Monday, December 20, 2010

Number 67: Brown butter cookies with sea salt

V has been raving about the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos, Calif. ever since he biked from San Jose to Los Angeles and tried a free cookie on the way. Apparently I had to make these rounded brown butter cookies with sea salt sprinkled on top.

I didn't get a chance to try the cookies last summer, but brown butter and sea salt seemed like an appealing combination. Another Northwestern baker at Bakelist posted brown butter cookies last summer, which I added walnuts to here. This time, however, I stuck to the recipe. For the most part.

Since I was using a brand new cookie cutter which imprints letters, I left out the heavy cream, which tends to crinkle the cookies' surface. With inspiration from V, I mixed sugar and sea salt and pressed it around the lettering. These aren't the little rounds of dough found at the Brown Butter Cookie Company, but they're good. 

Half of these became study snacks for a friend who is studying for the MCATs. The other half disappeared within days. Only one cookie was left for V, three days after the batch went into the oven. It wasn't as good as he remembered, but only because he had biked 50 or so miles before the first brown butter cookie in Cayucos.

Brown butter shortbread with sea salt 
adapted from Bakelist

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Number 66: Lavender honey shortbread

If you walk into The Spice House, you will walk out smelling like paprika.

The Spice House is one of my favorite establishments in Chicago.They sell three varieties of vanilla beans, several varieties of cinnamon, and dried lavender - perhaps the most elusive ingredient I have used so far.

So last week I picked up a packet of lavender at The Spice House in Old Town and proceeded to make lavender honey shortbread cookies. A commenter mentioned that such savory herb cookies are the best. 

Unfortunately, these weren't all that favored by my friends, so perhaps another recipe is worth a shot? Maybe more sugar? More honey? A better oven that lets me know when it is preheated? We shall see. 

In the meantime, here is the recipe. Personally, I enjoyed the cookies, but I think I like my rosemary shortbread cookies better. 

P.S. Any other ideas for lavender?
Lavender honey shortbread
adapted from Serious Eats 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Food adventures: Weekday specials

I always like trying something new on weekdays - it makes the day less mundane. Especially if it's a Wednesday.

One of the editors this past summer was telling someone about how she loved Los Angeles because you could go somewhere different or nice to eat in another area of town, and it will feel like a mini vacation. Say, lunch at Beverley Hills. And then you see a celebrity.

I never saw a celebrity, or had a mini vacation, but that's because I usually made lunch. But I get it, a little break from the everyday.

So that's what happened last Wednesday. Roomie and I went for a late lunch at Fraiche, a cafe and bakery a couple blocks north from the dorm. It is, in short, super cute.

Anyway we had trouble choosing between the grilled cheese (with apple butter, ham and white cheddar) and a brie sandwich (brie, poached pear, basil, honey mustard). We ended up going with the grilled cheese and a orange curd cupcake, but we'll definitely go back for the brie. And their almond crusted brioche french toast. New favorite lunch/brunch spot?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Food adventures: What's wrong with mall restaurants?

Especially when it's in the Bloomingdale's plaza on 900 N. Michigan Ave.

There's a pizzeria on the fifth floor that I've fallen in love with. Boyfriend doesn't like pizza, or Italian food in general, which I think is somewhat preposterous but he's hardcore Chinese so whatever, but Roomie and I are pretty partial to it. We can easily split a single pizza and still overeat. Also, the "outside" dining area has excellent soft light around lunchtime.

So on a shopping day sometime in the past few weeks, Roomie and I stopped by for a pizza. We ordered the Rita D, with ricotta, marscapone, mozzarella, asparagus, truffle oil and a farm egg.

And then Roomie got a sweater from Zara. Success story.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Number 65: White chocolate chip muffins

My humblest apologies for having ignored this blog for almost two months (two months!) now. I have my reasons.
The first is the fact that our dorm kitchen (yes, I'm still dorming it) is located in the basement. Yes, the basement. That means two flights of stairs. And a tiny oven.
The second reason is that Boyfriend has to pay for electricity, and oven usage is expensive. So not so much baking at his place.
I will definitely try to keep this up, but expect more restaurant/eating out posts than baking posts. I did just buy a packet of lavender at the Spice House (where EIC of Bon Appétit will be next Friday!) so that will keep me motivated.

Roomie and I decided to make white chocolate chip muffins for one reason: Hendricks Belgian Bread Crafter in River North, Chicago. It just opened about five months ago and it is my new fave. And of course, their white chocolate chip muffin is amazing. A couple bites in and you find yourself devouring a good solid hunk of white chocolate. They definitely don't skimp. 
Unfortunately, we didn't have large chunks of Belgian white chocolate. But we did our best. And they were good.

 White chocolate chip muffins
adapted from a website I do not remember but will update 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Number 64: Pearl sugar studded puffs

I've always had a thing for Sundays. Despite my lack of religion, I've always felt that it was a day for rest (or rather, laziness).

Having just come back from a crazy family road trip to the Bay Area (think straight into San Fran for one day, the Wine Country for another day, and through Berkeley straight home the third), I needed some rest. So I slept in Sunday, woke up bleary and made some choux pastry. Of course. And then I spent the remainder of the day reading, watching Disney movies and drinking hot chocolate.

Pearl sugar studded Chouquettes
Adapted from David Lebovitz, "The Sweet Life in Paris"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Number 63: Kiwi sorbet

Summer has completely kicked in now - the 70 degree, breeze-filled days are gone and now it's on into the hazy white heat and hot leather car seats that burn the back of your thighs. Once more, I'm inland and it's heavy weather.

There are few things that make the heat bearable. The obvious is air conditioning. Just as good, though, is an ice cream maker.

I just got one of my wisdom teeth pulled, and armed with a dentist's note stating I should only eat soft, cold things, I was ready to put my ice cream maker to good use. Unfortunately, with the salmonella scare going on in the egg business, my mother refuses to let me make ice cream. So sorbet it is.

I love making sorbet - it's so simple. Fruit puree with a dash of simple syrup and perhaps a squeeze of lemon, sorbets freeze so well in ice cream makers and are best freshly churned. And kiwi sorbetto is my go-to at every gelato shop. There's something about the smooth tang and the sharp bites of the seeds that gets to me. Sweet, sharp, smooth and cool - perfect for the August heat.

Kiwi sorbet

Monday, August 9, 2010

Number 62: Rosemary shortbread

There are two things I like rosemary in - bread and lamb. And now, I guess, shortbread. These are quick and easy cookies, although a bit soft compared to the typical shortbread. Slightly savory at first, which gives way to a subtle sweetness and buttery goodness. Love.

They disappeared like potato chips when I brought them to a hangout Friday night, which was incidentally a total guy-fest, complete with sexual innuendos, pool and bagel bites. And my rosemary shortbread cookies. Go figure.

Rosemary Shortbread
adapted from the New York Times

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Number 61: Lemon white chocolate chip cookies

I'm going through a slight obsession with David Lebovitz right now, having just read his Living the Sweet Life in Paris. His latest, Ready for Dessert is also glorious and introduced me to the idea of lemon and white chocolate (so brilliant and simple and obvious. How could I overlook this?).

So on Friday, when my sister bailed on me and I was left alone in my apartment with nothing to do, I decided to whip up a summer version of the classic chocolate chip cookie. Chuck the bittersweet chocolate for white chocolate chips, lemon zest and lemon juice and we're good to go.

Lemon white chocolate chip cookies
adapted from David Lebovitz

Monday, July 19, 2010

Number 60: Cheaters' Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

There's a cafe right around the corner from my apartment that has a Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcake on its menu. It's a chocolate cupcake with a creamy hazelnut filling and chocolate frosting. It sounds like heaven.

Unfortunately, they haven't had it for the last three weeks and I'm starting to think their menu is lying. So my sister and I decided to make our own Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcakes this past lazy Sunday.

Now keep in mind that the key word is "lazy". Big Sis and I went off to see the Swell Season, She & Him and The Bird and The Bee at the Hollywood Bowl that Sunday, so we had an entire picnic to plan.

With low energy and little time, we went off and bought some  Devil's Food cake mix, nutella, bittersweet chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts. Sorry diehards, this one's for the cheaters.
Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcakes

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Number 59: Mochi wrapped around strawberries

I know two vegans - the in-house photographer at the Mag and his assistant. Since the Mag is a food mag, we always have a lot of tastings - but they can never eat them. There's eggs and butter in the dessert, or cream in the veggie dip, and meat, well, meat is featured on almost every cover. Meat and dessert.

So they never get to try anything - and their lunch snacks consist of carrot and celery sticks. You just have to feel a little guilty while spooning down mouthfuls of creamy risotto.

Now I've never consciously made anything vegan before, but I've been on a mochi craze ever since I ran across a perfectly pliable recipe. I've made matcha mochi and plain mochi, ate it alone and with strawberries, had it hot right out of the microwave (yes, you use the microwave) and cool from the fridge. This one, however, is best at room temperature. It is chewy and slightly soft, but with the perfect amount of bite. I made it for the two vegans Tuesday when they had a shoot, and we had it plain and cut into strips for a snack - perfect for vegans and non-vegans alike.

wrapped around strawberries

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Santa Barbara Beach Day

So I started a new blog, but haven't completely switched over. Let's see how handling two different blogs work out.

In the meantime, check out the crab and lobster we got last Saturday.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Number 58: Brown butter walnut shortbread

Love at first crumble. Some things need no words.

Brown butter walnut shortbread
adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Number 57: Honey madeleines

My first madeleine was from Costco. Buttery, crumbly and crusty on the outside, it was perfect for my teenage sweet tooth.

And then I read Proust's Swann's Way my freshman year. Of course, that famous passage of Combray growing out of a tea cup - the taste of madeleines dipped in tea recalling an entire childhood. Ever since then, I've been inkling to make these old school cakes. 

This summer, I scrounged every Bed Bath & Beyond for madeleine pans and right before leaving for my internship, I made these cakes to remind me of home. This recipe makes lighter madeleines - they're not as sweet as Costco's, but they're still timeless with tea.

Honey madeleines
serve with tea and strawberries
adapted from Bon Appétit  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Amazing pancakes from a awesome dad

Highlights, just to get you all pumped up:
1. A Ferris Wheel (3D!)
2. A plane (3D!)
3. A tertis game

Number 56: Lemon olive oil cupcakes

Usually, when I see olive oil, I think chopped garlic and slightly wilted spinach. So olive oil cake, while all the rage on tastespotting, was not exactly something my mother makes. But hey, olive oil is great in bread and on bread. And then you have the combination of time + home oven + a bottle of extra virgin olive oil + Internet + a killer photo + muffin tins. Forget spinach, let's make some cake.

Lemon olive oil cupcakes
 adapted from Blue Ridge Baker

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Number 55: Flourless Chocolate Cake with freshly whipped cream

I'm not typically a fan of chocolate cake, or cake in general.No offense, cake lovers. I'll have me some birthday cake when the time is right, or indulge in some pear chocolate cake when I can find it. But oftentimes the store-bought stuff is dense and dry, monotonous in flavor with the texture broken up only by the sickening sweetness of frosting.

But at the end of the school year some two weeks ago, we had eggs, chocolate, sugar, butter and whipping cream - all the ingredients for chocolate cake and a little sweetness. With finals, I figured who wouldn't want chocolate cake? 

Photo's not much, but the recipe is delicious. Almost brownie-like, crumbles and melts in your mouth. Perfect with lightly-sweetened whipped cream and some chocolate ganache.

Flourless chocolate cake
with fresh whipped cream

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Number 54: Banana pancakes

First off, these are awesome.

Secondly, I've been itching to try banana pancakes ever since I tried some at Eggsperience with Boyfriend, so here they are. I woke up at noon and made these for lunch-ish, and seeing as I've never made pancakes before, it took quite a while. Nevertheless, they came out well - make these for a sweetheart a la Jack Johnson's love song.
Banana Pancakes
adapted from

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Number 53: Chocolate Chip Cookies. Success!

Updating before the upcoming hell week. It's midterm season, Boyfriend is gone for the summer (we're doing long distance again), and registration is starting. Yay for freaking out and spazzy minds!

Anyway a couple days slash weeks ago Tasting Table sent out David Lebovitz's chocolate chip cookie recipe from his new cookbook Ready for Dessert. Classic chocolate chip cookies always seem to solve everything (or make everything better), so I decided to take a second stab at a choc chip cookie recipe. Enjoy! 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from David Lebovitz on Tasting Table

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Number 52: Snickerdoodles

Hello readers! This photo has been lounging around for a while, and I seem to have lost the recipe for these marvelous sugar cookies. Fear not! Roomie will help me find it once she finishes stressing out about school and life in 6 weeks (and I'm in the same boat). Maybe I'll find it before. Just wanted to show off (teehee) the super cute duck cookie cutters I got at Cost Plus World Market.

Also, I have decided to serve tartelettes at my wedding, like this farmer market inspired party. Those are some gorgeous tarts. I'm thinking a "create your own" bar, although it may take some arranging to make it super-versatile.

EDIT: found the my recipe notebook. It's obviously a bit disorganized. 

Sugar cookies / Snickerdoodles

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life Stills: Picnic in the park

A bunch of friends and I decided to make the best of a breezy spring day and headed out to have a picnic.We stuffed everything into bags and brought a Snuggie to sit on. Success.

The menu:
chips and guac
ham/turkey and cheese sandwiches
sugar cookies
california cuties tangerines
fresh pineapple, courtesy of M

The itinerary:
climbing trees

More photos after the jump

Thursday, April 15, 2010

National food holidays

It has come to my attention that April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Really?

So I looked up some stuff on the Web and found the food we should be celebrating in May.

May, it turns out, is:
National Barbecue Month
National Chocolate Custard Month
National Egg Month
National Hamburger Month
National Salad Month
National Salsa Month
National Strawberry Month

So start off with chips and salsa, a barbecue beef burger with a salad to balance it out, and chocolate custard (taking care of National Egg Month) and strawberries for dessert.

Also, Wikipedia says May is the Month of the Man. What does that even mean? Man as in, The Man, or Man as in Being or Man as in Woman and Man. And if it's the latter, is there a month of the WOMAN?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Number 51: Strawberry shortcake

Sorry for the delay! I have been making things, but as usual, no opportunity to photograph. Chocolate ice cream must be the most difficult thing to capture.

Story: In middle school my friends and I referred to ourselves in terms of berries - a good friend of mine was Strawberry. So I made her a Strawberry Shortcake 3-D picture sort of thing, so when I think of strawberry shortcake, I think of spending countless hours cutting and gluing and all that jazz. Not this delicious dessert.

I saw this recipe while browsing Chicago Home + Garden and had to try it. It was just so cute! Obviously, mine are not as cute as theirs, but I try.

In other news, I was able to obtain my ultimate internship this summer! Staying in LA, hoping to find an apartment so I can avoid the soul-sucking commute.

Strawberry shortcake

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cake vs. Pie: The final four

I love this. Vote now!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Number 50: Caramel-frosted cupcakes

Today's haiku, courtesy of Roomie and me:
Cali cuties are
super duper f-cking cute
tangerines, not girls.

Spring things:
1. Dittmar gallery at NU - awesome installation imitating what's inside a spring cloud. What is a spring cloud anyway? And why is the installation dark and yellow?
2. Gregory Alan Isakov at Evanston Space in April.
3. History of the 60's counterculture or Gender, race and the politics of beauty?
4. Metric in May
5. Big Sis's graduation. May

Also. If I were to have a non-traditional wedding dessert, I would have tartelettes. I mean, donuts, sure. But people (mainly girls watching their weight) would complain. (Well...donuts versus cake. Which is more unhealthy?)

 Caramel-frosted cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart and Piece of Cake

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Number 49: Tea olive flower-infused sugar cookies

My spring break in food:
1. Sushi Gen, right off the plane. Toro was subpar, maguro was superb. I missed good seafood.
2. Chinese noodles. Love.
3. Shabu shabu. More sashimi.
4. In-n-out. Double double protein style.
5. Lamb. Fish. Made my own wontons!

And these lovely cookies. I've always wanted to make jasmine sugar cookies via chop chop a to z but I don't have jasmine flowers on hand. At home, however, I do have tea olive flowers on hand. A few adaptions later, these amazing cookies came out of the oven. I'm in love with this sugar cookie recipe.

Tea olive flower-infused sugar cookies

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Number 48: Swedish honey cookies

Boyfriend and I love honey, so I wanted to try these cookies. That, and I had 2 eggs and 1.25 cups of butter in my fridge, a week to use it all and a dislike for chocolate cookies. It's almost spring break, so we have to defrost our fridge.

Anyway these are almost graham cracker-like because they're more sturdy than cookies, but not crispy. The honey taste is slight and the cookie isn't overpowering. It's a bit dainty, actually.

Also, if you've noticed, I'm coming up to the 50th recipe on here. Suggestions for number 50 are welcome!

Swedish honey cookies
adapted from biteclubeats

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Number 47: Pavlova with oranges. Or berries. Or any fruit for that matter.

So I had some leftover egg whites from ice cream. Normally, I go for financiers but I was out of almonds (and walnuts) so meringues it was! I never really like meringue - too sweet. But for the most part, it's an easy crowd-pleaser.

But first, baking cookies with Adobe Photoshop via here. I love.

Pavlova with fresh fruit

Friday, February 26, 2010

Number 46: Snickerdoodle cupcakes

I love it when my hands smell like cinnamon. It always reminds me of this poem.  And Christmas. And learning how to bake.

On another note: Chicago Restaurant Week, Caliterra Bar and Grill, Shirley Temple for me and Roy Rogers for Boyfriend, Steak Oscar and an extra Bailey's Bomb dessert for Roomie. I feel like a well-fed kid.

Snickerdoodle mini cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Number 45: Vanilla honey ice cream

Apologies for the lacking photos. Ice cream is difficult to photograph, especially when an ice cream scooper is not available. Also, churning during the day is almost impossible due to crazy lazy schedules.

Super easy, nice and clean, with a floral aftertaste. Save your good vanilla beans and honey for this one.

Vanilla honey ice cream

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Number 44: Bavarian sugar cookies (?)

Have you heard of Bavarian sugar cookies? Apparently they're from Stranger than Fiction, which I did not watch. But if these really are Bavarian sugar cookies, as raspberri cupcakes says they are, they are amazing. She calls them crack cookies because you just can't stop eating them, and I agree. Except in our room, guac is our crack.

Moving on.

So Roomie is kinda awesome because yesterday we ran out of sugar. And  I was somewhat down and nothing really cheers me up like baking something good. So Roomie hopped over to M's room and stole (read: borrowed and will never return) his sugar. We'll just buy him some more.

I've been eying these cookies for a while, so after some annoying conversions, we made them. We decided to use my porcupine cookie cutter, of course. And today, while photographing, I tried to recreate Rilo Kiley's "It's a Hit" music video.

Rilo Kiley -It's a Hit
Uploaded by Alexander_Band. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Okay enough of that. Here it is! The recipe is halved (except for the frosting so you can pile it on if you like) and adapted to US measurements.

Bavarian sugar cookies
adapted from raspberri cupcakes

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Number 43: Roasted pear

Econ midterm: Ugh.
Discussion: Bleh
Lunch: Doughnut, chips and latte (I know, awful)

A roasted pear would be much appreciated now, but alas, I made it last night whilst studying for the midterm which I bombed this afternoon. It was a small treat for the worn-down.

Roasted pear
serve with caramel sauce

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Number 42: Bittersweet chocolate mousse with raspberry puree

Let's start this one with the score. Mousse: 75, Jess: 25.

Here's the story. Boyfriend and I celebrated V-day early because we have nonexistent lives (read: work, homework and reading) today. His job: Paella. Mine: Something chocolate-y with fruit.

Naturally, I went for the classic chocolate mousse, adding on a raspberry puree. And this being our first V-day celebration, I wanted to be fancy.

Originally I was planning on chocolate, pear and honey, but eh. I wanted something reddish. Sure, raspberries aren't in season, but chocolate-covered strawberries are the rage for romance and they're only in season during the summer.

I was choosing between Martha Stewart's bittersweet chocolate mousse recipe and tartelette's chocolate, honey and pear and milk chocolate mousse, and since I wanted to be fancy, I decided to go with the latter, halving the recipe and making it all chocolate. Boyfriend loves honey, so I was attracted to this recipe which didn't use any sugar.

But this recipe called for gelatin. I hate gelatin. It scares me. You just add it and everything becomes sticky or stiff and stays that way. Most of the time, the gelatin doesn't dissolve like it should. Or it clumps together in whipped cream. Obviously, I'm still a novice at using gelatin.

So this time the gelatin didn't dissolve in the microwave like it should've. So I made two batches of gelatin and the resulting mixture was super stiff. Made for a difficult mousse. Not necessarily homogeneous (yuck).

Nevertheless, I charged forward. In went the chocolate. Except I spent such a long time on the syrup that the melted chocolate had begun to solidify. I ended up with bits of chocolate in the mousse, which didn't look appetizing (but it was!) So I melted more chocolate, added it in, dropped the mousse into ramekins and smoothed it over with the back of a spoon.

The raspberry puree was nice and smooth, although the color was bright pink and looked quite ridiculous next to the medium brown of the mousse. I was hoping for a deeper brown, but ah well. Such is life. Take what you can, right?

It turned out fairly decent - Boyfriend wasn't much of a fan because it was quite bitter (bittersweet chocolate...of course) and he's more of a milk chocolate person. Maybe I should have stuck with the pear and chocolate mousse, but for my first attempt I suppose it was worth it. So why is it mousse: 0.75, Jess: 0.25? Well, the mousse almost beat me, and I almost had to throw it away, but in the end it was edible and quite good. Rave reviews from everyone but Boyfriend (who is my best and harshest critic, next to my mom)

Perhaps it's mousse: 75, Jess: 125?

Bittersweet chocolate mousse with raspberry puree
sweetened with honey
mousse adapted from Tartelette

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Number 41: Fleur de sel caramels

My favorite candy bar when I was a kid was the Milky Way bar. Mostly because of the caramel. So in honor of that, as well as some caramel cravings amongst the inhabitants of room 214, I decided to try my hand at real caramel.

Salted caramel ice cream
was already on my "Success List," but real caramel, I discovered, is a lot more time consuming. I was reading sections of Andrea Dworkin's "Intercourse" (oh, gender theory) in front of the stove for at least an hour.

The difficulty was somewhat multiplied by the fact that I did not bring my candy thermometer from home. Fortunately, the recipe called for the caramel to be cooked until firm-ball stage, something which can be realized without a thermometer. No need for fanciness in this dorm.

To check the cooking process, I simply dipped a wooden spoon into the cooking caramel every 10 minutes or so. Then I would run the spoon under a trickle of cold water to see how it reacted. If the caramel was easily washed away, it was definitely not ready. If the caramel moved but gathered somewhat, it was at soft-ball stage. If the caramel stuck onto the spoon but didn't move or gather, I scraped it off and rolled it into a ball. Usually this means it's pretty much done, but if you want a firmer caramel, wait a little longer and start noticing the hardness of the caramel when cold. Ours turned out a bit soft, so we store them in the fridge for a firmer texture.

It's pretty annoying, actually. Simple, but repetitive, so if you do have a candy thermometer, use it. It'll make life easier.

So enjoy! Take a night to make these, and sprinkle with sea salt before wrapping. The best part is the zing of the salt against the creamy caramel.

Fleur de sel caramels
adapted from vanilla & lace

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Number 40: Plain jane macarons with semisweet chocolate ganache

Yes. It's true. I have made macarons in the dorm kitchen.

I suppose that's not such a big accomplishment, but it is to me. An oven without a viewing window is damn annoying when you're trying to see if the feet have formed yet.
But I did it -- moderately successfully. Brought my coffee grinder all the way from California to do this, and afte
r finding myself with four egg whites left over from eclairs, I decided I was ready.

I let the egg whites age in the fridge for four days (Pierre Hermes recommends five, from what I've read). I bought whole almonds, powdered sugar, and cream for the ganache.
This time I decided to try a classic macarons without food coloring and a semisweet chocolate ganache - start simple until I get it perfect, and then branch out.

It worked, somewhat. A total of three trays went into the oven. Batch #1 came out nicely, although I'm afraid I didn't tap all the air out so there's an air bubble between the shell and chewy filling. Still tasty. Batch #2 was burnt, although when I cracked them in half there was no air bubble --- strange. Batch #3 was the middle child -- slightly burnt but still edible.

So here they are! The recipe, based on the Italian method, is posted with the specifics for a dorm kitchen, just for any NU students out there. Also, expect sea salt caramels --- made in a dorm kitchen, and without a candy thermometer. That's right. No thermometer.

P.S. Boyfriend has the stomach flu. I have a cold. Roomie's got a headache. What a sad picture.

Classic macarons
with semisweet chocolate ganache
adapted from Food & Wine and David Lebovitz

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Number 39: Cream puffs

Roomie was craving cream puffs, as previously posted, so here they are. She prefers vanilla pastry cream to chocolate, but we drizzled chocolate glaze over it anyway. Because we're both girls, and we're both hating life (school!) right now.

Throat hurts from running in the cold - silly weak immune system. Can't even handle a quick jog to catch the bus.

Also, trying to contact publishers Stranger Danger distros. Help please! I'm on deadline for tomorrow and I have no story. I keep getting emails, but from all the wrong people. Life.

So eclairs with cold vanilla cream to make us feel better. Assemble these fresh, or they'll get soggy.

Cream puffs
recipe adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Random post 2

Yes, I have been making things. I've just been busy. And the lack of natural light these days is making it difficult to get decent photos. Sundown at 5 is a pain.

I food adventured around Chicago this past weekend because it was Boyfriend's birthday. Late lunch at his aunt's Chinese-Japanese fusion restaurant (we tried to go to Hot Doug's but the line was too long), ice skating at Millennium Park and dinner at the Russian Tea Time. I love their house brewed tea, which Boyfriend got. It's got a musky, smoky, sweet but light taste. I wonder if that makes sense... Their jasmine green tea, which I got, was also good --- the smell is strong and it feels like it would be bitter, but it's not. Love.

Anyway Roomie has had a hankering for eclairs, so we'll be making those today (hopefully successfully). Also, guac is on the menu because I've had a hankering for avocados. Hopefully photos will be up ---- in the meantime, how to make heart-shaped marshmallows? I'm in love.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Number 38: Key lime pie

Hello hello. As promised, key lime pie for T as a "thank you" present for a favor. Getting 1/2 teaspoon of lime zest using a parring knife was a pain, but I guess that's the price for having a good writer on staff.

Anyways, recently I've just been madly dashing around looking up internships (!) and apartments (!) and my life is a little hectic. I've been super messy, super lazy when I can be and super anti-social. You know when certain questions keep bugging you, but you never ask them because you fear the response? Yes. That. Like "Am I going to be able to graduate early?" or "What happens if we don't get an apartment?"

Moving on! Had to get that out, but key lime pie for T. To be honest, I've never had key lime pie, so I was unsure of how it would look. I used a recipe from Food & Wine, which called for beaten egg whites to fold into the custard. Roomie noted that she didn't do this, but ah well. I guess it's to make it fluffier? But it's nice and tangy, perfect with sweetened whipped cream. Final verdict will come from T. Bit nervous.

P.S. My porcupine cookies made it onto the National Cookie Network. Yay :)

Key Lime Pie

Monday, January 11, 2010

Random update

Nothing until this weekend (key lime pie for T) so just some food porn.

Played around with a friend's Nikon outfitted with the 50 mm lens that goes down to f/1.8. Lovely.

Croissant and tea at Royal Cafe in Rogers Park, before an interview.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Number 37: Porcupine-shaped smores and New Years

Apologies for the hiatus! Too busy touring and not wanting school to start. But alas, it has.

So I never make New Years resolutions because I always forget to, but I figured, why not.
Of course, they're mostly food-related for now.
1. Make successful and gorgeous macarons
2. Learn to handle raw meat
3. Try red velvet cupcakes
4. Go to moto (or otom)...this means saving money
5. Make a successful chocolate pear cake

This winter break consisted of a lot of baking failures. The list is as follows
1. Chocolate pear brown butter cake via smitten kitchen. Jerry was helping and we forgot to add baking soda. We added it in, mixed it again (read: overmixed), and decided to try it anyway. Fearing that the cake wouldn't rise and the pears and chocolate would overcome the cake (ruining it and wasting all the hard work), I only put in 1/3 of the pears. The cake rose, but the pear flavor was overpowered by the chocolate. Boo.
2. Pear honey financiers. It made everything soggy. 'Nuff said.
3. Pear and white tea jelly. Inspired by tartelette, but the pear slices were too small, the tea too bitter.

As you can tell, it's all pear related. Why? Because I cut too many pears slash didn't put the required amount into the cake and had a lot of extra pear cubes.

Ah well. Failures are good for bringing my ego down.

After I returned to the States, I decided to use my porcupine cookie-cutter. (Sidenote: Some people have been telling me it's a hedgehog. That is possible. Still cute.)

So the idea for hedgehog/porcupine smores popped into my head. It was an almost-fail. I over-baked the first batch, and subsequent batches always seemed too hard for the marshmallows. After a day, however, the cookies softened. I skipped out on the chocolate because I was too busy packing, but I'd recommend spreading chocolate over the cookie (leaving the face of the hedgehog/porcupine alone, though).

Porcupine graham crackers and marshmallow