The Roaming Foodie

Posts Tagged ‘desserts

This is not in the interest of those following New Year’s resolutions to diet and such, and I myself am trying to eat better as well, but these are just too good and too simple to NOT write about.  I came about this recipe after watching Nigella Lawson on Cooking Channel while I was at home for the holidays.  While I can’t eat sweets (or really eat at all) like I used to, I seem to always be able to find room for these little ramekins of heaven. I used to love making molten chocolate cakes, but they always seemed to take forever, and getting them out of the ramekins always turned into a big blob of melted chocolate, not the neat little cake that stands on a plate until someone pierces it with a spoon and turns it into a volcano of melted gooey chocolate.  That was what I loved about those recipes…it took this unassuming little cake and made eating it into something more. This recipe takes all that I didn’t like about molten chocolate cakes and throws it out the window. There’s no unmolding. No flouring after buttering the ramekin (something that I detest, despite how much I love baking). Just enjoyment of the lush molten chocolate, perfect for indulging.

Chocolate Hot Pots
Makes 4

by the way, Nigella calls them “chocohotopots”. Her recipe is here, but I’ve changed it just a bit:
http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/chocohotopots-recipe/index.html

1 stick of butter, plus enough (about a tablespoon) for greasing
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter the ramekins with the tablespoon of butter.

Melt the chocolate and butter together, either in a bowl that’s set on top of a small pan of simmering water (aka a double boiler) or in the microwave, until it is completely melted and silky. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl. Beat in 3 tablespoons of flour. Stir in the melted chocolate. Pour into the four ramekins. Bake immediately, or you can also put any that you don’t want to bake immediately in the fridge, and bake them when you please.

Bake for 20 minutes. They’ll be cracked and done looking on top.

These are very hot when they come out of the oven. Place the ramekin on a plate, and serve with a spoon. Warn everyone that they’ll be hot, though.

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So, here’s a story of how boyfriends can influence your cooking.

The other day while over at Andrew’s, I was in a terrible mood for no reason, and decided to bake in order to lift my spirits.

I had made Andrew blondies before, and he really liked them. I also had chocolate chips left over from brownie making that I wanted to use, so I settled on making chocolate chip blondies.

Andrew was helping me make them to keep me company, and as he was looking at all the things the recipe suggests you can add into blondies, and said, “You can put bourbon in these???”

Sigh. Andrew really enjoys whiskey. Kentucky whiskey (or bourbon, or whatever you call it. There’s a million types of whiskey, and I’m quite positive I wouldn’t like any of them).

The thought of bourbon makes me squirm (and yes, I know it tastes really good baked INTO things, just not by itself, and frankly, the raw smell of it gets to me), but he seemed so excited by the prospect of putting bourbon into this that I agreed.

And that is how my boyfriend convinced me turn these into bourbon chocolate chip blondies.

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Blondies

adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s website: http://smittenkitchen.com/2006/11/blondies-for-a-blondie/

By the way, I baked these in an 8×8 pan, and they turned out rather thin (though rich, so it worked out well), but if you want thicker blondies, doubling the recipe may work.

8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt
1 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/2 to 1 cup of chocolate chips

  1. Butter an 8×8 pan
  2. Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
  3. Add salt, stir in flour. Add in the bourbon and the chocolate chips, and incorporate.
  4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle.  Cool on rack before cutting them.

So, I have a confession to make.

I’ve never made brownies from scratch before.

I always used the box kind, because, well, they’re easy and always come out fudgy and gooey. Always.

This all changed yesterday. I was in the mood to bake, perhaps because the last two weeks have been stressful, but whatever it was, I needed to cream some butter and sugar and sift some flour and just make something sweet and delicious. There was no way that I could have a good day unless I baked.

I was thinking about making my grandmother’s coconut cake, until I came across Cakespy’s blog (which you can find here:  http://www.cakespy.com/ )

As soon as I saw the post on Fat Witch Brownies, I knew that brownies would be what I made. So Andrew (who was completely up for brownies as long as they were JUST brownies, no frosting or fillings or extra stuff) and I went to pick up supplies for brownie making. As soon as we got home, I started my baking therapy.

Maybe I’m weird, but there’s nothing quite as soothing as standing over a stove, slowly melting bittersweet chocolate and butter until it becomes a beautiful, smooth, and glistening liquid.  Creaming eggs and sugar by hand makes me feel like even if I’m not in control over anything else in my life, I can control these brownies. And adding the chocolate mixture and the sifted flour and stirring until everything just comes together, well, I feel like I accomplished something, even if I failed my test or whatever, at least I can make a batch of brownies.  Baking/cooking is the best form of therapy for me, and I am perfectly fine with that.

Fat Witch Brownies (from the Fat Witch Bakery in NYC)

(I found the recipe here:  http://www.cakespy.com/blog/2010/9/24/lifes-a-witch-fat-witch-brownies-cookbook-and-a-recipe.html but it’s from Fat Witch Bakery’s cookbook:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1605295744?ie=UTF8&tag=cakespycom-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1605295744)

By the way, if anyone can tell me how to make a link that is just a word, that’d be great. I tried it, but it didn’t work, which is why there are so many links in my articles.

Ingredients

  • 14 Tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ubleached flour
  • pinch of salt

Procedure

  1. Grease a 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool while you prepare the next step.
  3. Cream the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well blended.
  4. Measure the flour and salt and then sift together directly into the chocolate mixture. Mix the batter gently until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
  5. If you wanna, stir in nuts or any extras at this point.
  6. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake 33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with crumbs but not batter.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool on rack for 1 hour. Cut just before serving. Makes 12-16 brownies (or 9, if you cut them like I do)

Every summer, I make a million things with blueberries in it. In my backyard, we have 8 or 10 blueberry bushes that produce what I would estimate to be several pounds of blueberries each summer. Anyway, my family and I can’t eat that many blueberries raw, so I make a plethora of baked goods featuring blueberries: muffins, bread, cake, pancakes, and, my family’s personal favorite, blueberry pie. I make at least 3 or 4 every summer, and have been doing so for the past few years, so you’d think by now I’d be used to getting the pastry just right. And I have been, up until today when I made it.

I remember the first time I made this pastry recipe a few years ago, I followed the recipe exactly, dubiously looked at the crumbly bowl of flour, butter, shortening, lemon juice, and water, and figured that’s what it was supposed to look like and would somehow magically come together after chilling in the refrigerator and after I rolled it out. After pulling it out of the fridge, having dough fall apart and crumble before my eyes out of the perfect disc I had beat it into. I then had a nervous breakdown, in which I resembled a 4 year old child having a temper tantrum, and ended up pressing pounding it into submission into the pan until it would at least serve as a something to hold the blueberry filling. Despite this difficult crust, the pie turned out delicious. From then on, I just added more and more water until the crust looked like every other pastry recipe I’ve ever made, and from then on all my pies have consistently turned out picture perfect beautiful. I’m a perfectionist, what can I say? It’s admirable, I suppose, but it’s also often my downfall.

Anyway, the last time I made a beautiful and scrumptious pie, I thought the crust was slightly tougher than usual. So, this time, I thought I’d cut back on the liquid.

This was a terrible idea.

My crust was crumbly, but as before when I made it, I deluded myself into thinking it would come together. It didn’t. I kneaded and beat it into submission before rolling it out, and managed to get two discs of dough to use as crust, but it is a terribly ugly pie. I hate serving pies that aren’t perfect. But at least I know the filling will taste lovely. And, I didn’t have a temper tantrum this time. that’s always good too.

Blueberry Pie
adapted from the More from Magnolia Cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/More-Magnolia-Recipes-Famous-Kitchen/dp/0743246616/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282330716&sr=1-1)

Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, chilled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3-7 tablespoons of ice water

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter and shortening until the pieces are pea size (You can do this with a pastry cutter, a fork like I use, or you can do this entire part in the food processor). Add the lemon juice and water and toss with a fork until moistened (you’ll want it to be pretty wet, enough to be able to form into discs, so keep adding water until the right consistency is reached). Gather the dough into a ball and separate into two discs. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Filling
3 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons quick cooking minute tapioca
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

Toss the berries, sugar, tapioca, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out one disc on a lightly floured surface to fit a 9-inch pie dish. Trim off excess if you wish (my family loves crust, so I usually leave it on and make an extra thick edge crust). Place the fruit filling into the bottom crust, and dot with the butter. Roll out the next disc and place it on top, again trimming if you’d like. Press the edge of the bottom crust and the edge of the top crust together, fold over, and crimp to seal. Make several 1-inch slits in the center with a knife. Protect the edges of the crust from burning by covering them and wrapping the edge with aluminum foil Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, then serve and enjoy!

Andrew’s parents, whom I’ve met once before, visited last weekend, and I volunteered to make a dessert for when we have dinner. I decided to make a peach pie because I saw Georgia peaches in the grocery store the other day. While they are not nearly as great as South Carolina peaches (don’t worry SC…I won’t forsake your sweet, juicy, delicious peaches), they are still pretty good , and will definitely suffice for pie. I had my mom e-mail me the family recipe for peach pie. Since Andrew’s family also hails from Kentucky, I wanted to honor that by throwing some of the bourbon Andrew keeps around in with the peach filling (not part of Mom’s recipe, but I found a recipe on smittenkitchen.com). So, using my Mom’s pastry and Smitten Kitchen’s bourbon peach filling, I threw together what turned out to be a very pretty pie, if I do say so myself. And I think they really enjoyed it too. I hope so.

Another thing. If you forget the lemon juice in the pastry, don’t worry. Just replace it with cold water, or you can do like I did, which is squeeze a little juice from a peach (I was wearing my creative pants when I made the pastry, clearly) and throw it in there. It really won’t make a difference without it, though.

Also, I really suggest you try the bourbon, even if you don’t like bourbon. The filling does not taste like bourbon at all, but it complements the peaches in a way that you wouldn’t get from not using it. If you’re really against it, then just leave it out. But even everyone who doesn’t like bourbon still liked the pie.

What I love about this pie is that it wasn’t too sweet. There’s no sugar in the crust, and minimal sugar in the filling, which allows the natural sweetness of the peaches to really shine through.

Pastry Recipe (from my Mom. Love you!)
This pastry is super easy, super quick to put together, and you can make it up to 3 days in advance. It will work for sweet pies or savory pies. Pretty versatile, huh?
2 cups flour
6 tbsp. each – cold stick butter cut into small pieces
6 tbsp Crisco (or another solid shortening)
3 tbsp. cold water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Put flour in medium bowl. cut in butter and shortening to look like small peas. Add water and lemon juice; toss with a fork until evenly moistened and pastry starts to clump together.
Gather into a ball , then divide in half. Press each half into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes until firm enough to roll out – up to 3 days.

Bourbon Peach Filling (adapted from SmittenKitchen.com)

9 or 10 peaches, cut into wedges
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze – 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp. water

Mix the peaches with the flour, sugar and pinch of salt, and add the bourbon and vanilla. Toss together.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9″ pie plate. On lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin, roll out 1 disk pastry to a 12″ circle. Fit into pie plate. Add filling, spread evenly, then dot with 2 tbsp butter. Roll remaining pastry into an 11″ circle.

Center circle over filling; press edges together, tuck under edge of bottom crust , flute, then brush top with glaze. Cut a few slits in the top for venting, brush with glaze and sprinkle with sugar. Remember to put aluminum foil around the edges to prevent burning. Bake 50 minutes

For some reason today, I have been non-stop thinking about the two summers I spent in New York City with American Ballet Theater. The program with ABT lasted 3 weeks, so, I’ve only spent a total of 6 weeks in NYC. But, I fell in love with the city that never sleeps on day one.

Of course, a distinctive part of my trip revolved around food. The second year, I lived there without my mom being with me, and I made a very dear friend (p.s., you can find her really awesome blog about NYC here: http://www.madamebnyc.blogspot.com/) She showed me some of the most AMAZING places to eat in all of our adventures around NYC. One place that really stood out in my mind was this tiny Thai restaurant that was up around Lincoln Center. I can’t remember the name of it, but the deal with it was, there was another restaurant with the same name that served Americanized Thai up the street, but this one was the real-deal Thai food. I don’t remember everything we ate, but I know there was this crispy duck salad that wasn’t on the menu, that had crispy duck pieces (it’s the only time I’ve had duck and enjoyed it), green apples, and some peanuts. So, so yummy. We also went to a great Korean place in East Village where she and I shared Korean barbecued beef that we wrapped in lettuce with white rice. We had several other things too, but I obviously didn’t have this blog then (I so wish I had…it makes me sad that I can’t remember every detail of every meal I had in New York). We also had the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had at a restaurant called Cafeteria. And of course, we went to Magnolia Bakery twice for cupcakes. I remember she had consumed her entire cupcake at Magnolia before we even hit the cash register, and there wasn’t even a line! She also introduced me to Pinkberry (um…overpriced froyo, but absolutely delicious as well) and Gray’s Papaya (which one might remember from the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie has her book signing party, and then the chaffeur takes her for hot dogs afterwards…that was Gray’s Papaya). Nothing like a hot dog and papaya juice on a warm day in NYC after touring the Met.

So, you may ask, how did we consume all this food, and not completely destroy our waistlines (besides the fact that we pretty much walked everywhere) and our wallets (food in NYC is pricey, especially eating out)? I learned a very, very good lesson from her that I really should put into practice more.

We ordered one or two dishes of whatever we wanted, and shared them, then split the ticket down the middle.

It was a beautiful system. For instance, at Cafeteria, we ordered the fabulous mac and cheese, and a salmon dish that was phenomenal. But we shared it. And, if I can recall, we didn’t even finish it all because it was more than enough food. We did this pretty much every single time we ate out, and if one of the other dancers we made friends with was joining us, we’d up it to 3 dishes and share those between us all, and split the check three ways. This way, we could get away with eating whatever we wanted and not eat too much or have to pay an exorbitant amount for a meal.

Seriously. I am re-introducing this idea into my life. So I can eat out more, and thus write more blog posts. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

There was also this diner called Manatus near where I stayed the first summer I was there. I was lucky enough to be able to spend the first summer in West Village where my great-uncle used to have an apartment (he sold it before my 2nd summer). I don’t know if it was because this diner was the first place I ate, ever, in NYC, but it is still one of my favorite restaurants ever, even though there was nothing about it that particularly stood out. It was just simple, normal, good diner fare.

The other thing about the apartment I stayed at my first summer was that it was literally right across the street from the Magnolia Bakery made famous by the Saturday Night Live “Lazy Sunday” skit and, more importantly, Sex and the City (yes…the actual one SJP and Cynthia Nixon sat outside of was right across the street from me…love!) The lines for it were ridiculous too. Except on weekday evenings around dinner time. No line. My mom and I got cupcakes every Monday night we were there. There’s not much to say about Magnolia cupcakes except that they are phenomenal and have every right to be as famous as they are.

Now I really want a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. Or some Tasti D-Lite ( http://www.tastidlite.com/ don’t judge me…it’s good!) Someone should really think about putting a Tasti D-Lite in ATL…I’m just saying.

Between the walking around the city, the fantastic food to be found, the shopping, the shows (I got to see WICKED and met some of the actors and actresses outside of the stage door…and they signed my program!) and the visit to Tiffany and Co, my heart swoons…

I miss you, New York City.

So, my mom visited me on Wednesday and Thursday on her Spring Break, before bringing me home for Easter Break. We spent the day and a half shopping, hanging out, and more importantly, eating at a few of the places that she really enjoys in the Ham.

Wednesday:
I took my mom back to Edgar’s for one of the last visits (I’m making at least one last one myself). She ordered a Chicken Avocado Wrap, and I got the usual Red White and Blue wrap. We split it, so we had half of each wrap. The Chicken Avocado had grilled chicken that was slightly spiced but incredibly moist and juicy, mashed avocado, and lettuce. My wrap has incredibly lean roast beef, feta cheese, cabbage, and tomatoes, and is so so so good and addictive. The thing I like about Edgar’s wraps is that they press them in a panini press, so they’re slightly warmed through and it makes the outside of the wrap a little bit crispy. Then we split a chocolate cupcake. The chocolate icing at Edgar’s is to die for. It’s like eating softened fudge. So good, and really hard to explain how good it is. So just go try it. Then you’ll know just how delicious the chocolate buttercream is. Since it was Easter, the bakery had Easter decorated cakes, petit fours and cookies. My mom and I bought the most adorable Easter bunny sugar cookies to eat for dessert that night. The cookie itself reminded me of the cookies we make at Christmas, so it wasn’t that astounding (but still really delicious) since my mom and I can totally make it ourselves. But the decorating was absolutely adorable.
For dinner, we went to Jim n’ Nicks, a barbecue place in 5 Points, but they’re also scattered about elsewhere, including around Atlanta (I’ve seen one out in Gwinnett, but I don’t know if there are any In The Perimeter). Basically, JNN has the best creamed spinach I’ve ever had, hands down. It’s perfectly creamy with little pieces of artichoke in it. I really could eat just a bowl of that for dinner, but they don’t offer that, so my mom and I each ordered 1/4 of a barbecued chicken and a side of creamed spinach. The chicken is incredibly moist with a great smoked flavor to it, and you can totally tell it’s cooked “slow and low” like all good barbecue should be (and if it’s not actually cooked that way, then they have an amazing way of faking it), and they’re sauce is good, even if it is a little spicy for my taste.

Thursday:
We ate breakfast at Starbucks, each getting a Turkey Bacon Egg sandwich. It was alright, but doesn’t hold a candle to Panera’s breakfast sandwich (I could eat those crazy delicious things everyday. But I don’t. Go me.)
For lunch, before heading home, we ate at Dragon, my favorite Chinese restaurant in the Ham. They don’t use MSG AT ALL, and for $12, my mom and I each got an egg roll, a bowl of egg drop soup, an entree that could’ve fed two people, and a scoop of rice. The food was waaaay more than expected for $6 each, and it’s really great Americanized Chinese food. Which is about all you can find in B’ham as far as I know, except for a place called Red Pearl that’s inside an Oriental Market. I haven’t been, but we’re going as a group in my Chinese class in a few weeks, so I’ll let ya’ll know how it is 🙂

That’s about it for now. I’m home for Easter/my grandmother’s birthday right now, then I’ll be back down to Atlanta to meet Andrew’s parents on Sunday night. Good food for Easter, of course. Ham, roast asparagus, potato salad, bread, and I’m making cupcakes! Easter cupcakes! I’ll post pictures in all their decorated glory, as long as they look good 🙂

Happy Easter or Happy Passover!!!