February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers A La Mode

Three little words... a la mode. This month's Daring Bakers Challenge brings us both cake and ice cream- and its practically recession proof. With a few pantry/refrigerator staples and a bar of emergency chocolate, (hey, you never know when a craving will strike) I was able to create 2 4inch mini cakes and a huge bowl of ice cream that gives Breyers Vanilla a run for its money.

For the cake I used Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Chocolate because I love the taste and it works really well for baking. The ice cream was Wendy's recipe, slightly tweaked by first infusing the half and half with vanilla bean. Since I do not have an ice cream maker I have never made ice cream before but David Lebovitz's low tech instructions worked so well now I know I don't need one!

The February 2009 challenge has been brought to you by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They chose Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

February 24, 2009

Caramel Crunch Bars

I had never even heard of the Freshman 15...until they happened to me. For this I point the finger at three evil men, Ben, Jerry, and Heath; as in Ben & Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch ice cream. Regularly consuming a pint at 3am directly resulted in the expansion of my waistline. You'd think someone would have warned me. My good pal Little Caesar was strangely mum on the subject.
Anywho... this weeks TWD, Caramel Crunch Bars, felt so very familiar. A brown sugar shortbread crust, covered with a layer of milk chocolate and topped off with chopped Heath bar. I couldn't find the toffee bits so I bought mini bars and beat them into submission with a hammer. A little payback for those 15 pounds.
Luckily the older and wiser me knew well enough to keep the reunion brief. A little snack, then straight into the freezer only to be brought out and dispersed at my cousin's birthday party. Heath loves making new friends.

February 17, 2009

Cover Story

Wanna know a dirty little secret? It's not the recipes that make me buy cookbooks- it's the pictures. I'm a sucker for a little food porn. I must check foodgawker at least 5 times a day. But also, for a novice baker like me, it really helps to have photos of what you aspire to make. That is what one of the things makes Baking From My Home To Yours such a great book and there is no food photo I've seen (drooled over) more often than its' cover model,
Devils Food White Out Cake.

A tough act to follow for sure, but I'm relatively pleased with the look of my little 4inch mini cake- and I couldn't have asked for a better ending to Valentine's Day dinner. Forget flowers, nothing says I love you like layers of chocolate and marshmallow.

February 12, 2009

Well There's A Rose...

The really is no such thing as 9 to 5 anymore. Especially in the film business, the work has a tendency to expand to fill the time allowed...and then some. More often than not, the bulk of the week is spent not with family and friends but with co-workers. So in the spirit of Valentines Day, I'm sending my husband to work tomorrow bearing Red Velvet Cupcakes.

"If you can't be with the one you love honey, love the one you're with."

I'd never made Red Velvet before and after much research decided to try this recipe from Pinch My Salt, with a few substitutions.

I had gel food coloring on hand, not liquid, so instead of making a paste I sifted the cocoa powder in with the other dry ingredients. Then I mixed the gel food coloring into the wet ingredients before adding the dry. No buttermilk either so I substituted regular milk mixed with a teaspoon of vinegar. Instead of cream cheese I went with a basic vanilla buttercream.

I love the texture of the these cupcakes, very airy and light. And the taste just makes my heart go pitter-pat.

February 9, 2009

Get Reacquainted

L.B. Jeffries could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble if he'd just had Facebook. Of course Rear Window wouldn't have been as interesting, what with Jimmy Stewart sitting in his wheelchair on his laptop rather than looking out the window spying on the neighbors.
Facebooking is fast becoming the ultimate in high tech voyeurism. You can find out all sorts of things about people you haven't seen in ages, and even about those you see everyday. And you don't even have to talk to them directly! Not that I advocate this sort of behavior- its' merely an observation.
Facebook has, however brought me in contact with people I haven't heard from in decades. My profile is filled with old high school and college friends I'd lost touch with, even kids in my preschool class and my former school bus driver! Reminiscing about the childhood friends led me to reminiscing about childhood foods. Facebook led me back to latkes.

A fresher, healthier version than we used to get in the Jewish Day School cafeteria, these latkes are made with sweet potatoes and scallions so they taste new - but boy do they take me back! What foods do you miss from your formative years? Do you still eat them today?

Sweet Potato and Scallion Latkes
adapted from Cooking From The Hip by Cat Cora
1 sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 scallion, finely chopped
4 tbsp vegetable oil

In a large bowl whisk together egg, flour, salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes and scallion and mix well. Heat oil in a large frying pan until hot but not smoking. Place spoonfuls of potato mixture into the oil, flattening lightly with a spatula. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2 minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a plate covered with paper towel to drain them. Serve warm with sour cream and additional chopped scallions.

February 8, 2009

Reinventing The Wheel

Eureka! Ok, I know its silly to be so excited about one little loaf of bread but I have been suffering from yeast anxiety for months. For some reason I thought I would fail at bread making which is why I bought Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day in the first place. It's based on a basic no knead recipe where you make the dough in bulk and refrigerate it, then you can pull some out and bake off a loaf whenever the mood strikes.

This first loaf is from the Master Recipe but there are over 200 hundred pages of recipes ranging from traditional French and Italian loaves to sandwich bread and pastry.

If this post is starting to sound like an infomercial well, it is. Buy this book and have fresh bread with dinner...tonight!

Fingers Crossed

Ever since receiving Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day, I've been putting off making my first loaf of bread, ever. Not enough flour in the house, the container I plan to use for the dough is still full of gingerbread, I'm sick, I'm better but on a no wheat detox diet. I'm officially out of excuses and my first batch is rising on the counter as we speak- I hope.
Anyone have experience with this book or advice for a bread virgin?

February 2, 2009

Excuse Me While I Detox

After months of overindulging and two weeks (and counting) of sinus infection/head cold my body needs a break. In an attempt to set my reset button, I'm on a 7 day detox diet. No wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, or caffeine. Definitely no World Peace Cookies. I did make them a few weeks ago (ah the good old days) but they were so good didn't stick around long enough for photos. Hence the need for detox?

So for the next week I'll be living vicariously through my fellow TWD'ers and you can too! Check them out here.