Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Orange is the New Black Crazy Eyes Halloween Ice Cream & October's Funny Food Blog Posts

How much do we love Orange is the New Black series on Netflix? I watched the entire season in two days. The writing, the acting are both superb. The characters are so wonderfully brought to life by an incredibly talented cast, I just can't wait for season two to start. The series is funny, terrifying and heartbreaking all at the same time. It's perfect. 

I had the opportunity to chat with Laverne Fox a few weeks back at an event in NYC several of the cast member attended. She was gracious, fun and stunning in purple. 

The characters are all so good, I can't decide which character I like best in the series, but Crazy Eyes is definitely up there. I thought of her when I was creating this ice cream and knew, even though it was for a Halloween post, I had to dedicate this to her and the cast of Orange is the New Black.

Periodically when I have the time and inclination  I make eyes out of leftover royal icing. For a past halloween treat, I dumped a bunch of them into a Monster Eyes Oreo Bark.

Monday, October 28, 2013

East Village Halloween Costume Dog Parade 2013

Instead of spending the entire weekend in the country, this time we stayed halfsies in the city solely to check out this year's dog costume parade. We also were both wiped out from an extra exhausting week so instead of braving the Friday night drive to Pennsylvania, we spontaneously opted to roll uptown and see Gravity in 3D IMAX, definitely the only way to see that movie.

Anyway, the next morning after brunch we meandered down the street to check out the creativity and cuteness that is the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. Since this is a food blog, or an attempt at one anyway,  first up are some clever culinary oriented costumes.

This fabulous lobster bake costume/float won best in show at the costume judging:

However, there was another great lobster bake costume to admire:

This Mr. Softie Costume had me hearing the creepy music.

Holy Swiss cheese Batman! How cute was this goldendoodle?

What do you think the Colonel would say about this?

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Brittle, Ice Cream, Caramels and Popcorn for Duncan Hines

Duncan Hines has done a brilliant job revamping their website. I'm not just saying this because (ahem) four of my recipes are on there and they paid me to create them.  The website genuinely is fun to play with. It's designed almost like a Pinterest board and  all about inspiration and there are sections you can just click on by color.

Several months ago I picked up some of their Frosting Creations Flavor Mixes and found myself experimenting with them, not to flavor frosting as intended.  Instead I used them to created meringues, marshmallows and macarons with them.

Below are the recipes I created for Duncan Hines. Clicking the title or the title will take you over to the recipe on their site.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Camouflage Thank You For Your Service Cookies for Operation Cookie Take Over

This past April I participated in this initiative, creating a sugar cookie version of MREs or meals ready to eat. Bloggers who signed up were asked to send at least two dozen cookies to soldiers in Afghanistan. There was one soldier who was collecting the cookies and she parceled them out to the other soldiers.

This time we were each assigned a specific soldier to directly send cookies to. The mandate has spread to send cookies to soldiers all over the world. I knew this time I wanted to send a special thank you instead of a visual pun so I had the idea to cut out the letters comprising "Thank Your For Your Service" and cover them in a camouflage design.

For these cookies I used one of my favorite delicious chocolate rollout cookie recipes from LilaLoa and followed Sweet Sugarbelle's  great instructions on how to make a camouflage pattern with royal icing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

EEK & BOO Cookies for Halloween

As most people know, last year's Halloween got Sandy-ed for most of us on the East Coast. For two weeks I was running around between NYC, PA and MA and Long Island dealing with power outages, the displacement of my octogenarian mother, a non functioning office and various other issues. 

When everything settled down, what was left of Halloween for me consisted of carousing the sad 75% off leftovers at various stores after the fact. To cheer myself up, I stocked up on Halloween-themed decorations, party and baking supplies. I packed everything up and stored it away optimistic all the fun would be restored the next year.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Oktoberfest Reflections

The very first friend I made in Munich said at dinner recently, "If you told any city official anywhere you were going to build 12 tents, each holding 7,000 people, serve beer brewed way more potent than average and invite the world to their city, who in their right mind would say yes?"

Good point. No one is in their right mind at Munich's Oktoberfest. The city's 1,4 million population is overrun with 6 million more from all over the globe and for 16 days, the city is transformed from its usual orderly, elegant and graceful status to something far more surreal, random and chaotic.

As a veteran of now 12 Oktoberfests or of the "wiesn" as locals call it, there are so many facets of the fest to write about, the good and bad and insanity of it all. However, rising above the embarrassing displays of drunkeness, public urination, fornicating and vomiting is a special mood or stimmung (in German) that permeates the city's locals.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Colorful Falling Leaves Sugar Cookies

Recently I ordered some very intriguing flavors in powder form to experiment making French macarons with. I'm always looking to expand the macflavor repertoire. Anywho, there was a little brochure included with my order outlining the instructions for making these cookies.

I have previously created something similar with fondant, using them to decorate Autumn Seven Layer Cookies. I also used a similar technique by default when creating these Marbled Heart Cookies for Valentine's Day. 

There were so many pretty pretty leaf shaped cutters in my cabinets waiting their turn, I thought, why not give it a go with Fall leaves for the season?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pierced Tongue Halloween Black Macarons

It's no secret here that I love disgusting Halloween treats  best evidenced by past creations like severed tongue truffles and hunks of flesh rice krispie treats.

I don't know when this crazy idea came to me but once the idea was running around my brain,  it had to be done.

Everyone is so over it by now, but I couldn't resist this Miley Cyrus version. Sorry.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Return to the Best Cupcake Shop in Munich

One of the most popular posts on this here blog is the story I did a few years ago on a then new bake shop called Wir Machen Cupcakes in Munich, Germany. As soon as I strolled in the door and met the owners, Iris and Sheloian in person I knew they were as special as their shop.  So I felt it was an obligation to popularity to check in on my recent trip to Munich. There's that, and the cupcakes.

I am happy to say, two and a half years later Wir Machen Cupcakes  is more than thriving and deservedly so. Talented and with great instincts they have become one of the top suppliers of baked goods for corporate events and weddings.

The product line has expanded to include custom cakes, decorated cookies and petit fours.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Great Pumpkin Pie Spice Brittle

I've been looking forward to making a fall version of brittle ever since I created the red velvet cashew version for Valentine's day. Yes I used the dreaded pumpkin pie spice. Isn't using it in at least one recipe between Labor Day and Christmas obligatory? Most importantly,  who knew homemade  brittle was so easy? Once you have the steps down, it seems to take no time at all and the flavor combinations are endless.  It also makes a great hostess gift for any season.

For this version I added raw pumpkin seeds to pair with the pumpkin pie spice. I might have used (maybe too much) copper paste color to boost the color but that is totally optional.

The color is not the star of this candy, it's the taste. Sweet and spicy and the pumpkin seeds are a great change from the normal peanuts. For all the fun everyone is making over PPS this fall, this brittle proves it's still in the flavor game and a great addition to any Thanksgiving feast. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mini Espresso Macarons with Lemon Verbena Buttercream Filling

This was the second treat I brought to a Breaking the Fast get together in NYC a few weeks ago. Using leaves from the Lemon Verbena plant growing on my terrace, I created a lemon verbena buttercream and paired it with a fall flavor macaron shell.

Espresso is one of my favorite macaron shell flavors, not only for the taste, but it seems whenever I use coffee, cocoa or espresso as an ingredient in the shells, they rarely have a problem growing feet in the oven. Probably my own imagination.

Lemon verbena is just wow. I am a fan of strong flavors and this packs a punch. Before it goes for the season, I will use it to infuse olive oil and simply syrup so I can enjoy the flavor long after the plant dies. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Ice Cream

The classic combination of cinnamon raisin anything promptly gets my attention. So I am ashamed to say after I made the cinnamon custard, it took me a few days to settle on the raisin and walnut additions because I felt they might be too ho hum.

Wrong again. After giving up (although cinnamon chocolate chip is still running through my head) I caved and added the raisins and walnuts and wow oh wow. Oh. Wow.

I added a whopping two tablespoons of cinnamon to the custard. I wanted it strong. This ice cream has deep flavor with the comfort of the old raisin and walnut favorites. 

It's scoops of fall, I tell ya.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Concord Grape Salted Caramel Tart

This was a birthday tart for my mom's 84th. It seems like forever I have been trying to find the right time and idea to do something with concord grapes, which are my favs. My mom has been into natural food  her whole life. So instead of making her a fluffy colorful cake I opted to showcase this gorgeous fruit.

Pairing the grapes with salted caramel was easy since I still had a ton leftover from the last time I made a salted caramel tart.

It was time to try something new for the crust,  I've read many olive oil crust recipes and this was the perfect opportunity to try one out. Very surprised with how easy the crust was to make. It took very little fuss and it came out perfect and flaky. Using brown sugar added to the fall flavor pile.

I was a little hesitant to throw on the crumble thinking it might be too much but it turned out to be the perfect addition. 

The recipes for the salted caramel, grape tart filling and crust come from three different places so this is sort of a Frankentart but it all came together on the palate. Tart, salty, and sweet all in one dessert. What more could I ask for? And my mother loved it. Most important thing of all.