Archive for ‘Summer’

September 4, 2011

Chocolate + Pear Cake

I wasn’t sure how this combination would work or if it would or if it could. I love the individual ingredients. So much. Juicy pear. Dark chocolate chips. They’ve never even crossed my mind as a combination. Never. And that is saying a lot.

So, of course, when I read about this cake over here at a LOVELY blog written by an incredibly witty and inspiring lady named Deb, I had to have it.

Chocolate and Pear Cake
inspired by smitten kitchen

1 c white whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
3 eggs, room temperature
8 T (1 stick) butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 lb (about 3 medium or 2 large) pears, peeled and diced
3/4 c bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees F.

Prepare pan (I used a 9 in round cake pan. The original recipe called for a springform pan.) by swiping butter all over the bottom and sides. Then, sprinkle a little flour and powdered sugar into the pan, tipping, turning, and tapping to cover the entirety of the pan.

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Beat the three eggs with the whisk attachment on high for a really long time. But have no fear, during this time, I’ll give you something exciting to do! Ten minutes should get the eggs to go from eggs…

… to lightly colored and pretty thick froth.

Then, beat a little longer until it’s custard consistency.

(Next time, I’ll actually use the whisk attachment instead of my regular beaters. It turned out fine. So you should be relieved to know that this is a forgiving recipe.)

As promised, something exciting:: Browning butter!!

What’s better than butter? Browned butter. And even though I was pretty frightened of this process when I first heard of it, I love it. It adds a richness, nuttiness, and depth of deliciousness. Oh, man. Okay. So. Put your stick of butter in a medium sauce pan and leave it on medium-ish heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally especially a lot in the last couple of minutes so the browning happens all over not just for the first bits to be browned. And yes, those bits are okay. They’re good and welcome, even. Once the butter’s browned, take it off the heat, but keep it in a pretty warm place.

Now, that your eggs are fluffed and your butter browned, add the brown sugar to your egg mixture. Mix until incorporated.

Add flour mixture to egg fluff mixture. Now, get a spatula and fold the flour into the eggs to try to maintain the fluffiness. Add browned butter; fold.

Pour into prepared pan.

Add peeled and diced pears and chocolate chips.

Bake for about 40 minutes. Don’t take the cake out of the oven until your doneness tester comes out completely batter-free. I used my Doneness Tester (butter knife) to go around the edge of the cake just inside the pan to make sure it was separated before turning it out on a cooling rack.

Let it cool for at least 15 minutes.

If I can wait that long, you can, too. It’s possible.

And enjoy.

Every single bite.

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September 2, 2011

This Summer

I’ve eaten food.

I’ve made food.

I’ve enjoyed it.

Really.

I just haven’t written about it. At all. Oh, how I’ve missed writing about it. It’s been two months! A lot has happened. I watched and celebrated my best friend getting married; I started a new job; I’ve been in the hospital waiting room for an entire day while someone very close had surgery. Boy, that’s an exhausting process to go through. I’m here!!

Here’s an overview.

Perfected hummus.

I also really enjoyed remaking a favorite.

Then there was the season’s tomato to enjoy. And what better pairing than mozzarella??

And now I’m looking forward to getting back in to the swing of things. Let’s do it!

I’ll try desperately hard to never miss half of a season ever again.

July 4, 2011

Happy. Go Forth.

This flag cake stands the test of tradition and time. I hope you enjoyed a fourth of July that stood up to such things as well.

June 30, 2011

Masala-ish, Introductory Dish

First of all, how are you at onions? I am terrible. There he (she?) is. Looking innocent and full of potential. Then, I start chopping, and next thing you know,

I’m worse than any other woman watching Steel Magnolias or reading The Kite Runner or thinking about aging.

No, really. It’s bad.

Before we begin, let me give you a little background. My mom hates hates the smell of curry. I believe I may have mentioned this before (here, in fact). I didn’t grow up with it or any Indian-influenced dishes. I’m trying to learn about them gradually. I’m scared (remember, I’m a wimp) of diving in too quickly to uncharted food territory. But I’m excited to peek and ease into it.

So, I give you the furthest from masala masala dish you’ve ever had. I really do recommend this dish for those of you, like me, who are venturing into these tastes. And maybe no one else in the world needs to go so slowly into this fantastic world of complex, beautiful flavors. Let me introduce you to a friend I just met: Tumeric. And I had NO idea we had so many friends in common! You see, Turmeric gets along super well with Cumin, whom we met in Hummus but then ran into in all sorts of Mexican dishes, Ginger, who doesn’t just show up during the holidays like we thought, and Paprika and Cayenne. Wow. I mean wow. It’s crazy to see so many worlds collide here.

Thank you so much to food blogs and people who cook whom I admire: Deb, at SmittenKitchen, Aarti, from the Food Network Star, and my roommate Zach, who sometimes infuses the whole house with interesting food smells.

Masala-ish, Introductory Dish

largely inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes (or two large), diced, juices saved
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper (add more for more heat)
1/4 t paprika
3/4 t ground turmeric (It’ll dye everything a beautiful shade of yellow. Enjoy.)
Dash of coriander seed
1/4 t ground ginger
1/2 t cumin

Put your olive oil at the bottom of a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium high heat.

Then. Chop an onion. Breathe a sigh of relief once you’re finished and wash your hands a few times.

Mince the garlic and throw it on in. Sprinkle in the ginger and half the cayenne pepper. Let them hang out and sizzle together for about five minutes. During this time, you can chop your tomatoes.

Oh, man. They look so good. Don’t you love summer?

Turn the heat down to medium-low. And add the remaining spices, including the second half of the ground cayenne pepper. Let simmer for at least five minutes.

Serve by itself, with chickpeas, or chicken.

Remember, you can adjust spices as you would like. Play!

October 11, 2010

Happy 10.10.10, Everyone!!!

I know. It was yesterday. And I wanted to post then, when the world was still celebrating. However, there was so much to be done to prepare and celebrate the Big Day. The Historical Day. Yester Day. So I get really excited when there are things to celebrate, and the tenth day of the tenth month in the tenth year of the two thousands is no exception. I made a meal. Okay, okay. A feast. With ten different dishes. This week, we’ll go through all the dishes. Starting with the soup, which was served in the third course. (That’s right. Courses.) And the soup was delicious.

 

Can I admit something to you? I was nervous about this recipe. Really nervous. I started cooking the onions; that was fine.

But THEN, I added all the spices. And I got THIS!!! Any food that looks like worms at ANY point isn’t really going to get me overly excited about eating said food. I wasn’t excited, but rather, felt a little ill and incredibly worried that I had actually wanted B.F.C.P. and his aunt to eat such food. Okay. Be warned; this dangerous picture could upset the following: people with weary stomaches, young children, dogs, cats, elderly, anybody brave enough to scroll down.

There!! Okay. You saw it. Are you all right?!?! Now that you’ve braved the worst, you’ll have no problem, because this soup is so good. SOO good. So. Good. Really. I promise. The aroma while cooking is almost overwhelming, but the taste of the soup is perfectly balanced. AND it has salsa to go on top to give a zing and a pop. (Whoops. Accidental rhyme.)

Red Bean Soup with Salsa
Inspired by The Ultimate Book of Vegan Cooking by Tony and Yvonne Bishop-Weston

For the soup:
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 T paprika
1 T tomato paste
1/2 t dried oregano
14 oz can chopped tomatoes, no salt added
2 14 oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed (I would recommend light. Although, I used one can of dark red and one can of light red for mine.)
3 3/4 c vegetable stock
Hot sauce, to taste (I used Frank’s Hot Sauce)

For the salsa:
1 avocado
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 T chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime

Heat oil in large, heavy pan and add onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the cumin, cayenne, and paprika. Don’t feel grossed out by the worminess, because you know it’ll be okay. Cook for one minute stirring continuously but not really looking at the pan, if you can help it.

Stir in the tomato paste. (It starts to get better at this point.) Cook for a few seconds then add the oregano. Add the cans of tomatoes and kidney beans. (Up to this point, I had been using a saute pan. Now is when I transferred all the ingredients to a Dutch oven.) Then, pour in the vegetable stock.

Bring tomato and bean mixture to the boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the soup slightly, then puree it in a food processor until smooth. Rinse the pan. Then pour in the smooth soup mixture. Add hot sauce. After you think about freckles then Jackson Pollock then moon craters, stir in the hot sauce and begin working on your salsa.

For the salsa:

Chop up onions into eensy bitsy pieces. This is especially good if you need an enforced cry. Then, chop cilantro and tomatoes. Then slice into your avocado, de-pit, and score to scoop out all the goodness into a small bowl. Add all the chopped ingredients. Then, top with the juice of a lime. Toss all together.

Ladle soup into bowls, and top with a little guacamole salsa in the middle of the bowl.

After ladling, pat yourself on the back for surviving such an ordeal. And get yourself a spoon to enjoy!!!

October 7, 2010

Picture of the Week

So, maybe I’ll start this Picture of the Week business, or maybe it’ll just be a one time thing.

I don’t just try to make really good food; I also try to eat really good food (out and about, on the town; what have you). Why not take pictures and share them with you?

For the first (and possibly last) Picture of the Week, I will feature a dish the Best Food-Cooking Partner (B.F.C.P.) ordered at a restaurant that has one of the best brunches we’ve ever been to, certainly the best French Toast, and possibly the best tofu (I know??! Tofu.) The B.F.C.P., pictured…

… holding a flower that I made out of a napkin and a plastic fork, ordered this adorably delicious omelet.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the happiest omelet.

What do you think?? Just about the happiest omelet you’ve ever seen, right? Right?!

October 5, 2010

Summer Blueberry Coffee Cake

This summer, I made a food. I’ll try to keep my foods as recent as possible so that you feel as though you have up-to-the-minute recipes and reactions. However, I started writing a food blog post-summer. So I present to you, a retrospective. And I feel as though this exception is worth it, because this coffee cake is EXCEPTIONAL. And all thanks to a very special lady who had to endure a painful summer healing after foot surgery. Do you realize all that you need BOTH feet for? You cannot just let one take a vacation and heal without serious consequence. I made this coffee cake for her, but I enjoyed it. A lot. Almost enough to make it seem as though I had made it just for me.

Blueberry Coffee Cake
Inspired by the Atlanta Journal Constitution

1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c chopped pecans
1 t ground cinnamon
2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 c plus 2 T A-P flour, divided
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c granulated sugar, and then a bit more for dusting the pan
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
8 oz sour cream
2 t vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine sugar, pecans, and cinnamon, then set aside. In a second small bowl, combine blueberries with 2 T flour. This will allow the blueberries to float in the batter while it cooks instead of sinking to the bottom like a swimmer’s floatie. In the third small bowl, stir the rest of the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Grease and dust (with granulated sugar) a 9-inch fluted or tube pan.

In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add lemon zest, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add half the flour mixture, mix, repeat. Beat until combined. Beat for an additional 30 seconds. Then, fold in the blueberries. Gently.

Spread half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture. Swirl the brown sugar mix with a knife or small spatula. Pour second half then top with the remaining brown sugar mixture.

Cook for about an hour or until the coffee cake can pass the doneness toothpick test (or DTT). Allow it to cool in the pan for 20 to 30 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge, carefully separating any renegade blueberries that might have stuck to the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto the serving platter. Just before serving, sprinkle (generously) with confectioner’s sugar.

And, oh man, enjoy.

September 17, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Ohboyohboyoh.

Lemon Poppy Seed cake. It’s my boyfriend’s favorite muffin. Favorite. After much research and browsing through quite a few trusted cake sources, I figured out what would probably work. Reasons why this cake is awesome:  (1) Egg whites in the cake but, no worries, because the yolks are used in the center; (2) lemon. Poppy Seed; (3) lemon frosting; (4) cake!; and (5) birthday.

___

And now, some warnings:

1. I had WAY to much raspberry curd filling leftover. Now, I’ll be forced to use it on pancakes, waffles, or, worse, yogurt (I’m looking forward to all of these).
2. I almost didn’t have enough lemon frosting. Don’t snack too much on this!
3. It looks homemade in these pictures; it is. I’m still practicing my cake decorating skills, and still working on growing my baking collection. (Please note my “cake stand” is the pan, flipped upside down, just on a plate.)
4. This recipe calls for Cream of Tartar (I went to the grocery store in my apron.) and 36 tablespoons of butter, two lemons, five eggs, three cups of powdered sugar, and raspberries.

Ooh. Finished product.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Inspired by Eliza

2 1/3 c minus 2 T A-P flour
2 3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 T poppy seeds
5 lg egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 t cream of tartar
1 1/2 c sugar
2 T finely grated lemon zest
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 c milk

8 T butter (1 stick)
12 oz raspberries, fresh or thawed
5 lg egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 or 3 t lemon juice

16 T (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 T finely grated lemon zest
3 c confectioners’ sugar
3 T fresh lemon juice

For the cake:: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, checking to make sure rack is positioned in the middle. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a bowl. In another bowl for stand or hand mixer, beat (medium speed) egg whites with the whisk attachment until frothy. Add cream of tartar and up the mixer speed to medium-high until stiff peaks form.

In new bowl with what I refer to as the regular attachments, beat (medium speed) the butter until smooth. Add the sugar in increments until incorporated. Add lemon zest. Beat (medium-high) until light and fluffy. Go ahead and measure out 1 c of milk then from that, pour 1/4 c into mixture; beat until blended. With mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and alternately the milk in three installments, mixing until incorporated between each addition. Once blended, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the batter. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold until all is combined.

Coat two 9in round pans in butter and flour. Pour batter evenly between the two. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden and can pass the toothpick test. Cool in the cake pan about 10 minutes. Then, allow to cool completely on a rack out of the pan.

For the raspberry curd filling:: Melt butter over medium heat. Add raspberries, egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Mash the berries; stir occasionally until it starts bubble. Then continuously stir for 10 minutes. Strain really well through course strainer (not a colander; mine was too seedy). Strain into a bowl, making sure you get as much liquid as possible. Cool to room temperature, thereby letting it solidify. Stir in lemon juice to taste. Cover and put in the fridge for more cooling.

Raspberry Curd

For the frosting:: With the beaters attached to the electric mixer, beat the butter and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the lemon juice and beat for another minute.

For assembling the cake:: Layer the cooled cake rounds with the cooled raspberry curd. Frost the cake.

Litly


September 1, 2010

Peach Cupcakes, Brown Sugar Frosting

This recipe is nearly directly from Deb at SmittenKitchen.com. Oh, goodness. She might be my favorite food blogger out there. I usually try to twist and change recipes to my liking or for the sake of experimentation. However, her recipes…. How can you change a masterpiece??

I give it to you with minor adjustments based on what I had on hand (and I don’t like nutmeg). And I will also link you to her exact version of it.


Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup (or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) Greek yogurt (I think I used half plain and half vanilla flavored.)
3 large peaches cored and chopped into fairly small bits (Not too small!)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare about 28 muffin tins– line them with paper or spray them with cooking spray.**

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then the vanilla. Gently mix in the yogurt. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the peach bits. (That’s a “b,” not a “p.” Be careful, people.)

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

**I have to cook muffins and cupcakes in batches, because we only have 2 six muffin pans. If you, too, can only bake twelve cupcakes at a time, cover the cupcake batter and place in fridge until you’re ready for it. Make sure that you wash your cupcake tin and use cool water to bring the pan back to normal temperatures before baking your next batch.

Brown Sugar Frosting (a.k.a. The Best Frosting Ever, a.k.a. The Most Dangerous Delicious to Have Just Sitting In Your Fridge, a.k.a. Dinner)

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator about 30 minutes, then spread on cooled cupcakes.

[Deb, If you read this, then thank you for brown sugar frosting. And for peach cupcakes. Who would’ve thought?]

August 28, 2010

Guacamole

I’m toying the idea of a cake: Lemon Poppyseed with an accent of Raspberry or Something Jam or Preserves or Jelly. That will have to wait for another day. Today, I have guacamole!!

It’s really simple, but I didn’t realize how much I love it until I made it myself. I usually keep mine chunky, because I feel like it highlights all of the really good ingredients put into it.

Chunky

Guacamole

1 (or 2) avocados
1/3 (or 1/2) red onion, chopped
1/2 (or 1) T lemon juice
1 (or 2) small, from-the-vine tomatoes
1 (or 2) t ground cumin
optional: jalepeño, small and chopped very finely, seeds removed for less heat

Chop onion and tomatoes. Split avocado, remove seed, cut the avocado while still in the skin, and scoop out chunks with a spoon. Add lemon juice, cumin, and chopped jalepeño, (if you’re using jalepeño).

Mix together, squishing some of the avocado chunks, if you’d like. Enjoy.

The parenthetical amounts will serve about four hungry people armed with tortilla chips while the lesser amount is good for about two.

Scooped