Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lavender Pear Bear Cupcakes

As you can see over on the right side of this page, I am a member of the Foodie Blogroll. The creator, Jenn, has a wonderful site of her own called The Leftover Queen. In addition to recipes and photos, she hosts a forum and a monthly culinary competition that goes by the name of The Royal Foodie Joust. Each challenge requires entrants to use three ingredients in any which way they please, and the winner chooses the three ingredients for the next month's challenge.

oh my

What a night it was. I threw a belated birthday cocktail party last night and it went off wonderfully. Everyone had a great time and, to my delight, everyone loved all the food I made. (I would hope so - I was in the kitchen all day long yesterday and I had also done a little bit of prep on the previous evenings!) I worked really hard, but I didn't mind it all all because I love hosting parties. One day when I win the lottery, I am going to quit my day job and become a professional party thrower. But since I don't play the lottery, I'm not going to quit my day job anytime soon.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Review: Charm City Cakes

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a review:

I am obsessed with Charm City Cakes. I knew of it before I moved here, and then last fall Ace of Cakes started up. Well, I love that show and now I have a horrible obsession with all things Duff. However, I have always been skeptical of the quality of his cakes - they are usually half cake-half styrofoam/PVC pipe, and the cake part is cloaked in fondant. If so much attention is paid to the cakes' appearance how good could they possibly taste?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yellow Zucchini and Taleggio Risotto

Today is another one of those days on which I feel completely uninspired to write. Between after-hours meetings for work and planning an amazing cocktail party, I’ve been really busy and haven’t cooked that much this week. I made this risotto a couple of weeks ago because I had a good-sized chunk of taleggio left over from my pizza and I also had yellow zucchini in my fridge (I always have zucchini in my fridge in the summer). This was also an uninspired dinner; I didn’t have the energy to come up with anything innovative so I just stole the flavors from the aforementioned pizza and turned it into risotto. Is it meta if I steal my own recipes? 

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Baltimore Peach Cake

Apparently peach cake is a bit of a Baltimore institution. I thought our only institutions were Natty Boh and crab cakes. Who knew? There was an article in Urbanite magazine a few months ago about peach cake, and I intended to make the cake using the recipe they provided. I finally got around to it last night, and the results were, well, rather good.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Green Tomato and Lentil Stew: Thakali Masiyal

I’m not feeling particularly inspired to write thoughtful prose, so I’ll just lay out the important details regarding what prompted me to make this dish this weekend:
  1. It’s one of my favorite things that my mom makes.
  2. It can only be made in the summer/early fall because it requires green tomatoes.
  3. My tomato plants died (from root rot, it seems) and so I had a large harvest of green and pinkish tomatoes on my hands.
  4. I had no other produce in my house and sort of had to make this if I wanted to eat something remotely fresh.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tropical Dinner Part 6: Kiwi Lime Cheesecake Tartlets

The aforementioned kiwis needed to be used up, and I also had cream cheese in my fridge. So, of course, a kiwi cheesecake was the perfect ending to this meal. I didn’t think kiwis would actually work in the cheesecake filling, so I decided to flavor the filling with lime and top off the cheesecake with the kiwis (which always make for a lovely presentation). 

The crust is a twist on a standard graham cracker crust for a cheesecake, and it’s the one I use for my Asian-inflected pumpkin pie, which is now my annual contribution to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner (although in recent years, I’ve been contributing most of the meal, too!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tropical Dinner Part 5: Kiwi Lime Fizz

It’s almost happy hour, so I figured I’d share the cocktail that goes along with this week’s theme. I came up with this one because I had bought too many kiwis the week before. Some of them were turning to mush, so there was only one thing I could do with them: turn them into puree. And that is how this tasty green cocktail was born.

Tropical Dinner Part 4: Macadamia-Lime Green Beans

I’ve never eaten green beans almondine in my life, so imagine my surprise when I learned that what I thought was a clever way of dressing up green beans was pretty much an brightened up play on the old classic. In my version, lime juice replaces lemon juice, and the almonds have been jettisoned for macadamia nuts. I guess some things were just meant to go together. This would be a great side dish with pretty much anything, but it goes particularly well with the rest of the tropical-ish dinner 

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tropical Dinner Part 3: Mango Papaya Salsa

The idea for this fruit salsa came to me along with that for the macadamia-crusted marinated tofu, as a similar fruit salsa was the accompaniment for the crusted yellowtail that was the inspiration for the tofu recipe. I just happened to have mangos and a papaya sitting in my fridge last week, so I decided that I would invite both of them to the party.
This salsa totally exceeded my expectations – it’s perfectly sweet, tart, savory, bright, and spicy all at once. You’ll have more than you need for the 4 servings that the rest of menu calls for, which is a good thing, because you’ll want to just eat it straight out of the bowl – it’s really that good!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tropical Dinner Part 2: Coconut Coriander Rice

I'm not really sure where the inspiration for this came from; all I know is that the words coconut and coriander popped into my head when I was thinking about what to add to the rice that was going along with the rest of this tropical-ish dinner, so I decided to run with it. It worked out perfectly: the coconut milk lent a silky quality and subtle perfume and flavor of coconut to the rice, and the coriander was just the right foil - smoky and earthy - to the sweetness of the coconut.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tropical Dinner Part 1: Macadamia-Crusted Marinated Tofu

Last week, I went all out and made a snazzy tropical-ish dinner, complete with pre-dinner cocktail, three sides, and dessert. Every day this week I'll be posting each of the items from that menu. With the exception of the dessert, everything is really easy to make. And everything is absolutely delicious - I have to say that I was really surprised at how great everything came out!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Zucchini Blossom and Taleggio Pizza

Summer is winding down and that means saying goodbye to, amongst other things, my pseudo-garden. My zucchini plant hasn’t given me any flowers in the past week, and I think that zucchini blossoms will shortly be gone from stands at the market.

I came up with this recipe one afternoon a few weeks ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with all the blossoms my zucchini plant was sending my way. I had already stuffed and fried some of them, but I didn’t know what to do with the rest. I had seen recipes for fritattas and tacos, but none of them appealed to me or seemed as if the blossoms would even be discernible amongst all the other bold flavors in the recipe.

I have also recently become obsessed with making pizza after my recent purchases of a pizza stone (at the Ohio State Fair, of all places) and a peel, which I learned is essential when you bake pizza on a stone – try pulling a pizza out of an oven that is 500° F and a stone that is even hotter with just a spatula and you will be met with disaster and possibly burns. The stone makes for an incredibly crisp crust, but you could just as well cook your pizza on a baking sheet.

Pizza Dough

I’ve tried tons of pizza dough recipes and this one works the best – it’s simple and produces a perfectly crisp crust. You can use all purpose flour, but bread flour is best.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Classic Brownies

I have a confession to make: up until last week, I haven’t been able to make a proper brownie. Sad, considering I can make some pretty fancy desserts. I think this is due to the fact that I don’t really care for chocolate baked goods – I don’t ever eat chocolate cake and I very rarely eat brownies – and therefore I am not so familiar with their taste and texture. Every attempt of mine to make brownies over the last few years has turned out too dry, too gooey, too something. In the event that I was asked to make brownies, I’d use a box mix (I highly recommend the Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix – it’s seriously the best box mix in existence). In fact, I probably will continue to use this mix if I’m making brownies for some sort of event (shhhh, don’t tell). 

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Penne

I don’t think I need to reiterate that eggplant is my favorite vegetable. As I previously mentioned, there are so many lovely ones available at the market this time of year, and I always buy lots of them. Of course, there’s also a plethora of tomatoes at the market; I end up buying a few pints of different cherry tomatoes in addition to heirlooms and romas. Of course, at this point, I find myself with too many tomatoes and eggplants (amongst other vegetables) on my hands. Although I love being in the kitchen, trying to use up all this produce sometimes tires me out, which is why roasting has become my preferred method of dealing with much of my summer produce. Not only is it incredibly easy, but I find that it really brings out the flavor of the vegetables.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Peach Melba Pie

Earlier in the week, my friend Meg and I made plans for Saturday: watching a few episodes of “The Wire” so that I can get caught up before season 5 stars up in January, and baking. I had completely forgotten about the latter half of the plan until she reminded me on Saturday morning while we were running errands. She suggested an apple pie, which I couldn’t bring myself to bake given that it was sunny and 95 degrees outside – definitely not autumn weather. Apple pie turned into peach pie at my suggestion, but Meg wanted Peach Melba, and so the Peach Melba Pie was born.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Stuffed Poblanos

Simply put, I adore Mexican food. Sadly, though, there are few good Mexican joints in Baltimore. In fact, I’ve only had Mexican once in the 15 months I've lived in this city. Sad, indeed.

Back in NYC, there are tons of great Mexican places, and a few that my mom – a fellow Mexican food aficionado – and I particularly loved:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pluot Galette with Vanilla “Crème Fraiche”

A galette is a simple, rustic, single-crust fruit pie. Because it is so simple, its success lies entirely in the details, namely, the freshness of the fruit and the quality of the crust. Homemade pie crust is not only deliciously tender and flaky, but it’s quite easy to make – it requires minimal skill and takes about 15 minutes at most. Sure, your first few attempts might not come out great, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back to store-bought.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Almost two months ago, I bought quite a few (read: 12) vegetable plants at the farmer’s market on a complete whim. They were really cheap and I had to have them because I decided that I needed a summer project. I know, I’m kind of impulsive. They were supposed to be planted in the ground like a proper garden, but, for a variety of reasons, they ended up in pots on my balcony. Surprisingly, they are thriving – probably because it has been so incredibly hot in Baltimore this summer. 

The Foodie Blogroll

If you scroll down, you will find a new link on the right side - it's for The Foodie Blogroll, a great resource for recipes and all things related to food. It's definitely worth a visit, as are the many sites that belong to the blogroll - this one here is one of the newest members.
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