Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

why is there no cheesecake truck?

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

It’s been a weird week. The kind of week where you wake up and say to yourself, self, I bet you could make a pretty good cheesecake.

I’m not going to tell you how it turned out yet though.

First, I’m going to tell you that Crockett and I went to The Empire.

I had to deposit my first rent check as a landlord (SO EXCITING), and the ATM is just up the street from The Empire, so we met for drinks.


This one is in case you were just wondering what happened to the light at The Empire bar. It was behind my head, so I had to make the first picture fancy.

Not only were there drinks, there was calamari salad.

I’ve missed my calamari salad.

Ok, NOW I’ll tell you about the cheesecake.

While I was making cheesecake, I had some hot chocolate.

See? You can sort of see my head in the reflection.

Ok, just kidding.

New York Style Cheesecake with Strawberry Coulis
inspired by Martha Stewart herself

Note: this makes a little cheesecake (6 inches). It’s still a lot of cheesecake. Two people’s worth for SHOOOORE.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature, plus more for pans
Coconut cookies, not macaroons but the kind that come in a package, crushed to measure to one cup (or wafer cookies – they’ll work too)
1.5 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 pound cream cheese
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

  1. At least an hour before you’re going to make the cheesecake, put the yogurt, cream cheese, and eggs on the counter to come to room temperature.
  2. You’ll either need a six inch round cake pan or a six inch round springform pan. Line the bottom of whichever with parchment paper. Get out a baking container that’s larger than your pan (an 8 x 8 works well).
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Crush the cookies and melt the 3 tablespoons of butter, then pour the butter in. Add the 1.5 tablespoons sugar and mix it all together. Smoosh it tightly into the bottom of the prepared pan, as evenly as possible, and bake it for 12 minutes.
  4. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the ever loving heck out of the room temperature cheesecake in a container that’s large enough for all the remaining ingredients. Add the yogurt and continue to mix. Once it’s all aerated, pour the sugar and flour into the middle and gently mix those two together, then beat the sugar/flour into the cream cheese. Do a lot of scraping at this point. Make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Put some water on to boil – enough to halfway fill the larger container.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing gently after each addition. Your heavy mixing days are over as soon as the eggs come into play. Add the vanilla with the first egg, and as soon as both eggs are incorporated, stop. NO MORE SCRAPING. Anything that’s stuck to the sides at this point is lost – scrape and get chunks in the final cheesecake. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
  7. Pour the mixture onto the top of the hopefully-now-cool crust. Put the cheesecake into the baking container, and put the whole thing in the oven. Pour the boiling water in around the cheesecake, so that it comes about halfway up the sides.
  8. Close the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 325 and bake for another 15 – 25. You’re looking for movement but no jiggle.
  9. Open the oven and stick the handle of a wooden spoon in to keep it open. Turn it off and let the cheesecake cool where it is, overnight if necessary.

Try not to eat it all at once. I’m going to have to tell you about the coulis tomorrow, because my local showing (in the bedroom) of Season 2 of Deadwood is apparently starting (based on the yelling coming from that direction). Happy Saturday!

CAKE and BEER… (and cabbage)

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

On Sunday, for no reason at all, I made Guinness cake. It can be done in a single pot and a single pan, and although Nigella suggests frosting it, it’s not necessary. At all. As a matter of fact, don’t. If you want a frosted chocolate cake, make something else.

Guinness Cake
Adapted from

1 cup Guinness (or other stout, but really, why wouldn’t you use Guinness?)
9 oz (18 tablespoons, 2 1/4 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar (you can cut back here, if you want – I didn’t and I wish I’d gone down to 1.5 cups)
1/2 cup yogurt (I used lowfat with no ill effects)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda

Heat the oven to 350 and butter either a 9 inch springform pan, two 8×8 inch square pans, or two 8 inch cake rounds.

Using a saucepan big enough to hold all of the ingredients, heat the Guinness, butter, and sugar together. You want it to get warm enough to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar, and no warmer – low/medium to medium heat. Once the butter is melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla.

Sift the three remaining ingredients over the Guinness mixture and whisk. There will be little lumps, but that’s ok. If you’re using the springform pan, dump all of the batter in. If you’re using two pans, fill each with half the batter (I like to use a kitchen scale to do this because I am notoriously bad at eyeballing that stuff, but you can eyeball it if you have faith in yourself OR you could use a measuring cup).

If you’re using a single pan, bake for about 45 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only crumbs, no wet batter, or until you press it gently and it bounces back). The smaller pans will only take 25-30 minutes, but test them the same way.

If you made two, I suggest wrapping one well and sticking it in the freezer. Leave the other one on the counter. It will just keeping getting more delicious. If it takes you more than three days to eat it, there’s something wrong with you, but you can put it in the refrigerator (well wrapped) and keep it for up to a week.

See? Guinness cake. Cake and beer. Together.

At last.

After the cake, dinner was anti-climactic.

Asian Cabbage Bake
Adapted from Not Your Mother’s Casseroles via the Kitchn

1 large head napa cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
1 package firm tofu, drained (good directions for draining here – as a weight I used a bottle of Bourbon, and it fell down, but the Bourbon and tofu were both fine)
1/2 cup cooked wild rice (I had wild, use brown or white if that’s what’s in your fridge)
1 1/2 cups chopped crimini (or white) mushrooms
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (this is the whole reason I made this – I have a bottle of this that I never use)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, grated or 2 teaspoons garlic paste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup chicken broth, water, or water with bouillon
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and set them aside(enough to completely cover the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish at least twice) and finely chop the rest of the cabbage. (If you want to make rolls, go check out the Kitchn’s instructions.) Mix the chopped cabbage with the salt and crumble in the drained tofu – stir and set aside.

In a large bowl, rice, mushrooms, beaten egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, shallot, and a generous amount of black pepper (20 cranks on a hand grinder). Stir in the tofu mixture and then the parsley.

Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a single layer of cabbage leaves. Spread the tofu mixture over them.

To make the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl big enough to take a cabbage leaf. Dip each of the remaining leaves in the sauce and put it over the tofu mixture, covering completely. Pour any remaining sauce evenly over the casserole.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until the edges of the top cabbage start to get extra crispy. Serve drizzled with the pan juices.

Not the best thing that ever happened to me, but not bad. It suffers in comparison to Guinness cake, but… what doesn’t?

back in the groove

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Let’s just get this out of the way.

Emma, what did you do today?

Homework. Oh, and? A trip to the mall with my man, because we had a gift certificate.

Homework and the mall.

You have no idea how adventurous I feel right now.

Crockett made me his signature brain-food breakfast. I love eggs and avocados – it’s like all the best fats, mushed together.

We’re starting to lose our bizarre mid-January heat wave. Between that and me being all focussy, the chicas had quite the relaxed day.

Before we hit up Williams Sonoma with our $20 piece of magic paper, we stopped by the OLI for green chili…

… and a chicken panini with sweet potato fries.

There’s no bad here, y’all. This green chili is my favorite, and these fries?

Yes please.

When we hit the mall, Crockett gave some serious thought to whether or not we need new drinkware…

…while I found what are clearly the coolest dessert plates ever.

Sadly, we bought neither, since this is Crate & Barrel and we were WS bound.

Still, Emma dessert plates.

Sunny Santa Fe

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I’m back!

Wait, did I mention I was gone?

We were in Santa Fe. School started yesterday (orientation blah didie blah) and classes start Thursday. I turn 30 on Monday.

30 is the new pink, did you know that?

So we decided to vacation.

In Santa Fe. I used my mad internet skills to find us a lovely hotel a block from the plaza (where all the historical stuff is). Our sunset view wasn’t awful.

The St. Francis hotel, where we stayed, is  gorgeous. The room was not big, and that’s putting it generously, but it was super pretty and well designed with benches and hooks and shelves for all our stuff.

Before we left Louisville, we asked a couple of folks where to eat in Santa Fe. Two independent recommendations came back for Pasquals, which happened to be directly across from the hotel, so on Thursday night when we got into town we wandered through the door right at opening. You usually need reservations, it seems, but since it was early they gave us a little table. Crockett got immediately into the spirit of things with a Santa Fe Pale Ale and mole enchiladas, but I was absolutely freezing and I wanted soup and stout. So soup was had – spicy thai coconut squash, and stout was had – Samuel Smith knows what he’s about.

Then, bed. Because driving for six hours is exhausting. Even if you only actually drive for half of that.

In the morning I went for a run. On the one hand, I love running in a new place, because it’s an awesome way to explore. On the other hand, I was worried I was going to be abducted.

What, it happens.

Crockett tracked me the whole time using Find my iPhone, just in case.

About two miles into the run, I saw this sign. I’m assuming it was for me.

After I dragged Crockett out of bed, we wandered around looking for breakfast.

Also, witnessing New Year donkies and hipster dalmations.

Because of the run and the wandering, we missed a lot of places breakfast hours. Fortunately, Tia Sophia’s was there for us. Crockett went with heuvos (they’re under there, I swear), I had green chili, and we got sopapillas with our meals. We didn’t know when we chose it, but apparently this is sort of a go-to breakfast place around town, and I can see why. Delish.

Properly fortified, it was learning time.

The New Mexico History Museum was awesome. I was hoping for more bomb stuff, but at least I did get to see a book about bombs mixed up with Santa Fe coloring books.

I don’t know why I was hoping for bomb stuff.

I think it’s the ex-engineer in me.

We wandered, and shopped, and napped, and then headed out for first Friday. My research had informed me that the galleries would all be open and love us on Friday nights.

My research overestimated the willingness of galleries to open when it was freezing cold and also the willingness of galleries on the road we chose to visit to open when there was a gas leak.

We did make it back to town in time to catch the free entry at the Georgia O’Keefe museum, which DUDE. I did not know Ms. O’Keefe was as cool as she was.  No pics allowed, sadly, but did you know she didn’t just paint girly part lookin flowers? I didn’t. I do now.

Also, we saw this sign. I found the cross amusing. Because, you know, don’t park here… because Jesus said so.

Know what else Jesus said?

Buy folk art.

Apparently. Also, Moses wants you to buy cowboy paintings. Not pictured: Mohammed says buy sculpture.

We went back to the galleries on Saturday, when it was sunny and they weren’t cruelly taunting us with their brightly lit interiors and their locked doors.

I did buy art, because I’m nothing if not swayed by amusing signs.

We went to the farmers market, flea market, and a confusing yet thrilling bunch of overcluttered stores called Jackalope.

I am both dangerous and adorable.

One of the downsides of going somewhere like Santa Fe is that everyone says ‘oh the food is amazing!’ and then you have 400 restaurants to choose from and only four days and limited belly room and you worry that you’re going to chose the wrong thing and…

Fortunately, our friend sent us 5 text messages, listing the places not to be missed.

The Shed was one of those places. I continued with my green chili investigation – also delicious. The thing about green chili is that it’s always delicious, have you noticed that? Crockett had a grilled chicken sandwich with guacamole, because he feels about guac the way I feel about green chili. We also had several margaritas. The Shed: two thumbs up. The only weirdness is that it came with garlic bread, but the menu said:

You might be suprised to find that a restaurant known for tradtional Northern New Mexican cuisine serves french garlic bread with all its entrees reflecting a taste of history patrons have demanded since the beginnings of The Shed on Burro Alley.

Yeah, I’m not sure I understand either. We didn’t eat the bread, but it was pretty.

For dinner we followed another text invective and went to Tomasita’s. Those plates you’re looking at are two different plates, I swear. Crockett’s had enchiladas and mine had rellenos. The building was beautiful – it looks like a train station, maybe, but I don’t know for sure. The food was as expected – tasty, plentiful, and American Mexicany. I ate it alllll up.

We did have a restaurant in our hotel, but we never made it. We did make it to the bar a couple of times, Secreto Bar. The spicy Secreto was like a sweet spicy cucumber margarita that I found delicious, and apparently the bartender who invented it won some sort of award. Obviously my palate is fabulous.

Sunday was a day of rest. Literally. We went to Pasqual’s again for brunch and sat at the communal table and I ate grits and it was gooooood. Then we hit up Trader Joe’s for picnic food, and spent the rest of the day kicking around the hotel reading and watching tv and (if you were Crockett) working.

The ride home was actually sort of miserable. Snow and nasty roads and a working boyfriend, leading to seven hours of tensed muscle driving for Emma. However, we made it back in two (him and me) pieces and now have happy Santa Fe memories.

wolf pizza

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Something fabulous happened to Crockett and I last week. You know how we’re regulars at the Empire? The chef/owner of the Empire is this fellow named Jim Cohen. Jim – Mr. creator of the calamari salad himself – has cooked with Julia Child on an episode of her TV show. He was nominated as the James Beard Best Chef: Southwest. He has been on the Today Show and in Food & Wine magazine. Oh,  and? He knows us.

Small towns are awesome.

I digress. Jim and a partner opened a new restaurant in Boulder called Pizzeria Da Lupo, and we were invited to the soft opening. If you’re unfamiliar, that means you go and try out different menu items and put the waitstaff through their paces. You pay for your drinks and you earn your food through feedback. It’s the first one I’ve ever been to, and it was awesome.

We were early in the rotation, so not a lot of folks were there when we walked in. We went right up to the counter to see what was going on. There’s a gigantic red meat slicer-shaver thingy and a huge pizza oven, a single burner and lots of prep stations. Everything comes off the burner or out of the oven.

The room is positively charming. It’s not huge – I would go so far as to say cozy, even. The floors are gorgeous.

The walls are covered with framed retro art. The piece behind Crockett’s head when we sat down was an italian Vespa poster that looked like it was from the 60s. I coveted.

The ceiling and chandeliers … ok, you don’t really care. Let’s get to the food.

We were seated at a four top by the window. Obviously, that was so our smiling faces would make the place that much more appealing.

‘Ok, give me my phone back.’

They have a limited bar right now – two beers, a handful of wines, and a few liquors. Crockett was hoping for an old fashioned, but they were lacking many of the ingredients. Our waiter suggested a Campari and soda for him, a suggestion at which I scoffed. Not for Crockett, that sour bitter awesome deliciousness. For me, though? Yes indeedy.

We started with two appetizers: proscuitto and toast, and burratta with pistachio, lemon confit and caper agrodolce. The burratta was all about me. I’ve been hearing about burratta for months now and this was my first opportunity to have some. Burratta is a ball of mozzarella with a creamy center. Also, burratta is amazing and can have my babies. Or I’ll have its babies. Hell, I’ll be its surrogate. We got a nice large portion and I ate 3/4 of it. The confit and agrodolce they served it with brought the perfect amount of contrast to the creamy cheese. In general, I’m not a huge pistachio fan, but here they worked. If you go here and eat one thing, make it the burratta. Seriously.See how it’s drippy and stretchy and delicious?

I ate the prosciutto and it was delicious, but clearly I enjoyed the cheese more.

In case that wasn’t clear.

At this point, more people started to come in and they turned the lights down. The pictures are a little fuzzy from here on out, but I’ll do my best. We followed the cheese with.. more cheese. Because, really, why not. This was an endive salad with arugula, more pistachios, and Maytag blue cheese. It had a bright lemony dressing, and was (as you can see), sort of deconstructed. I liked being able to build each bite individually, but we ended up with more endive than anything else. I don’t know if it was a matter of the original ratios or if we just preferred everything else. We ran out of cheese early, too, but that was probably me.

What, I was in a cheese mood.

Crockett had put me in charge of the ordering, and I hit a wall when it came to pizza. There was an option that included shrimp, which was not what I was in the mood for. There was a sausage and rapini option, which I was interested in, but we ended up going classic.


The true test of a pizzeria.

Here’s the thing. The tomatoes and cheese and basil were lovely.

The crust was divine.

See how I ate it all first?

I feel like the toppings got the short end of the stick.

Our waiter had suggested that we order cecina as well. A cecina is a little bread made of chickpea flour instead of regular flour, so it’s gluten free. You could order it with toppings, but the recommended topping included eggplant and that would have caused me to seize and die, so we went for the sea salt and olive oil version.

I wasn’t a huge fan, but Crockett really liked it. He ate the whole dish and has since referred to it as ‘that cozy bread’.

They were in no hurry to pass our table to someone else, so I had a glass of my favorite white wine (Basa) and an espresso.

Both of those were a mere prelude to dessert.

This budino (chocolate pudding cake) was essentially a rich chocolate mousse served on an intense soft chocolate cookie, sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with olive oil. See how I said rich AND intense in the same sentence? That’s because it was both. It was small but any more would have been too much, at least for Crockett and I.

Overall, I could not have been happier with the food, the place, and the service. SO good. I’m so glad we got to go.

psych. oh.

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Friday was rough, y’all. I had two glasses of wine over about four hours, and I woke up hung over.

At least I did it in a nice cushy hotel bed.

I suspect that all of the breakdancing dehydrated me, creating a higher blood alcohol percentage than such a reasonable amount of wine would have normally done. I suspect that, because the alternative is that my ripe old age of 29 means I’m too old to drink two glasses of wine, dance until midnight, and then hop up the next morning happy and refreshed.

The hangover required a substantial breakfast.

Sadly, the eggs were truly horrific. When I dished them up, I found the smell a little off-putting, but I wanted some protein so I toughed it out. However, they tasted worse than they smelled. I think the onions were slightly past their prime, cut too large, and undercooked. Onions and I have a hard time. We have our moments, but it’s mostly when they’re fully deliciously caramelized.

I blame it all on a job I had in college that involved cutting all the rotten parts out of purple onions so they could be diced for a salad bar.

You haven’t known nauseous until you’ve become intimately familiar with the smell of rotten onion.

Or been pregnant. So I’ve heard.

I ate the apple and the tiny muffin (which was good) and supplemented with some overly sweet yogurt (I like mine plain) and a tiny blueberry scone (outside: yummy, inside: not). Basically, breakfast was sad and not enough to carry me happily through the talks that followed.

You know that thing where your head keeps dropping and you catch it at the last second and you look like you’re doing some very slow jive move?

Despite much coffee, that was me.

When lunch rolled around, I passed on the sandwiches that seemed to focus on green cheese. Because I’m not Dr. Seuss.

Chowder and a  cucumber wrapped panzanella were better, but still not great.

In order to compensate, I had to have two desserts.

They were those cute shooters like they serve in PF Changs. This one was cappuccino mousse on top with chocolate mousse on the bottom. Good, but custards aren’t really my thing. I prefer to trade my calories for texture.

Afterwards, still mildly unsatisfied, I tried one of the vanilla caramel desserts that everyone else was ignoring. The chocolate, cappuccino, and raspberry ones went like wildfire, but there was a rumor in the crowd that the liquid caramel under the vanilla custard was too strong.

I am here today to tell you that is patently untrue.

That caramel was fucking delicious. (Yeah, family friendly, I know. Sometimes the word just has to be invoked.)

The desserts carried me through the rest of the conference, including the announcement that I did not win the poster conference, but that I did do very very well. Yippee-ki-yi-yay.

I came home, exhausted, on the downside of a sugar high and a hangover, and I did my favorite thing in the world.

Sat on the couch and talked to Crockett.

We went out to get some dinner, but we ate at the bar and it was dark and we were watching a fellow we’d just met unsuccessfully try to make a new lady friend and ok fine I forgot to take a picture. I had Chicharrone Style Chicken Tacos (Breaded and Fried, Avocado, Cilantro, Hot Sauce). They were delicious and a fine goodbye to the whole ‘damn if I care how my heart feels about my meal’ attitude that I’ve (apparently) had my whole life.

If you found out you needed to permanently modify your diet, what would you eat before you started?

Tuesday dessert

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

What to do with the half loaf of bread that didn’t go into the tomatoes?
Decisions, decisions.
Oh wait, I decided.
Cardamom lime bread pudding.