Saturday, February 27, 2010

Grapefruit-Ginger Tea Bread

Grapefruit-Ginger Tea BreadThe other day Hubs came home with a bag of grapefruits, given to him from the neighbor of a customer. He was warned that they would be... tart. Fortunately I had bookmarked this recipe a while back. For some mysterious reason, I always seem to have crystallized ginger on hand (it seems to keep forever) so there was nothing stopping me but the butter... we were out. Guess what? This beautiful cake/bread doesn't call for any butter at all! How great is that? It's my new favorite recipe, that's how great that is!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Corn Muffins x 2

Dorie's Corny & Savory Corn Muffins
Sometimes things just fall into place so nicely. A couple of weeks ago I signed up to bring cornbread to a potluck. I thought I'd make it in muffin tins as it would be easier and neater to serve and eat that way. Then last week I received a Valentine's gift of the Dorie Greenspan cookbook I've been wanting. Guess what was in the first chapter? Not just one, but two different corn muffin recipes! Of course, I made both. Some things are just meant to be. Corny but true.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I've Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

Lavender Lemon Mini Tarts
Lavender Lemon Mini Tarts – because it's cold outside, and I'm dreaming of the month of May.* Looking at the lemons and egg yolks sitting next to each other on my counter as I got ready to make these tarts, brought to mind those great lyrics and thoughts of sunny days ahead. After our little false-Spring came to a cloudy end yesterday, I've realized how sick of Winter I am. But then I think about all the things I love about Winter and I start to miss it before it's even gone. Twisted, I know. It's like that with every change of season for me. So relieved to finally welcome the next one, but wistfully sad for the loss of the last. A good reminder to appreciate the things we have while we have them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

I'm working my way up to real bona fide honest-to-goodness made-with-love cinnamon rolls. Like the ones Nana used to make (What? I can dream can't I?). Baby Step #1: Make Easy Cinnamon Roll Muffins at Joy The Baker (based on Quick and Easy Cinnamon Bun Bread at Baking Bites). All the flavor of a cinnamon roll without the hassle.

The part about making muffins that I never liked is filling up the muffin tins*. This statement in particular: "Divide batter evenly...". No matter what I do, it never comes out even. There are always one or two that look "less than" rather than equal. Then there's the borrowing from the fuller cups to even out the lesser cups, and pretty soon it's all a big mess. I need to let go. I know this and that's why I've decided to make muffins more often. It's good practice for letting go (and we get to eat them after). Case in point, these Easy Cinnamon Roll Muffins. I filled up the muffin cups with batter and there were a couple little runty ones. Oh well.**

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mayo & Mustard

I remember going over to my friend's house after school one day and there was her big sister, making mayonnaise. So detached was I from "real" food that I didn't really know what mayonnaise was made of, or (even more amazing) that you could make it yourself at home. Once we finally work our way through the big ol' jar of mayo in our fridge*, I am going to start making our mayonnaise from scratch. In the meantime, I want to make some "fancy" mustard. Hubs and I both really love all of the Sierra Nevada mustards, and a nice honey-mustard is sure good on sandwiches. Our favorite thing is to smear a flavorful mustard on the inside of a grilled-cheese sandwich. So, in the continuing interest of "make do and bloody well make it yourself", we're going to try to recreate some fabulous mustards at home.
*Waste not want not.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Grand Chocolate Chip Cookies

A long time ago in a far away land, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for an "end of semester" party that were so good, my teacher exclaimed in front of the whole class, "If I'd had these before I turned the grades in, I would have given you an A!". I had mixed feelings about her statement (and frankly still do), but that's a dialog for another day. These, by the way, are not those cookies. They are inspired by those cookies.

Tonight when I asked the Hubs if we should make our "regular" cookies or try a new recipe, he enthusiastically said, "Try something new!". I randomly pulled out the Silver Palate Cookbook, and he asked if adding dried cranberries would be a good idea. Cranberries and chocolate? Definitely, yes, affirmative, and uh, ya-sure-youbetcha! My thoughts drifted to other flavors that would compliment, and I remembered that we happened to have a lone orange looking for something to do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Curds And Tarts

I've got a couple of Meyer lemons from our little tree and a ton of egg yolks left over from the angel food cake the other day. Oh, what to do? What to do?....
  • Alton Brown's Lemon Curd recipe on looks good but I don't have enough lemons this time.
  • These little Lemon Tarts from SugarLaws via look great and have a no-shrink vodka crust.
  • I've made Martha Stewart's beautiful Caramelized Lemon Tart* once before when faced with a glut of egg yolks. Luscious, rich and lemony (and a brulĂ©e top)!
  • Also from Martha, a Butterless Lemon Curd**. Meant as a filling for her Lemon Angel Food Cake, I bet it would make for a great little tart too!
*page 492, The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, 2000; and Martha Stewart Living magazine, April/May 1992 issue.
**page 510, The Martha Stewart Cookbook, 1995

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Angel Food Fix

lemon angel food cake
Here it is more than a month after my "oops!" with the Brown Sugar Angel Food Cake and I hadn't done anything with the erroneous flour-sugar combo other than pack it up and stuff it in the pantry. Didn't want to waste it, but it sure would have been helpful to have noted how much flour and sugar was actually in there. All I remember is that I had measured some of the sugar in with the sifted flour before realizing that it was the wrong kind of sugar.

...and it's been staring at me from the pantry shelf ever since.

The first thing to do was to go back to the beginning (a very good place to start).* I got out the Brown Sugar Angel Food Cake recipe thinking that if nothing else, I could just try the same recipe using regular sugar or a combination. On the following page was a Lemon Angel Food Cake filled with lemon curd. That would be a sweet way to deal with all those extra yolks! Alas, I used my two lemons on the rum cake disaster last weekend. However, I noticed that the only difference between the lemon and brown sugar cake recipes (other than the type of sugar) was the addition of lemon zest. So I made Brown Sugar Angel Food Cake with white sugar. Or you could say that I made Lemon Angel Food Cake without the lemon. All of the amounts were identical. For instance, the eggs. Fourteen of them. Leaving me once again with... 14 egg yolks looking for a purpose. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super (Bowl) Citrus Cake

Super Citrus: Orange Bundt Cake

Orange Cake, page 359, The Silver Palate Cookbook, 2007 (25th anniversary edition)

Went totally by the book and everything went like clockwork. Except for the glaze. I forgot to set the timer on the stove and got distracted by a design project I'm playing around with. Oops. I made caramel. I didn't need caramel, I needed glaze. So, I took the rest of the juice from the oranges and just whisked in powdered sugar until it reached a glaze-y consistency. The cake was really moist and flavorful without being too sweet, and the simple glaze was perfect with it. I needed a crowd-sized dessert though, and while I thought my Bundt pan was the right size for the recipe, the cake was at least an inch shy of the top of the pan. Survey says... diminutive yet delicious. A keeper for sure, but will only serve about 8 fans. Of course, I could just make two of them and solve it that way...

See also: Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake, page 206-207, Barefoot Contessa: Parties!, Ina Garten, 2001

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Plentiful Polenta

Polenta in all it's humble yet versatile glory...
  • Polenta Bread from Williams-Sonoma
  • Deep Dish Polenta Pizza at Real Simple
  • Great idea for a casual dinner party: A Polenta Bar from
  • A friend of mine gave me her recipe for Goat Cheese Polenta with Caramelized Onions... if I find it again (and get her permission), I'll post it. I absolutely loved it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Phil Said: Six More Weeks Of Winter

Brrrr... time to make more soup! Here are some that sound wonderful...
And how amazing is this? Homemade Boullion! Another staple I can make from scratch (and freeze for later). Life is good...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweet Little Sour-Bombs

s if from some alternate reality, the skin of the kumquat is the sweet part and the fruit inside is sour.
Really sour. If you've eaten one, you will either love it or hate it. They may look like cute little shrinky-dink oranges, but they pack one heck of a sour-patch punch.

During the course of your life you just might find yourself living near someone with a kumquat tree, or working with someone who has a kumquat tree at home - you'll know it if you do. These people will love you to pieces if you take a bunch of them off their hands; they will thank you profusely and may even want to hug you. In my experience, people who have kumquat trees in their yards are generally not the ones who actually planted the tree. The trees are there in the yard when they move in and it's such a great place and "Oh look! It even has a fruit tree of some kind! Won't that be nice? I wonder what it is?". These people are soon desperate to unload the enormous bounty of sour little fruits on anyone who will take them. If they bought the house, the tree is gone in the first year or two; if they are renters (and you happen to love kumquats), you will have a long and beautiful friendship ahead of you.