Wednesday, September 11

Cornmeal Cake With Plum And Cherry Sorbet

Summer is coming to end. As sad as that makes me, I'm also looking forward to the delicious food that comes in the Fall--apples, winter squash, pumpkins. As one last hurrah, we made a yummy sorbet with sour plums and cherries. However, the sorbet turned out very tart, and we decided it needed to be paired with something sweet. So we made a cornmeal cake to go with it. The results, sweet, sour, crunchy, smooth, Summery, but with a hint of Fall.

Plum and Cherry Sorbet

Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients
3 cups of plums, pitted, and quartered (I think the kind we had was mirabelle plums, they were small and yellow)
1 cup of cherries, pitted and halved
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum (don't worry if you don't have this, I think it will still work fine, it just improves the texture)

Instructions
  1. Purée plums and cherries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Add sugar, Xanthan gum, and corn syrup and blend for 30 seconds. 
  3. Add salt, blend to incorporate, and adjust to taste.
  4. Strain purée and transfer to refrigerator; chill for 2 to 3 hours until very cold. 
  5. Churn sorbet in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. 
  6. Transfer sorbet to freezer to firm up for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Cornmeal cake

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
1 cup sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 9-inch cake pan or spring-form pan with 2-inch-high sides. Dust pan with cornmeal, tapping out excess. 
  2. Sift flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt into medium bowl. 
  3. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Beat in orange peel. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping sides of bowl. 
  4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. 
  5. Fold in dry ingredients in 3 additions until just incorporated. Transfer batter to pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with extra sugar. 
  6. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  7. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Run knife around pan sides to loosen. 
  8. Turn cake out onto plate, then invert, crushed sugar side up, onto rack. 
  9. Cool completely. Cut cake into wedges. Serve with plum cherry sorbet.

Sunday, September 8

Thai Green Curry Paste


Thai food is the best, who doesn't love it? Tucker and I went on our honeymoon to Thailand and of course we had to take a cooking class there! We learned how to make a delicious green curry with chicken. Unforunately, bringing the recipe back home proved tricky. We have mastered the curry paste (which is delicious), but are still working on refining the overall chicken curry recipe. We will hopefully be able to share than soon, but in the meantime, here is the excellent recipe for the green curry paste! Use it in your favorite curry recipe (like this one, or this one) instead of using one from a jar.

Thai Green Curry Paste

Adapted From Zazen Restaurant's Cooking Class

Ingredients
8 small fresh green got chillies (little Thai chillies)
1 large fresh green chili (called prik shi fa kiew)
1 tbsp. chopped shallots
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tbsp. chopped lemon grass
1 tsp. chopped galangal (thai ginger)
1/2 tsp. chopped kaffir lime peel or leaves (we couldn't find this back home, so we substituted for regular lime)
1 tsp. chopped coriander root or stem (we couldn't find this back home, so we left it out)
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. anise seeds
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste
1/8 tsp. salt

Instructions:
  • In a small wok or pan saute the coriander seeds, anise, cumin seeds, and black pepper until fragrant and put them in a mortar and pestle with the salt and grind to a fine powder.
  • Add chillies and grind again until it is smooth paste. Add the garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, garlic, galangal, and lemon grass and grind again into a smooth paste. Add the lime juice at the very end.
NOTE: if you are making a larger quantity of curry paste to keep, after grinding saute the paste in soy bean oil over a low heat, stirring constantly for 15 minutes. Let cool. Will keep in a jar in freezer or fridge for several months.

Sunday, September 1

Birthday Cupcakes: A Request For Help!

Tucker doesn't believe in cupcakes. He acknowledges they exist, but he says serious cooks don't make cupcakes. He thinks the cake dries out in the oven, he thinks they are a dumb fad. I'll concede the point about fads, but it doesn't stop me from loving cupcakes. They're cute! And they have a favorable cake-to-frosting ratio (i.e., more frosting per bite). They're also more portable than cake. As a concession to my love of cupcakes, once per year, on my birthday, Tucker will make cupcakes. As a result I spend the rest of the year dreaming about what cupcakes I should request.

Here is a roundup of cupcakes from the past few years (WARNING, there are explicitly delicious pictures of cupcakes below):

2009: S'more Cupcakes

2010: Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cupcakes

\

2011: Cookie Dough Cupcakes
These were some of my favorite cupcakes, and for some reason, I can't find a picture of them! They were vanilla cupcakes filled with cookie dough, brown sugar frosting, and a mini cookie on top. I'll update the post if I can find a pic.

2012: Cannoli Cupcakes
No blog post on this, sadly, but they were a vanilla cupcake filled and topped with homemade ricotta and sugar, with a chocolate glaze, topped with a crispy cookie and chocolate shavings.


2013: ???
This is where I need help. What is your favorite cupcake recipe? The more decadent the better! Leave a comment with your suggestion.

Some preliminary inspirations:

Friday, August 30

Kale Pasta With Toasted Pine Nuts And Cherry Tomatoes

We love kale! And that's a good thing because we get a lot of it from our farm share. This dish is really quick and simple, but also delicious. It's our go-to meal when we're short on time, but need something good.

Kale Pasta With Toasted Pine Nuts And Cherry Tomatoes

Adapted from The Garum Factory

Ingredients
1 large bunch kale
1 pound spaghetti
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 chopped shallot
1/2 cup chopped pepperoni (we use turkey pepperoni, feel free to judge us)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pine nuts
Grated pecorino cheese

Instructions
  • Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Strip the leaves off the stems of the kale. Discard the stems. Wash and drain the leaves. 
  • When the water is boiling add the kale. Stir until the water returns to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Scoop the kale out of the water and drain in a colander. Do not discard the kale water. Allow the kale to to cool briefly and then chop fine. 
  • Add the pasta to the kale water, cover briefly until the water returns to a boil, then remove the cover, stir and cook 7 minutes or until al dente. 
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil to medium heat and lightly fry the pepperoni for a few minutes. Remove the pepperoni and set aside.
  • Add garlic and shallots over medium heat and cook 5 minutes or until the garlic is toasty. Don’t let it get too dark or it will taste bitter. 
  • Add the pepperoni, tomatoes, and pine nuts, cook another few minutes. When pine nuts are toasty, add chopped kale and cook 2 minutes to meld the flavors.
  • Scoop the pasta out of the water directly into the pan with the kale. Add ½ cup pasta cooking water, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Added the grated pecorino. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28

Our Wedding: The Cake!

Tucker and I are incredibly lucky to have an incredibly talented baker in our family. Tucker's Aunt Susan is responsible for getting Tucker started on his lifelong journey with cooking and baking. We were also incredibly lucky that Susan agreed to bake our wedding cake.


It was amazing. Chocolate with more chocolate, raspberry filling, butter cream, ganache, decorated with violets and lilacs. I'm constantly thinking about breaking into the cake top that is in our freezer, I guess we are supposed to wait until our first anniversary.
I had a grand plan of typing up the recipe with her notes, but I just looked at the 10+ pages and gave up. The recipe is originally adapted from the Chocolate Wedlock recipe in "Death by Chocolate: The Last Word on a Consuming Passion." If you are really serious about baking a wedding cake, get in touch and I'll send over the recipe. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures!
 Cousin Emily steals an extra piece of cake:

Sunday, August 25

Our Wedding: The Food And Drink


Well, we did it. That's right, after over 10 years of dating, Tucker and I finally got married. As you can imagine, it was a decadent affair, with lots of attention to the food and beverages. While I don't have recipes to share, I thought I would take a post to detail what we did!

Let me start by giving credit where credit is due: Capers Catering did an incredible job with the food. As you can imagine, we have pretty high standards, and they absolutely met them. The beautiful pictures were taken by Perspectives Photography (some of the less beautiful shots in the bunch were taken by my iPhone).

Refreshments started at the ceremony with rosemary lemonade, self-served as guests arrived:

The menu:

The passed appetizers:
Lemon-Dill Crepe with Smoke Salmon and Herb Cheese
Parsley and Parmesan Encrusted Baby Lamb Chop Lollipops au Mint Jus
Chilled Minted Pea Soup Shooters & a Manchego, Dried Apricot Grilled Cheese Baton
Heart-Shaped Wild Mushroom, Caramelized Shallots, & Goat Cheese Tartlet
Crispy Beet Chip with Crème Fraiche, Caviar, and Chives

Stationary cheese display:
Selected cheese brought by familiar members from California and some bought from Whole Foods (i.e., Humboldt Fog and Truffle Tremor). There were also delicious homemade crackers and tapenade! I'll have to get the full list and recipes from Aunt Susan.

The first course:
Roasted Vegetable & Lemon Ricotta Tart Petite Herb Salad topped with Crispy Shallots With Red Pepper Puree and Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette

Main courses:
Parsley & Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin atop Wild Mushroom Crostini with Thyme-Shallot  Reduction
OR
Seared Filet of Halibut, Fresh Lemon Zest and Lemon-Mascarpone Cream
Both Accompanied by a Wild Mushroom & Spring Pea Risotto Cake and Roasted Summer Vegetables
OR
Barley Risotto with Artichokes & Roasted  Red Peppers, Chive Oil

The beverages:
The main attraction from a beverage perspective was the incredible flight of beers that Tucker's brother, Lee, brewed for us, with labels designed by Tucker's cousin. See an overview of the brewing process on Lee's blog here and details on the following brews here: Hoppily Ever After, Ale We Need Is Love, RachAle, TuckBrew.

My favorite was the LoveyWeiss, which was a raspberry Berlinerweiss. Here is a picture of my mom drinking it:

 We also had a house punch that we called "HoneyIDo Punch", which was a Pimms and honeydew punch served in mason jars (see picture of us toasting below with the punch). We used this recipe from Serious Eats: Pimms Melon Punch.

And dessert, of course!
We had macaron favors made in pistachio and raspberry flavors, some with cream filling, some with chocolate ganache filling. Finding a local vendor who could make decent macaron at scale was difficult. After tasting several places, we finally found Bliss Bakery in Groton, and OH MY GOODNESS, do they make a good macaron. Check out the favors and the macaron tower here: 

We also had strawberries with sabayon and/or chocolate ganache for dipping. Yum!

 Oh, and there was an INCREDIBLE cake too, made by Tucker's Aunt Susan. But I'll save that for another post.