June, 2009 Archive

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

cheese straws

cheese straws

Meet my new favorite party trick.

In dusting off a woefully-neglected group of recipes on my “Cook This” list, subcategory “Cheese” I came upon a curious confection known as a cheese straw. Despite making a note to try them, cheese straws were new to me, but seeing as they involve cheddar, butter, salt and red pepper flakes, I couldn’t imagine them being anything less than awesome.

rolling out the cheese straws

What I didn’t realize was that, in a ridiculously simple process that took no more than one hour from prep to snacking, what I’d really baked were a cheesy poofs/cheez doodle hybrid! And that my life may now be complete.

cheese straws, ready to bake

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, June 14, 2009

neapolitan cake

neapolitan cake, slice

I turned 33 this week, but seeing how I’m a little preoccupied these days with someone else’s impending birthday, I might have brushed over this occasion completely, had it not been for a confluence of events — a fierce craving for Peking duck (then dragging both of our families into it’s crispy-skinned grasp), the decision to schedule our housewarming mocktail/cocktail party the next day (requiring baked goods involving cheese, of course) and the fact that it gave me an excuse to conquer a cake that has been vexxing me for the last year and a half.

zestysifting flourtoasted almondsone layer

The truth is, I start thinking about my birthday cake long before it is healthy or well-adjusted to. I see it as the perfect excuse to tackle something risky and possibly ridiculous — something I’m not entirely confident will work out, but don’t care because I’m only making it to amuse myself. Being freed from not wanting to disappoint another on their birthday has its benefits: There was the Crêpe Cake, which also marked the occasion of me making my very first crêpe, ever. (Which landed in the garbage, as all first and second crêpes were intended to.) There has been a Pistachio Petit-Four Cake, which involved rolling out marzipan and then pressing and tinting little marzipan roses, slightly less risky but no less insane.

four "cake" discscurrant caramel vanilla bean fillingspreading the fillingneapolitan cake

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

spanakopita triangles + then some

spanakopita triangles

Apparently, making marshmallows at home isn’t as “normal” as I would have thought, but then again, I am the last person one should be using a yardstick of kitchen normality, or not as long as I am pickling grapes or making wedding cakes with a mini-oven and a single, eensy counter.

green onionssauteeing spinachsauteed spinachfeta

Of course, it doesn’t mean that my brand of crazy will match yours, however. I mean, someone actually asked if was going to make my own phyllo next. Are they mad? I hate working with phyllo. Who invented this stuff? It’s fragile and fussy and requires a ludicrous amount of manual labor, and then it leaves papery flakes of pastry everywhere, but mostly on this abdomen shelf I’m growing (sorry, kid. One day you’ll be more than just a crumb catcher! Just not today.)

mixed mushroomsmushrooms choppedmushrooms, green onion and garlicstilton

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

springy, fluffy marshmallows

bouncy marshmallows

The first time I made marshmallows, well, I don’t think saying “it was a mess” adequately describes it. Oh, the marshmallows were successful; they even looked and tasted like marshmallows, but yours truly? I ended up in a tangled web of marshmallow strings.

powdering the oiled panso much gelatincane sugarcorn syrup

It all went south when I couldn’t resist the urge to scrape down the paddle and bowl (anyone else an obsessive bowl scraper? I cringe when things go to waste). The paddle was gunked to the bowl and the scraper was glued to the paddle and then — and it is my duty to implore you not to do this at home — you think, “well, I’ll just wipe off the paddle with my index finger” and then your index finger gets knit to the scraper and then you think “well, let me use my other finger to wipe this one off” and all of a sudden, you’ve got strands of marshmallow strung from each finger to the bowl, the mixer, the paddle, the scraper, each corner of the pan, your shirt, the floor and then your husband comes home just as you’re pleading “help! I’m all knotted up!” and he instead gets the camera.

boiling the sugarsteaming and whippingwhipping the marshmallowmmmarshmallowpouring the marshmallowpouring the marshmallows

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Friday, June 5, 2009

pickled sugar snap peas

sugar snap peas, pickling

After a winter in which I was so sick of heavy winter vegetables, I went on strike against them (and pretty much everything that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Raisin Bran, if we’re being honest here), I have been having so much fun the last couple weeks hitting the markets, especially now that they’re hitting their stride. In our new neighborhood, we’re not only so much closer to the Union Square Greenmarket, but have the added bonus of a couple mini-markets that conveniently run on Union Square’s off days, and I have to confess: the tinier ones are my favorite, due to my aversion to being elbowed when I’m sifting through my produce. Call me crazy.

First, there were radishes.

trimmed and scrubbed radishes

Then ramps. (I made this risotto and highly, highly recommend it, with ramps or any other sharp spring onion.)

ramps

Then teeny, tiny strawberries, so cute I wanted to pinch all of their little cheeks. I could not bring myself to do anything but eat them just like this.

tiny strawberries

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