June, 2008 Archive

Sunday, June 29, 2008

project wedding cake: mango curd

project mango curd

[Previous Project Wedding Cake episodes: An Introduction]

So [wipes hands on the filthiest apron you have ever seen] where did we leave off? Oh right! You see, I am making a wedding cake. And despite the fact that I have made more birthday and celebration cakes in the last two years that I can count on all of my fingers and most of my toes, wedding cakes are a whole ‘nother scene. I thought “I’ll just bake three cakes and snap ‘em all together.” Hoo-hoo-hee-hee, how much I have learned!

battered mangoes and lime

Since we last spoke, we’ve made a lot of progress. I have baked 6″-square samples of both the vanilla and chocolate cakes we will be using with their requisite fillings, the bride came and tasted (also Joc, when I begged her to remove the thigh-offending goods from our fridge!), brought home samples and everyone involve declared them a raging success. How wonderful, right?

the lime was juiceless

I have also read all 240-and-counting of your comments and Internet, I am just filled with glee that you all came out to help this project along. I’d bake you all a cake, but I think we’ve already seen what kind of trouble that gets me into. Instead, I have made several adjustments based on your advice: the largest cake layer is now chocolate (in an effort to balance the number of white and chocolate cake slices) and I know with absolute certainty that I will be assembling the cake on site (I mean, phew, I was hoping you’d suggest that anyway).

mango, ready for the chopper

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 27, 2008

zucchini strand spaghetti

zucchini strand spaghetti

Believe it or not, I’ve actually cooked dinner a few times this month. Like, three! Maybe even four. I don’t know, does a corn tortillas chmeared with refried beans, salsa and toasted with some shredded cheese on top count as dinner? Oh it does? Then definitely, most certainly four. We’re all about the refined eatin’ at the smittenkitchen.

zucchini strands

But this dish is a winner. In fact, if I weren’t working on a few humongous projects right now I would have made it again, maybe even twice. It’s the perfect antidote to the simultaneous and conflicting internal dialogue of “I’m craving a big bowl of spaghetti!” and “But it’s bathing suit season!” Also, it’s really nice to find ways to lighten up pasta when it is hot and sticky and borderline-rainy every single day and you’re beginning to believe that you might not get to the beach even once this summer, prepared or not.

whole wheat spaghetti

The recipe comes from Michael Chiarello and I’d seen him make it a few years ago on his Food Network show, back when they played it more than once a week, on Mondays, at 1 a.m. (Fine, I’m exaggerating, but that was indeed the last time I saw it, and it was DVRed .) It was one of those “here, I cook healthy too” episodes that always make me giggle because they usually so eloquently sum up our American confusion over what “healthy” actually means (see this cake for further evidence).

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

project wedding cake: an introduction

cake testing looks like this

As there is no casual way to say this, ahhhem, let me just blurt it out: I am baking a wedding cake!

Like, a real live honest-to-god wedding cake. I have always wanted to make a wedding cake. Alex and my wedding cake was well-intentioned but ultimately disappointing, the obvious product of all the shortcuts bakeries get themselves into when quantity trumps quality. In the same way that I believe that everyone deserves a cake baked with a symphony of butter, eggs, flour and devotion on their birthday, a wedding cake should be all that and more. No mystery-ingredient toppings, no highly unnatural silver dust, no fake cake for display with a sheet cake in the back for serving.

cake, cake, cake

That said, although I volunteered, no insisted upon making this a few months ago as our friends discussed their upcoming wedding, I am currently freaking out over the magnitude of this project. Typical, right?

With this, I want to kick off a series of mini-entries over the next two weeks–yes, the wedding is in less than two weeks–in which I work out the details and steps, and those of you out there that have ever baked a wedding cake before will come forward and tell me all of your secrets. And share your Xanax with me.

batter up

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, June 22, 2008

sweet cherry pie

sweet cherries for pie

Whoever said you can’t make a good cherry pie with sweet cherries was lying. Sure, I love a sour or tart cherry pie as much as the next cherry-lover, but when the Greenmarket only has the sweet ones, there’s no reason to run in the other direction.

rinse

It helps that they were early-season cherries, thus not as sweet as the dark purple Bings we’re getting in the supermarkets right now. But I maintain that even if their sugars were fully developed, you could have just dialed back the sugar and punched up the acidity some more to balance it out.

pit

There’s just no excuse not to make cherry pie when they’re this pretty.

ptooie!

You might want to wear dark clothes when you pit the cherries.

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, June 19, 2008

fresh ricotta and red onion pizza

fresh ricotta and red onion pizza

I know what you’re thinking: Sure, we said we wanted you to keep the pizza recipes coming, but we didn’t mean the very next day. Don’t you have any cakes or cookies or pie-of-the-non-pizza variety to break up the content with? And my answer is: This is not a pizza recipe. It’s a recipe for cheese. And it’s long overdue.

cheesecloth

Yes, we here at the smittenkitchen had our very first cheese-making experience last weekend. Except, you know how I say “we”? Well, what I actually mean is that Alex was sitting on the sofa, thinking to himself and occasionally out loud “why can’t we just buy it”? And people, it’s like he doesn’t know me at all.

steamy lens

Remember the Cook This List? I’ve had ricotta, and specifically Michael Chiarello’s* recipe on it for ages, but it took a kick in the pants from The New York Times Dining Section three weeks ago to finally get me to check this item off. Luisa–organized, timely Luisa–got to it first which was great because I got a preview of what to expect: a super-cinch recipe that could use a little zing.

homemade ricotta

Continued after the jump »


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