recent posts

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

makes 15 cupcakes
cupcake recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
meringue recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
prep time: 45 min / cook time: 18-22 min

1 1/2 c cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 c sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 c buttermilk

3 c store bought lemon curd
If you want to make your own, use this recipe

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 c + 2 tbsp sugar

• Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 325˚ F.
• Line muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
• Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl and set aside.
• Whisk the eggs, vanilla and lemon zest together in a large bowl.
Slowly whisk in the sugar until combined.
Whisk in the melted butter in three additions until completely combined.
• Whisk in buttermilk.
• Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the batter and whisk it in (a few streaks of flour should remain). Repeat twice with the remaining flour mixture and continue to whisk the batter gently until most lumps are gone. Do not over mix.
• Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full.
• Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with a few crumbs attached, 18-2 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
• Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans and let cool completely on the racks before frosting, about 1 hour.

• Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl of a standing mixer over a pan of simmering water.
* To not let the bowl touch the water or you will get scrambled eggs!
• Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.
* Mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.
• Attach the bowl to the mixture fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue to mix until the mixture is fluffy and glossy and completely cooled (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

• Using a paring knife, carve a small hole in the middle of the cupcake. Be sure not to cut too deep.
* You can use a spoon to gently remove more of the cupcake if needed.
• Fill the cupcake with lemon curd.
• Put the top back onto the cupcake and frost the top with the meringue. With a brûlée torch, carefully torch the meringue.

• This recipe has been halved from the original recipe.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Good Foods Catering's All Bacon Dinner

While foodies may say that bacon has become passe, I say the more, the merrier. Especially when it comes to a special pop-up dinner featuring four courses of this salty, smoky treat.

I've had some interesting things with bacon in the past: bacon jam, bacon chocolate, and bacon doughnuts. And I've read about some interesting things that I hope to try in the future: bacon martinis, bacon & egg popsicles, and a dish at Chicago's famous Alinea that's been described as a "bacon trapeze."

Unfortunately this much-antipated all-bacon dinner didn't deliver any of those squeals or surprises. But I can't complain about this fun evening spent with good friends, good booze and my beloved bacon.

Held at the Coffee Bar, which normally closes in the early evening, this special menu was created by Good Foods Catering and promised 4 courses, all starring bacon. It began with a hearty, creamy cauliflower soup that was inflected with onion, thyme, and of course, bacon.

The second dish was a salad of grilled romaine with sweet tomatoes, a red wine vinagrette, and bacon fried bread. I don't think I'm a fan of grilled lettuces in general, and while the bacon bread was tasty, the dish felt sort of heavy and weighed down.

I liked the main course, a slow roasted lamb with preserved lemon gremolata and bacon chickpea puree a little better - though it seemed to be proclaiming "garlic" more than "bacon" to me. And my favorite dish of the night was the dessert - a brown sugar cornmeal waffle with a bacon bourbon sauce. It was the perfect blend of creamy, salty, cakey, and sweet.

The setting was lovely - we sat at huge communal table in a cozy corner that felt both intimate and relaxed. The charming and gracious chef came around the dining room a few times to make sure everyone was enjoying their meals. He joked that he likes to asks "is everything ok?" while people's mouths are full stuffed with food, on purpose. Which in my case, happened quite a bit that evening.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chocolate Toffee Chip Cookies

makes 16 cookies
recipe adapted from Bon Appétit via Epicurious
prep time: 25 min / cook time: 15 min

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
* I used 2 c mini semisweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c (packed) brown sugar
* I used light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 (1.4 oz.) chocoalte-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped
* I didn't have Heath bars on hand, so I used 1 c toffee chips & 1 c bittersweet chocolate chips
1 c toasted walnuts, chopped
* I omitted the walnuts
Fleur de sel (optional)

• Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; whisk to blend.
* I sifted the dry ingredients.
• Stir chocolate and butter on top of a double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.
* I microwaved the chocolate and butter mixture in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each period. This took about 80 seconds.
• Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes.
• Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla.
• Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. (In my case, toffee and chocolate chips)
• Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.
• Preheat oven to 350˚F.
• Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper.
• Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart.
• Optional: Sprinkle a little fleur de sel on top of each cookie.
• Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets.

Cookies can be made 2 days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
• These cookies spread a lot, so you will want to put about 6 cookies per pan OR make smaller cookies and reduce the baking time.
* Please note that my cookies were cut out with a cookie cutter due to the cookies spreading into each other.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brunch Drunk Love at Bruno's

It's just my opinion, but there are a few things that can help save a meal that doesn't quite live up to your expectations: 1). Good service/atmosphere 2.) The company you're with and 3.) great music. And while having brunch in one of my fondest nightspots with 4 of my favorite people was lovely, the great music spun by the DJ (dressed as Magenta from Rocky Horror) really pushed it over the top.
Especially since it was Halloween weekend.

Monster Mash. Thriller. I Want Candy. (See! Fun times.)

Top Chef finalist and 3-Sum Eats food truck guy Ryan Scott runs Brunch Drunk Love out of Mission nightclub Bruno's on weekend mornings, and was one of the reasons why my friends and I wanted to have brunch here. We drooled over the menu that promised goodies like housemade brioche donuts, mac & cheese spring rolls, and pancakes with bourbon bacon marmalade.

Time Warp. Eyes Without A Face. Psycho Killer. (Brilliant!)

We started with pineapple margaritas which were perfect - sweet and refreshing. And when our orders started coming to the table we all oohed and aahed over the beautifully plated eggs benedict (with wild mushroom ragout & housemade English muffin), biscuits with gravy and Budweiser-braised brisket, and crispy potato cakes.

But somehow the food didn't quite deliver on taste. My friend's pork hash tasted as if it had been showered with salt, and my duck hash (with edamame succotash, horseradish salsa verde & pomegranate) was a funny mashup of textures that was probably a bit too fancy for its own good.

Abracadabra. Somebody's Watching Me. I Eat Cannibals. (It just gets better & better!)

Though the food was a bit disappointing, it was still a treat to spend the morning with good friends in a lively, convivial place where everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves. And personally I was amazed (and pleasantly surprised) as to how different the normally sweaty and filled-to-the-gills Bruno's is by day. It sure cleaned up well!

Ghostbusters. I'm Your Boogie Man. The Addams family theme song. (okay, they didn't play these while I was there, but I just thought I'd add to this already-awesome playlist while I was at it.)


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Almond 'Crack'

makes 20 servings
recipe adapted from Serious Eats
prep time: 20 min / cook time: 5 min

51 salted saltine crackers
1 c unsalted butter
1 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c high quality dark chocolate chips (70% or greater)
1 c sliced almonds, toasted

• Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
• Line a 12x17" jelly roll pan with foil.
• Place saltine crackers salt side up and side-by-side in the pan as tightly as possible without overlapping. Set aside.
* Use saltine pieces to fill any gaps at the bottom of the pan.
• In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat stirring frequently with a spatula.
• Once butter has melted, add brown sugar and vanilla stirring to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes or until mixture is an even dark brown color and has begun to bubble.
• Remove from heat and pour over saltines using spatula to spread sauce.
• Bake crackers for 5 minutes or until butter mixture begins to bubble.
• Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate allowing the heat to melt the chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly with the spatula so all the crackers are completely covered.
• Refrigerate until chocolate sets and hardens. Break apart and serve.

• Some other toppings to try: coconut, chopped dry fruit, crumbled graham crackers, pretzels, bacon or other nuts.



Sunday, November 06, 2011

Crispy Cocoa-Nib Tea Cookies

makes 15 2" cookies
recipe adapted from Serious Eats
prep time: 10 min / cook time: 8-10 min

1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c oats
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 c cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 375˚ F.
• Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
• Put flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and oats in a bowl and stir to combine.
• In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, heavy cream, honey, vanilla and olive oil until smooth.
• Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
• Fold in the cocoa nibs.
• Drop the batter by scant teaspoons onto the prepared pan, leaving at least 3" between mounds.
* These cookies spread quite a bit.
• Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the edges are deep golden brown and the center is mostly set.
• Cool 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

• I halved the original recipe. Please go to the link above if you want the full recipe.
• I didn't have heavy cream, so I used whole milk with a bit of extra butter. I do not recommend doing this if you use the original recipe.
• As you get to the bottom of the batter, it has less "filling" so you may want to add a bit more oats to it so it'll stay together while baking.
• Cocoa nibs can be substituted for any finely chopped nut or dried fruit.


Visit InfoServe for Blogger backgrounds.