What I’m Reading Wednesday {Independence Day}

Today’s post is all about the red, white, and blue as we celebrate America’s birthday!

I think by now most have seen the surprise cake with rainbow layers inside. I like this simple, frozen version from Bittersweet. Or, if you like a full flag on the inside of your cake, Cakespy has you covered with this recipe. Or, if you really want simple and traditional, you can go with Smitten Kitchen’s flag cake. I think this dessert is one I would make: boozy red, white, and blueberry shortcakes, made by How Sweet It Is.

I hope you are all enjoying the day! Happy 4th of July!

 

 

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!

 

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.

I’ve got a feeling that SHABBAT’s gonna be a good night…

The title of this post inspired by this video…I am hosting a Shabbat Dinner tonight and it’s gonna be a good night. The dinner will be paid for by the Birthright Israel NEXT team. I am making vegetable matzo ball soup, roasted chicken, lasagna, some veggie sides, and of course, some awesome dessert including a pumpkin pie and chocolate cake. Recipes are either from Gourmet or Bon Appetit magazine or from other blogs or from my mother’s old recipes. (click on links for more information) This is the first dinner I am hosting, and hopefully not my last.

thanks to Rob, Zoe, Staci, Jason, Michele, Peter, and Aaron for making this night a special Shabbat to remember!

Homemade “Funfetti” Cake

For those of you who don’t know what Funfetti is: http://www.pillsburybaking.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?catID=297&prodID=701

Since I needed a good way to use up the sprinkles that were given to me after the  holiday cookie party my friend had about a week ago, I decided to make a Funfetti cake. I used a basic yellow cake/vanilla cake recipe and added the sprinkles typically found in the cake batter-the “crunchy” bigger ones…if you do know Funfetti cakes…you know what I’m talking about…if you don’t know…go to your local grocery store and pick up a box. Now, I would not normally say that Pillsbury makes good products, or that you should make cake from a box, but I see it as the Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese of cake. (Not that I would advise to buy/eat that either) but my point is that it is a cake that I grew up knowing from attending various birthday parties. It’s all about the nostalgia for this overly sugared cake.

Anyway, I made the frosting from scratch as well, and used blue (smaller, sugary) sprinkles to help “dye” it green because it is the holidays after all. Then I frosted and added the final layer of sprinkles. Like I said before, a sugary cake (typically made for kids). Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I like using ingredients that I’ve had leftover. I was also in the mood to make cookies with all of the talk about them on other blogs for the holidays. Therefore, I made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. The twist in these cookies is the whole wheat flour, along with cinnamon-sugar and semi-sweet baker’s chocolate—all ingredients I had leftover from previous baking adventures. (Including, but not limited to, doughnuts and corn-stalk rolls.)

All week long, I’ve been eating the dough out of the fridge, and just baked off a few today. Both ways of consuming the dough are really great, but of course you have to wait longer for the baked ones. :)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

What September Means To Me…

…was the theme of this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Since sugar cookies should not really be a challenge for anyone to make, the challenger set it up so that we had to bake/decorate the cookies with the theme of what September means to us.

The Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and Yom Kippor, the day of atonement) both fall in September, so I made shofar, torah, and Jewish star (star of David) shaped cookies. I made them with just white royal icing because:

1) I did not have time to go out and buy food coloring

2) It was Yom Kippor when I made them, so I thought that white was appropriate, since it is the color that you wear to show your respect for the day of reflection…or something like that.

Anyway, I brought the cookies to the Break-the-fast dinner I went to and they seemed to be well-received since they were gone by the end of the night. (Not sure if they were all eaten that night, or someone took them home.)

Although they were simple, and easy to make, I enjoyed this challenge. It was a nice way to celebrate the holidays. Continue reading