Saturday, March 8, 2014
Raise your hand if you're in the Northeast and are sick of winter and the endless snowstorms. I got just the thing for you today. These lovely sweet scones are perfect for the weekend and taste of spring.
I found some dried lavender while rummaging through my cabinet this morning and finally after these long months felt the need to step away from warm caramel flavors and make something with flowers.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
There comes a time when I'm snowbound and stir crazy (make that mixer crazy) when I have no no choice but to cave and make soft chewy comforting oatmeal cookies for absolutely no reason except for my own enjoyment. I know what will happen beforehand. I will eat way too much batter, get buzzed on sugar and then crash. But I didn't care. The itch needed to be scratched.
The only question remaining this past weekend is what I would add to the cookies. To alleviate my guilt a bit, I added flax seeds and dates instead of something more decadent like chocolate chips and candied ginger. Both of the latter were giving me the come hither look from the pantry but I stayed strong.
The result was a partially guilt free cookie. The flax seeds added crunch as well as nutrition and the soft Medjool date pieces were just as sweet as chocolate chips.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Sometimes I think I dream in caramel. Caramel favor, caramel colors. I can never get enough. Prefer it over chocolate any day.
When I am in a coffee mood, it's caramel syrup I turn to to give java that extra oomph. Kraft wrapped caramel squares were my favorite halloween treat as a kid. I would seriously horde them and then make caramel apples.
Consequently, any item in the market that has the word "caramel" in that catches my eye usually finds its way into my shopping cart. This caramel macchiato powder was no exception. When I purchased it, I knew it was destined for something greater than just mixing with hot water.
Friday, February 28, 2014
If you're looking for a super quick, easy and fun treat for your Oscar viewing party. I got you covered. Even better, in making these, I used up leftover cookie dough and red royal icing. Bonus. Where's my Oscar for Best use of Leftovers?
To make these, use your favorite flavor rollout cookie recipe (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, etc.), roll out and cut into strips.
After baking and cooling the cookie sticks completely, outline and flood with red royal icing and sprinkle with red sugar glitter.
Let dry 24 hours and you're done. Watch people smile when you serve them at an Oscar party.
So let's dish about the Oscars a bit. Despite the Woody alleged abuse drama, I think Cate Blanchett is a lock for Best Actress even though Dame Dench was phenomenal in Philomena. As fabulous as she is, I would gladly give Amy Adams an Oscar if I never had to see her cleavage again but I have to say all four performances (Christian Bale -omg) in American Hustle were superb.
This letter that was passed around on Facebook made me think twice about going to see Wolf of Wall Street so I never did. Dallas Buyer's Club I will eventually get to. It's a painful topic for me. Saw Gravity in 3D and couldn't imagine not. It will no doubt win lots of technical awards. Frau Bullock did an excellent job under very tough conditions. However, I thought George Clooney's performance was cartoonish. After seeing Monuments Men, I'm starting to think he's resorting to "phoning in the George" just like Jack Nicholson sometimes "phones in the jack".
Tom Hanks definitely got overlooked with Captain Phillips, a fine film with great performances even with the controversy surrounding it. Barkhad Abdi gave a thrilling performance. Nebraska came and went too fast before I knew it.
Kicking myself I still haven't seen 12 Years as a Slave. All I know is that Lupita Nyong'o deserves an award for her flawless classy performance on the red carpet this awards season. Simply stunning. Every. Time.
On the foreign front, The Hunt was a great movie but I think the Italians might have it in the bag for The Great Beauty.
Hard to pick from the docs. Many of them were riveting. The Square and Dirty Wars especially. The Act of Killing was a completely surreal and chilling experience. Still disappointed Blackfish was not in the mix.
So all will be revealed on Sunday. Enjoy the show and for your further entertainment, here are the food blog posts that I especially enjoyed this past month:
Lentil Breakdown's Raw Snap Pea, Kumquat, and Almond Salad
Honest Cooking's Musical Food
Cake Wreck's Dueling Disasters
Leite's Culineria's Best Food Scenes in Movies
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Let's take care of the big mystery first: What the hell is a Minneola? I had the same question when I saw them in the market. Whaaaa? Turns out, they are a tangelo, a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. Filled with sweet, tart juice, these babies are nicknamed "Honey Bell" because of their shape.
So two were sitting in my fridge for awhile before I had the idea of turning them into a cheesecake. Glad I did. This creamy dessert turned out to taste like a giant almond creamsicle.
I wanted this cheesecake to be epic and knew I needed to adapt a good recipe from an expert. After searching awhile I settled on this Lemon Cheesecake Recipe from one of the most mouth watering blogs out there, Creative Culinary. Barbara claims this came from a Junior League recipe cookbook. Whatever. All I know is the recipe is major league in taste and it ain't no Junior's cheesecake. No offense meant to the legendary Junior's.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Today I am showing off more cashew meal love with these lovely flavored French macarons. As I said previously, using cashew flour when making French macarons gives them a whole other taste dimension.
For the shells, I went for cardamom spice to balance the sweet nutty cashew flavor. Cardamom turned out to be macaron shells' best friend.
Never thought I would say this but I am longing for the spring day this year I can start planting my herb garden. I am a recently converted gardener and spend some of these long snowy weekends flipping through seed catalog porn. My lavender did very well this year and I eagerly anticipate it's return and will add a few more plants. Instead of solely harvesting the dried buds I want to try making extract. Overly ambitious? Probably.
Using lavender in buttercream has proven to be one of my favorite macaron filling flavors. It's elegant enough to use for wedding celebrations and when paired with a more earthy spice like cardamom, it brightens the flavor and balances the warmth.
Friday, February 21, 2014
The next stop on the allspice train is this delicious ice cream. I tempered the spicy flavor of the custard by using more mellow milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet.
We were supposed to be in the Bahamas this past week for a Valentine's Caribbean dive getaway, but the latest snowstorm resulted in cancelled flights, hours of trying to rebook everything that can to nothing in the end.
So I found myself spending the evening before our trip with martini in hand (instead of a celebratory Sundowner) sadly gazing at my packed dive gear. Oh well. First world problems.
I consoled myself with this lovely ice cream which may or may have not been a perfect complement to the martini.
This ice cream is a wonderful combination of deep spice dotted with bursts of soft chocolate flavor. Admittedly, a perfect winter treat but not a replacement for a dive vacation.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
These are now a delectable addition to my scone recipe collection. The event was a girls brunch a few weekends ago at out PA house. I made a galette as the main attraction and these as a sweet addition.
It was too late when I realized the quart of cream was back in NYC and not in PA. I had already mixed the dry ingredients together and had integrated the butter. So I used what I had on hand which was 1% milk. It worked perfectly and the scones weren't compromised in either taste or texture.
I have been making a lot of raw cookies with dates lately so there were plenty on hand and the perfect complement to the raw almonds also chopped up and thrown in the batter.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Throughout the five years I lived in LA in the 90's I was a Trader Joe's addict. By far, TJ's was the most fun food shopping experience. Their tasty goods, unique products and organic selection kept me coming back for more and the prices were always great. It's one of the stores I missed most during the 10 years I lived in Germany.
Since then, several Trader Joe's locations have opened in the NYC area. The checkout lines are always horrendous, snaking though the aisles making it almost impossible to shop let alone get a cart through. They do their best to get everyone checked out quickly but compared to the Stores in LA, where you could stage a freaking Broadway musical in the aisles, that's how big they were, NYC stores need much bigger spaces. Every time we have weather terror here on the East Coast, pictures abound in the media of lines of people extending out the front door and down the street of Trader Joe's.
Stupid weather terror aside, if I'm going be snowbound or hunkered down for a hurricane, there's nowhere else I prefer to get provisions from. Just saying.
These macs are a marriage of two of my favorite Trader Joe's products, cashew meal, a product I couldn't wait to try making French Macarons with and this lovely fig butter I bought for the holidays but barely used.
Friday, February 14, 2014
So here's what I decided to do with that red velvet fondant I created two weeks ago. Sparkly lip cookies of course! I've created lip shaped marshmallows and meringues for past Valentine's Day posts. It was time to create a cookie.
To start, I played recipe roulette with the internet for rollout cookie inspiration and settled on a chocolate mocha flavor. Specifically, this one from the Whole Foods Market website. The dough is very crumbly and hard to work with but it produces a flavorful cookie. You can use your favorite rollout cookie recipe.
I cut out the lip shapes out of both the cookie dough and red velvet fondant. When the cookies were cooled, I adhered the fondant lip shapes to the cookies with some leftover royal icing.