July 30, 2009

Problem Solving

Do you know what your problem is? You've got eggs whites laying around in your fridge. And you don't know what to do about them. Macaroons? Too labor intensive. Egg white omelette? Boring. Perfect Party Cake? Again? Let me help you. Actually, let me help Dorie help you. After all it was probably Vanilla Ice Cream that got you into this mess in the first place. Cocoa Almond Meringues are the solution.

They are light, chocolaty, easy to make, and most importantly they use 4 egg whites and no yolks. Your welcome.

For the recipe, you can go here but don't forget to go here.

July 28, 2009

Ben & Who?

If there's one thing my current (lack of) work situation has taught me, it is to take pleasure in the simple things in life. Going for a walk in the middle of the day, keeping a garden alive for the first time ever, being home to shop the local farmers markets, actually spending time with friends and family- and then there's the homemade vanilla ice cream. It doesn't take a long time, it's cheaper and more wholesome than store bought (what is tara gum anyway?) and a bowl of the stuff will put a smile on anyone's face.
This weeks' TWD, Vanilla Ice Cream, had my mind reeling with possiblities. Chipwhich? Neopolitan? DQ Blizzard style? Not to mention all the a la mode options. In the end I kept it old school so that I could eat in the simplest, and bestest (yep) way I know how.

Bowl + ice cream + Hershey's syrup + cherry = heaven.

July 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Copycat Cookies

As an avid reader, I am always wary of film adaptations of my favorite books. Here you are with a strong attachment to a story and a vivid picture in your minds eye of what the character look and sound like and then the movie comes out and completely destroys the world you've created. If this has never happened to you consider yourself lucky- oh and avoid Under The Tuscan Sun at all costs. So when I saw that this month's Daring Bakers Challenge I was filled with a familiar mixture of excitement and dread. Would I really be able to create a Mallow and a Milan Cookie to rival those mass market versions of my childhood?
Well, yes and no. Copying my favorite cookies was fun. Figuring out how to get that special hourglass shape, piping dollops of marshmallow fluff and swirling them in chocolate, I tried to channel my inner Keebler Elf.

When the floured dust settled my cookies did look the part but how would they taste? I was disappointed in the Milan Cookies. They were too tuile-like in texture and lacked the buttery dense crumb of the Pepperidge Farm brand but the Mallows rocked my world. The texture and taste of the cookie was spot on and I thought the chocolate coating was perfect.

Interested in a little cookie copycatting of your own? Check out our sponsors:
The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

July 17, 2009

Black and White Is The New Black... And White

In my just over a year of blogging I have noticed a few items that are much debated and often duplicated. Some are fads, like the New York Times chocolate chip cookie experiment- which I have not tried but I suspect will never rival my husband's secret recipe (and by secret I mean he won't even tell me). Then there's the ongoing battle about what makes a real red velvet cake, the "how to get macaroon feet" suggestion box, and the ever popular butter v.s. Crisco pie debate- I'm firmly planted in the butter camp.
And then there's the Black and White Cookie. Not quite cookie, not really cake, with 2 icings meeting harmoniously in the center, this NY deli staple has been on my to do list for quite awhile. Whenever I come across a recipe for it, I make a mental note to come back to that page and after reading through quite a few I narrowed it down to two versions. Due to her hometown advantage, Smitten Kitchen's recipe was the obvious choice, although fellow SoCal-er Joy The Baker's version ran a close second. So in the East v. West Coast Black And White Cookie Challenge, which recipe won out?

Like the cookie itself, I found success when the 2 recipes met in the middle- Deb's cookie base and white icing and Joy's chocolate glaze. Compromise is key.
Want to try them for yourself? Click here and here.

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, the impetus for my finally making these cookies was in honor of my tuxedo cats, Chessie & Cleo. Happy 1st Birthday guys!

Ok, the cookies are for me. They much prefer ground chicken.

July 14, 2009

TWD- Rise And Shine

It's hot here people. Real hot. Not that I'm complaining mind you, I love summer and am so glad it's finally reached the So Cal beaches, but the high temperatures does make it tough to turn on the oven. Lucky for me I'm an early riser and an early morning baker so this weeks Tuesdays With Dorie, Brioche Plum Tarts fit very nicely into that time frame.
I had prepped the broiche dough the night before. I used to be intimidated by brioche until we made it in class and Dorie's recipe was a breeze- why oh why did I wait so long to use the dough hook on my KA? I halved the recipe and after the 2 hour "smackdown" phase (any aggressions to get out? make brioche!) pressed each half of the dough into 4 inch tart pans, covered them with plastic wrap and left them in the fridge overnight. Saturday morning was another scorcher but I was up 630am letting the tarts rest on the counter for 30 minutes while I chopped up slivered almonds and gorgeous pluots from the farmers market. A generous slathering of pluot jam, fanning out a pluot half on each tart, a sprinkling with almond/sugar mixture and into the oven they went- all without breaking a sweat. Even in the heat of summer, these Pluot Tartlets are worth waking up for.
Rise and shine.

July 10, 2009

Pluot Pajama Jam

It's 10pm...what kind of jam are you making? For a person who had never known anything but Smuckers, I think I'm developing a little jam addiction because I just could not go to bed without making the Pluot jam recipe from this month's Bon Appetit. Often times the recipes I tear out from magazines take me months, if not years to make but this one would not wait. Pluots only come around once a year and aren't on the shelves long, hence the sense of urgency. Plus I'd already had an unfortunate ice cream disaster (roasted banana almond milk sounded good) and needed to erase the stink of failure.
Speaking of smells, this jam has wonderfully sweet and spicy aroma with the combination ripe pluots, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and honey (I used agave). Perfect on shortbread cookies, divine when paired with goat cheese, or just to jazz up some photos of your furry friends.

That's Chessie, isn't he a looker?
For the recipe and other great ideas, click here.

July 7, 2009

TWD- A Little Hollywood Glamour

The first time my mom visited me on set she said, "Why is everyone standing around?" I laughed. Nothing defines a film set more than the phrase, "Hurry up and wait." When I tell people I work on tv shows and movies for a living they always say how exciting that must be. People outside the industry have no idea how long it takes to make their favorite shows because they get so caught up in the stories and the excitement of celebrity- and thank goodness for that! If they only knew that the act of making a movie is more often about remembering to order equipment, whether or not an actor wants avocado on their burrito, and standing on a street corner at 3am trying to keep background artists awake enough to cross through the shot without looking like zombies, well they might just turn the tv off and we'd all be out of a job!
Don't get me wrong, there are times when it does feel glamourous. When the light is just right, and everything comes together, even I get caught up in the fantasy. I wish I could have been around in Katherine Hepburn's heyday- when camera men wore ties and smoking was still cool. But thanks to Dorie, at least I have her brownies.
Unlike tv shows, Tribute to Katherine Hepburn brownies don't take a lot of time or money to make. They are simple. All the ingredients stirred together in one saucepan to creat a rich, chocolaty batter that I could not stop eating (raw eggs be damned!). Pour into a pan and 30 minutes later you have the richest, chocolatiest (?), fudgiest brownies ever. Do not attempt these without milk.
These babies are ready for their close up. And I didn't even have to get them coffee!