Posts Tagged ‘baking’

what weekend? and peach bars!

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

One particular thing that I forgot about working in a office.

“How was your weekend?”

It’s not that I mind people asking. Even semi-faux interest is a nice gesture when you’re spending serious quality cubicle time with people. It’s more that I immediately lose track of what happened over the weekend the second I walk back into the building. Weekend me disappears and week me, who is a lot like weekend me except without the fun part, gets all up in my frontal lobe.

I did have a good weekend, though!

Photo 1

The girls and I had some weird moments where they enthusiastically sniffed at a fence (that’s in front of another fence) so hard that Maida started snapping at Cloey because she was hogging the sniffing.

Why weird? Because I stuck my nose near the fence too. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t smell anything, but there’s a pretty good chance that I sucked something gross into my nose all the same.

Photo 3

Crockett and I looked at our freezer and realized that some of our favorite tamales from Costco that we don’t eat anymore because one day we accidentally looked at the nutritional information (TERRIBLE IDEA, PEOPLE) were still hiding in there, so steamed ‘em up. There’s taking care of your health, and there’s wasting food. I prefer to do the first and avoid the second, but sometimes the two collide, and you have to have tamales for dinner.

Photo 4

Mine fell apart on it’s way out of the steamer, but it was still so delicious that I swooned. Swooned, I tell you. There’s nothing like a hearty mixture of lard and masa to really bring a Saturday night home.

Also, I made peach-thyme cornmeal crumb bars.

Photo 2

Because my peaches were being stupid and my thyme plant was being awesome. The recipe is at the bottom but I have a LOT of words today ok? Ok.

Sunday was basically more of the same, except with some cooking for the upcoming week and some laundry doing and oh right also less recovering from multiple texas slushes.

Did I mention that Friday night was a big night?

Photo 1

Sunday morning I snacked on some fruit and then ran to the store to get half and half, which I’d forgotten on my big Saturday shopping trip. My local Albertson’s, which is a workhorse of a grocery store that can totally fill in for half and half when needed but isn’t really my go-to for … well, anything fresh, had a small basket of hierloom tomatoes. I don’t know where they came from, and I don’t care. They looked wonderful. (I can no longer accept the regular ones now that I know their color is ruining their flavor! They look pretty and then blerg. I’m over it.) I bought two and three avocados and when I got home I pulled Crockett away from his tree trimming for brunch BLATs.

That was a really long story just to have it end with BLAT, when you could clearly see there was a BLAT right there.

Photo 2

The tomato was so good that I ate it with the leftover aioli (ha – light mayo with additional lemon juice and powdered garlic).

Photo 3

Then, to continue our produce-centric meals, I made a pizza with tomatoes (Pomi), tomatoes (yellow cherry), mozzarella (left over from book club), goat cheese, and two kinds of basil.

It was super tasty.

Photo 5

Cloey really really wanted a bite, but I was too focused on Hell On Wheels to give her more than many minute of doting attention.

Look at her face.

Seriously.

She didn’t get any, though, because her tummy is still upset and also pizza isn’t for dogs!

Peach Thyme Crumb Bars
Based on Smitten Kitchen Blueberry Crumb Bars

1 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into slices
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream (light is fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons minced thyme
4 cups sliced peaches (I did not bother peeling them)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat your oven to 375. Grease a 9 x 13 or 10 x 10 inch pan. (Crockett got me this square nonstick Williams Sonoma cake pan that I worship and I literally bake everything I can in it. I didn’t even grease it.)

Stir together the first four ingredients and the thyme. Scatter the butter over the top and cut it in using either a pastry cutter or the tips of your fingers. When the butter is mostly flat and small, add the egg and the sour cream. Smoosh it together until it’s holding together in small clumps, and pat slightly more than half into the bottom of your pan. You don’t need to  press very hard, just make a flat surface.

Toss the sliced peaches with the cornstarch, and lay them out in a roughly even layer. Sprinkle the rest of the dough over the top, as close to even as you can get.

Bake for 45 minutes. You want the top to be lightly brown and the fruit to be bubbling where it’s visible.

Munch munch munch.

cuppy cakes!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Despite my solemn promise of a cuppy cake recipe yesterday, I totally did not share a cuppy cake recipe.

Why am I saying cuppy cake? Because I’m currently super adorable, I guess?

IMG 5331

See?

Oh, that’s not adorable.

That’s the kind of thing that happens at a 5 year old’s birthday party.

(Crockett’s nephew turned five. Wearing that mask is one thing I did yesterday that was not publishing a cupcake recipe.)

(Apparently seeing myself in a Spiderman mask was enough to knock me out of that ‘cuppy cake’ nonsense.)

NewImage

We also helped my mom move a couch into her garage. It’s a nice leather couch. It’s for sale on Craigslist – let me know if you’re interested (and not halfway across the country)! It’s from Scandinavian Designs but was the only piece of furniture in her guest room and does not make much of a guest room bed.

IMG 5300

We went grocery shopping and brought home whatever we felt like for lunch. Crockett apparently felt like a tiger roll.

IMG 5301

I, less sensibly, felt like a big sweet chili tofu steak.

We shared, because he did not begrudge me my odd choice.

Now, without further ado… Cupcakes!

IMG 5366

(What? I told you I forgot to take pictures of them!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Here’s what you need to know about these cupcakes. They have been gradually and professionally optimized by me to consistently bake up gorgeous at 5000 feet, give or take. In other words, this is a high altitude recipe. It will probably be fine at sea level, but if your’e up in the air with me know that this does not need any alterations, mmkay?

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 30 cupcakes – can easily be halved or two-thirded (two thirded? really?)

15.5 ounces all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 salt 
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup water
3 eggs

Heat your oven to 350. Line your cupcake tins with papers.

Note: remember what I said last week about making buttermilk with milk and vinegar? That’s not ideal here – buttermilk is actually the flavor of red velvet, so use the real stuff if you can. If you really think you’ll never use it again and want to buy just half a pint, make up the extra 1/4 cup with 2% milk.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar with the oil until combined and then add the remaining ingredients and whisk until uniform. Add half to the dry ingredients and stir until they’re all moistened, then add the rest and beat the crap out of it by hand for about two minutes or by machine for about twenty seconds. You don’t usually do that with cake batter, but the amount of acid in the batter means it’s going to stay tender and this will help give you a light texture by putting a bunch of air in the batter.

Using a half cup measure or a half cup ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake paper. If you’re making all thirty and using regular tins with space for twelve cupcakes, leave the center two empty in each. If you’re baking them in batches, which I suggest, beat the batter for a second before filling the liners each time.

Bake for between 13 and 17 minutes – I would tap the top at 13 and if the dent sticks, give it two more minutes. If it still feels a smidge squishy, give it one more. No more than that. Seriously, don’t do it. You’re asking for dried out cupcakes. Turn out of the pans to cool and frost or wrap well and freeze.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese (three packages)
1 pound butter (four sticks)
1 – 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar (it comes in one or two pound bags)
2 tsp vanilla

Bring all the ingredients to room temperature. Seriously. This is the most important part. DO NOT SKIP THIS PART.

Blend the cream cheese and butter together until TOTALLY combined. It will seem ok to have little lumps but it is NOT OK. If you see a lump and you think it’s the last lump, it is not the last lump. Keep mixing.

Sift over about 1/2 pound of your powdered sugar and carefully beat. (This will be messy. It’s worth it.) Do it again, mix in the vanilla, and taste. If you want it sweeter, which I usually don’t, gradually add what you have left, tasting as you go. It’s easy to over power the cream cheese tang, so proceed carefully.

Use to frost your cupcakes. You’ll have a tiny bit left over, so you should probably just eat that.

 

HARISSA FINALLY

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

 

51dXcbi+5SL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

So I’ve been looking for harissa everywhere. I assumed it would not be that hard to find – it’s not like Boulder county is a culinary wasteland. I checked at two different Whole Foods, a few grocery stores, and Super Target, and had no luck whatsoever. (A WF worker did helpfully inform me that they had something that had harisa in it – some kind of meal in a box, maybe? It was definitely not what I was looking for.)

Crockett and I went to Pacific Ocean Market, even, which is this absolutely INSANE Asian market a couple of towns over. We spent several minutes sniffing durian packages (not smelly until opened, apparently), many many minutes in the ramen aisle, and quite a significant amount of time discussing cocktails made with palm sugar, since there were several brands. We did not find harissa. Honestly, I knew it was a stretch, because harissa is from Tunisia which ain’t exactly Asian, but whatever.

I ordered it from Amazon.

While we were waiting for the harissa to come, I did make some tasty food.

IMG 3067

Pizza with roasted cherry tomatoes, pesto from our ridiculously prolific basil plant, and goat cheese. Served with roasted green beans because this was actually last Sunday and last Sunday I had this weird idea that we were going to eat a vegetable with every meal.

Photo 5

Red velvet cupcakes as a special request from a dear friend for her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend who totally ruined the surprise by buying himself two red velvet bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes the day before.

(I forgot to take pictures of them frosted, obviously, but I’ll give you the recipe tomorrow. It’s pretty good. I’ve worked pretty hard on it. And my cream cheese frosting is fucking amazing. Totally true.)

BUT then the harissa came!

NewImage

Harissa Chickpeas and Greens with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Not Without Salt

1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15 ounce can)
1 tablespoon harissa paste
3/4 tsp kosher salt
6 cups mixed greens, preferably the baby version of toughish varieties (spinach, kale) or spicy ones (arugula) – we used a whole prewashed box of mixed spinach and arugula
2 ounces goat cheese

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is pale gold in color.

Stir in the harissa and dump in the chickpeas. Stir gently until they’re mostly covered with the paste, and then occasionally until you start to see golden spots on the chickpeas. You’re not just trying to heat them up, you’re actually trying to fry the outside just a little. (I was using a non-stick pan – use your judgement. If they start to stick, you can be done.)

Add the greens by the handful, stirring until they wilt. Divide into two dishes and top with crumbled goat cheese. (Feel free to serve over rice, if you like. I didn’t find it necessary but Crockett did.)

Serves two people who like heat. The harissa is spicy, but tasty.

 

new new new

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Something new and exciting is happening in the life of Emma, but I’m not going to tell you what it is because I still have details to work out. Serious, pain in the ass details. However, on Tuesday night, the night of -17 degree weather, I had some experimenting to do.

Experimenting in the form of apple crumble bars.

Specifically, apple chipotle crumble bars…

And apple almond crumble bars.

Clearly I didn’t enjoy them at all.

And does cold weather make anyone else want to eat scones, or is it just me? These chocolate chunk oatmeal scones are a mash up of several different recipes, since we had no buttermilk, eggs, or baking soda. They turned out pretty darn good. Plus, look, sparkly!