Monthly Archives: December 2010

Frozen Chocolate-Peppermint Bùche de Noël

For those of you who read my post yesterday, the leaves at the very end were chocolate leaves we made to accompany thew Buche de Noel. Here is the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Frozen-Chocolate-Peppermint-Buche-de-Noel-362809

I must confess, I’m really not much of a peppermint person. This cake was my assignment and I probably, well definitely, would not have chosen to make it on my own. It was also a total b*tch. I am no stranger to complicated cakes and don’t shy away from a challenge, but considering I didn’t really like the end product, it was so not worth it. That being said, it’s quite beautiful and if you like peppermint and chocolate, definitely give it a shot.

There were too many steps and I was too stressed to document every step, so you’ll just have to bear with my narrations. Here we go. First, you mix together the dry ingredients for the cake in one small bowl. Then in a big bowl you mix together the wet ingredients. You add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix together. Once they are totally combined, you clean the beaters. You then whip together the egg whites, cream of tartar and the sugar until it is stiff, but not dry. Next, you add the meringue mix basically in thirds. The recipes suggests that you fold the meringue into the cake to make sure it stays fluffy. Fluffy is great, but my cake was actually a bit too fluffy, so some mixing might have been good.

Prior to making the cake mix, I prepared the pan. The recipe calls for a 10 x 15 inch pan. If my cake was a little thinner this size would work great. I cut out parchment for the bottom of the pan, sprayed it and then sprinkled it with cocoa. When the batter was done I poured it into the pan and cooked for 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes of baking, I let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I laid out a clean, smooth towel and sifted more cocoa onto the towel so the cake wouldn’t stick. After the ten minutes, I turned the cake out onto the towel. At this point, I was feeling a little anxious. I need to roll the cake up into a log shape…..without breaking it. I must confess, it was very stressful. Despite my worries, this step of the cake went quite smoothly. I moved the log to a safe place and let it cool completely. (Up until this point was all done the afternoon of Christmas Eve day).

When I returned home from Christmas Eve dinner, I returned to my cake. The recipe then said I need to roll out the cake and put a layer of ice cream on top of the cake. This is where my troubles began. I softened the ice cream too much, so after I sprinkled the crushed candy canes on top of the ice cream and went to roll up the cake, the ice cream squished out of the sides. Additionally, because it was so goupy (for lack of a better word), I couldn’t roll up the cake as many times as it should be. There were many cuss words involved. In a fit of disappointment, I managed to cover the mess with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer.

I returned to my disaster on Christmas day. I sliced off the end of the cake and placed it on one side of the log (to look like a knot). Then, I whipped up some delicious meringue and covered the cake with a thick layer. Using a fork, I made grooves along the top. Then it went back in the freezer for 3 hours.

About 30 minutes before I intended to serve dessert, I took the cake out and using a kitchen torch, burned little marks on the log to make it look like real bark. Back again to the freezer. When it was time to serve, I took out the cake, cut slices, and plated the cake with homemade chocolate sauce, chocolate leaves, mint sprigs and candy canes.

 

This is what the cake looked like after several pieces had been served. As you can see, it didn’t have enough loops in it, but from the outside it looked lovely.

 

 

This is what the fancy plate looked like. It really was quite nice in the end, just not as pretty as the magazine.

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Christmas morning coffee cake

Happy holidays to everyone! I hope all of my lovely readers had a wonderful holiday whatever holiday you enjoy. I am sorry for my brief absence, I have been enjoying some busy family time, as well as tons of cooking! There has been simply too much to document, so I’m going to be writing about my assignments over the past week. This past week has been so hectic, but Christmas yesterday was lovely. I made this coffee cake on the 24th for breakfast yesterday. It is super easy and delicious, although is slightly more complicated if you don’t have a cuisinart or some sort of chopping device. I found the recipe a few years when I was browsing on McCormick’s website. Here it is: http://www.mccormick.com/Recipes/Breakfast-Brunch/Cinnamon-Sour-Cream-Coffee-Cake.aspx

 

First, I sprayed the pan with a non-stick spray and then floured it. I also pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees.

 

 

 

 

Next, I prepared the crumbly stuff for the top. I mixed together the flour, sugars, and cinnamon.

 

 

Then I cut up the butter into small cubes and added them to the cuisinart. After you chop it up, the mixture should look like course corn meal. I then set this aside.

 

Next I made the cake. One of the things I love most about this recipe is how easy it is. Theoretically it’s cheating because you use a box of white cake mix. But at the holidays when everyone is busy, who really cares? It still tastes awesome. Anyway, you add an egg, sour cream, the melted butter and vanilla to the cake mix and stir until it’s blended. Then you put it in the pan. This step is a bit messy. I use a combination of my fingers and a spoon to push it flat and into the corners. It’s not to pretty, but it gets better I promise.

Then, I sprinkled the topping all over the cake. Make sure it covers all of the batter. Then I baked it for 30-35 minutes, I did about 32, or until you can insert a toothpick into the cake and not get big clumps of batter. The cake also starts to pull away from the side of the pan. The picture to the left is what is looks like when it’s done. It’s delicious hot or cold. For those of you with full fridges, good news! It can be stored covered on the counter. It was a delicious Christmas morning treat.

Sneak peak for tomorrow’s post………

 

 

 

 

 

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Grilled Cheese and Cars

When my bf and I graduated in May, we moved out of downtown DC and into the suburbs. We love DC and all that it has to offer, but after four years of being surrounded by noisy college students, we quickly fell in love with our quiet little neighborhood. We both grew up in a suburb that was close to a big city, but still a nice size, so it was sort of like coming home.

 

Winston loves the suburbs too. He has much more room to run around the apartment and this tree outside the family room. Usually it’s inhabited by a variety of squirrels and birds for him to stalk. There has even been a bunny siting underneath the tree.

 

 

 

Anyway, as most of you know, I’m going back to graduate school next year. At that point I always planned to get a car. I didn’t need one in DC and it didn’t make any financial sense. I was stubborn when we moved (nothing new there) and I was convinced I didn’t need a car out here either. I should have known better.

Technically, I can get along without one. The metro is about 1/2 mile away from our apartment. Then my work is about a 1/2 mile from the metro stop. That’s doable. The drug store is right next to the metro. Also fine. One of my favorite parts about the suburbs is that there are real grocery stores. DC has no good grocery stores. There are some nice options but they are either in the ghetto or on the very outskirts of DC. It’s infuriating. Here comes the catch. The grocery store is a good walk from home. I can use the exercise, but the walk home is uphill. Carrying heavy bags of groceries uphill in the snow makes for one very grumpy girl.

I swear I am not writing this blog to complain, so here comes the good news. My adventurous, fearless, sometimes gypsy-like sister is going abroad to Africa in January. She didn’t want to store her car in Boston and I have free parking at my apartment, so she is bringing me her car on Monday. YAY! Can you feel my excitement? It’s literally pouring off me.

I am so looking forward to being able to pop down to the store whenever I feel like it. Lately, my bf have taken to renting a zip car for an hour and a half about once of week. I make a huge list of groceries, plan the meals for the week, and we get everything we need. This plan has worked out ok, except for weeks like this one. My bf had finals and I was sick. Like can’t walk sick. He didn’t have time at night to go with me and I couldn’t go at all. So we ordered some food, ate leftovers, and rediscovered some childhood favorites.

Since this is a food blog after all, here is the food part….When I was little I loved eating breakfast for dinner. It only happened on special occasions, which is why I think I liked it so much. I also loved grilled cheese. I don’t think I had it after 8th grade and then all of a sudden last year I rediscovered them. Well this week I’ve had pancakes for dinner, grilled cheese for lunch, etc.

Doesn’t it just look delicious? So crunchy on the outside, but nice and melty on the inside. Plus it takes all of five minutes. So this winter, if you find yourself stuck in a snow storm, being lazy, or just feeling like it, I encourage you to rediscover the wonder of a grilled cheese!

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Christmas Changes

Hello my lovely readers!

In addition to the snow that you should see gently drifting across your computer screen, I thought I’d change up my blog’s appearance a touch for the holidays! I will return to my normal state of things after New Years, but for now, I hope you have a wonderful holiday whatever holiday you choose to enjoy!

Love!

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Chocolate Filled Russian Tea Cakes

Last night I finished my graduate school applications. It was a big personal moment. Today, my bf finished his exams for his first semester of law school. You could say these 24 hours have been monumental. We needed a treat.

Because I am going home to California early next week for the holidays, there really isn’t much in the house and I’m loathe to bake a huge batch of goodies. These little nummies were just perfect! They don’t make a huge batch, I didn’t need to get any other ingredients, and my bf could take some when he goes to his home tomorrow. I got the recipe from foodpress.com, but here is the link: http://therecipehoarder.com/2010/12/08/chocolate-filled-russian-tea-cakes/

The recipe calls for chocolate stars, but all I had was semi-sweet baking chocolate. So I chopped it up into a bunch of tiny little pieces. Basically you want the pieces to be just a tad larger than chocolate chips and other than that what kind of chocolate you use is up to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I mixed together the powdered sugar, the butter and the vanilla. Then I added the flour, nuts and salt and mixed again.

 

 

 

 

Next, I took a tablespoon of dough at a time and put a little piece of chocolate in the center.  I then molded the dough around chocolate into a little ball.

 

 

 

 

This is what the entire tray looked like. In the future I will try and make them a little rounder all the way around. I cooked them for 10 minutes at 400, until the bottoms were golden brown.

 

 

 

 

While the cookies were baking, I mixed together the powdered sugar and the sprinkles. I didn’t have the colored sugar, so I just used Christmas sprinkles. Then as soon as the cookies were done, I rolled them one at a time in the bowl. It’s sort of a messy process, so I put them on a rack over a cookie tray when they were done.

 

 

This is what the cookies look like when they are done. They are amazing! The chocolate stays nice and melty on the inside and they are a wonderful change of pace when it comes to desserts. They are also so easy and quick- a perfect mid-week treat.

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Dijon Chicken Stew

This dish was alright. I wasn’t feeling very well last night when I made it and by the time it was done, I was really not in the mood for food. I had about a bite and was finished. My bf really liked it, but I don’t think his taste buds were at their most discerning last night either. Eggnog doesn’t always lend itself to cuisine appreciation. Anyway, I don’t think I’ll make it again, but I thought I’d show you. Here is the link: http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/dijon-chicken-stew-recipe-ew1110

 

First, I started by whisking together the Dijon mustard, cornstarch and water.

 

 

Then I chopped up the shallots, garlic and rosemary. I added some olive oil to the pot and added the veggies. I cooked the mix for about a minute.

 

 

Next, I added the white wine. I brought it to a boil and cooked for about 6 minutes, until the wine was almost evaporated.

 

 

While the onions and such were cooking, I tore up the kale (I used kale instead of escarole) and my bf cut up the chicken. I then added both and the broth and brought it all to a simmer. This is what it looked like before the kale condensed.

 

 

After the stew cooked for five or so minutes, it looked like this.

 

 

 

Then I added the dijon mix and cooked for another minute or so.

 

 

 

I then served two bowls, but really only one was used.

 

 

I apologize for this incredibly boring nature of this post. It’s hard to write something exciting about food when you were completely underwhelmed by the recipe.

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Cranberry bean holiday soup

There is a tiny little store in my hometown of Lafayette, California called The Nut Factory. You would never know it from the outside, but it actually ships nuts and other products all over the world. My mom picked up a soup package for me to try, and since I had time today I decided to give it a shot.


I am definitely going to pick up more of these little guys and try some new kinds when I next go home. The soup is delicious and really easy to make. You also only need to pick up a few ingredients: a 8 ounce box of spinach, 1 lb. of turkey or regular sausage, and a purple onion. Even though the recipe is so easy, it does take a while because you have to soak the beans, boil the beans, let them sit, etc. for a while so they soften. So, it’s definitely a weekend dinner.

 

 

 

This afternoon, I started by rinsing, then soaking the beans in a lot of water for two hours. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap.

 

 

Then I simmered the beans in 2 quarts of water for an hour. When the hour was up, I turned off the heat and let the beans sit until I was ready to cook the rest of the soup.

 

 

Then I chopped up a purple onion and cooked it in some olive oil for about five minutes.

 

 

While the onion was cooking, I took the skins off the sausage. I must say, definitely not the most appealing task.

 

 

Next, I added the sausage to the pot and cooked for about five minutes. While it was cooking, I chopped it up with my large wooden spoon.

 

 

Then I added the package of spices and dried fruits and veggies that came in the bag. I mixed the spices into the sausage and onion.

 

 

Next, I added 8 cups of chicken broth, though you could use veggie stock too. i also added the beans after I drained them. Then, I covered the pot and let it simmer for an hour.

 

After an hour, I added the spinach square and let it simmer for about ten minutes, or until the the spinach was completely thawed.

 

 

I served the soup with some Parmesan, although next time I’m going to get some of those soup crackers!

 

 

 

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