December, 2008 Archive

Friday, December 12, 2008

cranberry vanilla coffee cake

cranberry vanilla coffee cake

I know it would seem that someone who makes as many celebration cakes as I do would dream only in stacked layers, draped ganache and swirled buttercream, but the truth is that I think that the best kind of cake on earth is a coffee cake. They’re simple and cute; they’re alll flavor with minimal flair; they take a third of the time to make. And they may not make people gasp when walked into a room topped with sparklers, but they, without fail, never make it out of said room intact.

vanilla bean pulpcranberriesground up cranberriescranberry vanilla sugar filling

I sometimes call these cakes “dinner party cakes” because as it turns out, it’s all people usually want for dessert after a big meal. In fact, you might find that the space between becoming a frequent or occasional dinner party guest is entirely filled with gusts of cinnamon-sugar, streusel or perhaps a vanilla bean and whole cranberries. (Yes, the obsession continues.)

cranberry vanilla coffee cake

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

zuni cafe’s roasted chicken + bread salad

zuni cafe roasted chicken

I recently realized that I didn’t have a single recipe for a whole roasted chicken on this site which seemed wrong somehow, coming from a nice Jewish girl such as myself. I know the real reason I don’t — which is that I don’t like 75 percent of the roasted chicken I eat (not yours, of course; promise!). Mostly, I find the pieces too big, the meat overcooked and the entire thing kind of like pressed sawdust… um, not that I need to learn to form an opinion or something. Sticking to dark meat helps a bit, but not as much as just bypassing the roasted chicken altogether.

bread salad mise

There is only one home recipe for roasted chicken I have ever wanted to try and it is from the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Google “zuni cafe roasted chicken” and you’ll see — quickly — that this is something of a religion for people; they are mad for it. And yet, the technique, which hinges on three things, isn’t actually that crazed, and can be easily replicated at home. Win-win!

zuni roasted chicken

Continued after the jump »

Monday, December 8, 2008

carrot cake with maple-cream cheese frosting

carrot cupcakes, show offs

After months and months and months of the kind studying, stressing and panicked all-nighters I only vaguely remember from college in part because I am very, very old and in part because, no, I did not graduate with a 4.0, my friend Alice finally took her very big exam this past weekend. In an effort to compensate for the dozens of parties and outings and merriment she’s missed since the summer, her fiance had a surprise party (and a clean loft, swoon) waiting for her when she got home.

grating carrotssoft bed of grated carrotsdry ingredientsso very very orange batter

Me? I made cupcakes, carrot cupcakes to be specific because carrot cake is Alice’s favorite. But do you know what I have come to realize about people who say their favorite cake is carrot cake? It’s really the cream cheese frosting (and perhaps the orange and green carrots eloquently piped on top) that they love. Or at least that’s the case with Alex.

Continued after the jump »

Friday, December 5, 2008

feta salsa

feta salsa

A few weeks ago, Alex and I were in Whole Foods and just as we were hoping, they had some samples out in the cheese section for weary travelers. (Yes, walking from Chelsea to the Lower East Side counts!) One of them was something that, being me, I initially kind of shrugged over, because who would buy something called Feta Salsa which was clearly not salsa, really a throwaway of a “recipe” and also like $8 for the tiniest of containers.

mount feta

As it turned out, we would. Basically, Whole Foods took a bunch of ingredients that are usually presented in their own separate dishes if you were putting out snacks — olives, sun dried tomatoes, feta, olive oil — chopped them all together and adding some herbs to create something greater than the sum of their parts.

pour in olive oil

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

spelt everything crackers

spelt everything crackers

Did you know that you can make crackers at home? Crackers that are completely natural, have no funky or suspicious ingredients and also don’t cost more than pennies? And addressing my pet peeve: crackers that are actually firm enough for you to spread cheese and other deliciousness over?

whisking salt into water

I bet you think I am talking crazy [I almost said "crackers" -- see how I restrained myself there?] but for once, I’m not. This astoundingly simple recipe for crackers accompanied an article in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine about spelt versus farro and how some people mix them up but they’re quite different… and so on. The story is cute, but for me, the real gem was this recipe.

craggy dough

Continued after the jump »


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