Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whole Wheat Strawberry Basil Muffins

These are good. These are, serve to two college friends you haven't seen in a very long time good. Last weekend, on Saturday I was busy the entire day prepping for a 12-hour photo/video shoot on Monday. Sunday guests were coming. Oh dear.

The night before I had no clue of what I could serve and hadn't done any shopping. I reluctantly settled on a copout bagel and cream cheese run, planning to make some eggs as well. 

Longtime friends deserve something better. When I woke up, after having done most of the prep for the job, my mind was clearer. Strawberry and basil flavors came dancing into my head. I knew I had frozen strawberries and plenty of basil in the herb garden.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Macaron Mondays: French Four Spice Macarons with Apricot Preserve Filling

Ohh La la are these spicy!  Every year at Passover I make my own French Four Spice because it's an ingredient in a spiced parsnip cake I like to make for our Seder dinner. 

Random shot of my Passover table.
White pepper, nutmeg, ginger and cloves all mixed together are a beautiful thing. The blend is easy to make and adds great flavor. 

A baggie of this  lovely spice mix leftover from this year’s Passover Dinner magically fell out of a cabinet last weekend. I attribute the supernatural to this event because at the time I was rifling through my kitchen looking for something fun to flavor French macarons. This was during my previously mentioned six batch French Macaron making marathon.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Classic German Sunken Sour Cherry Cake

These past weeks I have been revisiting my mother in law's fantastic recipes, my own favorite German foods, and diving into my collection of vintage German cookbooks. 

It's been wonderful and fun speaking a whole other culinary language and makes me miss Germany so. Once again, I realize what a wonderful, rich experience being an expat is. 

This versunkener kirschkuchen or sunken sour cherry cake comes up over and over again in German classic baking books. It was time to stop ignoring it. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Orange Thyme Sorbet

I've always been attracted to the weird and different. Consequently, at  Farmers Markets, I'm the person who gravitates to all the strange and exotic looking produce. So when choosing herbs for my deck, why would I go all garden variety all of a sudden?

Lemon verbena, spearmint, apple mint, orange mint, pineapple mint, lemon thyme, purple basil, box basil, lemon basil, curry, variegated sage, pineapple sage are some of the weirdo herbs that live harmoniously side by side on my NYC terrace.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Macaron Monday: Caramel Vanilla Macarons with Biscoff Filling

It's embarrassing to admit this but I found a half empty jar of Biscoff creamy spread while I was looking for something else in my kitchen cabinets. I mean who leaves a half empty jar of amazing goodness and forgets about it?  

To make up for it, I filled these delicious French macaron shells with the creamy goodness that is Biscoff.  I may or may not have finished the rest with  spoon.

I hoard these flavor sugar packets from Germany. These needed to be used up before expiring and they definitely got sacrificed for a good cause. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Homemade Honeysuckle Marshmallows

My entire relationship with corn syrup has changed. Earthshaking, people. 

When previously making marshmallows I've followed instructions to the letter. The only ingredients I ever switched out were the easy ones, flavor and color.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lemon Verbena Buttermilk Scones

Aaand the herb harvest continues this week with these lovely scones. Right about now everything is growing like crazy in the garden. I don't know why I get so much pleasure out of using fresh herbs in baking. Maybe it's because I find endless inspiration and flavor options right outside my door.

Back in the reality of my kitchen, there is always what seems to be the endless problem of using up buttermilk. I had bought some to create chocolate mini cupcakes with rainbow frosting for a local Gay Pride event and there I was, stuck with half a jug.

I admit scones are a copout sometimes because they are so easy to throw together. In this recipe, the buttermilk adds especially good flavor. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Macaron Monday: Tarragon French Macarons with Chocolate Buttercream Filling

So of course I waited until the most humid day so far in PA to go on a French Macaron making marathon. Humidity and making macarons do not mix but I had way too many Cinderella egg whites in the fridge that needed to go to the ball.

So I cranked out six, yes six different flavored batches this past sticky Sunday. As a result, there is no consistency in feet size. I got everything from fat to flat and quelle horreur! some of them had little evil peaks on their heads. Oh well.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sugarless in Brooklyn: Artist Kara Walker's Farewell to the Domino Sugar Factory

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of a private tour of Kara Walker's Subtlety exhibit at the soon to be knocked down Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. 

The exhibit ended this past weekend. The building will be replaced with a waterfront park.
I will especially miss the nostalgic view of the factory when crossing the Williamsburg bridge.

Since it's premiere in May over 130,000 people have viewed these sculptures, three of which were Beyonce, Jay-Z and little Blue Ivy. Domino donated 80 tons of sugar. About half was used for the creation of these glorious sculptures fashioned as a tribute to generations of sugar workers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lavender Glazed Mini Eclairs with Lemon Pastry Cream Filling

Sixty of these mini eclairs were created and donated recently to a worthy cause in our local PA community. Last year I gave French macarons and mini red velvet cupcakes to the same organization. This year the theme was specifically French and although I toyed with the idea of sending macarons again, in the end I decided to do something a little different.

Every time I make choux pastry I am always surprised with how easy it is to create and then how making eclairs impresses whomever is the recipient. A dessert that looks complicated but is super east to create with endless flavor combination options.

I chose flavors I thought perfect for a benefit summer garden party. The delicious lemon pastry cream was just the right filling for these little beauties.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Macaron Monday: Milk French Macarons with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting Filling

This macaron represent one of the best treat combos that exist. I mean, who can resist milk and cookies?

When I made root beer flavored tootsie rolls recently, I had a good amount of milk powder leftover so of course I tried using it as a macaron flavor.

While the taste definitely has a more dairy like flavor, during baking, the feet just wouldn't come out and play. Consequently, these are not so great on looks but the flavor is big and wonderful and fully deserving of a post on it's own. Forget the flat feet. Flavor is the ticket here.

Although I have stalked numerous recipes for chocolate chip cookie dough frosting for years, this is my first time making it. What took me so long? It's fantastic.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Operation Cookie Takeover: Red, White & Blue Star Sugar Cookies

A few weeks ago, for the third time in a row, I joined hundreds of other bakers in sending cookies of US troop stationed in Afghanistan with Operation Cookie TakeoverOver 13,000 cookies in total were sent to the soldiers. 

Mosaic made from all the cookies that were sent in this last shipment.
Mine are second row right, first picture.
In the past I've created and sent military themed MRE and camouflage decorated sugar cookies. This year I went with good old red, white and blue and a star theme, sending sweet thanks to the soldiers for their service.

To start with I made a double batch of my favorite sugar cookie dough but you can use store bought to save time. I divided the dough into three equal parts and using paste food coloring, one was tinted royal blue and one red. The third portion I left natural.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Meringues

As a result of all the French macaron making that goes on in my kitchen,  I usually have an abundance of egg yolks lying around waiting for me to find a creative solution for.  This time I had extra egg whites on hand I needed to use up before they spoiled.

Not counting French macarons, it's been awhile since I've made flavored meringue cookies just to eat by themselves and not worry about growing feet. So. Much. Easier.

Since I discovered these flavor packets from Duncan Hines, creating fun flavored meringues are even more of a snap and a great way to use up leftover egg whites.