Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade Herb Sugars August's Funny Food Blogger Posts

I have what is called a sink or swim garden. In NYC potted herbs and heirloom tomatoes grow on our terrace and a larger, in-ground version is out in the country.

The NYC plants are left to fend for themselves on weekends and the same for the garden in the country during the week.

Planting my herb garden in May

Sink or swim.

Even though I was diligent about watering, feeding and using an organic soap mixture to ward off insects, I was up against record heat waves and often found myself repeatedly bringing wilting plants back to life. 

The same herb garden today

Much to my surprise and my brown thumb, everything has pretty much flourished, especially the herbs at the country house. We now have an abundance of sage, different varieties of mint, tarragon, oregano, basil, dill, and rosemary. Weekend guests are almost always sent home with an assortment.

Ok, not everything worked. My squash and white eggplants were decimated by vermin.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Heart Shaped Rose Petal French Crullers and a Giveaway

When I made scrumptious Vanilla Bean Doughnuts with Root Beer Glaze awhile back, I had definitely cleared a hurdle. So proud to have actually made doughnuts, the fact they tasted amazing was a super bonus.

Admittedly it took a few tries to get my doughnut confidence on. If I had had Dede Wilson's  wonderful, comprehensive A Baker's Field Guide to Doughnuts by my side, things would probably have gone much smoother in the kitchen.

The book is perfect for a recipe fiddler like me. After detailed explanations of proper ingredients and equipment, Dede provides lots of tips and tricks to making your own doughnut magic. The first section of the book, "Master Recipes", includes several basic doughnut, glaze, frosting and filling recipes that can be customized to your liking. Then she kicks it up a notch in the "Field Guide" section with recipes like Nutella Doughnuts with Gianduja Ganache and Honey Cream–Filled Doughnuts with Milk and Honey Glaze providing further inspiration.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Mom's Magical Pink Apple Sauce

My mother has been into organic food pretty much her whole adult life. I remember shopping in natural food stores with her when I was a kid.  She was a voracious label reader and always said "I'm not buying it if the ingredients are as long as the Declaration of Independence."  Way back in the 60's she didn't like what she read on baby food jars so she made ours, putting fresh ingredients into a blender.

Consequently, we didn't have a whole lot of sweets in our house growing up. Cookies and ice cream only made an appearance if they were homemade with fresh ingredients. Chip and soda were only for birthdays.  McDonald's visits were maybe once a year.

This sweet delicious apple sauce was a big favorite at home. My mother was a single working mom so there was not a whole lot of time for cooking. When she did have some stolen moments in the kitchen, her creativity shone. Mom's version uses different varieties of apples in varying degrees of sweet and tart. She also adds one pear and cooks everything in apple juice instead of water.  Leaving the peels on make this a quick and easy version.

This recipe uses zero sugar. You won't believe how sweet it is and the color is so pretty. When I was a kid I thought of this as my mother's magical pink applesauce.  After making it myself for the first time, I still do.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wasabi Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache Filling

There was only one thing to do when I discovered wasabi powder.

Adding them to macaron shells was a no brainer.

Filling the shells with sweet white chocolate ganache to smooth out the sharp flavor was also good move.  An unusual, flavorful macaron. Love.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tiger Lily Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting

I admit these were a bit of a failed fondant flower experiment. I had some leftover orange colored fondant and was briefly in love with the idea of making tiger lilies.

To round out the tiger theme, I made chocolate/vanilla tiger striped cupcakes to go under the orange flower blobs.

I think they look like demented crabs. They can join the demented goat lamb and demented pink bunny baked good club.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pineapple Vanilla Ice Cream

When we moved to NYC from Germany a year ago I only packed four suitcases worth of belongings to bring. Bernhard was coming from Iraq and bringing a few more. We moved  to a furnished apartment. Because I didn't pack up our whole household,  I found myself in a flurry of creating as many posts as I could. They came in handy as we were settling in to our new city.

Recently I had a pleasant surprise. I was scrolling back in my drafted posts and found this ice cream I had overlooked.

I must admit I get a sense of longing when I see my table in Germany in these pictures. Dr. B and I have been experiencing bouts of homesickness recently. Him for his homeland. Me for my adopted country

The pineapple shaped wooden bowls were purchased on a trip to Hawaii. And yes, I kept the cheesy fake hibiscus flower it came with. The ice cream (according to my newly found notes in the draft) tasted smooth and sweet with a bit of tang.

Here's to finding misplaced posts and great summer ice cream flavors.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Moccasins Cake

A quirky little museum in our town held a baking contest this past weekend. Entrants were asked to submit a baked good inspired by an exhibit. This museum is most famous for housing the bloodstained flag that was used to cradle President Abraham Lincoln's head after he was shot. 

Some locals were actually in the production of Our American Cousins that fateful evening at the Ford's Theater. One of them ripped down one of the flags adorning the theater and put it under the injured president's head. The flag was kept and passed down in the family from generation to generation until it was donated to the museum.

I took a tour a few weeks ago to find some inspiration and was determined to stay away from the Lincoln's flag theme because it was too obvious. My first ideas were to recreate these theatrical golden boots.

Or to make cupcakes with these civil defense helmets as toppers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lemon Sumac Buttermilk Quick Bread

No matter how hard I try to use it up when I buy buttermilk for a recipe, I always have some leftover. The last carton was used for a double batch of cupcakes, then another cake, now this bread.

The whole reason I made this quick bread was another attempt to use up the rest of the buttermilk and I still have some leftover. It's a magical bottomless quart.

Sumac is one of my favorite spices. I use it every chance I get, including in salad dressing or just sprinkled on salad.

The combination of lemon, sumac, which also has a slightly lemony flavor and this buttermilk quick bread was perfect. I doubled down and added lemon zest and sumac to the glaze. Flavorful and so easy, I will definitely be making this again.

I am linking this post up with the Twelve Loaves Challenge, a new monthly challenge created by four fabulous food bloggers out there: The other L-o-r-a of Cake Duchess, my macaron mentor Jamie from Life's a Feast, Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and Barbara of Creative Culinary

This month's challenge was to create a bread with summer fruit. You can find the rules here or click the badge above. There is still time to bake along. The deadline is August 31st. Link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of Lora, Lisa or Jamie’s blog. I can't wait to see what these creative ladies come up with next month!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mini Chocolate Macarons with Avocado Chocolate Chip Filling

Trying to get used to my new oven in Pennsylvania is well, trying. The first large batch of these chocolate shells were a disaster. They developed flat feet and then spontaneously combusted. The ones on the ends of the baking sheet did anyway. Burned beyond recognition. I congratulated myself because I had not had such a spectacular macaron failure in quite some time.

Once I figured out the less hot part of the oven, the next round went better. Then there was the consequent issue of where exactly in the house to photograph them. Still learning where the best light is.

No one who has a country house has a right to complain about anything. Seriously. So I'll just move on to one of my favorite subjects...avocados.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Llama Cupcakes for Llama Day

There is an amazing person who lives in our little town in Pennsylvania. We call him the Llama Whisperer. He lives on a gorgeous farm with over 60 Llamas.

Torque & Me / Photo By Alan Kaplan

Although I am fortunate to be friends with said Llama Whisperer and can visit the farm pretty much on a whim, once a year this generous person opens up his property to the public for Open Barn Day.