April Showers Bring May Flowers.

Can you believe that we are only a couple of weeks away from May, already?

I know that I was definitely busy between, uh, last July and now. :)

But now that I am all caught up on the exciting things I’ve made since then, I will now share what I made in April, since I spent the month posting about the past.

In the beginning of the month, I celebrated Passover. I even hosted a Seder for the first time! I made a (super delicious) pescatarian dinner that included veggies from the farmer’s market and fish from the San Francisco Fish Company and wine from The Wine Merchant. Here is a list of recipes I made/adapted for my Seder:

Baked Stuffed Zucchini (My favorite dish, besides the matzoh ball soup.)

Matzoh Lasagna (I added spinach to mine. Surprisingly good…almost as good as lasagna made with noodles)

Matzoh Brittle (made it twice…once for my Seder, and once for a friend’s Seder. The first time, I followed the recipe and the second time, with the inspiration from a friend that came to my Seder, I added some ginger to some pieces and some cinnamon to others)

The fish part of the meal was just some sauteed cod. I just cut the fish into pieces that fit into the pan, sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. No real recipe, just cook until fish flakes apart with a fork. I think it was about 2 or 3 minutes on either side.

Throughout the month, I also made some ice cream. I got the recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, David Lebovitz. I added a chocolate fudge sauce to it while it was in the machine churning, but it turned out I added too much, because it caused the ice cream to soften and it separated. This made it a sort of micro-chocolate chip-caramel ice cream. All in all, it was pretty good. I would like to make more ice cream using his recipes and just stick with the recipe, because I have a feeling they will turn/churn out well. (See what I did there?!)

Some other things I made this month include a simple pasta dish, an orange-lemon pound cake,  and mini tartlets, again. The pasta dish was spaghetti, peas, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil all tossed and heated/cooked together in a saute pan. First, the olive oil cooks the garlic, then the peas and tomatoes are added, and finally the pasta. Lunch or dinner is ready in minutes!

The orange-lemon pound cake was made with some orange sugar…which is just like vanilla sugar, but with orange zest. All you have to do is zest some orange (or any other citrus, or a combo would be good, too) into sugar and rub them together. It makes the flavor stand out more. The recipe I used was more or less made up. It is a simple 1:1:1 ratio, as you may have guessed. In this case, it was 8 ounces butter, 8 ounces sugar, 8 ounces flour, and an egg, some vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Bake in a buttered loaf pan in a 350-degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before overturning and cooling completely on a cooling rack.

The tartlets I made were basically the same as before, using orange curd and candied orange peel as garnish. The shells were made with a pie/tart dough recipe that used cream instead of eggs/water/other liquid. But you can go ahead and use sable dough if you’d prefer.

So, that’s what I’ve made in April (so far). I am excited for what the month of May will bring! What are some of the things that made April special for you? What are you looking forward to in May? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

All Caught Up {Fresh Pasta and Waffle Brownies}

As you may know, I have been trying to catch up on what exciting things I’ve made before returning to blogging. The last couple of items I would like to share with you are the fresh pasta and the waffle brownies I made.

Up first, the pasta. I made fresh pasta for the first time in a long time.

It is a bit of a process to knead together the flour and eggs, but once you get started, it is really easy. It is one of my favorite doughs to work by hand. Just two ingredients, rolled out thin, and cut into pieces. Cooks in a few minutes. It really couldn’t be easier. And it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than the pasta from the store. You can even add tomato or spinach right to the pasta dough (might require more flour, to make it not so sticky) which makes it so flavorful, you don’t need to add anything. Maybe just some olive oil. Oh! Pro-tip! Make sure you salt your water! It’s the best way to add salt to pasta (or to veggies).

The other item I am excited to share is waffle brownies.

These are brownies made in a waffle iron. What the what?! Yes, you can pour waffle batter into a pan and wait a long time for them to come out of the oven. OR, you can pour it on your waffle iron and have brownies in like 5 minutes! We all know that (basically) instant brownies are the best! Don’t be fooled, though, these brownies are for dessert, not breakfast. Or are they?! :)

Bringing New York To San Francisco {Bagels & Black and White Cookies}

What says New York like bagels and black and white cookies? Even Anthony Bourdain said that New York makes the best bagels…

So, taking on the challenge to create perfect bagels and black and white cookies was, well, challenging.

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Let’s start with bagels. Once I tell someone that I have made bagels, they ask, “did you boil and then bake them?” and I think my face contorts into a funky mess as I reply, humbly, “Yes, of course!” It always comes to a surprise to me that people even have to ask. How else are bagels made? How else do you get that chewy texture? Have they heard of people just simply baking bagels like they would anything else? I guess so. I just can’t even imagine it.

So, yes, I boiled and then baked the bagels. I think they came out great, especially with the addition of poppy seeds.

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Now, on to the other New York classic, the black and white cookie. Now, just to clarify, these are sugar-type cookies (though more cake-y than cookie-y…) that are frosted in half chocolate frosting and half vanilla frosting—hence the black and white. Not to be confused with the other black and white cookies, made with white chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips! These are almost their own breed of cookie. You just have to try them, okay? :)

I made these because, believe it or not, I met someone who had never even heard of them until I brought them up. Also, because I love the memory I have of my sister and I sharing them. She got the vanilla half and I got the chocolate half. Perfect.

Mini Tartlets

When I saw these in the store, I knew I had to get them! I love all things mini. There’s just something about the small size that grabs my attention more than the full-size version. Mini Snickers bars that somehow only make an appearance on Halloween. Mini muffins or cupcakes. Mini loaves of bread. Mini. Easy. One or two bites. An amuse bouche. A petit four. Mignardises. How ever you put it, I love it!

I used these to make tartlets for New Year’s Eve this past year (2011-2012). I made chocolate ganache and orange curd tartlets. I sprinkled the chocolate ganache ones with white sugar crystals (the sort of sugar that does not dissolve) and the orange curd ones with homemade candied orange zest.

Cover of "Baking"

I got the recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking, by James Peterson. I like this book because it not only gives you great recipes, but because it shows you steps by picture and gives you more than one technique to doing something. For example, the tart/pie dough recipe can be made with either water, heavy cream, or eggs/egg whites as the liquid (or any other liquid–maybe orange juice). It also says how to mix the dough by hand (on a table or in a bowl) or by mixer. It is a great book for all of the basic baking you might want to do.

P.S. This post is a part of my catching up series.

Distictive Cookies. {Homemade Milanos}

You read that right. I made Milanos. The beloved chocolate sandwich cookies from Pepperidge Farm. We added orange zest to the cookies themselves, rather than adding an orange curd-type layer like the orange flavored ones, which gave ours a bit of uniqueness…all in all, they tasted similar to the originals, which is to say, quite good.

We brought them to a party, so we decided that we would have to package them like the real thing, in the white paper cups. We also put them in a white bag, but the Pepperidge Farm packers/people who made their packaging really know what they are doing and can make their cookies stand up. Our tower of cookies got all lopsided once in the bags. Nonetheless, our cookies made it to the party in one piece and were enjoyed by all!

P.S. This post is a part of my catching up series.