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Monday, December 22, 2008

A little inspiration

The holidays are coming and this hostess is finally going to have sometime to indulge in baking and crafting delicious concoctions in the kitchen. For the time being, I leave this link to the inspirational bento blog, Anna The Red. She creates the most interesting bentos and they are amazingly still appetizing. I would totally eat the Tottoro above. He's cute and nutritious!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Simple Suppers are sometimes best

Herbed Salmon with Cranberry Quinoa

Nothing special. Just a shot of this weekends dinner in. I savor it when I have a little time for something so simple as to just cook a meal.

Late Skate

This post is actually from early October! I have been lax.

With midterms over and research projects kicking, I found a little time to cook for Octavio and I. A simple yet compelling meal of skate with browned butter and caper sauce with purple cauliflower. The cauliflower tasted pretty much the same as regular cauliflower, but had a much more interesting presentation effect!

Sauted Skate with Browned Butter and Capers

serves two
2 portions skate (a little less than a pound)
flour for dredging
2 small shallots
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon capers (or less but we like capers)
1 tomato seeded and chopped
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Over medium flame, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan. Dredge the fish in the flour until lightly covered. Add the fish and brown on both sides. About 3-5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the fillet.

In a sauce pan, heat the butter. Add the shallot and cook lightly. Let the butter get brown. Add the capers and tomato last and just heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon over the fish and serve. If you have it, garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lemon Lingonberry Cupcakes

photo courtesy Lisa Webber

So the semester has begun and with it, the precious dwindling of my free time. I will try desperately to bring you quality recipes, but the postings maybe far and between for the next few months. As I learn to balance work, school and life, bare with me! This might be a phase of using pre-made foods and sprucing them up to become more healthy and quality meals.

For now, here is a wonderful Lemony Cupcake recipe I created for the return of our prodigal Swede, Malin. We feted her in fine fashion a few weeks ago with a spread of modern takes on traditional Swedish food. An excellent herring and egg salad a top fresh toast points, Nordic cheeses, fine wines and the required, Swedish meatballs from Ikea rounded out the food table.

Lemon Lingonberry Cupcakes

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
juice and half the zest of one fresh lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift dry ingredients, except sugar, together.
Cream the sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon juice and zest together. Add in the egg yolks, beating thoroughly in between each.
Add the flour and buttermilk in three additions, alternating dry and wet, mixing completely between each.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the batter.
Put in baking cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they pass the Toothpick Test!

2 packages cream cheese, softened
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3-5 cups confectioner sugar

Beat the cream cheese, vanilla and lemon zest together. Sift in the sugar until desired sweetness and consistency is reached. Feel free to add more lemon for zing!
Chill until spreadable.
Frost each completely cooled cupcake and top with a dollop of tart lingonberry preserves. You can sub this with any other tart fruit spread, but it won't be Swedish!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Other Output of 312sqf

I have been putting my 312 square feet to good use. I made the dress above as my first sewing project in years. We'll see if I have the time to keep it up, but it was fun re-learning all the skills for sewing. I will keep posting my hand made clothes right next to my cakes!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mole Cake Redux

The fantastic Lynly celebrated her birthday this past weekend with a home karaoke throw down! Chock full of delicious food like mini chopped beef sandwiches with pickles and bean and cheeses empanadas, and of course, amazing conversation from Lynly's ragtag of friends from all over the city and country.

To celebrate, I decided to take her Texas/South of the boarder flavor and re-work my Mole Cake. Less dense than the first and with a Dark Chocolate Ganache (sans the chilies this time), the cake was still richly spicy and had the perfect moist crumb. I love the Mole Cake! No one expects the sweet and the spice. It makes a cooling dessert on a hot night, especially when topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Mole Cake 2.0

2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon ground pequin pepper
1 whole dried ancho chili
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons ground pumpkin seeds

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and line the bottoms of two 9" cake pans with parchment paper.

Finely grind all the chilis and sift in with the cocoa powder and dry seasonings. Whisk together with sifted flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

In another bowl, beat the butter with the sugars until very fluffy. Beat in each egg, one at a time, beating thoroughly for each egg.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, combine very well, then add 1/3 of the butter milk, combine well. Continue until all combined into a smooth batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes until it passes the cake test and cool in pans for 10 min. remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Meals with the Man

Though I have been lax about posting lately, I have not been lax about cooking or baking!

Octavio guested at 312 square feet to make me his patented "Skate Fish with Chicken Sauce". I created the fresh mango salsa to go with it.

Then I whipped a nice mid summer meal of Fresh Herb Crusted Monkfish with New Garlic Sauteed Broccoli Rabe. I made a kind of compote with jarred artichoke hearts and capers, but it was a tad too over powering. Next time, I will sick just with some capers and lemon, or get fresh artichokes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Honey for the First Year

We celebrated Miss Jackson's transcendence to her 29th and the 1 year anniversary of 312 square feet, in fitting fashion with a decadent, yet almost savory cake. The request this year was to honor the missing bees and bake with honey. I created a pistachio sponge cake with a deliciously rich, but not overly sweet French buttercream frosting.

The cake came out with a perfect sponge crumb, and next time I will take advantage of that by sprinkling the layers with combination of simple syrup and orange liqueur. You bake, you learn!

Pistachio Cake with Honey Buttercream

2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
10 eggs, room temperature and separated
1 cup pistachios shelled and finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Flour and line the bottoms of three 9" cake pans with parchment paper.

Whisk the four and baking powder together to combine. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick. Longer than think about 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites together until light and fluffy and stiff peaks form. Again, this will take longer than you think! Get a magazine in one hand and your mixer in the other. (Please! Some one get me a Kitchen Aid!)

Fold this into the egg yolks, fold in the flour and then fold in the pistachios.

Bake until the cake test comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.

for the icing
6 egg yolks at room temperature
1/3 cup honey plus 1/2 cup honey to add to taste
2 cups butter, softened

You see "room temperature" in all of my cake recipes. I can not stress enough how important it is to bring you butters and eggs to room temperature. They bake better cakes, especially butters. Since they will combine better with your sugars.

This recipe is not for an American buttercream, which is basically butter and powdered sugar, which I love, but can have over power sweetness. I wanted to have an icing that really emphasized the savory cake and the deep floral nature of the local farmer's honey.

Beat the egg yolks until pale yellow, again longer than you think! they should be very, very light.

Heat the honey over medium heat until just bubbling. Slowly pour in stream into the eggs. Be careful to avoid the beaters. Beat until very well combined.

Beat in the butter, pat by pat until you get the consistency you like. It will be much more shiny and soft than other frostings. Add more honey until you get the flavor you desire.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tapas for Dinner

It's been over 95 degrees for the last fours days in New York City. It's too hot to cook. All you want to do is take cool showers and blast the air conditioning. I also had a lovely visit from my mother here at 312 square feet, but it was way too hot to cook while she was here. Instead, we enjoyed many of my favorite places to eat in the city. Mermaid Inn, New Pastuer and Robin du Bois, were all visited by 312 square feet and Mom. I wanted to take her out to perennial favorite, La Sirene, but we ran out of time!

Octavio came over for a restful Monday night in. Since it was prohibitively hot still, I made a no cooking meal of tapas. Cobbled together from condiments and jars in the cabinet, the meal turned out to be really delicious and would make great cocktail snacks at the next party.

On the menu:
Italian Hot Pickles
Fresh Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinegar and Fresh Thyme
Toast Points with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Peppers
Pan Seared Scallops with Lime and Garlic

Toast Points with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Peppers

Fresh Baguette sliced long and toasted
Chevre or other soft goat cheese
Sriracha or other hot sauce
Clove of Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Rub the bread with half of the garlic clove and toast. Spread with goat cheese, drizzle with hot sauce and olive oil. Place the roasted red peppers over it and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Great with Kir!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Smoothest Birthday Ever

Lisa's birthday was a day long meander through Brooklyn's best! Masterminded by the other habitant of the 381, Miss Kelly. We all surprised her at the Botanical Garden and spent a leisurely morning walking barefoot on the grass, smelling the flowers, embarrassing the other patrons and fully enjoying the beautiful spring day.

Then we moved on the Macy's, where we scandalized the genial photographers at the portrait studio. Our dysfunctional family portraits came out, well, nice? We get them tomorrow, so expect to be scandalized as well!

We rounded out a full day with a late lunch at Brooklyn Heights outpost Frannies. Washing down excellent appetizers of Bruscetta with Ramps and Marscapone and an excellent salad of pea shoots and ricotta salada with 2 bottles of a refreshing Lambrusco ($42 and worth the splurge!). The sparkling, dry red had a lush deep garnet color and a lovely lavender froth from the fine bubbles. Served chilled, this is going to be the summer jam! Frannies has flavorful thin crusted pizzas in a variety of tempting flavors. We sampled the Provalone with Red Onions and the Margherita. Both were delicious and a value at $14-$16 a piece. If you are out in that part of Brooklyn, I highly recommend paying a visit to the friendly staff at Frannies.

And the denouement to the day was, or course, the grand fete at 381 complete with Red Velvet Cake. I ended up using the recipe from the Buttercup Bakeshop but I did experiment with frosting. I made several chocolate versions before landing on a classic chocolate butter cream with the twist of almond.

Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting

1lb confectioner's sugar
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
5-6 tablespoons milk

Sift powdered sugar, mix in cocoa and salt and sift again.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in about 1/3 of the sugar/cocoa mixture and beat until well combined. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk near the end to wet. Repeat two more times with the rest of the sugar. At the end add milk in little spoonfuls to get the desired consistency.

Frost your cake!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Indian Influenced Brunch

Lazy Sundays are meant for creative kitchen expression. This morning, I decided to make something I hadn't made in a few years, waffles! Though my old roomie and I loved to make whole wheat waffles, since I have live alone, I haven't broken out the waffle iron.

These Indian influenced waffles have ground almonds and orange flower water. Though the y didn't have as much almond taste as I had hoped, they were still very delicious. The recipe below contains almond extract which was not in what I made but I will add next time to help punch up the almond flavor.

Almond and Orange Flower Water Waffles with Cardamom Apricot Spice Syrup

makes 6-8 waffles
1 cup whole wheat flower
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoon butter, melted
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon orange flower water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup almonds, ground

Sift together all the dry ingredients except for the almonds. In a large mixing bowl beat with an electric mixer egg yolks, melted butter, milk, almond extract, and orange flower water. In a non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until very stiff.

Add the flour mixture to the liquid, beating until relatively smooth. Beat in the ground almonds. Fold in the egg whites. Pour on to a waffle iron and enjoy!

For the syrup
1 cup grade A maple syrup
8-10 dried, canned or fresh apricot halves (if using dried, soak for 10-15 minute in water to rehydrate)
3 dark cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
1 star anise pod

Over lower heat, combine all the ingredients and let simmer until the fruit is soft and the syrup is aromatic. Remove all spice pods and serve over the waffles.

Saturday Night In

After a long, hard week Octavio and I really just wanted a chill evening in with some favorite foods. I had gotten some fantastic monkfish from the farmers market this week and had some left over vegetable that came out to surprisingly good new side dishes for us.

Walnut Crusted Monkfish served with Gingered Carrots and Green Pea Puree
Chocolate Flower Pots
Various Sparkling wines

Walnut Crusted Monkfish

for 2
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 lemon juiced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 spring fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the over to 350 degrees.

Wash, dry and portion the monkfish.

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Pull the leaves of the thyme sprig and add to the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, walnuts and lemon juice. Stir with a fork and remove from heat. This should be like a moist coating.

In a baking dish, arrange the fish and press the mixture on the top of the fish, forming a top crust.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the fish is done. Serve with lemon wedges.

Green Pea Puree

simple and easy, this side dish is going to be a staple for the summer in lieu of mashed potatoes, especially because of the beautiful color
1 package frozen green peas
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper

Heat the frozen peas and drain. Blend in a food processor or blender with the salt, pepper and sour cream until smooth. Serve immediately.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Red, Red Research

image from Cake Man Raven

Dearest Lisa's 30th birthday party is coming up soon and the birthday girl requested the classic red velvet cake with the twist of chocolate frosting, inspired by the Sexy Red Velvet Cupcake from Sunshine Sweet Bakeshop on the Lower East Side. I am torn on the myriad of recipes that I have found on the web. Oil verse butter? Red food coloring or fruit/vegetable juice reduction?

I am inclined to use butter since I love butter and the flavor of it in cakes. I am also inclined to use food coloring to keep it more authentic, since no one I know has a food dye allergy and it's no longer toxic (one hopes). Though I did find a very interesting recipe that incorporates less sugar and subs in strawberry syrup rather than red food coloring.

Many of these recipes also call for all purpose flour which I am a little against when baking a large cake. Cake flour is ground finer and it really does improve the texture of cakes, especially ones that are suppose the be lighter and airy. A dense chocolate like my Chocolate Chili Cake can use all purpose flour but any buttermilk or chiffon cake should be made with cake flour.

Here's a list of links to recipes that I have collected. I will post what ever adaptation I come up with after the cake has been properly devoured by revelers celebrating another fantastic year of Lisa!

Cake Man Raven's Red Velvet Cake
Buttercup Bakeshop Red Velvet Cake
New York Times - Adapted from "The Confetti Cakes Cookbook" by Elisa Strauss
Tartlette Red Velvet Cakes
Red Velvet Cake IV from All Recipes

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

May Day Dinner

312 square feet boyfriend came over for a May Day dinner of my own Thai influenced innovation on a salad Niçoise. This one had smoked salmon instead of tuna, and a horseradish cream sauce accented with a Thai cucumber salad, served with a starter of ripe yellow tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Thai Cucumber Salad

Serves Two

2 cucumbers, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce, or less
2 dried bird chilies, ground
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice of one lime
dash of salt

In a mortar and pestle, grind the chilies with the brown sugar. Dissolve the sugar and chilies into the vinegar, lime juice and add the fish sauce to taste. Toss the cucumbers, carrot, onion and cilantro with the dressing and dash of salt. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour before serving to let the flavors set.

Andy D visits 312 Square Feet

My electro-pop band, Macaque, is working on a collaborative track with the excellent Andy D. So he has been visiting 312 square feet to work on the track. I like to make uncomplicated but filling and tasty food for practice days. Things that sate, yet aren't over filling since we want to be awake for music!

Spanish Tortilla

a classic staple of tapas menus, the torilla is like a light version of a quiche
8 eggs
3 medium sized potatoes,thinly sliced. (I like Yukon Gold, but Russet would be good as well.)
1 sweet onion, Vidalla
2 cloves garlic
1/2 package of frozen peas
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large cast iron skillet, or other oven safe deep sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until they are soft. Add the garlic and heat for a few minutes. Add the sliced potatoes and plenty of salt and pepper. Cook until the potatoes become slightly soft.

While the potatoes are cooking, in a large bowl combine the eggs and salt and pepper and beat well.

Add the peas and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. Move the skillet to the oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes until the eggs are completely set and cooked through.

Serve with hot sauce like sriracha or mango chutney and a green salad. This dish keeps well refrigerated for about a week and makes great lunches!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Supper

Sometimes the simplest dishes can be the most satisfying, especially when you are cooking for one. To worm up on this chilly, rainy Sunday, I made a boneless t-bone steak with a salad of spring greens in a simple lemon, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette with apple and cherry tomatoes. For the steak I seasoned it simply with some powder garlic, cumin and salt and pepper and broiled it until medium rare. It was satisfying and hearty. The perfect way to relax before the whirlwind of the week starts up again.

Southwestern Pizza

True to the spirit of the 312 square feet, if not a bit bigger, Chelsea opened up her L.E.S. pad for a creative pizza night with David. We made two delicious pizzas but only managed to clean up one entire pie.
While shopping for dinner, our hostess made the fortuitous mistake of picking up a blended of Monterrey Jack and Colby cheeses, not normally used on pizzas, except of course if you are my mother. A classic pizza of hers was to blend mozzarella with Colby cheese to make a distinct flavor and to save money since colby was cheaper than mozzarella. So Chelsea suggested we make a souther western influenced pizza! It was creative and unique. Below is the adapted version. Pizza is all about improvisation and this was a delicious and excellent example of that.

Southwestern Pizza

1 frozen pizza dough (ours was whole wheat from Whole Foods, priced at a wallet conscious $1.50)
1 can pizza sauce
up to 2-3 cups of shredded cheese a mix of mozzarella, Monterrey Jack and Colby
1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
various toppings (we used broccoli and leeks)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or heat a pizza stone if you have it. We didn't use one. Toss out the dough and brush with oil on both sides. Spread an even layer of sauce, sprinkle with some cayenne pepper. Layer cheese and toppings and prinkle with more cayenne peeper to taste. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling. If cooking without a stone, you can place the pizza under the broiling for a few minutes at the end of cooking to get that nice browned cheese on top!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Annual Fulbright Dinner

One of the perks of my job is the annual Fulbright hosted evening. When the foreign Fulbright students convene on New York City in early spring, we get the pleasure of having these very talented, interesting individuals over for dinner. It is always an evening of interesting conversation and exchange of ideas, two of the things the IIE really stands for.

For this years evening, I was able to host Stephen, a lawyer from Canada, Tim, an English major from Germany and Ari, an Education Administration student, as well as 312 square feet regulars Octavio and Kelly. The conversation ranged from their experiences studying in the US to the current election season, a topic that has been on the lips of most of my friends. We talked about the merits of the No Child Left Behind bill and the drawbacks of high stakes testing.

I served a meal that drew on mainly on the influence of the Wildwood cookbook from the Pacific Northwest and my New England upbringing. It was a successful meal of Two Color Tomato Salad, Herb Salmon Baked over Salt with Fennel Mashed Potatoes and finished off with old fashioned Apple Brown Betty.

Here are some of the recipes that I cooked.

Fennel Mashed Potatoes

adapted from the Wildwood Cookbook

1 fennel bulbed
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons cracked fennel seeds
4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the fennel bulb, add the fennel seeds and cook it over medium-low heat, don't boil the cream, until the fennel is soft, about 30-40 minutes. At the same time boil the potatoes until soft. In a food processor or blender combine, fennel cream mixture and potatoes, add plenty of salt, who doesn't love salty potatoes! and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Apple Brown Betty

5-6 large Granny Smith, Mitsu or other tart baking apple
juice of one lemon
1/2 stick butter
1 1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 granulate sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to the 375 degrees. Generously butter a deep baking dish.
Slice the apples thinly and toss with the lemon juice. Combine the sugars, bread crumbs and spices. Layer a third of the bread crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish, put half of the apples and dot with butter. Layer another third of the bread crumbs, then apples and dot with the rest of the butter. Top off with the remaining third of the bread crumbs and bake for 40-50 minutes until the apples are soft and the juices are bubbling.

I served this with ginger ice cream from the Chinatown Ice Cream factory!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Casey's Molé Cake

I love a challenge, especially when it involves a cake. This year for Casey's very special birthday, I was tasked to make a cake for someone who loves savory and chocolate. I wasn't about to make a bacon cake (her other favorite food). We decided on chili and chocolate. Taking influence from Casey's request and 312 square feet's boyfriend, Octavio's homeland, I made a Molé Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting with Pequin Chili. It had a creeping spice and was definitely rich.

I combined a classic chocolate buttermilk cake recipe with the ingredients for a traditional mole. The only thing I couldn't find was pumpkin seeds, so I would substitute with ground sesame seeds or even 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter.

I also was able to bust out my birthday present for the first time! I got a Quisenart from Octavio and I finally got to use it to grind up the chilies to a fine powder. I was so excited by this gift. I finally get to retire my pour abused blender!

Not for the faint of heart, this adventuresome cake was loved by the birthday girl, but the spice was too unexpected for some palates!

Molé Cake

8 onces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground pequin chilies
1 whole dried ancho chili seeded and ground
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried cloves
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, ground or creamy peanut butter or 1 tablespoon ground sesame seeds
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 sticks of butter
5 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 375. Grease and flour 2 nine inch cake pans.

Bring the water to a boil and pour over the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Let sit for about 1 minute before beginning to whisk until smooth.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Add the ground chilies, cinnamon, clove and if you are using ground seeds add those.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Add each of the egss one at a time, beating well in between. Add vanilla, buttermilk, peanut butter if you are using it, and beat until well combined.

Add about 1/3 of the four mixture and mix. Add in half of the chocolate and combine. Repeat adding in chocolate and flour until all is just mixed.

Pour into to the cake pans and bake for 45-55 minutes depending on your oven. This yields a very dense rich chocolate cake.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting with Pequin Chili

12 onces good quality dark semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups cream
4 tablespoons butter, sliced into pats
3/4 teaspoon ground pequin chilies
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Heat the cream until just bubbling. Pour over the chopped chocolate and chili. Let stand about a minute to melt the chocolate then whisk until smooth. Add the butter and mix until well combined. Let the mixture cool completely, stirring occasionally. Beat with an electric mixer and sift in the powdered sugar until it has a nice smooth texture.

Assemble the cake by cutting each completely cooled layer in half. See my post on the Black and White Cake for the technique. Layer the frosting and the cake layers. Top with some red sugar for effect!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Food Photo Tips

A post on the site Photojojo has 10 tips for better food photographs. The one I think that I could use the most is tip 2. Use Natural Light. Since there is no window in my kitchen area, I will start to bring the food nearer to a natural light source to light the food better! I cold have used that tip when taking pictures of my bread from this weekend.

All the tips here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Brunch

Taking a lazy morning, Octavio and I decided to bake some bread to offset the lack of heat in my apartment this week and have a nice and hearty brunch.

312 square feet mascot is feeling better and begging for some of my baking! Or mayer she wants some of the delicious eggs that Octavio whipped up for us.

Easter Brunch
Scrambled eggs with Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese
Sauteed Swiss Chard
Golden Raisin and Fennel Irish Soda Bread

Golden Raisin and Fennel Irish Soda Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup softened butter + 2 tablespoons melted for brushing
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cracked fennel seeds
1 cup golden raisins

Pre-heat oven to 375. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add softened butter and mix. Add in milk, yogurt and egg and mix until all the doughs is wet. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead lightly. Cut an X into the top with a sharp knife and brush with some melted butter. Bake for 45-55 minutes, brushing periodically with butter, until a toothpick comes out clean.

6th Annual Easter Party at 381

This year marked the 6th year of Kelly and Lisa's annual feast of debauchery in the honor of Easter. There was an excellent cheese platter and dips galore. Of course there was no lack for libations with everyone supplying many wonderful and varied bottles of wine.

I baked up an experimental batch of cupcakes inspired by an amazing cookie that I had at a friends baby shower. Triple ginger cookies with a lime icing, the cookies were sublime. These cupcakes came out pretty well, though I will increase the amount of spice in the cupcakes for more of a gingery bit. In the recipe I will put the amount that I will put in next time! Basically I would double it.

Triple Ginger Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

makes 24 cupcakes

2 3/2 all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 inch cube of ginger grated and any juice
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cream the sugar with the butter. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds in between eggs. Add in the vanilla, lemon zest and grated ginger. Sift together all the dry ingredients. Add the milk and the dry ingredients alternating between dry and wet in six additions. Fold in the crystallized ginger. Bake for 15 - 18 until they pass the tooth pick test.

For the Icing:
1 lb. confectioners sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
juice of one lime (about 2 tablespoons)

Beat the butter until it gets fluffy and sift in the sugar beating until well combined. Add the lime juice and beat until fluffy. Add more sugar or lime to suit your taste.

Frost the cupcakes with a large ridged pastry tip and decorate with some strips of powdered ginger.