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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

“Mad Men” returned to television on Sunday night after a 17-month hiatus. An occasion such as this demanded cocktails, party mix, and of course, a cake. Pineapple upside down cake was popularized in the 1920s, but it seemed like the perfect dessert to serve to my guests while dressed like a 1960s housewife.

I chose a recipe from Simply Recipes because it called for ground almonds and I had half a bag sitting in my cupboard. Overall, it was easy to prepare, but I had to make the caramel topping twice. I didn’t let the first batch boil long enough on the stove and the sugar didn’t dissolve, so I let the second batch boil for the full recommended four minutes.

The pineapple slices fit just right in the pan.

And after pouring in the batter and baking for an hour and 15 minutes, the cake released from the pan the moment I flipped it over. It was a bit off center, but I was too terrified to move it.

This is what victory looks like:

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

I’m going to share some personal health information with you because it relates to the cookies pictured above: I spent thirty minutes in an MRI machine yesterday afternoon. I’m not dealing with anything serious or life-threatening, so don’t worry, but it did require me to stay motionless in a tiny tube for a half-hour while a machine took pictures of my insides—a really, really loud machine. For most people, this would be an uncomfortable 30 minutes, but for an anxiety-ridden, claustrophobic person like me, it was just one long panic attack.

They did have some sweet signs, though.

When the exam was over, I refused to take the subway home and spend an hour in a larger tube, so I took a cab instead. I rolled my window down as we passed over the Brooklyn Bridge and looked out over the river. My sunglasses were on, the city wind pulled at my hair, and I knew there was only one way to celebrate freedom: baking some damn cookies. Namely, some cookies with oatmeal, cranberries, and chocolate chips.

I’d call them Oatmeal Triple C Cookies, but the Internet tells me Triple C is the street name for a cough medicine teenagers like to trip on. Hm. Let’s stick with the more descriptive Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies. Continue Reading →

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Chocolate, Rosemary, and Walnut Brown Butter Cookies

Ramsey and I tore through the first two seasons (and Christmas special) of Downton Abbey last week. If you haven’t been sucked in by Netflix or your local PBS station yet, it follows the lives of a British aristocratic family and their servants during everyone’s favorite early-twentieth century events (sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the Troubles, etc). It’s full of family drama, squabbling over inheritances, conniving footmen, and a whole lot of tea. Tea is consumed least three times in every episode, and depending on the time of day, it’s enjoyed with an array of beautiful sandwiches and pastries.

Few of us have time to prepare a spread of sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream to enjoy with an afternoon mug of tea, so my go-to accompaniment is a buttery, crunchy cookie.  That’s why I immediately flagged this recipe from The Kitchn. Butter, rosemary, and sugar? Perfect.

I followed the exact recipe from The Kitchn and had great results, but I wanted to try making a chocolate version. Truth: I liked the original, non-chocolate version more than the chocolate version I created. It didn’t let the rosemary flavor come through as much as I like. But! If you’re in the mood for a chocolate shortbread, give it a try. Continue Reading →

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Sunday Morning Sticky Buns

Are you frazzled from the holiday season yet?  You’re probably in a better place than I am. I’ve struck most of the to-dos off my list, but I still need to finish my Christmas shopping, buy a whole lot of candy packaging, and make twelve batches of sea salt caramels and marshmallows to share with family when I head upstate. I considered taking a vacation day to wrap candy this week, but things are way too busy at work. Also, the thought of using a vacation day to sit at my kitchen table and twist wax paper around caramels bordered on crazy, so I’ll just stay up until the extra late on Thursday night to wrap and watch Elf on a loop on TBS. Sleep deprivation, sugar, and Buddy the Elf are a recipe for victory.

When Christmas morning finally arrives, all I’ll want to do is collapse, but what better way is there to collapse than onto a couch with a sticky bun in hand? Even better, a sticky bun that’s easy to make and includes the flavors of the season, like citrus, cranberries, brown sugar, and lots (and lots) of butter. If you defrost your puff pastry overnight, this whole recipe should take ten minutes to put together, not counting the baking time.

It starts with mixing up some butter with brown sugar and orange zest.

Then, melt some non-zest-infused-butter, brush it on the puff pastry, and top with all sorts of delicious things.

Next, roll it up and slice it up. Continue Reading →

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Cardamom Coffee Cake

I’m back in Brooklyn after a weekend in the Baltimore suburbs with Ramsey and his family. We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving dinner, watched terrible movies (Vampire’s Kiss starring Nicholas Cage) and charming ones (The Muppets), and walked around a massive outlet mall where a Medieval Times “castle” is just a few stores away from a Cinnabon. The internet also taught us a trick for opening a wine bottle without a corkscrew, which Ramsey put to use a few minutes before Thanksgiving dinner:


It felt good to wake up at home this morning, a familiar light fixture above my head and the Brooklyn streets still quiet outside. A perfect time to fill the apartment with the smells of baking and warm spices, like cardamom, cinnamon, and a dash of ground ginger. A perfect time for coffee cake with streusel.

I adapted a Martha Stewart recipe to fit the contents of my refrigerator and available baking pans. Continue Reading →

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week. My god, this week. You know a work day has been busy when you get home at seven and feel like you’ve been lobotomized, the contents of your brain left on an office computer screen. You drop your purse by your apartment door, sink into the couch, and are happy to state at the wall for a few moments before making dinner or reaching for your computer to order from Seamless. It’s been like that every day this week and I am thrilled for the weekend.

But let’s not talk about work. Let’s talk about warm pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These are the kind of cookies you want to come home to when you’re a post-work zombie. Chocolate and pumpkin make things all better.

They start with fresh pumpkin puree.

Actually, let’s take a step back. These cookies really start with a whole pumpkin. Continue Reading →

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Apple Crisp

I had an apple crisp failure last weekend. The dry, bland concoction that came out of my oven tasted more like an space food approximation of apple crisp than the quintessential autumn dessert.

Refusing to be defeated by one of the simplest fruit dishes out there, I looked to Martha Stewart to correct my baking errors for a second attempt. It turns out I used the wrong type of apple, my sugar levels were way off, and my use of melted butter made the baked topping soft. For the second try, I used Gala apples, upped the sugar, and cut cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients. After an hour in the oven, it came out bubbling and golden brown. Perfect.

Continue Reading →

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Chicken B’stilla

It’s Meat Pie Season, people. It’s time to embrace the dropping temperatures and revel in the glory of slow-cooked meats, flaky crusts, hearty gravies, and vegetables of all kinds. Many people celebrate the season by making classics like chicken pot pie or shepherd’s pie, but I’d like to propose another option: a chicken-based (or pigeon-based) Moroccan meat pie called a b’stilla. Instead of a traditional pie crust, it employs flaky phyllo dough, and because it’s Moroccan, the filling offers savory and sweet flavors like cinnamon, honey, lemon, saffron, coriander, cilantro, and more. It may sound strange, but I promise it all comes together.

I found the recipe for the b’stilla in Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table and didn’t adapt it at all, so you can check it out in this handy Google Books preview version of her fantastic cookbook. You can also find photos from and lessons learned during my pie preparation after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Triple-Chocolate Cookies with a Kick

These cookies started as triple threats of unsweetened cocoa powder, semisweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips in a recipe from Real Simple. I made them once following the exact recipe and they were good, but I wanted to make something a little different for my second batch.

Cut to the spice rack. I pulled down the cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and chili powder to add to the intense chocolate flavor. I didn’t find the amount of spices to be overwhelming, but you may want to tweak them to meet your tastes. Also, keep an eye on the clock while baking. Just one extra minute in the oven can mean the difference between serving cookies with perfect, chewy centers and cookies that could double as miniature hockey pucks. I let a batch go a few minutes too long, and pressed for time, I had to bring them to an office potluck, my head hung in shame. I’m lucky no one cracked a tooth. Continue Reading →

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Irish Soda Bread

Day 31: March 16, 2010

Hi there. I should start this post by acknowledging things have been very quiet here since late February. Between having limited internet access at my apartment for the past three weeks due to shoddy Road Runner service, long days at work, and a minor boyfriend medical emergency, I haven’t been cooking or posting much. I have been documenting my existence with daily photos and uploading them when I can. I’ve also been eating a lot of sandwiches, my favorite of which has been this week’s melted brie, apple, and blackberry jam on toasted whole wheat.

But let’s get down to the business at hand. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. You may be reading this through Guinness goggles; perhaps you have a bottle of Jameson nearby. You may not be drinking and just wearing a wool sweater, or still giggling to yourself about the suckers you saw wearing wool sweaters on a day that hit sixty degrees.

I have no sweater or booze. Instead, I have a large chunk of crispy, sugar-topped Irish soda bread. This is the first soda bread I’ve made that couldn’t double as a doorstop or weight training tool and I owe it to this recipe from Epicurious. It’s not be the most traditional recipe, but it was a hit this morning at work, and I’ve consumed half of a second loaf by myself. Its scone-like consistency and flavor may make it a staple in my breakfast bread rotation. The only issue is tracking down buttermilk and having plenty of raisins on hand.

Even though the holiday is almost over, give the recipe a shot and enjoy a slice on Sunday morning with a cup of tea.

Soda Bread