12/2/15

Fluffy Chocolate Mousse

 

Can you believe Christmas is less than a month away? No? Yeah me neither.

But it's time to start busting out the holiday bakes! That means everything is magical and awesome and as sugary as possible right?

Now chocolate mousse is not necessarily Christmas specific, but I love making it during the winter (no fresh fruit required, something I call a larder dessert). It is a pairing of eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and love. Mostly love though. For this is a four part process, but the results are  pretty amazing (especially if you love everything chocolatey and fluffy like I do).

Ingredients

3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate
2 cups whipping cream
Few drops lemon juice
Pinch of cream of tartar (opt.)

 

Preparation

 1. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cornstarch and salt until light and fluffy. In a saucepan heat the milk over medium-high heat, stirring in the cocoa powder until completely combined.

 
2. Slowly add the heated milk to the egg mixture. Make sure the milk isn't too warm.

3. Stir until completely combined.
 
4. Throw it back on the stove and cook another few minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it thickens. Place in a glass bowl and cover with clingwrap touching the surface to prevent a film from forming.


5. Melt the chocolate, whip the cream, and fluff those eggs into a meringue. Then it's time to fold it all together.


6. Mix the melted chocolate into the pastry cream, and carefully fold the meringue and whipped cream in separately. Fold and fold, and gently fold.


A few lumps I see, but that's alright. These things take practice, and it still tastes pretty frickin' amazing. Place in glasses or bowls and let chill in the fridge for a few hours, until set. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs, mini chocolate chips, or flecks of white chocolate.

 
 
Happy baking!

11/23/15

Ham and Gruyere Sandwich w/ Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Soup



There's a Dean & Deluca down the street from my office.
It's soup season.
You get where this is going.

Since the first hint of fall weather blew in, the line at the D&D soup counter has grown exponentially. And for good reason. All of the soups are really delicious. Yummy enough to convert this girl, who had a very lukewarm opinion of soup in general, onto team liquid.
Well, maybe not entirely. Because I still want a half sandwich to pair. What is coffee without the humble donut?

And this lovely butternut squash soup is filling and meat free. I dig it! Definitely one of my favorites. Although, the ham and gruyere had a sweet onion spread nestled in between its pretzel buns. I usually like the classical combo more savory/mustardy, but it was still a good quality sammy.

D&D is pricey, so I wouldn't get this everyday. But then again, everything is pricey around here, so I'd suggest bringing the sandwich from home, and spending a bit on the soup.

11/20/15

Local Milk

http://localmilkblog.com/

A photographer friend of mine first introduced me Local Milk, the stunning food blog by Beth Kirby. And while Kirby has already acquired quite a repertoire of accolades and awards, her success is entirely substantiated. Her photos are as beautiful, unique, and as haunting as her many different bakes. The collaborations and travel posts span from dusky fields of Iceland to reclusive, lush mountains of Japan. Yet everywhere she goes, the images are distinctly her own.

http://localmilkblog.com/2015/11/local-milk-retreats-venice-italy-pt-1.html

http://localmilkblog.com/2015/10/wander-japan-pt-3-koyasan-temple-stay.html

http://localmilkblog.com/2014/12/merry-bright-gingerbread-sorghum-cake-diy-wreaths-muslin-wrapping.html

http://localmilkblog.com/2015/09/chilled-avocado-arugula-soup.html

11/18/15

Prune

 

For our 9-month relationship mark, my boyfriend gifted me with this book (which I've been drooling over for months). Named after her incredibly successful NYC spot, this cookbook is written by head chef Gabrielle Hamilton.

I love it; it's an incredibly unique book, with recipes ranging from the simplest of dishes to complex techniques only a professional would know. Hamilton is a fiendishly good writer and chef. It's designed to look and feel like the restaurant's Book: the recipe collection that the chefs of Prune reference nightly. I love it for its intimacy; it also helps that Prune is one of my favorite restaurants.


Now a slight rant:

This book has generated a few haters because it is not easily accessible to the home cook. I get it. No index. It caters to a professional kitchen, with directions to the non-existent staff about timing and task delegation. It dares to put ostentatious, time-consuming recipes like suckling pig and marrow in it. Righto.

But all that is half the reason why I love it. It's an intimate peek into the life behind the grille at Hamilton's East Village restaurant.

In this case, I believe the haters are kidding themselves. I own many cookbooks, much more than I need, and I know that some are often for inspiration alone. You just don't use all of the recipes in every cookbook you own (if you do, that's actually pretty awesome). That's why there is an entire genre of cookbooks designed to sit beautifully and dustily on coffee tables or kitchen shelves. These "fantasy"cookbooks have huge, gorgeous photographs of food, but also of seascapes, cozy kitchens, tastefully set tables. The visceral experience of flipping through these books is akin to flipping through National Geographic or old family photos. They hold hidden scents and tastes of faraway places or deeply personal memories.

Prune behaves the same way. It shows you a glimpse of a world you otherwise wouldn't be able to enter. If you want to make the recipes, that's up to you. I honestly don't think Hamilton cares all that much.


11/17/15

Beety Tortila Espanola in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Throwback to this tortilla espanola.
Layers of potato, eggs, and cheese with beets on top for color and depth of flavor. This is a $4 dinner in New York City (unfortunately, not including the tasty shandy). This summer my flatmate and I trekked out into unknown Bushwick, to see an indie art exhibit. While there, we ran into a huge music festival, ridiculously cool graffiti-art in the making, a pocket flea market, and this tortilla espanola.

Damn I miss summer.

11/5/15

S'mores Bars : Campfire Stories


Remember, remember the fifth of November. Today is Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, in the UK. Fireworks, bonfires, people in funny masks. Actually I'm not sure what goes down, having never been to a celebration myself. Because here in the States, today is just a Thursday. But it is November, and damn it, we like making fires too! Ours are more of the woodsy, camping type though. And as the nights get longer and chillier, it's perfect weather for gathering around a campfire and telling a few good ghost stories.

This recipe isn't based on a particular book or piece of literature, but of storytelling. While there are some famous (creepily so) books on ghost stories, the best tales are always told. So I wanted something that reminded me of dark woods, foggy mornings, and hikes on chilly afternoons. Something you scarf down cause you jump at every cracking twig  in the fire. Things I can't easily find living in the middle of a city.

Toasted marshmallows more than fit the bill. Throw in shortbread and melted chocolate, and I'm a happy camper.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
13 marshmallows, cut in half

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large stand mixer bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine.
2. Add the flour and salt, and mix until the mixture is completely incorporated. It will be crumbly.
3. Press into a buttered 8x8 pan, making sure it's even and gets into all of the corners.
4. Bake the shortbread for 20 minutes. Until golden and puffy. Take it out and leave the oven on.
5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips even across the shortbread. Wait a few minutes for them to melt, then smooth with a spatula or back of a spoon.
6. Arrange the marshmallows over the chocolate. Place back in the oven for 4 minutes, until puffy.
7. Turn on the broiler, or crank your oven up to 400 F, and place the wrack high in the oven.
8. Watch the marshmallows carefully! If in a broiler, they only need a few seconds. Unless you're the type of person that likes your marshmallows black and crispy, keep a sharp eye on them.
9. When toasted a golden-brown, pull out of the oven. Wait a few minutes for the marshmallows to set.

Enjoy! Light some candles, munch on these, and pretend you're in the middle of the woods (but woods with indoor plumbing and heat).

Happy baking.

10/30/15

Victoria Sandwich Cake : Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." - Seth Grahame-Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

When a lady of good breeding hosts a guest for tea, she must display her abilities with a properly set table. Fresh, hot tea should be ready in the parlour so a guest may enjoy a cup at her leisure.


An English Cake will impress, without exposing excess. It must be baked to a golden hue, filled with just enough cream and jam to suffice, and a perfect round shape. Proportion is the key to perfection.


Victoria Sandwich with Vanilla Buttercream and Strawberry Preserves

While a true lady should never be seen in her kitchen, a good mistress must instruct her cook in all method and manner. A lady's table is indecent without a properly baked cake.

Sponge Cake

Ingredients:

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
6 oz strawberry jam

Method:

1. Heat over to 190 C/ 375 F. Grease two 8 20-cm/8-in cake tins. Place butter, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and beat until creamy and light. Slowly add the eggs and continue to beat.

2. Mix the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, and slowly still into the wet ingredients till smooth. Be careful no to over beat, lest your cake should be tough.

3. Divide the batter into the two tins evenly. Bake for 20 min, until top in golden and smooth. Allow to cool entirely before spreading jam and cream, and dusting lightly with icing sugar.


Vanilla Buttercream

 Ingredients:

8 oz butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Beat butter until smooth and creamy. Carefully sift the icing sugar into the butter, and mix. Then add the vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
2. Spread on your fresh cake and enjoy!


When one invites a lady to tea, one must remember to check whether one's guest is a zombie.

Distinguishing characteristics include open exposures of the brain matter, torn eye cavities, and a unquenchable thirst for human blood.


Readily remove your guest should she try to rip your face off.  If necessary, call upon your maid or manservant to help you in that respect.


A lady of good breeding always cleans her knives after disposing of undead visitors.


Fake Blood:

Ingredients:

1 cup grenadine
2 tbsp milk

Method:

1. Boil the shit out of the grenadine. Right about to smoking point. Pour into a glass container and carefully stir in milk.



Happy Baking! And Happy Halloween!

Chocolate Haystack Monsters

 
Happy Halloween Eve!
Haystacks are a family tradition in my household. Every fall, as soon as the weather begins to turn, these little chocolate mounds appear at bake sales and hockey parties. One of the most unusual treats I've ever eaten, they are none-the-less a childhood staple. My mom always made them with orange and chocolate sprinkles, but I was late to the Halloween decorating party, and had to go for these little candy eyes. All the cuter!
And haystacks are ridiculously easy. There are only three ingredients. They can be made in the microwave.. These are the dessert equivalent of last minute DIY Halloween costumes. And just like costumes, homemade treats are way better than store bought.


Ingredients

1 cup dark chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch morsels
2 cups Chow Mein noodles, dried
Sprinkles or candy eyes, for decoration

 

Preparation

1. In a microwave safe bowl or stove-top double boiler, melt the chocolate and butterscotch morsels until smooth.  Make sure to add heat slowly, and stir often.
2. Gently stir in the chow mien noodles, till evenly coated.
3. Spoon out 1-2 inch mounds onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Decorate with sprinkle, eyes, etc.
4. Freeze or refrigerate until firm.

Enjoy! Crumbly, sweet, and spooky.

Happy baking!

9/27/15

Plum Olive Oil Cake: William Carlos Williams



This Is Just To Say

"I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold"

-William Carlos Williams

This simple poem is one of William Carlos Williams' most famous works. And with good reason. I have always found it completely delightful and vivid, with just a hint of snark. You can almost taste those chilled plums. You can almost hear Williams laughing at his wife.

So for this passive-aggressive poem, I bought a bunch of plums (they're also in season) and placed them in the fridge. Then I had a still-life photoshoot. Fruit is wonderful to photograph, isn't it?

Anyway, with all the fresh plums, I wanted to make a simple cake that is unique and highlights the plums' beautiful colors. New York Times writer Martha Rose Shulman created this Olive Oil Plum cake. Whole wheat, savory, yet with the sweetness from the plums. It sounded perfect. Plus, the colors reminded me of the changing leaves (it's fall btw).

This is one of the few cakes that I've made by weighing only. Weighing ingredients saves a little bit of time and is meant to be more accurate. But is it better? The results were inconclusive. I had trouble getting the sugar on top to melt, so I accidentally left the cake in too long and ended up with a very dry crumb. But this was not the recipe's fault, but my own.

The olive oil flavoring is strange and strong; you have to expect a savory cake, not sweet. I myself am a fan of them (apparently, so are the French). If you want sweet, though, just make a regular vanilla sponge, and add the plums. This reminded me almost of a cheese platter; hearty flavors cut and lifted by the sweetness and acidity of the fruit. If you're feeling adventurous, or just don't like ultra sweet cake, this is the one to try!

Ingredients

125 g (about 1 cup) whole wheat flour
90 g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
10 g (2 teaspoons) baking powder
4 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
60 g (1/4 cup) butter, softened
50 g (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 large eggs
5 g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
1 g (1/4 teaspoon) almond extract
2-3 sliced, pitted plums
25 g (2 tablespoons) sugar-in-the-raw (turbinado). 

Preparation

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and line the bottom of a 8'' springform pan with parchment paper.

2) In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, and salt.

3) In another bowl, beat the butter on medium-high with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then pour in the olive oil and continue to beat on medium until well combined. Add the sugar and continue to mix until light. Then add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix till smooth. Turn the speed to low, and slowly add in the flour mixture. Blend slowly till smooth.

4) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the plums in concentric circles. Sprinkle sugar-in-the-raw on top.

5) Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until it slightly pulls away from the sides. If you (like me) have trouble getting the top layer of sugar to melt, try sliding the cake onto the top wrack of the oven, or use a blow torch, if available.


Happy baking!

9/24/15

Momofuku Milkbar's Cereal Milk Ice Cream


Silver Spork News posted another of my articles! These people are so awesome, I can't get over it. It's great to be able to write for such a smart, welcoming community that's as obsessed with food as I am.
This article is about my trip across town to Momofuku Milk Bar. I have always wanted to visit; it's one of the many places to check off my bucket list. I indulged in the trademark Cereal Milk Soft Serve Ice Cream. Wowza! Gonna have to try and make this one day.

There are lots of recipes out there to make this unique flavor, but I have always trusted the experts at Food 52. Give this recipe a go and tell me what you think!

9/21/15

Bourbon Peach Flambe with Ginger Biscuits: Gone With The Wind:


Today was one of the first days that really felt like fall. The air was crisp, dark clouds were on the horizon, and the sun set earlier than ever. It was a tiny glimpse of the winter ahead.

So in full-out denial, I pretended it was the middle of July, and cooked up some peaches and biscuits. I had snagged some late-summer peaches this weekend, and I wanted to use them while they were still amazing and fresh. And nothing pairs better with peaches and summer, like Gone With The Wind.

While it's usually the iconic film that is thought of, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel has been a staple in southern literature for almost a century. I haven't read it in ages, and the one scene I really remember is Atlanta on fire, and Scarlett and Rhett's mad dash through the burning city (might still be thinking about the film here). So, being oh-so-subtle, I had peaches and Georgia on fire, and I wanted to put the two together:
Peach Flambe.

Plus the fire could represent the burning passion that drives Scarlett. Or the explosive destruction of war that tears the South apart. Bam, symbolism!

Plus, I just wanted to light something on fire.


Because I had to bake something, I also made Ginger Biscuits to soak up all the delicious peach sauce, and to add a little heat of their own.

While I was making the flambe, the peaches were excreting so much liquid that I was worried I'd have peach soup on my hands. So I carefully poured some of the butter, sugar, peach juice liquid into a mug. And it hit me. Peach... gravy? Sweet mama.

Ingredients:

Ginger Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons crystallized ginger, grated
4 ounces butter, cold
1 3/4 cup milk

Peach Flambe

4 oz butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 peaches, thinly sliced
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup bourbon

To make the Biscuits:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger in a bowl.
3. Then, with two knives or a pastry cutter, mix in the butter until the pieces are smaller than the size of peas.
4. Add the milk all at once, and stir with a spoon until the dough comes together.
5. Dump the dough onto a floured surface, and knead 8-10 times gently. Roll the dough out, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out the biscuits and place on an ungreased cookie tray. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
 6. Allow to cool a few minutes, and serve warm.

To make the Peach Flambe:

1. Place the butter and brown sugar in a pan (try not to use non-stick). Melt the two together over medium-high heat, until the sugar has completely dissolved. 
2. Stir in the peaches, making sure to coat evenly with the butter and sugar. Continue to cook on a medium heat until the peaches are soft and the juices are bubbling, about 5-7 minutes.
3. If you'd like, carefully drain or spoon out some of the excess liquid, aka peach gravy. Pour over biscuits later.

Right after the flames died.

To flambe:

BE SAFE! Wear protective gloves and make sure you have a proper fire extinguisher at hand. 
4.  Pour the bourbon into a heat-proof bowl, preferably one with a spout. 
5. Carefully, carefully, light the bourbon and quickly pour over the peaches. The fire will consume the alcohol, and caramelize the peaches (plus, symbolism). 
6. When the peaches have caramelized, take off the heat. Serve hot with the biscuits, or over vanilla ice cream!




It might be late September, but frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Happy baking!

6/25/15

Sporking it Up

Another fantastic collaboration is underway! I have joined forces with Silver Spork News to write about food, huzzah! Silver Spork is a food website created by some alums from NYU. I think it's pretty awesome, and I'm super excited to start writing.

Here's my first article, which is about my fav challah bread recipe.

Dreamy Honey Challah Bread

6/16/15

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book


This cookbook is fast becoming one of my favorites. Written by Emily and Melissa Elsen, the two sisters who started and run the Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop, this great collection showcases and breaks down the slices that can be found daily in the Brooklyn-based shop. 


With rustic fruit, nut, and custard pies that look as flaky and crumbly as anything, this book is as inspiring as it is accessible. The beauty here is in the baking; in the mess, the splatters, and the raw ingredients. There are 70 pages of basic techniques with instructional photos to match, which cover things like how to make all-butter crusts, pistachio creams, and shaving chocolate. 


It puts a great deal of focus on where the ingredients are sourced from, emphasizing local suppliers. Because of this, the recipes are organized by season, and each pie is a reflection of the ingredients best available at the time. This leads to some creative and interesting flavor combinations, such as Chamomile Lavender, Salty Honey, Grapefruit Custard Pie, and Lemon Verbena Raspberry Galette.


Not only do the pies look fantastic, they are simple,  imperfect, and they make you want to start baking right then and there. I'd really like to take a trip out to the pie shop and try the real stuff. Until then, I guess I'll settle on making my own.


Good pie book? Great pie book. 

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