Love Affair

"Love Affair" - Kate's Cake

The Ginger Ginger Cake



3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cups candied ginger

a medium sized piece of fresh ginger

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 3/4 cups granulated sugar

6 large eggs separated

1 cup sour cream


Sift flour and baking soda together. Cut candied ginger into 1/4 - 1/3 inch pieces. Grate fresh ginger. Set all items aside.

In mixer, beat butter until soft. Gradually add fresh ginger and 2 1/4 cups of sugar, then beat in egg yolks. On low speed, gradually add the dry sifted ingredients in two additions alternately with the sour cream in one addition. Remove bowl from mixer.

Stir in half the diced candied ginger and set aside.

Beat egg white until they hold a soft shape, Reduce speed and add remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Increase speed and beat only until the whites hold a peak.

In three additions, fold in the egg whites. Fold the first two partially. Do not fold the last addition more than necessary to incorporate the whites.

Turn mixture into a greased cake pan and smooth top. Sprinkle remaining ginger on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until cake tester comes out clean. (Cake will not rise to top of pan.) Let cool thoroughly before removing from pan.


Cut and serve to Annette Bening (Photo Above).

Woman holding a plate of Purple Iced Cupcakes

"Cat in the Hat" - The Purple Purple Cupcake

I've discovered that white cake batter is the best for coloring. Below is a basic white cake recipe. If you want the easy route, there are several great instant cake products on the market (just make sure it is white).

Baking is best if all the ingredients are at room temperature before mixing.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.

Sift together : 

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine : 

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat 2 sticks unsalted butter until creamy.

Add and beat 2 large egg yolks until smooth.

Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of sugar while beating on high speed.

Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture in alternating parts and continue to mix at low speed until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat 8 large egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/3 cup granulated sugar while beating at high speed. Beat until the peaks are stiff and then with a rubber spatula fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the mixture, not to over blend, and then add remaining egg whites until evenly folded

Add purple or violet food coloring a drop or two at a time and blend thoroughly before adding more.

Baking will darken the cake mixture, so don't get too crazy with the color. (I always wear disposable rubber gloves when working with food coloring. It helps later on in clean up time.)

Fill the paper cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely and remove paper liners.



This is a simple and easy recipe to make. If you prefer to use the store bought pre-made, make sure it is white for easy coloring.

Cream together :

  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat in 4 cups of confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time. And blend until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons milk and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Add purple or violet food coloring a drop or two at a time until you achieve the desired color.

When cupcakes are cool, pipe on the icing using a smooth and large tip. Starting on the outer edge, work your way slowly around, circling towards the center, and leaving a nice little peak in the middle.


Cat in the Hat - The Fancy Cat Cookie

"Cat in the Hat" - The Fancy Cat Cookie

Sugar cookies are the best for holding their shape while in the oven.

The below recipe is my favorite. It comes from the bible of cooking, "The Joy of Cooking".


Whisk together thoroughly :

  • 3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt

Beat on medium speed until very fluffy and well blended : 

  • 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted, softened butter
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar

Add and beat until well combined :

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well blended and smooth. Divide the dough in half. Place each half between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness, checking the underside of the dough and smoothing any creases. Keeping the paper in place, layer the rolled dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cold and slightly firm, about 30 minutes. (Cookies are easier to cut when the dough is ice cold.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or bake on clean parchment paper.

Working with one portion at a time (leave the other refrigerated), gently peel away and replace 1 sheet of paper. (This will make it easier to lift the cookies from the paper later.) Flip the dough over and peel and discard the other side. Cut the cookies using a 2 inch flower shaped cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to cookie sheet and bake until golden brown (about 7 to 9 minutes). Scraps from the dough can be re-rolled and used again by following the above directions.

After cookies are cool, decorate with royal icing shown below. 

Cat in the Hat with 2 children

"Cat in the Hat" - Royal Icing

In a medium bowl, stir together until smooth :

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons of water

Adjust the consistency with more powdered sugar or water as necessary.

Add coloring in small amounts, one or two drops at a time. The liquid may change the consistency of the icing. This keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. Soften and stir until smooth before using.

Pipe small amount of icing into the center of the flower cookie, top that with a smaller amount of a different color to add the fancy cat touch.

Cat in the Hat

"Cat in the Hat" - Candle Wax Cat Cake

When I first got the call from Robin Miller (Property Master) to come in and meet about the food for "Cat in the Hat", I had no idea how much fin I was in store for.

After our initial meeting, Robin set up an appointment for us to meet with Alex McDowell (Production Designer). Alex had his crew research and copy photos of predominantly 50's style food items and put them in a booklet for us to use for inspiration. In the booklet were several photos of molded foods, most of which were gelatin based. Gelatin based molds look great but they have a tendency to melt under the heat of bright lights. Thus began the hunt for a base that would hold its shape and color under the lights and still look like it was deliciously "Suessical".

I looked into several types of moldable plastics and even thought about using colored plaster. The plastics turned out to be highly toxic in their liquid form, so I passed on plastic. The plaster was safe, but didn't look like real food after it hardened. I finally decided to try and work with what I knew would be safe and last for as long as they needed it - candle wax.

I went to several restaurant supply stores and found shapes of cake molds that would work. Then, I headed to the local art store and bought a brick of candle wax, a couple of tins to melt the wax in, and a big can of mold release spray.

Along with the booklet for inspiration, I had been given samples from the color palate of the movie. So, with the color samples in hand and a big pot of melted wax, I pulled out my box of 96 Assorted Crayola Crayons and began to melt small pieces of crayons into the melted wax and prayed.

Once I got as near to the colors as possible, I sprayed the cake pans with the mold release and gently filled them with the colored wax and waited. It took a few hours for them to harden completely. But the finished products were perfect.

On the shoot day, I decorated the wax molds directly on the cake stands that had been selected by Ann Kuljian (Set Decorator). With a little colored royal icing and a few pieces of fresh fruit, the molds looked great and held their shape.

Good thing we didn't have to eat them!

Dinner Plate with Roasted Rock Cornish Hen

"Walt Disney's: The Haunted Mansion"


Cornish Hens can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Traditionally cooked whole, splitting them makes for quicker cooking and better presentation.

Thaw hens thoroughly. With the hen resting on its back, find the center of the breast bone and cut, carefully splitting the hens in half.

Place the half chicken bone down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly rub with olive oil, sprinkle salt, pepper, and herbs de province generously on the bird and place into a 375 degree preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.



Bring to a boil two cups of water (water can be replaced with either vegetable or chicken stock for added flavor).

Add 1 cup of black rice (black rice can be found in most gourmet stores) and cook until all liquids have absorbed and rice is tender. Let cool.

The rice should expand to about double in size.

Add to the colored rice:

  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 dashes of Tabasco
  • Beat two egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold into batter.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 to 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (depending on the size of the skillet, oil should cover the bottom completely).

Use a large spoon to drop batter into the skillet, one fritter at a time and cook until browned on the bottom, (depending on the size of the fritters: 3 to 4 minutes). Turn once and cook the second side until brown.

Serve immediately.



Slice into quarters and core 6 to 8 medium size apples.

Quarter 6 to 8 fresh baby artichokes. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and toss over the apples and artichokes.

Place in Pyrex roasting pan, sprinkle a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and place into 350 degree oven until apples are tender (25 - 30 minutes).

Serve Hot



Crawfish, like lobsters, are best when cooked fresh. If you can't find fresh crawfish, there are fresh frozen available in most seafood and fish markets. Traditionally, crawfish are boiled whole. I usually start with a large pot of slightly salted water, then add a couple of tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning and 2 lemons halved and added to the pot. Bring water to a full boil and drop in crawfish. Let water return to boil and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the crawfish turn a bright red. Strain and eat. The best part is the tail, but if you're traditional, you may want to try the juices left in the head.




Walt Disney's: The Haunted Mansion

"Walt Disney's: The Haunted Mansion" - The Haunted Table

The dining room table for The Haunted Mansion was 32 feet long with only five actors at it. Rosemary Brandenburg (Set Decorator) had collected a large variety of antique bowls and service trays. Her vision was that we would fill these with an assortment of condiments. One of the things she wanted to see was watermelon rind pickles:


Peel The dark skin off the watermelon rind. Cut into 1 x 1 x 1 x 2 inch strips. Measure out 8 cups. Place in large pot and coat with 1/2 cup pickling salt and 8 cups of water. Let stand overnight.

Sterilize 3 single pint canning jars and lids in boiling water. Let boil for at least 10 minutes.

In a small pot bring to a boil:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

Drain and thoroughly rinse the watermelon rind strips and return to large pot. Cover with water and boil until tender then drain. Pack watermelon rind pieces into the hot canning jars. Leave 3/4 inch headspace. Add boiling sugar/vinegar mixture leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.

Wipe rims of jars to remove any spillage. Lids will seal better if jar tops are clean. Place the lids on the jars and screw tight. Return packed jars to boiling water and process for 10 minutes.

Remove jars and let sit overnight. Check seals. Sealed lids will be curved down. Store in cool dark place and enjoy.

For the holidays, a touch of red or green food coloring can be added to the sugar boil to color the pickles.

A bowl of Fish Head Stew

"Walt Disney's: The Haunted Mansion" - Fish Head Stew

Since I doubt if anyone would really like to see the head of a fish swimming in their soup bowl, I've left the head out and opted for a traditional fish and seafood stew.



The fish and seafood items in this recipe are only used as a suggestion. Feel free to add your favorite fish or shellfish to this base. Remember that some flaky fish might overcook easily and should be added for only a few minutes of simmering before serving.

In a large stock pot over a medium-high flame, sauté in olive oil

  • 6 to 8 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 medium sized yellow or white diced onions
  • 1 fresh diced fennel bulb

Sauté the above items until onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes or one medium can of crushed tomatoes. (If using fresh tomatoes, continue to cook on medium heat until tomatoes soften, about 3-4 minutes.) Add to the stock pot 6 cups of water or vegetable stock. Seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning or 2-3 bay leaves, and continue to simmer.

I like to add little neck clams and fresh mussels. (About a half a pound of each.) These are usually cooked separately and added to the stock after cooking. Make sure that all the shellfish are fresh and alive. (Shells will be shut tight if still living. Discard any open shells.) Clean shellfish in fresh cool water, making sure that any particles are removed from the shells. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium stock pot, when oil is hot, drop in shell fish, stirring occasionally. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until oil returns to sizzling. Carefully add one cup of a nice dry white wine and cover immediately. Steam in the wine until all shellfish have popped open. About 3 minutes. (Add the above directly into the fish stock after all other fish ingredients have cooked thoroughly.)

Sea scallops and fresh shrimp can be cooked directly in our original stock. (About half a pound of each.) it takes about 10-12 minutes at a soft boil for these to cook completely.

Fresh fish is always tastier, but thawed frozen fish can be used. I prefer sea bass in soup. Add one pound of fresh fish, sliced into 1-2 inch strips directly into stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and serve.

If you would like to add a little green color, chop one medium bunch of cleaned spinach and 1/2 bunch chopped parsley and add to stock when you add the fish.