Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's A Christmas Cake

christmas chocolate peanut butter cake

Merry Christmas!

Granted, there is nothing particularly Christmas-y about this cake, except that I was inspired to put it together for Christmas dinner. I was talking to my friend Chloe earlier this week, and she said she was making this Chocolate Peanut Butter cake from Smitten Kitchen. I was blanking on other possible dessert ideas. Also this seemed like a good reason to make a cake, I don't really make cakes out at school, because serving and portability are always such issues. But it's Christmas, so I went all out. And let me say, this cake is worth it.

I was a little skeptical about the frosting, I wasn't sure how it would taste. Turns out this may be my new favorite frosting. It's basically cream cheese frosting (my favorite frosting) with some peanut butter blended in.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Cookies

cutting out cookies

I've been wanting to make these cookies for weeks. If forced to pick a favorite cookie, mine just might be a butter cookie with royal icing. Of course these are labor intensive, and I was seriously lacking in time to attempt such a project.

But there was an unexpected lull in my end of the semester crunch, and I wanted to give these cookies as a thank-you gift to my phd application recommendation writers.

I've attempted baking these kind of cookies twice before. The first time, with a recipe from Baked they were sort of a mess. Tasted fine, but sort of messy. The second time with a recipe from Joe Pastry - which turned out really well. But I needed a lot of cookies, and doubling ounces from Joe's blog looked like a bad idea.

And then TheKitchn went on about how these are the best butter cookies, ever. The recipe uses an obscene amount of butter, so of course I knew they would be amazing. Coincidentally it also made an obscene amount of cookies. On Friday I needed more cookies, and I was low on flour, so I quartered the recipe and it worked splendidly. Also I found this dough the easiest to roll out of the three recipes I've tried. Highly recommend. Finished cookie below: precision frost-er I am not.

frosted butter cookies

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

maple-pecan pie squares

maple-pecan pie squares

Mmm. I like to bake on Monday nights, both because I normally have the most time, and also because baking for the Bleier screenings has sort of become a tradition. And there are two things I really like, tradition and symmetry. So inevitably on Monday afternoon I  find myself scouring recipe blogs for something to make.

These Maple-Pecan Pie Squares caught my eye. In a very short amount of time, I had two 8x8 trays baking happily. It just involves the melting of many high calorie ingredients. I also made some homemade whipped cream, because that's easily my favorite part of eating pecan pie. Still I highly recommend them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

mastering the art of french cooking


So I started keeping a small list of kitchen related gadgets and books I wanted to acquire - more for my own reference than gift list purposes. Then yesterday a belated birthday box of gifts arrived from my Aunt, with a bunch of the kitchen stuff from my list that she had and didn't want.

My favorite thing in the box was probably this copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" which my Aunt said she picked up a thrift store a few years ago. I love that it already seems gently worn. I can't wait to break it open and cook something, although it might have to wait until finals have finished.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

on ephemerality

"Ephemerality may have intensified the era's beauty, as it does autumn's."

- David Gelernter, 1939: Lost World of Fair

Monday, October 5, 2009

fair food

So i'm only a month or so behind on this post, featuring food from The Great New York State fair. The NYState fair is massive, and pretty typical of state fairs, I think. And aside from the free concerts (Boyz to Men, anyone?) there is an abundance of food you can only get at the fair.

First up, sweet potato ribbon fries.

sweet potato fries

Next up, deep fried oreos. Kelly and I decided we needed to at least try the deep fried oreo phenomenon. I wasn't really sure what to expect.

deep fried oreo

I didn't realize that they bread the oreos in funnel cake batter before deep frying, which makes a lot of sense. And makes it taste vaguely funnel cake-eqsue. Also, I don't know what I thought the inside would be like. It was a melted oreo, which makes sense given the heat of the oil. But I guess part of me thought it would retain the crunch of an Oero.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

camembert and cherries on ciabatta

pited cherries

So last night I'm trying to decide what to make for dinner. I had settled on adding chicken to the pineapple fried rice I was going to make. But I made the mistake of flipping thorugh my "to-make" recipes, and I couldn't get this Rachael Ray recipe for Grilled Cheese with Fresh Cherries out of my mind. Which is how I ended up buying ciabatta, camembert and cherries.

the great cherry massacre of '09

Things I didn't have included thyme, a grill, and apparently the right kind of bread. Apparently I didn't read the recipe very closely and I didn't realize it wasn't so much grilled cheese like, as toasting the bread. I have to say I think it turned out pretty well. I used the recipe to make half the cherry component and half the wheel of cheese for one sandwich.

camembert & cherries

Tonight I decided to use the other half of the cheese and some apple slices, and grilled this panini style. It's hard to say I liked it more, but I sort of did. Either way, I would highly recommend either permutation.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

sugar cookies

my new friend, royal icing

When I was growing up the best sugar cookies in town came from a local bakery, Cristaudo's. They were these big sugar cookies with pink icing. I was thinking about those cookies recently and how much I wanted one. So I googled the recipe, hoping someone had unearthed the secret of those cookies. Not only did my google-ing turn up nothing, my mom informed me the bakery has closed. So even my next trip home won't get me these cookies to ponder over their ingredients more deeply.

So I decided to go for broke and attempt the sugar cookie recipe from the Baked cookbook.

For some reason I occasionally look at recipes with giant time restrictions, things like "chill for 4 hours" and think to myself, psh nothing needs to chill for that long. Turns out, some things do need to chill that long. I ended up putting the dough freezer for twenty minutes, and then moving it the fridge for another hour. And I realized how wrong I was when I went to roll out the dough, and it was hard to roll and cut. Also I should mention I don't have a rolling pin, so I had to improvise with my no-stick spray bottle, which suffice to say does not work all that well. Still the cookies I cut and baked turned out really well, and I'll definitely be trying this again with another round of royal icing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


If I had to pick one junk food, I'm pretty sure glazed doughnuts would make the short list. So when I found this recipe for homemade doughnuts, I knew I had to attempt it. Sadly when I found the recipe I was knee deep in thesis design without three hours to spare on doughnuts. So I decided doughnut making would be a reward to making it through thesis design.


First up, I made the dough and let it rise for a couple of hours. Then came time to roll out the dough. I thought I had all the stuff needed to attempt the doughnuts, but I forgot I lack a rolling pin and cookie cutters. So, this turned into a little guerrilla baking. My bottle of no stick cooking spray doubled as a rolling pin, and some glasses and a teaspoon doubled as cookie cutters.

doughnut frying

Next up was doughnut frying. I can't say I've ever deep fried anything before, and it's certainly something I need more practice at.

doughnut hole

By far one of my favorite things was making the doughnut holes.

I rolled the doughnut holes in powdered sugar and glazed the big doughnuts with glaze from Alton Brown. Overall they were really pretty good straight out of the oil and hot, but as they cooled they got a little hard. Not a bad first attempt, but I look forward to trying again.

Sunday, July 5, 2009



So after seeing Nicole at Pinch My Salt write about making Challah. I further investigated the Peter Reinhart recipe and decided to give it a go. My confidence was bolstered a bit by previous no-knead bread baking attempts, although this was definitely more of a challenge, with the windowpane-ing, the rolling and the braiding.


My braid was a little messy, and it turns out bread braiding (unlike hair braiding) is a one shot deal. After the braided bread rose some more, and then after baking the braid had almost completely disappeared. My main goal was to the use the bread for french toast, so I wasn't all that concerned with the way it looked. It tastes great.

italian sodas

raspberry italian soda

I might have written my undergraduate thesis partially fueled by sipping raspberry italian sodas from Rao's and the Thirsty Mind. After leaving MHC I was saddened to find out that very few places sold these wonderful concoctions. (Even places that already had all the ingredients) I've been looking at the grocery stores for syrup, which no one seemed to sell. Then yesterday in Marshall's I spotted a beautiful bottle of raspberry syrup. A quick stop at Wegmans for a little club soda, and beautiful home made italian sods are now all mine.

From the first sip I had one of those, oh my god, why have I not been doing this forever moments. Since bringing home the syrup, I think I've made three or four big glasses. Mmmm.