Thursday, April 27, 2006

More old photos of cake decoration

This was my latest endeavor in cake. It is a devil's food cake with white chocolate mousse and ganache. Very very rich. Tasted like candy. I happen to think it looked pretty good too. Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Old Pictures!

I actually made this cake in October for my brother's fourth birthday. I thought all the pictures had dissappeared, but look! It's a swamp cake!!! not really much to say about it. Just a lot of frosting and fondant. The birthday boy liked it. (He likes all things that are creepy, crawly, slimy) So it has a frog on a log, an alligator, some lilypads, cattails, pumpkins (hey, it was October), a snake...etc.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Holy Crap that is a LOT of Cookies

So I made a few cookies. Pft. That is an understatement. I bought a pound of butter and tried to see just how many cookies I could make with it, using whatever I had lying around. (All of these came from the new Martha "Special Issue" by the way) These first ones were Oatmeal Applesauce with Maple Icing. Fabulous stuff that Maple Icing. I wish I had come up with it. Just pure maple syrup and powdered sugar. Yum! I used 1-Minute Oatmeal instead of the Old Fashioned Oats it called for, and dark raisins instead of golden. Still came out perfectly. Continued...

Next are some Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies. These are my absolute new favorite thing. They called for white chocolate chips, but I only had semi-sweet. This picture does not do them justice at all. They are FABULOUS.

Lastly came the Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing. This was recently in one of the Living magazines, and I was mostly intrigued by the Brown Butter Icing. It has a really interesting flavor. The cookies are really cakey, almost like a firm pumpkin bread.

What was hilarious about it was I never thought I would make that many cookies. It was like I was possesed. I was IMing various people saying

"Ummmm.... I think I just made 6 dozen cookies... for no reason... is that normal?"

I think the consensus was "no"

Thursday, November 03, 2005


This is a picture from the Time-Change Beach Party last Sunday. Pretty, huh? It wasn't even chilly. Just a beautiful day with beautiful people. And BBQ and marshmallows. Can't forget those....

I just got back from Safeway and got the Martha Stewart holiday COOKIES Special Issue Magazine. I think I bought it out of shock. Wasn't it September only a moment ago? Do you all realize what this means?! After November comes DECEMBER. Crap. Now I am extememly worried about my Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon.(Every year I completely monopolize the kitchen for a weekend, bake until I drop, and then give all the bounty away in pretty packages as quickly as possible.) But when will it happen this year?

It must happen.

Dammit, the show must go on. Continued... Luckily this Special Issue is inspiring me. Just from glancing through it, I could see that the majority of the recipes were new. Although some of Martha's classics had to be included. (Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies, Gingerbread, etc.) They are nicely organized in categories like "Soft and Chewy," "Crisp and Crunchy," "Cakey and Tender," etc. This is very useful because when you are coming up with a variety box, you need clear differences in flavor and texture. There are also a good amount of interesting coconut flavored recipes. Really intrigued by Coconut Cream Filled Macaroons.

The other thought going through my mind is what to make for the teacher people. Yes, yes, I admit, I am a bit of a kiss ass, but I really like my teachers, and I enjoy showing off my baking skills. I figure that I'll make some good ol' gingerbread, but write something really clever with the royal icing. Let's see... something Classical Studies related I suppose....

Felicem Diem Natalis Jesus

(I'm hoping that translates to "Happy Birthday Jesus", but my Latin isn't exactly super... how does one decline "Jesus"?)

Monday, October 17, 2005

To the Gods of Blogging

Well school has been crazy, to say the very least. But I have been learning a whole lot of neat stuff. Surprisingly, some food related things.

My biggest contributor is my Satire class. Evidenlty the word satire is related to the Latin satura, which in "the Plautinarum quaestionum: 'sature is dried grape and barley and pine nuts sprinkled with honeywine.'" which was a stuffing.

Funny, eh? Continued...

So the word satire has the possible orgin of being stuffed with a bunch of different things. Or as the prof said "miscellany." But also, so much of the satire we are reading relates to food! Like Petronius' Satyricon (Part 3 Trimalchio's Dinner Party) is about a crazy guy with a crazy dinner party, which crazy food. Example: A giant platter with the signs of the zodiac, and a different food to represent each one. And Lucian's True Histories, a parodying the Odyssey, a group of explorers sail the a place where everything is milk and cheese. The ocean is milk, the grapes are white and produce milk, the ground is cheese.

Greeks and Romans loved thier foodstuffs. And they were crizazy.

In other words, my classical education is dominating my existence at the moment. Note new section of blogs that I have been reading. Fuuunny stuff.

Well, I think so.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Stress Unduced Food

Where did all that time go? I think I have been on campus all-day every-day since school began. Hasn't left a lot of time for great cooking, but I manage. I'll try to come up with some new stuff soon. So far all I have really done is made various forms of pasta and vegetables. And soup. Can't forget that. Yeesh. Hopefully I'll have a free moment to myself soon. If I don't make an apple pie during this nice autumn weather, I might go crazy.

More to come soon. Hopefully.

Friday, September 23, 2005

just soup.

Maybe it is because I am back at school and am poor. Maybe it is that almost-fall weather. Or maybe soup is just awesome and I forgot.
All you need to make soup is some leftovers and some water. And a large pot. A wooden spoon. Well, you get it. Very simple stuff.
Here are some of the incredibly easy soups I have made recently.

As ususal, I am a PRO when it comes to giving measurements. Really though, I just think of myself has a very experimental and happy cook who wants to share my findings. So there. Continued...

Spinach Soup

- a couple of onions carmelized in butter
- a clove or two of garlic
- fresh spinach (or that slightly wilted, leftover salad making stuff)
- chicken broth
- salt and pepper (easy on the salt with the canned chicken broth)

1. Cook for awhile
2. Blend. (A certain Neuman has an awesome blender-stick aparatus that is very appropriate)
3. Garnish with fresh ricotta cheese, maybe some green onion, yummy bread, a little olive oil. Great Stuff.
Plays well with add-ins.

Tomato Lentil Soup

- The Big Three: carrot, celery, onion (all chopped small)
- a can of crushed tomatoes
- salt, pepper, bay leaf, fresh parsley
- a cup or so of lentils, rinsed
- a couple cans chicken broth
- water if/as needed

Heartier than regular tomato soup. This is a great one for just throwing everything in the pot and letting it go for awhile. Lentils don't have to be precooked or anything. As with most tomato dishes, this really wakes up with a little booze. Just a dash of wine is nice. Tastes great with olive oil on top (the good stuff, mind you).

Creamy Broccoli
- The Big Three: chop the onion and celery really smal, but add extra carrots and keep them chunky. Carrots and broccoli are kinda magical to me
- a couple cans vegetable broth
- a couple cups broccoli florets, chopped
- salt and pepper
- water
- half a cup to a cup of half and half

Don't put the half and half in until the vegetables are cooked for a bit, then add the half and half and simmer gently. Let cool very well, it thickens. Garnish with cheddar cheese. (Okay, okay, not one of my healther dishes, but oh so good)

Split Pea Soup
- The Big Three, chopped
- lots of chicken broth
- green split peas, rinsed
- salt, pepper, bay leaf, parsley

Another one for the stick blender. This seems very impressive when it is done. It is nice to have lots of stuff to put on top. Everyone puts ham with it, but it is great with smoked turkey too.

So those are some of them. I am going to experiment with black beans, canned green chiles, and red bell peppers. I need to go to the store and get cumin. MMmmmmmh.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dream Bars and Buttons

Aubree had a bake sale at school to raise money for the people recovering from the hurricane. Of course I *helped* her make cookies. We decided that we needed something that looked good, and was easy to make in somewhat large quantities. So I flipped through The Joy of Cooking , probably the greatest cookbook ever. I knew I had eaten a Dream Bar before, but I was surprised by how easy it was to produce such amazing results. Continued...

It starts out with a buttery crust, then toasted coconut, walnuts and/or pecans are piled on, then a brown sugary "like the inside of pecan pie" filling is poured over. After baking, a simple icing is spread over the warm goodies, creating a nice frosty crust. Aubree was quite hesitant at first, she is not a huge fan of nuts or coconut. I assured her that after everything was put together, it would taste like something completely different and amazing. After one bite she was hooked, and knew that all of her friends would be swarming over them. My father said "that is the best thing I ever put in my mouth." So get a copy of The Joy of Cooking and try them. They rock my socks.

Another fun thing I discovered this week was To totally rip off Brownie Points (an excellent blog), these retro buttons are a great "Gifts for Foodies."
Except for the nod to Rachel Ray (at least it wasn't Emeril, that would be unforgiveable), these buttons appear to be made specifically for me, or a little more realistically and a little less pretentious, me and a group of my wonderfully dorky friends. You know who you are.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

One Fish, Two Fish

I've always had an itching to open up a restaurant. It would be pretty awesome. Really quirky, but elegantly decorated. Mismatched chairs, linens and silverware, but somehow it'll all work together. Wacky retro art on the walls. An espresso bar... Hell, maybe a real bar...


At this point in time, I am too much of a chicken to actually go through with it. (Lots of work, I lack confidence, etc. etc.)For now it is a nice fantasy.

Sometimes, when I am bored in class, I come up with menus.

This has always been my favorite dish to include. It is fancy, but still homey. Nutrition wise, it ain't to shabby either. Continued...

It is Tilapia atop Sauteed Spinach with Carmelized Onion and Cauliflower-Potato Whip with a White Wine Sauce. (Sounds important, eh?)

Tilapia is yummy and easy to prepare, and to me is easier to cook than red snapper in that it holds together better. I salt it, then very lightly flour it before pan frying it in browning butter. (Note: This is not one of those Paula Dean "I am making something healthly but throw in a stick of butter." Minimal butter here). Also, do not allow the fish to be over cooked.

The veggie component starts with carmelizing some onion (a touch of butter and a touch of olive oil [If I ever use the term E.V.O.O., feel free to dispose of me anyway you see fit]). After the onion is to where you like it, add fresh chopped spinach and cover. Season with a little salt and pepper.

The starch essentially mashed potato and mashed cauliflower, but instead of milk or cream, I use chicken broth. As one wise man says, "It adds more flavor to the party." I do add, again, a little bit, of butter.

Lastly, I use the pan I cooked the fish in to make, essentially, a buerre blanc. Deglaze with white wine, add a little super cold butter, fresh chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

After it is all plated, some lemon is nice.

This dish is very impressive, yet very easy to do. It would be great for entertaining a small party, perhaps with some tapenade and bread as an appetizer, and maybe a cherry clafouti for dessert. Mmmmh. Who wants to come to my house for dinner? Bring wine.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

My Confession

You cannot repeat this to anyone, especially the fact that it came from me. There are a couple of recipes I have until this moment refused to share with anyone. This is not because the recipes are particularly prized. I am embarassed by them. Why? I think they are cheating. I feel wrong saying I "baked" or "made" the dish. Yet, the food produced by these recipes are often huge successes at parties, so I've always felt like I must make them, both because they are asked for by name and if anyone knew the secret, I would be exposed. I would be a "short-cut cook." I shudder at the thought. Continued...

Why tell you all this? Because I refuse to make the stuff anymore. All this time, the things I have been praised for came from prepackaged mixes and cans. Minimal preparation. Minimal brain function. And I don't really like the food (mostly because I am a foodie snob, but whatevah).

The first recipe is the ultimate in lameness, but people love the darn stuff. Sometimes called "Pink Stuff" of "Blue Stuff" I know it as "White Trash Delight."

One thawed container of Cool Whip
One can of either cherry or blueberry pie filling
On can of crushed pineapple that has been thuroughly drained
Chopped walnuts optional

Fold together in a bowl. Chill. DONE.

Doesn't that just seem wrong! When people at a party ate this faster than my "Slaved Over A Hot Stove Tarte Tatin" I was crushed. It is the most processed, hydrogenated, sugar filled substance ever. And people love it. You can serve it with pound cake, fruit salad, or even use it as a cake filling. Just keep it cold.

Just as worse is my famous Pineapple Upside Down Cake. All you do is melt a stick of butter in a rectangular cake pan, add brown sugar to cover, arrange pineapple slices(save the juice)and cherries. Then prepare BOXED YELLOW CAKE MIX and use butter instead of oil, pineapple juice instead of water, the eggs, and a tablesppon of dark rum. Pour on in the pan, place the monstrosity in the oven as delgated by the box. Cook until done. invert. Whipped cream.

People have actually hired me to make this. Paid me good money to make this. It blows my mind.

Martha, please don't hate me. I realize this is Rachel Ray territory. I promise I'll never do it again.

I am ashamed.

::bows head in shame::

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pyscho Plums?

The plums in my backyard are looking at me funny. I swear! Ever since I noticed that hint of a chill in the air, the plums on the trees have been positively asking for it. It's like they are taunting me. "We are almost ready, but if you pick us now, we'll taste like crap. Wait to long, and we are giving ourselves up to birds." But now I am on the watch for a basket of beautiful, dark, plums. It's about time too, because I really like making Plum Upside Down Cake. I just love a good fruit dessert, and this one is amazing. Quite a looker too. Continued...

I also really love sweet stuff that tastes good with coffee, and this works very well for me.

As usual, I mooched it from Miss Martha. The only thing I really changed was the addition of ginger, but that is just because I like ginger with plums.

Plum Upside-Down Cake

for the fruit layer:
10 red or purple plums

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan

9 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

for the cake:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus pan dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 large pinch of salt

6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, preferably coarse-ground

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan

1/4 cup almond paste

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 large eggs, separated

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup milk

1. Prepare fruit layer: Cut plums into quarters; remove pits. Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat until it sizzles. Add plums; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until well coated and shiny.

2. Add sugar and cinnamon and ginger, and stir to coat plums. Cook, stirring frequently, until plums soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove fruit with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a baking sheet to cool slightly. Remove pan from heat, saving syrup.

4. Butter and flour a 9 1/2-by-2-inch round cake pan. Arrange fruit, with cut edges down, in concentric circles starting with outside edge of pan. Fit leftover fruit into any spaces that remain.

5. Return syrup to medium heat, and boil until very thick with large bubbles. Immediately pour over fruit. Let cool.

6. Prepare cake: Heat oven to 350°. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in cornmeal with a fork.

7. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Crumble in almond paste, and beat with the paddle attachment. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, and beat until creamy.

8. Add egg yolks, and beat until well combined. Beat in extracts. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Set aside.

9. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Gradually sprinkle in 2 tablespoons sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. Add a third of the whites to batter, and mix with a whisk. Gently fold in remaining whites.

10. Spread batter over fruit, and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan.

11. Just before serving, place pan over low heat for 1 minute to ease unmolding. Run a knife around edges to loosen, and invert onto a serving plate.

Try not to eat it all at once.

Friday, September 02, 2005

So Freaking Funny

From another blog called "Republic of Dogs"

Food Network: Who Do I Hate Today? Continued...

(I realize this is long, but I enjoyed it)

Because you didn't ask and never will, here's my rundown on the various personalities featured on the Food Network.

Although I find him scary-looking, Mario Batali seems like one of the few Food Network personalities that might actually be a nice guy in person. Aren’t there doctors that can help with that sweat problem?

Rachel Ray is pure evil. I will grant, however, that she models some really good habits to help novice cooks avoid common pitfalls (Gather your ingredients before you start cooking, time management, stuff like that) She's still an horrible harpy, though, and she will die alone.

Tyler Florence needs to stick it in immediately, because he is a fucking stud. His style of cooking is very near to mine, which is reason #6,428 why he and I should get married. Tomorrow.

As much as I try to hate Alton Brown, I am a total kitchen-science nerd, and some of his episodes have been really informative. I love Shirley Corriher's books for the same reason. Alton's enthusiasm for gimmicky plastic kitchen gadgetry and his horkishly forced "zaniness" make me nauseous. But I still watch.

Bobby Flay is everything I hate about straight guys, all wadded up and compressed into one small and extremely annoying white man. He is such a fuck-tard, and I would pick a fight with him with a quickness. Also, all he does is grill. I am a native of Texas, so unless you’re like grilling yeti filet over heated moon rocks, you won’t impress me by grilling.

I have deeply conflicted feelings about Ina Garten. She’s the kind of person I could be friends with…if she didn’t so obviously dwell in a completely different socioeconomic universe. Also, her “simple chic” occasionally slides into just plain “simple”.

The Iron Chefs are all gods astride this world of mere mortals. I worship and adore them, because you know you have a pretty hefty pair to serve up some of that shit with a straight face. Carp ice cream? Why yes, I’ll have two scoops!

Sara Moulton. Dullest. Person. Ever.

I’m emailing Jaime Oliver right now to invite him to join Tyler Florence and me for some hot man-on-man-on-man action.

Bobby Rivers and Sandra Pinckney were decanted from the same cloning vat. They were genetically engineered to hawk tacky commercial shit in the most bland and inoffensive manner possible.

Marc Summers(link added) is the white version of Bobby Rivers, with a dash of that Al Roker “zing” added for good measure. He always looks like his makeup is melting off, and his smile betrays his fear of death. He creeps me out in a major way. Unless he marries Rachel Ray, they will both die alone. Also, his show “Unwrapped” is a shameless apologia for all of the corporate, mass-produced, unhealthy low-quality factory food to which almost every single one of the Food Network chefs are vocally opposed. But Marc will show you that mass-produced industrial food is just good, clean fun.

I totally heart Paula Deen. I know she probably seems hokey and trashy to non-southerners, but she strikes me as genuine, and I like her self-effacing style. She’s like Ina Garten with the stick pulled out of her ass.

When Al Roker dies, he will go straight to hell, where he will be made to pay far out the ass for his many, many sins.

I deeply disagree with any negative feedback about AB. Also, he did not even mention the anorexic Natalie Portman look-alike. Even worse, he didn't even go into the horror that is Emeril Lagasse. Most everything else is hilarious and right on. Although Tyler Florence annoys me, I do like the idea of him and Jaime Oliver feeding me grapes...
I think I will have to add on to this assessment later.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Back to School...

Well, I don't have to go back to school just yet, but a lot of other people are. Even though it is still pretty warm outside, I have that squirmy feeling that summer is ending. What is a girl to do?

Make cookies you say?

But of course.

I thought long and hard about what kind of cookies really capture what I am feeling. Summery, yet not summery. Something portable, or rather, lunch-box-worthy. But most importantly, what sounds tasty at the moment.Continued...Then it hit me. Cranberry Lemon Squares. The tangy, refreshing lemon is perfect for a warm summer day. The cranberries are as autumnal as can be. The contrast of the cool, zingy topping and the tender, buttery crust perfectly represent this August/September transition. Yep. I am awesome.

Well, Martha is awesome for coming up with the recipe. As usual though, I edited it to my needs. (Read "my needs" as "I am occasionally quite lazy") I also added the lemon zest to the mix because I love a very pronouced lemony tang. If you can't handle it, omit said zest.

Cranberry Lemon Squares

6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 12
pieces, plus more for pan

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (about

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated
Zest of 3 lemons
1/4 cup freshly squeezed plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
lemon juice (about

1.Preheat oven to 325°.
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, and set

2. Chop the
cranberries as best you can with a knife.
Or, use scissors and snip them
down. (This was originally done via food
processor after they cooked, but my
food processor is a dinosaur. Unreliable,
and an otherwise clunky, annoying

(Pause for daydreaming about a new
food processor

3. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries and 2 cups water; bring to a
boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until water
been absorbed, about 25 minutes. Set aside, let cool.

4. In a bowl combine confectioners’ sugar and 3/4 cup flour.
butter, incorporate by hand (again, food processor should do it, but it
doesn't have to) until mixture forms pea-size pieces. Press batter into

5. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to

6. Beat eggs and granulated sugar until smooth.
Add lemon juice;
beat to combine. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour, and beat to combine; set lemon
mixture aside.

7. Reduce oven temperature to 300°. Spread cranberry
mixture over cooked crust. Pour lemon mixture over the cranberry mixture. Bake
until set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 40 minutes. Chill
4 hours. To serve, cut into squares, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

This can actually be a lovely dessert as well, with a little whipped cream on top. Sprig of mint. You know the And here is where you write the rest of it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

You Whore!

I alwasy thought puttanesca was a tomato-based sauce characterized by the addition of olives and/or capers. At least that is what I told my little sister who heard it mentioned in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunatel Events. However, with a little research in The FoodNetwork Encyclopedia, I found a very surprising description: Continued...

[poot-tah-NEHS-kah] Generally served with pasta, this sauce is a spicy mélange of tomatoes, onions, capers, black olives, anchovies, oregano and garlic, all cooked together in olive oil. A dish on a menu described as alla puttanesca signals that it's served with this sauce. The name puttanesca is a derivation of puttana, which in Italian means "whore." According to one story, the name purportedly comes from the fact that the intense fragrance of this sauce was like a siren's call to the men who visited such "ladies of pleasure."

Well, it does make it a whole lot more interesting. It implies a kind of aphrodisiac-like-quality. If I make this, will there be a line of boys outside my door? Yes? Awesome. I am all for it then. Does the fact that I cook this dish imply anything about me? About Mr. Snicket? Hmmmmmm...

This is certainly one of those "cooking as a performance" dishes, meaning that you kinda juggle a few things at once as you go along. As with any performance, one must "set the stage" and prep your ingredients.

(Again, I am terrible with keeping track of measurements. Just do it to taste, then it will become your very own)

First bring a pot of salted water to the boil for your pasta. Next, chop some tomatoes (whole from a can, or fresh), red onion, garlic, parsley, olives(green and black, and brown for that matter). Roll and halve a lemon, and have at the ready for the big finish. Drain some tuna that has been packed in (preferably olive) oil.

(Your water might be boiling now, add some spaghetti. Not angel hair, not penne. Spaghetti. Whole wheat actually works very well here.)

Now heat some olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add some crushed red pepper flakes. When the little flakes start to jump from the pan, add the onion and a little salt. Cook until "the edge is taken off" the onion, add the garlic. Cook until you can *just* smell it and add the tomatoes and olives, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook vigorously, stir constantly. All the while watching your pasta, draining whenever it is finished, keeping it backstage in the colander. (Told you this was crazy) If your sauce becomes to thick, you can add pasta water, stock, or even some white wine. Ok, ok, preferably the wine. Add the tuna and parsley, heat the tuna through. Add the pasta and coat with the sauce. Plate. Finish with a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of olive oil. Voila!

I like to serve with a little arugula dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon, with sliced roasted beets (golden beets if you rock and don't want to deal with red beets that stain everthing). The bitter arugula and sweet beets compliment the spicy pasta.

Obviously you could add some capers, or anchovies to be more authentic, but I like tuna because it makes the dish more like a meal. You could also throw some cheese in there, but I like it as is. Whore that I am...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different

For fear of talking about only pastry, and for the sake of fairness, I should throw in some ideas from the more savory end of the spectrum. I am always trying to come up with healthful and yummy meals, with the hope to inspire the fast food nation that is my family and friends (you know who you are). So first up is my favorite version of a burger, served with roasted zucchini. Continued...

(By the way, it is even harder to come up with a "recipe" for this kind of cooking, so if this is confusing, it isn't your fault. Just try to figure how much zucchini or turkey will feed one person, and multiply accordingly)

I start by heating the oven to 425. Next I prep the zucchini by cutting each of them twice lengthwise, leaving long skinny quarters. I lay them skin side down on a cookie sheet, spray them with spray olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and throw them in the oven. They will shrink way down, and be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

For the burgers, start by roasting some bell peppers (any color but green). After the skin is removed , set aside. Now take your good ol' ground turkey meat in a bowl, and add some salt, pepper, minced garlic and chopped fresh parsley. Mix, then form into patties. Cook over medium-high heat with some olive oil. While they are cooking, toast some buns (I love the Trader Joes "Honey Wheat" buns. Wheat just works better here). Spread a little mayo* on the buns (May also be a Trader Joes product "The Ojai Cook Lemonaise") add a few layers of romain lettuce to the bottom. Add your burger, roasted bell pepper, and some thinly sliced red onion. Serve with the zuchinni.

I think this meal is great as is, but if you feel the need to "round it out" you could throw in some roasted potato or some fruit, or a cup of soup. OOooo. That sounds good. Also, avocado plays well with the burger. Actually, avocado is good with just about anything. But that is another post altogether.

*When I say something is "healthful" it does not mean "low fat," "low carb," "low cal," or really "low" anything. I just try to have more poultry and fish, less meat, lots more veggies, whole grain instead of white, less butter, more olive oil, moderation...yada yada. More a "healthy choices" kind of thing. So admittedly, not the healthiest person ever, but come on, would you ever trust a skinny cook?

Monday, August 15, 2005

French Toast and Dave Matthews

This morning I decided to make my little brother and sister french toast, and I'll be damned if it wasn't the best I ever made. My sister hated it, of course, but Luke really seemed to enjoy himself. This is the recipe to the best I can recall it:

- 1 large egg
- 1/2-3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp. freshly grated clemetine zest
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 T sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix in a pie pan. Set a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add some butter. The amount of egg mixture I made coated 4 pieces of bread very nicely. (I used potato bread, as that was on hand). Cook, turning once, until golden brown and delicious. I served it with real maple syrup and whipped cream (there was a can in the fridge, why not?). I'm telling you it was heaven. Continued...

I think I will call it "Lazy Crepe Suzette" because it gives you similar flavor notes, but with much less time and effort. Needs a nice cafe au lait to go with. Maybe some raspberries. Mmmmmhh. Raspberries...

Also, I went to my 9th or 10th (Lost track. Yes I know I need to stop) Dave concert last Friday. I ate Gordon Biersch Garlic Fries with their Marzen Lager. I still smell like garlic. God those are tasty. Dave was excellent. He played Lover Lay Down, one of my favorites. All I know about Dave and foodstuffs is that he loves his drinkie. In his songs he mentions wine (many times), and tequila, and whiskey. Among Dave Fans, he notoriously loves bourbon. So here is a generic whiskey sour recipe to toast Dave and his fabulous performance. To be more specific, we'll call it a bourbon sour. (I happen to love these, although Dave probably likes it straight. How can you not like a drink with a mandatory cherry?!)

Bourbon Sour

2 oz bourbon
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 tsp superfine sugar
1 orange slice
1 cherry

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a whiskey sour glass, garnish with the orange slice and cherry.

If only I could get Dave to come over to my house. I would make him my french toast. Then we would live happily ever after.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thoughts on Baking...

There are really two schools of thought when it comes to baking, and there are upsides to both. First is that of the scientist. Each and every ingredient is measured with extreme care, and the whole operation is done, well, like an operation.

"Nurse! Fifty grams of sugar! Stat!!!"

This approach to cooking is very useful to someone with pastrophobia, as it lays out the ground rules. If followed properly, failure is unlikely.

The other school of thought is the "this and that" method, where the cook measures nothing, but uses lots of taste, touch, and smell tests to determine the condition of the food at hand. It is often developed over years of practice as requires finely tuned senses. Think Grandma's homemade apple pie. Although there are purists, to be a true baker, you must know both. Kinda like when Chancellor Palpatine tells Anakin that one must learn both sides of the Force in order to fully understand it. Except he was full of crap.Continued...

AB artfully outlines the arguement for science in his book I'm Just Here for More Food. More than that, he also explains where the wiggle room is in baking and how to play with it. He is a clever boy. I tend to not be quite as stringent with my measurements, but I also have a respect for things like "baking soda does NOT equal baking powder." I do not have a scale (so sorry AB!), though I completely agree it is the most accurate and precise way to measure pretty much everything.

It just seems like you should use the science stuff as a step towards understanding the whole realm of baking. After that foundation is put down, you should be able to have a little fun with it, and not stress over ever little microgram. Baking, and pretty much all other cooking, is like a live theater performance. There is vague script that leaves room for improvisation, an unpredicatable cast or characters, and there is always the possibility that something could go wrong. Baking one ups theater though, because at the end, you get to eat cookies.

And speaking of cookies, I have a great, easy, cookie recipe that I came up with. It is also great because it can easily be made vegan.


I actually came up with this completely on the fly one evening. My Dad came downstairs just as I put the cookies on a plate and said, "did you know my mother used to make these EXACT SAME things? She called them 'la-dee-dahs'. " Which was weird because I did not know that, particularly since she died, like, way before I was born, and my Dad doesn't talk about his childhood on a regular basis.

-piecrust, chilled, any recipe you like (for vegans, use a vegetabable based fat)
-butter or margarine, melted
-whatever else*

Roll piecrust into a rectangle, or as close as you can. Make a paste of sugar, cinnamon, and melted lipid of your choice. Spread onto piecrust. Sprinkle "whatever elses" if you so desire. Roll up the concoction. Slice (or even better, use some thread to make slices). Lay slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Chill until firm. Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown and delicious (10-15 minutes?) Let cool very well before eating, as the butter/sugar will be like liquid hot magma.

*whatever else can include things like finely chopped nuts, dried currants, dried cherries, raisins, etc. Crystallized ginger is also nice. Keep the pieces little and don't add too much to the cookies, just a sprinkling.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Fiat Blog

Following the trend-wave of blogging, and a brilliant idea from Mr. Neuman, I introduce you to my Food Blog. (Neuman, you little muse you...) I would also like to thank Miss Stephanie for the oh-so-clever name, as it accomplishes many things as a title. For one, it encapsulates my sense of humor. It also references Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, which is fine in its own right. We could also conveniently throw in orginal sin, and Adam and Eve, but then I might spin off into how Christianity demonized Eve and my whole feminazi side that I really try to keep under control will come out like a thundering monster... I'll stop now. One of the first things I think about when I think apples is how they relate to Snow White, my favorite Disney princess, possibly the root of my whole cooking obsession. (She makes a pie for Grumpy! Food-gifts are a good way of showing how you feel... right...) Then there is that whole "apple of discord" that Paris awarded to Aphrodite in exchange for Helen, which launched those damn ships...

Of course, apples contain a general food reference, which was the original intent of the title and therefore blog. Quite a lot of symbolic punch.

My favorite apple dish is, what I call, Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake. It is heavily based on Martha's Steamed Caramel Apple Pudding. I have made it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but most memorably for my Latin professor. He loves all things apple, so when out class threw him a little surprise birthday party, he had apple turnovers and apple juice, along with this cake.

The main reason I had to adapt it was because I don't have a true pudding mold. Instead I used a metal bowl, which makes a nice dome shaped caked, and cooked it in the oven with a water bath. (To simulate a steamed pudding). I also upped the apples and added the almond flour (because I happened to have it on hand the first time I made it, creating yummy results)

-4 Granny Smith apples, and 4 Golden Delicious peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
-1 3/4 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1 teaspoon ground ginger

-12 tablespoons unsalted butter

-1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

-2 large eggs

-1/4 cup molasses

-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

-2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

-Pinch of salt

-1/2 cup breadcrumbs

-1/2 cup almond flour (I love Trader Joes)

-Copious amounts of whipped cream

1. Preheat oven (preferably convection) to 350

2. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small, heavy saucepan; set over medium heat. Cover, and cook until sugar has melted. Remove cover, and continue cooking, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar turns a deep amber. Carefully pour caramel into metal bowl; tip so caramel coats bowl evenly. Set mold aside. It will be BLOODY hot.

3. Place half of the apple chunks in a small saucepan, and add 2 tablespoons water, 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Place saucepan over low heat, and cook, covered, until apples fall apart. Uncover, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often. Set the applesauce aside.

4. Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a small sauté pan; add remaining apple chunks and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until apples turn brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Place apples in the bottom of the mold, distributing evenly so they reach up the sides.

5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 8 tablespoons butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and molasses; mix well. Add the reserve applesauce, and mix well.

6. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir in breadcrumbs. Add to the applesauce mixture. Stir batter until just combined.

7. Fill bowl with batter. Add a layer of parchment paper then a layer of foil. Secure foil as best you can. Place a pan in the oven, place the bowl in the pan, and water to the pan to create the water bath. (In that order). Bake until done.* Let cool for a few minutes, but flip onto a serving try while still warm.

8. Eat with loads of whipped cream.

* I have a nasty habit of never keeping track of time. I say check the food after 20 minutes, but it could be as long as 40. Toothpick test should yield sticky crumbs.