Archive for May, 2011

May 10, 2011

Coincidental Columns: Cups and Caps

The best part about making homemade peanut butter cups?

Where to start! Well,  they are about 3 times bigger, you can use Ghiradelli dark and milk chocolate, there’s no limit to the  amount of peanut butter filling and they are all yours!

I loved the way the tin liners made the scrumptious cups look just like the real thing.

I also loved the way it made them look like bottle caps.

PB cups

And they both have super secret surprises on the inside!

Cups and Caps

The riddles on those darn Ballantine Caps are always so tricky, unlike the recipe:

PB Cups

1 cup Peanut Butter

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 bag chocolate chips, whichever you fancy; semi-sweet, dark, milk, all work fine

First, mix together the PB, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Set it in the refrigerator until needed.

Next, prepare your muffin tin with liners. This would work great if you had a mini muffin tin as well. Then it’s time to temper your chocolate. You can do this in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each burst. We don’t have a microwave so I just made a make-shift double boiler and melted my chocolate that way. Once the chocolate is nice and workable use a brush or spoon to cover the bottoms and sides of the paper liners. Stick in the fridge for about a half hour, or until the chocolate has hardened.

Next, fill the hardened shells with as much delicious PB filling as you like. Then, get your chocolate warmed again and cover the tops of your cups with the melted chocolate. Throw them into the fridge one last time for another half hour or until you just can’t wait anymore.

Peel off the paper, admire your handiwork, and eat up.

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May 10, 2011

Lovely Day

The weather has been perfectly delightful these past couple of days. We can finally open the windows and let the spring breezes air out this stuffy apartment. It seems like just yesterday I was knee-deep in snow, but boy am I glad we are over that! Winter is always good for baking warm pies and cookies, but the spring is a time to celebrate fresh fruits and vegetables.

To honor the coming of summer solstice I decided to whip up a quick guacamole, fry up some tortilla chips, pop open a seasonal brew and take a leisurely break.

Guacamole

I went with Anchor’s Summer Beer, it’s a superb seasonal selection. My roommate started drinking these Anchor beers from San Francisco awhile ago. They have a ton of different brewskies and they all taste great!

Perhaps, I will look into having a little Anchor brewery tasting night…

Classic Guacamole

2 Ripe avocados

1 Nice sized on-the-vine tomato

1 Small red onion

1 Jalapeno

2-3 Tbsp. Sour cream

Juice of half a lime

Salt + Pepper to taste

Mash up your avocados in a bowl, I like to leave it a little chunky. Cut your onion, jalapeno, and tomato pretty small and add to the avocado. Add the sour cream, mix up. Add your lime, salt, and pepper to your liking.

Easy Peasy lemon squeezy!

Oh yeah! and you have listen to this song while you do all of this.

Lovely Day by Bill Withers

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May 9, 2011

Cuán agradable!

Last summer, I learned how to make empanadas at the fantastic restaurant I work at and since, have made them a bunch of times for a little snack. Recently, the chef started making these tantalizing pastries filled with goat cheese and guava for brunch. Boy Howdy! The combination of sweet guava and salty cheese all warmed up and bursting at the seams is a thing of pure beauty.

This week there were no left over empanadas for me, so I caved into the craving and made them at home. The best part is that you can make a big bowl of dough, fill them up with anything you like and bake them off  all week.

A perfect pocket pastry and a simple cerveza made for a relaxing afternoon treat.

Empanadas

It’s a great pair with cold beer if you are like me and can’t contain yourself, so you end up biting into the piping hot morsel, burning your mouth and start running around the kitchen for something to cool you down.

That Tecate was a real life saver.

Guava and Goat cheese

May 8, 2011

Little Life Lesson #2

Mango is in season! I have been getting  a terrific deal on these champagne mangoes from my fruit market all week. They are a smaller, kidney-shaped variety; a little sweeter with a velvety texture. They are sensational, but I have to slow down because too many make my mouth slightly itchy!

This is a tiny trick to make your mango experience a tad more special. All you have to do is cut the fruit in half, long ways, then score the flesh into squares.

Like this:Mango before

Then give the fruit an inside out flip, and behold the transformation!

Mango After

A wonderful, and impressive, surprise unfolds!

This is a great addition to any fruit or cheese plate to entice your guests.

Enjoy!

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May 7, 2011

Morning Has Broken…

And so has the seal on this Prosecco bottle!

It’s a Spring celebration! For me, this means taking advantage of fruits and vegetables that are at their peak of perfection. So, at my produce market I saw those beautiful ruby red rhubarb stalks and the strikingly large pyramid of strawberries. After yelping out in joy, I filled up my basket and my mouth started to water just thinking about this most natural and harmonious combination of flavors.

Rhubarb

I couldn’t find my pie pan (gasp!) thus, a free form Crostata was my next option. It was absolutely marvelous. Seriously, strawberry and rhubarb together in anything means business.

Rhubarb Crostata

Paired with a crisp, refreshing glass of Prosecco, this made a terrific breakfast for me and my roommate Pablo.

BreakfastCheers!

Forks

Strawberry Rhubarb Crostata (Adapted from http://www.sweetpotatochronicles.com/wordpress/)

Crust                                                                              Filling

2 Cups flour                                                                  1/4 Cup cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar                                                          4 Cups rhubarb, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 Tsp kosher salt                                                      2 Pints of strawberries, quartered
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter                               2/3 Cup sugar
1 Jumbo egg                                                                   1 Jumbo egg
1 Tbsp milk                                                                    Raw sugar (for sprinkling)

Mix flours, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Now, grate the very cold butter with the large holes on a box cheese grater. An amazing method that will change your life a little.Whisk together the milk and egg and then stir into the flour. It will seem like not enough moisture to hold into a dough but it is. Use your hands to gather it into a ball. Flatten it into a disk, wrap tightly will cling wrap and put in the fridge for an hour.

Dissolve the cornstarch in about 6 Tbsps of water. Combine strawberries, rhubarb and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir well. Let simmer for another minute or two. Pour the fruit mixture into a bowl and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or completely cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll the dough out into a 12 inch circle. Whisk the egg and brush the entire surface of the dough. Go ahead and add the mixture to the dough, leaving about an 1 1/2 inch empty border of dough. Fold the edges up just enough to keep the filling in the center. Brush the border with egg and sprinkle the edges with raw sugar. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

May 6, 2011

Oh Schlitz!

Schlitz

I know this is a little terrible, but I think it is absolutely fabulous.

Oh to be a 1950’s housewife…

May 5, 2011

Jose and Me

Cinco De Mayo! Typically, I spend this day drinking a few Tecate Cervezas and enjoying a big bowl of guacamole. So, this year to spice things up, I took some help from some clever family members and… Voila!

Margarita cupcakes and Tequila Butter Cream frosting were born!

Cupcakes

White cakes always give me a little bit of a scare, but after making sure the Tequila was of the top most quality, I had full confidence in my abilities. I made a few changes to the recipe I found, and decided to use a traditional butter cream frosting and just add some lime zest and a splash or two of the tequila.

AND WOW! Not only was the cake moist, tangy, and fluffy, but the butter cream added a bitter element that balanced the whole cupcake out. A beautiful symphony of flavors.

Plus, this happened:

Tequila and Salt

Margarita Cupcakes
Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 jumbo eggs (they really make baking better)
3 limes
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Tequila for brushing

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another the bowl, use an electric mixer and cream together butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy
Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.Mix vanilla in lime zest and juice
With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk — starting and ending with flour.
Mix until just incorporated.Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full and bake for 25 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean
When cupcakes are finished baking, brush the tequila onto the top of each cupcake.Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. ( really, just preoccupy yourself for 20 minutes, it makes a difference!)

Tipsy  Butter Cream

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 or 5 cups confectioners sugar
2-3 Tbsp. milk
Zest from 1 lime
1-2 Tbsp. tequila
Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed.
Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated.
Increase mixer speed to medium and add 2 tablespoons of milk and beat.Add the zest and the tequila
At this point my frosting was a little runny so I wet ahead and added more confectioners sugar in 1/2 cup increments until it reached the stiffness I was looking for. Then, it was a little too stiff, so I just juiced the lime I used for the zest…perfection!!!!
More cupcakes
Honestly, I still need guacamole and maybe a taco or two on Cinco de Mayo, but  this was the perfect dessert.

Enjoy

May 1, 2011

Little Life Lesson #1

There are many useless things that people should know and keep in their back pockets because you never know when they will come in handy. Today, I will share with you a bit of frivolous information that has helped me out a few times.

This is something that I had been taught but I couldn’t quite get the hang of until my roommate Jon taught me the step that I kept missing.  This simple trick will aid you at any outdoor gatherings or on your rooftop, or any situation where there is just no bottle opener in sight.

The classic lighter method!

Lighter Trick

Disregard the bottle cap and improvise!

First, grip the top of the bottle with one hand, making sure that your thumb is placed below the cap and the rest of your hand is covering about half on the cap. Next, position the bottom of any trusted lighter under the metal lip of the cap, and firmly against your thumb. Now, the trick is to let the fingers on top of the cap do all the work. It’s not so much about the force behind the lighter, but the leverage created. If you remember this, the cap should fly right off, allowing you to enjoy the contents within.

Hope this tip will help you in any unfortunate absence of a bottle opener!

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