Saturday, February 26, 2011

Anniversary Meal


Today is my parent's 28th anniversary. Instead of wrestling with my mom to go out to a restaurant, I offered to cook dinner. It was relaxing to spend a day cooking a whole meal, complete with dessert and some bubbly. I started with a few recipes as a base, but added a few other ingredients to make it even more special.

Main Course/Side:
Alton Brown's steak au poivre - Alton's recipe is a twist on the classic au poivre sauce, but in my book, you can't go wrong with cognac and cream. My family aren't such big pepper fans as I am, so I toned down the usual pepper crust on the meat. My additions were to add some ingredients from a tarragon sauce, which also uses cream and cognac, but lots of sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms and a dash of chicken stock. The result is a very rich and flavorful sauce that beats your bottled steak sauce any day.

Laura Calder's Savoy Cabbage in butter - To go along with the rich and creamy theme, I made a French Food at Home recipe. This was my first time using savoy cabbage, and it was a lot prettier than your normal cabbage. I shredded a whole cabbage, as if you were making cole slaw, and sauteed for about 8 minutes in 4 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper and voila!


David Lebovitz's panna cotta - My first attempt at panna cotta. I first had it a few years ago and it has been my go-to dessert whenever I can find it on a menu. I feel it might be taking over as the next molten lava chocolate cake, which although I love, can get a little boring after the umpteenth restaurant is serving it. David Lebovitz's recipe couldn't be any simpler, and within 4 hours chilling in the fridge, I had a soft, milky white pudding. I used half and half instead of the usual heavy cream and it came out tasting different than what I usually have in outside, making me think they use all heavy cream. But now that I have the basic recipe down, I can experiment with some amaretto and other flavors. So all in all, a successful cooking day, if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First place


My photo of my red velvet cupcake as well as my pink macaroon came in 1st and 4th place respectively in my local neighborhood's Why Leave Astoria? blog today!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lemon Poppy Cake


It's been a while since I've been able to cook and post, sad how much time working takes up! So I apologize if you are overwhelmed with some food candy for the next few days as I try to catch up with what I've been cooking. I bought a one pound container of poppy seeds at my local supermarket, partially because they looked so pretty gray-blue, and partially because I love baked goods with them. They're pretty versatile, as they can be used in savory recipes (onion poppy rolls, anyone?) or sweet recipes like this lemon poppy cake. On a search for a unique plum/apple/walnut/poppy seed cake from the Austrian bakery, Demel, I came upon Smitten Kitchen's lemon poppy cake that she actually got from the Neue Galerie's Cafe Sabarsky. It isn't no ordinary lemon poppy pound cake, though there are two sticks of butter in it, but also 8, yes, 8 egg yolks plus one whole egg.


The result is a dense, rich, eggy cake, similar in taste to the sponge cupcakes in Chinese bakeries. And I just love how the poppy seeds create a speckled effect through the cake.

You can be sure to expect more recipes with poppy seeds from now on!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birthday Macarons


Fifth time's a charm? That's how many times I have attempted this finicky sweet. The last two "failed" attempts, I didn't post because they didn't have the signature "feet" at the base, which is caused when the cookies push off from the baking pan. I also over-mixed the 4th batch in hopes of a smoother shell and no bumps, but they wound up not rising.


I had also been experimenting with different temperatures/baking times and the resting time before putting the macarons in the oven. *Note to self: If something isn't broken, don't fix it! I went back to the proven Martha Stewart recipe, maybe slightly undermixed my batter (but under-mixing is better than over-mixing)


Voila! My most perfect macaron yet! Oh, and I'm telling everyone it's because it's my birthday tomorrow.