Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Life Changing Loaf of Bread & April's Funny Food Blogger Posts

One of the things I miss most about Germany are bakeries on every corner. They all offer an amazing variety of dense, nutty, grainy baked breads in every shade of brown. Honestly up until this point I have been too lazy to try an recreate one of my favorites. All that kneading and waiting for dough to rise. No thanks. I just usually snitch a piece of my husband's stash of Meistermacher bread and call it a day.

Then I found this amazing and ridiculously easy recipe.

During one of those frantic times I was running through the internets like a madwoman on a mission I got stopped in my tracks by this recipe. Since then I've been cranking out two of these loaves every week for the past several weeks and I just can't get enough of it. 

There is no flour in this bread but lots of seeds and fiber rock stars. Just for the record, I have no objections or allergies to flour. This bread is for everyone whether gluten free or just gluttonous.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Banana Blackberry Buttermilk Bread

Wow that's alotta B's. They were inspired by this month's berrylicious 12 Loaves Challenge over at Cake Duchess.

#TwelveLoaves April: Berries. Bake a bread, yeast or quick bread, loaf or individual. This #TwelveLoaves is all about incredible breads with berries featured in April.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Raspberry Mini Macarons with Espresso Buttercream Filling

It's always a challenge when making French macarons to find a way to pack flavor into the shell itself. Adding liquid extract can easily destabilize the shells (in my experience). Many macaron bakers add dehydrated fruit powder to the shell to give them color and flavor. This  was my first time attempting this and I was quite pleased with the results.

I picked up a package of dehydrated raspberries from Trader Joe's and pulverized them in the food processor.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chocolate Tree Bark Candy with Royal Icing Flowers for Earth Day

To celebrate Mother Earth here,  I recycled some leftover royal icing into flowers.

I used small round, star and leaf tips to create a few different styles, let them dry overnight and adhered them to a chocolate "bark" bar.

To make the chocolate bar, I meted some almond bark in a small loaf pan. Before it hardened completely I use a fork and swirled it over the candy to create the bark pattern.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Creamy Lemon Ice Cream with Lavender Swirl

Spring is really trying here in NYC. Sort of. Warm weather creeps in for a day, jackets come off and then the temperature drops and sweaters are put on again. It's seesaw weather. Maddening, not just because of the schizophrenic wardrobe drama, but because meal preferences run the gamut  from warm soups to cool refreshing salads sometimes all in one day.  

I prefer to look at the bigger signs all around. The chives on my terrace in NYC are out. The daffodils, hyacinth, forsythia and tulips have all bloomed on our property in Pennsylvania. Even though I am wearing a scarf today, it's time for a new spring ice cream flavor dammit.

Inspired by the dried version I had in my cabinet, this past weekend I bought lavender to plant so I can harvest my own. It will be a component in the edible flower garden I plan to create this summer.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Purple Heart Camouflage cookies

Recently, a friend brought our community together in Pennsylvania for a farewell brunch for her daughter who will be deployed to Afghanistan.

People brought beautiful dishes and their best wishes for Nia who will be gone for a year.

The proud mama had decorated the room in purple, Nia's favorite color. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Peaches & Cream Meringues

I am a bit of a baking trend hoarder. When I see something new in the market, most times I toss it in the cart. As a result my pantry and baking closets are stuffed with things I put away and promptly forget about. Out of sight. Out of mind.

These frosting flavoring packets popped up in the store a few months ago. I grabbed a few on impulse because the flavors looked so fun but not having any plan at the time what I would use them for. BTW, I've made hundreds of cupcakes since I bought these and never used the flavorings in frosting. 

Recently I was making meringues to fulfill a request for plain white ones and was rummaging around in the cabinet to find cream of tarter. I spotted these flavor packets and impulsively added one to the meringue mixture just to see what would happen. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Olive Hummus

Most people have pantry staples that are standbys for a "just in case" situation. Cans of chickpeas and a jar of tahini are all permanent residents of mine. One of my favorite appetizer making pastimes is playing with hummus flavors. You've seen some of that here before on this blog. I don't often post savory dishes but when I do it's because the result was so good I had to share.

Clockwise from top left, Rainbow Carrot Hummus, Lemon Key Lime rosemary Hummus, Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus and Pecan Pesto Hummus.
Last Sunday I had back to back meetings all day for various organizations I volunteer for in Pennsylvania. The last gathering of the day I was hosting at my house and I had only arrived late the evening before.  The next morning, with little time to prepare refreshments, I had no choice but to perform one of my favorite kitchen songs, Hummus Time sung to the tune of  Hammer Time.

Catchy, no? One day I will print the lyrics here. Unfortunately, I wasn't wearing the pants. That would have really rocked and I could have posted a video. Next time.

The great part about having the chickpeas and tahini on hand is adding whatever else you might have hanging around, spices, herbs, citrus, condiments, veggies, anything or any combination that strikes your fancy to give it a twist. Whip it all up together and you have an instant, very easy to prepare, and most times, impressive appetizer.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chili Ginger Buttermilk Scones

I found dried chili ginger at my local spice store down here in New York City's East Village (also available at Trader Joe's). It's been sitting in my pantry for awhile now because I couldn't decide what to do with it.

Once it almost made its way into an ice cream flavor but with the ever present carton of leftover buttermilk in my fridge (from major cupcakery) I thought they might complement each other well inside a scone.

I was right. The fluffy creamy flavor of the dough wrapped around chopped up bits of the chili ginger was a match made in scone heaven.

Friday, April 5, 2013

MRE Cookies for Operation Cookie Takeover

Operation Cookie Takover is an effort to coordinate sending thousands of cookies to the troops in Afghanistan. Having survived my husband working in Baghdad for five years, I know how much packages and reminders from home mean to humans living far away in resource deprived situations.

And let's face it, the world would be a better place if cookies ruled.  Yes? I think so. Here are some pictures of me addressing the United Nation General Assembly and at a press conference regarding my Global More Cookies, Fewer Guns initiative.

OK that was an April Fools joke. The pictures were taken this past Monday on a special private tour of the United Nations arranged by my UN employee husband when his family was visiting from Germany.

Cookies instead of guns anyone?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lemon Vanilla Dream Bars

This post is way too late but I love this book so much I did not want to skip doing a post on it altogether.  And these bars. Well, all I can say is you need these in your life. Stat.

First let me tell you the awesome marshmallow making lady wrote a kick ass book, probably the most definitive baker's guide to Vanilla. Pure Vanilla has it all, history, schooling on all types of vanilla and amazing, unique recipes. Also, the layout of the book is just gorgeous. Bravo Shauna.

Honestly it was hard to decide what to make from the book because there are so many great recipes to try. I settled on lemon vanilla bars because I was recently gifted a jar of lemon curd and had Ghirardelli white chocolate chips on hand. But dang,  I was out of vanilla bean paste. Ashamed to admit this, call me either desperate or creative, I dug out some vanilla beans from my recently replenished  bottle of homemade vanilla, scraped the seeds out of several beans pods, added a bit of agave syrup to make my own. Don't tell anyone.

Whatevers. It worked and the result was delicious.

The best part was how easy these are to throw together. I served them at a dinner party that evening and they were devoured. One guest, a talented baker himself, exclaimed  "This recipe is a keeper!"

Monday, April 1, 2013

Red Velvet Pepperoni (cookies) for April Fools' Day & March's Funny Food Blogger Posts

You probably thought by the title of this post that I actually made cookies out of  pepperoni. Yes I am crazy enough to do that, but not this time.  So double April Fools!

I love to make fake foods. If I ever had the urge to write a cookbook (I don't) I would fill it with fake food recipes. Like cocktail weenies that are actually marzipan cookies.

And Sushi that are really candy truffles.