Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not making any of those unrealistic, unattainable resolutions like, lose 20 pounds, not worry so much, be nicer - come on! Some recipes I want to try this year: (if I can photograph and post about every one, that will be one resolution down!)

1) Calissons - I love almonds in desserts and these Marzipan like sweets look way more appetizing because they're not trying to be fruits. Their perfect texture and shape make me starry eyed. First, I need to get some almond meal and orange flower water.

2) They come in every color and flavor under the rainbow. How could you not love them? Often, they're mistaken for macaroons, the coconut confections that are nothing like them. Also made with almonds, almond flour to be exact and eggs white. The recipe is more about perfecting a technique than anything else, but it will be so worth it if I am able to make them.

3) Cheese and eggs! What more is there to say?

I just realized these are all French recipes, but where better to start than with the classics? If you have any recipes to recommend, feel free to share! What do you want to make this year?

*Photos are borrowed from other sites, reachable by the link below each photo.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Green Tea Matcha Cookies


Healthy or moldy cookies? Neither, actually. Well, they are yummy shortbread cookies with matcha green tea powder, supposedly one of the healthiest types of green tea. The antioxidant yada yada properties are higher than in other teas because this comes in powder form and you basically eat the leaves as well. But there's also a stick of butter in the recipe, so you make the call. I love baking cookies that come out perfectly round though - it makes me think I'm a skilled baker. This cookie recipe comes from the late Amai Tea & Bake House in Grammercy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fresh Cranberry Sauce


I'll keep this short and sweet. A bag of cranberries, 2 cups of sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, zest of orange/tangerine/lemon and its juices. Cook until it boils and simmer about 10 minutes, cool. Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red Velvet Redux


My first attempt at red velvet cupcakes was a little disappointing. I used a recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcake book, and maybe it was the wrong type of oil, or the amount, but they came out too oily, the oil going through the paper cups. Eck. A lot of red velvet recipes I've come upon use oil, and I'm not sure why. I know the vinegar and cocoa powder are important for contributing to their famous hue, but not the oil. Anyway, I found a recipe that uses butter here. I only had half a bottle of red food coloring, instead of the two bottles it calls for but they still came out nice. It was a much lighter cupcake and not oily. To give credit to Martha, I topped it with her cream cheese frosting which is very easy and tasty (I mean, butter + cream cheese + sugar, yeah it's gotta taste good). For next time, I want to try for a denser cake.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Apple Cranberry Crisp


What do you do when apples are 69 cents a pound? You make apple crisp, apple pie, apple anything, that's what! I added a half bag (6oz) of fresh cranberries, and replaced the regular white flour with Trader Joe's light whole wheat flour. With all the brown sugar and butter, you can't even tell it's healthy! Err...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Part II : Potato Croquettes


Maybe because I'm getting older, but Thanksgiving dinner didn't totally do it for me this year. I had a whole list of these extravagant dishes to make (homemade pie, pumpkin soufflé, fresh cranberry relish) but as I always say, when it rains it pours and so I spent (or wasted) the beginning of the week running around. Anyway, the weekend isn't over, so I plan on spending the next few days trying to revamp the same old leftovers. First up, are potato croquettes, inspired by Bitchin' Kitchen's recipe.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scallion Pancakes


Warming up the kitchen for Turkey Day! I tried this recipe but be warned - you will need almost twice the amount of flour the recipe calls for. Instead of 1 1/4 flour, start with 2 cups, and go from there. Instead of lard, which I believe the original pancakes are made from, this uses oil, so the dough is more like a pizza dough, instead of a flaky pancake. Not as greasy like the ones from the restaurants, but cripsy on the outside and fluffy on the inside with a subtle scallion flavor.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

necessity (boredom/hunger/desperation?) is the mother of invention


I wanted to try caramelizing some onions. Yup, this is a pretty normal Sunday for me, guys. Like the dinner rolls from my last post, they require a lot of time and patience. Too high, the onions are half raw / half burnt, too low, you'll be waiting for ever. These were done in about 45 minutes. With no burger to top, I toasted a piece of 12 grain bread, spread on some cream cheese and topped with the onions. It tasted so good, I almost felt guilty. Almost.

What foods have you thrown together in a moment of desperation?

Friday, November 12, 2010

beginner dinner rolls



Every year, stores and TV commercials seem to start with the Christmas music and shopping earlier and earlier. This year is no exception. Instead of grumbling about it, I've decided to embrace it and try to recreate some of that magical Christmas feeling that was so easy to have as a kid, but has sharply declined each year. The holidays are all about baking and while I plan on trying my hand at cinnamon buns, a perfect pie crust and something (anything) with pumpkin in it, I stumbled upon this recipe and thought it good practice for working with yeast.

There is no milk needed, which was good because my cat decided to drink the last of mine, and no buttermilk needed as well (who really has buttermilk on hand?) The dough came together very easily, you only need a bowl and a spoon. The hardest part was waiting... first 2 hours in the fridge, then an 1 1/2 half after you make the individual rolls. But they were worth it - nice sturdy mounds of bread-y goodness, spread with cold butter and raspberry jam. I quickly down 3 in a few minutes. Now all I need to learn is to let the dough have its time to rise...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

baked cheese rangoons: who needs fried?

It's been one of those weekends. An attempt at french onion soup was satisfying in taste (sweet and buttery) but lacking in color . But these - my new addiction - came out very nicely. The deep fried ones from your local chinese takeout are so good but so bad, so I looked for a baked alternative. Hardly any fat is needed. Two ingredients: wonton wrappers and cream cheese. Some people use duck sauce, but I like my condiments to be made out of real food and not chemicals, so I tried a mix of Sriracha sauce and apricot jam. The result: the best sweet and spicy sauce I've ever had. No joke.

Friday, October 15, 2010

roast chicken

Roast Chicken
My first roast chicken - I bought the Halal version because it says it's free of antibiotics. The downside was the head was attached and the poor thing just looked so sad and pathetic, I almost became a vegetarian right there. But um... back to the recipe! I based mine off Thomas Keller's which is so simple it seems almost wrong. Making sure the chicken is very dry after washing, and not adding extra liquids or basting during roasting, he says, makes for a crispier skin. But I couldn't leave well enough alone, and threw some root vegetables in the pan, and stuffed the chicken with garlic and lemon. A weird fact, the lemon turns the garlic an unnatural bluish green! The skin still came out very cripsy the white meat very juicy and the dark meat falling off the bone. A pretty successful first try, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apricot Thumbprint Cookies

Apricot Thumbprint Cookies
I don't think know which I like better. Making food to photograph and post about or eating the finished product. The recipe is from Joy of, but I had some extra lemon zest from lunch so I added that in. Lemon zest never hurts a recipe in my experience. You press an indent in the middle of the cookie with your thumb and fill with your favorite jam, in this case, I had some rose apricot jam from Austria (found in my local supermarket).


Will eating a bunch of vegetables cancel out the 4 pieces of korean fried chicken I just ate? Probably not. But it makes me feel a little bit better and it is better than eating another 4 pieces of chicken... mm, chicken....


I bought a couple of fresh beets yesterday. They're one of those miracle health foods that had me give them a second try. My first encounter with beets were from a can and as you may agree, most canned vegetables taste like metallic flavored mush and and bring back unpleasant memories of the school cafeteria. But fresh beets are much more crisp and substantial if you don't cook them that long. The easiest way to cook, I've read, is to quarter them and steam with the skin on for 15 minutes. But since I didn't have a steam wrack, I boiled them whole (with skins) for about an hour. They're even better with a little butter too.

Kale Chips with Cheeze

Cheeze is the vegan/raw substitute for cheese. This version is made of uncooked cashews, lemon juice, onion and garlic powder and sea salt. The first time I tried a store bought version I wasn't expecting much, but the taste was amazing - intense, flavorful and similar to the filling of spinach pie. I tried to recreate the flavor but since I don't have a dehydrator and am perfectly fine eating my food cooked, I baked the 'chips' in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. Since they're healthy, I don't feel as guilty eating a whole bowl full.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oeuf à la coque (Soft boiled egg)



As Anthony Bourdain so charmingly said, "I am a total egg slut." But it's true - I love eggs. I recently learned how to cook the perfect hardboiled egg so that the yolk doesn't turn that unappetizing green on the outer edge. (Put eggs in a pot covered with water and cook 10 minutes after it begins to boil. Remove and rinse with cold water.) Since then, I've been seeing soft boiled eggs with toast soldiers on my food shows, a common English comfort food, and who am I to pass up another excuse to eat runny egg yolks? I didn't have the traditional egg cup, so I used an espresso cup and sat the egg in a cushion of sea salt. Now to go egg cup shopping! *For soft boiled eggs, repeat the same process, but only cook for 4 minutes after the water begins to boil.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

samosas and biscotti



Yes, a strange combination that involved juggling oven time and only one sheet pan. I've been trying to make things using as many ingredients as I have at home, so I guess that's what happened. The almond and lemon biscotti is taken from Giada DeLaurentis' show last night, but minus the decadent white chocolate she dips them in. Still very good.

The peas and potato filled samosas are Anjum Anand's of my new favorite - the Cooking Channel. I've been on an Indian-food-cooking craze, and I like that the new breed of Indian cooking shows give healthier and lighter versions of a cuisine that is thought to be full of rich, buttery and cream laden dishes. I know it's ignorant to think all Indian food is like that - much like America's misconceptions of Chinese food. These samosas don't have the traditional fried doughy skins, but are wrapped in filo dough using a minimal amount of butter and baked.

applesauce brownies


I was craving something sweet and chocolately, and I found a few boxes of brownie mix under a chair in a bag. I don't consider it "real" baking since it's from a box, but it was there and I was desperate. I was also short on butter, and wanted to make the recipe healthier (1/20 of the end result is 170 calories!) so I searched for a good substitute and found you can use applesauce. Of course, I saw this fact on the box after searching online... but oh well, it came out pretty good, even sweeter and fruitier. You just use 1/3 cup of applesauce instead of butter and one less egg. And for portion control, I scooped the batter into a mini cupcake pan.