Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. 

Helene of Tartlette's book, Plate to Pixel, on digital food photography came out this week. Her clear voice and amazing recipes have kept me going to her blog, so I look forward to checking out her book sometime at Barnes and Noble. Since I only have a point and shoot camera not a digital SLR, I want to make sure it will work for me before spending my limited budget on it.

New York Public Library is putting their hard copy menu collection on the internet. Read about the project here in the NY Times and view it online here. You can also volunteer to help with the transcription.

Max Lamb creates polystyrene furniture among other things. The sped-up video of his process making a chair highlighted at The Improvised Life is neat.

An amazingly vivid letter from an 8.5 year old named Mel to a school bully. I can't believe she is 8.5. 

I didn't read as much that I fancied online this week. My last two exams of the semester are both Tuesday and I'm trying to stay focused on them. Good thing I have almost no interest in the Royal Wedding or I'd be in trouble. That said I did get suckered into checking out her dress this morning; it was an elegant choice. I cannot wait for my week and a half break before my summer class begins!

Recipes Bookmarked
Baked Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Toffee Shards from All That's Left Are The Crumbs (via Chef Dennis at More than a Mountful via Georgia at The Comfort of Cooking)
Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
Garam Masala Oatmeal Cookies from NPR's Kitchen Window, which is officially bookmarked. I love the vignettes that go with each week's ingredient focus. (You will see these VERY soon.)
Dehydrated Nuts from Organic Spark (I haven't been eating peanut butter/other nuts as I seem to be a bit intolerant of peanut butter. Sigh. Maybe this would help. ... via Carrie at Deliciously Organic's post with a yummy sounding Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie.)
Grapefruit Campari Sorbet from David Lebovitz
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Coconut Muffins from Marcus Samuelsson (indirectly via Deb at Smitten Kitchen)

Clouds out of the Plane Window, July 2006

Find more Jars Of Clay albums at Myspace Music

I heard this at the gym this week and have never been so happy to not have an iPod. I loved this song in 1995, forgot about it and am happy to rediscover it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maple Mousse in Carrot Cake Cookie Cups

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at! You can download all the details and provided recipes here. Thanks for another tasty challenge, Evelyne. Maple Mousse in Carrot Cake Cookie Cups was a big hit with my extended family on Easter.

Evelyne made bacon cups and nut cups for her maple mousse. I created a carrot cake "cookie cup" to hold mine. The cookies are very soft with a nice spice flavor from cinnamon and ginger and a little bit of crunch/chew from the currants and walnuts. They aren't too sweet either, which was a plus since the creamy and delicious maple mousse is pretty darn sweet on its own. I tried three methods to make the "cups" and have detailed each below in the instructions. I recommend making the largest cups as they were the easiest and allowed maximum mousse consumption.

My mousse's texture was slightly bumpy, but I would try the making it again. It tasted light in spite of being anything but with all that whipping cream and the egg yolks! I suspect my problem was the gelatin setting beyond where it should have before I could fold in the whipped cream but only time will tell... As for the cookies, I'll definitely have them again and when I do I'll add a yield for the recipe. They can be baked in a mini-muffin tin for your own Two-Bite Treat a la Whole Foods or served topped with the traditional cream cheese frosting.

Oh and I attempted these carrot curls as toppers but they didn't pan out. Candied carrot crumbles took their place - less pretty but still effective. If you have any technical or other suggestions for me, please pass them along. There is always refining to be done... Have a great day!

Maple Mousse
Yield 6 cups

1 cup Pure Maple Syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 Large Egg Yolks
1 package/ 1 Tbsp. Unflavored Gelatin
1.5 cups Whipping Cream (35% fat content)

1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat. (Choose a saucepan big enough to hold all of the mousse.)
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk egg yolks. Pour a bit of the heated maple syrup into the egg yolks while whisking (this will temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup and whisk until well mixed.
4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white. (Note: I set a timer and checked at intervals. As of 35 minutes it was the consistency of rubber cement...too hard...but still usable. Keep close watch!)
7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream, transfer to a more fridge-friendly container and refrigerate for at least an hour.
8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

Carrot Cake "Cookie Cup"
Improvised using Simplifried's Cookie Template and several Carrot Cake/Cupcake recipes (Orangette, Cooking Light, The Delicious Life, Cupcake Project, Yum Sugar, Deliciously Organic)
Yield TBD

1 stick Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup and 1 tbsp. White Sugar
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg, room temperature
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 2/3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup Carrot, grated and drained (or liquid pressed out if you are short on time like me!)
1/4 cup Currants (substitued for raisins per The Cupcake Project's lead)

1. In the bowl of a large mixer combine 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon of white sugar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Mix on high until the butter gets fluffy and turns light yellow. The sugar should all be incorporated. Once this happens add the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing for 15 seconds.
2. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger. Mix until fully incorporated.
3. Add the walnuts, carrot and currants. Mix until just incorporated.
4. Transfer the dough into plastic wrap or a greased bowl covered in plastic and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
5a. Lightly oil mini-cupcake tin. Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough into each cupcake form. Bake cookies for 10 minutes*. Grease back of scoop. Remove cookies from oven and immediately press the tops with the scoop/measuring spoon to create an cup-like indention.
5b. Lightly oil upside down mini-cupcake tin. Scoop tablespoon of dough into your lightly oiled hand. Flatten. Lay over the mini-cupcake tin. Bake 10 minutes*. Cool and remove from tin. (I don't recommend this as they often crumbled.)
5c. Lightly oil a regular cupcake tin. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough into each cupcake form. Bake cookies for 10 minutes*. Grease a shot glass. Remove cookies from oven and immediately press the tops with the shot glass to create a cup-like indentation.
6. Remove to a baking sheet to cool. The mousse will melt if you top them while they are hot.
I haven't tried it but Greenism smooshed her cookie containers into cups halfway through the baking process. That might be even better!

*Or until a toothpick pressed into the center comes out clean.

Courtney, of course, highlighted that Fleet Foxes have a new album coming out and it can be streamed online at NPR, so they seemed like a great band to highlight this post.

Find more artists like FLEET FOXES at Myspace Music

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend and Easter!

Cooking aids that I can't wait to print... Darn you broken printer! Recipe Writing Cheat Sheet at Justcook NYC (via Kayln's Kitchen), Ratios (via Paul at Jawshack) and an infographic detailing the science behind thin, puffy and chewy cookies as detailed by Alton Brown.

Two super sweet, creative engagement stories: Jim and Jessa (via Jim being tagged on facebook) and Crossword Proposal (via Jeremy Rosen)

Symmetry - a 3 minute video 100% worth watching - made by Everynone in collaboration with WNYC | Radiolab (via Courtney and Jay Parkinson + MD + MPH = a doctor in NYC)

Kitchen Fundamentals: Basic Knife Skills - This was a nice little refresher for me. I love that he used photos instead of the video so you can view the process at your own pace. (via Courtney)

Pushcakes a.k.a. where Cupcakes meet Push Pops (via Baking Bites)

A very pretty Butcher Paper Wreath (via How About Orange)

Typography Manicure via Meena at (Northside Gal)

A dress and more made of Starburst wrappers - now that took some dedication.(via Kimma)

Recipes Bookmarked
Baked Oatmeal and Buttermilk Plum Cake (via Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks)
Coconut Curry Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Dough Crust*
Fig and Honey Goat Cheese Tortelloni with Brown Butter and Sage*
French Onion Soup
Green Summer Borscht 
Grilled Miso Glazed Salmon (via The Improvised Life where they say it also works under the broiler)
Hijiki Stir-fry with 5-Spice Tofu and Quinoa*
Homemade Oat Milk II
Lemon Buttermilk Sherbert with Stewed Rhubarb
Veggie Miso Soup with Lentil Curry Nori Rolls* (for the rolls)

New York Botanical Garden, April 9

*I found this blog via The Kind Life, after reading The Kind Diet for a fad diet project at school.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


A few Sundays ago I headed to the one of my best friend's parent's house to make marshmallows with her younger sister, Sasha. We had a lot of fun tackling this simple project and then I had the pleasant surprise of joining their family for dinner. It was great to catch up and relax with people who have known me for half my life... The only thing that would have made it more fun would have been having Vika, Rafe and Fiona there too.

As long as you have a mixer, marshmallows are so easy to make that you have no excuse not to skip Peeps and make your own Easter treats. Plus making your own marshmallows means you can choose your own color(s). While homemade marshmallows aren't healthier, but they certainly are tastier and have a softer texture than store bought marshmallows. They will literally melt in your mouth. They also will coat many things with their sticky residue, but clean-up is easy. Carefully fill the mixing bowl, saucepan, etc. with very hot water and the sugar will dissolve away on its own.

Next time I make marshmallows I'm going to try coating the pan directly with the oil, spooning in the rice flour/confectioner's sugar mixture and carefully rotating the pan to coat it with the mixture to see if the liner can be avoided to make things a touch greener. I'll let you know what happens...

One last note - making the marshmallows takes less than an hour but keep in mind that they require at least 6 hours of setting time.

Homemade Marshmallows
Lightly adapted from Molly at Orangette's Marshmallows and Nicole of Baking Bite's Marshmallows - both of which appear to follow Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame's lead.

1/2 cup cold water
3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (1/4 ounce each or 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 teaspoons as per David Lebovitz)
2 cups granulated sugar (I used white.)
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
Saran Wrap or Foil
Olive Oil
Food Coloring (optional)
Vanilla Extract to taste
1/2 cup Confectioners' sugar
1/2 Rice flour

1. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into an electric mixer's bowl, sprinkle the three packets of gelatin over it. Soak for 10 minutes. Don't be alarmed when it looks dry as that is normal.
2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Taking care to not let syrup crystallize on the sides of the sauce pan.
3. Carefully pour the very hot syrup into the gelatin and turn the mixer up to high. Beat until the mixture has turned bright white and looks thick (approximately 15 minutes).
4. While the mixture is beating, line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan with plastic wrap or foil. Pour a bit of olive oil onto a paper towel and coat the liner's surface lightly with it. If desired, drizzle food coloring on the surface of the liner for a festive touch.
5. Return to the fluffed up marshmallow and add the vanilla. Continuing to beat the mixture until it is fully incorporated.
6. Scrape the mixture into the pan and spread evenly using a lightly oiled spatula.
7. Let the mixture sit at least 5 hours; I usually let it sit overnight.
8. Combine the rice flour and Confectioner's sugar. Generously dust the surface of the marshmallow block with the mixture, remove it from the pan flipping it upside down. Peel off the pan liner and coat surface with the flour/sugar mixture. Using a lightly oiled pizza wheel (a knife or scissors will work too!) cut the marshmallow into the desired size. Coat each block in the flour/sugar mixture to prevent sticking.
9. Store in a covered container at room temperature.

Our finished product ready for consumption. Yum.

Hydrated Gelatin

The sugar-syrup mixture getting ready to get hot.

I decided the syrup mixture was ready at this time and checked the temperature out of curiosity. Molly's 240 degree temperature was dead on with the one minute boiling time.

Prior to mixing the gelatin and syrup mixture.

Neon food coloring dots are in place. Don't try painting them on an oiled surface with Q-tips. It won't work.

Ooey, gooey marshmallow that is ready for pan placement.

Sasha smoothing our product out. Hands work too.

Pretty colors appear at the bottom of the pan while the top stays brilliantly white.

Other marshmallow recipes I have bookmarked:
Champagne Marshmallows
Chocolate Malt Marshmallows (I love malts.)
I also have added peppermint extract and red food coloring to marshmallows before to make them peppermint. They were a fun Christmas-time gift.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am, even more so today as I'm off to Northern VA/DC for it! To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend!

How to Start a Gratitude Project on Tiny Buddha has reminded me that I dropped the practice of posting one thing I was grateful each day. I plan to start that again on Twitter asap. I really liked the author's choice of this Lao Tzu quote "“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

I tried Mango Coconut KeVita recently and it was a delicious, healthy self-indulgence. It makes me even more interested in trying Graceful Fitness' Kefir Soda idea.

I dare you to resist laughing while watching this ridiculous video narration on The Honey Badger (via Meg and Katie)

A mini-history of gender and clothing colors. (via Jason Kottke via Courtney)

Laurie David discusses antibiotics in meat. You may have noticed I don't seem to eat much meat; that isn't an accident. This worries me and I don't have the money to buy organic. Marion Nestle briefly addressed the question "Does Factory Farming Have A Future?" and it was thought provoking.

5 free Sondre Lerche songs (love his music!)

Ramón González, a very passionate principal, works tirelessly to improve his school P.S. 233 in the Bronx.... I never have thought teaching was an easy job and this article provided additional evidence. (NY Times via Yana)

Recipes Bookmarked
Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie at Shape via Vital Juice
Lemon Curd Ice Cream at Baking Bites
Macaroon Tart at Tartelette highlighted Heidi at 101 Cookbooks new cookbook
Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts Hash at Always Order Dessert
Tropical Burritos at Kath Eats

Brooklyn Botanical Garden, May 2007

Find more PHOENIX albums at Myspace Music

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Work in Progress: Soft Pretzel Bowls

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at!

This project was a fascinating one. Everyone has come up with amazing, unique and, often beautiful, containers that I would love to eat. Sadly in spite of multiple attempts I don't have a finished product to share. But I will... Soft pretzel bowls are going to happen and I'm getting close. Maybe next month?

Here are miscellaneous pictures of my process thus far with descriptions as I'm short on time.

Right: Roasted Beets and Asparagus with Diced Horseradish Cheese
Left: Mushrooms in a Sherry-Paprika Sauce with Parsley (for color)

 The yeast was bubbly...a good start.

 Too dry...Add more buttermilk.

The dough isn't that smooth but it will do. I'm trying to learn the mantra 
don't let the perfect get in the way of the good.

 It doubled. Score.
The dough rolled out and cut into circles.

They browned much better than the previous batch and yet were still a touch too crisp.

Midnight last night. Hello, disaster. I told myself tomorrow is a new day and went to bed 
once the pan was soaking. The gray cloud is still following me around today thought...
must see struggles as opportunities and continue to move forward.

Find more David LaMotte songs at Myspace Music

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spinach and Yellow Pepper Clafoutis

My love affair with clafoutis began in 2008 when I first made Nicole at Baking Bites' Cherry Tomato Clafoutis. I served it at a brunch I hosted, which I spent face down in my bed asleep among coats as I had worn myself out with vigorous cleaning and baking after a night out. My personal performance brought  laughter but the clafoutis brought raves. In fact I believe my former roomate, Tracey's, mom still makes it frequently. I also have tried Nicole's sweeter, still delicious, Pear Clafoutis with the twist of bacon crumbles and mint.

Yesterday morning I made a new version throwing together spinach, yellow peppers and oregano thinking of Greek food. I also substituted whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour just because. The active time is about 15 minutes, so clafoutis is perfect when you want something simple and filling with an impressive appearance. Think of a souffle, only with a third of the effort and the ability to travel well and reheat nicely (should you have any left).

Have you made clafoutis? What is your favorite flavor combination? I'm sure I'll be looking to make my next batch soon and would to hear your ideas.

Spinach and Yellow Pepper Clafoutis
Inspired by Nicole at Baking Bites' Cherry Tomato Clafoutis

1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt (I would skip it in the future as feta has enough salt.)
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
3 Eggs, large
1 cup Milk (I used 3/4 skim and 1/4 whole)
2 1/2 tsp. Oregano, dried 
1/3 cup Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup Baby Spinach, packed into the measuring cup then torn

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a 6.5" x 10.5" x 2" baking dish with oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, a 4-cup measuring cup works, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, eggs and milk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the oregano and cheese.
3. Place the yellow pepper and spinach at the bottom of your baking dish and pour the custard mixture over  them.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Don't be alarmed - it will deflate.

Find more Crystal Castles albums at Myspace Music

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend!

Beautiful Paper Crane Photos at Up Your Wall, a Swedish gallery co-founded by my friend Kristina

DIY Compliment Bunting from How About Orange -- This would be perfect to surprise a co-worker, a friend or to show volunteer appreciation at a nonprofit.

La Gruyère Double Cream described by David Liebovitz sounds like a little bit of heaven, no?

Max Chafkin on Etsy’s Dilemma by Reihan Salam (via Courtney) which reminded me of this article about some Etsy business owners trading their day job for hard work.

I don't know how they plan to finance it but the USDA announced a new oversight policy to reduce foodborne illness. Food safety is an important topic.

A Clever Ikea Hack -- Modernist Flowerpot (via The Improvised Life)

Recipes Bookmarked
Cookie Dough Brownies
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Feta and Sumac 

My first 10K was a success; if not for stops due to overhydration and inappropriate attire, 
I might have finished in an hour. My 8K in November took just under an hour, so 
this was a huge improvement and personal record. Proper training helps - who knew? ;)

Find more artists like Xylos at Myspace Music

Mellow music for a Friday... This band does a mean cover of Debbie Gibson if you ever have the chance to see them in person.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend!

The Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K is tomorrow. It is my first 10k and I can't wait! Partially because I am tired of training. ;)

Before I Die a public art installation in New Orleans (via Sarah at The One in Pink)

Wheelchair Backflip...Determination = Success... Hopefully VCU will prove that this weekend too. If not, I am still proud.

Infographic of food costs around the world -- we have it easy in the US  (via Michael Pollan on Twitter)

E-readers can't replace the beauty of these books Penguin is releasing with hand embroidered covers. (via Courtney Knapp)

Laura Vikmanis is 42 and a NFL Cheerleader -- she is clearly someone who get things done and now her story will become a movie -- talk about fitness and healthy eating inspiration! (via Courtney Knapp)

Jessica at How About Orange has been exploring making your own glazed magnets (and has threatened to glaze everything in her house). She makes it look simple enough that I'm even tempted to try.

Ralph Marston succinctly discusses the power of taking action; these are words I should take to heart.

I don't have anything to sell from ex-boyfriends but is an interesting solution. (via Unclutterer)

Recipes Bookmarked
Ba-nilla Buckwheat Breakfast Bake from Ashley at Edible Perspective (via KathEats on Twitter)
Dukkah from NY Times
Pate de Fruit from Alejandra at Always Order Dessert (sweets that are difficult are right up my alley)
Quesadillas from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks (crispy capers, yum!)

Roosevelt Island, New York City viewing the Queensboro Bridge and Long Island City, February 2011

Find more artists like Avril Lavigne at Myspace Music