Sunday, September 30, 2012

Martha, Lidia and September's Funny Food Blogger Posts

Last week my friend Debbie invited me to a Women in Culinary Leadership dinner, a James Beard event at Vermillion, a restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Aside from Martha and Lidia, the panel also included the gorgeous and brillant Rohini Day, owner of Vermillion, Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation and Dorothy Hamilton, Founder and CEO of the International Culinary Center. Excellent moderation was provided by  Martha Teichner from CBS  News. 

I arrived right behind Martha (who looked fabulous) and quickly found Debbie who was interviewing Lidia). Sitting at the press table, I was sandwiched in between Debbie who is a bit of a rock star herself, after 10 years as a producer on The Early Show, and the gorgeous and adorable Evette Rios from The Chew. We had a fun corner.

The discussion was interesting. Martha was, well Martha. An admirable and formidable business woman and just when I started thinking once again she has zero personality, she comes out with a dry zinger. Lidia on the the other hand, was so warm and engaging you just wanted to hug her. I resisted the urge when Debbie introduced me to her earlier in the evening. I only shook her hand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Turkish Embroidered Boots Spicy Cookies - A Guest Post

Today I am guest posting for Laura over at Craftstorming!

I created these cookies as part of her Sew Yummy SeriesThe task was to create a baked good inspired by something sewn or vice versa to sew something inspired by baking or bake something inspired by sewing.

I am in Turkey on a business trip. These boots and the spices used in the cookies are all Turkish inspired from my last trip there.

So hop on over to craftstorming to read the cookie boot post!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cinnamon Macarons with Date Balsamic Vinegar Mascarpone Filling

These macarons were made last summer back in Germany. I had purchased this bottle of balsamic date vinegar at the medieval fair at our local castle.

I use buttercream fillings so often in my macarons I was looking to branch out. Enter mascarpone.

Although the texture was more on the gooey side, (these definitely have to be kept in the fridge) the flavor combination worked so well together, I ened up making several batches.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cheddar Oregano Spelt Spiral Rolls

This month's 12 loaves challenge was to make a bread incorporating cheese. Feeling the pressure (self-induced) to use up as many of the herbs in my garden before they depart for the year, I keep stuffing them into any cooked or baked dish I can. Last Sunday evening at the Pennsylvania house I grabbed a handful of fresh oregano before we drove back to NYC with plans to use it somehow this week in a baked good.

Savory spiral rolls came to mind because of the flexibility of creating fillings. I spotted some leftover shredded cheddar from a bout of Nachos making and these were born shortly after.

In case you haven't heard of the 12 Loaves Challenge it's spearheaded by another L-O-R-A, The Cake Duchess.  Once a month she and her 12 Loaves posse Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and Jamie from Life's a Feast announce a challenge ingredient to bake a bread with.

If you want to bake along the rules are found here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Caramel Ginger Milk Chocolate Layer Cake

It's official. I am giving in to fall baking. A wonderful person from my past life as a talk show producer posted this on facebook.

After I put my eyes back in my head I knew I had to make this cover cake. Brenda kindly sent me a copy of the magazine and here's the bonus, I was pleasantly surprised with all the wonderful and creative recipes in it. Treating my Thanksgiving dinner like a major television production every year, I obsessively keep a folder to put ideas in all year long. Several from Celebrate Autumn have made it in there waiting to trot them out for the holiday.

The cake is a caramel layer cake with milk chocolate frosting in between the layers. The entire cakes is covered in caramel buttercream and topped with chocolate curls. Gorgeous, no? The ginger tweak is mine. I added powdered ginger to the cake batter and sprinkled crystalized ginger over the top in addition to the chocolate pieces.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Earl Grey Tea Buttercream

My friends in Pennsylvania have a big Victorian house with a river running in front of it. Two bridges provide access to the property. One secondary bridge is semi shaky. We jokingly refer to call it as the "car wash" bridge when we ride over it. The other, more stable and wider structure, ironically was taken out last year in the hurricane.

One year, many disputes with local, federal and insurance agencies later and the bridge remained broken. This is when a community comes together. A benefit was organized. Everyone pitched in and the resulting evening of dinner, dancing, and a silent auction was so amazingly successful, that bridge will be operational in no time. I love my community here in Pennsylvania.

I don't know even how to describe the hosts for the evening, except they have been a foundation of the community for 40 years, live in a renovated church and have a magical wonderful business selling all sorts of artistic home goods and jewelry from Mexico. Their kitchen in straight up Frieda Kahlo meets Alice in Wonderland.

Photos by Alan Kaplan
One is an accomplished cook and provided delectable food for the evening's themed: It Takes a Village to Raise a Bridge Fundraiser.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A UN Farewell Cake

No recipe today. Just a quick post to show off the biggest cake I ever made. A double layer sheet cake.  One of my husband's colleagues was retiring after 25 years of service to the United Nations and I volunteered to make the cake for her retirement party.

I made one layer chocolate cake, one layer golden cake and used chocolate buttercream in between the layers. The cake was crumb coated with vanilla buttercream. 

Homemade marshmallow fondant was colored UN Blue to cover the cake.

Wanting to personalize the cake in a special way, I created a unique seal for the retiree using her name in one corner, the french flag in another (she's French) added a stethoscope (she's a doctor) and a bottle of champagne in the forth panel.

Everything was enclosed by replicating the distinctive UN leaves pattern and topped off with Bonne Chance in fondant letters.

The cake was a big hit but the best part was the lovely thank you email I received from the recipient.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bloody Mary Macarons -Horseradish Shells with Tomato Tabasco Vodka Jam Filling

The latest Mactweets Challenge from Jamie and Deeba was to create a macaron around a seasonal fruit (or vegetable). I went with the fruit who is often perceived as a vegetable. Who can't get enough of fresh tomatoes when they are in season?

This year I grew different heirloom varieties on our NYC terrace as well as out at the weekend house but managed to still stalk other varieties at farmers markets. There is a stand walking distance from our house in Pennsylvania where they sell Jersey tomatoes. After a huge fight last weekend with the resident chipmunk who likes to sample my heirlooms (little stinker), I couldn't resist these local beauties and grabbed some with the intent of making tomato jam.

Rewind a bit to when I purchased some horseradish powder at my favorite local spice store and made macaron shells with it. They have been hanging out in my NYC freezer for some time patiently waiting their macturn. I designed the jam recipe with these shells in mind using tabasco and vodka to mimic a bloody mary cocktail. Bloody Mary macarons are not new.  Zumbo and the fabulous Jill Colonna have all created versions but we've all interpreted them differently.

Adding a bit of celery on top of the filling finished off my macocktail. These were sweet and spicy delicious with a bit unexpected cool crunch.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Giant Chewy Sage Sugar Cookies & Giveaway Winners

After creating all those herb sugars I made a few weeks ago, It was time to start playing with them. Big soft sugar cookies are always a good idea. Here's my simple flavorful twist.

Sage infused sugar was substituted for some of the regular white granulated. I also pressed fresh sage leaves on top of the cookies. Just as an experiment I pulled the cookies out of the oven about 5 minutes before they were done and adhered the leaves. I also tried pressing them in right when they came out of the oven. No big difference.

The result was soft, chewy with undertones of sage. The flavored sugar really boosted the taste. It might be hard to go back to baking with the plain variety.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Roasted Peach Ice Cream with Allspice Caramel Swirl

Watching leaves falling off the trees in the country this past weekend. Wow. Where for art thou summer?

I call this a seasonal bridge ice cream. Something to make with the last juicy peaches of the summer adding a hint of fall spice.

The sweetness of the peaches, flavor deepened by brown sugar paired perfectly with the allspice caramel finish. The last glimpse of summer with the spicy warm promise of fall.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Confetti Cake Balls and a Giveaway

It's time for the Dede Wilson giveaway part 2. Today I am celebrating the release of  her new book, Cake Balls.

This is  a wonderful comprehensive guide and very easy to use. After covering fundamental techniques and tutorials, Dede provides basic recipes for both cake flavors and "binders" (frostings, ganache, pastry creams). She also offers tips on how to make cake balls from a mix if you are short on time. Then comes creative recipes such as Crème Brûlée Cake Balls,  Disco Cake Balls and Cranberry-Toffee-Walnut Cake Balls. And lastly, some really fun ideas on how to turn cake balls into Christmas Trees, Teddy Bears and Fairy Princess Ballerinas.

Following Dede's recipe to the letter I was not disappointed. The cake recipe was delicious on it's own. The finished product was a sweet and pretty treat.