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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We're Moving

Address to follow. I'll keep you updated on all the details for moving day but expect special new features, and a lot wider range of posts. I'm currently setting everything up and planning some kind of "thing" for the first day of the big move.....stay tuned

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Perfect Sims Weekend

So its summer. And its and humid....all day every day. But then randomly this weekend it was beautiful! Perfect! So this humble blogger got her butt on her bicycle, grabbed her little sister, and went out on a perfect weather bike trip.

Well this included a trip to the farm stand to buy two small sunflowers and some tomatoes for a smashing dinner salad.

I work close to Hartford Hospital and sometimes my fewllow employees will wenture to the Hospital to take advantage of their expansive food selsections. Well in a rare treat I did this very thing the other day (rather then venture to Subway as per usual) And I ordered something at Au Bon Pain out of the ordinary as well. I am partial to the Caprese sandwich but in the spirit of doing things differently I ordered the chicken cobb without the eggs and with honey mustard. Well folks it was for my post bike ride, super salad I give you....inspired by Au Bon Pain......

Perfect Bike Salad

2 farm stand tomatoes sliced
1 sliced cucumber from your mothers garden sliced
1/4 head red lettuce
1/4 cup Gorgonzola
grilled chicken breast
1 avocado cubed

Honey Mustard Dressing: whisk 1 T honey and 1 T mustard. Add 2 T vinegar. whisk. Season. Whisk in Olive Oil until emulsified.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kate’s Birthday or “it is literally a truffle” cake

So there is a beautiful tradition between my friend Kate and I that has endured since that fateful day we went to Starbucks and became friends. You see when we met, our broke asses couldn’t afford to do much for each other at our respective birthdays so we started a tradition: we made each other her birthday cake. And cards on the table, it is one of the best gifts I receive all year. She happily ventures out of her comfort zone like a hungry explorer to make me the most insane, experimental cake she can think of (see last year’s Margarita Cheesecake which was fabulous) and I similarly move out of my comfort some into the arena of Chocolate. And I don’t mean Hershey Bar Chocolate. I mean denser then Tolstoy, thicker than Beyonce’s behind, weightier then Seaborgium. I mean Choc O Late……

Well this year was extra special because it was a birthday/Kate’s a homeowner celebration. And while my 80 year old granny-spine kept me from being much use in the painting department, I supplied the Cake….job complete.

The cake:
Devil’s Food Cake with Ganache Frosting

Funny story: we took a break (and by “we” I mean everyone working and me) and made (re-heated) some pizza. Well while the pizza heated I had a baby slice of cake, as did the birthday girl/homeowner. Well one of her first comments was “this frosting tastes like a truffle” to which I responded “that’s because it literally is a truffle”. The frosting is made the same way you make truffles except that you whip air into the ganache instead of rolling it into balls (and coating it in cocoa powder …..which is gross…..don’t understand why we feel the need to take something delicious and roll it in something with the consistency of dirt)

Hence the new name:
It is Literally a Truffle Cake

The Cake recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens Little Red (Has Everything) Cookbook. The Ganache is actually not the one I used but Ganache is Ganache. The cake itself is a little ambitious….like me….see Literarily/pop Culture/ Atomic Weight joke.

My only comment was Kate thinks we should try the same frosting but with a moister, chocolate-ier cake like a genoise. I guess I can give that picky pain in my backside what she wants….it is her birthday ….*winky face


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup shortening
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups cold water

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease and lightly flour two 9x1-1/2-inch round cake pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan(s) aside. Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2.In a large mixing bowl beat the shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until well combined. Add egg yolkes, one at a time, beating well after each. Add the dry mixture and water alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
3. clean beaters. Whip egg whites till soft peaks form. Add ¾ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into mixture until well combined.
4.Spoon batter into prepared pan(s), spreading evenly. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool layer cakes in pan on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Or, place 13x9-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly.

Ganache Frosting
• 9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until bubbles begin to appear around edges (scalding); pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Set aside at room temperature until cool and starting to firm up (maybe 20 mins)
2. Whip air into it with a handheld mixer until it is fluffy and frosting like (it will lighten in color to a light brown and will have a noticeable change in texture.
3. Make sure to store it in the fridge to harden up again, but I find it is best to take it out of the fridge about 5-10 mins before serving at least to let the icing soften up.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

They Did the Mash....They Did the White Bean Mash

So I have a few random skills that I am especially proud of while recognizing their limited potential to impress. One such ability is my ability to pack books. Why am I such an expert? Well I love books (see 52 week challenge that I was stupid enough to undertake) and have always had….a couple…..hundred. Add to this the fact that I have moved 3 times in the last 4 years and you’ll see where I got the practice. Packing books is a delicate art. See unlike packing something like dishes which requires the “packer” (sounds dirty) to have some working knowledge of basic physics (notably in the areas of in flight shifting possibilities and potential impact forseeability and preparation) packing books is like a puzzle where by you try to fit as many hard, inflexible rectangular objects (of varying size) into as few small boxes as possible. It seems at times similar to the kinds of tests they give chimps to measure cognition. Well long story short I am an exceptional chimp.
So recently I lended my super chimp box packing skills to my friend Kate, who is moving in a few short weeks. I ended up packing a decent number of boxes…..(Kate claims she was occupied with other things while I packed which is why she didn’t help more then she did but I think this was just a cover so she could stand back in awe) so once I had packed what I thought was an expectable number I decided to sit back and “supervise” while she packed the rest. (I’m such a good friend). While she did that I looked through her magazines and found a recipe in Whole Living that I thought sounded mighty tasty.
White Bean Veggie Mash

I believe the recipe appeared under alternative side dishes for Thanksgiving, but I decided to give it a go despite it being spring. How tasty. It’s as simple as cooking up carrots and celery (the foundations of any stock, stuffing etc) and adding white beans and potatoes. The result is a rather tasty and more rounded tasting mash potato side. The only down side was that the recipe made enough to feed a small army and we have more then enough to “side” three more dinners (the original was served with NY strip). This did lead, however, to an upside: it is the perfect leftover for lunches. I brought it to work with some Trader Joes Soy-catash when I was too lazy to make anything (so basically frozen veggies when in a plastic container with a small container of this on the side) and it was delicious. Healthy and filling.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did the next time your at your friends house stuffing her box….sorry that was wrong…..but it’s Wednesday so it’s staying…sorry

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Earthy Crunchy Breakfast

I know I love a good earthy, hippie recipe. I love whole wheat things. My sister makes fun of my preferred whole wheat bread, accusing me of eating bread with wood chunks and tree branches in it. One of the lovely women I work with has a word for this kind of food: Earthy Crunchy. Her husband apparently likes Earthy-Crunchy things like Ezekiel bread. I also love earthy crunchy things and there is no better way to describe the breakfast I made the other day.
See I was in Washington the other week, visiting my dear friend Kate. She and I have known each other going on 15 years (gasp) but sadly have lived tragically, geographically apart for about 9. So our get-togethers are epic. Need a testimonial? Last time we got together I visited her in Philadelphia I arrived by train, she picked me up, we briefly toured the city via tour bus so we I could get a “feel” for the city and decide what areas I wanted to go investigate further. Then we grabbed a bite to eat and hit up a champagne bar called…no joke…tiny bubbles. We eventually stumble home and I get a call from my now ex-boyfriend who comments on my slurring and asked “are you drunk?” …..yeeeeeesss…… “Alexandra it’s 8:00?!?!?!?!?”
So this weekend visiting her at her new local in Washington, we decided we wanted to go to a beer tasting- zip-lining adventure. And that morning I slept a little late, so I skipped breakfast. We got to our local and stopped into a café and I caught sight of the most delicious sounding thing: Spelt-Quinoa Scones with ricotta cheese and jam. Well dear readers it was Deeeeee-licious

I was inspired to try this morning hippie fest at home but was majorly thwarted by the new chain- “whole-foods-esqe” store in Avon, which I learned, the hard way, was the worst hippie store ever. They had no spelt. And upon further investigation I found they had no soy yogurt either….how does that even happen?! Well in my haste I purchased scone mix (blueberry) and added a cup of cooked quinoa to it. (more successful recipe to follow) But readers it was heaven on earth. My aunt who doesn’t really care for my more crunchy adventures downed these scones like there were 1 millions dollars at the bottom of the bag. Recipe:
Simply add one cup of cooked and cooled quinoa to any scone muffin recipe. It adds a lovely texture and hearty taste.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why Brunch Gives Us Hope For a Brighter Tomorrow

Sometimes inspiration comes to you at the most incredible times. As I posted some weeks ago, between my three jobs and 52 Week challenge I have had little to no time to do any food blogging (or cooking for that matter). Well just yesterday I got news that my extended stay as a Saturday employee would soon come to a close. Furthermore, I finally got caught up on my reading. And just in time for these little ducks to get themselves in a row, I was innocently flipping through Curtis Stone’s Relaxed Cooking.and came across an image that made me drool. Now normally, a Curtis Stone book can make me start to drool for a different reason. Don’t judge me….that man is beautiful.
The recipe in question was for Toasted Bagels with Wilted Spinach and Poached Eggs. The picture literally made me drool. I wanted to the bite the paper. Etc etc. Well this immediately led me to ask Marilou if she felt like brunch this week. A call was made to the other respective members of my family and an appointment made for Sunday brunch that very weekend.
I want to take a second to say that whomever invented brunch deserves ot have a monument erected in their honor in every major city in this great nation. This is mainly because brunch is a magical event that combines everything that is great about life. Breakfast. Lazy Sunday mornings. Drinking before noon. So what better way to celebrate my new found weekly freedom then with the ultimate leisure activity?
This exposition also allowed me a good excuse to poach an egg for the first time. My sister has already mastered this delicate art, and was kind enough to walk me through it. Mind you the recipe that I have linked above does not use this strategy, but my sister taught me the “Julia method” as in the method she learned watching Julia Child’s TV show. You boil water, bring it down to a simmer, add ¼ cup of white vinegar and use a spoon to swirl the water in the pot into a whirlpool. (think Odysseus being attacked by the Charybdis) Then you take an egg you’ve cracked into a small down and drop it gently into the center of the “vortex” you’ve created. The swirling movement helps to keep the white attached to the yolk. I have to admit I was a little intimidated by the whole process. But once we did the first one I was quite charmed with the result. A bit like a little kid. A special one.
And on the whole the recipe came out amazing. I was quite pleased. I also went there at Fresh Foods Market and got that expensive fresh squeezed OJ…..worth it! Made the best mimosa I’ve ever had.