31 October 2008

Vampire Bite Cupcakes

Thanks to Shake and Bake for inspiring me to make these vampire bite cupcakes for Halloween! It all started with their clever vampire cookies influenced by Baking Bites. Turns out Baking Bites had another tutorial for vampire cupcakes so I tried them out and look what happened:

I whipped up these delightful strawberry and vanilla cupcakes... complete with strawberry filling... because what is a Halloween treat without simulated blood and guts? The bites were made by piercing the tops with a skewer and trailing it a bit through the icing with leftover strawberry filling at the tip of the skewer.
Here's hoping you have a Halloween filled with plenty of more tasty treats!

30 October 2008

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)
  1. preheat oven to 375deg
  2. mix flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl
  3. beat butter, sugars and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy
  4. mix in eggs one at a time to butter mixture, making sure to beat well after each egg
  5. slowly mix in flour mixture
  6. once everything is well mixed stir in chocolate chips and nuts
  7. scoop a rounded tablespoon onto your baking sheets.
  8. bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown
  9. cool and serve
I know you are thinking "whole wheat cookies.....?" Yeah I made them! It was honestly b/c I only had 1/4 cup regular flour and already started mixing the butter and sugar. I was pleasantly surprised how well they turned out. There are only subtle differences between them and ones made with white flour, but it doesnt really matter b/c they are good and healthier then cookies made with all purpose flour. I didnt add the nuts to mine but like cheese nuts make just about everything dessert taste better. I hope you enjoy!

29 October 2008

Classic B-Style Breakfast

Summer Squash Frittata, Baby Cakes and Turkey Sausage

Summer Squash Fritatta
Serves 4-6
  1. 8 large eggs
  2. 1/2 bag of frozen pepper slices or 2 medium fresh peppers
  3. 1 medium summer squash
  4. 1 small diced onion
  5. 1 Tbls chopped garlic
  6. 2-3 spring onion stalks coarsly chopped
  7. 1 cup of your favorite shredded cheese (jack, cheddar, mozz)
  8. 1 Tbls dried savory
  9. 1/2 Tbls dried marjoram
  10. 1/2 Tbls chili powder
  11. 1 tsp salt
  12. 1 tsp pepper
  13. 1/3 cup of milk
  14. 2 Tbls EVOO
  1. preheat oven to 400deg
  2. chop 2/3 of the squash into small bite sized pieces and set aside
  3. using a cheese grater grate the remaining squash and set aside
  4. beat the eggs and milk in a large bowl until well mixed and set aside
  5. in medium OVEN SAFE 10" skillet heat 1 Tbls EVOO, onions and garlic over medium heat
  6. once onions start to turn translucent add peppers and all seasonings
  7. when peppers are thawed add all of the squash
  8. mix cheese into eggs
  9. once most the liquid produced by the veggies has been cooked off turn heat to medium and stir veggie mixture from skillet into the bowl of eggs and cheese
  10. place the skillet back on the stove and add reminaing EVOO making sure to cover bottom and sides
  11. add egg and veggie mixture to the skillet and let sit for a bit
  12. when you see a steam vent appear place skillet in oven for 7-10 mins checking to see if the top of the center has cured (will still be a bit jello like in the center but will have a layer of cooked egg)
  13. once it is about 75-80% done turn oven to broil
  14. remove the frittata very carefully from the oven once golden brown spots appear on the frittata (approx 2-3 mins)
  15. transfer frittata to your serving plate by placing plate upsidedown on top of skillet and flipping it
  16. cut with pizza cutter and enjoy!
Serve with McCain Baby Cakes and Turkey Sausage

Dont get intimidated by the frittata! It is worth it! You can really add whatever leftovers you have from the week in this dish. Frittatas are the casseroles of breakfast time. The key to the amount of eggs to use is the size of your skillet and the ammount of filling. If you want to use less eggs load up your frittata with more veggies. Grate a potato or squash to make each bite more filling and for a cruch add slightly over cooked hashbrowns rightbefore you put it in the oven. I hope you guys find a love for breakfast after your first frittata experience! Let me know if you have any questions and how your frittata turns out.

28 October 2008

Vampire cookies and Zombie cocktails

Happy Halloween! With the recent popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight franchise and HBO’s True Blood, it’s pretty obvious that vampires are everywhere. Including our kitchen. And when we came across this recipe from the Baking Bites blog for Vampire Cookies, we decided it was time to pay culinary tribute to tribute to the most ubiquitous, and sexiest, of all of the undead.

  • 1 ½ sticks of butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • approx. ½ cup red jelly (use any flavor but make sure it’s not chunky or seedy, kind of like what your mom used to put in your PB&Js)
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and extracts.
Add flour and salt to the bowl and mix them into the butter-sugar mixture at low speed until dough is just combined.

Important to note, lest you begin baking late into the evening: Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For your own Vampire Weekend (yeah, we went there): While you’re waiting, make some cocktails and watch an ivy league kid channel John Cusack and Robert Smith:

Preheat oven to 325F. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 2-inch rounds.
Place rounds on a baking sheet, put a teaspoon of jam on each of them and cover with another round of dough. Press edges down lightly, pinching the edges onto the cookie sheet. Use a toothpick and poke two small holes (like a vampire bite) in the top of each cookie.

They look like little ghosts!

Here's the thing: this dough is damn nigh impossible to roll out. No matter how cold it was or how much flour we used, it still became a sticky mess on the rolling pin and our hands. We finally abandoned the cookie cutter method and rolled the dough into balls, then smushed them ourselves into little jelly pockets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set.
Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dip a toothpick in some extra red jam and re-insert in the “bite” holes you made before baking to emphasize them, if not already red. Draw a blood trickle down from one of the bites with the jam, because that looks pretty badass.

The result was scary.
These expand a lot, some ending up completely flat, and they didn't end up looking how we hoped (see Baking Bites for a picture of our hopes). But if nothing else they are tasty, and the hot jam squirts into your mouth when you bite into the cookie, which is just the kind of vampire effect we were looking for.

Though they aren’t as sexy, zombies are also pretty popular:

The Zombie was created before WWII by Donn Beach, the man responsible for the popularization of tiki drinks in America. As the story goes, Beach served the first Zombie to a patron as a hangover cure. How did the drinker feel after? Like the living dead, of course. (For the longer version of the Don the Beachcomber story, plus other great details about rum in general, pick up Wayne Curtis’ And a Bottle of Rum.)

Like the Mai Tai and the rest of the tiki clan, the Zombie’s a massive combination of tropical fruit juices and liquor. And there are scores of recipes for it, all with their own tweaks. The basic gist of most of them is several types of rum, lime juice, pineapple or other tropical juice, often a shot of apricot brandy, then garnished with mint, powdered sugar and a float of 151-proof rum.

But for how much us New Yorkers like to boast about having everything at our fingertips, we weren’t able to find a few common ingredients. If you know where to find orgeat syrup or falernum in the city please tell us. Otherwise one of the upcoming posts will involve making our own falernum. We also opted out of the usual jigger of apricot brandy.

Despite skipping a few pieces, we still have a hell of a lot of ingredients:

There were so many recipes, all of them different from one another, that we improvised a bit. Here’s our first version:
  • 1 1/2 oz Bacardi white rum
  • 1 ½ oz Bacardi gold rum
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz Passion fruit nectar
  • 1 oz Pineapple juice
  • 1 oz Papaya juice
  • ½ oz Pernod
Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with a float of Bacardi 151, powdered sugar, mint sprig and fruit garnish (in our case papaya and pineapple).
For the number of bartender’s guides that call for it, we can’t understand why anyone would want this drink with Pernod. The liquorice aftertaste turns it from a tropical drink into something medicinal. In our second try, we skipped the Pernod and added a little maraschino liqueur and a smidge of superfine sugar.

Much better, but next time we'll probably add BRRAAAAAAINS...

27 October 2008

kitchen katastrophe: the cucumber

my friend had just received a promotion at work and to congratulate her, i invited her over for a home cooked meal. we were students doing internships, rather poor, and living in paris in small apartments with little to no kitchen. i had just started reading recipes online at work while i was bored and found one that i thought would be easy enough for me to make: chicken in a red sauce and a nice side salad.

lisa and i were new friends - we didn't know each other THAT well and this would have been her first time seeing my apartment. it was a small studio - 17m squared. she sat on the couch while i baked and watched me - 2 feet away in the kitchen. she laughed when i put on rubber gloves to handle the chicken. i think she thought i was being funny, but at the time, chicken really grossed me out. i have since mostly gotten over the disgust of raw meat, but sometimes it comes back and i still keep a pair of rubber gloves on hand.

we had a nice conversation and while the chicken cooked i began preparing the side salad. i had a beautiful cucumber from the store that i held up in one hand with the knife in the other. "would you like some cucumber on your salad?" i asked, quite pleased with myself."suuuure..." she replies hesitantly. she was irish and i assumed her hesitancy was because they didn't put cucumbers on salads in ireland. i continue chatting as i am cutting and placing the slices of delicious veggie on the small salad plates i had. she stares at me and finally says, "but, you know that's a zucchini, right?"
i looked at the half-cut cucumber in my hand and realized it DID look a little funny. i didn't want my new friend to discover my ineptitude with all things culinary, so i said, "of course, i knew that." i had NO IDEA. she wasn't fooled. we decide to add it to the chicken to make our own sort of ratatouille.

the morale of this kitchen katastrophe is three-fold:
  1. bring a dictionary to the store in a foreign country
  2. cookbooks are invaluable - keep one on hand for last-minute reference
  3. pretend you know what you're doing no matter what!

kitchen katastrophe: an introduction

one of my favorite tv stations in the US is the food network, but no matter how many hours i spend watching, learning, and dreaming about food, it seems that i was not born to have skills in the kitchen. how this will translate into my love life ("the way to a man's heart is through his stomach") i don't know - don't want to think about it. i have survived thus far because my wonderful friends appreciate any attempt i make (and don't mind ordering pizza when they came for chicken parm). to prepare for the inevitable kitchen katastrophe, i keep a fully stocked liquor cabinet and am a huge purveyor of wine and champagne (two things you can hardly screw up).

i've managed to stay fed because restaurants sure love my business and, honestly, i like being served. i love looking at new menus at restaurants and placing my order (most often with some change because i'm unfortunately a picky eater). i love having warm, flavorful food delivered to me. i love take out - getting food and cozying up at home with some wine or a beer. and more than all this, i love not having to clean up afterwards. one of my issues with cooking is that i will never understand how one can get enjoyment from something that takes longer to make and clean up than to use (cooking and cleaning certainly take longer for me than eating). i realize this is a concept that others have grasped, but i am just not intellectually there yet. i hope one day to enjoy cooking and baking. i think i am half there because i LOVE owning kitchen appliances. i have never tried coffee, but one day i will own an espresso machine even if i never use it. it will go nicely with my mixer, blender, foreman grill, waffle maker, crockpot, and others. (all of which, aside from the blender because i love me margaritas, have only been used once or twice. some are still in their original boxes.)

admittedly all of the money i have spent on kitchen utensils and supplies has not been put to good use - and for the next month, while i am in europe, is certainly a waste of money sitting in boxes in my parent's basement. i hope to use this weekly column to 1) learn to enjoy or at least appreciate cooking 2) get some use out of all of my food network knowledge and the money i have used keeping crate and barrel in business and 3) provide you with some humor along the way. so, sit back and enjoy my katastrophic kitchen errors each monday.

26 October 2008

Regarding all happiness ...

Our peers over at Leisurely Breakfast have recently named us one of their co-blogs of the month, so we'd like to take a second to graciously acknowledge that title. Please delve through their archives for recipes on apple crisps, red lentil dhal & their photo narrative for vegan blueberry grunts based on a recipe by one of my favorite blogs, Vegan Yum Yum.

24 October 2008


Darn Good Baked Chicken
and Zucchini Risotto

Adobo Baked Chicken
  • 1 chicken
  • 2 table spoons Adobo all purpose seasoning
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-5 medium potatoes
  • 1-2 cups chopped carrots (bite sized)
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
    1. Preheat oven to 375 deg
    2. Remove the giblets and rinse chicken and set aside (cool water or vinegar for extra clean chicken)
    3. Chop 1/2 of the onion into bite sized pieces
    4. Dice 1/2 of the remaining onion
    5. Separate the layers of the last chunk of onion (remember to breathe out of your mouth if your eyes start to tear)
    6. Peal and chop potatoes until bite sized pieces
    7. In small bowl mix EVOO, Adobo, garlic powder and a generious amount of pepper together
    8. Place potatoes, carrots and bite size onion pieces in the bottom of your baking dish and sprinkle with Adobo and pepper
    9. Take chicken in your hands and try and seperate the skin from the flesh with your fingers without taring it
    10. Stab the chicken all over with a knife (allows your flavor mix to get deep into the chicken
    11. Using a basting brush lather the chicken all over with your flavor mix.
    12. Pour remaing mix under the skin and inside the chicken
    13. Stuff chicken with the peeled onion layers and place breast side up in the baking dish
    14. Sprinkle diced onion and dried parsley all over chicken
    15. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes undisturbed
    16. After 45 mins remove foil and baste chicken and potatoes three to four times over a 25 minute period
    17. Chicken should be done but make sure to poke the meatiest part of the chicken with a knife and check that the juices run clear
    • Chicken should look well seasoned if it doesnt shake some more pepper and adobo on the chicken before placing in the oven.
    • Save cooked chicken carcass to make a tasty broth for chicken noodle soups

    Zesty Zucchini Risotto
    • 2 cups Arborio Rice
    • 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
    • 2 cups white German wine
    • 3 tablespoon butter (separated 1Tbs & 1Tbs)
    • 1 table spoon EVOO
    • 1 table spoon chili powder
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 medium zucchini or half bag frozen zucchini
    • 1/4 red pepper finely chopped (for color)
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 6-10 tablespoons grated parmesan
    • pepper
      1. sautee onions and chili powder in the EVOO and 1Tbs of butter in large heavy pan over medium heat
      2. bring stock to boil in medium saucepan
      3. add zucchini to stock when it reaches a boil and lower to lowest heat
      4. when onions are tender add rice
      5. once rice starts to speckle with white spots add 1 cup of the white wine (at this point start stirring every minute or so)
      6. when wine is absorbed add last cup of wine
      7. start ladling the hot stock into the pan every time liquid looks absorbed. continue doing this until you are 3/4ths done with the stock. (make sure to strain zucchini from ladle)
      8. taste risotto and when mostly tender add one last ladle of stock, zucchini, red pepper and mix together *do not just pour the rest of the stock in with the zucchini
      9. add cheese and butter and mix thoroughly
      10. plate and serve

      I didn't get into baking a whole chicken until a few years ago. It can be intimidating at times, but the key is patience and keeping the skin on as much of the bird as possible (keeps it moist). I tried using a rosemary recipe I found online the first time and wasn't a fan of it. I tried again and this time used my Adobo seasoning and I was hooked. Adobo is the all around perfect seasoning for everything. It takes the hassle out of mixing seasonings yourself and tastes good too. You can use any type of this seasoning in this recipe and it will still taste darn good. Just make sure you season every inch of the bird...do not add any extra salt! As for the risotto it turned out waay better then my first try. My only variation to the recipe above would be to sautée the zucchini with a load of chili powder and garlic and add it to the risotto in the very last step. It would add a bit of pop to each bite of the risotto. It does not taste bland by any means, following the recipe above, its just that the flavor of the zucchini gets lost in the risotto. I hope you all enjoy and let me know how it works out for you.

      23 October 2008


      So I feel a bit mixed as to my risotto-making talents. On one hand, I've probably made it dozens of times. On the other hand, my last two risottos were bland and instantly forgettable and I'd almost decided that the only risotto I'd make again would be a sneaky copycat using spelt. But for the sake of the challenge, I got my Arborio on.

      vegetarian risotto with parsley & pepitas
      • 1 1/2 cup of arborio rice
      • 2 large yellow onions
      • 3 cloves garlic
      • 3 liters of vegetable stock
      • 1 1/2 cup of dry white wine
      • 3 tablespoons of butter
      • 1 large handful of fresh parsley
      • 1/2 cup of raw pepitas
      • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
      My process starts off similar: the garlic and onions got into oil. Simmer until the onions begin to brown. Then turn the heat to high. Pour in your arborio rice, stir them in the pan (I used a high-sided frying pan, you might want to use some other sort of non-stick pot). They should be in there for about a minute.

      Crack open your wine bottle, pour in as much as you did rice. The rice will absorb the wine pretty quickly, so have your veggie stock ready. You want to be constantly stirring the rice, because the starchy grains do some sort of shedding of their outsides, which lends itself to the creaminess you're looking for. That sentence doesn't look very appetising, but it will taste great, I promise. Don't slack on the stirring for another reason too ... if the risotto soaks up the liquids too quick it burns and all your hard work is over. So when the rice is 90% absorbed, pour in a cup of stock. You want to be waiting until that 90% absorbtion comes and then pouring in another cup of stock.

      While this is happening, I made a salad, check my signature salad instructions (part three of that recipe). This one had a grated carrot in it as well, with poppy seeds instead of pepitas since I was using them in the risotto. I also cut and washed some baby bak choy and put it over some boiling water to steam.

      You want to be careful while doing these other things that your risotto isn't burning. By the time your stock is gone, turn down the heat. The grains of arborio should be much larger than they were when you started. Stir in the butter, finely grated parmesan, parsely and pepitas.
      Risotto is best eaten just a few minutes after being cooked, only long enough to cool down so it won't burn your tongue. The baby bak choy was layed on top to balance the starchiness, sided with the salad.

      22 October 2008


      Strawberries and Cream Risotto, with Sausage Crostini

      These are two recipes from Italy’s Joy of Cooking, which as you can guess is way better than dowdy ol’ American Joy. It’s called The Silver Spoon, and you should all buy it, or get a roommate who owns it, as we did.

      This risotto is definitely unusual. For one, there is no cheese whatsoever in it. Also, it smells a lot like the strawberry filling we added to a puff pastry dessert a while ago. But it is more of a savory than sweet dish.

      The Risotto

      • 6 ½ cups Vegetable Stock
      • 7 tbsp butter
      • 1 chopped onion
      • 2 cups risotto rice (Arborio in our case)
      • 1 ½ cups white wine (pick one you'd like to drink with dinner, naturally)
      • 2 ½ cups mashed strawberries
      • 1 cup light cream
      • salt and pepper to taste
      (Serves four, though we cut it in half for the two of us.)

      In one pot, bring stock to boil. In another pot, melt butter and add onions. Cook for 5 minutes. Add rice and cook until you’re sure it’s all covered in butter. Then add the wine. Once wine evaporates add a ladle of stock and cook till it’s absorbed. Do this over and over until the stock is used up (about 18-20 minutes). Halfway through, add the mashed strawberries. At the end, add the cream and season with salt and pepper.

      Sausage Crostini
      • 3 Italian sausages (skinned)
      • 5oz of cheese (they called for straggiano, which we couldn’t find and replaced with parmigiano reggiano. If you do this, it won’t need any extra salt)
      • 1 tbsp fennel seeds (strangely, the sausage we bought already had them in it!)
      • baguette slices
      Preheat oven to 350F. Mix sausage meat, cheese, and fennel in a bowl. Add salt to taste. Spread mix on bread, put in baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

      The crostini was delicious. It's really just cheese and sausage on bread, you can't go wrong there (in fact, we ate it for breakfast the next morning and it was still good).

      This risotto met mixed reviews. It didn't turn out gluten-y, which is a plus, but it took on an unexpected brown color from the vegetable stock. The strawberries maintained some of their taste, but were blanched while cooking and got lost visually and texturally in the rice. We were a little wary of the whole thing, but were surprised that the more we ate, the more we liked it. And Shake's Silver Spoon-owning roommate approved, and we trust her, so it must have been good.

      Our recommendation is that if you try making this risotto, add the strawberries later while cooking. They won't lose as much of their color or shape that way.


      Shake & Bake issued a challenge at the beginning of October:

      "We challenge you to a duel! The weapon is rice. You may have seconds."

      Risotto is the format. [dave] opted in as a return challenger, and JaBooty is another risotto novice. Please ready your score cards.

      21 October 2008

      mammy's home made soup

      This soup is one my mother makes all the time, and for years I didn’t realise it was her special recipe. Recently various relatives and friends asked me how she makes it so tasty and I realised there was actually a little trick to it! Her special ingredient is butter. My mother always makes this soup with potato and leeks but my favourite is with red pepper, which is what I did today. Any veg goes really, apart from the basics. These quantities make four servings.

      For this one I used:
      • 1 potato
      • 2 onions
      • 1 red pepper
      • 1 yellow pepper

      You also need:
      • Butter (not sure what amount, but a nice big chunk…add whatever you think yourself)
      • Salt and pepper
      • One vegetable stock cube
      • 2 pints of water.
      • And a blender (hand held)

      Peel and chop the potatoes and onions. Melt the butter in a saucepan and when melted, throw in the potatoes and onions. Don’t have the heat too high, you don’t want the potatoes and onions to fry, you just want them to sweat in the butter to absorb all the buttery flavour. Make sure they are well covered in butter, add in LOTS of salt and pepper and mix around. Then, with the heat low, cover the veg with some paper kitchen towel and let it all sweat in the butter for about ten minutes. Stir it every now and then. (Ha! I was about to write ‘stirring occasionally’ there, and then realised I sound like a cookbook. We couldn’t have that!)

      While this is cooking up, chop the other vegetables. And boil a kettle of water. When the water is boiled pour about two pints into a jug and mix in a vegetable stock cube. When the pototoes and onions have sweat in the butter for ten minutes, throw in all the other veg and mix around. Then pour in the veggie stock. You don’t need to bring it to the boil, but let the whole thing simmer for about fifteen minutes. After it has simmered, take the blender to it. I used a hand held one to liquidise the whole thing. I left it on the heat for another five minutes after that. Divide into bowls and serve with some cream poured in, and a little more black pepper dashed on top.

      Mammy’s verdict:
      "Hmmm. Nice with the red pepper, but I do prefer the leek soup myself. Not quite as flavourful as mine, maybe sweat it in the butter for a bit longer, and add another onion. Could do with a bit more salt and pepper as well."

      (note: I adjusted the recipe above to take account of her comments)

      20 October 2008

      baking must be hard

      I'm sure you remember that I was telling you about this no-knead bread (which is really difficult to not type as "know-knead" but that's neither here nor there). Well, the idea is that by removing the kneading and the mixing even slackers can bake bread. Well folks, this shit is stil hard.

      First I followed the instructions, which I'll admit was hard because the formatting on the recipe misplaces the initial "2 cups of wheat flour" and at first I was staring with perplexion (no, not a word, just keep going) at this soupy mess masquerading as dough, until my man made it clear that ovbviously my solid:liquid ratio must be off. I stared at the recipe a few more times until I saw the errant "2 cups of wheat of flour" floating off to the left.

      So, my dough is no longer liquid, which is ace. But, not content to follow directions and also feeling a bit embarrassed that I didn't have rye flour, I added a handful of poppy seeds and a few teaspoons of rep pepper and artichoke tapenade from Trader Joe's. My intention was to make the bread look more artisan-ish. Well, it got more ish, I'll tell you.

      I was supposed to let it sit four hours then bake. It was midnight by the time four hours came and I don't bake at midnight, so I put it in the fridge. If someone could let me know if this was my first mistake that'd be great. Anyway, next day I take out the dough, which looks nicely risen, and shape it into my casserole dish thing. I let it sit because the man said it'd be a good idea to make sure the middle wasn't colder than the rest of it.

      I baked it, took it out. Looked beautiful. The bits of pepper definitely had it looking gourmet. But when I cut it in half it was definitely soggy in the middle, and if I'm honest, kind of dry on the outside. But the middle was so soggy it just had to go back in. And, you guessed it, even worse when it came back out.

      Can you see the soggy bit? Moral of the story, bread is mad hard. I will endeavor to make it tastier in the future.

      19 October 2008

      Butternut Squash Soup

      This is a Fall-time favorite. Our family has been having this every year on Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember.

      • 1 large butternut squash (4-5 lbs)
      • 1/4 cup of butter
      • 1 cup of chopped onion
      • 2 large, crushed, garlic cloves
      • 3 cans of chicken broth
      • 1 cup of half and half or light cream
      • 1 tsp curry powder
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
      • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
      Pre-heat oven to 380. Slice butternut squash down the center lengthwise. Scoop out all seeds. Place squash face down on large cookie sheet covered in tin foil. Pour enough water onto cookie sheet to completely cover the bottom of the squash and start to come up the sides (but not spill over). Let bake for 40-50 minutes or until squash is soft and easily scoopable (like soft ice cream), with a spoon. When cooked, I recommend you turn the squash over and let stand for 15-20 minutes before scooping. Squash should then be pureed, blended with a food processor, or hand mixer.

      In a large sauce pan, combine butter, onion and crushed garlic on medium high heat until soft. Then add curry powder, salt, coriander, and red pepper (the red pepper gives this soup a nice zing to it, however, as always with red pepper, don't over do it). Let this cook for one minute and then add the chicken broth. Let this boil on medium high heat for 15 minutes.

      After this has boiled, add 2 cups of blended butternut squash, along with the light cream. Stir and let cook for 5 minutes. Pour (about 2 cups at a time so as to not spill over) mixture into a blender and puree for 2 minutes. Transfer pureed soup to another large saucepan. Do this until all soup is blended. Let stand on low heat until ready to be served.

      Bon appétit

      Homemade Iced Tea

      Sunday is a big food prep day for me. I also usually brew a big batch if iced tea to last me through the week. The process is so easy and the final result is much more delicious than what you would get from any powdered mix!

      I generally make a simple batch with red or black tea, some lemons, and sugar, but this can be customized... try it with green tea, raspberry tea, or adding honey.

      Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Pop in some tea bags (I use 12-15 depending on my mood) and let steep for around 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and squeeze in the juice of the lemons.

      Add sugar to taste (I use around 2 ounces), mix, pour into a large jug, and chill. Depending on how much I brew or how many tea bags I use, I occasionally dilute the iced tea with some more water, but certainly anything goes depending on how you take your tea!

      18 October 2008

      October 18 is National Cupcake Day!

      October 18 is National Cupcake Day!

      Here's hoping you have the chance to create some unique cupcake creations. Perhaps the following will inspire you:

      These spider cakes via not martha are a great idea for Halloween. I am a fan of the googley-eyed spider cupcake. Kinda scared of the more realistic looking ones.

      Another cupcake theme that would be great for Halloween is the shark attack cupcake mountain via craft.

      OK, enough of the nightmare inducing treats. Moving on, you can always opt to embellish your otherwise standard cupcake with such ornaments as miniature plastic animals. Check out Andrea Canalito's cupcake fawn sculptures.

      Whatever you do for National Cupcake Day, be sure to use your discretion. For example, cupcake cakes can are an occasional do, but a more frequent don't. See cake wrecks for more tasty treats gone wrong.

      17 October 2008


      So I don’t know if this is really the way to do it, but it’s how we do it.
      • 1 Cup o’ Vodka
      • 2 Cups o’ Cran Juice
      • 3- 5 TBS Lemon Juice.
      Dump in a pitcher with ice and enjoy.

      16 October 2008

      bread bakers now even lazier

      Lifehacker just pointed me in the direction of this recipe for no-knead whole wheat bread from Marl Bittman over at the NYT. I look forward to trying it out next week.

      Fast No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

      • 2 cups whole wheat flour
      • 1/2 cup whole rye flour
      • 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
      • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
      • Oil as needed.
      1. Combine flours, cornmeal, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
      2. Oil a standard loaf pan (8 or 9 inches by 4 inches; nonstick works well). Lightly oil your hands and shape dough into a rough rectangle. Put it in pan, pressing it out to the edges. Brush top with a little more oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour more.
      3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread about 45 minutes, or until loaf reaches an internal temperature of 210 degrees. Remove bread from pan and cool on a rack.
      Yield: 1 loaf.


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