Tuesday, December 28, 2010

They Draw And Cook

This really fun and inspiring blog called They Draw And Cook had a Holiday Contest I entered and my artwork was posted today.  I didn't win anything, but it is still fun to see my drawing among all these amazing and creative people.  If you haven't checked out their site, please do.  You can click here to see a bigger version of my work.  My drawing is based off my crazy Grandma Dixie's punch recipe that she would make every year for Christmas.

Click here to get the original recipe for my Grandma Dixie's Holiday punch.  It could be a fun alternative to just champagne on New Year's Eve. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Kitchen Sticky Notes

I had to quickly share one of my favorite Christmas gifts so far - these Kitchen Sticky Notes.  These are perfect for someone like me who doesn't like to write in her cookbooks.  Plus, they are totally adorable :)  Thanks Anna!  Click here to buy.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Momofuku's Compost Cookie

Skip the chocolate chip cookie this holiday season and surprise your friends and family with this recipe for Momofuku's Compost Cookie.  I don't have a lot of time to write about this cookie, but all I can say is make it.  The cookie went so fast I only had time to snap a picture with my phone (so sorry for the blurry photo).  This recipe is based off of Momofukufor2 blog.  Here is the original recipe, I just got specific with my ingredients.

Ingredients for Momofuku's Compost Cookie, makes about 2 dozen:
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup  plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
-1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
-1 large egg
-3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
-1/4 cup pecans, chopped
-1/4 cup Lay's Natural Thick Cut Sea Salt Potato Chips, crunched
-1/4 cup Rolos, cut in halves
-Mini pretzels, placed on top of each ball of dough

To begin, cream butter, sugars, and corn syrup until light and fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla, and mix on medium speed for 10 minutes.  It is helpful to have a stand-mixer, so your arm doesn't fall off.  Use your paddle attachment if you are using a stand-mixer.  The 10 minutes allows for the sugars to dissolve completely and creates a light and fluffy dough.

Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the egg mixture.  Mix until just combined, don't over mix.  Add the chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans, and mix until just combined.  Add the potato chips and rolos and mix until just combined.

On parchment lined baking sheets, scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie.  Take one mini pretzel per scoop and press it into the dough ball (mine were sticking up, don't worry it will flatten down as it bakes).  Place cookie sheets in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to a week.  Wrap in plastic wrap if you are refrigerating longer than an hour.

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees F.  Place your chilled cookies 4 inches apart, and bake for 9-11 minutes, until brown on the edges and beginning to brown in the center.  Let cool on baking sheet for a minute and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an air tight container for up to a week, but they won't last that long!

If you would rather just make chocolate chip cookies, then click here for the recipe :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Orange Drop Peppernuts

Once again, my friend received some peppernuts from his mom.  I never thought anything could beat the original peppernut, but I was mistaken - a peppernut with orange candy slices can.  Crunchy, chewy, sweet and orangey, it is the perfect holiday snack with a hot cup of tea or just by themselves.  I thought I would share a similar recipe from the Peppernuts Plain and Fancy book.

Mother's Gumdrop Peppernuts from Peppernuts Plain and Fancy:

-3/4 cup shortening
-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-1 1/2 cups brown sugar
-3 eggs
-1/2 cup milk or cream
-1 cup chopped nuts
-3/4 pound spiced gumdrops, diced (I would buy orange candy slices)
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-4 to 5 cups flours

Cut gumdrops into small pieces with scissors dipped in flour.  Cut onto a plate and dust pieces to keep them from sticking together.  Set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, followed by milk, gumdrops, and nuts.  Add sifted flour and remaining dry ingredients.  If necessary, add a little extra flour until dough clings together.  Chill overnight or longer.  Roll into 1/2 inch ropes and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Bake on greased pan at 375 degrees F for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Place cookies into a clean, dry dish towel and let cool.

Enjoy!  Click here to see me making peppernuts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

No Boys Allowed Sugar Cookie Party

A couple photos from Anna and I's No Boys Allowed Sugar Cookie Party :)
Bikini Anna.
Click here for the sugar cookie and royal icing recipe.  If you live in New York, you must stop by NY Cake and Bake.  They have an amazing selection of sprinkles, cookie cutters, and basically anything you can imagine.

Click here to see my cookies from last year.
And click here to try these Chewy Ginger Snaps.  Soooo goood!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Martha Stewart Show

The Goddess herself, Martha Stewart, taking questions from the audience.  Look at pretty gold shoes!
One of my dreams came true on Wednesday.  My boss took all of the design team to the Martha Stewart Show.  Martha Stewart has been my idol since the 8th grade.  I would rush home and diligently take notes during her original show.  Here are a few pictures from the show.  It was pretty amazing watching how many people it takes to put on a production like that!  Best gift ever!
Check out my holiday cards from last year, here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

OMG - Red Rooster is Opening!

Photo taken by Harlem + Bespoke
Marcus Samuelson's Harlem restaurant called Red Rooster is opening this Friday, December 17th at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue!  I am beyond excited :)  Click here to see the article in the New York Times.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Cookies

It is a gross and rainy morning here, but it is not going to ruin my day, because my friend Anna and I are going to warm and toasty baking cookies.  Below is a list cookies that you could make this Sunday:

-Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
-Rosemary Butter Cookies
-Flourless Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies
-Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
-Chocolate Meringues
-Chewy Ginger Snaps

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gift Idea: Q-Pot Ice Cream Necklaces

An expensive, but adorable gift, the Q-Pot necklaces really hit my sweet spot.  These stackable necklaces can be found at Opening Ceremony in New York.  Q-Pot also makes these awesome hamburger necklaces too.  Perfect for any bad-but-so-good food lover.
Ice cream cone cuteness!
To see the rest of Q-Pot's necklaces click here.  Click here to visit Opening Ceremony's website.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gift Idea: Enstrom's Almond Toffee

Picture from Entrom's website.
I heard Jane and Michael Stern rave about Enstrom's Almond Toffee over a year or two ago on The Splendid Table.  Their passion for "the world's greatest candy," as they describe it, still burns in my ears.  I am definitely going to make a purchase to share this holiday season.  The Denver company's ingredients are so fresh and pure that the toffee must be kept refrigerated or frozen.  Made from Colorado butter, the toffee is coated with milk or dark chocolate, and dusted with crushed almonds.  The picture above is mouth watering!  Click here to check out Enstrom's other treats :)

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Beer & Pretzel

Before the game.
Last night I went to the KU vs. Memphis at Madison Square Garden.  Bud Light, a pretzel, and the sweet taste of victory was the best thing I had in my mouth.  Rock Chalk :)
After the first basket.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Murray's Cheese Gifts!

My buzzer rang yesterday, and I assumed it was my monthly exterminator, but to my surprise it was actually a special delivery.  I thought, who is sending me an early Christmas gift?  Well is was from the adorable Sascha from Murray's Cheese!  I guess I was such a good cheese course customer that I deserved La Tur cheese and some Pralus Chocolate Pyramide.  Thank you Murray's Cheese!

Speaking of Murray's Cheese, a gift from Murray's Cheese would a great for gift for any foodie.  Click here for their list of delicious options.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Vosges Amalfi Bar

I have been a little sluggish posting, because I have been sick this past week and only been eating ramen and coconut ice cream pops.  So finally on Monday I was back on top, and could start stuffing my face again.  Chipotle Mondays - hooray!  It is crazy how much I can miss eating!

Anyways, the same weekend I went to Kusmi Tea, I also stop by Vosges Haute Chocolat in the Upper East Side.  Although, I think the shop's help could be a little friendlier and more informative (take note from Kourtney of Kusmi Tea please), Vosges has some amazing flavor combinations.  I ended up getting the Mini Exotic Candy Bar Library.  Throughout out the week I have been randomly choosing a bar to try.  The first one I tried was the Amalfi Bar.  Before I tried it, I was disappointed because it was white chocolate, but once I tasted it, I changed my tune.  The white chocolate is mixed with lemon zest and pink peppercorns.  First off, it is beautiful and festive, second off, the flavors are to die for.  At first it tastes like a creamy lemon cheesecake, then you get a bite of peppercorn and it takes it to a whole new level.  This is definitely I the best thing I had in my mouth this week.

Click here to check out Vosges's website, these chocolates would be great for gifts.

Click here to check the cinnamon ice cream I made last year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kusmi Tea

Last year, I became a Kusmi Tea fan just based on their packaging.  I saw the tea online, and just I loved their tiny tea tins with their original ornate printing.  I decided to get them as gifts (The Miniature Russian Collection) for my coworkers and even I ended receiving a whole collection for myself.  It took about a year, but I finally ran out of all my tea.  Luckily, the Kusmi Tea shop opened up this past July in the Upper East Side, which I stopped by at this past Sunday.

The store is one long rectangle, with white shelving lining the walls.  The store is broken up into about five sections, which the perky and adorable sales woman named Kourtney (she seemed like a Kourtney with a "k" type of girl) happily explained to us.  Along the walls were an assortment of teas, black, green, herbal, and their special blends of the season such as Christmas Red.  You can purchase tea bags, large tins filled with loose tea, tea accessories, and even small amounts of loose tea from their huge tea canisters.  In the center of the store, there are tea tins opened so you can feel and smell the tea you are purchasing.  The best part is the back counter where you can sample a cup of their tea, which was Detox that day.  It was truly delicious and refreshing, so much so that I bought a large tin of it.  The detox teas I have had in the past have always also had too many flavors going on, this one was a lovely mixture of mate, green tea, lemon, and lemon grass.  I also bought Samovar, this lightly smoked black tea that is really wonderful too.
If you live in New York, I would definitely recommend stopping by the store.  This is one place I would prefer to go to instead of shopping online.  If you don't live in NYC, have no fear, because you can get everything could want online too.  I think these teas make wonderful gifts.  You can buy sets and divide them up.  Slip a tin in a stocking, or a tea bag in a holiday card :)

Click here to read more about Kusmi, they do a much better job explaining their history (founded in 1867 - whoa), than I ever could.

p.s. I also bought an assortment pack, and I am totally falling in love with their Bouquet of Flowers blend.  Really lovely.  Click here to see last year's Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roast Turkey

Here is a quick post for a roast turkey from Martha Stewart Living.  This is my second time using this recipe, and both times the turkey turns a dark golden color and is very juicy.

Ingredients for Martha Stewart Living's Roast Turkey:
-One 20-21 pound fresh turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserve (a slightly smaller turkey is fine, it will just cook faster)
-1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), melted, plus more for rubbing the turkey
-1 bottle dry white wine
-2 teaspoons salt
-2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Rinse the turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels.  Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Warm the butter and white wine together and soak a large piece of cheese cloth in it.  Meanwhile, rub the bird with butter and season with salt and pepper.
Place rack on the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

Place the bird breast-side up on a roasting rack in the roasting pan.  A roasting rack will prevent the bird from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Remove the pop-up thermometer if there is one.  Use an instant read thermometer for a more accurate indicator of doneness.

Insert the stuffing just before the turkey goes into the oven, and do not pack too tightly.  I place the stuffing into a cheesecloth bag, before going into the bird, so it is easy to remove.  Do not forget to pack the neck cavity.  Secure the neck flap by pulling the flap of skin at the neck down and use toothpicks to fasten it.
Pull the legs together loosely and tie them with kitchen string.  A bow will easily untie later.

Cover the turkey with cheesecloth that has been soaking in the butter and wine.  It should cover the breast and part of the leg areas.  Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, then take out and brush the cheesecloth and the exposed turkey parts with the butter and wine mixture.  Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F.  Beware that the cheesecloth might burn if it is drooping too much off the bird.  My smoke detectors were going crazy.
Every 30 minutes, use a pastry brush to baste the cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with butter and wine mixture.  Watch the pan juices, if your pan is shallow.  Spoon them out if they are overflowing and reserve for gravy.

After the second hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth.  I brush the butter and wine mixture on spots that are sticking to the bird, to prevent the skin from tearing.  The turkey will be quite brown.  If the legs and wings are getting too brown, wrap them in foil to slow down the browning.  Brush the turkey with the pan juices and return to the oven.

After another 30 minutes of cooking, insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone.  When the temperature reaches 165 degrees F, the bird is ready.  This will take an hour or two more (start taking temperature after 2 1/2 hours cooking time total).

Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, remove stuffing, and let rest for 30 minutes.  You can tent with foil to keep the heat in.  Meanwhile, make your gravy.  Then carve and serve.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How To Brine A Turkey

In these past few years it seems that brining a turkey has become a popular way to prepare the big bird on Thanksgiving Day.  Maybe I am just imagining it, since I have only really been in charge of my own turkey since moving to New York three years ago, but seriously every magazine I pick up or cooking show I watch, brining the bird seems to be an essential part of the process.  What is brining?  It is a salt-water solution mixed with other aromatics that the bird soaks in over night, to ensure even moisture content throughout the bird.  The result is a juicy, tender turkey.  Although, I am a vegetarian, I have been assured that this turkey is very delicious, but honestly I have never tried it.  I trust my carnivore friends though.

Just some tips to mention before you start your brining.  Make sure your turkey is fresh or thawed out completely if frozen.  Also, you can either set the turkey in a large 5-gallon container, or a brining bag, which you can find at Whole Foods.  You can also get them on Amazon here.  Brining bags are like a huge ziplock bag, and are actually really sturdy.  It does help if you have a friend help you hold the bag while you place the ingredients in.  I also like that you can smush it into the refrigerator.  The last tip, is make sure you get your bird early enough.  You need to start brining your bird the morning before you plan to eat the turkey (at least for this recipe).  So have your bird thawed and ready on Tuesday night, brine on Wednesday, and cook on Thursday.

Ingredients for Riesling Brine from Martha Stewart Living, November 2008:

-7 quarts water (28 cups)
-1 1/2 cups kosher salt
-6 bay leaves
-2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
-1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
-2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
-1 tablespoon fennel seeds
-1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
-1 fresh whole turkey (18-20 pounds) patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver for stuffing
-1 bottle dry Riesling
-2 medium onions, thinly sliced
-6 garlic cloves, crushed
-1 bunch fresh thyme

Bring 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved.  Let cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice onions and garlic.  Place onions, garlic, and thyme in the bag or container.  Place turkey on top and pour in Riesling.  I like to pour in about half the remaining water (3 quarts), then the spice mixture, then the rest of the water (3 quarts), so everything gets mixed well, and the warm spice mixture doesn't directly hit the bird.
If the turkey is not submerged, weigh it down with a plate.  Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping the turkey breast side down once in the middle of brining.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CSA Week Twenty-Four

Last Wednesday was my final week of my CSA.  It has not really hit me yet, but I know it will once I run out of all the produce.  Seriously, I don't realize how the CSA shaped my eating until it is gone.  Here is what I got my final week:
-Sweet potatoes
-Butternut squash
-One quince

Oh CSA, how I will miss you!  Stay tuned for Thanksgiving recipes :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Invitations

I am having Thanksgiving a little early this year, in fact it's this weekend.  Here are my invitations I sent out.  Gotta run, I am in the middle of making cinnamon ice cream.

Click here to see last year's.

How To Cut A Pomegranate

I remember the first time I tried to remove all the seeds from a pomegranate.  My clean white shirt was spotted with dark red specs all over it.  Today, I actually know how to cut a pomegranate without all the mess, and it is just in three steps.  When purchasing a pomegranate, look for glossy skin, make sure it does not look withered.  Pick the pomegranate up, it should feel full and heavy, that is sign of a juicy pomegranate.

First, quarter the pomegranate.
Second, take a large bowl of water and submerge each quarter in the water.  Use your fingers to separate the arils from pulp.  This a bit time consuming, but well worth it.  Repeat with the remaining three quarters.
Thirdly, pour your water and seed mixture through a sieve, and pick out any bad looking seeds, or pulp you missed.
Now you are ready to enjoy as is, or pop into a recipe.  Nature's candy - yum yum :)

Check out this Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream I made last year.  It is to die for.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Pomegranate

Did you know that it is National Pomegranate Month?  Well it is!  Pomegranates are one of my favorite fruits.  I have been fascinated by them since my seventh grade English teacher brought some to class to celebrate the end of our Greek studies unit.  Their leathery pink skin hides the sweet and tart jewel-like clusters inside called arils.  Once you take the time to break open the pomegranate and separate all the seeds, I let them chill in the refrigerator for a bit and just eat a huge bowl of them, like I did today.  I just love how each juicy seed pops in your mouth.  They were definitely the best thing I had in my mouth.

Stay tuned for tips on how to separate out the pomegranate seeds without making a complete mess.

Click here to read about last year's visit to Afton Apple Orchard in Minneapolis, Minnesota.