad

Ramen Oriental Salad

Due to the many requests I’ve had for this salad I am posting it today as a follow up to our Oriental theme birthday dinner this week. We are still enjoying the leftovers as I thankfully made a double batch!


Salad Ingredients:
1 sm head green or red cabbage, chopped or shredded
1 lg head of napa cabbage, chopped or shredded
1 lg bunch green onions, chopped
Option: you can substitute 1 lg. bag cole slaw in a pinch

Crunchy Toppings:
2 Tbls butter
3 tbsp. sesame seeds, blk or white or a combo of the two
1/4 c sliced almonds
1 pkg dry crunchy Ramen noodles, chicken, shrimp or oriental flavor, well crushed
Melt butter, and brown seeds, almonds, and noodle pcs in skillet… being careful not to burn, but toast until light brown. Option: sprinkle the Ramen seasoning pkt in this mix. Blend well.

NOTE: You can add the little Ramen seasoning packet to either the crunchy topping or the salad dressing, if you like, …or you can omit it altogether. I’ve done it both ways. Many times there’s excessive salt or MSG contained in those seasoning pkts, so just read your ingredients label and go with what makes you comfortable…..your choice to add or not to add. It’s great either way so feel free to experiment.

1/4 c. sugar
1/8- 1/4 c (2-4 TBLS) flavorless oil, start with lesser amt only adding more if necessary for flavor balance
1/4 c apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s brand)
Ramen seasoning pkt (optional)
1/2 tsp. pepper
Heat sugar and cider, (& seasoning pkg if you are using it).
Whisk, & when sugar is melted/ fully dissolved, then remove from heat.
Add oil, Pepper. Whisk again until well blended.
Cool, but can use if it’s slightly warm
Place in mason jar with tight lid to shake well immediately before pouring onto salad as oil tends to separate easily. Refrigerate any leftover dressing.

NOTE: You may want to play around with the sugar, oil, vinegar ratios to your taste preference. I want mine both sweet and vinegary, with just enough oil to smooth it out and bind. You don’t want to pour tasteless oil over your salad! So just play with it until it’s to your liking.

Assemble salad right before serving…In big salad bowl toss greens, toppings and dressing well. I only toss as much as we will eat in that sitting. Then I save the leftover greens, crunchy toppings, and dressing separately so I can toss up another fresh batch tomorrow.

We oftentimes make a meal out of this salad by adding chunks of grilled chicken or Β fish, or thin slices of beef or pork tenderloin on top. Following the Asian philosophy, use your protein addition as a condiment flavoring treat vs the main attraction. 3-4 ounces is ideal.

Bon appetite y’all!





Strawberry Chinese Birthday Cake!

Voila! My version of a Strawberry Chinese Birthday Cake!

I have to admit strawberries have always been a weakness of mine. My earliest recollection of being addicted to the sweet juicy fruit first started when Mama made the fatal mistake of setting my highchair at the end of the table within reach of her big bowl of strawberries. Unfortunately they were slated for the dinner guests’ dessert. They were so busy conversing and laughing amongst themselves, Mama failed to notice me snitching strawberry after strawberry until she was ready to serve dessert and found a totally empty bowl! She was so upset with me it left an indelible message, that being, “Strawberries are so good they deserve a special elevated place on the table and are obviously coveted by the grown-ups!” So to this day when strawberry season rolls around I start salivating, always remembering that first big bowl of sweet fruit.

This week was my birthday, notice I said week? I don’t like to restrict my birthday celebration to just one day; it’s much more fun to stretch it out for a week! I actually have been known to have birthday months! πŸ˜΅πŸ‘ So with strawberry season in full swing, I thought I’d try to duplicate those special light strawberry cakes sold in Chinese bakeries. They are known as Chinese Birthday Cakes, a light sponge cake with fresh strawberry slices set in a bed of vanilla custard between the layers, then iced in a vanilla whipped cream, and finally topped with more strawberries. It’s the lightest most divine of fresh summer cakes and one of my all time favorites! I can’t think of a better birthday cake! I deplore those sugary sweet, dry, flavorless typical birthday cakes. 😝

So after researching a ton of different recipes, and knowing what components I wanted in my version, I finally created my own concoction of the infamous Chinese Strawberry Birthday Cake. πŸŽ‚πŸ° I can now report that it was successfully duplicated… and it is delicious, if I do say so myself.

We had six friends join us last night for my Chinese theme dinner inspired by the Chinese Birthday Cake. So that makes a total of eight opinions, counting DH and me, and it was unanimous ….the cake was a total hit! Votes are in and it is a “10” on the YUMM chart‼️ We didn’t actually vote, but second helpings were had and only one serving left on the cake stand, so in my book that screams WINNER! Well that, and a lot of accolades as well.

This cake is rather complicated with its layers and various steps, but oh so worth the effort. So to help you get organized I divided each component’s ingredients and directions in separate sections below, vs listing total ingredients then a long list of directions. It helped me organize, mis en place, (French chef term for getting everything in its place before you begin), so hopefully breaking it down like this will simplify it for you too.

In bowl 1 mix together:
6 eggs yolks
6 TBLS granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBLS vanilla
1/2 c water and 1/3 c oil
Mix everything together till creamy

In bowl 1, over the egg yolk mixture, sift together:
3/4 c +1 TBLS All Purpose flour
2 TBLS cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder

In separate mixing bowl 2, whisk until stiff peaks form:
6 egg whites
4 TBLS powdered sugar
2 TBLS granulated sugar,
1 tsp cream of tartar (if you happen to use a copper bowl you can omit this)

Cake Directions:
Next fold the whites (bowl 2 mixture) into the yolks (bowl 1 mixture)
It’s okay to see strands of yellow and white. (Be gentle, do not flatten the whites. Best to do a little at a time)
Pour the batter into an ungreased 9″ springform pan. It will stick, but you want it to stick in order to rise, so do not grease the pan!
Smooth out batter and bake at 350 degrees in middle of oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (test from center of cake)
Turn cake upside down on raised cooling rack until cooled completely
When totally cool, remove the springform pan and cut off any brown bits of cake.
Cut in half to make two layers.

to be heated on stove so add to sauce pan:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Then stir in 3/4 cup of milk, (add after other ingred were first blended together in pot)
In another small bowl mix:
1 egg beaten with 1/4 c milk. (Caution! Must be tempered. See directions.)
1 TBLS vanilla. Add to pot last
Custard directions:
Whisk sugar, flour, salt in pan. Then add 3/4 c milk. Bring to slight boil whisking continually, (just until little bubbles form around edges. Do not scrape bits off the sides or your custard will clump) Cook two minutes, still whisking continually until smooth, and remove from heat.
Now mix 1 beaten egg with 1/4 cup milk. Temper egg by slowly adding a ladleful of hot milk mixture into beaten egg mixture. Whisk continually while pouring. (This heats the egg temperature slowly & sufficiently so that you don’t get scrambled eggs vs a cream). Once tempered you can add this egg mixture into the sauce pan, again whisking vigorously to combine. Return pan to heat and keep whisking until smooth. As soon as it begins to slightly boil again, (just until little bubbles form around edges)… remove from heat and whisk in 1 TBLS vanilla.
Put plastic wrap over custard. (Literally press wrap on the custard itself so “pudding skin” will not form)
Chill at least two hours or overnight. You can drop the pan in a bowl of ice water to speed the process.

SYRUP: (in small pot on stove)
1 c water
1/2 c sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
Mix and heat until sugar dissolves
Cool and reserve this for drizzling onto each cake layer before any filling is applied

1 pkg Knox gelatin (whisk in 1/4 c room temperature water for a few minutes to dissolve) Set aside
2 cups (1 pint) chilled heavy whipping cream
1/2 c confectionery sugar
1 TBLS vanilla
Whipped Cream Frosting Directions:
1) Add heavy whipping cream to very cold bowl with very cold whipping attachment, (pre-chill them in the freezer)
Beat on low for ~30 seconds until small bubbles form.
2) At this time, while mixer is running, add the confectionary sugar. Increase speed to medium for ~30 seconds or until beaters leave a trail in the cream.
3) Slowly add 1 TBLS vanilla.
4) Add cooled gelatin (make sure it is not coagulated like jello, or else you must liquefy it again before blending into frosting. The gelatin is the stabilizer)
5) Increase speed to high and whip until cream is soft and billowy and peaks form.
6) Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

CLEAR GLAZE: (to brush on top of fruit)
Heat 1/4 cup any type preserves with 1/4 c water. Boil to liquefy, reducing liquid to glaze consistency. Then strain. Keep glaze warm on back of stove as this is the final step before chilling entire cake where you will gently brush glaze over fruit pcs only, being careful not to get any on frosting. This makes the fruit shiny.

FILLING/TOP DECORATION: 1-2 pts fresh strawberries washed & sliced…take 6 of the prettiest ones & slice in halves for the top, being sure to keep green leaves intact on each half, remaining others are sliced thin for center filling. Reserve the biggest and best whole berry for center of cake.

First layer with custard & strawberry filling

First layer with custard & strawberry filling

Set-up: First place bottom cake layer on pretty cake stand (You can leave it on the bottom of springform pan and place on cake stand. TIP: put cake on a lazy susan and spin as you easily frost)
1) poke holes in the bottom layer then drizzle with a thin layer of syrup (keeps it moist)
2) spread a generous amount of custard on the bottom layer leaving 1/2 inch along edge
3) add strawberry slices to fully cover bottom layer covering custard completely, then add more custard on top of fruit slices
4) carefully top with second cake layer, gently press together, wiping away any excess custard from sides
5) repeat syrup drizzle step on top layer
6) cover top and sides of cake with very thin layer of whipped cream frosting (this is called a crumb coat)
7) apply a thick layer of frosting on top of crumb coat. Make pretty swirls with the back of a large serving spoon
8) place the 12 strawberry halves with stem greenery on top of cake in decorative pattern. You can place them accordingly to mark where to slice portions between them. Place the biggest prettiest uncut strawberry in the center of top of cake.
9) While clear glaze is still warm gently brush over fruit only, being careful not to get any on frosting!
10) Must CHILL cake now or serve immediately.

decorate sides with toasted almonds


Tomorrow I’ll cook… Today, a side trip in the Mts

After church and a great Thai meal, today was a relaxing Sunday drive on the Blue Ridge Pkwy. We went to one of our new favorite vantage points, Waterrock Knob, elevation 6293! Waterrock Knob is a mountain peak in North Carolina being the highest peak in the Plott Balsams mountain chain between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Great Balsam Mountains. Below is a pic of DH enjoying the view and cool temps. While others are sweltering in high 80’s and 90’s, it’s a cool breezy 70 up here.

DH at Waterrock Knob

DH at Waterrock Knob

Dough day, in my kitchen that means Sourdough Day!

After Hubby went to bed Wednesday night I realized I hadn’t fed my sourdough starter. Thursday evening we had a picnic planned with friends and I’d promised to bring deviled eggs….(my speciality since we have fresh eggs from our 14 happy hens…but I’ll save the chicken stories for another post!) So I figure I can knock those out by midday. But one of my friends has requested my infamous sourdough bread. I am happy to oblige, I just needed to feed my starter before bed so it would be ready for bread baking by morning. I have a wonderful very old sourdough starter that is very happy at our high mt altitude.. Or maybe it likes our mineral rich mountain well water. After feeding it the required flour and water, I then place it on the warm Aga to let the magic happen overnight. If you have not had the experience of using sourdough starters before, it really is like magic. Who knew flour and water and the bacteria from the air could do that! By morning, over the obligatory first cuppa coffee, I checked on my starter to make sure it was alive and well. I always get excited to see it’s active cultures bubbling and gurgling up the sides of the glass because THAT my friends makes the tangiest well risen loaves of bread. YUMM! Oh yes, it definitely grew overnight, the magic occurred. πŸ‘


Starter the next morning after feeding.

Starter the next morning after feeding.

So that means it’s dough time!

For my friend, I made a rustic sourdough boule with my “everything style topping” consisting of a variety of sesame seeds and onions. The beauty of bread baking in an Aga is you get that brick oven effect with a wonderful crusty exterior and a soft chewy interior crumb. For regular ovens just get a baking stone for the same effect. Oh it smells devine! I think my friend will be pleased. (good thing I doubled my recipe so DH and I can enjoy some hot bread out of the oven……now where’s the butter! πŸ˜‹


1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups all purpose flour

1) Combine all of the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough. I like to use my Kitchenaid with dough hook.

2) Allow the dough to rise, in a covered oiled bowl, until it’s doubled in size, about 60- 90 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

3) Divide the dough in half; it’ll deflate somewhat. A bench cutter helps this task.

4) Shape the dough into two oval or round loaves, lightly kneading. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Tip: sprinkle some cornmeal under the loaf to keep it from sticking as well. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 425Β°F. (In my Aga I bake the bread directly of the floor of the roasting oven and on another stone pan on the top rack).

5) Spray the loaves with lukewarm water and add your toppings. Optional.

6) Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here, but I prefer the traditional French dough cutting tool, a Lame, …or you can use a razor blade, Be careful!

7) Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack, if you can resist tearing into it that is! πŸ˜‰

Sourdough Everything Topping Boule

Sourdough Everything Topping Boule

Meet Clarise: my red Aga & my daily inspiration!

So yes, it’s time to meet the inspiration behind My Red Stove. Meet Clarise, my claret red British beauty of an Aga. She’s a beast at 5 feet wide with four cast iron ovens serving up anything that can be roasted, baked, simmered, or warmed. Add two hobs..those double 12″ insulated burners on top that look more like giant closed waffle irons than burners, of which they can boil and simmer 6 pots at once if need be. And last but not least, add a large top warming plate. See why the love affair continues? 😘 It truly was love at first sight many years ago when I first lusted after an Aga in an upscale kitchen display in Atlanta. Acquiring one became a reality when we built our log cabin and decided to design our kitchen around this stove. Nothing could stop me from getting my dream cooker at that point. So we traveled to Aga Thyme in Charlotte for the demo and to put a down payment on the order. (BTW, incredibly nice people, Bonnie Fleming is the “Aga go-to-person” to be sure!) They then begin to build my custom Aga in England and six months later it’s shipped to us whereby a lovely installer, Walter Sands, (who has also traveled to England to be trained in the nuances of an Aga), …who for the next two days lovingly puts it all together piece by piece! I’m sure a surgeon couldn’t be more skilled than Walter! That was four years ago now and many a delicious meal has been devoured in our log cabin kitchen, all lovingly and delicately cooked by Clarise. Well, I did have a hand in it too of course. I love cooking on my red stove but if you aren’t cooking on an Aga don’t let that stop you from trying the recipes we’ll be cooking here. They’ll work for anyone and will be amazing from your stove too… if you just make sure to put the love ingredient in them. So kick back and share our adventures in the kitchen with Clarise and me. We hope you will enjoy My Red Stove as much as I do.

My log cabin kitchen!

My log cabin kitchen!