Posts filed under: ‘Holidays‘
On our belated honeymoon my husband and I went on a southern adventure. We drove down the coast, visited some friends in DC, North Carolina, and then on to Florida. I made a point of stopping at Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah because I adore their cookbook and now their establishment too. I highly recommend the Bourbon Bread pudding. Then we ventured on to Florida to hit up Harry Potter World and Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
I’ve adored Disney as just about anyone does, from the time I was a kid, mostly because I thought I’d become an animator.
My infamous French toast recipe is now been included on Spoonful a Disney blog for crafting and cooking. It’s one of 15 crockpot recipes and I myself can’t wait to try the semi homemade Caramel buns!
It’s kind of funny as things work out as just last night I was recommending the documentary Walt and El Grupo to my brother, a film about how Walt Disney became an American diplomat in South America during World War II. I mentioned to my brother it would make an excellent Christmas gift should he ever need an idea of what to get for me… I’m shameless.
Follow me on Instagram for Pics from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Magic Kingdom.
Add a comment December 10, 2013
Another start of another week. Last week concluded with a great once in a lifetime performance of Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis. My parents ventured into the city and enjoyed the show and I got to sneak in a few times through the week’s rehearsals and performances to get my fill of New Orleans blues with the Master of guitar. I actually had to work Sunday so I’m not sure if my week has just started or never ended. I will say in todays rain and wind I found myself downstairs at Bouchon Bakery hoping they wouldn’t be sold out of my favorite guilty pick-me-up. French Macaroons.
I’m currently obssessed with idea of making French Macaroons. For awhile I didn’t know there were 2 kinds. The first: a ridiculously easy could-make-them-drunk-and-blindfolded coconut macaroon, and then there is the explicitly difficult French sandwich cookie that is as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. Typically, the latter don’t have coconut, but could, in fact have coconut if you wanted. The trend with French macs are to color and flavor and fill them with pistachios, lemon curd, raspberries, peanut butter and just about anything else you can think of.
Both cookies have egg whites, and are soft and chewy and delicious.
But lets take the easy road first shall we? Yes because my last French endeavour was not soooo successful, but more on that later.
Traditional Macaroons are popular at holiday time– I usually make a whole truck load for holiday cookie platters, and if you have found yourself invited to Passover next week and boogled over the lack of kosher-esque dishes you can bring to dinner, macaroons are the way to go. Featuring only egg whites (no dairy) they are usually part of Jewish holiday menus. I brought some a few years ago to a Passover dinner and they were a hit.
Coconut Macaroons, from one of my favorite books The Taste of Home CookBook
1 1/3 c flaked coconut
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix coconut, flour, sugar, and salt.
Mix in egg whites and vanilla. Make sure to combine well.
Drop on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden. 1 recipe yields about 1 1/2-2 dozen, so I typical double or triple it. Dip in chocolate if you dare. Use melted vegan chips if you are aiming for dairy free.
Add a comment April 13, 2011
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 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
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 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 c sugar
1 c buttermilk ( 1 c milk, 1 tsp vinegar)
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
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.
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
I love how in just about any borough of New York City all you have to do is walk 3 blocks in any direction and you’ll find yourself in a completely different neighborhood. For instance in my neighborhood you’ll find mostly hispanic, namely Dominican folks. A few blocks north you’ll find a predominantly Irish neighborhood. The differences in population from block to block may not be as stark in all parts of the city like Little Italy and China town, but all the same I absolutely love the fact that these small cramped islands we all share make us tolerate each other even accept each other and help us to build our little niches in each community.
Thus this cake recipe became very interesting to me as I’d gotten this same recipe from some very diverse students. Some of my students come from the Caribbean. And I’ve been fortunate to taste many versions of a cake they hold dearest in their Heritage. Black Cake. Black cake is a rich, dense Fruit cake that take lots of preparation: soaking fruit in wine for weeks even months, and repeatedly dousing your baked confection with rum. Traditionally Black cake is then covered with royal icing, and finally a layer of almond paste, or marzipan rolled out over the top. This cake is a feat to make, and master and it is delicious, and that’s not just the rum talking.
Then I realized how cool it was that this gem of the islands was also held in great esteem on a very different island…England. Of course this seems like no revelation considering how the West Hemisphere was discovered, explored, and conquered by an array Europeans. So no, Christmas Cake, (as the Brits call), being a shared tradition, wasn’t that big of a surprise after all. But I still relish in the fact that food brings people together. It’s the reason I write this blog really. And when it comes down to cake, well you couldn’t think of a better food that is iconic of celebration. So with one year coming to an end and another beginning I’d like to dedicate this recipe to anyone who aims to live, rather Celebrate life, and all the great things that make us unique and all the wonderful and tasty things we share.
I made this cake for the first time, as a grooms cake for friends of mine who were getting married, See the drum cake under “Weddings” in the gallery. Murielle a native of Haiti wanted a grooms cake that would be special for her soon to be husband Paul. I carved the cake into a drum, and modeled after one of Paul’s hand drums. I think myself a good baker but was nonetheless intimidated at the thought that it would be eaten by a crowd of wedding guests who would be well versed in black cake.
Murielle later gave me the report that she and Paul not only loved the design and the delicious cake, but that it was devoured by their guests who loved it and refered to it as Voodoo Cake. This recipe originally came to me by a former student Deborah Levine. Its been somewhat modified.
2 cups butter
2 cup white sugar
1/4 Barbancourt Rum (Adding rum is optional and the original recipe called for white rum. I HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on WONDERFUL Haitian rum called “Barbancourt” Pronounced: Bar bahn Coo in french. )
1 tb lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tb almond extract
1 grated zest of lime
2 pounds chopped dried mixed fruit
2 cups red wine + apprx 1 bottle red wine for soaking
1 cup dark molasses
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
At least 3 weeks ahead of time soak dried fruit in wine. Typically dark and golden raisins, prunes, cherries and currants are used. I highly recommend that whatever dried fruit you choose– you choose fruits that don’t contain sulfites as a preservative. It’s slightly more pricey, but I the preservatives added to dried fruit has a distinct flavor (YUCK) and in my opinion is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY!!! The point of drying fruit is to preserve it! In the health food aisle of most stores you will find organic dried fruits in many varieties. I used Mangos, Pineapples, Papayas, cherries, cranberries, raisins, prunes, figs, blueberries– well just about anything I could find. I think the sweet tropical fruits like papayas and pineapples add to the flavor of the cake. Chop or just rip the pieces of fruit with your fingers and cover with red wine of your choice. I think Layer Cake is a great wine, especially for cake making– I’m a fan of the Primitivo, or the Pinot Noir. Seal in a large tupperwear container and let soak at room temp for 3 weeks or more.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and Flour 2 9″ round baking pans.
In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and add rum, lime juice, lime zest, vanilla and almond extracts. Blend fruit in a food processor. Stir in soaked fruit, wine, and molasses.
Sift dry ingredients: flour, baking powder salt and spices. Fold batter and pour into pans.
This batter was sooo fluffy and light, mousse like.
Bake for 80-90 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and place on cooling rack to cool complete.
Brush on additional wine or Barbancourt rum after baking. I’m not a liquor drinking but if you are anything like me you might enjoy a small glass of Barbancourt on ice. Its got a hint of vanilla about it and is an excellent i to a rum cake. Continuously brush rum a few tablespoons at a time. Soaking cakes with rum in colonial times allowed cakes to be preserved throughout long journeys– especially overseas. I’ve had some students assure me that a black cake can last years…though I haven’t tried it myself. Paul and Murielle tell me they brush rum what they have left of their voodoo cake and plan to have it on their first anniversary.
Traditionally black cake is covered with royal icing. Add a tsp of glycerin to a recipe of royal icing to keep it from hardening. Roll out marzipan just as you would with Fondant– dusting work surface with powdered sugar, and cover cake. This is all a bit too sweet for me so I just go with buttercream.
I made a black cake this week for a holiday party in the costume shop at work, hence the buttons, notions, and other sewing accoutrements. It was a big hit!
4 comments December 10, 2010
Its cookie season. So I’m going to start off with my favorite recipe of all time. Chocolate Chip cookies from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.
First reason I love this bookis because the first copy I owned was given to me by my beloved grandmother, an avid and exceptional baker– when she was eulogized years ago, her banana cream pie was mentioned– thats the kind of reputation she had. My grandmother taught me to make all kinds of things: jam, cookies, pies. We also used to cook way inadvance and she would totally let me indulge by sneaking a few cookies here and there out of the freezer. I bought a used copy on Amazon.com for under $3. Sure its stained and a little dog-earred, but it looks just like the one I lost and as the seller stated, its worn appearance is a testament to the recipes inside.
Second reason to love this book: all the fabulous cooky (spelled that way on purpose) recipes illustrated in super saturated 1970’s photography. This book came about before food stylists really existed I assume, nonetheless fullbleed super saturdated color photos still keep you inspired.
Third reason to love this book: in the back they dedicate recipes for cookies based on the years they were most popular. For example the Chocolate Chip was the Best Cooky of 1935-1940. Some historical highlights mentioned in these years: 1936 Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry the woman he loves. 1938 Gone with the Wind premiers to become one of the most popular movies of all time. And truthfullly I don’t think we are all that different then we were all these years later. Prince William and his lady Kate will be married this year, and the last of the Harry Potter books has made it to the theatres breaking records again. I doubt the Chocolate Chip Cooky will ever go out of style.
Chocolate Chip Cookies: I typically double this recipe as listed below.
2/3 c shortening*
(I generally despise shortening, but certain cooky recipes it helps to keep the cookies puffy instead of melting all over the pan. You can change the ratio of shortening to butter if you feel inclined.)
2/3 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar ( I used 1/3 light brown and 1/3 dark brown, either or both work. The more the molasses–dark brown will add a more chewy the cooky’s texture)
2 tsp pure vanilla
3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 c chopped walnuts
2 c (12 oz) chocolate chips
Cream butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla. I suggest you cream the shortening, butter, and sugar first. The butter should be soft but still cool. Take out of the fridge 30 minutes before you use. After the fats and sugar are blended add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until smooth.
Combine dry ingredients. You can sift the flour, soda, and salt if you choose, honestly I’d rather not use the time.
Fold in the chips and walnuts. Nuts are of course optional, but I absolutely believe that walnuts are as apart of chocolate chip cookies, as the chips are. To each their own. I should also note that you should go lightly on the chips. 2 cups are only 12oz, so you shouldn’t use the whole of the 16oz bag,unless of course you are a choco-holic and in that case go for it!
I scoop the dough with a small ice cream scooper so that the cookies are uniform. Press the dough down in the center with your fingers. Make sure there is at least 2 inches between each as the dough rises and spreads.
Bake on parchment lined baking sheet. Do not use wax paper! Unless you want your cookies to taste like chocolate chip crayons. You can continue to reuse the same parchment sheet until its dark brown, then disguard and line with fresh sheet.
Cook for approximate 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out when the centers of the cookies are still pale, “lilly livered” as my grandmother used to say. The cookies continue to bake as they cool, so taking them out slightly underdone renders them perfect.
I’m hoping to do some other variations of the Chocolate Chip Cookie in the future, if you are looking for some GREAT insight I suggest you DVR Good Eats. Alton Brown does a number of recipes oc the cookie: Chewy, crispy, fluffy. Using bread flour, cake, flour, butter and/or shortening will give you a slightly different result. Missed it on TV? DVD sets of the show are now available and would make a great Christmas gift for your favorite foodie!
Add a comment December 7, 2010
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.
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
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)
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.
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
Cream Cheese Frosting is featured on some of the most popular cakes namely Carrot Cake and Red Velvet. I’v noticed recipes for Cream cheese frosting are routinely searched for on this blog so I figured it was high time I included one. Its so easy to mix up and its totally hard to resist not sticking your finger in the bowl nonstop.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 block (8 oz) cream cheese at room temperature.
1 stick (1/2 c) butter
2 lbs of powdered sugar (apprx 7 1/2 c)
1 tsp clear or pure vanilla extract.
Mix cheese, butter, and vanilla till smooth then add powdered sugar. Cream cheese frosting is typically a little softer than buttercream.
Heres a couple of notes on this frosting. First of all I’ve made this with light cream cheese before and was pleasantly surprise with my results. The consistancy is a little thinner, but whips up and is really fluffy. I still recommend using clear vanilla to keep the color less muddy, so that should you choose to color your frosting, your more apt to achieve the color you want.
Add a comment December 15, 2009
I was recently invited to lead a cupcake project with a group of girls scouts, troop #2974. I’ve got a super huge soft spot for the girl scouts having been one myself. I was actually the top cookie seller in my troop, but I’m sure thats not hard to believe…and no I didn’t eat all the cookies myself!
We made a big mess, ate lots of candy and had tons of fun, and everyone had a fancy treat for their Thanksgiving tables!
I offer cupcake project classes every month at Michael’s in Pelham Manor as well as private classes for groups or parties!
Upcoming Cupcake Classes at Michael’s:
1 comment December 11, 2009