Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The cake wasn't too difficult to make. There were a few steps, but nothing I couldn't handle. I was a little confused as to when to add the ground ginger, but I put it in with the apricot puree. The butter/flour/egg mixture was a little stiff - almost a like a cookie dough, which terrified me when it came time to fold the egg whites in. I feared deflating them and getting a pancake since the eggs were the cake's only leavening. I took heart that Peter's photo didn't show a particularly tall cake and soldiered on.
The resulting cake is nicely fruity and nutty, and despite the abudance of honey in the syrup, not overly sweet. It is perfectly complemented by a cup of tea.
I didn't bother feeding it to Sir Pickypants since he doesn't like apricots and won't eat yogurt (I confess to not being fond of the stuff myself, but come on! Look at this cake!) I took it to work and half of it was gone within the first half hour at the office. I got at least one of glowing review from a coworker.
I'd say success!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Her first gift to me was the new R.E.M. CD (she was having trouble coming up with a gift, so I asked her for it. Not a real surprise) but then she gave me something else.
Growing up, I noticed Mom tended to refer to her oldest and most classic cookbooks when she needed a very basic recipe for something. I noticed that she used this one a lot (along with the venerable Joy of Cooking).
I'm sure everyone recognizes this. The red-checked cover has been consistent over many editions.
As I began cooking and baking, I followed Mom's lead and pulled out this book too. It's really a fun cookbook for the classic kitsch value.
Check out the 50s-era illustrations. Every chapter has one.
This photo looks like it could star in the Gallery of Regrettable Food. Food photography wasn't that great in those days, was it?
However, a photo of butterscotch rolls inspired me to make my first sticky buns. I made both these buns and classic cinnamon rolls one day. It was my first venture into yeast.
Speaking of ventures into yeast, I made my first bread from this book too. Here is the wholewheat bread recipe I used.
I also used this book for all kinds of sweet recipes. I made homemade chocolate pudding from this book. I made brownies and cupcakes from this book. This really was a go-to book for me.
Mom inscribed the book for me. She signed it right above where my grandmother signed it back in 1961.
I couldn't get a clear photo. The dark writing is Mom's inscription to me. You can see faint writing under it where my grandmother inscribed it to my mother. That would have been before she married my father and was young enough to need to learn to start cooking and meal planning one day.
Although the pages are delicate, I do think I'll probably be pulling out this book for some classic recipes. Maybe it will be sticky buns or bread or brownies. Maybe I'll cook that slab of meat from the photo. :-D
Saturday, July 19, 2008
I don't really remember. I don't have time to go to movies.
2. What Book Are You Reading?
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee
3. Favorite Board Game?
Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit
4. Favorite Magazine?
Food and Wine, Practical Horseman, Mad
5. Favorite Smells?
Lilacs, chocolate desserts baking, fireplaces, honeysuckle, cedar
6. Favorite Sounds?
Rain, music, water/ocean
7. Worst Feeling In The World?
Noticing a new gray hair, stepping on the scale and seeing a weight gain, finding your favorite outfit is too tight.
8. First Thing You Think of When You Wake?
Phew. I didn't have to take that test in quantum physics in my underwear.
9. Favorite Fast Food Place?
I never really eat fast food anymore. Thank you Eric Schlosser!
10. Future Child's Name?
I don't know. My criteria for naming a child are 1. the name can't be in the top 20 most popular names (so the kid isn't one of a million Michaels or Emilys in his class) and 2. It has to sound like a FIRST NAME. If it's not your family's last name, don't use a last name as your kids first name. This goes double if the name in question is the name of a city, a state, or a US president.
It's a moot point though since Kevin and I have waffled on the kid issue for 7 years and my biological clock is in the process of winding down. I don't think kids are in the future. I'm OK with child free.
11. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money, I'd...
Take that riding holiday in Italy that I've been putting off all of these years.
12. Do You Drive Fast?
Yes, but not crazy fast
13. Do You Sleep With a Stuffed Animal?
You mean like when my husband is horny and had too much to eat?
No.14. Storms—Cool or Scary?
Cool, but they can get scary when they're really close and you are hoping your home doesn't get struck by lightning.
15. What Was Your First Car?
1980 Ford Granada
16. Favorite Drink?
Water. If you're talking alcoholic I like cosmos, margaritas, Mike's and whatever wine I'm in the mood for.
17. Finish This Statement—“If I Had the Time, I Would…
Spend more time with my filly and be more involved with her training. I would also do more theater projects.
18. Do You Eat the Stems on Broccoli?
Only the upper stems
19. If You could Dye your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be?
I'm pretty happy with my natural hair color. However, that's that color I'll be dyeing it soon as the grays keep cropping up.
20. Name All the Different Cities In Which You Have Lived
Harrison NY, Larchmont NY, Mamaroneck NY, Elizabethtown, PA (college)
21. Favorite Sport to Watch?
I don't really enjoy watching other people play sports, even sports I enjoy doing.
22. One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You
Em is an amazing baker and totally funny.
23. What’s Under Your Bed?
Luggage mostly. Perhaps a monster or two.
24. Would You Like to Be Born As Yourself Again?
25. Morning Person or Night Owl?
Morning person. See how early I comment on your blogs.
26. Over Easy or Sunny Side Up?
Either one. Depends on my mood
27. Favorite Place to Relax?
In the kitchen or at the barn.
28. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
Bellvale Bog or Meadow Muffins from the Bellvale Creamery.
29. Of All the People You Have Tagged, Who Is the Most Likely to Respond First?
???? I need to widen my blogfriend circle a bit.
Okay I will tag
Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy
We Are Never Full
Thursday, July 17, 2008
To my surprise, he hadn't really carefully planned dinner or made any reservations. He knows I love Thai Food, so he had thought Yum Yum Bangkok Thai would be the best bet as it's right down the street from his office. It was crowded and we didn't get a good table. The people at the table behind us were loud and obnoxious. We decided to leave. It wasn't a good birthday dinner restaurant.
Restaurant Row was right on the way to the theater so Kevin thought we should just try someplace there we had tried before. He suggested Joe Allen of course, but he also suggested Becco. I was of two minds on that. I love Lidia, but I have not heard all that many good things about Becco. Kevin ate there once with some of his clients and liked it though.
We ended up at Lattanzi. We went there once before. If you can believe this, we had gone there for a "sedar" with my stepmother's family. They do a fake (read non-Kosher) Passover menu. Ironically, the fake Passover menu didn't appeal to that many people and most of us ordered off the regular menu that day. Kevin and I really liked the food, so we decided to keep it in mind for future pre-theater dinners. We hadn't done a very good job of keeping it in mind because we didn't think of it immediately when Yum Yum didn't pan out. I spotted it when we walked by and remembered it then. I said we should go for it.
We had a nice meal. I didn't bring a camera, so it's all about description.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated. The front dining room is fairly standard, but the back room is gorgeous. It has a skylight and is decorated to look like a courtyard in an Italian villa. It overlooks an outdoor patio as well. I actually didn't eat there last night, but ate there the first time we had dinner at Lattanzi.
Service was incredibly quick and efficient. They asked us when we walked in if we were going to the theater, so everything was prompt, but it was also friendly.
For my appetizer, I tried carpaccio for the first time. It's weird that meat-lover like me has never had carpaccio, but somehow it was just never one of those things I ever got around to odering in a restaurant. I don't know what took me so long. I resent the 38 years I went withtout eating it. The slices of beef just melted in my mouth and they were a perfect foil to the spicy arugula beneath.
My main course was a delicious plate full of artichoke gnocchi. Have I mentioned lately how much I love gnocchi? Kevin ordered them too.
I went with a classic for dessert. I had a nice, rich, dense chocolate mousse. Kevin and I were supposed to be sharing it, but it was my birthday after all...
The surprise Broadway show? Spring Awakening. Great show, great performers, and some of the best music ever to be played on a Broadway stage. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.
Back to real life for now.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Adam of Baking with Dynamite created a recipe that combines my love of scones with my love of chocolate. I like BWD because it assures me I can be a healthy gym rat and still indulge my love of baking. (Come on, look how buff this guy is.) Besides, the scone recipe post also indulges my geek side.
The recipe was a bit tricky because it's like me to screw something up. This time around I neglected to add the chips (mixed dark and milk leftover from a couple of other recipes) at the correct time and ended up adding them at the end. I was also afraid the dough was a bit overworked. By some miracle, they came out just fine. They weren't too tough and the chips didn't all sink to the bottom.
Overall, they were pretty tasty - a perfect foil to an afternoon cup of tea - or better yet some clotted cream. They did have a fairly dry texture, so I highly recommend some tea or coffee with them. (I actually considered buying some clotted cream at Whole Foods to make a really indulgent snack, but at $6 a jar, I decided against it.) They are inspiring me to make scones more often.
And now for something completely different...
It's my birthday tomorrow. I am eagerly anticipating my surprise celebration. I told my husband that a really nice gift would be some theater tickets. Later that day he told me "Plan to spend your birthday in the city." I don't know what show we're going to see (I told him my top choices were Spring Awakening or the South Pacific revival) and I also don't know where we're having dinner. It's all a big surprise. Our favorite pre-theater restaurant is Joe Allen's, but I'm wondering if we'll go a little more upscale for my birthday (I guess that might depend on how good the theater seats are) and where we would go. It's so exciting!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I love chocolate chip cookies, and it can be hard to improve upon a classic, but Em is up to the task. Sugar Plum is a blog that never ceases to amaze me because it's hard to believe someone so young could have such an amazing collection of recipes - and they're all her own. Inventing my own baking recipes is often a hair-raising enterprise for me. It's equally scary to share those recipes with others. Yet here is someone many years my junior who manages to crank out something delicious out of her own head prolifically. I know she is going to go far in her culinary career.
This recipe deviates a bit from the standard cream-the-butter-and-sugar-together-and-add-the-eggs-and-flour formula. Instead browned butter is added to the sugar and eggs, while something almost like a pie dough is made with a stick of solid butter and then gently added to the sugar. There is a flavor and texture dimension here that is a little different from the norm. More depth of texture and flavor comes from the use of chocolate chunks with cocoa nibs along with the toasted nuts. Your mouth discovers something different as you eat these.
My version came out pretty well. I wished I had done some things differently. I over-toasted some of the nuts. I also think I could have browned the butter a little more. The first batch I took out of the oven were a little flat, but the second batch came out as beautiful, soft mounds with a nice crispy edge.
My husband's verdict was that they were wonderful.
I brought them to work with me and and they were gone in under two hours - first thing in the morning. I guess everyone else is much easier on my baking than I am.
Ice cream. Carnivals. Cookies. You folks must all think I never eat anything nutritious. Let me share some stuff I bought at Rogowski Farm over the weekend.
Check out these carrots. They were colorful, but tiny. I wish I had photographed them next to something that would show the scale. The green tops on these carrots were about 10 times the size of the carrots themselves before I broke them off and gave them to my horses. The horses had a feast.
The first baby squashes of the year. Aren't they adorable?
I sliced these veggies up, grilled them on a grill pan, and put them on a bed of very spicy arugula with some peppered goat cheese. All of it came from the farm.
See? I can eat healthfully!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Is there anyone here who saves the crunchies for last when he or she eats ice cream cake? Come on, is there anyone who doesn't? There is something special about those ice cream crunchies isn't there? I love it when some kind ice cream parlor makes an ice cream that has those crunchies directly in there.
If I were to do this again, I think I would use fewer crumbs, more butter, and freeze the crust before crumbling it. In the end, I liked the chocolate crust bits, but they weren't like cake crunchies.
Now for the recipe....
It may not be the prettiest ice cream I have ever made, but it is completely addictive!
Garden Catering, my favorite deli provided burgers, dogs, their famous Chicken Nugget and French Fry "Special" and lots of sausage and steak wedges. (Around these parts it's called a WEDGE. Got that? If you call it a hoagie, you will be laughed at. If you call it a sub they will tolerate it - barely).
A mexican deli I have never heard of provided some Tex Mex, some barbecue items, and corn on the cob. It looked pretty tasty.
However, our good friends at Rani Mahal had a booth there as well, serving up chicken tandoori, chicken tikka masala, and some vegetarian options as well.
I had some tandoori chicken, naan, rice, and one of the best lamb samosas I have ever eaten.
Hope everyone had a great 4th!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I think even if my photo had been better focused, it still would not have looked as good as Val's did. At least it still tasted good.