Sunday, July 31, 2005

Beach Bound

Well we are all off to the beach for a gloriously lazy week....
Be back next Monday...
Cheers to you all...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Queen of Tarts

Okay so I may be pushing it there by calling myself the Queen of Tarts... but I think I am getting the hang of this tart pastry and I will be making LOTS and LOTS of these! Thank God above for Nigella. I have a serious cooking crush on her... Both the pastry recipes I have used of hers have turned out PERFECT. Here are the two recipes I have used.. the first one was a savory pastry for the corn and tomato tart and the second one is a sweet pastry that I made the peach & mango tart with....

Rich Pastry Dough
Nigella Lawson

1 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 egg yolk
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon yogurt or creme fraiche or sour cream or orange or lemon juice

Measure the flour into a bowl, add the butter, and put in freezer (here I use my KA mixing bowl and put the paddle in the bowl to chill as well) for 10 minutes. Beat the egg yolk with the salt and whatever acidic ingredient you choose and put in the fridge to chill. Keep a few tablespoons of ice water in a measuring cup in the fridge as well.You may need it.....

You can make this either in the food processor or in a stand mixer. Pull the flour and butter out of the freezer and turn on slow. After barely a minute the mixture will begin to resemble oatmeal or flattened bread crumbs, and this is when you will add the yolk mixture. Add, and process or mix. If you need more liquid, add a little ice water a teaspoon at a time and go slowly. You don't want the dough too wet. You will need to stop the mixer JUST BEFORE the dough looks like it is about to clump, not once it has. When it looks right, take it out and form a fat disc, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to rest.

Sweet Pastry Dough
Nigella Lawson

1 cup all purpose flour
¼ confectionersoners sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, cold and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Sift the flour and confectioners sugar into a bowl and add the cold butter. Place this bowl in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes. In a small bowl beat the yolk with the vanilla, a tablespoon of ice water and the salt. Place this bowl in the fridge. When the 10 minutes are up take the bowl out of the freezer and process the flour and butter and when you reach oatmeal stage mix in the yolk mixture to bind. Be prepared to add more water drop by cautious drop, until you have reached a nearly coherent dough. Then scoop it out, still just crumbly, and push into fat disc and let rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Enough to line a deep 8 inch or shallow 9 inch tart pan.

If you are going to fill the pastry case with anything liquid or creamy, you will have to blind bake first. This means simply covering the pastry with foil or parchment paper, covering that with dried beans, and baking it. Take the pastry out of the fridge and flour a work surface. Place the pastry on your floured work surface and sprinkle it and your basic wooden rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking. Roll out your pastry fairly thin and place into the buttered tart pan. You can either trim off the overhang (what I do) or you can let it hang and blind bake with the overhang compensating for the shrink. Bake at 400 for about10-12 minutes or until beginning to take on some color. Let the pastry case cool and fill with whatever you wish....

I filled the sweet crust with mascarpone cheese mixed with peach brandy (about 4 tablespoons... okay... 5 tablespoons) and 1 block of cream cheese. I also added in 1 tablespoon of wild flower honey and a dash of vanilla extract. I topped all of that with sliced fresh peaches and mangos... I sprinkled a bit of sugar on top and baked at 350 for about 50 minutes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sexy Tomatoes, Tantalizing Tarts, Sopping Wet Banana Bread.... And more.

Oh my, my, my...... it has really been quite a day. I got a new camera last night and I just can't stop. I took pictures of myself, I took pictures of tomatoes, I took pictures of a tart I made (WOW!), I took pictures if 4 new mixers I got in the mail today, I took pictures of the crust of the tart my husband didn't eat (gasp!), and on and on and on.... So... here they all are. My little exhibit for today.... Recipes at the end...

Here are two of the four "girls" I got in the mail today. The mixer on the left is an old Sunbeam Mixmaster, circa 1950's and the sweetie pie on the right is a
vintage yellow KitchenAid 4C... She had the original glass bowl, but it was broken in shipping. I was very sad about that.... I got another vintage KitchenAid in the mail today too... She is white and also had the original glass bowl..... but it too was broken during shipping. I will have to find original glass bowl to go with them now.... something else to hunt.

Now... I have been nursing a sourdough starter for about a month now... I was finally starting to feel comfortable with him living in the fridge when my sister came in from getting a bottled water and told me the crock I had the starter in
was broken and all the "goo" was running out the bottom. GREAT. Sure enough I go tromping out there (we have a spare fridge in the garage....) and she's right... the bottom is broken and the goo is running out the bottom. I grab the crock and run inside with it and assess the situation.... where am I going to put him? I have a displaced sourdough starter on my hands here....Where is he going to live? For the time being he is in a glass mixing bowl with saran wrap on the top.... I am going to have to find him a suitable home tomorrow... poor thing. I don't have any idea why all of the sudden the crock broke. Any ideas?

The Tart and the Tomatoes.

My friend Heather gave me some little green and yellow tomatoes. I bought the red ones from a little stand up the road called Fowlers. When they have fresh tomatoes they take the white bed sheet off the sign and everyone flocks there... when they run out of tomatoes they put the sheet back on the sign... I happend to be by there the other day the the sheet was off... nice. Rows and rows of gorgeous tomatoes. I bought a couple of pounds and here they are.

I decided today was the day to conquer the tart. Crust and all.... I started with a Nigella recipe for savory tart dough. Really easy dough recipe and it all came together just like she said it would. I could see the lovely butter "marbling" in the dough and it was slightly sticky and easy to work with. Okay... so far so good... I formed it in the tart tin and made a really nice fresh corn and vidalia onion mix to go in the tart. I topped that all off with my lovely fresh tomatoes and into the oven it went for about an hour. I did cook the tart pastry a bit before filling it... 350 for about 20 minutes.

This was REALLY good... very summery and fresh. Uncomplicated. Clean. Nice... I loved it.. The crust was a huge success and tasted fabulous. It even had "flake" to it... God, I am so proud. I have made homemade tart pastry from scratch. I can say that now... hehe! I mean, look at that crust would you! See the flake??

The filling was sooooo very good with the sweetness of the vidalia and the fresh corn. I mixed in a bit of Mexican table cream, Cheddar cheese and one egg to give it a custard like quality.... Delicious.

There I am... Grating cheese on top of the tart..... Working hard.

Okay... and last but not least the dessert for the day. Banana Bread with Rum Soaked Raisins and Chocolate Chips..... all low fat of course. Man oh man... this is such a delicious banana bread recipe. Another one of Nigella's. That girl is some kind of good... and so is this bread. I have made this one before minus the chocolate chips but I was feeling chipper and figured, what the hell... go on.. throw some chocolate chips in the batter... and I am glad I did. This is a VERY moist bread.. .. but I like it that way. I will take mine out a few minutes early so it still has a bit of goo in the middle... Almost undone.. but not quite. And it smells DEVINE... really really good. I think that is the best smell in the kitchen... Banana bread...

Banana Bread Nigella Lawson

  • 1/2 cup or more raisins
  • 3 oz (6 TBS) bourbon or rum
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBS all purpose flour
  • 2 tea baking powder
  • 1/2 tea baking soda
  • 1/2 tea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick or 4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Very ripe bananas, mashed about 3 to 4
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I always use more)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

An hour or more before you want to make this, put 1/2 cup (or more if you like it, and I do) raisins and the bourbon or rum in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let plump for an hour or more. Drain.

When you are ready to get on with the rest, preheat oven to 325 F. Butter and flour loaf pan.
Put flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine.Melt the butter in a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas.Then stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla.

Add flour mixture 1/3 at a time to combine. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, till it tests clean(ish).
Cool the pan on a rack and slice to serve.

* Again, I added a cup or so of chocolate chips, more walnuts and did not drain the rum off the raisins... why in god's name would I want to pour perfectly good rum down the drain??

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You Like Me! You Really Really Like Me!

I have been tagged for a meme!! I am so excited about it..... I feel honored!! I wasn't really sure what meme stood for... I thought it mighe be some sort of computer language that people used.. like DH (for husband) DD (for daughter) LOL (laughing out loud) IMHO ( in my humble opinion) and so on.... BUT I looked it up and here was the definition I found : An idea that, like a gene, can replicate and evolve. Pretty neat... and now that I look back at it .. that is exactly what it is.... For those who don't blog that read this, the meme is passed from one blogger to another. It is a list of questions that you answer and if you feel inclined you can add one yourself.... I have read on many blogs the meme that is floating around and thought it was cool, but I had no idea I would be asked to participate! I really do feel honored!!

Robyn from the The Food Chronicles tagged me for this....
Thanks Robyn!!

Here is my meme...

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
I remember as a child I was always concocting some crazy recipe. I don’t remember a specific recipe that I tried.... I just always remember trying to come up with some crazy idea that would be the next big thing... but I was that way with everything, not just cooking. I really started cooking in collage... My friend Stephenie would come to Florence from Birmingham and we would cook these “elaborate” dinners. Festival of Berries, Stephie!

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
Of course my mother is an insane southern cook. She makes homemade buttermilk biscuits that will leave you begging for more. Her cornbread is PHENOMINAL... Everything she cooks is so very good. I have very deep roots in southern cooking... and I am pretty good at savory dishes.... it is the desserts that kill me. I am currently being influenced by Nigella Lawson... I love the way she cooks and her attitude towards food. She is so easy and natural in the kitchen.

Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
Here is a photo of me dangerously close to cupcakes....

And of course.... with cake.

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
All desserts..... Pie Crust in particular.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
My KitchenAid mixer is my most prized possession. I am so very proud of her and have already used her a lot! My wonderful and handsome husband bought her for me and I one day hope to pass her down to Kathryn, well worn of course!

My biggest disappointment would have to be a new Senseo Coffeemaker.... it’s loud and you can only use those little pods and if you don’t get them in juuuusssst right water squirts out everywhere.... the coffee is fabulous but it is almost too much of a hassle.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like and probably no one else.
I love love love my momma’s cornbread and fresh tomatoes mashed up together in sort of a cornbread/tomato salad... so delicious.

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Olives, Sourdough Bread and Sweet Tea... Does tea count??

Favorite ice cream: Rum raisin

You will never eat: Hot Dogs... gag.

Signature dish: Homemade Chicken and Dumplins

On average, how many times a week would you cook something to satisfy your sweet tooth?
Oh hmmmm..... everyday! But not to satisfy my sweet tooth... I don’t ever really eat these desserts. I try them, but I don’t just munch on them. I am really just trying to learn how to make good pastry, cookies, cakes and icings!

What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Coffee Coffee Coffee.....

What are your stand-by dinner options when you don't have the time or the inclination to follow or create a new recipe?
My husband makes the most fabulous tacos and rice... so I ask him very nicely to make those!

What would you like to cook someday that you haven't tried before?
A tart..... and I will be trying my hand at that soon. I just got two vintage Williams&Sonoma tart tins in the mail today... off ebay.

Sweet or savory. We all lean to one or the other, where do you lean?
It really depends on the time of day.... I honestly don’t really have much of a sweet tooth. I never have. So, I guess savory, which is hilarious since this blog deals with only desserts!

So there it is.... my very first meme.... :) I am going to tag The Cupcake Queen from 52 cupcakes. I think that is a neat little blog and I love the idea

Monday, July 25, 2005


Look..... it's too freaking hot to even think of starting the oven. I just can't tonight... I am not sure what is up with the AC but it is like 80-82 degrees in this house. All I want to do is drink icy water and lounge under the ceiling fan...... tomorrow, tomorrow. I promise I will cook some sort of butter and sugar filled deeelight tomorrow. Sorry Heather!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Leaving My Mark

Thumbprints. I haven't thought of those little cookies in so long. I was out and about today and came across some yummy sounding jams. Strawberry Rhubarb, CherryPlum and Cherry. So I bought them knowing that they deserved something more than just plain toast. I wanted to save the Cherry jam for a few Nigella recipes I want to try, but the other two were fair game. Then I thought of thumbprint cookies; they are such sweet little confections. And yes, I know they are insanely easy... but I have never made a decent cookie. Never. So.... I thought I would give it a whirl. I said a quick prayer to the cookies goddess and got busy. I really wanted these little babies to turn out well because I thought my itty bitty would like them. These cookies are so old fashioned and nostalgic and I really want my Kathryn growing up eating these. I found a recipe online that looked good.... brown sugar was included, along with pecans. Yummy.... these were going to be good. I began envisioning myself in here in the kitchen with a cute little festive apron on at Christmas time whipping up dozens of dozens of these little gems for friends and family and co workers and ..... SNAP OUT OF IT.... try and make them first!

1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening

2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans
jam or preserves

PREPARATION:Cream together brown sugar, margarine, and shortening; beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Beat egg white slightly; dip balls into egg white; roll in finely chopped pecans.

Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet; press thumb deeply in center of each. Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet; cool thoroughly. Fill thumbprints with jam or preserves.

Makes 5 to 6 dozen thumbprint cookies (not in this household...)

Well... I have to say... I did it. They are good and actually resemble a cookie. The jams are delicious. I especially love the cherryplum... yum! I also made some with Orange Marmalade and the Strawberry Rhubarb. Kathryn loves them... the orange ones are her favorite.
They are nice and sweet but not send you into a diabetic coma sweet. They are a nice break from all the powdered sugar icings I have made lately.... I swear my dentist is going to kill me when I go in for a check up.
They have a pecan sandy quality to them... they crumble easily, so we just try and eat the whole cookie in one bite. No muss no fuss... and no talking.

I am so proud.... I have made two desserts in the past week that came out okay... Wow. I may get the hang of this after all....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Red Velvet with That Slow Southern Style...

Red velvet and that little boy smile. Red velvet with that slow southern style. A new religion that'll bring you to your knees. Red velvet if you please.

Yep... Red Velvet Cheesecake. You didn't think you could get away with not seeing one on this site did you?? I am from Alabama, ya know. But the funny thing is, that the closest I have ever come to Red Velvet Cake was when Ousia cut the butt end off the armadillo grooms cake at Shelby and Jackson's wedding and served it to Drum. I have never had a piece of RV cake... ever. My mom doesn't make it, I don't have any decrepit aunts that make it.... I have never been a wedding where they served it. Hmmmm... how southern is it?

My friend Heather sent me an email and ask me to create a Red Velvet Cheesecake. I wasn't so sure. I just couldn't see a RED cheesecake... but she assured me it would work. So I got busy on a recipe for her.... And I figured I could enter it in the contest I have been working on. Soooo I HAD to bake it in a 9x13 pan.... I am REALLY starting to hate cheesecakes baked this way. I mean, it's just not a cheesecake in a 9x13 pan. A cheesecake is SUPPOSED to be in a springform so it can rise and be beautiful. I think I would have liked this red cheesecake much better in a springform pan. That way the red center could contrast beautifully with the white cream cheese topping and you would really be able to see it... But in a 9x13.. it just looks like any ol' regular frosted cake. Until you cut into it... then the blood red center comes spilling out and moment of shock comes over you and you wonder if everything is okay. It does have the classic devil's food taste, chocolately and smooth; and the cream cheese topping garnished with chopped pecans is delicious. It does all blend well together in your mouth... but then you look in the mirror and your teeth are stained red. I just cant get into the red food coloring. It makes it seem "cheap" to me. Like a novelty. I just don't dig it....

I think I need to take one of the eggs out of the recipe. The texture was too dense. I like cheesecakes that have a lightness to them.... I need to start adding whipped egg whites to the mix, instead of all whole eggs. I also got the classic center crack in this one.... .I mean it just wouldn't be a cheesecake from my kitchen without a crack you can live in... I think I may patent that idea.... Because I am sure other chef's are out there trying like hell to perfect a cracked cheesecake.... HA... I have got it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fairy Cakes

These are sweet little cupcakes with homemade royal icing. I love these... I have a feeling I will be making many many batches of these for my sweet baby Kathryn as the years go on. They just remind me of her... sweet and pretty.

I love Nigella Lawson and these little gems are from her cookbook " How to be a Domestic Goddess". I love her style of cooking and baking... a little of this, a little of that, and some more of this if you want..... that is soooo the way I cook. But Nigella seems to pull it off much more gracefully than I do!

I am very proud of these even though they were effortless. The cupcake batter is mixed up in a food processor and the icing is simple as can be. I am just impressed that I got it right... with the proper consistency and all... I even colored them! Such a kitchen pro...

Here is the Recipe
Nigella Lawson "How to be a Domestic Goddess"

Fairy Cakes

half cup unsalted butter, softened
half cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs
three-quarters cup self-rising cake flour
half teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk
12-cup muffin pan lined with 12 paper baking cups

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

It couldn't be simpler to make fairy cakes: just put all the ingredients except for the milk in the food processor and then blitz till smooth. Pulse while adding milk down the funnel, to make for a soft, dropping consistency. I know it looks as if you'll never make this scant mixture fit 12 cupcake cups, but you will, so just spoon and scrape the stuff in, trying to fill each cup equally. Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fairy cakes are cooked and golden on top. As soon as bearable, take the fairy cakes in their cases out of the tin and let cool on a wire rack.
I like my cherry-topped fairies to have a little pointy top, but for all floral and other artistic effects, darling, you need to start with a level base, so once they're cool, cut off any mounded peaks so that you've got a flat surface for icing.

Royal Icing

4 cups confectioners' (powdered or icing)
3 tablespoonsmeringue powder (can be found at stores that carry cake decorating supplies)
1/2 teaspoon extract (
vanilla, lemon, almond) (optional)
1/2 - 3/4 cup (120 - 180 ml) warm water

In bowl of electric mixer beat the confectioners sugar and meringue powder to combine. Add the water and beat at low to medium speed until desired consistency (about 5-7 minutes).
To keep icing soft and shiny add a few drops of glycerin. Color icing using gel pastes by dipping the tip of a toothpick into the food coloring and then mixing it into the icing.
The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover when not in use.
Makes about 3 cups

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Raspberries Broke My Heart

This was going to be good. I had a plan. I had all the ingredients, I had free time, I was alone in the house..... me, some good music (sirius 26) and fresh lemons. I was ready. Today was the day that I would conquer buttercream. Today was the day that I would level a cake and make a beautiful and sound layer cake. Today was the day I would combine pale yellow frosting with the sinful contrast of a ruby raspberry. Today, though, the raspberry broke my heart.

Everything went as planned. The cake was beautiful and perfect... not dry. A delicious light lemon flavor with a lovely sweetness to it. The frosting.... ahhhh the frosting. Today it was PERFECT... light, creamy, spreadable. It had a fabulous taste, although I now have 2 new cavities, with sweetness cut in with tangy lemon on the end. I built the cake, frosted it and admired.
I wish I had taken a picture... it was lovely. Then an idea.... raspberries. Yes, I have raspberries in the fridge. The need to be used.... use them, Chan, use them. No, the cake looks fabulous like it is...... but a bit plain. Okay, yeah, raspberries will look good.

Damn them. They RUINED my beautiful cake. THE cake.. the only cake I have made that looked and tasted good all at the same time. These things dont happen often, here in this kitchen.
I have to say that I am a bit down about it. I thought I might take it to a friend for a belated birthday cake..... but not now. No way.
It looks like a bloody accident. And I dont mean that in the British way... it really looks like a BLOODY accident.

Here is the recipe... It's from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook.

Lemon Layer Cake

1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups self rising flour
1 ¼ cups cake flour
¾ cup milk
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease and lightly flour three 9x2 cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
In large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat well after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. When cake has cooled, spread the icing evenly between the layers and on top of cake. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT PUT

Lemon Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Combine butter, 4 cups of sugar, lemon juice and zest in bowl of mixer. Beat until smooth. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to spread. May add few drops of yellow food coloring. Use and store at room temperature.

Monday, July 18, 2005

My Collection Grows....

Wow... ebay is addictive. My mom and I have fallen in love with the thrill of bidding! And when we get outbid my mom screams "ADD 5 MORE DOLLARS!!!!" So needless to say we have accidently won quite a few lately. Here are some of my new additions.

So I have now, 2 pink ones, a vintage KitchenAid and a cool little drink mixer. I have "display" space above my kitchen cabinets and all of new babies will go up there. If you guys come across any cool ones (and decide to pass on it!) let me know... I am on the lookout now!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Pink Lady

I have started a vintage mixer collection and look what is starting the collection! I am so excited! My mom (love love love HER!) bought this for me on ebay.... I havent gotten it yet.... but here is a picture from ebay.

Crimes Against Cooking

It's only 9am and already I have created an atrocity in the kitchen. Scones. They are ugly AND they taste like utter crap. Why are they so bitter? Not enough sugar in the mix.....yuck. I added in cherries and almonds and made a little drizzle sauce with the cherry juice and confectioners sugar. The sauce is good... the scone... not so much. I am not even going to post the recipe because I would hate for someone else to have to experience these.

I am beginning to think that perhaps I, in a past life, performed some profane crime against cooking. Was I the one that thought green Jell O was a good idea? Did I invent SPAM? Or perhaps I was the one that put those two together in bunt pan and served it to unsuspecting guests.... WHAT DID I DO? What ever it was it was bad... very bad.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

William Hung and Me

So some very interesting things transpired yesterday. I recieved a call from the producer lady from the new Martha Stewart TV show. Yeah... freaking out. I am still freaking out. But the hilarious thing is that they are interested in me for the America's Worst Cook show... ... I think my desserts have made an impression! My pie crust is QUITE disasterious... when I make it from scratch. Well, even if I make it from a box it is still too thin and looks ugly. Everything I make looks ugly. Maybe I will get on the show and Martha will show me how to make PRETTY desserts. The only thing I have made that was pretty was the Tres Leche Cake but we all know that it tasted like cardboard and strawberries.... mmmmmm yum. So here is the deal... if it's ugly, it taste devine; if it is pretty, it takes on a crap quality. You can't have them both.... not in this household! You can't be pretty AND smart.... come on now, give the rest of us something!

I was talking to some of the girls on the Cooking Light website (addicted to them!) and I had the realization that OH MY GOD... I AM THE WILLIAM HUNG OF COOKING. " She bangs, she bangs..."
I want so badly to be a gourmet but end up as a possible guest on the America's Worst Cook show! But like some of the girls pointed out.... ol' William has made quite a name for himself from being the worst singer in the universe....Somthing has to be said for misguided confidence!
On that note let me tell you about the Elvis (love you mr. cheesecake) Cheesecake I made last night. I made this lovely recipe up sooooo I am really happy that it didn't explode in the oven and that it somewhat resembles an actucal cheesecake.....

It started with 3 VERY ripe bananas and one cup of sour cream blended well. Next came 3 blocks of cream cheese, again blended well..... until smooth. 5 eggs need to go in, one at a time, blending until incorporated. Dump in 1/2 cup sugar ( although I think it could stand a full cup) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix until all is incorporated.

OH.. The Crust... eeek... do this first. One box of Nabisco chocolate wafers with
1/2 cup melter butter... mix and press into springform pan. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. THEN mix the batter.....

Pour the batter into the baked crust and melt some peanut butter in the microwave, until creamy and smooth. Dollop spoonfuls of peanut butter onto
top of batter and cut in with a knife. Then "sling" thin ribbons of peanut butter on top for visual effect. Bake at 350 for about an hour... or until sides are set and the middle jiggles a bit (kinda like me...)when tapped with a spoon. Let this cool in the overn with the heat OFF for about 30 minutes. Wrap and store in fridge for 12 hours so all the flavors can fully develop and combine.....

Now I do believe this will be a delicious cheesecake. Why do I think that? Well because it is ugly... There are cracks on the top you could drive a truck through and the crust is uneven and I have a horrible feeling it is stuck to the bottom of the pan.....

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Nothing But Ideas

I didn't bake a single little thing today. Not one..... I briefly had the thought of baking a butter cake to use the rest of the pink icing on (yes, that icing is STILL around) but came to the conclusion at 9pm that it wouldn't be smart, as my daughter was still up and I needed a bath.
BUT... that's not to say that I didn't brain storm all day long. I have decided to enter a "Cheesecake Contest" sponsored by Philidelphia Cream Cheese. The winner takes 20K and I could really use 20K....
The rules are as follows: Must be 10 ingredients or less, must contain an extract, must not have a bake time over an hour, must bake in a 9x13 pan (gasp.. no springform??!!) and must have at least 3 blocks of Philidelphia Cream Cheese....

So here are some of my ideas:
Coconut Lemongrass Cheesecake
Honey Orange Cheesecake
Key Lime with a Gingersnap Crust
Hummingbird (pineapple, bananas and pecans) Cheesecake
White Chocolate with Macadamia and Coconut Cheesecake
Elvis Cheesecake (peanut butter and banana)
Caramel Walnut Apple Cheesecake
Rum Rasin Cheesecake
Chocolate Orange Cheesecake (For Tara)
Maple Pecan Cheesecake
Mango Pineapple Cheesecake
Honey Rum Pineapple Cheesecake
Mexicana Cheesecake (using Mexican Chocolate)

What do you think? I did a search on cheesecakes earlier and dear God.. there is nothing that hasnt been done! Except the Coconut Lemongrass and the Elvis.... at least I didnt see those!
Let me know what you think.
I am opening up the comments so that anyone can comment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Holy Mary Mother of God... I Made BREAD!

Yes.. I made bread. I made bread from absolute scratch. I made bread from NOTHING but flour and water. Hell, I made the YEAST! I have been nursing a starter for 4 days or so, just patiently waiting for the day I could bake. How wonderful that I could FINALLY bake bread on the very day my new mixer came in the mail..... FATE. It has been a truely gratifying baking day, today. I left work early when I got the word that the mixer was in ( I know, I know... pitiful), made a quick stop by the grocery and jetted home. I was in baking mode.
I got her out of the box... admired her, washed her bowl and got started! I started by mixing my bread with the starter and flour with a bit of salt. As that rested I decided to "whip up" a cheesecake. I made one from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook..... The Raspberry Marzipan Cheesecake. This was my first attempt at a cheesecake and I have to say I was impressed! It wasn't nearly as difficult as I had expected. It takes a while to bake ( 80 long minutes and another hour cooling in the oven with the door adjar.) but other than that it was no sweat. Really. It is a georgeous cake and I am eating a piece as we speak. Delicious.

But back to the bread....
After the dough took a rest I mixed in the remainder of the flour and changed from my paddle to my dough hook. Man, that baby flew! That big bowlof dough was no match for the KA.... She whipped that dough right into a lovely smooth elastic ball...
I let it rise, shaped it, let it rise AGAIN and finally was ready to bake. My recipe calls for a pan of water in the bottom of the oven as it bakes and also for a few squirts of water in the stove as the bread is cooking. The steam makes for a nice crust. I couldn't find a water bottle to squirt with so I had to use one of my daughter's bath toys that squirted. A rubber ducky with a santa hat on....

The bread has a very hard crust to it... I think that will get better with practice , but the inside is soft and fluffy. I haven't tasted it yet.... I will let you know tomorrow.
Thank you to Linda who helped me through the entire process and who gave me the "sourdough" starter....

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Righting an Icing Wrong

I am mixerless today. I shipped ol' Bessie off to live in California and still haven't gotten my new mixer... tomorrow, tomorrow. So I decided I would take the day off from the kitchen; but I couldn't. The bad icing from last night was calling out for help and who am I to deny icing? So I got in the kitchen and got busy.

I decided to add a block of cream cheese to the mix to try and thicken it up a bit. It did thicken up, but not enough. MORE POWDERED SUGAR..... and more and more and more and before I knew it another pound went in. So I did use 2 pounds after all... agrrr. But really it tasted good.. I think the cream cheese really cut into the tooth aching sweetness that 2 pounds of confectioners sugar makes. So I was at last happy with the taste. I had forgotten that I bought some icing color gel the other day and became VERY excited at the idea of turning it pink. Lovely, lovely pink icing. All is right in the world again. I never reached the thick buttercream consistency I was looking for but that is okay. I kinda like the way the icing dribbles over the edge of the cupcake and looks casually beautiful. Like someone who wakes up with no makeup and bed head and looks radiant... this icing was just naturally beautiful.

I iced the remaining chocolate cupcakes from the night before and topped them off with coconut and strawberries. They were very pretty....

It's Official... Kathryn loves cupcakes..... well, actually she loves the icing. She also loves pounding the cake part onto the tray and making lots of crumbles. I love to clean it up... really.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Ugliest Cupcake Ever Born

Another rainy and ugly day here. I was in one of those rainy and ugly moods until I got home and....... a package!! It was a cookbook I had ordered a while back, More from Magnolia. I was thrilled and made a special trip to the grocery to buy buttermilk (yes, this southern girl was out), confectioner's sugar and cupcake liners. I decided, after going through the cookbook twice, on Magnolia's Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting and of course, sprinkles. I was so delighted that it called for buttermilk and could just taste the loveliness that was about to happen in my JennAir at 350 degrees. I got busy right away and the cupcake batter went well... it was lovely and velvety and smooth. I knew this was going to be a success. I put the cupcakes in the oven and got started on the Buttercream Frosting.

I recently made another buttercream in chocolate and found it sickingly sweet from the 2, yes TWO pounds of confectioner's sugar the recipe called for. I couldn't handle much of it. I was glad to see that this one called for 6 to 8 cups. I know that is still alot of confectioner's sugar but holy moly, it is better than 2 pounds. Halfway through the frosting, Kathryn, our 16 month old toddled in and demanded a taste test.....
I couldn't get the spatula back from her! Now it is 11pm and she is STILL on a sugar high...

Once I did, I tested myself and still found it to be just too sweet. I know, I know.... IT'S FROSTING... It's supposed to be sweet. But I am looking for something with, I don't know a different taste. So I decided to add a splash of buttermilk thinking that it might cut the sweetness..... it did and tasted fabulous. But, as I have since learned, the frosting is too thin.The buttermilk was too much. I just "piped" some onto the cupcakes and it slid right off... needs more sugar... just the thing I am trying to get away from! Maybe I need a whole new frosting recipe!?

Here is the recipe:

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (see Note)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Note: To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for approximately 5–10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm 5–10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. At the bakery we ice the cupcakes with either Vanilla Buttercream or Chocolate Buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes*

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Note: If you would like to make a layer cake instead of cupcakes, divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans and bake the layers for 30–40 minutes.

I will try again in a couple of days.Tomorrow I am sending my old mixer off to Krista in California and my new KA McDaddy Mixer comes in on Wednesday. I am so excited about it.... I might just sleep with it under my pillow.