Archive for November 2010




Vote for Chrissy TOO

Its time again to place you vote (EVERY SINGLE DAY…3 times a day if you vote from work, home and a fancy cell phone) for my friend Chrissy.  She has made it to the top 20 of the contest, and now the second part of the contest has begun.  Don’t know who this fabulous gal is? Look below and you’ll get a 90 second snippet into just what she is all about.

Still on the fence?  Well if you tune in to my kitchen escapades on a semi regular basis, and enjoy what you see then you owe a swift click (in the way of a vote) to Chrissy.  Aside from being one of my dearest friends and roommates all through out college, and trust me I’m not easy to live with, Chrissy was a super supportive friend when I first started baking as more than just a hobby.  Once upon time she sent me a lovely little birthday care package with a lovely cupcake cook book that turn my baking reperatoire on its head.  Needing a place to catalog all my ideas, Chrissy was the one to scream from the roof tops that I needed a blog, just like her.

So here is one more Apple inspired recipe.  Apple Carrot Dumplings.  But before you go rearranging your Thanksgiving menu, I should state these are for four legged dinner guest.  After all as you’ve seen a vote for Chrissy is a vote for Puppies, Cookies, and Love.

Apple Carrot Dumplings From Baking For Your Dog by Ingebrog Pils

1 apple

1 carrot

5 oz spelt flour

5 oz coarse rolled oats

2 eggs

3 tbsp molasses

water and flour as reqired

Finely grate apple and carrot. I peeled the apple with my peeler and then threw both the skins and the apple into the bowl. Combine with other ingredients. If necessary add water and/ or flour to get a smooth texture.

I found I didn’t need any water or flour and just mixed and mashed with my hands.

Preheat over to 350 F degrees, and line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Using a Tablespoon scoop dumplings and place on sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, then turn off oven and allow dumplings to dry inside as heat reduces.  Store in a paper or linen bag.  Dumplings keep for approximately 3 weeks.

So heres the deal: I promised if she got in the top twenty that I’d do a little give give give away.  Heres what I have to offer:

Wilton Ruffled Cupcake Liners

Rose Piping Kit

and

Duff’s Cake Tattoos

So comment everyday after you vote and get a couple of friends to vote too!! (just comment so I can see). The first 4 will get the goods. VOTE here!!!

Also to come a lovely give away of Cake Eccentric Eccentrique Chic Aprons!!!

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5 comments November 22, 2010

Caramel Apples

Our beautiful fall days…I hate to say are numbered.  I took this picture just this past weekend leaving my apartment. Who says the Bronx isn’t pretty!?  Get your fill Leaf peepers because soon the last of the green leaves will have turned yellow, and soon be gone.

Williamsbridge Oval Park

So what an easy way to get fall in your kitchen then Caramel dipped apples.  Now you can buy the pack of dip that you just microwave, or you could try one of the easier recipes that calls for melting caramel candies.  I appreciate short cuts but sometimes I prefer the recipe with a few extra steps– it always teaches you something you didn’t know. In this case you will make your own homemade caramel.  If you have left overs from dipping you can easily store and reheat and use on ice cream, or as a garnish for just about anything. Don’t want the mess of dipping apples? Slice up your apples and just use the caramel like fondue.

This recipe comes from FoodNetwork.com

Caramel Apples

8 macintosh apples (or your favorite variety)

8 lollipop sticks or chop sticks

2 cups light brown sugar

1c pure maple syrup

1/3 c light corn syrup

1/2 c heavy cream

1/2 stick of unsalted butter (4 tbsp)

Candy Thermometer

Wash the apples well and dry.  They should be at room temperature when you go to dip so make sure to not to store in the refrigerator.  Twist the stem to remove.  Sometimes it’s not possible to totally pull them out.  Insert candy sticks or chop sticks deep into the center of the apples where the stems were, or just to the side of the stems if you are not able to remove.  Make sure to use sticks that are heavy-duty.  My lollipop sticks worked but could have been a little thicker in relation to how big the apples were.

Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, and heavy cream in a large sauce pan.  Heat on Medium to high heat.  

Allow mixture to boil.  The recipe states that you should not stir, but swirl.  I found myself stirring with the candy thermometer here and there. Once the combination begins to bubble it rises significantly in the pan, making swirling relatively hard to do.  Be careful not to scrape the sides on the bowl.  Your aim is to boil until the caramel registers at 250 degrees– the hard ball stage on a candy thermometer.  Many times when you are making candy– and in this case caramel counts, you want to make sure that the sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan don’t get mixed back into the sugar mixture you are boiling.  I’m not totally certain that this isn’t why you shouldn’t stir but I have a feeling its part of the chemistry of achieving the right consistency of caramel so try your best to withstand the urge to stir.

Once the caramel has hit 250 degrees remove from heat and add the unsalted butter and mix.  I let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes before dipping, though it was still very hot when I dunked the apples.

I was expecting a slightly milkier color, as opposed to a thin gloss, but as the caramel dries it looks more hardy.  You can also dunk your apples a second time after they have completely set.  Most likely you’ll have to warm the caramel again.

After dunking let the excess drain over the pan.  Place on either a cooky sheet covered in wax paper or I recommend a cooling wrack over a cookie sheet.  If you want to add a topping to the apples roll immediately in cookie crumbs — Nilla waffers, graham crackers, or ginger snaps are good.  Sprinkles, chopped chocolate, or chopped nuts are all favorites too.

 

Add a comment November 21, 2010

Autumn blues

 

I found myself late this afternoon with the Blues.  Yuck!  For no real reason, I just felt down.  Maybe it was the dreary day of misty rain, or that fact that is pitch dark at 5pm! Sometimes you just feel down.  Which absolutely calls for comfort food.

This week I’ll be posting a couple of recipes dedicated to apples as picking season ends and Thanksgiving is next week!!  And if you hit up apple.com– that is the mac website, you’ll notice that the Beatles are now being carried on iTunes.  No need to be sad when some of my favorite music is now readily available to a new generation…of course if you recall before the days of iTunes, the Beatles were once carried on APPLE records.  Its a perfect week for apples!!! And I’m suddenly feeling optimistic again.

Today: Apple Crisp. So easy to make… the hardest part, or most time consuming I should say is peeling the apples.  I let my apples soak in Drambuie, a scottish blend of scotch whisky, honey, and herbs. I like spiking my desserts as it alwasy kicks up the flavor just a bit.

I will warn that you should be careful not to let your apples soak too long (left mine in the fridge for a day or 2) or you will find, like I did, that they soak up the scotch and will hit your mouth with a bang. I took the apples that absorbed the most scotch and made sure to spread the drenched pieces across the pan.

Drambuie soaked apples...perhaps I soaked too long

Apple Crisp

I found this in my recipe box.  Have no idea where I got it or who gave it to me, but it sure is good.

10 c apples ( I prefer macintosh) Peeled and chunked

1 c sugar

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 water ( I used left over Drambuie apple juice mixture instead)

1 c rolled oats

1 c flour

1 c packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 c butter sliced

Slice the apples and place in a glass or metal 9″ x 13″ pan.  Combine sugar and 1 tbsp flour, and cinamon.  Sprinkle over apple chunks. Then pour 1/2 c water over apples and sugar.  I pour 1/2 c drambuie over the peeled and sliced apples.  After soaking for a day or more about 3/4- 1 c is left with some juice from the apples.  I recommend only soaking for a few hours, and pouring (instead of water) the rest of the drambuie and apple juice at the bottom of the bowl over the apples. 

Combine oats, 1 c flour, brown sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, and butter.  Mix till crumbly with your fingers.  Some recipes call for the butter to be melted.  Others call for the butter to be softened but cool.  I left mine cool, but in general I’ve melted it in the past and its easier to mix.  I leave this step to your discretion– both work.

Sprinkle over apples.  I added crushed walnuts, pecans are also great with apples.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Add a comment November 17, 2010

Dulce De Leche Cake

I came across this blog as I was researching a recipe for Dulce De Leche Cake.  Spork or Foon.com A great blog with all sort of entrees and desserts, breakfast and appetizers.  As I was cruising around the site I realize that me and this other fine foodie have a few things in common– both dog owners, we both studied theatre in College, and we both live in NYC and know all too intimately the trials and tribulations of living (and cooking) in the city that never sleeps.

The Empire State Building, from a Manhattan Roof Top

I sometimes wonder how many New York City foodie bloggers there are out there on the internet dealing with their tiny cramped kitchens as they document all their food loving experiements.  New York is a wonderful and tough place to live.  This all of course got me thinking about what my experience has been like living and coping, and coping with living in New York.  I still think after 6 years (where did time go?) that I’m not an expert enough to write any sort of  comprhensive guide to NYC but I have some of my insights.  I probably wouldn’t have made it through that first summer sublet if it weren’t for my first roommate and a copy of NFT Not for Tourist and An Actor Prepare’s… to Live in New York City I might still be upstate.

1. If you want a decent sized apartment for you dollar– go to the North Bronx.  I’ve got a gigantic (especially by NYC standards) apartment.  2 bedroom and the price aint terrible.  Amenities: public transport to NYC and Westchester, the Bronx River, which has tons of bike paths and is quite beautiful, subways  and the metro north can get you to midtown in 30 minutes at peak hours.  Of course when your living in the North Bronx you might as well live in Albany in terms of feeling like the city.   Riverdale, Norwood and City Island are all great spots, but you can also find some good deals in Brooklyn and Queens, with a similar commute and more of a view.

2.Parking and Street Cleaning.  If you have car in the city make sure its a compact car else you will lose precious hours of your life to seaching for parking.  You’ll also need to get a grip in the street cleaning dates and times.  Most neighborhoods you are permitted to double park for the hour, hour and a half of street cleaning, but DON”T Oversleep or forget to move you car back else you will find a ticket whihc cost about the same as a surf and turf dinner.   Should you get a ticket, pay it as soon as possible else (and i know from experience) they will find you and tow away your ride.  Call 311 if you have questions about street fairs, street cleaning, subway closures.  They don’t always have an answer but ca at least point you in the right direction.

3. Make a point to do the Touristy New York City things, preferably when you first get here.  Statue of Liberty, at least one broadway play, The Met –museum or Opera, Yankee Stadium, and dare I say Magnolia.  After you’ve done the “Sex and the City” bus tour, and are feed up with hanging out in Midtown, Make your own adventure to find what will soon become your Big Apple Favorites.  I once played what I called “whatever bus comes next.”  After spending some time at the Cloisters I decided to take “what ever bus comes next.”   I was in Inwood (northern most Neighborhood in Manhattan) and decided I would use my metro card fun pass (unlimited subway/bus pass) and let the City take me where it would.  I decided I wouldn’t request a stop but rather decided to get off randomly, when someone else requested it.  I ended up walking the last leg of the New York City Marathon– Spectators route on the runners all day long from their windows, even stop to clap on the streets– what amazing support.  Then I purused through the Conservatory at Central Park, before meeting up with some friends for Indian food at a great restaurant on 108th– The Indian Cafe.  Other times I’ve snuck into the Natural History Museum, or climbed up the Shakespeare castel in Central Park, or randomly run into in Robert DeNiro in Little Italy.  The best times I’ve had were typically unplanned so, get a fun pass and go get lost.

My best friends on a downtown Manhattan rooftop

4. New York City like anything in life is all about who you know.  So make friends.  I’ve been to Broadway premiers and Penthouse rooftops all from having made friends with some really cool people. It can be hard to break through that tough New York exterior that just about everyone has, but your sure to find good connections that will lead you to your next job or opportunity or at least a good party.

5. Keep your head up, because New York will kick your butt!!!  Whether you’ve got crazy weird roomates (I had one who stole my security deposit, and then turn around and try to sue me later–seriously!) shady cheap landlord who turns off your heat to save himself money, or totally unfair parking tickets– this is all part of the rhythym of the city.  If you really want to be here you’ll find a way to cope with the lack of space, abundance of noise and learn to love it, and if not you’ll have some good stories to bring back home withyou.

So how about that cake.  I made this for a coworker who originates from Ecuador.  As far as neighborhoods go I live in a predominantly spanish area and I love comparing recipes and learning new aways to approach cake, or Bizcocho.

The cake is a version of a white cake, without as many eggs.  It cooks up light and fluffy and evenly for the most part.  You’ll notice you won’t spend alot of time leveling this puppy.

The filling is dulce de Leche, cooked the easiest way– by boiling sweetencondensed milk (see my previous post)

And the Frosting.  I originally went with what SporkorFoon suggested: a caramel frosting from Paula Dean, but I found generally that it was too sweet and pretty runny, so I oppted to take all that gooey caramel and add it (slowly) to some Swiss Merignue I had already made.  It  kicked up the flavor just enough without killing the consistency.  I drizzled what was left of the caramel over the cake, and add some melted chocolate in a way Jackson Pollock would appreciate– I was inspired by this photo of Dulce De Leche cake on Technicolor Kitchen.  I love food photos!


Dulce De Cake from Spork or Foon.com

2 1/4 cup cake flour ( I used all purpose)

1 c whole milk

6 large egg whites at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 c grandulate sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter softened

Combine milk, egg whites and vanilla in a small bowl.  mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer on low speed.  Add butter and mix until crumbly.  Add 1/2 of egg-milk mixture into flour mixture. Mix at medium speed for 90 seconds.  Add last of egg-milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds.  Scrape bowl and mix for 20 more seconds.  Don’t over beat.

Pour into 2 greased and floured 8″ or 9″ pans and cook for 25 minutes.

Paula Dean’s caramel frosting can be found here or

Melt 1 stick of butter, 1 c brown sugar (dark is called for but I only had light– to each their own), and 1/3 heavy cream in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Move to a heat proof bowl add 1 lb (2 cups) powdered sugar.  Add more sugar for a stiffer consistency.  I allowed the frosting to cool then slowly stirred it into some fluffy swiss meringue I had made previously.

Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely.  Level you cakes. Be sure to pipe a dam around the edge so you dulce won’t leak threw. Fill with Dulce de Leche, stack and Frost. Decorate as you’d like!


Add a comment November 16, 2010

Love’s Labour’s Leche

Today is the last day to vote for my friend Chrissy!! So go to this site and clickity click! VOTE!!!

Speaking of races the New York City Marathon was this weekend…Did I mention Chrissy is a Marathoner? Just another reason to VOTE!!! Anyway I have yet to even complete a 5K.  Marathons are grueling from what I can tell and you must be just about nuts to participate. With the time it takes to train, not to mention the lack of refined sugar you can consume… for me at least it’s not in my immediate goals.

So I start thinking about what I could accomplish in say 3 hours.  For an elite athlete, you could get from Staten Island through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, to the finish line in Manhattan.  I decided instead to have a little race of my own, at the stove.   Dulce de Leche a gooey delicious caramely filling/ frosting.  Its sooo GOOD!!!  But if you choose to actually make it– you should plan to set aside a marathon’s worth of time…standing at the stove.

So this afternoon I attempted to simultaneously make Dulce de Leche the traditional way and the easy way.  I figured it would be good to contrast and compare.  I was pretty dissappointed with the traditional way of boiling milk and sugar.  Three hours after continuously stirring milk and sugar over the stove I’m pretty sure I burned it…BUT I was truly impressed with the easy way to achieve this finiky filling.

I found all sort of ways to make Dulce de Leche on a fellow foodie’s blog. What’s for Lunch, Honey? Five ways to make Dulce de Leche?!– I’m impressed!!  So if you are like me and want to try the traditional way and challenge yourself try the first recipe.  I can’t say I recommend spending all that time, considering my result came out craptastic! but for all I know I skipped a step, having lost my focus continuously, mind-numbingly stirring.   I do know that next time I need this sweet South American filling I will opt for the second recipe.

From What’s for Lunch, Honey?

Dulce de Leche

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Small sauce pan with simmering water

Peel label from can.  Pop holes into the lid using either a can opener or bottle opener.  It is imparitive that you place holes in the lid, else the can will explode!! You can remove the lid completely, but be very careful not to spill the milk or get water inside the can.

 

The first pan is the traditional method, the second the easy way.

Place the can in a sauce pan 3/4 full of water.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Keep the heat on Low/Medium heat.  If you’ve kept the lid intact, save for the holes, you’ll notice that some of the condensed milk will bubble up.  This will stop after about 15 minutes and shouldn’t spill over.

The water level should remain at about 1 -2cm from the top of the can.  Don’t let it boil over of course, again just a gentle simmer.   As the water boils it evaporate of course.  Continue to maintain the water level by adding water to the pan as it boils down.  Simmer for 3 hours to achieve a thick gooey Dulce de Leche.

 

Remove from water with tongs or a pot holder. Open the can and you will have a thin layer of thin milky cream, just beneath a thick gooey Dulce de Leche. Mix until smooth. Though its a long time, you aren’t chained to the stove, like you would be if you were going for the traditional version.This can be used a filling, or even a frosting if you choose.

UP NEXT: A cake to compliment this finger licking good sweet, a give away– should Chrissy make the top 20, and a cupcake recipe by the weekend!

Also if you have any thoughts to add about making Dulce de Leche, share them in the comments!  What’s your favorite method to make it?– Any time savers so as not to stand at the stove stirring for hours? Share! share! VOTE!!!

2 comments November 11, 2010

At Last…

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

I reached that point in my life where all my friends are getting married.  I’ve been to about 5 weddings this year alone, most of which happened this summer.  You might remember me mentioning my good friend Scott and his wife Mel last year after they tied the knot at City Hall.  They had a more formal wedding ceremony recently, and perhaps you already guessed that I was in charge of the wedding cake.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

I got to hear Etta James sing her all too famous song At Last a few years ago at Carnegie Hall.  She was still performing then– in her seventies and sounded as amazing as ever– perhaps even better and I feel that most great things get better with age.  She joked about how often it is requested that she sing this famous tune for weddings.  I love this song and the title album it debuted on.  And it was sung this weekend at my good friends wedding, for the first dance of the bride and groom.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

Being that I’ve had so much recent wedding experience its easy to compare the way the brides and grooms choose to go about the huge undertaking of their nuptials.  I really have to say I thought Scott and Mel were quite successful in making their wedding personal and one of a kind. They were simple with the local and decore were simple. The ceremony was outside and the reception in an old farmhouse.  All of the guest got to spend the whole weekend in a rustic Manor, meeting each other and spending time with the Man and Woman of the hour.They asked their friends and family to take part of the ceremony in number of ways.  Friends presided over the ceremony, gave speeches on how they first met, and their parents also gave speeches and blessings. They didn’t necessarily follow the typical guidelines but with sentiment so easily lost in what you’re “supposed to do.”

It was quite refreshing since sometimes its hard to get a moment with that friend or family member whose just tied the knot as they rush around the party trying to say hello and thank you, take pictures and hopefully get a chance to actually eat or have a drink or kiss when all the glasses begin to cling cling cling.  Weddings are stressful even if you have great family and friends! Making a great celebration about you and your significant other while including all the people who support and love you is no easy task.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

Recipe for a Wedding Cake

Favorite Cake Recipe x 20, in this case Red Red Velvet

Now level, torte, and frost each cake.  Red velvet was the bride and groom’s choice, and since I don’t trust cream cheese frosting to stay put in anyway whatsoever I used it as the filling.  The tangy flavor was still there with Italian meringue Buttercream on the outside, which brings me to the recipe.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

 

Photos by CH

 

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

American buttercream is composed of butter and in many cases shortening, vanilla extract– clear vanilla if you don’t want a muddy white color, and powdered sugar.  Perhaps you’ve seen my YouTube video, maybe even left me a nasty comment about how many times I say the word “Ummm.”  I didn’t realize how unbareable it was at first… all the same BE NICE! and if you are a real deal baker, confectioner, Mistress or Master of the kitchen you will test your skill (and most likely convert to) using Italian Meringue or Swiss Merignue Butter Cream frosting.

Swiss Merignue Buttercream

3 c sugar

12 egg whites

2 pounds butter (8 sticks) at room temperature

candy thermometer

Now this isn’t exactly easy especially your first time. But I promise you this, the next cake you serve with this frosting I guarentee you will get compliments on how amazing it is.  In fact I was told by catering staff of the Manor, where Mel and Scott’s wedding was held that “my frosting was the absolute best they’d had.”  The manor staff also assured me that they  are absolute conisseurs of cake frosting being that there is a wedding at the Bucksteep Manor just about every weekend.  But I can’t credit… this recipe is all Martha’s from Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes.


Combine sugar and egg whites in a heat proof bowl.  Set over a sauce pan half full of water and heat on medium to high heat.  Now here is where the muscle comes in.  Start whipping with a whisk.  The egg whites will become foamy  but almost syrupy, but keep beating the eggs continuously.  Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the bowl until the egg mixture reaches 140 F degrees.

Once at 140 degrees the eggs are cooked, so if you are really hesitant about using egg whites in frosting– its cool– rather its hot– they are cooked so your fine.

Move the bowl to your upright electric mixer— If you are without aKitchenAid, simply use your hand held mixer.  Beat the egg whites at medium high speed until they are at the stiff peak stage.  Martha approximates this to be about 8-10 minutes.  I find it needs to be more like 12-15 minutes.   I’ve made this frosting a number of times– and screwed it up a couple times too.  Its easy to screw up in 2 ways.  1.  Under mixing– addingthe butter before your egg whites are stiff enough, or 2. Over mixing– and its hard to tell if you have.  The egg whites combined with sugar don’t stand up at the stiff peak stage , they way they would without the sugar mixed in.   So heres the way I test.  At 10-12 minutes, I stop the mixer and paddle the whites and sugar up around the whisk attachment. If they are thick– almost heavy and stand up straight– even if the peaks flop over a little bit. They are ready to go.

Mix on low  and slowly add butter a tablespoon at a time. You will see almost immediately see your beautiful egg whites deflate and become a little soupy.  Continue to add butter a dollop at a time. The mixture will be soupy and deflated right up until the last stick of butter.  And right when you think you’ve wasted a dozen eggs, and 2 pounds of butter Voila you’ll notice a little change in the consistency.  It becomes whipped and light.

Keep at room temperature. It refridgerate for a week or freeze it for up to a month.

4 comments November 9, 2010

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