Thursday, December 24, 2009

merry christmas, shhh

merry christmas baby

i wish it was christmas today!

Homemade Peppermint Patties (adapted from The Kitchn by Serious Eats)

You Will Need:

2 cups confectioner's sugar
1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
8 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

To Make:

1. With a blender or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar, butter, extracts, and heavy cream on low. (Note: if using the stand mixer, it's important to add the ingredients in that order. Otherwise the mixture becomes concrete on the bottom and crumbs on the top.) Once ingredients are combined, turn mixer to medium speed and beat for another minute or two. The end result should be smooth and adhere very well, almost like a paste. It shouldn't be lumpy or powdery.

2. Line a large cookie sheet with wax paper. Using a teaspoon or your hands, roll mixture into small balls (about 1-inch or so). Place on cookie sheet and flatten each one into a patty. Once all are made, place in fridge for 20 minutes.

3. While patties are chilling, melt chocolate and shortening together in a microwave, with a double boiler, or using a metal bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. Thenm let mixture cool to room temperature. (Note: don't place it in the fridge, though. You don't want it to harden prematurely.)

4. When 20 minutes are up, remove patties from fridge. Using two forks, dunk them one by one into chocolate mixture and roll around until totally coated. Remove and place back on wax paper. When all are finished, place the cookie sheet in the fridge and leave for a few hours, until chocolate hardens.

5. Eat. Store leftovers in the fridge, sealed in a container and separated by wax paper.

and don't forget to lick the bowl:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

the world is as soft as lace...

...and i don't love anyone.

soundtrack: itunes christmas radio

"'Whereof we cannot speak,' says the great philosopher Wittgenstein, 'we must be silent.' But it is also true that, whereof we cannot speak, we dream, or tell stories." Leonard Michaels said that in his essay "The Story of Jonah". It sticks with me; reciprocity. Tell me a story and I will tell you a story. Dream. I will dream with you.

"Events become meaningful as they become -- at some amazing turn -- stories, just as notes become meaningful, retrospectively, in a melody. The moral, like the melody, is open to interpretation." Food, like stories: reciprocity. Passed down through my family, our time. In retrospect, the repetition attains meaning. Eating is an agent of history.

"'One portion of being is the Prolific, the other, the Devouring,' said Blake, a great storyteller."

Yes, devouring.

"Modern stories are hardly ever retold," Michaels once said, also.

Here is a story worth repeating.

Smooth as Silk Pumpkin Pie (from Smitten Kitchen)

You Will Need:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt

To Make:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream mixture slowly, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Continue baking until edges are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. (The pie finishes cooking with resident heat; to ensure the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

details, details

It's the little things that matter -- life's pleasures reside, always, in the details. Cinnamon-scented pancakes, yellow flowers, sunlight on wood floors in the afternoon, somebody holds you. When I was 12 years old I had a writing teacher who came to my house every week. What I recall now is the carpet (dusty blue), the way her lip gloss gathered in the peaks of her upper lip, the unconscious gesture of her right hand, hovering mild and pale around her throat, while she read. She passed away when I was 17 from a long-term genetic illness that I never knew she had. It's been years since then, and those are the things I remember.

A poem she wrote is hanging from my wall. In it she says, "Apres moi the void. Before moi, too. Right now yellow tulips."

Turmeric-Roasted Chickpeas

You Will Need:

1 can of garbonzo beans
turmeric, salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsb olive oil

To Make:

Place the olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Once the liquid is hot, dump in the chickpeas. They should snap and crackle immediately. Give the pan a few shakes to roll the chickpeas in the oil, making sure they are thoroughly coated. Add salt, pepper and turmeric to taste. The chickpeas should turn a nice, rusty color. Cook until golden brown and slightly cracked -- five to eight minutes.

Remove from heat and serve over whatever you like. I ate mine with stewed grain/onion over tortillas (what can i say, it's been a "leftovers" kind of week.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

in watermelon sugar ... cake

*photo credit, slang editorial

I've been out of town with some friends, but absence makes the heart grow fonder -- and I have missed my kitchen dearly.

A great person once told me that inspiration is born from desperation. Actually, that person might have been Bill Watterson, but I still think he's pretty great, right? Anyway, in consideration of the sentiment, I'd like to add that (on occasion) love can also serve as great source of inspiration. Not my own -- that's gross -- but that of my best pals Siri and Alex. These are the facts: Alex, being a member of previously linked band, has been gone. Siri has missed him. Alex loves watermelons. Siri wants to surprise Alex on his return home with something nice, delicious, and brightly colored.

Thus we have: "In Watermelon Sugar ... The Cake." TA-DA! Probably the most colorful piece of food that I've ever contributed to. Getting the right shade of red was a little tricky, so I'm including this excellent reference for making rainbow cakes -- it will help you maintain a good pigment to flavor ratio.

Funnily enough, the general internet consensus seems to be that recipes like this are best made from boxed ingredients. I feel slightly less bad now about posting something that calls for five out of five pre-packaged ingredients and calling it a "recipe."

In Watermelon Sugar Cake

You Will Need:
basic white cake (store-bought or made from scratch)
red and green decorating gel (betty crocker makes an excellent one)
1 jar of raspberry jam
1 bag chocolate chips
(it's that easy)
Dark green frosting (store-bought or make your own)

To Make:

Prepare the cake mix according to instructions, then stir in chocolate chips to preference. It's good to make sure there's enough that they show up in the batter, but not so many that they overwhelm the flavor and natural texture of the cake. Pour the batter into two, greased 9" round cake pans. Bake and set out to cool. Once the cakes are about room temperature, gently remove them from the cake pans. Slice the rounded top off one of the cakes and slather the surface with raspberry jam. Set the the other cake on top of the exposed/jam-covered surface, and place in fridge until raspberry jam sets (about 20 minutes).

Remove double-layered cake from fridge. Cover in one layer of dark green frosting, then return to fridge. This is known as the "crumb layer" -- and it doesn't matter if it looks messy. This exists just to "hold" the crumbs that will flake off the top of the cake while spreading frosting, allowing you to have an even and beautiful outermost layer. Once the crumb layer has set, spread another layer -- making sure to use even, steady strokes.

Slice open and serve. Oooh and aaah! You've just made Watermelon Cake!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

reality bites: a mail-order snackfood company

i've just launched a project on for Reality Bites, my very own mail-order snack food company. limited-edition release 001: the handmade-to-order Fig Bar, a fig&walnut stuffed cookie delight. i know you THOUGHT i couldn't take my obsessive-level love for fig bars any further, but you were wrong!!

:) <-- yep, i'm so pleased that i went and made a smiley face. aaaah!

check out my project here. the possibility of homemade treats awaits!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

never enough pretzels

Awhile ago I made pretzels. Then...I made them again.

And don't forget the soundtrack:

Friday, November 13, 2009

All Tied Up in Knots

What's cool about cooking is that you can make-up entire recipes on a whim just because you feel like eating all of your favorite ingredients in one dish. Or -- as is the case with stuffed pretzels -- in one bite. In no small part inspired by the opening of the East Village pretzel shop Sigmund (apparently, not worth it, though, thanks for the forewarning Alex), these tiny pretzel bites are great because the recipe warns you "cheese may ooze" during the baking process. Uhhh.... yes please.

Cheddar and Green Apple Pretzel Bites (adapted from Gourmet)

You Will Need:

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110–115ºF)
1 cup warm milk (110–115ºF)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped Granny Smith green apple, divided
1/3 cup finely chopped sharp Cheddar, divided
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda

To Make:

Stir together yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.) In a separate bowl, stir remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.
Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line two 4-sided sheet pans with parchment paper.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently press one fourth of apples and cheese into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to a sheet pan. Make 3 more ropes with remaining dough, ham, and cheese and cut into pieces, transferring to sheet pans. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly).

Bring water (6 cups) to a boil in a 4- to 5-qt saucepan. Reduce heat and stir in baking soda. Cook pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to sheet pans.
Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes (cheese may ooze slightly).

Brush warm pretzel bites with butter and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with jalapeño mustard for dipping.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

absolute favorites: 1:41 pm Thursday afternoon edition

The new Milk Made flavor: Double Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie. Described as "fair trade dark chocolate ice cream with chocolate shavings and underbaked peanut butter cookie." Use of the phrase "underbaked" in this context makes my knees tremble.

Vegan chili with grilled tofu hunks from Brooklyn Label. I could care less about my meat and dairy content, but this is a.) served in a huge coffee mug (I've previously discussed my love for this) and b.) totally effin' delicious.

Sigh! Fall....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

boozie pie, or: Siri gets us drunk on Ben's Chest

"You have pie on your face," Siri says when I tell her that I Iove her pie. Of course I have pie on my face. I'm drunk. The pie is full of bourbon. But you'd be a fool to turn down a piece of pie from Siri. Even one booby-trapped with hard liquor, three eggs, and a bath of heavy cream. Siri makes the best pie I've ever had in the history of the world. Not just because she a.) serves it immediately following an impeccably prepared dinner of goat-cheese-squash-lasagna with salad b.) makes the crust from scratch and c.) whips the cream while the pie is still cooling, but because she somehow infuses everything she makes with that special feeling of "home-ness" which makes home-cooking so ... well ... exactly what it sounds like.

FYI, Epicurious has provided me with the following pertinent information on this particular recipe: "Pumpkin pies have long been favored in New England; there is a recipe for a "pompkin" pie in Amelia Simmons's 1796 American Cookery. New England colonists, in spite of their puritanical reputation, were known to enjoy a tot of rum now and then. And if the liquor was hidden in a pie, even the ladies were able to indulge."

1796, eh? Old chum! Here's one for the ladies. And Happy Halloween!

(Dinner, pre-pie)

Siri's Pompkin Boozie-Pie c/o Epicurious

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
print a shopping list for this recipe

To Make:

Mix flour and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add ice water 1 tablespoonful at a time and process until moist clumps form. Gather into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer pastry to 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold edge under and crimp. Pierce pastry all over with fork. Freeze pastry 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake crust until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.


Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Whisk in all remaining ingredients. Pour filling into crust.

Bake pie 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake until filling no longer moves in center when dish is shaken, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)