10
Oct 11

Apple Cider Donuts

My #2 favorite thing about fall is apple cider and all of the wonderful things that subsequently can be created from apple cider. The heavenly warm cinnamon-sugar coated pillows that are fresh apple cider donuts are one of the highlights of the apple picking adventures that my sister and I take annually to the Beardsley Cider Mill and Orchard back near my hometown in CT. We spend about an hour doing the pick-your-own out in the orchard, testing out the apples and filling big canvas bags for pies, cupcakes, etc.

The cider mill has some of the best cider in the area, but by far the best thing in the main house is the fresh apple cider donuts that come hot off the conveyor belt into a bucket of cinnamon sugar. Only get them when they’re fresh – they have a great airy, chewy texture that is almost like biting into a marshmallow.

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09
Oct 11

Pumpkin Soup Made in the Pumpkin!

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When I first saw this recipe I was so excited to try it that I went out and bought all of the ingredients that same day. Actually MAKING the soup INSIDE THE PUMPKIN seemed like the most crazy and incredible idea that I had ever heard of. I didn’t get around to making it that first weekend, and I left that first pumpkin out for decoration, and in about 2 days time it was no longer fit for cooking. I had to wait a whole week for the farmers market to come back into my neighborhood to get a new pumpkin that I could cook right away. The anticipation and excitement was killing me – I had to try this, and I had to know if it would actually work in real life. It seemed like this could be one of those beautiful yet impossible recipes that you find every now and then in magazines.

It seems so simple though: once you’ve scraped all of the seeds and tendril-like insides out of the pumpkin, you plop all of the ingredients in and stick it in the oven. The most difficult part of this whole thing is carving out the inside of the pumpkin, which takes significantly longer than I usually anticipate it will.

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I have never really baked/cooked anything IN anything except for stuffing Italian peppers with spicy sausage, and my biggest fear was that, in the middle of my cooking this soup, the pumpkin would cave in on itself and a tidal wave of chicken broth and cheese would come racing out of my oven.

However, that was not the case. Followed the recipe pretty much exactly and the results were superb: The soup was cheesy and salty and paired perfectly with the buttery and nutty pumpkin flesh that you gently carve out of the sides and scoop into the bowls.

Recipe from this months Bon Appetit!

Ingredients

  • 1 6–8 pound Cinderella, cheese, or Jarrahdale pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely ground
  • 2 large pinches piment d’Espelette
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (packed) grated Gruyère
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from white bread
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 5–7 cups low-salt chicken stock
  • Flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Cut out a wide circle around stem of pumpkin to make a lid. Lift lid; scrape off any seeds and set aside. Scoop out seeds and strings from inside pumpkin.
  • Place pumpkin in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Rub pumpkin flesh with butter. Sprinkle all over inside with ground fennel seeds and piment d’Espelette. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, and bay leaves. Pour in stock to come within 3″ of the pumpkin’s rim. Cover with lid.
  • Roast pumpkin for 1 hour. Remove lid; put lid flesh side up on pan alongside pumpkin and return to oven. Continue to roast until pumpkin flesh is soft when pierced with a knife (take care not to puncture skin), 30-90 minutes more, depending on size of pumpkin.
  • Discard bay leaves. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, gently scoop a big spoonful of flesh from sides or bottom of pumpkin into each bowl and ladle stock over. Garnish with parsley.

 

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02
Oct 11

And We’re Back!

It has been a very, very long time folks! It has been quite the bumpy ride – in the time since my last post I have changed jobs, moved apartments, turned a year older and have spent far too much time away from this site. In fact, I even tragically allowed my ownership of the URL to expire, and grumpy left my hands for a short while. I was devastated when I lost grumpy. I was an hour late to work because I was crying all morning. There was nothing I could do.

But thanks to some good looking out from Spicy Biscotti, I have reclaimed the site and am making a commitment. I have been doing a ton of cooking since we made the move from a closet-sized apartment into a grown-up living space with a real (albeit small) kitchen with all of the bells and whistles (including a full-sized fridge!!), and it’s time to start sharing the love and the recipes.

I can think of no better way to welcome my favorite season, autumn, with the following few posts. I’ll recap some of my favorite recipes from this summer, share some photos of my first time making the family pepper relish with my Grandma, and start testing all of the seasonal goodness of fall with a pear crisp, smoked haddock chowder, and much more.

It’s good to be back, interwebs!

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20
Mar 10

Macaron Day, NYC

This celebratory bunch came from Almondine in DUMBO

This celebratory bunch came from Almondine in DUMBO

Today is Macaron Day in NYC, dedicated to celebrating the delightfully airy traditional French cookie (not your Grandma’s coconut clusters dipped in chocolate). This inaugural Macaron Day is the brainchild of Francois Payard, of Francois Chocolate Bar. From their homepage:

Macaron Day NYC is inspired by and will coincide with the 5th annual Jour du Macaron in Paris, created by Pierre Hermé.

Join us on Saturday, March 20 to discover macarons in New York as bakeries across the city come together to provide free macarons to customers.

To receive a free macaron tell the shop you are there for Macaron Day NYC.

Participating locations will provide one macaron per customer with quantities limited by location.


Want more macarons? At many participating locations, a portion of the day’s macaron sales will be donated to City Harvest. Indulge in macarons while contributing to the efforts of City Harvest. City Harvest (www.CityHarvest.org), which has been serving New York City for more than 25 years, is the world’s first food rescue organization, dedicated to feeding the city’s hungry men, women, and children.


This has certainly been a big year for the little cookie, whose popularity has been on the rise since late fall 2009. I know so many cooks who laid aside their customary Christmas/holiday cookie regime to try their hand at multiple macaron flavors.

Like most French cooking creations, the balance of the ingredients and instruction determines the success of the macaron. A great macaron has slightly crisp outer cookie layers that give way to a moist, more cake-like center. The creme between the two cakes must be sweet but not too sugary, and just the right consistency to hold the two outer layers together. Too much flour will make them grainy, if they sit too long in the oven they stiffen and lose the internal chew that melts in your mouth. Macarons are as much about the process as what you put into them.

I thought this was a great cause, so I purchased my batch at Almondine in DUMBO. They are truly top notch, and I will be going back soon for a baguette (they smelled amazing, but I couldn’t carry one around this morning!)

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22
Dec 09

New Love of an Old Cookie

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My mom’s traditional holiday cookie recipes (which I will post later in the week) are for chocolate dipped shortbread and classic, very chocolatey chocolate chip. She’s also been making almond crescents for a few years since my dad expressed a desire for the cookies his grandmother used to make during the holidays when he was young. And that’s what the holiday season is all about: good food, and family.

Admitedly, I have never been a fan of the almond crescent. They were always too dry for me, and I’m a chocoholic which made my sugar consumption priority the other two cookie varieties. This year, my mom selected on online recipe from Vanilla Garlic posted on Simply Recipes and these cookies have converted me to an almond crescent fan. My mom made a few slight changes to the recipe (used very finely ground almonds instead of almond flour, and covered the cookies entirely in powdered sugar instead of just dusting) and I am completely addicted. I cannot stop eating them.

I find myself craving them in the middle of the day. When I reach for the plate of cookies, I take one of each of the other two cookies and three or four of the almond crescents. They’re moist, and have fantastic flavor. Bravo, Mom.

Happy Holidays everyone! Be sure to eat your almond crescents!

Almond Crescent Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of almond flour (can substitute ground almonds*)
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar for sprinkling

*You can use slivered, blanched almonds and grind them up, but you will have a very crumbly, hard to work with dough. It’ll still taste good though.

Method

1 Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and mix.

2 Add the flour and almond flour. Mix thoroughly.

3 Take generous tablespoons of the dough (it will be slightly crumbly) and roll it into a small ball, about an inch in diameter, and then shape into a crescent shape. Place onto parchment paper and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a light golden brown.

4 Dust with powdered sugar.

For added decadence let the cookies cool and dip one end of them into some melted chocolate, then let the chocolate harden.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

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15
Dec 09

Happy National Cupcake Day!!!

Today is National Cupcake Day (thanks Helen!) and so in honor of that, a post that combines this holiday with a recent one in our household, my sister Aubrey’s 21st Birthday!

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Aubrey is a notorious cupcake fan, both as an eater and a baker. So for her 21st we wanted to bake her a truly special cake. We also wanted to show her one use for one of her gifts, the large cupcake pan.

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My mom didn’t put enough batter into the top of the pan initially, but it wasn’t totally unfortunate. The pieces fit together pretty perfectly, and although the decorating required a ton of attention to detail, it was all worth it to see the look on Aubz’s face :)

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I also made her small doggie cupcakes in honor of her dog Jasmine (Shitzu). They’re not quite Jasmine lookalikes, but they come pretty close. A bit of clever piping, working with marshmallows and cinnamon red hots. Voila! Pup-Cakes!

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These little guys were so fun to make. The frosting has to be a bit stiffer than normal, in order to form the “fur”. I really wanted these guys to be two-toned, which kind of worked, but not quite the way I wanted.

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15
Dec 09

Cloud 9 Caramels

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Ok, so I’m a girl who can admit when she has a problem. I am actually addicted to Foodzie.com.

But all of the things that they have listed are soo good looking. And thus far, I have not been disappointed with any of my purchases. The Cloud 9 Caramels were my last item that did not disappoint.

Heavy notes of cinnamon in every bite make these small chocolate and caramel morsels absolutely delectable. They are difficult to chew when cold, but if you let them sit in the palm of your hand for a few minutes, they are deliciously gooey and they melt in your mouth. The chocolate layer on it’s own does not really shine, but it adds depth and richness to the overall experience. The Cloud 9 Caramels come from Have it Sweet in Burbank, CA.

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14
Dec 09

Food on a Stick

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One cold day in New York, four interns went on a mission for another food cart. Unfortunately, they were few and far between that day. During our walk, we came across the ultimate food-on-a-stick experience. All of the offerings at the Xing Wang food cart on Canal street are displayed on sticks outside the cart:

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Plantains, tofu, chicken, you name it. Not your normal shish kabob, but tasty nonetheless. I probably wouldn’t come back to this cart as a destination, but it was fine for satisfying our hunger until we could find a more substantial place to eat.

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12
Dec 09

My Foray into Fondant, or Mediaite Gets a Cake

There are a few things in this life that I find difficult to pass up. As it happens, two of them are sales, and cake making. Which led us to today’s post:

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The Mediaite Cake!

Ever since I began work at my office I have wanted to make a cake for the Mediaite crew (birthdays were the original inspiration, but there was never enough time to pull one together). So to honor the success of the people I share my office with (and the announcement of three very cool new websites to come), I decided a cake was in order. That paired with a fabulous Jo-Ann fabrics sale on fondant (SCORE!) meant that there was only one type of cake I could make: A computer.

This was my first time working with fondant in a cake setting. I had worked with it a bit, making small cutouts to put on top of cupcakes when I worked at Georgetown Cupcake in DC, but I had never done a cake. I was really nervous for how it was going to turn out. Cakes with fondant are normally beautiful, but when you’re trying to make something look more life-like, it’s difficult to capture all of the details with fondant.

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The key to this cake was sculpting. The inside is three square cakes stacked vertically, bound together with layers of frosting and then cut into the shape of a computer. A fourth cake was the keyboard, cut on a downgrade using string. Rolling the fondant was one of the most stressful parts of the process, because it is so delicate and I was so afraid that it was going to tear as I folded it over the corners. Frosting markers made the customized screen possible. It was one of the most fun cakes I’ve made to date. Congrats Mediaite!

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10
Dec 09

Marshmallow Men

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What to do when you get a delicious Foodzie package from Whimsy & Spice in Brooklyn? Well, since the purpose of a marshmallow is to add childlike amusement to life, what better way to honor them than to play.

Whimsy and Spice Maple Marshmallows

These maple marshmallows were absolutely DELISH in hot cocoa. As they slowly melt and dissolve at the top of the cup, a creamy froth forms so you sip the liquid chocolate through a sugary filter. They held their shape much longer than other marshmallows do, and since I was drinking unsweetened cocoa, they added just the right amount of sweet. By themselves, the marshmallows were sugary, spongy, with just a hint of burnt sugar and maple.

In short, if you’re looking for the perfect compliment to a warm winter beverage, maple marshmallow is the way to go. They’re fun too :) To make this guy, i stacked, and broke an M&M into pieces to make the face. Just like making a snowman.

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