Saturday, November 19, 2011

Oh My God Rolls in an Hour

oh my god, these rolls (#321)

So reading the food blogs I kept seeing recipes for rolls, and I wanted to eat all of them. But since I spend the weekends doing school work out of the house, I don't have hours at home to make them. Normally, the only kind of homemade bread I am able to make with a meal is a quick beer bread or biscuits. Enter the recipe I found for these rolls, which had them listed as taking a little over an hour. Amazing. These are life changing. That I could take these big warm yeasty rolls out of the oven in an hour from start to finish? It's all i want all the time, I'll have to fight the urge to just make these for dinner and just eat them. 

Oh My God Rolls in an Hour
from Mommy's Kitchen

3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup hot water
4 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 - 4 1/2 cups flour, divided
1 heaping tablespoon instant yeast

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Butter a 9x13 pan and set aside. Put butter and milk in a microwave safe container. Microwave mixture until milk warms and butter melts (about 1 minute). Add milk/butter mixture, hot water (it can be straight from the tap, just make sure the water is plenty hot), sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour to stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Mix everything together for 1 minute.

Add the yeast. Slowly incorporate the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time as the mixer runs. There's enough flour when the dough scrapes the side of the bowl clean. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes.

Spray the counter, or cutting board with cooking spray. After the 5 minute rise, lay the dough on top of it. Flatten the dough out into a rough rectangle (no need to get out the rolling pin or knead it, just shape it with your hands). Take a sharp knife, spray it with cooking spray and cut your dough into 12 roughly equal squares. Gently round the squares into balls, and put them into the buttered 9x13 pan.

Bake the rolls at 170 for 20 minutes, or until they have risen slightly above the rim of the pan. Leave the pan in the oven, turn the heat up to 350 degrees, and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown and impossible to resist. Serve warm.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

birthday cake! (#301)

Happy Birthday to Me! 

Of course, when you find yourself to be the typical baker in your group of friends / family your own Birthday cake can be a bit tricky. In my case, I'm used to having other people tell me what they want. Val wanted something that was low-carb, and Liz didn't want anything chocolate, and you catch my drift. So first, I had to decide what I wanted. Then I had to find some recipes. My mom offered to make the cake, as long as I provided the recipes. I decided that I wanted something with a salted caramel frosting, but I didn't like any of the recipes I found. 

I ended up having her halve the recipe on this Chocolate cake recipe, and double the recipe on a traditional buttercream frosting. All the Salted Caramel Buttercream recipes I found just listed proportions for making the caramel sauce straight away, and I had already made the caramel sauce. She ended up adding a pint jar of salted caramel that I had made earlier in the weekend. It was delicious. It was fairly salty the first night, and after that it just got saltier. I was fine with this, but I recognize that not everyone shares my undying love of sea salt. Mmmm, salty and sweet, my favorite. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Food of Fall - Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

The last couple of weeks at the farmer's market I've been resisting the squash. There's a long winter full of squashy things ahead of me, and best to get a last few dishes out of the tomatoes and eggplants and zucchini. I finally gave up the fight this week. It's been feeling like fall finally, and so there was only one thing left to do: Butternut Squash Pasta.

I first made this with Kelly in Syracuse, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since then. Roasting the squash, onions and bacon all together gives it this flavor that's indescribably good. Nothing ever goes wrong when caramelized onions are involved. And the squash gets all soft and slightly roasted. Plus once the squash is peeled the whole thing comes together really quickly. If you are opposed to bacon for some reason, it could easily be left out. Though I think you would seriously be missing out.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta
(from Kelly at Nerd in the Kitchen)

1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 medium onion, diced
4 strips of bacon, diced
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
1 lb. of pasta (rigatoni / penne / farfalle)
1.5 cups of the pasta water
1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese grated

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. Cube the squash into pieces no larger than 1″. Distribute the squash, onion, and bacon on a baking sheet. Lightly coat with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 25 minutes, turning the squash about halfway through.

3. While the squash is cooking, boil the pasta. When the pasta is done, drain it, but reserve about 1.5 cups of the pasta water. Pour the pasta back into the now-empty pot.

4. When the squash is tender and the onions have caramelized, pour the baking sheet contents into the pot with the pasta. Add the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the pasta water. Mix until the cheese is melted and the squash is combined. Add water is needed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer is late, my heart.

summer is late, my heart (#267)

"Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bread and Butter Refrigerator Pickles

bread and butter pickles (#246)

In all of my trips to the Carbondale Farmer's Market I've been intrigued by the tiny baby cucumbers. I finally went ahead and bought a couple of them last weekend for my first foray into pickling. I wanted to stick with refrigerator pickles, because I still haven't found my metal strainer for the hot water bath canning. Whoops.

I was about to start cutting up the cucumbers when my mother requested Bread and Butter pickles instead of Dill. So to please my mother I made a trip to the grocery store for a few other spices.

Bread and Butter Pickles 
from Brown Eyed Baker

 Yield: About 4 cups of pickles

 5½ cups (about 1½ pounds) thinly sliced pickling cucumbers*
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1½ teaspoons mustard seeds
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

 1. Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1½ hours. Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. Add onion to the bowl and toss with the cucumbers.

 2. Combine the granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and ground turmeric in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

 * I had significantly less cucumbers than this. Rather than attempting to adjust the rest of the liquid ratio, I just made the full liquid mixture and ended up with more liquid than pickles. Still tasted awesome.

Roasted Red Pepper, Onion, Bacon and Cheese Tart

roasted red pepper, onion, bacon, and cheese quiche (#249)

Last week, I made this amazing Onion, Cheese and Bacon Tart. Tonight we had some red peppers going bad in the fridge and some extra bacon. So the stage was set for a reprise. Sadly, by the time I got back to the house I realized that I had used the last pre-made pie crust, and I file making pie crust on a weeknight on the list of kitchen tasks not worth the effort.

So I went ahead a used a spare puff pastry shell I had in the freezer. Delicious. Highly recommend.

But what really makes this recipe amazing is the bacon, and then cooking the onion and red pepper in the bacon grease with some sugar. Amazing things happen to onions sauteed in bacon grease. Try it. For me it's a struggle not to sit down and eat the onions, peppers and bacon hot out of the oil.

Roasted Red Pepper, Onion, Bacon and Cheese Tart
Adapted from Epicurious

3 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
Pinch of sugar
1 cup half and half or heavy cream or some combination of both
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Generous pinch of salt
Generous pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1 pie crust or puff pastry

(If using pie crust, either home made or store-bought, roll out dough, and arrange in tart or pie plate. Poke holes in the the crust and par-bake for 10 minutes @ 400 degrees. If using puff pastry, thaw, arrange in tart or pie plate and poke holes in the crust. No need to par-bake.)

Sauté bacon in medium skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Add onion and pinch of sugar to drippings in skillet. After a few minutes add the red pepper and sauté until onion is deep golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Whisk cream, egg, egg yolk, pepper, salt, and nutmeg in small bowl to blend.

Spread onion over bottom of baked crust; sprinkle bacon over, then cheese. Pour cream mixture over.

Bake until tart is puffed and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool tart on rack 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Raspberry Cupcakes

raspberry cupcakes (#235)

Raspberry cupcakes with buttercream frosting. It's just a simple vanilla cupcake with some raspberries mixed into the batter, and a raspberry on top of the frosting. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Soup and Cheese

I was showing some of my food photos to one of my Professors. I came across this photo of tomato soup and grilled cheese from last fall. Instantly I knew I wanted something similar for dinner tonight. It's cooled off around here from the weekend but it's still a little hot to be slow roasting tomato soup.

Also since I'm moving, I'm trying to get rid of food not obtain more. Answer: a simple gazpacho with fresh tomatoes canned last fall. I canned the tomatoes whole in their juices (with a bit of lemon juice) added a few other things. Blend. Chill. And Bob's your Uncle.

Inspired last night by Cory, I spooned the gazpacho into a wide mouth mason jar. I often make drinks for myself at night in mason jars, and the jar just made it easier to dip my grilled cheese in the soup. Excellent.

Summer Gazpacho
adapted from Food and Wine

6 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 large cucumber—peeled, halved, seeded and cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Hot sauce, for serving

n a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, water, oil and vinegar and process until coarsely pureed. Season with salt and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with hot sauce.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Triumvirate of Defense Treats

red red raspberries (#187)

Last Friday I had my Master's thesis defense. Something I've been working towards for the better part of two years now. Normally at defenses, the person defending brings in some coffee and a few snacks. Normally this entails a fruit / bagel spread. But the more I thought about it, the less appealing that sounded. Especially since there's so much delicious fruit in season, and I've been traveling so much this summer I haven't gotten to bake with it.

blueberry crumb bars

Ultimately I decided on a triumvirate of treats. Blueberry Crumb bars, Strawberry-Rhubarb bars, and the Raspberry Buttermilk cake. All of these were things I had made before, and I knew them all to be sturdy, straightforward, reliable recipes. On Saturday I went to the Farmer's market and picked up the strawberries and blueberries. Both of which kept beautifully in Mason Jars in my refrigerator. Then Thursday afternoon I came home and baked up a storm.

berry bars (#188)

On Friday, both the treats and the defense presentation went over really well. I'm now officially a graduate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

home made kit kat bars of glory

home made kit kats at chucks

I still have a couple of Thailand posts up my sleeve, but I realized today that I promised this post to Sarah and then it completely slipped my mind.

When I first read the recipe for these "Homemade Kit Kat Bars" I was skeptical. They looked tasty, and certainly contained enough good looking ingredients like butter, chocolate, and peanut butter. And the recipe comes from Paula Deen, butter extraordinaire. But the base was constructed of Club crackers, which seemed dubious. I'm glad I went ahead and gave these a shot. The sum of the parts make for something unholy. The addition of a dash of butterscotch chips is truly an inspired choice. Calling them "Homemade Kit Kat Bars" is a misnomer because they don't really taste like the store bought Kit Kat bars. These lack the crunch and are about 200% richer. Also, they age really well. Like a fine wine or cheese, these just seem to get better after a day or two in the tupperware as the flavors continue to meld. Not kidding. It makes a 9x13 pan, but slice these puppies into tiny squares, you'll thank me later.

These are also incredibly easy to put together. The most annoying part is crushing the graham crackers into crumbs. The original recipe said it took about "45 minutes" of active time. Yeah, maybe if you take a 30 minute nap in the middle of making them. If you have the ingredients lined up, this will come together very quickly. Perfect for any summer picnics!

Kit Kat Bars of Glory
75 Club crackers (roughly 2 and a 1/2 sleeves of a standard box of crackers)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Line 9- by 13-inch rectangular baking pan with one layer of Club crackers (you may need to break some to fit).

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add graham cracker crumbs, dark brown sugar, milk, and granulated sugar. Bring to boil. Boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Pour half of butter mixture over crackers in pan. Smooth surface with spatula.

Arrange another layer of Club crackers over butter mixture. Pour remaining butter mixture over surface. Smooth surface with spatula. Arrange a third layer of crackers over top.

Combine peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips in small saucepan. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over crackers.

Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate two hours. Cut into 2-inch bars. (I cut them much much smaller - see picture - closer to tiny squares) Bars will keep for two weeks, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Monday, June 6, 2011

on impossible things

“Some things are so impossible, so fantastic, that when they happen, you are not at all surprised. Their sheer impossibility has made you imagine them too many times in your head, and when you find yourself on that longed-for moonlit path, it seems unreal but still, somehow, familiar. You dreamed it, of course; you know it like memory.”

from The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer

It's been a big (almost) year. Lots of things happening. Most of which seemed impossible and turned out to be easy. Their sheer impossibility stunningly easy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

weekend trip to khanom

let the sunshine in

Although I already put up photos from our trip to Khanom this past weekend, I thought I would write it up a bit as well. Khanom is a beach town about an hour and a half east from Surat Thani on the Gulf of Thailand. We left on Friday after Brian got off of work, and I hurriedly purchased a swimsuit. The sun sets around 6:30, so the goal was to make it down there before sunset.

On the way we were treated to some light rain and rainbows, and we rolled into town proper just after sunset. We ended up getting a room at the Rabingsa Resort - which is owned by the brother of Brian's bosses wife - so this incurred a slight discount on our room.

live together, die alone (#148)

As one of the less expensive rooms, there was no view of the beach, but we did get a nice sized room, with a bathroom and air conditioning. There is also a resort restaurant with free wifi - making me endlessly happy - and an amazing green curry dish.

smile baby

Saturday morning we went on a motorbike ride to track down a 7-Eleven and some sunblock. Then time for a swim. To someone used to swimming in the Atlantic ocean (if at all) I was amazed at how warm the water was, which makes sense seeing how it's warm here constantly. Both days we were there we went exploring and had lunch at other resorts up the road. One where I had an awesome Pad Thai, and one where we had dubious burgers and onion rings.

pad thai

Both mornings we also had free coupons for an "American Breakfast" at the resort restaurant. Coffee, eggs, toast, ham slices and tiny hot dogs. The second morning we were able to convey our desire to have the eggs scrambled. (Sometimes it's the little things).

beach dog

The resort also seemed home to a variety of beach dogs. There are street dogs everywhere in Thailand. There's one that lives on Brian's street that they feed occasionally. Still petting the dogs is not encouraged, as they are probably home to a fair amount of diseases or bugs. And as the girl who constantly approaches dogs on the street, a dog lover to heart, seeing but not being able to touch or really feed the dogs breaks my heart. At the resort it was pretty clear these dogs were fed leftovers from the restaurant daily, and perhaps from frequent romps in the ocean they seemed fairly clean. Saturday night I finally gave in and fed some of our green curry to one of the dogs. The next morning at breakfast she definitely remembered me as soon as we sat down to eat. I figured there was no risk of attachment since we were leaving that afternoon.

remains of the beach (#149)

So after some reading and a nap on the beach, we packed up the motorbike for a windy ride back to Surat. Because it wasn't a holiday weekend, Khanom and the resort were pretty much deserted. The only other people there were a few Thai families. It was beautiful and peaceful. Awesome.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the motorcycle diaries

just like amelie! (#138)

Before coming to Thailand, I had never been on a motorcycle. Two of my friends from home have crazy stories involving meeting men for the sole purpose of riding on the back of a motorcycle. But, such an opportunity had never presented itself. Pre-Thailand I sometimes joked with Brian that I would probably spend all my time on the back of his motorbike, arms wrapped around him tightly and shielding my eyes between his shoulder blades.

Surprisingly, I adjusted to motorbike riding pretty quickly. For some reason it does feel safer than motorcycle riding in the States, although it wouldn't directly appear that way. Everyone driving around here seems much more aware of other people on the road. Plus, it's much superior to the alternative modes of transportation around the city - pedal bike, and tuk-tuk.

So when Brian said we would be heading to Khanom this weekend by motorbike I didn't think much of it. He had done the trip before, and it's about an hour. He was driving, and I had the backpack full of clothes and a computer, and a side bag for the books and cameras. Wow, is long distance motorbike traveling not what I was expecting. Fifteen minutes in my butt was numb, and my feet were asleep from resting on the pedals near the engine. the pot of gold (#147)

On the way down Friday night, there was some rain, and the most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen in person. It was like something out of a story, at one point it actually appeared to drop off into a patch of green, and it looked like had we veered off the road we might have found the pot of gold at the end of it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Date Night

This one's for you, Hilary.

the golden hour (#145)

Extreme international long distance dating has its disadvantages to be sure. Chief among them is the impossibility of a first date. That would only be possible with an expensive and lengthy transcontinental flight. So, after being in Thailand for about a week, B surprised me with a fairly elaborate plan for a date night.


First up, B got home from teaching and we headed downtown. There he lead me to an ice cream parlor, Swensen's. I'm talking something straight out of 1920s Americana. There was a huge gleaming counter, the waitresses wear read uniforms, and the sundaes were served in big glass dishes. I went for this Snick-Choc concoction of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream, caramel, a Snickers and a chocolate waffle cone piece. These people were not fooling around.

beer? check. sunset? check.

Next it was time to have a beer on the pier and watch the sunset. Which it does brilliantly and with startlingly accuracy at 6:30 every evening.

watching the sunset

Then, dinner not yet ruined by ice cream and beer we headed for hamburgers and french fries at a tiny hole in the wall restaurant. I won't sugar coat it, the cheese on these bad boys was a little odd. But part of me was really happy to be eating a hamburger, as they constitute one of my favorite food groups. They are also my idea of perfect date food.

burgers and french fries>

B: "No one is going to be interested of a picture of a burger in Thailand."

From there we hurried to this giant department store with a theater at the top of it. We got tickets for the only movie showing with an American soundtrack - Pirates 4. I had been planning on seeing that movie sometime around the 4th of Never, but the act of movie going was symbolic, and I like seeing movies in theaters. This one was really nice, but sort of like sitting in a meat locker. Also the popcorn is really really good. Sadly the soda was a bit too sweet, there's something about all the soda here, even the American stuff, that seems just a touch off.

Either way, it was a lovely night. One worth waiting for.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crazy Farang in the Coffee Shop

crazy farang in the coffee shop (#144)

Farang is the general all purpose Thai phrase for "white person." To which, with my extremely pale skin, I definitely fit the bill. It also definitely draws stares from time to time. Especially when I'm furiously pedaling down Talad Mai on a hand me down pedal bike. These days, Brian is working again, entrapped at school from 7:30 to 4:30, this leaves me with most of the day to do as I see fit. Since he has no Internet at home, there's only so long I can go before my obsessive need to stare at my laptop gets the better of me. This is sort of like my need to mix butter, sugar and flour and bake but stronger and more intense. To which for several hours a day, I go by my nickname - crazy farang in the coffee shop. Still the coffee shops aren't busy, and I order a steady litany of drinks and foods. So hopefully I'm ingratiating myself. And hopefully I'm mumbling "thank you" in Thai correctly.

Something I've learned, if you find yourself at a coffee shop in Surat Thani and they don't respond to a smile, pointing at your laptop and saying "password", try some combination of 1122334455, it's very popular. Also much can be achieved through glancing at things, like fans in an un-air-conditioned coffee shop and smiling. When in doubt, nod at

Monday, May 16, 2011


moo pad krapow (#136)

Yesterday afternoon I finally made it to Thailand. So far I've been battling two formidable opponents, jet lag and the heat. Neither of which are kidding around, and both trying really hard to kick my ass. But then as I'm sitting here at this coffee shop, visiting the internet while my personal tour guide, aka Brian, has some teacher's meeting. And the skies just opened pouring rain. I'm sitting outside on an open air porch, because this is where the one outlet is and the breeze coming in off the rain is amazing.

Now on to more important topics, like food. Last night we went to the night market, where we had some slightly spicy, delicious concoction I forget the name of at the moment. But today for lunch he took me to "the rice lady." I had the pad krapow moo (fried rice with pork) and Brian had the pad krapow gui (fried rice with chicken). Both worth writing home about. Mmmmm. Thai food.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars

strawberries sliced!

Spring is here! Kind of. It's been warm and sunny, but still windy and chilly. I really wanted to go strawberry picking and make strawberry rhubarb jam. But the strawberries aren't ready, and I'm too busy packing and cleaning to make jam. Even so I was determined to make something with the rhubarb, before I went and left the country and missed rhubarb season entirely.

and crumbled! (#128)

So Sunday afternoon I made these Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars. My they were good. The perfect amount of sweet and tart and soft. Trust me on this one. Make these immediately. They taste and smell like summer.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars
adapted slightly from Martha Stewart

For The Streusel
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For The Cake
1/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
1/4 pound strawberries, quartered*
1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour. (I didn't use the parchment, and I had no problem getting the bars out of the pan).

Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb (and / or strawberries), brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.

Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.

* Martha only uses rhubarb, but mentions you can substitute up to half of it with strawberries. I didn't really measure the berries and rhubarb by weight, I just cut up some of both, tossed them in the flour and sugar and spread them on top of the cake. I didn't want just a smattering of fruit, I wanted lots of it. I recommend you follow this impulse.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's a Long Way to Tipperary

What do we do now?
Well we could sing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary."

- The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Last Show

Yesterday was my last Bleier Center screening. Sometime last year I started baking regularly for the screenings. It was just a way for me to get to try new recipes out on a weekly and willing audience. Plus it was fun. Then it became my thing. Since this was going to be my last one, I figured I should go out with a bang. A rainbow layer cake and ice cream cone cupcakes. The baking is complicated by the fact that I have class Monday nights from 5-8:30. By the time I get home it's closer to 9. Occasionally I program too much for myself, but this time I planned ahead.

mixing the colors of the rainbow (#121)

On Sunday night I came home and made the cake layers. Although I was obviously inspired by Whisk Kid's Super Epic Rainbow Cake, that she described the cake as a more complicated alteration of a coconut cake base didn't sound appealing. When I made a pink/purple pastel version for Liz's birthday I used this Martha Stewart recipe. So I used that recipe again for this cake and dyed the layers darker rainbow colors. Also I highly recommend this icing color set from Wilton. Life-saving.

the rainbow cake

I baked the layers on Sunday, let them cool completely and wrapped them in plastic wrap until Monday night when I compiled and frosted. Sadly during the baking and cooling of the layers, something happened to Mr. Yellow. This turned out to be fine, because this cake barely fit in the cake carrier with four layers. I should have made another layer and made them smaller, or cut them down more. C'est la vie. I frosted it with the Swiss Meringue Buttercream of Glory. For anyone using Deb's frosting recipe portion's, I made a batch 1 1/2 times the recipe for a 9 inch cake. Last time I made the big batch, and had way too much left over. This gave me just enough.

thirty cents of sprinkles (#122)

But of course, it wasn't enough to make a giant rainbow layer cake. I decided to make Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes. Trying not to overextend myself, I did use a box mix. Funfetti for the win!

ice cream cone cupcake with nutella buttercream frosting (#123)

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
from Betty Crocker

1 box cake mix
24 cake cones
sprinkles, for decoration

Heat oven to 350F. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box. Fill each cup 2/3 full of batter (1 heaping tablespoon each - this will look like not enough, but it's plenty). Place ice cream cone upside down on batter in each cup.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove paper baking cups. Generously frost cake with frosting, and decorate with sprinkles as desired. Store loosely covered.

i scream, you scream

Different blogs suggested different ways to frost and transport these. But since I already needed to carry an unstable cake, I knew there was no way to do that well. The best though involved lining up 8 of them in a loaf pan, but my loaf pan is heavy and I needed to carry all 24. I ended up laying the cones with wrappers on in Tupperware containers. I made two batches of frosting (Buttercream and Nutella Buttercream) and put those in separate tupperwares. Then I frosted them as needed for people at the screening using a spoon. Basically if you plan on traveling with these, I would pack and frost.

It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there

Monday, May 2, 2011

Boom Boom Mex Mex

boom boom mex mex (#119) by the_musical
boom boom mex mex (#119), a photo by the_musical on Flickr.

Even thought my food loving Professor has been recommending this place to me as the best Mexican food in Syracuse, for the better part of two years, I hadn't made it out there. Some other friends went and had mixed reviews (note to self: don't trust their food opinions). Also the owners close up shop during the winter, which let's face it, is most of the time here. But they just opened back up for the Summer.

This is the Mexican platter, featuring some kind of pork, the chilis and cheese filling, plus all the fixins' and two tortillas. I also got this amazing dulce de leche flan. So sad I didn't try this place out sooner.

Monday, April 25, 2011

coffee and a muffin

coffee and a muffin (#115) by the_musical
coffee and a muffin (#115), a photo by the_musical on Flickr.

The muffins are still nice and tasty on Day Two after baking. Especially when enjoyed with a friend and coffee.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Brunch Basket of Baking

cranberry scones

Liz decided to host a brunch yesterday. As I told someone else, it wasn't so much an Easter brunch - as a brunch that happened to fall on Easter. The moment Liz told me she was planning on hosting a brunch I offered to bring things. I love brunch. And I especially love making brunch foods. The problem with most of them - they don't keep well. I can't whip up a bunch of scones in the morning and pass them out the next day at school, like I usually do.

I made a baked french toast casserole, which is fabulous but requires very little effort. So I also offered to bring cranberry scones and blueberry muffins.

blueberry muffins

I've made the blueberry muffins before, and the recipe title isn't an exaggeration. They are beautiful, perfect easy muffins. I knew they wouldn't be a problem. But every other time I've tried to make scones they've been really finicky. Hard to handle. Not the right consistency. These scones on the other hand were awesome. The batter came together easily and baked like a dream. I want to wake up every Sunday morning and make these scones. Now, I just need people I like to volunteer to help me eat them every Sunday morning.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins
from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 9 to 10 standard muffins

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces or 71 grams) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces or 105 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt and zest.

Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in your blueberries.

The dough will be quite thick (and even thicker, if you used a full-fat Greek-style yogurt), closer to a cookie dough, which is why an ice cream scoop is a great tool to fill your muffin cups. You’re looking for them to be about 3/4 full, nothing more, so you might only need 9 instead of 10 cups.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.

my easter brunch basket (#114)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where The Coffee Flows Like Water

For reasons that are unclear to be the Newhouse computer labs are closed this weekend. Yes, I know, ostensibly it's Easter. However, it is also two/three weeks before the end of the semester. You would think the way this place closes down the computer labs that the students are just so religious they would rather be praying than earning money to do nothing but unlock a few rooms. If there are undergrads like this, I don't know them. And as a graduate student trying to write the end of her results and discussion section, I would really like to ensconced in a lab on campus. Instead this weekend as seen me banished to the Panera on Erie, where the coffee refills flow like water.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

a unholy matzo combination for passover

matzo crackers (#109) by the_musical
matzo crackers (#109), a photo by the_musical on Flickr.

The first day of Passover this year happened to fall on a Bleier screening day. We were going to be watching the Rugrats Passover episode, and so it seemed fitting that I bring in something kosher for Passover.

This may seem like a really benevolent gesture on my part, but in fact this was just as much for me as it was for the observant Syracuse Jews. I love these things. I first made them last Christmas as part of my gift care packages. These are so simple and so delicious. A little butter, brown sugar, chocolate and sea salt transforms the matzo into an unholy substance. Deb at Smitten Kitchen calls these "caramel crack (ers)" and that's very accurate.

I might be able to go a week eating nothing but these crackers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

sunday dinner: southwestern pulled brisket

For dinner last night (and the rest of the week) I made this Southwestern Pulled Brisket (from Smitten Kitchen).

I got up around 9, browned the 3lb hunk of beef brisket I bought at Wegman's the day before for about ten minutes. Then I added that some spices, and tomatoes to the slow cooked, turned it on low and went away for the rest of the day. When I came back home after writing all day, the brisket was nice and cooked and ready to eat. I pulled it apart with two forks and spooned it on to a soft hamburger bun, added some pickled red onions and barbecue sauce. Mmm.

Monday, April 11, 2011

here comes the sun

here comes the sun (#99) by the_musical
here comes the sun (#99), a photo by the_musical on Flickr.

Spring is finally coming to Syracuse, and I'm dog sitting. It can be a bit of a hassle, but the dogs make excellent photo subjects.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Is How We Live and Eat - a Blood, Bones and Butter Review

I heard this book reviewed on the New York Times podcast, and then my friend Nino told me I needed to read it immediately. I followed her advice. I loved this book. I want to crawl inside parts of this book and live there. Which is odd, because it's not always a particularly uplifting book. There is something about the way Gabrielle Hamilton describes everything, food, hard work, her relationships, mothering - that makes me want to take up arms and dedicate myself to the cause. Which cause? I'm not even sure, all of them. This makes me want to eat better, it makes me want to cook better, and it makes me want to take care of people better - to build a small space where I could invite the people I love to come, and to eat and to be cared for. I love her descriptions of traveling in foreign countries, and of the people who took her in and fed her. Also I'm totally with her on comfort foods. I don't understand people who eat with only the blandest interest in all the world has to offer. Or as she puts it: "This is the crepe. This is the cider. This is how we live and eat.

The other thing she highlights is something I began to realize in earnest after college. There are people who when things go wrong will simply throw up their hands. Happily leave the hard work to someone else, go back to sitting at their desk and putting their feet up. The people who have no desire to problem solve. Who will refuse to help move boxes or shovel the driveway. There was this guy in Syracuse talking about his long term girlfriend and a really bad snow storm we had that lasted several days. She said she would not help him do the shoveling. Because it was hard and cold. And she would prefer to sit inside while he did the hard work, the bones of the thing. I almost told him that would be a deal breaking quality for me in a potential life mate and I'm not sure why it wasn't with him. And so I've realized I am not one of those people. I am the person that rolls up my sleeves and helps with the hard stuff. Or in other words:

"But at thirty-eight years old, hugely pregnant with my future tiny son, I don't want anything to do with badass. I want to be J. Crew catalog-clean. I don't want to be that woman who can-and did-get down on all fours and scrape pancake batter off the over door after having just cooked three hundred eggs with a near-constant monologue of fucking fuck of a fuck issuing from her lips. That disgusts me. While I would never want or hope to be the type of pregnant woman who would doze languidly in the afternoons while playing Mozart tapes to her womb, being down on the mats with a soapy green scrubby and rattling my unborn fetus with a string of expletives to make a trucker blush...well, that is certainly not the woman I want to be either.

When you are the one throwing the party every night, emptying the ashtrays, making sure the tonic is cold, the limes fresh, the shifts covered, the meat perfectly cooked and adequately rested, the customer's carefree and employees calm and confident, it will leave its marks. Someone has to stay in the kitchen and do the bones of the thing, to make sure it stands up, and if it's you, so be it." (pg 197)

The only other question - who's coming with me to Prune and when are we going?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bacon Jam is Made of Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

bacon jam jar

Consider me a convert to the Church of Bacon Jam. I had seen this floating around the blogosphere for a while, and I had my doubts. It was the onions that swayed me. In my opinion, only good things come from the long slow cooking of onions (see also : French Onion Soup, Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese). Also I had some leftover bacon from last week's pasta with bacon and tomato sauce. Since I had everything on hand, I decided to go for it.

i will eat you on a spoon

Bacon Jam from Minimally Invasive

1 1/2 lbs. bacon sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup very strong brewed black coffee
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon (or more, if you like) cayenne pepper

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. (I did mine in two batches.) When bacon is browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pan.

Place Dutch oven back on the burner and adjust heat to medium. Stir in the onions and garlic and saute until onions are mostly translucent, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with bourbon. Stir in the bacon and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until onions are meltingly soft and the liquid is thick and syrupy, 30-40 minutes. If mixture starts to become dry, add up to 1/4 cup of water.

Transfer the bacon and onions to a food processor and pulse several times or until the bacon jam is a spreadable consistency. (I used the trusty immersion blender) Scrape into a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

I can't even tell you how amazing this stuff is. Words do not describe. Everything slow cooks and melts down into this beautiful syrupy, onion-y, bacon-y goodness. I was eating it out of the pot with a spoon. Then I divided it up into jars. Two quarter pint jam jars and one slightly larger jar. It's not processed like jam, so it will only keep in the refrigerator for a month or so. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'll have much of a problem eating it all. The first order of business last night was toasting some home made bread from last week and smearing a giant spoonful on top. Next up, more bread and possibly a home made grilled cheese with a little of this stuff thrown in.

bacon jam on toast

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Acurately Sums Up How I Feel

(from stealing hearts on flickr)

I've reached the 50 day marker until my trip to Thailand, and I feel like this is what I spend a lot of my time doing. Writing, thinking about planes and epic flights, planning and re-writing papers. There's a lot that needs to get done before I leave, and I feel like it both can't come soon enough, and I think I need more time.

Time, you fickle bastard.