winter project: bread

After you’ve known me for a while, you may notice a marked change of temperament occurring right about this time of year.  I like to think of myself as a mostly happy-go-lucky, warm, loving… (you get it) human being.  But when the months are so cold and the days so short, something snaps from deep within.

The most notable evidence is during public transportation.  If everyone’s getting off the train, and there’s that one blubbering, oblivious idiot blocking the door, I feel a deep hatred swelling up my veins, and harbor fantasies about delivering a sharp, well-placed jab under his ribs as I shove past.  When there is a large pack of tourists blocking the subway turnstiles, fumbling around for their Metrocards, I clench my fists with unadulterated fury and want to screech, “GO BACK TO KANSAS ALREADY!”  And so help me God if these fools cause me to miss my train.

I’ve heard some people have seasonal depression.  I get Seasonal Raging Bitch.  And it really is seasonal, I swear.  For instance, in warmer months I have no qualms with Kansas.

However this year I’m putting both feet down and making a change.  Instead of my regular winter pastimes of whining about the cold and hating on innocent tourists, I’m going to start a new one: 

BREAD.

Making delicious bread bread bread!  Or rather, bread family foods: breads, pitas, pizzas, naan, buns…. everything and anything with yeasty rich deliciosity.  What more does one need to lift one’s spirits in the bitter winter nights?  

I’ve made two batches of yeasty goodness so far: Honey Egg Challah and whole wheat Chinese steamed buns.  Here’s one photo, posts will follow soon!

highlights from new orleans

We just spent an amazing week eating and drinking in the Big Easy. Holy crap, what an amazing place.   It’s no wonder that the city keeps producing legends like Emeril Lagasse and John Besh. The food culture is absolutely incredible.   These are only a few of the many, many amazing things we got to try in one too-short week!

 Muffaletta from Central Grocery.  Olive salad, Italian meats and cheeses, on a giant round sesame loaf.   So simple and so good.  Bought a giant canister of olive salad to recreate this at home!

 BBQ Shrimp Po’boy from Liuzza’s By The Track.  They pull out the insides of the sandwich bread, and stuff it packed with these small succulent pieces of sauced shrimp.  This sandwich is giant.
 Jambalaya from Coop’s: is the single best bite in New Orleans.  Coops is just a random bar on Decateur you might walk right pass without ever knowing the goodies it holds.  This dish is so packed of smoky seafood-y goodness, and I loaded it with super hot sriracha.  Can’t stop thinking about it, and I have made jambalaya twice since I’ve been back to New York!
 Banana Cream Pie from Emeril’s: Towering banana pie, topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce, and chocolate shavings.  Rich, giant, sweet decadence.  Just one question – how do they keep the bananas from browning?

 50 cent oysters at Luke.  God, oysters on the half shell, for 50 cents?? We went twice.  
S’mores Skillet from Sucre: rich, rich goodness.  We got it with pistachio gelato.  Also worth mentioning is that place is GREAT with the free samples of macarons, gelato, and yummo vanilla marshmallows!

Other highlights that I had to steal Internet pictures of… (got too preoccupied eating and forgot to snap a photo!):

 Alligator sausage cheesecake from Jacque-Imos: SO weird and delicious and weird and rich and WEIRD.

Biegnets from Cafe du Monde: Rude as hell service, but man are these pillowy packets of heaven WORTH it.

Bread Pudding Souffle from Commander’s Palace: Dear God, this is how I know you exist, and you wish me to be happy.

funfetti cakepops!


Let’s face it, food is so much more fun when you can eat it on a stick!

This was a great dessert I brought to my friend’s New Years Eve party.  It’s a perfect dessert to munch on while drinking, as it requires only one hand and no plate — so your other hand can remain firmly on your cocktail glass!  

Cakepops take a while to make, but they’re much easier than they look.  The basic concept it to (1) bake a cake, (2) make some frosting, (3) mix it together, make balls, refrigerate, (4) poke a lollipop stick into the balls and dip in melted chocolate or melted candy melts.   So tasty and so festive, so entirely worth it!   I made a funfetti cake (reminds me of elementary school birthdays!) and plain buttery heavenly vanilla buttercream frosting.  But you can go crazy creative with it – any cake/frosting combination is up for grabs.  Next time I think I’m going to do Red Velvet! :)

Since they are supposed to be plate-free, you don’t want them breaking apart when your friends pick them up, or at the first bite!  Here are some tricks I use:
  • Dip the lollipop stick in chocolate before sticking into the cake, and then refrigerate before doing anything else.  The chocolate will harden and act like glue between the cake and the stick.
  • Don’t make the cakepop too big.  The weight will cause them to break apart after the first bite.  





Recipes:


Funfetti White Cake  
(recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a large rectangular cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Fold in sprinkles.  Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.


Super Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

(recipe from here)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 drops food coloring, or as needed (optional)

Directions

  1. Cream room temperature butter with a hand mixer, the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract.
  2. Pour in milk and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add food coloring, if using, and beat for thirty seconds until smooth or until desired color is reached.


Cake Pops

Ingredients

  • Large funfetti white cake 
  • 1 full recipe of vanilla buttercream frosting above (or 3/4 container of store-bought frosting, if you must)
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (may need more depending on how you dip the cakepops)
  • 40 lollipop sticks (Too lazy to go to the store, I actually used BBQ skewers, cut in half)
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions

  1. Using a fork, gently break up the cake into crumbles.  I started from one end of the cake pan and worked my way across.  Scoop cake crumbles into large bowl.  Scoop in frosting, and gently fold only until combined.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  (I was out and used foil).  Taking out golf ball sized amounts of cake/frosting mix, and using the palms of your hands, roll the mixture into spheres. Place onto baking sheet.  If you have a melon baller, all the power to you.  Use it!  Refrigerate the balls for at least an hour. 
  3. After the hour, melt a cup of chocolate in a double boiler.  Dip the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, and then into each ball.  The chocolate acts as glue, so the cake will stay on the stick!  Put the balls back in the fridge until the chocolate solidifies (about 30 minutes).
  4. Put your sprinkles in a medium bowl.  Melt the rest of the chocolate in the double boiler.  Holding the lollipop stick, gently dip each cake ball in the melted chocolate.  Alternatively, I found it easier to ladle a spoonful of chocolate and roll my cakeball in the spoon.  After each ball has been dipped, grab of pinch of sprinkles and ‘sprinkle’ them on.  Once all the balls are all chocolated and sprinkled, back in the fridge they go!  Once the chocolate hardens again, the balls are ready.