6/25/16

Baked Apples with Sour Cherries : Game of Thrones


"There were great joints of aurochs roasted with leeks, venison pies chunky with carrots, bacon, and mushrooms, mutton chops sauced in honey and cloves, savory duck, peppered boar, goose, skewers of pigeons and capon, beef-and-barley stew, cold fruit soup. Lord Wyman had brought twenty cakes of fish from White Harbor packed in salt and seawood; whitefish and winkles, crabs and mussels, clams, herring, cod, salmon, lobster and lampreys. There were black bread and honeycakes and oaten biscuits; there were turnips and pease and beets, beans and squash and huge red onion; there were baked apples and berry tarts and pears poached in strongwine. Wheels of white cheese were set at every table, above and below the salt, and flagons of hot spice wine and chilled autumn ale were passed up and down the table." A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin



It seems that what A Song of Ice and Fire has in abundance, besides violence and incest, is food. From hot pies to brown stew to lemon cakes, the GOT world has its own index of food to add context and realism to the realms. Martin must have done some insane research to convey the detail and sheer mass of the great feasts of the middle ages, as well as the deprival of war and famine.



But you don't have to make a venison pie to get into the spirit of Game of Thrones. A particular favorite in King's Landing, this is a super quick bake for all ya'll GOT fans gathering tomorrow for the season finale. I'm super duper psyched, especially with a season that's been punching up the ladyvenge and hustling the plot along. Summer cherries add a little tartness (and bloodiness) to the treat.


Total Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients 


4 medium sized apples, (I used Gala)
4 tart cherries, pitted and cut in half
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup oats
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Whipped cream or creme fraiche, to serve

Preparation


1. Set the oven to 350 F.  Core the apples with a sharp knife and spoon.
2. Crumble the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg with your fingers until completely incorporated.
3. Stuff the apples evenly, add cherries and almonds on top. Place in a baking pan filled with 1-inch water or cider (optional). Bake 45 minutes.
4. Allow to cool about 5-10 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche!



Happy baking!


6/22/16

Sugar Freak


Sugar Freak. An Astoria brunch hot-spot that's all about Louisana. The food, the decor, the food. Everything from the eggs, to the Johnnie cakes, to the beer-can chicken was infused with the spicy and sweet flavors of the south. So most things are fried, smothered, or hot red.

I dig it.

I had the chicken and waffles (above) with a spicey-honey sauce. The waffles were thicker than the norm, almost a cornbread consistency. They also plop a whole bottle of syrup onto the table. 

My darling friend got the Sugar Freak take on the breakfast platter. Biscuits, gravy, and grits? I was a little jealous. I had a lot of grits in Virginia, and I miss seeing them on the menu. 

Also pro tip: Get the praline bacon. Trust me.

Things I need to go back for:
Grits (they have eight kinds!)
The motherlovin' Mac 'n Cheese
Po' Boys, all the Po' Boys

One of my favorite things about schlepping to Queens is the proximity/price ratio. The farther you get from Manhattan, the cheaper the drinks. So with $4 mimosas, $5 Bloody Marys and $15 bottomless Sugar Freak is great not just for the food.


But the food's pretty damn good.

6/21/16

Fruity Pebbles Rainbow Cake


It's Pride Week in NYC! I'm not an extremely politically or socially outspoken person, but supporting a community that promotes love and individuality, even in a really small way like baking, is pretty simple to do. So, what better time to make a rainbow cake?

While there are some freaking exquisite rainbow cakes out there, I knew making a six-layer, mulitcolor cake was more baking time than my sweltering kitchen could afford. And my decorating skills are primitive at best.

So I opted for the rainbow trifecta: Funfetti cake, Fruity Pebbles, and rainbow frosting. The result was a pretty damn elegant cake, with enough color to make me practically giddy.

I used boxed cake mix, because you can't make Funfetti cake without Funfetti cake. It's just not the same. I filled the inside with store-bought icing, but used a home-made buttercream for the frosting (better piping, what can I say). But if you'd rather ditch the buttercream altogether, grab two cans of vanilla frosting.



Ingredients

  • 1 box Funfetti Cake
    (Requires 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/4 cup water)
  • 1 (or 2) can(s) vanilla frosting
  • Food coloring
  • 1 box Fruity Pebbles cereal
Italian Meringue Buttercream (optional)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation


1) Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the cake mix, oil, water, and egg whites in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer or whisky vigorously for 2 minutes, until completely incorporated. Split the batter 1/3 to 2/3 between two 6-inch cake tins.

2) Bake until golden brown, 25 minutes for the 1/3 cake tin, and 30-35 for the 2/3 cake tin. Allow to cool on a wire wrack. 

3) When cool, slice off the tops to flatten. Divide the large cake in half, so you have three layers.

4) With the can of vanilla frosting, divide 3/4 of the frosting into five bowls. Color each red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Scoop the different frostings into ziplock bags and snip off the corners. On the bottom layer of cake, line concentric circles in a rainbow pattern. 

5) Place the middle layer on top of the frosting and repeat the pattern, in the opposite order. Set the final layer on top, flat bottom side up.

6) With the leftover white frosting, lightly frost the entire cake. Place in the fridge to set.


7) Make the meringue buttercream: In a heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar until translucent and warm, and the sugar has dissolved.

8) Beat the egg-sugar mixture in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer on high until glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Beat in the butter. If the mixture is still warm and runs, place in the fridge to cool completely, and then beat again another 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.

9) Spread frosting over the set cake. Press the Fruity Pebbles into the sides or sprinkle over the entire thing. Pipe stars or swirls along the side, as desired.


And bam! A freakin' cutie-fruity cake that's simple to decorate and not stacked a mile high. One thing I didn't realize about this cake was how freaking delicious Fruity Pebbles are as decoration! They add crunch and color, but the fruity-sweet taste is incredible!

 



Happy Baking!

6/19/16

6/18/16

Rocky Road Tart


I'm pretty bad at getting recipes out in time for the holidays. So for this pie, I finally got one over on procrastination. HAH!

If you're looking for something last minute to make for your dad on Father's Day, might I recommend this hunk? Not only is it based on one of my dad's favorite ice cream flavors, but it feels like something he would make. Slap everything into a pan and done! And it's freaking delicious. Or if you're looking for something delectable to make for summertime, this tart is one step away from a s'mores pie. Perfecto.

While it is deceptively simple to make, this tart packs a caloric punch with heavy cream, melted chocolate, and toasted almonds.


But somethings are just worth it, ya know?


I found the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts. (She actually recommends it for Father's Day. Oh, she's good that Martha.) The recipe is so straight forward, it came out looking just like the picture.

BAM.

Since I'm an adult-child, I live away from my folks. So, I'll be celebrating Father's Day with my dad next weekend. And while I'm bummed I'll not get to see him on the day, I will happily eat this pie in his honor (and possibly recreate it next week).


I hope you get to spend tomorrow thinking/ loving/ appreciating/ rolling your eyes at the father figure in your life.

Ok recipe time:

Bake Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients


  • 15 graham crackers sheets
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 15 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
  • 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup whole toasted almonds, roughly chopped.




Preparation

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Place graham crackers, sugar, and salt in a food processor or large gallon zip-lock bag. Pulse or roll with a rolling pin until finely ground. Pour into an 8-inch road springform pan or pie tin. 

2. Add the melted butter and blend until completely incorporated. With fingers or a spatula, press the crust evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan, with 1-2 inch tall sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. 

3. While the crust's cooling, make the Filling: mix the marshmallows, 2 ounces chocolate chips, and 1 cup almonds in a bowl. Set aside.

4. For the ganache: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, either in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Allow it to stay warm while you...

5. Heat the cream in a medium sauce-pan until just simmering. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks, making sure to beat continuously. Add the egg-mixture back into the rest of the cream and continue to whisk over medium heat. 

6. Pour the cream into the melted chocolate, and blend until smooth.

7. Assembly: Place the 3/4 of the dry filling into the bottom of the crust (you'll need the rest for topping). Scoop out 3/4 cup of the ganache and set aside for later. Pour the rest of the ganache evenly into the pie crust. Place in the refrigerator for one hour to set (or put it in the freezer for half). Leave the remaining ganache covered at room temperature.

8. Once the tart is set, alternate between pouring the remaining ganache and filling on top. (Ganache, filling, ganache, filling.) You want the marshmallow and almonds to look half buried, but still sitting pretty on top. Place in the fridge for at least another 10 minutes to set the top. 


And you're done! A scrumptious dish that may or may not be good for you. 


The only tiff I may have against this tart, is the crust was a little sparse. Of course, I always want more pie crust in my life, and it that can be easily remedied. Also, if you purchase a store-bought graham crust, this becomes an entirely no-bake pie. Oh, the sweet magic of modern America!



Happy Baking! And Happy Father's Day!

6/17/16

Green Smoothie Bowls


With the summer in full swing, it's become way too hot in my apartment for any real cooking. Especially since my old gas oven leaks heat faster than a busted Corellian YT-1300 light freighter. So the one machine I've been using the most this June has been my trusty Magic Bullet. 

Recently I've been on a green smoothie kick. (Salads you sip? I'm down.) Once I figured out 'smoothie bowls' are just horizontal smoothies with stuff on top, I couldn't get enough of 'em! With lots of fiber, vitamins, and moral superiority, these will give you a well-needed boost morning or afternoon.

On portions: Smoothies can be great pick-me-up snacks or full-on meal replacements. It's all about what you put in them, your diet, and your penchant for slurping meals. I consider the recipes below to be meal substitutes, but smoothies are the easiest to store in the fridge for later, so divide and conquer hungry health nuts!

There are some stigmas attached to smoothie bowls that I needed to get over. The first was my teenage self, saying that "Trends are stupid and I shouldn't do something just cause everyone else is!" The other was my kid self, saying that "Ewwwww that smoothie looks like gray mud in a bowl!"
To all the (inner) haters: These are delicious, nutritious, and cool to make. 

Ingredients:

Green Machine

1/2 cup orange juice or grapefruit juice
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1/2 cucumber, sliced
2 handfuls of spinach
1 handful of baby kale
1/2 apple, sliced 
Fresh Ginger, grated to taste
1/4 avocado, sliced
Fresh Parsely

Berry Blue Morning 

1/2 cup almond milk
1 handful spinach
1/4 cup frozen strawberries, sliced in half
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 banana, sliced
1 tsp flax seed or chia seeds
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter

Grey Sludge Delight

1/2 cup orange juice
1 handful spinach
1 handful kale
1/4 cup strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tsp flax seed or chia seeds
1/2 cup greek yogurt, sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder

Preparation:

1) Place all ingredients in the blender, in the order that they are listed. Leave out any protein powder.
2) Give'm a whirl until completely blended.
3) Stir in the protein powder, if desired.
4) Sip with a straw, or pour into a bowl and add toppings (see below). Enjoy!

Toppings! (Aka the best part.)

Fresh Fruit: 
Sliced Strawberries, Bananas, Blueberries, Raspberries, Kiwi

A Little Fat: 
Flax Seed, Coconut Shavings, Sliced Almonds, Pecans, Chia Seeds, Sunflower Seeds

Sweeteners: 
Honey, Agave, Rainbow Sprinkles, Chocolate Shavings

One more note:
You'll notice I used relatively simple ingredients, for smoothies at least. Feel free to add any nutritional supplements you love. I haven't yet dived into the world of hemp, seaweed, and wheatgrass, but I'm sure, like all of us, that fate awaits me.


Happy blending!


6/16/16

Hey ya'll.


So it's been 4 months today since I've posted anything. That's the longest that I've ever gone without writing anything on the 'ole blog. I've still been baking, but just haven't posted anything. I'd been deprived of the three key elements of food styling:
1. Good, natural lighting
2. A decent oven
3. Lots of time and energy

During the winter months, I was particularly deprived of the third. And it was tough and depressing as hell to neglect WHB. I'm not one to share a whole lot on here, but the past few months have been pretty tough. This year I graduated from university and moved to a new city. Job hunting is one of those tough phases everyone goes through from time to time, but it quickly became a rut I couldn't get myself out of, even with a job. It's been a year filled with high hopes and the low lows and tiny existential crises. And through all of it, I've still been baking (and eating of course.)

I also got lost in trying to make the blog perfect. There's a lot of food media out there. Almost too much, and it often feels like you're shouting into a void, ya know, but with cake. Instead of focusing on making the bakes taste as amazing as possible, I was all bothered with how they looked, how many likes they got, what content was being shared. Or I'd get discouraged when it didn't come out the way I'd imagined. But that's life right? Sometimes it's weird how baking can teach you so many damn life lessons. Just because things don't work out, doesn't mean you shouldn't gobble it up, or chuck it and try again. Ok... that might only apply to baking. Sometimes I'm not sure what motivates me more, the treats at the end or the hours spent focusing on a single thing. Maybe it's a mix of both?

Here are some bakes I made (if you're interested)!

Coconut fried chicken and biscuits with carrot slaw (and a side of succulents).

Zeppole and chocolate dipping sauce!

Home-made muesli, anyone?

Vanilla Cake and Milk Chocolate Frosting with Raspberry
Hopefully more to come!
Happy baking!


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