Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lady In Red

 


I had some votes for a current photo of myself.
So here I am. I am contemplating going running, hence the pink tank top.

I really like how the camera was slightly overexposed and I am bathed in white light, making my red highlights and blue eyes pop!

Heh heh.

Really, this was all luck, but I think that's half of the battle in photography.

So, here is my attempt at a Self Portrait Wednesday? I think the real day is like Friday, but go with it!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ewe Rock!



I first had this recipe in college. My best friend and roomie, Sheepie (not her real name, nickname, don't ask) was a notoriously bad cook (just don't ask her to make brownies) and so when she started raving about how great this pie was, you can't blame me for having doubts, serious doubts about trying this delectable? pie.
Now, it pleases me to report that Sheepie is bordering on the fantastic domestic goddess level of culinary skill, but back in college, it wasn't good.
Back to the pie, so Sheepie was adamant that we would all love it. However I was still dubious and I think that colored my reaction to said pie. I remember Sheep slaving away over our tiny kitchen making this creation and I thought it was awful. Slimy and curdled and just yuck. I tried to hide my disdain, but Sheepie was understandably disappointed.

Fast forward 8 or so years later and I have this random bag of apples sitting on my counter and a large tub of Greek yogurt I need to use up.

Ta-Da...what was that pie called again?
Sour Cream Apple Pie.

I have NEVER been more pleased to be wrong in my life.
Sheep was correct. This pie is golden. It's appley, it's creamy, it has a hint of spice, and the best part of all..............
it has STREUSEL. It's like the best of all worlds, all rolled up in one pie!!

I modified the recipe that I found on epicurious,
*moment of silence for Gourmet*.
Here it is:

Sour Cream Apple Pie
1 Pillsbury Pie Crust, or your own recipe, which would be much tastier, but I was and am fundamentally lazy…so until pie crust becomes a domestic skill, Pillsbury works

For the topping
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar ( I used brown, I like it better)
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2-4 shakes of nutmeg
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (you may need a bit more if you find the streusel not dry enough)

For the filling
• 1 1/3 cups sour cream (Or in my case, Greek Yogurt)
• 2/3 cup sugar (again I used brown)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspon almond extract
• 2 large eggs
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon
• 1-2 shakes of nutmeg
• 5 large Granny Smith apples (about 2 1/4 pounds)
I mixed it up a bit and used half Gala


Preparation
Make the piecrust as directed by Pillsbury, just don’t forget the pie weights, or you will be sad when you piecrust has little bumpy lumpy hills all over it.

Make the topping:
In a small bowl blend together the butter, the sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg and the flour until the mixture is combined well and chill the topping, covered, while making the filling. The chilling is muy imporant, especially if you use the brown sugar. I suggest the freezer, otherwise the streusel will be more like an icing in consistency and it’s nigh impossible to sprinkle icing.

Make the filling:
In a large bowl whisk together the sour cream, the sugar, the salt, the vanilla, cinnamon, almond extract, nutmeg, the eggs, and the flour until the mixture is smooth, add the apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin, and stir the filling until it is combined well.

Spoon the filling into the chilled shell, smoothing the top, and crumble the topping evenly over it. Bake the pie in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until it is golden and the apples are tender, transfer it to a rack, and let it cool completely.

Serve the pie with the whipped cream/Cool Whip. Again, lazy. But I think that whipped cream does taste better with this pie, not as sweet as Cool Whip and this pie doesn’t really need extra sweet. It’s masterful just as it is.

“I like you just as you are.” Anyone know that movie quote?

Bonus Points! Bridget Jones Diary!!!!!!!

Happy Pie!

Monday, February 1, 2010

German Pancakes aka Dutch Baby



I had never had this scrumptious brunch treat until I married J. He loves this.
And I have to admit that I have grown fond of it myself.

It's creamy and eggy and just what you want to eat on a lazy Saturday morning. Takes just minutes to throw together the necessary ingredients in a hot pan and away we go.
Even better on the Sunday after Christmas when you REALLY don't feel up to the task of baking or making anything time intensive, but you are so used to exceptional, homemade goodness that thought of cold cereal makes you want to cringe or sigh or throw temper tantrums.
Enter the Dutch Baby.

We have discovered that blueberry jam with a hint of lemon juice is the best, but all flavors of berry jam and maple syrup taste fantastic.
We tend to add either a sprinkle of nutmeg or a splash of vanilla extract to boost the sweet hint of flavor, but plain is also great, minus the cinnamon.
And, if you have a bare cupboard, except for the basics flour, egg, milk, and butter combo, no sweat. I have eaten this plain, with extra butter only.
Mmmwah. It really is that good.

Enjoy! Recipe for 2 people found over at BigOven.

German Pancake/dutch Baby

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chai Yummo

Chai Tea Flavor Minus the Tea

Just saving this to my food blog. Will try it and let you know how it tastes soonish!

Me

Friday, December 11, 2009

Macarons with a Chocolate filling

This is my REALLY late participation in the October's Daring Baker's Challenge of Parisian Macarons.

As this is extraordinarily late, I chose to only half participate. I used Martha's Recipe and followed some tutorials I found.

My additions were to use day old egg white which I had previously frozen and let thaw at room temperature for a day, I let my macarons dry for almost an hour before attempting bake, and I vented the oven 3-4 times per batch.

I didn't have a plain tip for my pastry bag and am not skilled enough to just wing it with parchment, so I used a star tip, hence the kind of wavy lines on my piped macarons.

BUT LOOK!!! FEET! Happy Feet!!!
It worked!!!! It was a success!!

I feel like I have found my baking mojo again. Woot woot.

These babies were fantastic. I will bake them slightly less next time, I would have preferred a slightly wetter inside. And while I appreciate the rustic nature of Trader Joe's almond meal, I think that the dark almond skin flecks detract from the delicate grace and beauty of a parisian macaron and as such, will try to make my own almond meal next time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ThankFull

Thanksgiving was a great day. Many helping hands in the kitchen. Sadly, I didn't get any photos of the feast, but considering that we were in the hospital for tests for Ev on Tuesday till 12 on Wednesday, I am pretty proud that we had anything on the table at all.

I made pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan pie, the amazing brined turkey, pickled beets, cranberry sauce, and Gmas spiced punch that I love.

All in all, it was a good day.

I got the pull the wishbone apart with J and it split right down the middle!
Can't tell you what I wished for other than it was for Evy and I am hoping that we will get it!

Grateful that J has a job, and he and I are healthy, that despite Ev's hardships she is doing fabulously and is the happiest, sweetest and most fun child I have ever met.

Grateful that we have a roof over our heads and food on our table. While my clothing choices aren't haute couture, I am dressed and so is my family.

At the end of the day, does anything else really matter?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Disaster! Strikes Again

The circuit breaker in our garage decided to trip.
Our freezer couldn't function with lack of electricity.

This was not discovered until Friday at 2:35PM. I have no idea when the power actually went out.

4 months of breast milk. Totaling about 4-500$$ in formula terms. GONE.
8 packages of bacon.
3 pints of blueberries.
2 bunches of overripe bananas.
2 weekends worth of extra pancakes.
1/2 rack of barbecued pork spare ribs, already marinated and ready to crockpot.
4 packages of frozen tilapia filets.
4 cartons of ice cream.

I am the most upset about the breastmilk. Although the icecream hurts too. Do you have any idea how much of my time that was? I am guessing days, maybe even weeks worth of my life that I can never get back. We are back at square one. I have maybe 1 weeks worth of extra milk that was in the fridge/freezer combo inside.

J had to throw the milk away. Too emotionally charged for me. I was envisioning violent ends for the chest freezer as it was. It took J almost 2 hours to pour out all my milk and remove the melted contents from the freezer.

Gallons here people. Gallons of milk.
Silver Lining? I'm grateful that nothing was rotting yet. That would have made this whole thing 10 times worse. This is a half effort to find something good in this. I wouldn't call this a silken lining, this is more of a, see through cheesecloth type of lining.

Sigh.

And then, we had no night nurse.

I really do feel sometimes, that I live in a tragedy, or at best, a comedy of errors.

Spent part of the night baking and cooking.

I'm trying the famous, taste alike Cafe Rio recipes this weekend while my parents are visiting, to help me get rid of the extra food!

And be on the lookout for a cookbook review coming very soon! Been busy recipe testing for that as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge--First timer!

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
This was a good challenge for me to start with, not tooooooo intimidating like the croissant challenge would have been, but definitely something a little challenging, something I could sink my baking chops into.

I learned many new skills in the making of this cake. I have always wanted to try making a sponge cake, but I'll admit that I don't usually have the patience to do all the necessary steps with the eggs, but since J bought me the KitchenAid one fine Mother's Day I have been more adventurous in the realm of egg beating. Not technically challenging to make the cake batter, but I was nervous so I used my food scale and weighed all the ingredients instead of relying on volume. I find this more important in desserts and especially cake batters. I was very glad that I did, as the caster sugar required for the cake batter was noticeably less in the measuring cup.
Oh and PS finding caster sugar last minute is both heinously difficult and expensive! 5.99 for 1 lb of sugar. Sigh. But due to the risk of having sugar dust in the air, I opted to buy caster sugar instead of trying to make my own. Also, as I still don't have a sexy food processor, I wasn't keen on pulsing sugar in my minichopper.

I also opted out of spreading the batter into a circle. I don't trust my batter spreading skills THAT much, so I baked my layers in cake pans lined with parchment for easy removal. This worked out well and I'm glad that I went with my gut instinct.

Next up was the buttercream. I'll admit I think that I did something wrong here. Cooking the eggs on the stove was a bit tricky. I was using my handmixer to "whisk" the eggs over my double boiler and somehow managed to pop the cord on the element and partially melt the cord. After I thickened the eggs to my best guess, I mixed in the finely chopped (courtesy of my visiting friend Megan) Vahlrona dark chocolate.
Then added the softened butter. My frosting ended up....mostly thick, but not at the consistency I would have liked. I don't know if I didn't cook the eggs long enough or the weather/humidity got me down.
Chocolate Buttercream on spoon
BUT! This was the best tasting frosting I have ever eating. Heck, this may be the best chocolate edible thing I have ever eaten. Wonderful.

Lastly, I attempted the caramel. I gotta say, I was not a fan of the directions or the ingredients. As someone with VERY limited sugar experience, and my last sugar experiment was a huge burned disaster I would have appreciated some sort of time frame or temperature to cook the sugar. My best guess was not accurate. I ended up with some sort of thick sticky syrup. My bad, but still.
Also, the lemon juice with the half formed caramel tasted like a honey lemon cough drop, not exactly elegance on a plate.
Overall I was not as appreciative of the caramel in this instance.
For my finishing touch, I toasted pecans and added them to the top of the cake.
I'm not going to delve into the caramel disaster. I only put the caramelly cake pieces on the top of the torte for looks. My guests and I picked them off and licked the buttercream off. That's how good the buttercream was!
Dobos torte, sliced


Overall, this was a very fun and huge learning experience for me.
Many thanks to our lovely hosts for choosing this awesome and history making dessert!
For the recipe, click here

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sadness

I attempted pizza tonight. My favorite is the Margherita italian style with fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil. Can't tell you how great and alive and just satisfying that pizza is for me.

Sadly, instead of taking the time to look up my standard, trusty pizza dough recipe I used something I found on the Foodnetwork. In their defense, it's been a LONG time since I have made pizza, much less a yeasted product so I am fairly certain that whatever went wrong was my fault. And I might add that trying to feed a grumpy 3 month old and make dough are pretty much mutually exclusive adventures.

So anyway, I think the dough was too soft aka I didn't add enough flour, but it was not at all elastic or stretchy. It stuck to everything and kept making those annoying little tears right in the middle of the circular blob I was rolling out. Made me spend much longer than I usually do in rolling out the dough and it still didn't really work out.

Anyways I got something kind of working out, topped the first pizza, baked it, marked it with a "B", took it upstairs to John and fed him that and some chocolate milk. That's what supper is reduced too down here. This new infant thing I tell you what! it's a killer on dinner.
Got the second pizza mostly done, but this time I went a bit cheese crazy and added gorgonzola and the rest of the fresh mozzarella. Normally I bake the pizza at least half way before I add the cheese, I find this to work out best for the sexiness of the toppings and the cheese doesn't burn. But I got hasty and threw all the cheese on, making it nearly impossible to slide the now WAY too heavy pie onto the stone. Which caused me to lose the shape and much of the cheese to oven's inferno.
Sigh.

I baked the pie, pulled it out, and then put it onto a rack to cool. Silly Leeshy, then I thought " I'll just pull the pie quickly to the cutting board so I can slice a piece right now" and in the process managed to drop my pie facedown on my pretty much dirty, cat hairy kitchen floor.
Double sigh.
Needless to say, I did not partake of that pizza and I have no photos of said pizzas to share.
Better luck tomorrow I think. I have 4 pints of fresh blueberries to use up!!!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Grandma's coming!


evy 219, originally uploaded by emperessally.

Grandma AND Grandpa are coming to see the Queen today. Miss Ev is very excited. I think Gma has the favorite person spot in her heart.

Love this photo I took of the pair. Ev has absolute adoration for my mom.