June 26, 2013

Lemon Head

Summer’s sultry sunbeams have arrived! And with them, the delightful delirium you fall into while trying to keep yourself cool by standing in front of an open fridge with a washcloth plastered to your forehead. In this case, it was a perfectly pleasant way to fight off the fever and keep a cloyingly close eye on my Lemon Basil tarts chilling to completion.

What!? I have strayed away from my beloved Frozen Key Lime pie to abate the humid hot pocket my apartment has become?

Yes, it must have been the heat that bamboozled me into doing some edible experimentation. I’d say it was a scientific sensation!

 

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Something about how June makes everything blossom with vibrance and the beginning of another sweltering season, made me want to make something bright and crisp. Lemon and Basil are two ingredients that, when married together, become a most refreshing flavor fusion, very appropriate.

Something else about June, it makes me want to put Jim Beam in my coffee, sit on the fire escape and take it real easy-like. You win, June!

 

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The recipe I used was, well, let’s just call it minimalistic, so it was a fly by the seat of your pants kind of thing. I added some helpful tips and confidence boosters (drink whiskey while baking) to get you through this tasty task.

First, make the graham cracker crust, which you can find in the post for Frozen Key Lime Pie below. Simple, bake in tart shell for 10 minutes and set aside for later assembly.

 

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Lemon Basil Custard

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 Cup heavy cream

2 Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

3/4 Cup fresh lemon juice, strained

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 Cup whole fresh basil leaves, cleaned

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a double boiler (I use a regular medium sized pot of simmering water and fit a large bowl on top to create the same effect.) Combine all ingredients into the large bowl, sounds weird but it is just fine. Take a shot of whiskey and whisk mixture continuously until mixture is heated through to prevent eggs from curdling. Continue to cook over double boiler, whisking every few minutes. Cook until mixture reaches a custard like consistency (coats the back of a spoon), for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer, this will catch the basil leaves, into a clean bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Phew! You did it! Take another shot you master chef!

Place cooled tart shell on a baking sheet and fill with custard. Bake until custard sets, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before handling. Place them into Fridge and let those lemon babies cool down, eat, and enjoy!

The recipe I used was adapted from:

http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipes/lemon-basil-tart/recipe.html?dishId=4500

Damn Canadians!

Happy Baking!

April 16, 2013

Check out the Bundt on that one!

What a shy Spring this one has been! After suffering through the monotonous months of the new year, this bashful beauty has blossomed and with it the preferred climate for baking and beering!

My unused, unspoiled, window wearing new kitchen has been crying out for this dawdling domestic to get her act together and use the pearly white appliances. I could feel the bored bowls, sleepy spoons, and distressed drawer of baking equipment getting more annoyed with each dessert-less day.

I suppose it was the lazy way Spring lingered in, but once that pleasant April air breezed through, and that sparkling new Bundt pan peeked out of the cupboard, I knew it was time.

How could I have denied myself this lemon laced lady killer?

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After perusing the produce section and finding lemons 6 for a dollar, it was settled. Also, there is something very sophisticated and proper about a sculptured citrus cake in the Springtime. I would imagine one wearing ivory gloves while delicately dishing out this dessert, and enjoying with tiny lustrous utensils.

 

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Look how beautifully these citrus sisters go together, a match made in lemon heaven.

However, I do have to admit that perhaps this was not the most elegant aperitif to dance alongside the bold Bundt. For this one it did not matter what was in the glass, but simply what was painted onto its svelte body.

 

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Plus, how could I have added beer to the apricot glaze for that added hop and dark caramel color?

This was a delightfully easy recipe which resulted in simple, delicious and bright flavors perfect for welcoming the sun back on the streets.

Classic Lemon Bundt

2 Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups AP Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Salt
2 1/2 Cups Sugar
Finely grated zest of 6 lemons
4 Extra Large Eggs
1 Cup Buttermilk (Full fat, there is already 2 sticks of butter in here)
Apricot Glaze
3/4 Cup apricot preserves
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
Some splashes of beer if that sounds like a good idea at the time.

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray 12″ Bundt pan with non-stick baking spray (unless you were lucky enough to get a NordicWear nonstick Bundt pan for your birthday, then don’t even worry!) Whisk baking powder, salt, and flour in a medium bowl.

Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl, using your fingers, rub together until lemon sugar is well blended. Much like a sandy beach feel here.

Add softened butter to lemon sugar mixture. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until mixture is light and very fluffy.

With the speed on low add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan.

Bake cake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about an hour. Let cake cool for ten minutes and flip over and release onto a cutting board or fancy plate.

For the glaze:

Combine preserves and lemon juice in a small saucepan (I added a couple splashes of my second beer here). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until glaze is reduced to 1/2 cup, 6-8 minutes. Strain glaze into a small pitcher. Pour that all over your beautiful bodacious cake!

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2013/03/lemon-buttermilk-bundt-cake

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May 30, 2012

Mes beautés de citron!

It is of the most opportune occasion for a group game of croquet!

If I had it my way, I would be upstate enjoying a few rounds with my dear friends and picnicking in the lawn. The weather is spectacular for an early afternoon sit down with a sweating pitcher of luminous lemonade and a mosaic of effervescent edibles.

It is often hard to make an ethereal, bright, and appropriate cake for the summer months, unless of course you have decided after all these years to treat yourself to that exact confection.

That is correct!  I finally got the coveted pan and have begun my endeavor into the magical world of the Madeleine! A somewhat soft and supple, citrusy cake that I have always admired.

That scallop shape is just dazzling!

Madeleine

So, it has been madness here trying to concoct the right recipe and interesting ingredients to enhance the gentle cake. I tried out some exciting extracts like earl grey, almond, lavender, and rosewater, always pairing them with either lemon or orange for that needed bite. Be creative, do what you think sounds delicious.

And always remember to pair with a light libation. Whether it be fresh iced tea, cold brewed coffee, or in my case raspberry lemonade with just a few splashes of gin.

In all seriousness, I made the decision to get the ingenious Madeleine pan, so that I can make Madeleines all day for my best friend, Frannie. Love you girl!

I’d say Frannie and I are like Gin and the Summertime; best friends for life.

Lemon Madeleine

3/4 Cup AP Flour

1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Large Lemon, zested

2 Jumbo Eggs

2 tsp. Almond Extract

6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

Method

Put butter in small saucepan and melt under low heat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, using your fingers, mash together the zest and sugar. It is very reminiscent of the beach! After the zest and sugar have come together beat in the eggs one at a time. Whisk together for about 3 minutes. Add the almond extract (or whatever you decide to try out).

Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients. Once they are incorporated fold in the butter.

IMPORTANT!

These little guys like to chill out, so you need to put them in the fridge for at least an hour, three if you can stand it, and overnight if you drink too much gin and accidentally fall asleep (ideal).

After the great rest:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter your glorious Madeleine pan, fill 3/4 with batter and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.

Makes 12

Yeah!

February 28, 2012

Pink Cakes Love Pink Forties

Valentine’s Day may be the most maniacal made up mess to hit the cold-hearted human race. Luckily, several years back on February 14th a monumental evening occurred that changed the entire candy coated celebration. From then on my friends, this romantic day of flowers, cherry filled chocolates, and Necco pastel hearts cannot come soon enough.

What, do you ask, changes the superfluously sweet sentiments of St. Valentine?

PINK FORTIES!

This addition to any V-day get together will allow you to really enjoy the strange red and pink vortex of Cupid’s domain you have stumbled into. Plus, it will leave your limp lips glowing pink, it’s practically permanent lipstick. Perfect for some post forty adventures.

Nothing quite says “I love you” like a couple of blushing beers and cake covered in fuchsia frosting.

CAKE

For the delicious cake, I used an old stand by recipe, but awakened it with two bright butter creams; raspberry and lemon. This addition was similar to wearing your most classic little black dress and pairing it with bodacious red heels and unusually large diamond earrings. Most appropriate for this occasion.

As, per usual we will start out with the Forty recipe, so you can start drinking while you gather and let the cake and frosting recipes mull over in your head.

St. Valentine’s Favorite Cocktail

1 Forty oz. malt liquor

4 drops red food coloring (unless you are a real firecracker and prefer a robust rouge, then add as much as you like)

Add coloring to opened bottle, flip upside down. Let sit for 3 minutes, open and enjoy.

Perfect Chocolate Cake

This is adapted from the Hershey’s recipe printed on the side of their Cocoa Powder. It is my favorite and comes out beautifully every time.

2 Cups Sugar

1 & 3/4 Cups AP flour

3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder

1 & 1/2 Tsp. baking powder

1 & 1/2 Tsp. baking soda

1 Tsp. salt

2 jumbo eggs

1 Cup whole milk

1/2 Cup oil

2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 Cup boiling coffee

Pre heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Using a hand mixer add the eggs, one at time, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Next, add the boiling coffee. What? You forgot to make the coffee because you’ve been drinking? Don’t worry, run to the deli and get a large coffee and boil it on your power burner.

Phew! Add the hot coffee and stir until combined. This recipe makes a thin liquid-esque batter, so don’t be afraid of that. Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake rounds and fill about 3/4 of the way. Place on baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes cleanly from the center.

Easy!

Raspberry Butter Cream

24 Oz. fresh or frozen raspberries

2 Sticks unsalted butter (softened)

1 Tsp. lemon juice

1 Tsp. salt

4 1/2 Cups powdered sugar

In a saucepan heat the raspberries on medium heat for about 20 minutes, until you notice all the juices coming out. Using a chinois pass the raspberries through in order to catch any seeds and large pieces of fruit. Put this luscious liquid back on medium heat and let reduce for another 15 minutes until it has a syrupy look to it. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

*In a medium bowl mix together the soft butter, lemon juice, salt, and add powdered sugar in cupfuls until incorporated.*

Add the raspberry sauce to this traditional butter cream and prepare for magic.

*For the lemon butter cream  prepare this traditional recipe with an additional 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon zest and 3 Tbsp. lemon juice.

I hope you will seriously take this to heart…

December 20, 2011

The Tipsiest of Kitchens

Everyone knows that the holiday season brings everyone together to celebrate health, happiness, and life. We find ourselves gathering with friends, dressing in our most festive fashions, and dancing to Bing Crosby Christmas classics. We fill our kitchens with nostalgic aromas and indulge in extra delectable fare, all the while sipping on bubbling champagne and cocktails.

This was NOT one of those times. Phewww!

True, I had an apartment full of friends, my kitchen smelled like warm cookies and there was something sparkling to drink…

Too bad it was Four Loko.

It has the caffeine!


All of these factors put together and all of the ingredients in the pantry led to the tipsiest of kitchens! Luckily, I had a great assistant and featured baker, Alex. As an apron wearing superforce we made sure to add all the precise ingredients, bake the cookies at the exact amounted time, and decorate with impeccable taste.

However, just like this photo, things did get a bit blurry.

Tipsiest

To be honest we kind of threw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl, adding anything we came across during the process, and put them into the oven until one of us remembered they were still in there. To our serious surprise, they were curiously commendable.

Maybe it just was the Four Loko.

Tipsiest Kitchen-Sink Cookies

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter (softened)

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cup White Sugar

2 1/4 Cup AP Flour

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Vanilla

2 Large Eggs

WE ADDED (OPTIONAL):

Big handful of chopped chocolate, slivered almonds, crumbled bacon that was hanging around the stove.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl beat together the butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixture. Add the vanilla (we may have added a little extra.) Beat until combined.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, cocoa, and baking soda. Take this mixture and add in small batches to the wet ingredients. Beat just until dough has formed. With a wooden spoon stir in any ingredients you see lying in arms length of you. We had some great options. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

We even toasted some almonds to make this cookies even flashier.

But really, be careful when you drink and bake.

December 3, 2011

Molto Elegante!

Well, ’tis the season for cookies!

What a wonderful wintry welcome to this mild December. It is as cool as a cucumber out there! However, though they are not required, it is the appropriate time to wear your over-sized knit sweaters and indulge in sumptuous sweets. Pairing this mind set with another indulgence, I allowed myself the expensive baking supply SILPAT, non-stick rubber mat-thing, and I made the rather fussy Florentine.

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It is very important to maintain a voluptuous figure during the later months because it is also very important to keep warm and you need a little extra butter and chocolate to fill in the gaps. Plus, how can a treat this lovingly luminous be so terrible?

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I think not my friends, have 6.

Anyhow, the Italian Florentine is a love child between a cookie and a candy so, it is particularly perfect for this time of year. It seems a tad bit daunting, but you will be a stronger person after the anxiety allows absolute appeasement. As per usual, it also seems like a very careless, yet carefully curated recipe after a Prosecco or two. It seemed only right to keep in the Italian family. Capishe?

Almond Floretines

2 Cups sliced, almonds (after chopping, about 6 oz. before)

3 Tbsp. AP flour

Zest of 1 medium sized orange

1/2 Tsp. table salt

3/4 Cup white sugar

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

1/2 Stick unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (or almond if you are a devout lover)

Don’t worry about Pre-heating your oven, there’s a wait time!

First, chop, (or if you are a real person with appliances, pulse almonds in food processor until fine, be careful not to go too far, you are looking for particles not butter!).  In a medium sized bowl combine almonds, flour, zest, and salt. Create a little dip in the center.

In a small saucepan combine butter, sugar,corn syrup, and cream and set at medium heat. Let this mixture come to a boil and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. This is the daunting part because it seems as if at any second it will burn, but you will be just fine. Next, remove from heat and add the vanilla. Then, add this molten sugar to the center of your dry ingredients. Stir to combine and let set for 30 minutes while you drink another Prosecco and watch the Pomegranate seeds float around in there.

Now, Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

After you have waited this eternity, take half Tbsp. scoops, roll in your hands and set on PARCHMENT PAPER PREPARED BAKING SHEETS OR SILPAT. THIS RECIPE WILL DISAPPOINT AND BRUISE THE BAKER WITHIN. Bake for 11 minutes, rotating the pan at the 5 minute half point. Let rest about 2 minutes and then easily slip the beauts onto a cooling rack.

I made a simple chocolate sauce by melting some semi-sweet baking squares to splash on top. Then, some optional Florentine and chocolate sandwiches happened which were absurd, but mostly I just drizzled the sauce to add a little bit of a softer texture.

Buono Appetito!

The recipe is from Food Network, although I’ve made them a few times and made a few changes.

October 1, 2011

Tempestuous Temptations

It smells and feels like the turn of the equinox on this thunderous Thursday evening. That certain crisp current was swirling around all day today bringing along those familiar September showers. It’s one of my favorite seasonal sensations, you know that toasty feeling that fills your tummy with a little Fall Fire.

I took this ominous occasion to partake in a rather festive Autumnal beer. The rustic Ochre hue of this Oktoberfest select caught my eye amongst the usual six packs chilling in the fridge. In all honesty is was really the hilarious scarecrow on the bottle that sealed the deal.

So, after thinking over my options for an appropriate accompaniment, the copper colored carrot won out over the others.

 

Carrot Cupcakes

 

These mini Carrot cupcakes were comforting, spicy, and full of honest goodness. The cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg hints throughout the cakes really complimented the rich malted flavor of the beer. Plus, I tried a lighter, airier cream cheese frosting as sometimes it can be a tad overwhelming.

 

Carrot Cupcakes

 

I averaged about 3 mini cupcakes per Dundee, but that’s just me.

Mini Carrot Cupcakes

1 Stick unsalted butter (melted and cooled down a bit)

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (I tend to lean towards the dark brown)

2 Jumbo Eggs

1 1/4 Cups AP Flour

3/4 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Dash of Ground Nutmeg

Pinch Ground Cloves

1 1/4 Cup Carrots (grated)

Zest of half a medium sized Orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare mini muffin tin with liners.

In a medium bowl combine the sugars. In a separate small sauce pan melt the butter and cool for about 2 minutes. Add the butter to the sugar and whisk together, then add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Set aside.

In another medium sized bowl combine the dry ingredients and toss in the grated carrots and zest. Combine this mixture with the wet ingredients in two batches, until the batter comes together. Scoop about 1 full tablespoon into each mini tin. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean out of the center. Let cool before adding frosting.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

8 Oz. Cream Cheese  (softened)

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/8 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Whipping Cream (chilled)

While you are letting your cupcakes cool take a medium sized glass or metal bowl and put into your freezer (great trick to make whipping your cream a little faster). When it has been in there about 15 minutes beat the whipping cream on high until stiff peaks form, then place the bowl back in the freezer.

In a separate bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth and you can feel no granulated sugar crystals (go ahead, give it a big taste). Set in fridge for about 10 minutes.

Next, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

It is wonderful! Lighter than classic cream cheese frosting, but encompasses all of the flavor you want to go with your Carrot Cakes.

Lastly I just mixed up some chopped walnuts, brown sugar, and a pad of butter and toasted them together in the oven for a few minutes. Let this cool and sprinkle on top of your frosted cupcakes for an added texture.

Enjoy on a rather drab evening for your well-being!

September 13, 2011

Bottoms Up To The Peach!

It has been yet another stunning stone fruit season and like every year, the September winds come along and blow it all away. In order to pay homage to these ornate orange orbs, I decided to make a Peach Dream Upside down cake. At first I was going to show my appreciation in a pie, but thought they deserved something with a bit more panache, they really were remarkably luscious.

I mean look how proud all those succulent slices shine on top! Marvelous.

Peach Upside Down Cake

Seeing that this was going to be such a fanciful feast, I decided to pair this cake with a rather stylish Stella Artois. An appropriate choice for a special occasion: The Peachy Keen Queen’s Last Hurrah!

This cake was moist, full of flavor, and perfectly peachy.

Peach Slice

Peachy Keen Dream Upside Down Cake

For the Cake:

1 Stick Softened Butter

3/4 Cup Sugar

2 Jumbo Eggs

1 Tsp. Almond Extract (you could use vanilla if you don’t have the almond)

1 1/2 Cup Flour

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 Tsp. Salt

2 Tbsp. Milk

Zest of half a medium sized orange

Dash of Cinnamon

Pinch of Nutmeg

For the Peach topping:

3 Ripe Peaches (pealed and sliced)

4 Tbsp. Butter

3 Tsp. Dark Brown Sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare and set aside an 8″ cake pan with butter and flour (or cooking spray).

First, the batter for the cake will be made. In a medium sized bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the almond extract. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, zest, and spices. With your mixer on low, add half the dry mix, add the milk and then finish with the last bit of dry mix. Set aside.

Next, prepare the peach topping. In a small saucepan melt together the butter and brown sugar on low heat. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Add the Peaches, fanning them around the pan (just imagine how you want it to look on top of your cake). Then add the cake batter.

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Then the best, exciting part! Take a plate and place it over the pan, flip, and reveal!

Enjoy!

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September 7, 2011

Sometimes It Just Happens

Full Fridge

Especially if you live in a supposed “Hurricane Zone” and they expected you to batten down the hatches and be cooped up in your apartment for days with no contact to the outside world!

Well, Irene really made a fool of us this time! She just breezed right on by Brooklyn and left fridges full of beer!

Can’t blame a girl for tryin’. Cheers Irene!

August 22, 2011

Two Sweethearts and the Summerwind

Frank Sinatra Summer Wind

Blueberry Twins

Oh My! Blueberry pie!

The particular way that blueberry pie reminds me of county fair eating contests and faces left covered in indigo moustaches make it most wondrous and whimsical.

What better to go with a pair of Summer Dreamboats than a friendly choice citrus cerveza.

Orange and Blue, yes they are opposites on the color wheel but to those satiable taste buds they are a delicious duo.

I even added some of that orange garnish right into the blueberry for yet another bridge for your happy palate.

All Together Now

When testing out this berry bursting babe, try letting your guests have a few Blue Moons and then serve without any utensils. Seriously, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your friends covered in a little sapphire syrup.

The only things to remember when making a blueberry pie are; the more berries the merrier, a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of the zest,  a pinch of cornstarch, and listening to Frank Sinatra during the process makes all the difference in the world.

P.S. I used the Whole Wheat Crust Recipe located below for these guys as well.

Enjoy!

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