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Spring Petit Fours

petitfours1petitfours3 poured fondant  leftover messpetitfours2

I made petit fours for spring! Chocolate, almond, and creamsicle cakes layered with apricot and ginger jam and almond paste. The baking and assembly were really quite easy; the tough part was the icing. You can see I made a mess of extra fondant, but the colors are so pretty (and the cakes are so yummy!) the mess was definitely worth it.

Wanna try it yourself? Recipe here.

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Dreams, Dance, Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Today is my day off and I woke up at 2 in the afternoon and proceeded to drink a pumpkin beer and eat a biscuit with pumpkin butter. While I was sleeping, I had a sex dream about a girl friend of mine. Later, in a half-asleep stupor from my roommate vacuuming, I dreamt my house was throwing a dinner party for gay men. Imagine my surprise when I checked Facebook and learned today is National Coming Out Day! A gay way to start.

After watching a video of a goth kid singing an aria, I dug all of the food waste out of the trash and separated everything into containers outside. Yes, I’m the weird roommate that goes through everyone else’s trash to find things I can recycle or compost. I even found a perfectly gorgeous ginger root that I’m saving! It’s weird — I’ve been baking ginger cookies for weeks and always lacking in fresh ginger, and it turns out it was in my garbage can all along.

Maybe it would be more mature to talk to my roommates about recycling and composting, but it is honestly easier for me to do it myself. Even if sometimes I do get a rush of garbage air to the face. You know what I’m talking about — when you try to compress a couple of garbage bags in a can and all that fetid air is finally freed. Foul.

Life goes on. I made stuffed peppers, using a recipe I made up last night during a dance show so excruciating I felt compelled to buy my friends food and drinks afterwards. I went with a friend and a roommate; we showed up late and all had to sit separately. The show began with a naked body on the floor, eventually, three others joined. They dressed and undressed, all to a heavy, repetitive bass guitar. Throughout the show I witnessed so much technical skill, so much perfection, rippling muscles, but the repetitive movements made me cringe. ‘You’re hurting yourselves!’ I wanted to shout. I felt the show was commenting on the militarization and commercialization of art, but it was so ugly. Maybe I’m simple, but I just want to see something beautiful.

After the show we went to The Mecca Cafe in Lower Queen Anne. Queen Anne is beautiful, by the way. We parked for the show in a multimillion dollar neighborhood of architectural masterpieces overlooking the water, and it was good. The bar was a perfectly quaint diner with a heavy punk waitress and booze milkshakes. My roommate and I each ordered Kahlua and chocolate and we got pancakes, fries AND chili fries for the table. It felt like high school, going out for milkshakes and shit food at a diner after a show. Except in high school I would’ve been sneaking my own booze in there, and now I’m a grown up and I can do whatever the fuck I want every second.

Anyway, stuffed peppers. They are half a burst of creative genius and half a clever combination of the leftover vegetables in my fridge.

Cook up one cup of brown rice. While this is cooking, hollow out some peppers big enough for stuffing. These are the five I had.

peppersChop up some kale, purple cabbage and one red chili pepper. Mix equal parts of kale and cabbage with the cooked brown rice. Add one beaten egg and a dash of sesame oil and soy sauce and you’re good to smoosh the mixture inside the hollowed out peppers.

veg1

Pour olive oil and salt on a baking pan, and over the peppers after they’re set down. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until collapsed and sexy.

Before:

before

After:

after

I ate the light green one, is that a banana pepper? It was delicious. Melty and spicy and satisfying, with a mix of flavors interesting but not overpowering. I was worried it would be under-spiced or too tough and vegetable-y but my fears went unfounded. A perfect healthy fresh dish for fall.

And now: The future. Will I bake? Will I ride my bike? Maybe I’ll never leave the house again.

Chewy Molasses Ginger Snaps and Theo Chocolate Cupcakes

I didn’t leave the house at all on Saturday. I had a cold and babied myself with naps and tea. In the 70 degree sunshine on the porch in the morning, I finished A House For Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul and had myself a little cry. I consoled myself by thinking of the stack of his novels by my bed.

I’ve been reading VS Naipaul for about a month now. I started with A Way in the World, a fictionalized autobiography and fictional history of colonialism. It was beautiful and informative, highly recommended, but a tough way to dive in. I much preferred the intimate and playful storytelling in my next read, Ms Biswas. I was there for his birth, his death, and everything in between — his many houses and families. I got to learn a little bit about Trinidad’s society and culture and about colonialism in the Caribbean. Now I have just begun Miguel Street and I am excited to read more.

In the afternoon, I baked. I made chewy molasses ginger snaps and Theo chocolate yogurt cupcakes. I made the ginger snaps once before and burnt them after receiving a surprising phone call. These ones I made spicier, and with chopped candied ginger.

Chewy Molasses Ginger Snaps

ginger snaps

Adapted from The Kitchn. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

2 1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup candied ginger, chopped

1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Whip butter, olive oil, molasses and brown sugar. Add the egg. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Mix in candied ginger. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes, or until hard.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pour sugar into a shallow bowl. Separate dough into four equal chunks. Break each chunk into 16 pieces, roll into sugar, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

Cool, if you can, and see how long they last. Spicy, chewy, satisfying.

An aside — I forgot to roll mine in the sugar this time. My kitchen suddenly became busy with others cooking some kind of Hawaiian fried chicken and I was distracted. They were delicious. The cookies and the chicken.

While the cookie dough was hardening in the fridge, I set to work on Theo Chocolate Yogurt Cupcakes.

Theo chocolate cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Makes 12 cupcakes.

7 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup chocolate chips

For the frosting:

4 ounces unsalted butter, salted

4 ounces cream cheese, salted

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a metal bowl over boiling water, melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup of the oil, stirring. When smooth, remove from heat.

Mix the remaining 1/4 cup oil with yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with the yogurt mixture and the chocolates; mix lightly.

Fill the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until barely set in the middle.

cupcakes

As you can see, frosting isn’t necessary. But it is delicious. And so I did. If you want to:

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Cream.Theo chocolate cupcake

Be sure to enjoy these delights as I did — while watching Young Adult with friends. I really like that movie.

Don’t Give a Fuck ‘Chokes

SO I wanted to roast some artichokes but the recipe called for tin foil and I don’t have any so I decided not to give a fuck.

artichokesWhat’s gonna happen?!

Anyway, here’s how to give as few shits as I do.

Cut both ends off of two artichokes with a serrated knife. Don’t bother using a regular knife, it won’t work.

Seriously, I looked all over my kitchen for like a half hour swearing and chugging cheap red wine until I found a serrated knife hidden in the depths of my dishwasher, and it was WORTH IT.

Put those artichokes in some kind of container. Maybe it should be oven-safe. I don’t give a fuck. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, or don’t. Live dangerously.

Shove some garlics in the top of the artichokes.

Chop up an onion and a few jalepeños and sprinkle them around.

Pour an embarrassing amount of olive oil over the top. Salt. Oil. Repeat.

Bake for an hour or so, or until it smells good and you can hear it crackling and you can’t wait anymore.

artichokes

Eat everything out of the hot pan with your fingers with your two best girlfriends, licking olive oil off your hands as you go.

You won’t miss the tin foil, I promise.

Rainbow Chard with Peanut Sauce

I haven’t been cooking much lately, but I was gifted with some chard last week and decided to get back into the kitchen. As is my wont, I added pretty much everything in my fridge and made enough food to last until my kids are old enough to try some. Lucky for them; this shit is delicious!

Rainbow Chard with Peanut Sauce (and brown rice and carrots and pineapple and kidney beans and iceberg lettuce because why not?)

dinner!

You’ll need:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 bunch chard, chopped
  • 1 jar peanut butter (smooth or chunky are both fine, whatever your preference)
  • 1 can diced pineapple in juice
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 2 Tbs vinegar (I used balsamic, apple cider would also work)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce (optional)

1. Saute the onions, garlic, and carrot in olive oil on medium for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned

onion, garlic, carrot2. Meanwhile, start making your rice according to package instructions. I made brown rice in a rice cooker with a ratio of 2 cups rice to 5 cups water.

3. Add the chopped chard along with 4 cups of water

greens4. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer

5. Add peanut butter, pineapple with juice, beans, lettuce

6. Add vinegar; salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

7. Let cook for about an hour, or until the chard reaches your desired consistency

chard stew

8. Mix in rice, enjoy, and can and freeze the extra!

can that shit

This is super healthy, super filling, and super delicious. You’ll never go hungry again!

Crisp, Tangy February Gazpacho

Let’s turn this:

veggies

into this:

chopped veggies

into this:

gazpacho

That’s right, I’m talking about gazpacho. Simple, yummy, healthy, delicious gazpacho. It really is as easy as chop chop chop! So if you’ve got a food processor, or if you like dicing vegetables into tiny perfect cubes, this is the soup for you.

To start, quarter and seed one cucumber. It’s not necessary to peel. Core and seed the two bell peppers as well. Now it’s time to finely chop the cucumber, bell peppers, four roma tomatoes, and one red onion. Mince three cloves of garlic. Mix all these chopped veggies in a big bowl with a lid. They should look a little something like this:

chopped veggies

Add 3 cups of tomato juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup white wine vinegar. I bought my ingredients at the Uwajimaya and they didn’t have any tomato juice so instead I used:

v8Add 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 tablespoon salt if you’re not using a salted base like I did, and a SECRET INGREDIENT if you’re feeling fancy. Stir.

And voila! Gazpacho! This shouldn’t take more than 20 or 30 minutes to make, it’s healthy and delicious, and it gets better with time once the flavors have a chance to meld together. I made my gazpacho Monday night and brought it to a potluck Tuesday to share with friends. Everyone loved it! And it goes well with Cab Franc.

I know gazpacho is traditionally a warm-weather food, but get into a Spanish feeling and chop your favorite fresh produce into a cold soup today!

Mexican Monday Recipes!

Happy Mexican Monday! And yes I know it is technically Tuesday, but I stay up late. I had a great night of great food and now I want to share it with everyone! Our menu is Mexican rice and homemade salsa, refried beans, and tortilla chips. And I’m roasting a head of garlic right now to mix into the salsa! Yummm, I can’t wait!

I also made gazpacho tonight, but that’s for a potluck I’m going to tomorrow. And it’s Spanish, not Mexican! I tried it though and it’s delicious so I’ll share the recipe soon… with lots of pics!

I’ll start with the rice. It’s really delicious and flavored by pureed vegetables! A much healthier alternative to Mexican rice from a box, I’m sure. And you can control the spice by deciding how much of the jalepeño stems and seeds you add!

rice

You’ll need:

  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 jalepeño, deveined to your preferred spice level (I take nothing out!)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbs chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used vegetable, the original recipe called for canola)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup brown rice (or use any kind of rice you want, but different kinds will need different amounts of water and cook times)

You will need to use an ovensafe pan with a tight-fitting lid because this rice cooks in the oven, not on the stove.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop tomato, onion, and jalepeño. Using a food processor or blender, puree with water and bouillon powder until smooth.

puree

Heat oil for two minutes on low-medium heat. Increase heat to medium, add garlic and rice. Stir consistently and cook until the rice has a nice brown color. Add pureed mixture (stand back while pouring!), increase heat to medium-high and bring rice to a boil. You should be stirring this whole time. Put the lid on the rice, put the rice in the oven, check back in 45 minutes!

You’ll have to stir the rice first thing, and decide if it’s ready by how moist it seems. If you want the rice to suck up some more moisture, put the lid back on and put it in the oven for a few more minutes. If it seems good to go, eat up! My rice was chewy in a satisfying, yielding way; moist but not soggy or soupy; and intensely flavored with a good amount of spice. No more plain old brown rice for me!

3/3/13 Rice recipe was edited to reflect minor improvements

Next up, salsa! Ben is a genius at salsa. As a result, I am spoiled and can’t stand jarred salsa and can only eat his and crave it constantly. Luckily, I learned how to make it myself! It is very easy and contains nothing much than chopped vegetables (I guess fruits too because a tomato is a fruit) and salt! You can play with it on a whim and add corn, garlic, and more!

That’s what we’re doing tonight! Ben decided to roast the peppers tonight, which gave the salsa a comforting sexy feel, and I’m roasting garlic right now to add in! Minced or finely chopped raw garlic is also great in this salsa, but I just bought new olive oil and I’m lovin it.

Real quick, to roast a head of garlic in a sexy and delicious way, chop off the top, peel away some but not all of the paper, and put in a ball of tin foil. Pour over a generous amount of olive oil and salt, making sure all the garlic seems well-coated. Close the ball and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. If you can wait that long!

salsa

And here! Is our salsa recipe. Play with it how you will.

Just dice everything to the same consistent small size, as small as you can chop. Ben’s tiny is a lot tinier than mine, and that’s okay. If you have a food processor, that would probably help you out. Or you can practice your knife skills!

Chop two roma tomatoes, one bell pepper, one jalepeño (seeds and all if you like it spicy!), one half cucumber and one half onion. Mix a generous amount of salt in–it will help pull out the moisture and mix the flavors. Now it’s time to ea….

WAIT! OH NO! You don’t have anything to eat the salsa with! We haven’t made the tortilla chips yet!

Let’s get these in the oven quick.

tortillas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Very lightly grease both sides of a big ole stack of corn tortillas. We used olive oil, but I’m sure y’all are gonna use bacon fat. I wish, dude!

After greasing, quarter the tortillas. Add a little more salt than you think is necessary, or don’t add any salt at all! Bake for about 17 minutes, or until light brown and very crisp.

Now dip dat chip!

tortilla chips

Last but not least, da beans. I used canned beans so it was super simple. You can use any kind of beans you want! But pinto and black beans are probably the most common. Heat 2 Tbs of your grease of choice over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic, let fry for a bit, add yer beans. Mash them with a potato masher (I have one!). Let cook some more. Repeat. When you can’t wait any more, it’s time to eat!

refried beans

Ben hates beans and I love them. More for me!

And right now I am sitting here writing and Ben is on the other couch playing Grand Theft Auto and I feel just so satisfied with the meals I have eaten today.

Goodnight!