Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whole Wheat Strawberry Basil Muffins



These are good. These are serve to two college friends you haven't seen in a very long time good. Last weekend, on Saturday I was busy the entire day prepping for a 12 hour photo/video shoot on Monday. Sunday guests were coming. Oh dear.


The night before I had no clue of what I could serve and hadn't done any shopping. I reluctantly settled on a cop out bagel and cream cheese run, planning to make some eggs as well. 

Long time friends deserve something better. When I woke up, after having done most of the prep for the job, my mind was clearer. Strawberry and basil flavors came dancing into my head. I knew I had frozen strawberries and plenty of basil in the herb garden.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Macaron Mondays: French Four Spice Macarons with Apricot Preserve Filling


Ohh La la are these spicy!  Every year at Passover I make my own French Four Spice because it's an ingredient in a spiced parsnip cake I like to make for our Seder dinner. 

Random shot of my Passover table.
White pepper, nutmeg, ginger and cloves all mixed together are a beautiful thing. The blend is easy to make and adds great flavor. 


A baggie of this  lovely spice mix leftover from this year’s Passover Dinner magically fell out of a cabinet last weekend. I attribute the supernatural to this event because at the time I was rifling through my kitchen looking for something fun to flavor French macarons. This was during my previously mentioned six batch French Macaron making marathon.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sunken Sour Cherry Cake


This German specialty cake (versunkener saurkirschkuchen) was created as one of my post for my new role as the German Food Expert over at about.com.


I was flattered and excited when they asked me to join as a contributor, and admittedly, a bit nervous. Good nervous. Although I know a great deal more than the average American about German food, having lived in Germany for umpteen years, the word "expert" had no culinary training me a bit on edge.


However, these past weeks I have been revisiting my mother in law's fantastic recipes, my own favorite German foods and diving into my collection of vintage German cookbooks. It's been wonderful and fun speaking a whole other culinary language and makes me miss Germany so. Once again, I realize what a wonderful, rich experience being an expat is. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Orange Thyme Sorbet


I've always been attracted to the weird and different. Consequently, at  Farmers Markets, I'm the person who gravitates to all the strange and exotic looking produce. So when choosing herbs for my deck, why would I go all garden variety all of a sudden?


Lemon verbena, spearmint, apple mint, orange mint, pineapple mint, lemon thyme, purple basil, box basil, lemon basil, curry, variegated sage, pineapple sage are some of the weirdo herbs that live harmoniously side by side on my NYC terrace.  


Monday, July 21, 2014

Macaron Monday: Caramel Vanilla Macarons with Biscoff Filling


It's embarrassing to admit this but I found a half empty jar of Biscoff creamy spread while I was looking for something else in my kitchen cabinets. I mean who leaves a half empty jar of amazing goodness and forgets about it?  


To make up for it, I filled these delicious French macaron shells with the creamy goodness that is Biscoff.  I may or may not have finished the rest with  spoon.


I hoard these flavor sugar packets from Germany. These needed to be used up before expiring and they definitely got sacrificed for a good cause. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Homemade Honeysuckle Marshmallows


My entire relationship with corn syrup has changed. Earthshaking, people. 


When previously making marshmallows I've followed instructions to the letter. The only ingredients I ever switched out were the easy ones, flavor and color.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lemon Verbena Buttermilk Scones


Aaand the herb harvest continues this week with these lovely scones. Right about now everything is growing like crazy in the garden. I don't know why I get so much pleasure out of using fresh herbs in baking. Maybe it's because I find endless inspiration and flavor options right outside my door.


Back in the reality of my kitchen there is always what seems to be the endless problem of using up buttermilk. I had bought some to create chocolate mini cupcakes with rainbow frosting for a local Gay Pride event and there I was, stuck with half a jug.


I admit scones are a copout sometimes because they are so easy to throw together. In this recipe the buttermilk adds especially good flavor. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tarragon French Macarons with Chocolate Buttercream Filling


So of course I waited until the most humid day so far in PA to go on a French Macaron making marathon. Humidity and making macarons do not mix but I had way too many Cinderella egg whites in the fridge that needed to go to the ball.



So I cranked out six, yes six different flavored batches this past sticky Sunday. As a result, there is no consistency in feet size. I got everything from fat to flat and quelle horreur! some of them had little evil peaks on their heads. Oh well.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Sugarless in Brooklyn: Artist Kara Walker's Farewell to the Domino Sugar Factory


A few weeks ago I had the privilege of a private tour of Kara Walker's Subtlety exhibit at the soon to be knocked down Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. 



The exhibit ended this past weekend. The building will be replaced with a waterfront park.
I will especially miss the nostalgic view of the factory when crossing the Williamsburg bridge.



Since it's premiere in May over 130,000 people have viewed these sculptures, three of which were Beyonce, Jay-Z and little Blue Ivy. Domino donated 80 tons of sugar. About half was used for the creation of these glorious sculptures fashioned as a tribute to generations of sugar workers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lavender Glazed Mini Eclairs with Lemon Pastry Cream Filling


Sixty of these mini eclairs were created and donated recently to a worthy cause in our local PA community. Last year I gave French macarons and mini red velvet cupcakes to the same organization. This year the theme was specifically French and although I toyed with the idea of sending macarons again, in the end I decided to do something a little different.


Every time I make choux pastry I am always surprised with how easy it is to create and then how making eclairs impresses whomever is the recipient. A dessert that looks complicated but is super east to create with endless flavor combination options.


I chose flavors I thought perfect for a benefit summer garden party. The delicious lemon pastry cream was just the right filling for these little beauties.