Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Megs,

For some reason I cannot get around to posting. You are putting me to shame.

First there was the Maine apple crisp with chèvre and black pepper ice cream that never got posted. That was pretty fab, if I do say so myself. Then, when you were here, there was the nutmeg and almond crusted pork roast with the pomegranate cream sauce. That was outrageous. We really outdid ourselves that time. Then, I made some autumny hint-o-pumpkin sugar cookies, which were very delicious. Instead of icing them with buttercream as usual, I used an eggnog glaze and sparkling sugar. Pretty. Then there was Thanksgiving! Alex and I got a local turkey this year. It was a whole different animal than the typical store turkey. I'm never going back. I also went on a pie rampage, and made the following: pumpkin, french apple, pecan, lemon meringue, and banana cream. The latter in particular was a stunning treat. Then, last weekend, I went on a holiday baking rampage and made 2 kinds of fudge, lemon-espresso shortbread, and more sugar cookies.

What's my new allergy to posting, then? TBD.



Monday, December 14, 2009

Gingerbread Greatness


I'm in such a Christmas-y mood these days. Well, at least when there's a paper to be written or a toilet to be scrubbed (holiday happiness is an acceptable reason to procrastinate). This week, I expressed my cheer through a gingerbread bundt cake and some gingerbread-that-isn't-actually-gingerbread ornaments. Please send some pichas of your own holiday loveliness!

Gingerbread Bundt Cake
(adapted from Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread)
1 cup Guinness
1 cup dark molasses (Grandma's yellow label)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 T ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess. Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature. While the mixture cools, sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Gingerbread-that-isn't-gingerbread Ornaments
1 cup ground cinnamon
4 T white glue
1/2 - 1 cup water

Mix cinnamon and glue. Gradually add the water. Stir until a ball of dough forms. Roll out with rolling pin 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Poke a hole and let dry at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, turning over every 6-8 hours.

My apartment smells great.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear Linds,

I had such an amazing time in Maine. I wish I could spend every day drinking coffee and cooking with you. It was so - well - needed.

Things have been a little crazy since I got back to Brooklyn. In fact, I've been so busy these past few weeks that I haven't had time to cook and - get this - successfully finished off all the yummy food I froze for the winter months. The soups. The chili. The coq au vin. All delicious. All gone. To fill the newly found freezer space, I decided to make a huge batch of butternut squash and apple soup this weekend. It was super easy and made at least three quarts of healthy, flavorful goodness.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
4 cups chopped onions
2 T curry powder (heaping tablespoons if you love curry as much as I do)
5 lbs butternut squash (squash is most flavorful when it's small & feels heavy for its size)
1.5 lbs Macintosh apples
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup high-quality apple cider

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. While the onions are cooking, peel and cube the squash and apples. Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat until the squash and apples are very soft (about 40 minutes). Puree the contents of the pot with a hand immersion blender. Add the apple cider. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Some things are best told through butter: Part Two

Dear Linds,

I miss you. I've been missing a lot of people lately. Thankfully, I'm going to see you in less than a week (eek!), but some people, like my little sister, live too far away for a weekend visit. I made her these sugar cookies to send a little love her way:
(It's supposed to look like the United States, with a made-up flight path between our respective locations)

Here's the recipe for the sugary buttery loove:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sale
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, mixing just until blended. Refrigerate the dough for on hour before rolling out and cutting your cookies. Bake until golden around edges, about 12 - 15 minutes.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This isn't better than bacon or pomegranates~

But I love it:

'Green Box' Product Promo (Pizza Box) from Green Box on Vimeo.

I'll tell you what's better than bacon.

Pomegranate season.

Whaddya got for me with pomegranates? Let's make something gorgeous. Speaking of which, have a gorgeous post to get around to one of these days...using fall Maine apples and a certain ice cream maker...


Monday, October 19, 2009

Question: What's better than bacon?

Answer: Uncured. Smoked. Wild. Boar. Bacon.
(especially on a baguette with goat cheese)


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chili for the Chill

Dear Linz,

My sister and brother-in-law came for a visit this past weekend, so we decided to venture out to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Chile Pepper Fiesta. I'm so glad we did. Despite the occasional (but torrential) downpour, we had a great time tasting different chocolate/chili combinations, drinking beer, and, well, eating chili!

All that chili eating made me wonder if I ever shared my favorite chili recipe with you. It's super yummy and freezes beautifully. I strongly encourage you and A to make up a batch and freeze it in preparation for the cold - er - chilly days ahead.

  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1+ T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 3 cups broth (I use chicken, but beef would probably work better)
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed, drained

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender. Stir in oregano and cumin. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey and stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans to chili and simmer about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. Serve with cilantro and sour cream.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Oh, hey.

Lemon "Funfetti-will-I-get-sued-for-this?" Cupcakes

Hi Megs.

So, I forgot to take pics of these what with all the kiddo-birthday-craziness. But they were really excellent. Usually I don't care too much for Martha's cupcake recipes (sorry, Martha!), because they are super SUPER rich and sort of seem to me to defeat the very purpose of cupcakes...light and moist, springy like cake, *never* heavy...because there's so much butter and so many eggs in each recipe. Her cupcakes are like a heart attack in a paper cup. And you taste that in each bite.

Then I found this useful tip on Our Best Bites blog (Kate is her name?), where she reminds you that if you are going to put this much friggin' butter in a cupcake, you have to beat the everloving crap out of it. That is to say, cream butter and sugar until your arm is numb and the resulting mixture looks like marshmallow fluff. It worked! The cupcakes were decadent but light, super moist - and they STAYED moist for days. Thanks, Kate.

Then, because the kids wanted "Funfetti," I dumped a thing of ice cream sprinkles into the batter before baking. They melt in the oven and the resulting cuteness is just what kids want. I made the buttercream frosting Kate lists - but I put in only one stick of butter. I hate when a frosting is so rich that biting into it makes your spine tingle.

Sorry, no pics. Will bake something marvelous soon and overphotograph it to compensate.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Random Update

Dear Linds,

Your ice cream looks like some real blueberry deliciousness, and I bet the lemon and mint enhanced the flavor beautifully. I'm ok with the texture of my custard based ice creams, but I always feel like they taste too much like custard and not enough like the key ingredient (whatever that may be). I found a recipe for key lime ice cream that sounds amazing and doesn't require eggs. Maybe I'll stop by Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies down in Red Hook and ask if he'll lend me some of his.

What kind of cupcakes did you end up making for the twins?? I'm in need of a good lemon cupcake recipe myself.


I had a recipe "fail" the other night. As you know, there have been a lot of changes in my life this year. I don't do well with change, so I'm trying to be positive and think of these changes as an opportunity for growth. So far I've grown in little ways. I started eating salads with my lunch, and balsamic chicken with quinoa for dinner instead of bowls and bowls of different, yummy, carb-filled pastas (my go-to lunch and dinner for years). I also just finished a top-down hardcore scrubbing of my apartment. I even went so far as to purchase new used furniture for my bedroom so that my living space will foster concentrated study instead of procrastination.

So - er- back to the recipe fail. As a part of my Megan-overhaul, I dreamed of canning copious amounts of foods that I could pull out and quickly whip into a warm comforting meal during the winter months. In my excitement, I forgot to do the simplest of things: measure. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that my dream dinner of marinated baby artichokes with sausage and thyme will not be the subject of a blog post anytime soon.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dear Megs,

I almost forgot! The other day, I made blueberry-lemon-mint-vanilla ice cream. I used this recipe, substituting orange zest for lemon, and doubling the amount of blueberries without changing any other proportions. It is a traditional custard ice cream, and though it's delicious, I would have preferred a lighter texture for a summery blueberry dessert. I should have made it more a sherbet-type deal, left out the vanilla bean and eggs, and added a ribbon of lemon syrup or something to lighten it up.

That said, it is delicious, and would be a wonderful winter dessert, paired with a lemon tart or a Quaker lemon pie, something with a really bright flavor.



Birthday Cupcakes 1

Dear Megs,

I LOVE your jam. Also am feeling inadequate since we have been *buying* our blueberries, and we live in Maine, for Heaven's sake. That said, pretty soon, we're headed over to the greenway, where there are an astonishing amount of wild blackberries. We shall see what comes of that. Last summer I made blackberry cupcakes with mocha frosting (delish), but if we get enough this summer, I think jam is in order.

So, here is the problem with the internet, and why we really need to start making up our own recipes more often. I was looking up lemon cupcakes (that's what Ian and Emma want for their birthday), and here is what I found:

Perfect Lemon Cupcakes


1 package lemon cake mix
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
1 small package lemon instant pudding

Horrible. Will update with the recipe I actually USE.

Love you,


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Dear Linds,

I miss you so thought I'd write a blue post to match my blue mood. . .

The women of our family used to pick blueberries at least once each summer, but the tradition faded as my sisters and I grew up and became more interested in boys than berries. Until recently. Last week, I went picking with my mom and older sister. I then made jam to "preserve" our memory of it. (please forgive the pun)

I wish I could remember what I did because it's my best jam to date. I *think* the recipe went something like this:

6 cups blueberries
3 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
10 or so basil leaves wrapped in little cheesecloth package
(please note that I did not use pectin)

I threw everything in the pot and stirred occasionally until it reached the desired consistency (remembering that it would jell a little more once it cooled). I then removed the basil, poured the warm jam into sterilized jars, and sealed them in a water bath for five minutes.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lazy Summer

Dear Linds,

How is Paris? And Sylvain?? Brookyn is sleepy and sweaty. I am too. Yet, despite the thermometer, I still don't feel like it's summer. I guess that's what I get for starting my coursework in July. . .

Anywho - I did have one summer night. The Kronos Quartet was playing in Prospect Park, and, to honor the occasion, I made buckets of pulled pork. I wanted to show you its shredded goodness, but it had already been inhaled when I finally thought to photograph it:

I miss you.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Dear Linds,

Bacon Peanut Brittle is my new cure-all.

In the past few weeks, I've found myself making and eating copious amounts of this stuff. So far, I've found that it helps with hangovers, random stomach aches, dizzy spells, broken hearts, and a wavering (dis)belief in god. I mean, something this good has to have some sort of g-o-d in it. Here's the recipe, courtesy of Al Dente:

2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 T ground ancho chili
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 cups bacon, cooked and chopped into .5" pieces (about 1.5 pounds)
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
2 T unsalted butter, divided
1 tsp baking soda

Measure all ingredients in advance so that they are ready to mix into the sugar mixture before it hardens. Butter a baking sheet with about ½ tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

Boil sugar and corn syrup over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly and a pale golden brown. Add the ground chili and cayenne and cook for 2-3 minutes longer or until the sugar mixture has reached the hard-crack stage, about 300ºF on a candy thermometer.

Take off the heat and, working very VERY quickly, stir in the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of butter and the baking soda. Add the peanuts and bacon and mix well. Immediately pour onto the prepared baking sheet, smooth with a spatula and let cool.

Break the brittle into pieces and ENJOY!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dear Megs,

Help! I am almost done with the baby blanket I've been working on, and I think I'm going to start the hat that matches the yellow scarf I made (the one you made for me). What is Yarn Over? How is it done? Also, what do you think is the best way to sew all these squares together securely for the blanket? In my place, would you use a drop of superglue to secure the knots? Or do they tend to stay put on their own?

On the menu today (in preparation for company this weekend): tabouleh, pink grapefruit and mint sorbet. :)



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dear Megs,



Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alex thinks he's died and gone to heaven...

Dear Megs,

I have been on a baking rampage. I warned you this would happen. I've been luxuriating in my freedom by cleaning, baking, and reading novels that are strictly unrelated to my studies. I have been outrageously wifely.

So I started with a simple bread. I love making bread, but sometimes one simply does not have the energy for the process. The bread machine is good for this, but I still like to bake it in the oven once in a while. I am a huge fan of the NY Times' recipe for No-Knead Bread. I recommend making it once straight up to see what the consistency is supposed to be like. Then, you can change it around. I have not yet managed to screw it up, no matter what changes I make to the recipe. Substitute wheat, rice, or corn flour, add seeds or herbs, anything goes and it makes a beautiful loaf every time. This time I added anise, caraway, sesame seeds, and golden raisins, and rolled it in oatmeal during its last rise. It is DELISH. With the bread I made a lamb stew in the crock pot, and an apple berry pie, which I took out of the oven too soon. It is really yummy, but the apples aren't soft enough and the juice is thin instead of thick and caramely.

Next day, I went in for brownies and mocha cookies (these last are inaptly named, because there's no chocolate in them, just coffee). Both recipes came from The Cotton Country Collection, which is a Junior League cookbook from Monroe, Louisiana. You should own this cookbook. It is absolutely my favorite - for anything and everything. Alligator meat or lemon fondue, it's all in there, southern style. The brownies are PERFECT. I mean, really really perfect. And the cookies are not too sweet, but melt in your mouth. You can eat a dozen before you've noticed. Let me know if you'd like the recipes.

I feel fulfilled and excellent. Heading by bike to the post office today; must get these goodies out of the house before I eat them all!



Sunday, April 26, 2009

You tart!

Dear Megs,

I PASSED. You know this, but I am slowly, slowly, beginning to feel like a different person, like a normal person. I am still not sleeping normally, and I don't have the immense sense of relief I thought I would have. But, I know deep down that this was a challenge I will never have to face again. So, today I made some tarts.

I tried this other recipe for the crust, called "rich tart pastry" in the Williams and Sonoma baking bible, but the crusts ROSE and that meant that I couldn't fill them. Stupid. So I reverted to a regular butter pie crust (with a tbs of sugar). Easy, delicious. I used a tart cream recipe from an old cookbook called Pamela something-or-other's A-Z Pies and Tarts, which is a great book. The cream was FABULOUS - i made a key lime cream and then topped it with fresh fruit. I made a lime glaze, too, but then I tasted it and it was lovely, but really tart and I didn't want it to detract from the beautiful flavor of the cream and fresh fruit, not to mention the butter crust.

If I make this again I will use a regular glaze, because I do think it's pretty, but then again what is prettier than fresh fruit (almost) in season? Strawberries and kiwis are so SO good right now, you should go buy some.

These were GORGEOUS and yummy, way easier than their beauty would indicate. Specific recipes available upon request. I would mail you some, Megs, but I'm not sure how they would fare, even overnight, out of the fridge.

It was so SO SO SO great to see you this week. I'm sorry I was monopolized by everyone. I love you,


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Dear Megs,

Can you read my posts yet? Anyway, just saw this great article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/dining/15curi.html?em

It's about yogurt. You know I've been making my own yogurt for years, and it's hard to go back. It's SO easy. The author of the article talks about stuff you can do for better flavor and consistency, but really, you can stir a spoonful of starter or yogurt into cold milk as well, and it will yog just fine. Not as well, but fewer steps.

Maybe this is gross, but I haven't had a woman-bacteria-related-problem even once since I started making my own yogurt. Kill the middleman, is what I say. Homemade yogurt has none of the preservatives or thickeners, and you will always know if your starter doesn't have active cultures, because your milk won't yog. Also, if you do heat up your milk, don't let it get too hot because if it boils, it will kill whatever growy bits in the milk that allow it to interact with the bacteria and become yogurt.

Make it! Eat it with the granola you made (first post ever...I made an extra thrilling batch 2 weeks ago), and reap benefits!



PS Next I will try homemade crème fraîche and homemade buttermilk. Mmmmmm.
Dear Linz,

Is all the studying and writing finally getting to you? I'm very concerned after (not) reading your two previous posts; they are showing up as gibberish. Was this purposeful or merely the internet Gods sabotaging our one means of communication? Please write back soon.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My mom added the "yay," not Goethe. Also, the last blog kept eating the line where I said, I *needed* the yay, because look at me.

Home stretch

Dear Megs,

I am in the home stretch. Still haven't baked anything, or anything, for ages. But a week from tomorrow I'll be ABD, if all goes well. I've written about 30 pages (2 essays) since Friday at 5, and I have to finish up the draft of essay 2 and then cut each essay down to 3000 words. Ach.

For tonight, though, I've been working almost 12 hours (weellllll, I showered and took the dog for a run etc etc), and even though it's only 9h30, I'M STOPPING. My writing is starting to seem jumbled to me now, and I guess it's best if I finish up this last essay in the morning.

Here's a quote from Goethe that my mom sent me today:

Whatever you can do, or think you can,

begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.


She added the yay. I needed to hear it, though. Here's what I look like right now:



Monday, April 13, 2009

Bundthead. . .

. . . or at least that's what my dad called me.  I made a lemon bundt cake for three reasons:
1.   It was Easter and we needed something sweet and spring-y.
2.  I wanted to use your lemon zester.
3.  I like saying "bundt."  Try it.  It's fun.  It reminds me of the many hours my high school friends and I spent trying to pronouncing NOFX as a single syllable.  Good luck with that one ;)


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Buyout! And reading 4/4

Dear Megs,

No baking recently, with exams approaching fast. But, I want to tell everyone (all 9 people who read this, that is) to go out immediately and get a copy of Alex Irvine's new book, Buyout. Better yet, call your local bookstore and make sure they have it. I like to use a dose of shame, when I call (you know, he's local), though that's not entirely fair because everyplace I called had it already. It's good, and there are good reviews out there if you don't want to believe his wife.

I think this cover is so great. Love the subversiveness of the black title; love the chilling column of text: every man has a price. There was one stupid review at the Portland Phoenix where the reviewer said something about how Alex should have done a better job of making us understand why the bad guys valued money above human life. Um, hello? If Alex - or anyone - could make us understand why *anyone* valued money above human life the Nobel people would be holding on line 2. But evil, or, not even evil, just the uglier side of human nature, always seems incomprehensible to those who believe in the Golden Rule. Bad guys are caricatural? Um, hello? Ever heard of the mafia? How's that for caricature. Yes, I used a period instead of a question mark there on purpose. That said, the mafia certainly exist(ed) and no one needed too much of a psychoanalytical explanation of how or why. Hitler? The sheer magnitude of his evil makes him more of a caricature than any other (except for all the killing). And yet, a human. How to explain this?

*sigh* that felt good. It's been a while since I had a good rant. So, I know *you* can't come, Megs, but Alex is reading at the Maine Festival of the Book on Saturday, April 4. 12h30 pm. At the Abromson Center on USM's campus. Directions on festival website. EVERYONE COME!



Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dear Lindz,

You'll never guess what I made.
Give up?
I'll tell you.
Mascarpone ice-cream.

I found the recipe on a great website called Not Eating Out in New York. The results are pretty fantastic, and now that you're opening your wedding gifts (like that gorgeous ice-cream maker), you can make it too! The recipe is as follows:

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy and lighter in color. Set aside. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and just bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

While beating the egg yolk mixture, pour in a small spoonful of the hot milk mixture and continue to beat. Repeat process with a larger spoonful, while beating, then repeat (be careful not to spill any of the milk mixture like I did). Next, scoop all the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture. Return heat to medium-low. Cook about 8-10 minutes longer, stirring frequently with a spatula to scrape all corners of the bottom of the pot. Do not let boil. The custard should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but have no lumps.

Chill the custard 4 hours or overnight. Whisk in the mascarpone and vanilla until smooth in texture. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions to churn into ice cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze.

If you can resist the temptation, the flavor of the mascarpone is more pronounced after a few days in the freezer. And it is especially yummy when you add tiramisu inspired ingredients like cocoa powder and *a-hem* chopped ladyfingers.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dear Lindz,

All I can say is - LOVES!

*BIG hug*,

Alex's birthday

Dear Megs,

So, this may be a long blog...I have lots of news and pictures. Just a warning. Also, your whoopie pies are gorgeous. I *did* grow up on them, but the frosting is a funny question. I do think they are probably better with buttercream frosting, but the traditional frosting is wetter and lighter than a buttercream. Alex says it's almost like twinkie frosting, but I'm not sure I can follow him down that road.

So, Alex's party was nice, and I spent the first half of the day in frenzied preparation for the surprise party I had planned - Mediterranean inspired dinner, cake, ice cream, the works. Then I lopped the tip of my right index finger off and spent the rest of the day in the emergency room. We had pizza at the party, and I bought 2 tiny cakes from Two Fat Cats, which is where our wedding came from. Red Velvet and German Chocolate.

The cake I had made was only half completed, so I decided when I got home to make half a cake. It was beautiful; I wish I had had the presence of mind to take a picture of it last night, but I had lost a lot of blood and was not thinking clearly.

This was a regular genoise yellow cake, and I made a pink grapefruit curd filling with blueberries and a pg buttercream frosting. It was very good. Here are all three together:

I had managed to make the tabouleh part of the dinner, and we had that as a prelude to the pizza, with cheese and olives. Anyone who loves tabouleh should never buy it again. It is very easy to make and SO yummy fresh. If anyone care for a (n approximate) recipe let me know.

Despite my weakened state, I let Alex sleep late this morning (his actual birthday) and made a lovely breakfast of blueberry pancakes, which we ate with pink grapefruit curd instead of syrup. It was thoroughly gorgeous. I used this insane recipe from The Cotton Country Collection, a junior league cookbook from Monroe, LA, and my favorite and most oft-used cookbook. It calls for 2 TABLESPOONS of baking powder. These shits are fluffy.

As for my finger, we had just opened some wedding gifts; the offending article was the Henckel's hollow blade 5 inch santoku knife. It's a great knife. There was not even a whisper of resistance when it cut off the end of my finger and part of the nail. *sigh* I'm a dumbass.



Let's make whoopie!

Dear Lindz,

Earlier this week, the New York Times profiled one of my favorite treats, the whoopie pie.  I'd be lying if I said I grew up with them (as I suspect you did), but I've been making and loving whoopie pies for about a year now.  I can't get enough of them because, unlike cupcakes, whoopie pies have the perfect ratio of frosting and cake in every bite.  Yum.

Anyway, the article prompted me to make a batch for my parents' visit on Friday.  Here's a picture of the result:

I developed my own recipe for the raspberry buttercream frosting, but used Martha's recipe for the cake:

The Pie/Cookie/Cake
1 3/4 cups all purpose flower
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt (I recommend using table salt instead)
1 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

You know the drill - sift together the dry in a separate bowel, cream the butter/shortening and sugars, add the egg, add half the dry, add the milk and vanilla, add the remaining dry.  Spoon rounded tablespoons of the batter onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake in a 375 degree oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies spring back when lightly touched.  Cool on wire racks.

The Frosting
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1tsp vanilla extract
1 pound box of confectioner's sugar

Puree the raspberries and strain out the seeds.  Mix the raspberry puree, butter, and vanilla.  Slowly add the confectioner's sugar until you reach the desired consistency (I used the whole box).

Please tell Alex I say, "Happy Birthday!"  And PLEASE post pictures of THE CAKE.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Dear Linds,

Wish you were here . . .




Dear Megs,





Monday, March 16, 2009

Dear Lindz,

Our weekend upstate was good, but it didn't include enough cooking!  I'm itchin' to go to CT and make bacon cookies or pulled pork or gnocchi.  All of which are on my to-do list.  Here's a picture of my brother-in-law and me during my most recent trip home:

My sister bought an entire branch (?) of brussels sprouts at the store, so Andrew and I decided to help my mother overcome her lifelong distaste for the little cabbage.  My mother loved it, but Molly was wholly uninterested in the process:

As to Alex's cake, I think all of your ideas sound great.  I tend towards the traditional, so I would probably make a blackberry filling or use Cook's Illustrated's recipe for foolproof chocolate frosting (I can email it to you).  The recipe is pretty basic, but the results are impressive (the secret is corn syrup because it creates a beautifully glossy frosting that doesn't harden or deflate) .  I wish I could celebrate with you!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dear Megs,

Alex has requested a yellow cake for his birthday, but as to frosting, he has said I should "surprise him." Should I put some poo in there? That would surprise him.

No, really. Ideas for jazzing it up? I had been planning a flourless chocolate with bacon praline crumble, blueberries, and whipped cream, but that will have to be for another day. I was also going to make a skull and crossbones stencil and confectioner's it on there (he's turning 40), but that, too, will wait. Anything over 40 is fair game for fatalistic symbolism, if you ask me. I'll probably feel different about that in 8 years or so, though...

How was upstate? Miss you, and LOVES!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PS Your "poor" pickles look beautiful, and so do the cookies. When I use my cookie cutter, the messages will no doubt be rude. :)

Third time's the charm

Dear Megs,

I believe I have perfected the Orange Mocha Cupcake. Perhaps this is ridiculous; I'm sure there already exists a perfectly lovely recipe for this exact thing. That said, I made this up and am terribly proud of myself. Before I get into that, though, here are some new things in my life that brightened up this rainy day for me.

So, the cupcakes. This time I followed the rules. I was foolish not to do so before, as I think I overmixed the batter. These guys are light and airy - almost too light, if there is such a thing. They just melt in your mouth. The flavor is not as chocolaty as #2, but a little more mocha-y than #1. A lovely balance. I decided on dark chocolate ganache to frost, which is not only a less in-your-face flavor than buttercream, but is also SHINY!

Orange Mocha Cupcakes 3

2c all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c oj
2 t instant coffee
1/2 c oil
1 t vanilla
1 c cream
1 T orange zest

1) pre-heat oven to 350
2) whisk dry ingredients (minus sugar) together.
3) cream butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla.
4) dissolve instant espresso in OJ. on low speed, mix dry indredients into wet, alternating flour mixture with oil/oj/milk. stir in zest.
5) bake in standard muffin tins for 20 minutes.