Archive for February 2011




In your thoughts

I don’t have a recipe to share today, but instead wanted to reach out to those you who stop by this site from time to time, to keep someone very dear to me in your thoughts. My boyfriend’s Aunt Penny, someone who is a a loving and supporting family member, and a great friend was taken to the hospital late on Monday night.  Shes had to undergo emergency surgery and will most likely have more surgery in the future.  Aunt Penny, has always been a great source of support and inspiration for me personally as well as in the world of baking.  Shes a confectioner herself and regularly reads this blog, sends me recipes and shares all the tricks and tips she’s discovered over the years.  Aunt Penny, is also very in tune with the metaphysical world. Anytime I’m facing a challenging day, whether I am preparing for a job interview, or dealing with a tough personal situation she always sends me a quick email or note , wishing me luck as well as sends me as she says “love and light.” Shes always kept me in her thoughts and sends positive energy toward whatever situation I’ve got on my plate and I know she does this for all the great people who are her family and friends. Whether or not you believe in metaphysics I think sending positive healing energy in the way of prayer or meditation or just a good thought of hope is very powerful, so while you are reading this please think of Aunt Penny and send her a little thought of white light, healing love.  Thank you so much.

4 comments February 16, 2011

My Funny Valentine

My boyfriend and I always joke that our dog Billie, looks like a sad clown. She has a black muzzle that gives her a 5 o’clock  shadow and black fur all around her eyes that kind of make her resemble a mime.  Her middle name is May for Maybelline because of all the make up it looks like shes wearing. Yes yes,my dog has a middle name, I also dress her up on occassion (I haven’t posted her Halloween pictures yet), pass your judgments.  I’ve become, in only a few months, a dog person.

I thought I’d take a break from chocolate, especially since my Valentine Bill, can’t have it and do instead a recipe she could enjoy:

Toby’s Tuna Triangles

Makes about 40 triangles

From Baking for you Dog by Ingeborg Pils

1 can tuna fish in natural juice

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 egg

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

9 oz cornflour

5 oz rolled oats

2 oz flour

Drain tuna, then blend with olive oil and egg in a blender.  I just mushed mine up with a folk.  Mix with the rest of ingredients to form a dough.  I found I had cornmeal, not corn flour so I improvised by using a few oz of cornmeal, and 8oz of spelt flour. I also added some scallions I have left over from dinner.

Roll out to 1/2 ” thickness and cut into triangles. Place cookies on baking sheet and bake at 350 F degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Store in a cookie tin.  Will keep for about two weeks.

Add a comment February 14, 2011

BRUNCH: Chocolate Stout Waffles

Heres another chocolate recipe for Valentine’s Day…

When I was in college we called the trip to the dining hall on the weekends the “brunch bus.”  Even though we walked, albeit a mere couple of hundred feet to the dining hall there we at least a dozen of us who all met and made the walk together to share breakfast in varying states of soberity. Generally there were rounds of obnoxious and comical phone calls from room to room rousing all our friend to wake up for the Brunch bus.

Had these been on the menu back in my college days we probably would have gotten up a little earlier for breakfast.

Chocolate Stout Waffles

This recipe was inspire by my friend Chrissy who mentioned a vegan recipe for these waffles is available in the book Vegan Brunch, by the same ladies who did Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I haven’t seen the original recipe so I snooped around the internet and finally just figured I try my own and see how it came out.

1 1/3 c all purpose flour

1/3  cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 c sugar

1 c buttermilk ( 1 c milk, 1 tsp vinegar)

3 eggs

3/4 cup +1 tbsp chocolate stout

1/4 c canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients: flour, soda, salt, and cocoa.  Whisk eggs, oil, buttermilk, stout, and vanilla and pour into dry ingredients.

Heat waffle iron, and grease with canola oil, either spraying, or brushing oil on iron with a pastry brush. Pour 1/2c mixture into iron.  Close iron and cook.

I garnished these with homemade whipped cream, strawberries, and maple syrup.  Most folks tend to prefer chocolate syrup which is also lovely.

If you want to make these vegan, first I’d say get Vegan Brunch and use that recipe, other wise, use soymilk instead of the buttermilk, and omit the eggs.  I actually forgot to put eggs in so the first couple waffles I made were egg free. They were slightly heavier, not in a bad way, just dense– more brownie like and didn’t fall out of the waffle iron when they were done.  Still very good.  Adding the eggs made the mixture a little runnier but the waffles lighter and crispier.

2 comments February 13, 2011

Ugly Duckling

Finally!! This recipe has been a year in the making…

About a year ago I headed into work feeling like a million bucks.  I had a sweet new hair cut : a new chocolate brown coif with smart bangs in the front…I felt like I loosely resembled Angelina Jolie in her last movie Salt, well my hair did anyway.

 

Just when I’d believed I’d conquered all the awkward phases in life, I, by the afternoon, upon returning from the dentist, my teeth clad with braces, I was the spit and image of Ugly Betty…

My mom always said my (crooked) teeth gave me character, and over the next 11 months that followed I was miserable feeling all the bones in my jaw sway and shift. I ducked out of most pictures when someone said to say cheese, or just pursed my lips in what looked usually like a painful grimace.

 

I made this cake for my dentist to celebrate finally finishing my dental work!

Originally the estimate of time of how long I’d be feeling like a 5th grader was about 8 months though I secretly crossed my fingers that it might be as short as 6.  Not a terribly long time to suffer, though by August, then September, then Thanksgiving and Christmas there was no sign they were coming off even when my dentist seemed surprised at how quick my teeth were moving.  When you are 20 something and your jaw is fully formed, not to mention being an avid coffee drinker, not only does it hurt to have braces, but they stain and are just kind of embarassing.

Cheese!

Now a year later I COULDN’T WAIT to get them off!!!   My appointment was then pushed back due to the second, third or fourth heavy-duty NYC winter storm…but now FINALLY the braces are gone!! I think difficult experiences make us all a little better off, so FINALLY almost a year later 11 months and a week later I have a white very straight smile.

When you have braces you can’t indulge is candy, not that I am a huge candy person anyway, but i definetly learned my lesson with caramel over they year having pulled and tugged at the wires painfully when I forgot what was on the prohibited menu.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.

1 1/2 c all purpose flour

3/4 c dutch processed cocoa

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 salt

2 large eggs

3/4 c butter milk ( I used 1 c soymilk with 1 tsp vinegar)

3 Tbsp vegetable  oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 warm water

Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.  

Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and water with an electric mixer on low until smooth.

Divide into cupcake cups and cook at 350 degrees.  Martha makes these as mini cupcakes, but I went full size.  Yields 18-24 regular size cupcakes.

By the way if you are saying chocolate and Salt?  Go to your local Starbuck’s and order a salted caramel hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmm!!  They are sooo delicious!!  And these cupcakes are much the same.

To finish:

Salted Caramel Filling

2 1/2 c granulated sugar

2/3 c water

1 tbsp light corn syrup

3/4 c heavy cream

2 1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine Sugar, cornsyrup and water in a sauce pan.  Stir and heat on high. Stir until the liquid becomes clear. Once sugar mixture has become clear stop stirring. Use a pastry brush to wash down sides of pan occasional.  Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan or if you have a larger candy thermometer, make sure to really cover the bottom of the thermometer in the sugar so to ensure an accurate reading and swirl occassionally.

When sugar reaches 360 degrees (be patient it can take a while) remove from heat.  The color will begin to caramelize.

Add cream slowly and stir.  Mixture will bubble and spatter is you are not careful.

Add salt.  If you don’t use caramel shortly after making you will need to re heat to soften.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

3 sticks unslated butter at room temperature

1/2 c confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 c + 2 tbsp dutch processed cocoa

2/3 c boiling water

1 pound good quality semi sweet chocolate

I used callebut chocolate and semiesweet morsels. Melt in a double boiler, or carefully over low heat to melt. Set aside and allow to cool, but not harden.

Combine cocoa and boiling water. Whisk until dissolved. Cocoa will become like a thick mousse. Allow to cool.

Cream butter, confectioners sugar, and salt. Add melted chocolate and beat on low.  Add Cocoa mixture until frosting is smooth and combined.

To assemble Dig out a bit of the center of the chocolate cupcakes.

Pour a few teaspoons of caramel into the center. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

Pipe the chocolate frosting on top and devour!

2 comments February 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

In time for Valentines Day these are a great homemade, but really easy to make confection for someone you are sweet on. But first, I want to mention the event I made these for and my favortie, absolute favorite organization: VDay.

When I was in college studying theatre and wondering “What the hell am I gonna do after I graduate?!?!” I auditioned for a play,  and got the chance to be on stage in a neighboring college’s production of The Vagina Monologues.  I was also studying Solo Performance Art and quickly learned about the controversial play’s author Eve Ensler.  I ended up doing a presentation on Eve and her work.  I was astounded how she choose to use her piece to help others.  To this day I don’t think any other playwright has written the rights to their work in such a giving and original way.

Each year (to this day) Eve allows college and community organizers to perform The Vagina Monologues, free of royalties. Proceeds from the performances are donated to a local organization who help to end violence against women and girls.  I soon decided that it was odd the the super progressive, funky, eclectic and very eccentric college I attended didn’t do their own annual production of TVM.  So the following year I produced and directed the first of 2 VDay events during my college career.  Currently there are 1500 schools across the country who participate, raising millions for non profits in their communities.  4,000 events will take place this year around the world, and VDay has evolved too.  Organizers can present many plays and films including The Vagina Monologues, A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and  a Prayer, Any One of Us, and films: What I Want my Words to Do to You, and Until the Violence Stops.  There are book clubs for young girls, and teach-ins for the issues that VDay spotlights each year: Haiti being this years spotlight Campaign. There are V groups for men too, because violence doesn’t just affect women. VDay involves many amazing women and men who are all committed to ending violence and they use art to spread this transformative message.

Ever been on a stage? I’m sure you can attest to a metamorphosis feeling of being an actor, storyteller, or having seen a great piece that really changed your life. One of my favorite plays I’ve ever seen, is aptly called Metamorphoses— a pool of water instead of stage? A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  And thats theatre– art really.  My story with VDay doesn’t really end.  I made a brief but powerful connection to one of the Campaign Directors at the West End Theatre the year I first produce The Vagina Monologues, the next year I was interning and amoungst all the volunteering I still do for VDay whenever I can, and especially when they need a theatre nerd backstage.  And that Campaign Director, Shael well I was there when she went into labor for her daughter Aela, and every year I make her birthday cake.  Its our thing.  And its always been my excuse to show a little V-girl what cool lady’s can do for the people who are special to them. 

I hope to make the world a great place one cake at time, and VDay, aside from being all over my professional resume has been at the heart of how I want the world to be: happy, safe, amazing, accepting of everyone, for everyone.  When violence is no longer perpetrated against women and girls– we are all ladies and gents safe, happy, accepting, progressing. We’re better. Better People, Better Friends, better family, better lovers, better artists. GOOD.  If you want to get involved: be in a play, become or wake up that activist in you, reach out, open up, raise funds for a good cause, get educated, educate, become apart of a heart beat, a backbone of people who want the world to be a better place, be an artist, inspire, lead, be an example to the next generation of people, make the world better for your own kids, then go to VDay.org. You’ll find a performance or film screening near you and organizers always need help, so reach out and jump in. Make a donation if you want.

On to a really easy recipe just in time for VDay.  Save the cash on store bought chocolates and make these for your sweetie.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles:

Start with a package a Nestle’s mini morsels.

Omit the eggs and levening agents. Walnuts are optional, and you are good to go.

Combine 3/4 c sugar, 3/4c  brown sugar, 1c  butter and 1 tsp vanilla

Add 2 1/4c flour and 1 tsp salt.

Its like a fluffy cloud of buttery sugar!

Fold in chips.

and you are ready to start scooping.

I recommend a cookie scooper, although my plastic one broke after a batch of these.  I think a more heavy duty metal scooper is best and they come in all shapes and sizes. 

Of course try to get these as uniform as possible, scooping and rolling the truffles in your hands. Chill in the refridgerator for about an hour or longer before you dip in chocolate.

In a double boiler or microwave gently heat 1 c (more if you need) semisweet chocolate chips. I recommend adding 2 tbsp butter or shortening to thin the chocolate for a really thin consistency.  Use a plastic fork with the 2 middle tines removed. Dip chilled truffles and allow to set on wax paper.

I like to finish these off by placing them in mini cupcake cups or candy cups for display.

Of course you can doctor these but using vegan butter and chocolate.  I haven’t seen mini vegan chocolate chips, but chopping up your chocolate always works.

2 comments February 8, 2011

The Rocky Road…

From the beginning this website has been about me taking my life experiences and using them to interpret or influence my endeavours in the kitchen.  Most of the time I hope I’m uplifting, though I worry sometimes that I sugar coat things, as I’ve rarely used this space to get all too personal.  Tonight however I found myself cooking up a recipe from a rather sour encounter.

After a Long day at work, and may I say I LOVE my new job, I decided, though totally exhausted to head to the gym, blow off some steam in preparation of getting a good nights sleep.  I decided to do a quick grocery run before heading home on the subway, and though a bit on the pricey side I thought the convenience of the Whole Foods market on the lower level of my theatre far out weighed leaving my cabinets bare until the weekend.

I should say Whole Foods is not one of those places I’ve been to frequently just based on proximity but it’s always been my go-to place for the random baking items that no other store carries: Match green Tea Powder anyone? So having the opportunity to drop in at my convinience now that I work at Columbus Circle is just another perk of my new position at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

I was on the look out for vegan white chocolate chips– I’ve heard they exist, though I have yet to find them. Instead found myself perplexed by the fact that I could not find plain old dutch processed cocoa powder. There were lots of natural cocoa powders of which I already have an abundance so I turned and started to look in the baking aisle.  I noticed as I walked, a women with a large cart, an additional push cart strapped to the front of her shopping cart– no doubt to carry her groceries home.  She was sifting through the large rack of extracts and spices, as I proceeded to pass her.  No doubt she was taking up a lot of room as I skimmed the shelves next to me as I tried not to disturb her when I passed.  I bumped her purse as I passed, gently though and immediately said quite audibly “I’m sorry” and proceeded to the cake mixes.  Immediately I was met with “YOU STUPID F*cking uncivilized B*TCH! Next time you should start with EXCUSE ME!!!…..explitive explitive explitive.”

My mind draws a blank.

REALLY?!!??! I couldn’t believe that someone would accost a perfect stranger like that even in New York City and trust me I’ve had crazy-people encounters.  All over being nudged in the Baking aisle?? My beloved and sacred baking aisle?!?!

Before I left my favorite aisle, I gently reminded the women that I had apologized immediately when passing her. I proceeded to try and continue shopping though even with a list in front of me I was too stunned to remember what I needed or what I had in my fridge.  What a crap way to finish your day!!

I spent a few minutes thinking about what I would say if I had it to do over again, like “How do you seriously berate a perfect stranger and then have the audicity to call them uncivilized”  I hate situations like this.  I just don’t have the ability to zing people with equally nasty words, and even when I’m upset I just don’t call people names. You feel totally powerless, when someone projects their garbage on you. Or at least I do. I can’t help but feel like I must have done something terrible if it illicted such a nasty exchange.

But I decided instead that if I had that chance to say what I wanted that I would say that if she’d taken a breath she might have realized that we were both in the baking aisle, and that that we actually have something in common.  Which allowed me to refocus enough to shop, as a blog started to form.  I ended buying a bunch of chocolate. I was probably craving it for the sense of euphoria it gives you when yo eat it. Lavender chocolate, valrhona cocoa powder, dutch processed cocoa powder, and double chocolate stout. I also walked out with a rocky road brownie. I thought the chocolate craving would undoubtedly be satisfied, and the name was appropriate for the end of my night.

Rocky Road bownies (I made this one up)

4 eggs

3/4c granulated sugar

3/4c brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

5oz. 60% c0coa chocolate, or bittersweet chocolate (I used

1/4 c double chocolate stout

3 tbsp valrhona cocoa powder

1 1/4c flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup of the following for the topping:

melted semi sweet chocolate

marshmallows

nuts, I used pecans, walnuts or almonds work

I also added white chocolate chips.

Combine Valrhona chocolate powder and flour and salt.  Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degreesIn a double boiler melt 5 oz. chocolate and butter.  Watch carefully not to burn. Set aside to cool to room  temperature, but not harden.

Combine sugar and eggs and beat on medium.  Add cooled chocolate, then chocolate stout and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Fold in dry ingredients.

Spread into a square pan 8″-10″ wide.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately spread 1/2 c semi sweet chocolate chips on stop.

Let them sit for a few seconds before spreading with a knife.

Add marshmallows, chopped nuts, and white chocolate chips.

Melt 1/2 c semisweet chocolate in a microwave.  Place in a cake decorating bag, or plastic sandwich bag. Be sure chocolate is cool enough so that the bag doesn’t melt.  Drizzle melted chocolate over toppings.  Allow to cool before slicing.

1 comment February 7, 2011

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