Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Number 26: Chocolate thumbprint cookies

It's midterm season, and with quarter schools, midterms never stop.

So a quick post here until after my midterm on Tuesday. If I post anymore, you may chastise me for not studying. Then again, it might just be me relieving stress.

Speaking of dealing with stress, here's a few tips that are on a sign in the dorm hallway (courtesy of ResLife).
1. Tickle a baby
2. Play patty cake with a toddler
3. Dance a jig
4. Visualize yourself winning
5. Buy yourself a flower

Mine? Bake. And eat.

Chocolate thumbprint cookies

Friday, October 16, 2009

Number 25: Mini blueberry muffins (with streusel! and jam! and Roomie!)

Hi there. So I’m jess’s roommate. I go on baking adventures with her and generally just do what she asks me to when we’re baking. (There’s a word for that, isn’t there? Juuuuuust kidding.) It’s jolly fun.

This past Thursday we changed things up a bit and made one of my old recipes from home; blueberry muffins with streusel topping. They’re my little brother’s favorite so I’ve made them many, many times. In fact, they would probably have made me feel homesick if it weren’t for the fact that we turned them into mini muffins.

Just a few notes:
- First off, I think the greatest part about this recipe is the streusel. The second greatest part? The jam. Yum. So even though they are not absolutely vital to the muffins, don’t skip on either of them.
- Also, the original recipe (which I found a long time ago, somewhere in cyberspace) calls for a half cup of buttermilk. I experimented with real buttermilk and several buttermilk substitutes for this recipe specifically. In the end my favorite was half a cup of milk combined with half a tablespoon of lemon juice. Of course, don’t forget to measure out half a cup of the entire substitute after you’ve combined them.
- And finally, the numbers in this recipe are going to seem strange. This is because we cut the recipe in half, since all we had was a mini muffin tin. Worked just fine for us.

Blueberry muffins
(with streusel!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Inspiration: Savory sweet

From foodzie.com
Rosemary shortbread.

Let's do it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Food adventures: Manic Mondays and macarons

My first bakery macaron. Ever.

I love feel good 80's songs. I hate Mondays.

Today I woke up with a sore throat and a stuffy nose :( But I refuse to get sick. I refuse. I am now loading up on hot water and vitamin C. Go immune system! Go!

Also walked to the post office only to find it closed. National holiday. Right (Why do we have school again?).

But to make up for it, dropped by Bennison's Bakery on Davis St. for two things.
1. To see if they had any job openings
2. To see if they had macarons.

The results?
1. Negative
2. Affirmative. Bought one of each, brought them home and shared them. Lavender (pictured above), raspberry and chocolate. Interesting; not what I expected, but good. The lavender was more almond-y than anything else and I didn't get the pseudo-cake texture. But they were darn cute.

I've tried making macarons before (jasmine tea, mint chocolate and others which failed). And somehow, I'm not sure whether or not I've done them correctly. Mine had feet, but they also had a little air bubble between the shell and the interior. I didn't fold them to the consistency of magma, but every time I tried they stuck to the sheet. Soooooo. No idea. Will have to try again once I get my hands on a food processor and some almonds. I also tried to find Tartelette's macaron tutorial but Desserts Magazine won't let me access that. Bummer.

Now about Number 1. Is "Sorry, we're not hiring at this moment" a euphemism for "Sorry, we're not hiring you because you're not qualified"? Or "Sorry, we filled the position with someone else"? Both bakeries around the area have turned me down and I am just realizing how badly I need a job. Really. Good food and baking supplies = money. Money which I may not have in a while.

So I shall pepper the landscape (read: cafes) with my resume and hope someone decides to hire me.

Anyway I have finalized my plans for Thanksgiving, and am going to the D.C. area to hang out with Roomie! I get to be a tourist and explore. Plus, her mom used to own a cutesy cool deli in the area, so more food adventures for me. Finally, expect guest blog from Roomie soon :) Blueberry muffins are on the agenda.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Number 24: Honey strawberry financiers

I miss home. And slow breakfasts with the light streaming in just so.

Strawberry honey mini financiers
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, grounded
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup honey
12 small strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini-muffin tin and set aside.
1. Cut butter into four pieces. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir constantly and warm until it browns and smells nutty.
2. Strain the butter in a clean bowl, set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, walnuts and salt
4. Add the egg whites and mix until it just comes together
5. Mix in butter.

6. Mix in the honey
7. Divide evenly in a mini-muffin tin.
8. Top each with a halved strawberry
10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
11. Let cool and then remove from tin.

Note: If using regular muffin tins, bake for 16 to 18 minutes.

Also, crushed walnuts using a knife and a rolling pin. Thanks to Mayra and Matt and Roomie for helping.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Number 23: Matcha honey cookies

Rain rain rain today.

Rainy days make me want some hot chocolate and a fireplace. A good read is also in the dream sequence, as well as a super duper comfy blanket.

Sadly, our dorm doesn't come with a fireplace, and our heater just doesn't do the trick. The hot chocolate will come after another shopping trip, but for now, tea will
have to do. Tea and matcha green tea cookies.

Here's the story behind these cookies. Dormmate Matt's impulse buy this summer was a little can of matcha green tea powder. I wanted to make jasmine green tea cookies. Inspired by Boyfriend's recent successful venture with matcha green tea and honey ice cream, I decided to try something new. And voila! Stumbled upon this great blog, found a recipe for matcha cookies and dropped quite a lot of honey into the batch. These came out wonderfully crumbly and clean, very matcha-y with just a hint of honey. Tom called them "goofy." I call them perfect.

Matcha honey cookies
5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1.5 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar (for coating)

1. In a separate bowl, whisk the tea powder with the sugar
2. Cream the butter with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add sugar until just-incorporated
3. Add the egg yolks and honey
4. Mix in the flour
5. Turn out onto a floured cling wrap
6. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
8. Roll out cookies to 1/4 inch thickness and cut shapes out. Trees are cute. Mini tart tins work as well.
9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges brown

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Special post! Three-in-one! Number 22, Food for thought, and Food adventures

Food for thought: BEST. BOYFRIEND. EVER.

I love my boyfriend who can cook :)

Here's a little food porn for you all - some life-changing dorm curry out of our tiny kitchen, courtesy of Boyfriend.

Why is Boyfriend so awesome? Took me to an asian supermarket today to buy rice and curry stuff and made me food after my mind-numbing magazine meeting. Love.

Number 22: Raspberry mousse tarts

So I made the chocolate strawberry meringue tarts the other day. Super-ghetto college style. Didn't have my electric mixer so softened butter with a hair dryer. Rolled out the dough with a glass bottle covered in plastic wrap. Worked our tiny kitchen into producing some pretty decent tarts, which we shared with the hall.

Then Boyfriend complained about his lack of tarts, so I ventured downtown with the leftover tart crust dough and tried out Tartelette's raspberry mousse. This time I rolled out dough with a jam bottle wrapped with plastic wrap - fun. Worked out well, and super cute. Add some mini chocolate chips (or a layer of chocolate ganache) to the bottom of the tart for a sweet(er) surprise.

Raspberry mousse tartlettes

For the crust:
18 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 1/8 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
3 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted

a pinch of salt
1 egg

For the mousse:
1 1/2 tspoon gelatin (3 sheets)
1 tablespoon cold water
1 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean (split lengthwise and scraped)

1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup raspberry jam
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used Cool whip?)

To make the crust:
1. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
2. Mix in the egg
3. Mix in the cake flour and salt
4. Turn out on a lightly floured cling wrap, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees for deeper tarts, 365 degrees for shallow tarts
6. Roll out dough on a floured surface

7. Press into tart tins and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until brown around the edges and on bottom
8. Remove from tins and let cool

To make the mousse:
1. In a small bowl or ramekin, sprinkle the gelatin over the water.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk sugar, egg and egg yolks
3. Add the cornstarch and mix until it becomes a smooth paste

4. In a saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla beans until it steams
5. Pour gradually into the egg mixture, stirring continuously to prevent curdling
6. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, cook until it thickens
7. Add the jam and cook for another 30 seconds
8. Remove immediately from heat, add the gelatin and stir until it dissolves
9. Place in a cold water bath and stir until it reaches room temperature
10. Beat whipping cream until stiff and fold into the custard
11. Pipe onto tart shells, top with raspberries if desired.

Food adventures: Wicker Park

So Boyfriend and I cruised Wicker Park Saturday, searching for this design-your own ice cream/sorbet/fro-yo/pudding cafe on Milwaukee, and I must say it is pretty damn amazing. It's called "iCream," as in "iPod," "iMac," and all those other "iThings." But it makes sense. Essentially they give you certain options and you pick and choose to create your own. And then they churn it right in front of you, using liquid nitrogen to speed up the process and make it super smooth.

So you start with this base - ice cream, fro-yo, or pudding. The sorbet has pre-made flavors based on Naked juices (I love Naked orange juice, btw). Then you choose what flavors you want (caramel, burnt sugar, green tea, honey, pear, peach, pomegranate...it goes on!). Then mix-ins, toppings and color (pink! green! purple!). Genius (!).

Boyfriend chose green tea and honey ice cream with sprinkles and I got peach and pear fro-yo with peaches mixed in. Possibly the best fro-yo I've ever had, because normally I'm only semi-partial towards yogurt.

Sorry for the lack of pictures - didn't bring my camera with me. But I shall go again! And I'm thinking caramel and burnt sugar ice cream with chocolate chips mixed in. And I want it purple... just kidding on that last part. Maybe.

After some walking around and browsing, we hit up (pastry) Chef Mindy Segal's Hot Chocolate for dinner and had the best mac and cheese. Ever. I'm serious! Boyfriend never knew mac and cheese could be so good, and although it was a little salty, I had to agree. Beats dining hall mac and cheese at least (although that's not saying very much. Beats my mom's mac and cheese? Meh, she's red-hot at Chinese food. Not American).

Also shared a lamb and krema kasa sandwich with some pickled beets on the side which was very appetizing and finished off with a gorgeous pear dessert called, fittingly, "Pear." Poached pear tatin with some red wine and gingersnap ice cream.

Segal loves playing with salt, from what I've eaten (some with my eyes). Okay, I've eaten there twice, and only once for dinner. The other time was for dessert. But her salted caramel ice cream? Her fleur de sel cookies (pictured below with the pink filling)?

Hello Mindy Segal. I love you. Please teach me everything you know.

Fun fact - Segal is Roomie's drawing prof's cousin. Can I exploit this connection? Probably not. Awkward and weird and manipulative. Not my style.

But picked up some cookies (more food porn!) for Boyfriend's roommates and Roomie.

And with these delectable cookies, I finish off this incredibly long, epic post. Epic? Maybe. Hopefully. No more baking this week, as I have a game of catchup to play with my classes.