Friday, February 28, 2014

Red Carpet Cookie Sticks for the Oscars and February's Funny food Blogger Posts

If you're looking for a super quick, easy and fun treat for your Oscar viewing party. I got you covered. Even better,  in making these, I used up leftover cookie dough and red royal icing. Bonus. Where's my Oscar for Best use of Leftovers?

To make these, use your favorite flavor rollout cookie recipe (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, etc.), roll out and cut into strips.

After baking and cooling the cookie sticks completely, outline and flood with red royal icing and sprinkle with red sugar glitter. 

Let dry 24 hours and you're done. Watch people smile when you serve them at an Oscar party.

So let's dish about the Oscars a bit. Despite the Woody alleged abuse drama, I think Cate Blanchett is a lock for Best Actress even though Dame Dench was phenomenal in Philomena. As fabulous as she is, I would gladly give Amy Adams an Oscar if I never had to see her cleavage again but I have to say all four performances (Christian Bale -omg) in American Hustle were superb.

This letter that was passed around on Facebook made me think twice about going to see Wolf of Wall Street so I never did. Dallas Buyer's Club I will eventually get to. It's a painful topic for me.  Saw Gravity in 3D and couldn't imagine not. It will no doubt win lots of technical awards. Frau Bullock did an excellent job under very tough conditions. However, I thought George Clooney's performance was cartoonish. After seeing Monuments Men, I'm starting to think he's resorting to "phoning in the George" just like Jack Nicholson sometimes "phones in the jack". 

Tom Hanks definitely got overlooked with Captain Phillips, a fine film with great performances even with the controversy surrounding it. Barkhad Abdi gave a thrilling performance.  Nebraska came and went too fast before I knew it. 

Kicking myself I still haven't seen 12 Years as a Slave. All I know is that Lupita Nyong'o deserves an award for her flawless classy performance on the red carpet this awards season. Simply stunning. Every. Time. 

On the foreign front, The Hunt was a great movie but I think the Italians might have it in the bag for The Great Beauty. 

Hard to pick from the docs. Many of them were riveting. The Square and Dirty Wars especially. The Act of Killing was a completely surreal and chilling experience. Still disappointed Blackfish was not in the mix. 

So all will be revealed on Sunday.  Enjoy the show and for your further entertainment, here are the food blog posts that I especially enjoyed this past month:

Lentil Breakdown's Raw Snap Pea, Kumquat, and Almond Salad

Honest Cooking's Musical Food

Cake Wreck's Dueling Disasters

Leite's Culineria's Best Food Scenes in Movies

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Minneola Cheesecake with Amaretti Crust

Let's take care of the big mystery first: What the hell is a Minneola? I had the same question when I saw them in the market. Whaaaa?  Turns out, they are a tangelo, a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. Filled with sweet, tart juice, these babies are nicknamed "Honey Bell" because of their shape.

So two were sitting in my fridge for awhile before I had the idea of turning them into a cheesecake. Glad I did. This creamy dessert turned out to taste like a giant almond creamsicle. 

I wanted this cheesecake to be epic and knew I needed to adapt a good recipe from an expert. After searching awhile I settled on this Lemon Cheesecake Recipe from one of the most mouth watering blogs out there,  Creative Culinary. Barbara claims this came from a Junior League recipe cookbook. Whatever. All I know is the recipe is major league in taste and it ain't no Junior's cheesecake. No offense meant to the legendary Junior's.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Macaron Monday: Cashew Cardamom French Macarons with Lavender Buttercream Filling

Today I am showing off more cashew meal love with these lovely flavored French macarons. As I said previously, using cashew flour when making French macarons gives them a whole other taste dimension.

For the shells, I went for cardamom spice to balance the sweet nutty cashew flavor. Cardamom turned out to be macaron shells' best friend.

Never thought I would say this but I am longing for the spring day this year I can start planting my herb garden. I am a recently converted gardener and spend some of these long snowy weekends flipping through seed catalog porn. My lavender did very well this year and I eagerly anticipate it's return and will add a few more plants. Instead of solely harvesting the dried buds I want to try making extract. Overly ambitious? Probably.

Using lavender in buttercream has proven to be one of my favorite macaron filling flavors. It's elegant enough to use for wedding celebrations and when paired with a more earthy spice like cardamom, it brightens the flavor and balances the warmth.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Allspice Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

The next stop on the allspice train is this delicious ice cream. I tempered the spicy flavor of the custard by using more mellow milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet.

We were supposed to be in the Bahamas this past week for a Valentine's Caribbean dive getaway,  but the latest snowstorm resulted in cancelled flights, hours of trying to rebook everything that can to nothing in the end.

So I found myself spending the evening before our trip with martini in hand (instead of a celebratory Sundowner) sadly gazing at my packed dive gear. Oh well. First world problems. 

I consoled myself with this lovely ice cream which may or may have not been a perfect complement to the martini.

This ice cream is a wonderful combination of deep spice dotted with bursts of soft chocolate flavor. Admittedly, a perfect winter treat but not a replacement for a dive vacation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whole Wheat Date Almond Scones with Allspice Glaze

These are now a delectable addition to my scone recipe collection. The event was a girls brunch a few weekends ago at out PA house. I made a galette as the main attraction and these as a sweet addition.

It was too late when I realized the quart of cream was back in NYC and not in PA. I had already mixed the dry ingredients together and had integrated the butter. So I used what I had on hand which was 1% milk. It worked perfectly and the scones weren't compromised in either taste or texture.

I have been making a lot of raw cookies with dates lately so there were plenty on hand and the perfect complement to the raw almonds also chopped up and thrown in the batter.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Macaron Monday: Cashew French Macarons with Fig Butter Filling

Throughout the five years I lived in LA in the 90's I was a Trader Joe's addict. By far, TJ's was the most fun food shopping experience. Their tasty goods, unique products and organic selection kept me coming back for more and the prices were always great. It's one of the stores I missed most during the 10 years I lived in Germany.

Since then, several Trader Joe's locations have opened in the NYC area. The checkout lines are always horrendous, snaking though the aisles making it almost impossible to shop let alone get a cart through.  They do their best to get everyone checked out quickly but compared to the Stores in LA, where you could stage a freaking Broadway musical in the aisles, that's how big they were, NYC stores need much bigger spaces. Every time we have weather terror here on the East Coast, pictures abound in the media of lines of people extending out the front door and down the street of Trader Joe's. 

Stupid weather terror aside, if I'm going be snowbound or hunkered down for a hurricane, there's nowhere else I prefer to get provisions from.  Just saying.

These macs are a marriage of two of my favorite Trader Joe's products, cashew meal, a product I couldn't wait to try making French Macarons with and this lovely fig butter I bought for the holidays but barely used.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Red Velvet Fondant Covered Sparkly Lip Cookies

So here's what I decided to do with that red velvet fondant I created two weeks ago. Sparkly lip cookies of course! I've created lip shaped marshmallows and meringues for past Valentine's Day posts. It was time to create a cookie.

To start, I played recipe roulette with the internet for rollout cookie inspiration and settled on a chocolate mocha flavor. Specifically,  this one from the Whole Foods Market website. The dough is very crumbly and hard to work with but it produces a flavorful cookie. You can use your favorite rollout cookie recipe.

I cut out the lip shapes out of both the cookie dough and red velvet fondant. When the cookies were cooled, I adhered the fondant lip shapes to the cookies with some leftover royal icing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tie-Dyed Homemade Heart Shaped Marshmallows for Valentine's Day

I set out to make a Valentine's Day version of these pretty tie-dyed butterfly and bunny rabbit marshmallows I made a few years ago.

These definitely did not turn out as well. They look more like Jackson Pollack style marshmallows or more realistically, like St. Valentines Day Massacre marshmallows.

I used a different recipe than last time. The recipe is wonderful, but once these were poured, they set more quickly than I thought they would so I did not have enough time to swirl the colors in properly.

Regardless, these are big, fluffy wonderfully tasting marshmallows. I stuck with the original vanilla extract for flavor originally listed in the recipe and it was perfect.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Macaron Monday: Red Velvet Valentine's Mini French Macarons with Chocolate Liqueur Ganache Filling

No doubt, I'm on a red velvet roll for Valentine's Day this year. These little love bite macarons are luscious in flavor and look almost too cute to eat.

Sometimes it pays off to rifle through your liquor caninet when searching flavor inspiration. I forgot about a bottle of Godiva chocolate liquor and I couldn't add it to homemade chocolate ganache fast enough.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Heart Shaped Valentine's Candy Bark

Making candy bark for a holiday is always a no brainer. There was a sale on candy melts awhile back and I, ahem, might have overdone it a little. They seem to be spilling out of my cabinets everywhere. I overestimated my candy melt use by about 1000000 bags or so.

For this treat I swirled together a half bag each of red and pink vanilla flavored melts mentally calculating that's one less whole bag that can hit me on the head when I open the cabinet door.

I greased a bunch of heart cookie cutters, poured in the swirled melts, added some store bought Valentine's candy as well as some leftover homemade royal icing ribbon roses and when cooled and solidified, each piece slipped easily out of it's cutter.

Wrapped up in little cellophane bags and tied with ribbon, these make great Valentine's Day gifts for friends, colleagues, teachers, etc. This Valentine's Day inspired candy bark is sweet and tasty studded with Valentine's Day candy surprises.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cashew Vanilla Bean Linzer Valentine's Cookies with Pink Grapefruit Curd Filling

The idea for these Valentine's inspired Linzer cookies came last year, the week after Valentine's Day and then I forgot about it even though I wrote it down, somewhere....

When unpacking my Valentine's cookie cutters recently, I found my Valentine's Linzer cookie cutter set. It triggered the memory of the recipe idea so here they are and oh my are they amazing.

Instead of the traditional almond meal used in Linzer cookie recipes, I added cashew flour purchased at Trader Joe's to experiment making French macarons with. Those results were superb and will be posted next week. The cashew flour worked just as well for the Linzers.

Sneaking in some vanilla bean for the cookie part amped up the taste even more. homemade pink grapefruit curd added the perfect sour/sweet balance to the lush cookie flavors.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Macaron Mondays: Pink Heart French Macarons with Raspberry Vanilla buttercream Filling

It's grey and snowing heavily here in NYC with the weather peeps forecasting only more of the same. What better excuse to post these perky happy pink heart shaped French Macarons?

Although I believe I have a talent for creating crazy and interesting macaron flavors, I am severely challenged at piping shaped macs. I've only attempted heart shaped macarons once before, also for a Valentine's Day post a few years ago.

Out of practice much?