Sorry about the lack of updates (again)
What with the holidays (last week), me being ridiculously sick (this week), and finals (next week), it's been tough to make stuff and photograph it and yadda yadda.
I promise I'll be back after finals (I go home on the 10th.)
Friday, December 4
Sorry about the lack of updates (again)
Sunday, November 15
The other day, I received a wonderful package in the mail...
My very own copy of Kate Zuckerman's The Sweet Life (Desserts from Chanterelle).
This book is awesome, to put it lightly. So many books are written without telling me WHY I'm doing certain things(perhaps to increase my dependence on their recipes). This book tells me why I'm doing what I'm doing, and how to achieve the same result in other ways. The science behind baking.
It's all infinitely fascinating to me. So, if you guys are aware of any more quality cookbooks that have a good food science foundation, PLEASE, let me know. :)
Anyway, I've read this book from cover to cover at least 3 times since getting it (and individual recipes and anecdotes many more) and decided to start with this pear recipe.
Cheap to make, but my goodness it takes forever. (at least 2 hours in the oven...with you doing stuff every 15-20 minutes)
All of that aside? DELICIOUS.
Kate suggests making these while you're making something else (so that you're in the kitchen and more likely to remember to mess with them every 15 minutes), and I suggest that too, as long as you're good about dividing your attention.
I was making these pears, making a cake (a very...special cake...) and watching a marathon of America's Next Top Model.
It's kind of amazing I didn't burn something. :P
Now, I only made two of these pears, but I'll give you the full recipe she states (which is for 10 pears). I halved the other ingredients (just to make sure there would be enough caramel at the end). So even if you're only making 1 or 2, use the amount for about 5.
Basting, getting close to done
Honey-Glazed Roasted Pears:
by Kate Zuckerman
10 ripe pears (I used bosc because those are my favorite, but others are fine too)
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of honey
2 1/2 cups of water
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Put the oven rack the highest it will go without smashing the pears against the top of the oven. (my top shelf is too high :( )
Line a roasting pan (I used a 8X8 pan for my two pears, they fit perfectly) with aluminum foil
Cut the zest off the lemon in long strips. Peel the pears (leave the stems on!) and slice off the bottom so they will stand in the pan. Put the pears in the pan, and add all of the ingredients. No need to mix stuff together, it'll all melt in the oven.
If you want, you can place the pan on a lined cookie sheet in case the liquid boils over.
Bake the pears until the honey and sugar have dissolved and the pears begin to brown, about 30 minutes.
Push the pears on their side and bake for 20 minutes. Flip them over and do the same.
If a knife inserted into the pears slides in easily, then stand the pears up and bake them for 15 minutes. If not, flip them over again for another 20 minutes.
Take the pears out and baste them with the liquid from the pan. Put them back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Repeat this for 45 minutes.
If the pears aren't nice and caramel-colored, then you can cook them for another 10-20 minutes.
The liquid should be a thick caramel by now. Baste the pears one last time, and set them on a plate or something to cool.
Once they're cool, remove the core from the bottom with a paring knife or a melon baller. (I didn't, because I'm lazy, but it's nicer to not have to eat around the seeds XD )
Reheat them in the oven prior to serving. (warm, not hot!)
Serve with the caramel sauce :)
Monday, November 9
...but still not :P
I'm still trying to use up those cans of pumpkin, so here's my latest attempt.
In the middle of writing this, I realize I have no anecdotal story to accompany the recipe.
That is so sad. My life as of late has been studying and taking tests and not going to the gym even though it's a minute away. Walking. I think I should start going. Maybe next week XD
I'm pretty sure I'm getting sick because Virginia weather can't decide if it's summer, fall, or winter. Oh, Virginia.
And to top it all off, no one comments anymore! I know you lot are reading this...so stop hiding. :P
SO, in order to facilitate discussion...What sort of things would you like to see me risk my girlish figure (har har) to make (and then consume) ?
A little artsier.
My FANCY set up. White paper, desk lamp, pizza box lid covered in store brand aluminum foil. I win. XD
2 cups of flour (to make these even healthier, you can sub 1 cup of whole wheat flour for one of the cups of white flour. )
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp Cinnamon,Ginger,&Nutmeg (in whatever proportions float your boat)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tbsp molasses (or use brown sugar instead of the sugar and molasses)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of pumpkin
1 cup of applesauce (this is the almost healthy bit...this instead of butter or oil XD )
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
4 tbsp of cold, diced butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside
Mix together the applesauce, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
Once that's all fully together, add the pumpkin and milk.
Add in the dry ingredients, slowly until just incorporated. Don't overmix!
Put the sugar, flour, and butter (for the topping) in a bowl. Using just your finger tips, rub the sugar and flour into the butter until it's little and crumby. You could also just dump it all in a food processor (but I don't have one :( )
Fill the muffin tin cup-thingies (oh my vocabulary is amazing :P ) about 3/4 of the way (just enough to give them a dome when they bake, but not so much that they go EVERYWHERE).
Sprinkle the crumb topping onto each muffin.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test.
(and comment :P )
Tuesday, November 3
About a year ago, I asked my father to buy me a couple cans of pumpkin.
He bought at least 10. (Overkill much, Dad?)
Here is my latest attempt to defeat The Pumpkin Menace.
These mini cheesecakes are awesome because they taste like pumpkin pie, but better, they're cheesecake without all the fuss (water bath and such), and they're easy to share.
I was going to make the crust with gingersnaps, but I didn't have any. And I'm broke :P
So I was going to settle for graham crackers. But I don't have any.
And then I eyed the giant bag of sugar cookies I made over the weekend. Success! However, that would be a pretty boring crust. So, I got the bright idea of chopping up some candied ginger, and adding in the spices that I would normally put into gingersnaps. I'm going to write up what I used, but you're welcome to use gingersnaps, graham crackers, Oreos, or anything you want :)
I took these over to a friend's place for a movie-party. (V for Vendetta, midnight on the 5th XD )
"You're going to be the death of me," moaned Ian as he unwrapped his third (possibly fourth) cheesecake. I'm going to take that as a ringing endorsement, and warn you to keep them away from your loved ones...as they'll probably ignore you in favor of these creamy treats ;)
melted whipped cream XD
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes:
(makes 1 dozen)
1 cup cookie crumbs
1 tsp finely diced candied ginger (or real ginger)
2 tbsp of any combination of the following spices:
cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice
a pinch of pepper (oh yeah, good stuff)
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
Mix everything together.
Press about a tablespoon of the mixture into the tin.
Bake the crusts for about 8-10 minutes.
Let cool while preparing the filling.
Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
8oz room temperature cream cheese
2/3 cup of pumpkin. (you can go up to 3/4 of a cup if you like your pumpkin more intense...or even a full cup! It makes the cakes a liiiittle denser, but not enough to be detrimental)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp of the following spices, all together:
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger. (omit some, add others, or just use pumpkin pie spice...it's up to you :) ) (oh and you can cut the amount if that's too much for you, hehe)
1/2 cup of sugar (white sugar, or brown sugar)
2 tbsp of molasses or dark corn syrup IF you used white sugar.
Cream the cream cheese and sugar together.
Add in one egg at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated.
Add in vanilla (and molasses or corn syrup) and beat.
Then add in the pumpkin and the spices.
Spoon about 1-2 tbsp of the mixture onto each crust. Well, actually just add a little to each crust until you've used it all up.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool, then chill in the fridge for at least a few hours.
Wednesday, October 28
I figured I'd just give it its own separate post so you guys don't have to scroll through a whole recipe to find it. :)
by Alton Brown
Copied and pasted because it's easier that way :)
"3 ounces pasteurized egg whites (that's about 3 egg whites. You know Alton and his preciseness)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days."
Let me be honest with you.
I have only enjoyed eating ONE mac 'n cheese.
The kind prepared by my aunts for Sunday dinner was the end all, be all to macaroni and cheese for me.
I once tried to eat Easy Mac. I'll spare you the gory details, but let's just say the bathroom floor got painted yellow ;)
Being away from home, and so away from my grandmother's house, I needed a mac n cheese fix.
So, I scoured the internet for recipes, and tried to use what little knowledge I had of what went into the fabled mac 'n cheese.
The first try...was horrible.
The cheese sauce separated 5 seconds after I scooped it out of the pan, it was grainy...It was SAD.
So I returned to the drawing board and discovered the ultimate recipe for creamy, delicious mac 'n cheese.
...yeah, but I'm showing you pictures of the other one because, by the time I made the perfect kind, I was mad and too tired to take pictures XD.
My roux...the heat was a little high here.
Sharp white cheddar and sharp cheddar
Part of the reason for the icky texture was too much of the liquid bubbled out. Be careful not to overfill dishes XD
Looks nice, doesn't it?
DIDN'T TASTE THAT WAY!
Kiara's PERFECTLY CREAMY Mac 'N Cheese:
2 tbs butter.
1-2 tbs flour (start with one, add more if you need it)
1 1/2 cup of milk
2 oz of cream cheese
3 oz of your desired cheese(s). I used Velveeta with a bit of sharp cheddar. So sue me...it melts like heaven. XD
1 cup of pasta (dry!)
salt to taste
Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.
When it's almost halfway done, melt the butter in a separate pot, over medium heat.
When the butter's melted, whisk in the flour to make a roux. It's used to thicken the sauce, so if it looks a little thin, add more flour, a little bit at a time.
Once that's done, add in the milk, and stir. You can turn up the heat, so that the mixture boils faster.
Once the sauce starts to boil (it should look fairly thick), add in the cream cheese and stir until it's completely melted.
Then, add whatever other cheese(s) you chose and stir until melted.
Add in the cooked pasta, and stir together.
Salt to taste.
I guess you could pepper it too. I hate pepper, though, haha.
Now, you can either eat it like this (which I do), or stick it in a casserole dish, top it with more cheese (or breadcrumbs, but I think that's gross XD ) and bake it in the oven...350-400 should do it, until the top layer of cheese is bubbly and has little happy dark spots. XD
Sunday, October 25
So lately, I've been feeling rather down.
The stress of school and my personal life are taking their toll on me.
Today, in the midst of cleaning my horribly messy room, I said, in much harsher words, "Screw this!" and I went to make cookies.
What kinds of things does one want to see when one is down? Smiley faces and rainbows, of course!
So I made the cookies, and made the bazillion colors of icing and all was good.
Until I really looked at the kitchen and realized that I had a huge mess to clean up.
Welcome back, stress! Haha, it wasn't that bad, but the situation was kind of ironic. :)
Anyhoooo, here we go!
Messed up a little bit, but for the most part, a decent rainbow :)
it's not happy that I bit it in the head XD
This is the happiest cookie I've ever seen :P
Buttery Sugar Cookies:
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
4 tbsp of butter, softened
1 tsp of baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in the vanilla and egg and beat until fully incorporated.
Add the flour and baking powder, and mix until the dough comes together.
The dough might be a little dry, so if you need to, add some water until it comes together better.
Chill the dough for about a half an hour, it probably won't need it, but chilled dough is always better than room temperature dough. :)
Roll it out (whatever thickness you want, they'll only rise a little bit) and cut out your shapes.
Bake them for 15-20 minutes (the edges should start to get a little bit brown)
Let them cool completely before decorating.
Decorate with royal icing (recipe here!)
Oh and I secretly borrowed my father's camera, so I'm back...for now...until he notices...hehehe.
Wednesday, October 7
Still no camera = still no posts.
They said 4 to 6 weeks, and it's been nearly a month, so hopefully it'll be back soon.
It's been weird this past month, cooking and baking and not bothering to check my lighting, plate it nicely, and grab my camera with dirty hands. I really miss it, and I really miss doing this.
Every day I try something new, I feel guilty that you guys can't be there to share the experience of the first time. It feels like I'm cheating on you all! Haha.
But truthfully, it's nuts. Being here in my apartment, being able to go to the store whenever I please, has opened up my ability to experiment and learn through sheer trial and error.
And so hopefully, when they return my poor, poor camera, this blog will be even more amazing. (Is it possible?! :P )
Thanks for sticking with me, even through this horrible dry spell. :)
Wednesday, September 9
Like I mentioned in my last post, I went home last weekend so I could buy my new camera.
I did. (yay me)
So when I got back, I decided to make cookies, so I could share something with you guys...I know you've been feeling incredibly neglected, and I apologize XD
So I made the cookies, and I started to photograph them. I don't have a nice set up here like I do at my house, so I just decide to hold the plate of cookies up to the light and take the pictures like that.
Well, in my old age (lol), clumsiness has overcome me.
The plate slipped out of my hand, and crashed to the floor. It broke. Unfortunate, but just a plate.
So did my BRAND NEW CAMERA.
The lens was fully extended, and that's exactly what it landed on.
Luckily, my dad shelled out the 80 bucks for the extended warranty.
Also luckily, my roommate's boyfriend was going back home that day, and so he's supposed to drop it off to my dad who can go get it fixed. (I got it at Penn Camera and there aren't any down here D:)
I can't believe I managed to do that!
Anyway, I made these GIANT (on accident) oreo-like cookies.
They're pretty awesome, but I'd suggest making them a lot smaller. XD
DON'T MAKE YOURS THIS BIG.
This is how huge they get. Ooh man
Sean and Moria sharing a cookie (after which, Moria looks at me and asks if she can eat it XD )
I have a history of taking pictures of Sean eating
The last picture I took before I broke this plate and my camera XD
Giant sandwich cookies:
1 1/4 cups of flour
1/2 cups of cocoa powder
10 tbsp of unsalted butter, a little soft, but not room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, and mix until fully incorporated
Add in all the dry stuff. Be careful, and go on a slow speed XD
Make balls of dough (smalllllllllll, unless you want my crazy monster cookies) and place them on a lined or greased tray. Flatten them slightly. Space them out 'cause they spread during baking.
Bake for about 9 minutes
While they're baking...make the cream!
4 tbsp slightly softened unsalted butter
4 tbsp shortening
2 cups of powdered sugar
2 tsp of vanilla
Slowly beat everything. Once the sugar's all in, turn up the speed and beat until the filling's fluffed up a bit.
Put it in a piping bag or a sandwich bag with a corner cut off.
Once the cookies are cooled, assemble the sandwiches.
And if they're huge...share it with someone. XD
Sunday, August 30
Besides the fact that I'm channeling a fictional professor...
This coming weekend...
I'm getting a new camera!
I get to go home to do some various things, and so I'll have a chance to use the Penn Camera gift card I got for my birthday. Wooooh!
And because I don't like posts without pictures, here's a painting I did on Friday XD
Also, I hope you'll all be proud of me for biking at least 3 miles a day. My goal is to get to the nearest shopping center, which, round trip, is 7 miles. My thighs burn XD
So yeah, I'll be back with regular food posts next week...which is great because I've been coming up with a few dishes I really wanna share with you guys. :)
Saturday, August 29
Heyoooo, it's that time of the month again...(albeit a little late)....Daring bakers!
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
So basically the Dobos Torte is a sponge layer cake, layered with buttercream, and topped with caramel-coated pieces of cake.
The torte itself was really easy, but man...that caramel piece gave me sooo much trouble.
Yolks and sugar
Onto the recipe!
6 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups of powdered/confectioner's/icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of flour
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Either do a lot of work and line 6 round pans with parchment paper, or do what I did, and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. XD
Beat the egg yolks and 2/3 of a cup of the sugar until it's thick and lighter in color.
In another bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Beat in the rest of the sugar and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the yolks.
Slowly fold in the flour and salt.
Spread a thin thin thin layer of the batter into the pan. Make sure it's even on top. (you can put another layer of parchment paper on top and press a similar pan over that...if you get what I'm saying...to even it out XD)
Then bake for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cake is slightly browned on the edges.
Slice and/or halve as you please. (it depends on what shape/size/how many layers you want)
I know you all know this recipe by heart now, right? :P
1 cup of granulated /caster/superfine sugar
12 tbsp water
8 tsp lemon juice
1 tablespoon of NEUTRAL oil.
Reserve one of the cake layers
"1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top.
To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper.
Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula. 2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.
Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel. 3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready.
I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator.
I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely."
Assembly is simple.
Cake layer, buttercream, rinse, repeat.
Then top with the caramel in whatever fashion you choose.
I sprinkled ground hazelnuts on each layer, and pressed chopped nuts around the base of the cake.
Refrigerate the cake, but let it come to about room temperature before cutting.
Wednesday, August 19
So on Saturday, I moved into my new apartment. Logically, there hasn't been a whole lot of cooking/baking.
Today, I managed to both bake AND cook, and guess what.
My camera hates me.
I went to the James River yesterday, slipped on a rock, and fell in. My camera was in my bag. It works, the but the screen is all wonky. Tomorrow, after my classes, I'll hopefully be able to go to the camera store and see if they can fix it. Until then, no pictures...unless I get desperate and use my cameraphone (Which is actually decent).
Here are fun pics of my apartment, just because I feel weird not posting pictures. XD
My kitchen! :D
I painted my mini-fridge with chalkboard paint.
My room (before I cleaned it) and my power rangers towel :D
MY VENUS FLYTRAP!!!
So yes. flour on her nose has officially relocated to Richmond, Virginia. I live next to a Kroger ( the longest part of the walk is across the parking lot) and classes end at 4 at the latest. Plenty of time to cook. I think I'll also expand to mini-reviews of local food places...first up will definitely be the Village Cafe and their AMAZING shakes (and awesome french fries)
Stay tuned :)
Sunday, August 9
Today, I was supposed to be cleaning up/packing/organizing for the move into my apartment next Saturday. To give you an idea of the task at hand, I came home from school, dumped my bags in the game room, and, 3 months later, there they are. I've made marginal progress, but that's okay, since I'm a last minute kind of girl, Thursday and Friday will be frantic and I will be incredibly productive. In my journey to procrastinate, I decided to make something bread-related. Because, you see "it has to rise, and rise again, and probably a third time!". I am an excellent time waster.
Originally, I'd planned to make cinnamon rolls, but my father bought some the other day, and they're still sitting on the dining room table. "Okay," I said to myself "...what the heck am I gonna do?". Sooooooo I perused the internet (the whole internet) and found that panda bread that had been going around. "THAT'S IT!". Except I didn't want to do the panda...I wanted to do my own design. After much thought, I decided upon a rainbow...because the shape is technically easy, and the colors would be great! I really want to try other designs in the future
And so I set out to do it.
Unfortunately, the final product didn't rise as much as I'd like, but that's something that can be ironed out in the future...it was still tasty.
My hand after kneading all of the color in XD
Bread pre-final rising
After final rising
Fresh out of the oven
1 1/4 cup of flour (bread flour/high protein flour's best)
2 tbs cornstarch
1 egg yolk + enough milk to equal 3/4 of a cup
2 tbs soft butter
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
I like to go ahead and preheat my oven to 400 Fahrenheit now, to make the kitchen nice and warm.
Whisk together the milk and egg yolk, and heat to about 100 degrees
Combine flour, cornstarch and salt
Activate the yeast in the milk/egg mixture, add sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes and then add to the flour, along with the butter. If you have instant yeast, just add the yeast, milk/egg and sugar to the flour straightaway.
Mix together, then dump out and knead until it's not all gross and sticky anymore.
Here's the fun stuff.
Divide the dough into 7 pieces , with one at least twice as big as the rest. The other six shouldn't all be the same size...they should get progressively smaller or bigger.
Add the coloring to the 6 small pieces (for a rainbow, purple should be the smallest, and red the biggest), and knead.
Cover the pieces separately and let the rise for about 30 minutes
Punch down the dough and let rise for another 20 minutes.
Now for the assembly.
Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of your loaf pan.(I think mine's like 8x4x4 or something)
Take about 1/3 of the uncolored dough and roll it into a cylinder the length of the parchment paper. Stick it right in the middle.
Take the purple, roll it out into a rectangle and drape over the plain cylinder. Repeat with the rest of the colors, and the rest of the uncolored dough.
Stick that in the loaf pan and let it rise for at least another hour, in a nice warm place (like on top of the stove!)
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown.
Let cool, cut, enjooyyyyy