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!

May 17, 2011

Easter Cupcakes

If you give a nine-year-old, six-year-old, and four-year-old a lot of pretty sprinkles and a lot of very tasty frosting, after letting them help make the frosting and therefore taste the frosting (a lot of it), you might have a good time. I did. I love my nieces.

Easter Cupcakes

This part I made aforehand, so that we, as a group, didn’t have to wait around while the cupcakes baked. We started with the fun stuff. So, here’s the “aforehand” stuff for you.

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Inspired by: Smitten Kitchen

2 c + 2 T cake flour
2 c whole white wheat flour
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt, small grained
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c sugar (I used demerara sugar and pulsed it in a spice grinder until finely grained.)
2 t vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
4 eggs, large, at room temperature
2 c buttermilk (which I didn’t have, so I used milk + lemon juice. Because I used too much lemon juice, these cupcakes tasted a little bit like lemon, but not in a bad way.)

Preheat oven to 35o degrees F.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time. Beat until incorporated.

Add buttermilk or milk mixture. Mix. Incorporate.

Then, add the flour mixture.

There it is. The flour mixture. Now, add it in three batches to the batter. Mixing after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake cups.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a cooling rack.

Use your favorite frosting recipe. Go to town. Have at it.

Why, yes, I did put plastic wrap on the counter to ease in clean-up. What’s that? Applause? Applause for brilliance? Oh, thanks. Thanks.

We washed our hands a bunch of times.

A lot of sprinkles were used in the making of these Easter Cupcakes.

Tada.

April 26, 2011

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

The cookies are textured, tasty, and, most importantly, chocolatey.

I needed cookies. I needed chocolate. This is more than a solution. This is the beginning of a problem. A delicious, wonderful problem in which I eat too many cookies then need to sit down and think about what I’ve done.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c Demerara sugar
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t vanilla bean paste (or extract. I actually found out I had no vanilla extract when trying to create these cookies, but the vanilla bean paste was awesome.)
1 1/2 c AP flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 1/2 c milk chocolate and 1/2 c semi-sweet or 1 c milk chocolate)

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla. Mix.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

With the mixer on low, add flour mixture to butter mixture incrementally. Mix until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Form 1 1/2 inch balls of dough. Place on lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake until the tops crack, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheets for five minutes then remove to cooling racks.

Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. After that the cookies get sad and hard, and you’ll miss out on the good thing you had.

April 20, 2011

Green Bean Salad

This was my lunch three days in a row. And it felt great. Tasty with a zing and a pow. Maybe zing isn’t, exactly, the right word. But it’s good. And I will come back to this dish over and over again. Forever and ever.

If you currently don’t like onions, this dish could change your life permanently. It’s that powerful.

Green Bean Salad 
1 lb haricot verts
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 T lemon juice
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 T kosher salt
1 1/2 t Demarara sugar

Whisk cider, sugar, lemon juice, and salt together in a large bowl. Add thinly sliced onions and set aside. The longer the onions marinate, the better. At the very least, let the onions hang out about 45 minutes.

While the onions marinate, boil two and a half quarts of water. Add the green beans and allow to boil for about three minutes until they’re crisp-tender. Drain. Add to cold bath. Drain again. Pat dry.

Add green beans and celery to pickled onions. Add fork.

April 19, 2011

French Silk Pie

I made this on Pi Day. Do you know about this holiday? 3.14. Pi. Get it? I hope your March 14th was delightful. And Pie-full. If not, there is always next year.

Some forewarning: 1) This pie is delicious. I mean it. So good. Oh, my lordy. Amazing. You’ll love it. You’ll wonder when you’ll have another excuse to make it. You’ll figure it out. I promise. Because tomorrow seems like a pretty good excuse to me. 2) This recipe requires a lot of beating. A lot. Your electric mixer will be tired.

But, oh, the good. The good that will come!!

French Silk Pie
Inspired by The Pioneer Woman

4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1 c butter, softened
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 c sugar
2 t vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 Pie Crust

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave-safe dish. Set aside to use.

Now begins the beating process. Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. This will take a few minutes.

 Pour in cooled chocolate, and add the vanilla. This is the second stint of mixing. Mix until incorporated.

Add each egg one at a time. After each addition, beat five minutes.

Keep going.

Pour well-mixed filling into baked pie shell. Smooth top.

Refrigerate for at least two hours. Truth be told, over night is even better.

To make the whipped cream topping:

Take whipping cream and powdered sugar. Mix on high for a couple of minutes. Add a touch of vanilla. Mix until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until you’re ready to top each slice.

Add chocolate curls.

Take a bite.

Take another. And pretty soon,

April 19, 2011

Indefectible Pie Crust

Now, confessions. This is only the second time in my whole life. First? Second. Hm, I’m not sure. I think it’s the very first time I’ve ever made pie crust from scratch. Success!!!

Pie Crust
Yields 3 pie crusts

3/4 c vegetable shortening
3/4 c butter, cold
3 c AP flour
1 egg
5 T cold water
1 T white vinegar
1 t salt

Use two knives or a pastry cutter to work the flour into the shortening and butter. It’ll look coarse and mealy and a little bit like pellets. At that point, form into one mega ball of dough.

Beat the egg in a separate bowl before adding it to the flour mixture. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, then the white vinegar, then the salt. Stir until incorporated.

Divide into three separate balls. Place into individual zip-top bags. Slightly flatten each ball, seal the bags, then place in the freezer. If you plan on using any of these immediately, get the necessary crust(s) out after 20 minutes.

April 18, 2011

Burgundy Mushrooms

Ooh, wee. These are absolutely delightful. Perfect paired with steak or with baguette or greens or by themselves.

Burgundy Mushrooms
Heavily Inspired by The Pioneer Woman

1/2 c butter (Can’t skimp on this. It’ll be worth it. Promise)
1/2 white onion
4 cloves garlic
1 (8 oz) package mushrooms (I used Baby Portabello.)
1 c Burgundy wine (or any red. I used Cabernet Sauvignon.)

Melt the butter slowly over medium-low heat.

Add the chopped onion.

And add the garlics.

That’s right. Now comes the mushroom component.

Oh, but first take out of packaging. You can add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms all at the same time if you’d like. It was more dramatic presenting it this way.

Stir it all about. Crank it to high until golden brown. Oh, yeah. Number one rule for cooking perfect mushrooms: Don’t overcrowd the pan. This pan is a bit too overcrowded. Just a bit.

Add the wine.

Stir, turn it down to simmer, and cook. Let the liquid reduce by at least half.

Look at that sauce!!! Just imagine how incredible. Now stop imagining and go do. Make. Love. Enjoy.

March 14, 2011

Simpler Salmon

I’ve talked to you about salmon before. I really like it. A lot. This uses the same marinade, but a different method. Let’s go!

Pour equal parts orange juice and soy sauce.

In a medium to large sized bowl, mix two parts each of orange juice and soy sauce to one part brown sugar (light or dark is fine here). Mix well. Put salmon into the marinade so that as much of the salmon is immersed as possible.

Let marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a roasting pan, place the marinated salmon and pour the marinade over and around the salmons.

Then, cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the salmon is fork flaky.

Enjoy. Again and again.

 

March 3, 2011

Simply Chocolate Cake

This cake is great and simple. Chocolatey but not overly sweet. Delicious and not long lasting at all. It gets gone. Quickly.

Simple Chocolate Cake
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 c buttermilk (or regular milk plus lemon juice or vinegar equalling 1 c. Do you know this trick? It’s great.)
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c A-P flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/4 c Ovaltine (because I ran out of cocoa powder. If you have enough cocoa powder, use 3/4 c and no Ovaltine, unless you want to found out how it ended up. [Pretty darn good.])
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk, or a combination)

Preheat oven to 325 degree F. Butter and lightly flour 9 x 9 pan.

Cream the butter until smooth with an electric mixer on medium.

Add the sugars and continue to beat until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg. Mix to incorporate. Then, add the buttermilk and vanilla. The batter will look a little… off. Too runny. Too clumpy. That’ll be correctly shortly. Leave it be for now.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, Ovaltine (if using), baking soda, baking powder, and salt). If you want this to be a one bowl dish, just sift the dry right into the wet ingredients! So great. Don’t overmix; just stir until combined, scraping down the sides. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a loaf pan or a 9 x 9 pan. You know; that one you buttered earlier. Bake for 65 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then plop out and let it completely cool.

Enjoy it while you can. Like I said, this cake magically disappears.