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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Apple Almond Caramel Tarts

serves 8
recipe adapted from The Comfort of Cooking
prep time: 15 min / cook time: 18-20 min

2 whole sheet puffed pastry, cut into halves
4 whole apples
2/3 c brown sugar
* I used light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c sliced almonds
caramel sauce

• Peel, core, halve and slice apples.
* Sorry, forgot to photograph this step.
• Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.
• Add apples to mixture and combine. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
• Place puff pastry rectangles onto 2 baking sheets and spray with nonstick spray.
* I used parchment paper for easy clean up.
• Arrange apple slices on the pastry rectangles in a straight line, overlapping as you go.
• Sprinkle almonds over apple slices.
• Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.
• Immediately remove tarts from pan and place on serving platter.
• Top with caramel sauce and serve.

• Other topping options: no topping, whipped cream, sprinkled powdered sugar or ice cream.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Puff Mini Cupcakes

makes 24 mini cupcakes
recipe adapted from Cupcakes!
prep time: 25 min / cook time: 11 min

1 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c milk (any fat content)
* I used whole milk

6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

• Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350˚ F.
• Spray the inside of a 24 mini muffin tin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
• Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into a medium bowl and set aside.
• In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until blended and creamy, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the side of the bowl as needed during mixing.
• Beat in the egg, mixing until smooth and thick.
* I did not beat the egg prior to mixing.
• On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.
• Fill each muffin cup wiht about 1 1/2 tbs of batter.
• Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 11 minutes.
• Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

• While the cupcakes cool, put the melted butter in a medium bowl.
• In another medium bowl, stir the sugar and cinnamon together.

• Carefully place the sire rack on top of the cupcakes in their pan. Protecting your hands with the pot holders and holding the pan and rack together, invert them to release the cupcakes ontot he wire rack.
• Turn the cupcakes top side up and immediately roll them in the melted butter, then in the cinnamon sugar to coat it completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cupcakes can be covered and stored a room temperature for up to 2 days.

• For regular sized cupcakes, bake for 15 minutes.
• Try dipping the cupcakes in melted chocolate or caramel for an extra sweet treat!



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Inside Out Cheesecake Cookies

makes 20 cookies
recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen
prep time: 15 min / cook time: 12-15 min

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
* I used 4 oz.
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
1 c oreo cookie crumbs
* I used graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c white chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In an electric mixer with the beater attachment, , cream together the butter and cream cheese until they are well combined.
Add sugar and vanilla to the mixture until ingredients are well combined.
Add the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated.
Stir in mini chocolate chips.
Coop the dough into 1" balls and roll in Oreo or graham cracker crumbs so cookie is covered.
Place covered cookie balls onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.
Cool on the pan for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Optional: Once cooled, drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate.

For a less sweet cookie, reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup.
To ensure my cookies are the same size, I used a medium cookie scoop that holds 1 1/2 tbs.
For added flavor, you can add the zest of a lemon, lime or orange.
Try using different cookie crumbs.



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ferran Adria talk/Super Duper

He's considered one of the greatest chefs of all time and the godfather of molecular gastronomy. His food blends taste and science, with dishes like liquid ravioli and caviar made from olive oil, and his (now closed) restaurant El Bulli was voted the best restaurant the world for 5 years in a row - with over 2 million hopeful diners fighting for the 8000 seats available a year.

So when Ferran Adria came to town to talk about his new book "The Family Meal" - which he says is a "regular book for regular people" - it seemed fitting that my dinner post-talk took place over "regular" burgers at Super Duper, located just down the block from the Castro Theater.

Also interesting was that Mr. Adria himself spent this day of his Bay Area trip visiting some "regular" places on his own - notably having tacos at La Taqueria, ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe (where he apparently ordered "one of everything") and perusing Omnivore Books (one of the event's sponsors).

His sold-out (over 1400 seats) talk was entertaining and charmingly anecdotal. He claims that there's nothing particularly new or original about today's recipes - that they are just re-envisioned versions of dishes that have been around forever. He also spent a lot of time talking about El Bulli, which closed a few months ago and will re-open as a sort of culinary think tank in a few years.

I love the idea of The Family Meal, based on the meals the El Bulli staff gets to eat, which is targeted at folks that don't have a lot of time or money to spend on everyday meals. Besides hearing him speak, attendees also got the chance to ask questions and have books signed. We saw some of that same crowd shortly afterwards at Super Duper, a retro-looking burger spot serving Niman Ranch burgers and Straus organic soft serve.

The burgers were thick and juicy and quality toppings like an organic egg, roasted portabellos or cambozola cheese really put it over the edge. A touch on the sloppy side, but some people like that sort of thing. The bun was a bit too bread-y, in my opinion, but I rather enjoyed the fries which came with three dipping sauces - homemade mayo, chipotle and a super sauce (a cousin to thousand island).

Was it really super duper? Maybe not, but there was a freshness, and an elevated but yet still homespun quality that made it super satisfying. A fun, retro-y decor and personality came through that made it feel that much more special too. I'll be back again, I'm sure.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

makes 1 dozen
recipe adapted from Annie's Eats
total prep time: 30 min / cook time: 20-25 min

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c confectioners' sugar

1/4 c sugar
2 1/2 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 c sugar
1 c pumpkin purée
2/3 c vegetable oil

• In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until blended and smooth.
• Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1 1/2" in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log and reinforce with a piece of foil.
• Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

• Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon into a small bowl; whisk to blend.
• Add in the butter piece and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
* I forgot to cut the butter into pieces and just mixed everything together in one bowl.

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.
• In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.
• In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin purée and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended.
• With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

• Fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tbsp).
• Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 12 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well.
• Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.
• Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
• Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

• Do not consume out of the oven, the cream cheese filling gets very hot!
• I halved the recipe. For the full recipe (makes 2 dozen) please check out Annie's Eats.


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