Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Gold Glitter Cookies & December's Funny Food Blogger Posts

Here are some cookies, (not very original I might add) that are accompanying me to a big New Year's Eve bash.  For the cookie itself I used the tried and true sugar cookie recipe from Bake at 350 as well as her royal icing recipe. I sprayed them with gold color mist and then disco dusted them.

For 2013 I wish everyone health, happiness and most of all, laughter.  Speaking of which, here are the food bloggers whose posts made me laugh and smile this past month.

The Bearfoot Baker's Chocolate Moose

I Sugar Coat it's Lemon Nutmeg Cookies & Sweet Greetings

Cake Wreck's Torte Reform

G Bakes! Ikea Monkey Gets a Cake

The Amateur Gourmet's Nagging Latkes

Endless Simmer's Stick with Beer

Lentil Breakdown's The DIY Fruitcake Kit


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Exploded Gingerbread Meth Lab for Citizen Brooklyn Magazine

Photo By Icarus Blake

One of my jobs working at a small digital creative agency is acting as Managing Editor of Citizen Brooklyn, an edgy, crazy, cool, visual online magazine focused on music, fashion and art.  We also have a food section but we strive to make it as untraditional as possible, having musicians sing their restaurant reviews for starters. You can check out the EAT sections to see what I mean. I honestly don't know how we do it but we manage to squeeze out a new cover every two weeks without compromising service to our other (paying) clients. Sometimes we're producing 5 or more photo shoots a week just to cover our clients and our magazine. Definitely a labor of love.

We all love working on CBK. It it staffed mostly by very talented young people in their 20's and the flavor reminds me a bit of the 80's punk rock scene in NYC. Back then the action was centered on St. Marks Place which is where we have our office. For Thanksgiving we blew up a turkey and kicked it into the East River because that's how we roll at CBK. It's been great to see how the magazine has grown over the last months in style, substance and readership.

Photo By Icarus Blake

So for this latest holiday issue, it was a no brainer that we had to make a gingerbread house our way and a gingerbread exploded meth lab was born.

Since I am the resident baker in the office (aren't you all that person too?) I volunteered to make it along with one of our outside contributors, Shay Neary

Poor Shay. Every time she gets a phone call from me it goes something like this: "Hi would you like to enter a dumpling eating contest for us?" or "Can you explode a turkey for us with fireworks?" (her uncle owned a fireworks store in PA) or "Will you cover a women's roller derby tournament?"

At least we're never boring.

Photo By Icarus Blake

Friday, December 21, 2012

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Basel Switzerland

Here's the last (for this year) in the series of my three country Christmas Market Visits from a few years ago. From our place in Germany, it's only a few hours rie on the train to beautiful Basel.

Christmas Market Roundup: Basel, Switzerland

Protected by the city's symbol of a dragon or basilisk, Basel has the warmest climate in Switzerland as well as a unique location in Europe bordering both France and Germany. My basilisk room key:

Basel boasts the largest and most traditional Christmas market in Switzerland. It also has the longest Christmas street in Europe.

A lovely and elegant city, Basel is very easy to get around. The friendly locals speak French, German and English.

I started my tour by walking over the Mittlere Brücke, where the very first bridge over the Rhine was built in 1226. This current bridge replaced the old one in 1905 with the advent of the electric tram. I walked on to the beautiful city hall, a Renaissance palace where a food market was in full swing.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Strasbourg France

As promised I am back with another past Christmas market stop on my big three country tour from a few years ago. This time enjoy a little visit at the most famous Christmas market in France and a glimpse at a few additional points of interest in this beautiful city.

Christmas Market Round up  - Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is a city I have wanted to visit since I moved to Europe years ago. I definitely picked the right time as Strasbourg is the self proclaimed Capital of Christmas in France and the city was twinkling with lights and decorations. There are several Christmas Markets throughout the city, many have different Themes.

The river Ill runs through medieval Strasbourg. The Grande Ile, the historic center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Alsatian city ping ponged between German and French ownership for centuries so both languages are spoken here. Some street signs have French and German names.

Although it is a beautiful old city, Strasbourg is also home to the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights making it a progressive one as well.

It was next to impossible to find a hotel here at this time of year. I lucked out and was able to rent a lovely apartment dead center in the city, about a 1 minute walk from the cathedral. The flat was located between two of the biggest Christmas markets at place de la Cathedral and at place Broglie on the chicest shopping street in Strasbourg.

The first market I visited was at the spectacular Gothic pink sandstone cathedral which stretched from the place de la Cathedral to the place du Château where a skating rink was set up. The place de la Cathedral is where the first Christmas market in Strasbourg took place in 1570.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Munich, Germany

A few years ago Bernhard could not come home  from Iraq for Christmas. I decided to distract myself with taking a Christmas Market tour not only in Germany, but in Switzerland and France as well. I wrote all about the 40 plus markets  I visited in eight cities on another expat blog I wrote then. In looking back over these posts recently, I fell in love with the magic of European Christmas Markets all over again and decided to share a few of them with you. 

the first up is Munich, Germany. there are so many lovely different themed Christmas markets in this wonderful city. I visited most of them in this post.

Christmas Market Roundup - Munich, Germany

There is so much I could write about this wonderful city. München is the city of my heart. It's where I made my dream of living in Europe come true. It's where my husband and I fell in love. It's where I met lifelong friends. I spent happy years living and working here, loving my job and my colleagues. I have never felt so at home in a city as I do in elegant Munich and it seems every time I return, I am always rediscovering it's beauty.

The lifestyle in Munich is unparalleled. It's place where you can surf in the Isar. Jump in your car, motorcycle or hop a train and in less than an hour you are in the splendor of the alps. The museums are incredible. Munich has the fourth leading art gallery in the world. It's the home of the Blue Rider school and the Lenbach house houses these incredible paintings. Besides all the wonderful art museums, you could spend a week just visiting the palaces and royal Bavarian jewels or tracing WW II history. The Englisher Garten is a wonder and bigger than Central Park. It's home to the world famous Oktoberfest and there is no better place to spend an afternoon in the summer than in one of Munich's biergartens. I could go on and on..

Christmas time here is especially magical. There are Christmas markets all over town Walking between them feels like one big festive event. I didn't get to all of them in the short 4 days I was there this trip but made an effort to visit some markets I have never seen before.

The Lufthansa terminal at Munich Airport is flat out gorgeous. Sparkling clean with lovely stores and conveniences, it almost makes flying a pleasurable experience. A lovely Christmas market is set up (with a skating rink!) for new arrivals or travelers who are killing time between planes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

German Christmas Treats

I am in Miami at Art Basel. There are few traces of holiday cheer here only the insane hype circus that surrounds this type of event. One of my oldest and dearest friends is on business here this week and invited me to come along for a wild ride. In between the insanity we have been having girlfriend fun but for the most part, aside from walking the show, it's been a  non-stop party train populated by celebrities, musicians, artists, art dealers and creatives types from every stratosphere.

We haven't been able to return to our suite at the Mondrian before 3AM every night since we got here. I've met so many fun and interesting people, the food and fun have been fabulous but Ima gonna need a vacation once back in NYC.

Deconstructed Key Lime Pie in South Beach

Last week I saw an article in Saveur magazine about Christmas in Bavaria and almost cried.   Germany is such a magical place at Christmas and this half Jewish girl loved every minute of that festive time over the 10 years I lived there. Even though NYC has it's own, albeit much more commercial brand of holiday magic, I really will miss Christmas in Germany this year.  So while I am pool side at the Delano (don't hate me) drowning my sorrows in Grey Goose, there is no time for baking, only people watching and networking. In order not to completely abandon holiday blogging,  I'm sharing with you some wonderful and delicious German themed treats of Christmas posts past.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thanksgiving Cookie Platter & November's Funny Blogger Posts

Really? A Thanksgiving cookie post? How lame am I? Don't answer any of those questions. The month whizzed by with less and less time for blogging. It didn't help I cooked a Thanksgiving feast for 10 people and hosted it in our cozy East Village apartment. It was crazy but I loved it and would do it over again in a heartbeat. Some of our guests were my husband's colleagues from the UN and their spouses who had never experienced an American Thanksgiving before so the pressure was on!

Every year at Thanksgiving I use mostly other bloggers recipes for my menu. Once again I was too busing pulling off the mal to take proper pictures. So in case you are not totally over Thanksgiving recipe gawking/menu porn I've listed what I served below with links to the original recipes.

In addition to four other desserts., I made this cookie platter. I like to make big cookie platters for big holiday meals because it's nice to send everyone home with a cookie assortment. The macaron flavors were  sparkly gold shells with persimmon buttercream and chocolate macarons with chocolate espresso ganache filling.

Also included were candied pecan biscotti  (peeping out from the back of the platter) and pumpkin pie spice rollout leaf shaped cookies with royal icing spattered with gold. For the decoration I used a technique from Sweet Sugarbelle.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tiger Cake with Peppermint Glaze for Cook Red to Remember

December 1st is World AIDS Day.

Back before I was blogging about baking. I was a food blog stalker. Admit it, many of us started that way.  At the time I was the author of expat blog that focused on my adventures living abroad and sometimes featuring my cooking. I found myself more and more fascinated by food blogs. One of my favorite at that time was Angela's Spinach Tiger. 

One day I read a post of hers calling bloggers to Cook Red to Remember.  Detailing the account of her brother's battle with AIDS, the piece was both moving and inspiring. Angela's gorgeous heartfelt writing left me in tears and I traveled back in time opening old wounds of my own.  The Cook Red to Remember challenge propelled me into the kitchen. 

I made these angel ribbon cookies, wrote a post on my own experiences during the heart of the AIDS epidemic and sent it to her. Like I said, I was not a food blogger at the time and I was and still am no great cookie decorator. The cookie design was inspired by Angels in America and executed with a Keith Haring style twist.  I believe Angels is one of the most beautiful plays ever written. I remembered sitting next to Yoko Ono in the Broadway production of part two on World AIDS Day in the early 90s, both of us sitting silent with tears streaming down our faces.  Anyway. I digress. When I sent my post to Angela it was one of the very first interactions I had with another blogger. I was insecure and sorta felt like the kid on the outside of the playground looking in.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Spice Macarons with Chocolate Ganache and Pumpkin Buttercream Filling

This is a cheater post because I made these macarons last year. They've languished in my drafts box all year waiting for an appropriate time (season) to share. Good thing, because I am still trying to catch up from my 8 days on the road ordeal from Sandy so not much baking going on lately.

Currently my brother and I are managing my mother's impending return to her house on a wrecked barrier island off of Long Island. Hard for an 83 year old but I am amazed at her toughness. It helps she has alway been a bit of a gypsy.

When I made these pumpkin pie spice macarons way back when I was trying out different options for filling. I used leftovers I had at hand. The chocolate ganache worked well for a fancier, more elegant version. The pumpkin buttercream version was straight up Thanksgiving dessert in a pretty macaron package.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Getting Sandy-ed & October's Funny Food Blogger Posts

Fence at my mom's house in a NY coastal town.

I got Sandy-ed in two states people.

I am fine and so are my loved ones but it was one hell of a ride last week and blogging just wasn't an option. Other people have it so much worse. So I am not complaining. I was only majorly inconveninced. That's all. After day 2 of the insanity I reluctantly said goodbye to all the cupcake liners, Halloween themed sprinkles, candy decorations, cookie cutters and that fabulous Wilton skull pan I got in an after Halloween sale at Michael's last year that I was waiting all year to use. I packed everything up, took a deep breath and focused on the tasks at hand.

House Around the corner from my mom

My 83 year old mother lives in a barrier island off of Long Island. On Thursday evening before the storm I went out and spent the night in order to take to her to an early dental appointment on Friday morning. Afterward, I drove her back home and after listening to the weather reports, spent the next hours putting everything in the front and back gardens of her house away in sheds and under the house I got most of it done in time to make a train back into the city to jump in the car with Dr. B to go out to the house in Pennsylvania for the weekend. Before I left, I pulled a suitcase out and told her to pack a go bag just in case.

National Guard cruising through  my hometown

On Saturday, the storm reports turned dire so Dr. B and I secured everything around the PA house. I bought $150 worth of groceries and supplies, prepped the guest room for my mother and roasted a ton of butternut squash to make puree to soup (no hurricane would stand in the way of my squash obsession.) Sunday morning at 7am-ish I took a NJ transit train to NY Penn station and then with 4 minutes to spare, ran to the other side of the station and hopped a Long Island Railroad train to my hometown.

Once there, I found my mother all packed and ready to go but I still had to finish securing the house. Finally, we wheeled the garbage cans into the living room, locked up the house, jumped into my brother's jeep he keeps there and had a smooth ride to PA. Good thing. A few hours later her town was under a mandatory evacuation.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Black Velvet Rose Cupcakes For Halloween

Here's some glam goth cupcake-ness for Halloween. As most bakers know, creative inspiration comes anywhere, anytime. 

Recently I was on  a veeery long cashier line at Michael's, spotted these roses and thought, "hmmm those would make pretty Halloween cupcakes." The upside of being stuck on a long line.

It's time for some pretty anyway. I have to make up for those disgusting severed tongue truffles of my last post. This cupcakes design is in the complete opposite direction.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Severed Tongue Truffles For Halloween

Here it is. My one really gross Halloween treat this year. I don't know where this idea came from and I don't want to think about which part of my brain this originated from because that would be just scary.

If you can bring yourself to make these, they are as simple to make as they are disgusting. Just whip up your favorite white chocolate truffle recipe using white almond bark instead of white chocolate. I used this recipe.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Butternut Squash Oatmeal Cookies

Lately I have been seen scooping up embarrassing amounts of butternut squash, roasting them and then making puree. Stockpiling it actually. Last week when I was standing at the grocery cashier, my arms full of large plump squash, the other people in line actually started commenting and asking me questions like, "Are you making soup for a party?" Me (staring at the floor): "Um, no. They're just for me." Look for me soon on that new reality series, Squash Hoarders.

I love oatmeal cookies any time of year but there is something about the fall and winter that makes them extra special and deserving of some of my precious puree.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Date Apricot Seed Spelt Scones #Twelve Loaves October

A few weeks ago when I was in Turkey I took a break from work to make a small side trip to Cappadocia. For those of you not familiar with this region it is a series of small towns known for its spectacular rock formation and cave dwellings.

We stopped for a brief wine tasting and went on to visit the Goreme cave city museum and then climbed the highest town, Uchisar.

Along the way I found a street vendor selling a gorgeous variety of delicious nuts and dried fruits and was most intrigued by the apricot kernels. In that area of the world, they look and taste almost like almonds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Star Anise Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

These were made last fall but never posted purely out of feet phobia. For French macarons, they are a bit on the funky frilly side and admittedly I was afraid of showing their feet in public.

However, sometimes doubtful posts sit in one's draft file long enough and they start to look good again. Especially when one (ahem, me) has not had the time to make the planned Halloween treat.

I do remember they tasted wonderful. The anise and chocolate flavors were smoothed out by the sweetness of the macaron. I brought them to a party and they were ohhed and ahhed over and consumed and complimented. So if they were worth sharing with party guests, they are worth sharing with you.