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Showing posts from October, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

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I have been obsessed with the idea of making my own marshmallows ever since we had lunch at Jean Georges in NYC when they rolled out a cart at the end of our meal and cut off marshmallows from strips in giant jars of ginger, rose, and vanilla flavored ones. They were fluffy and delicious, and nothing like the mass-produced ones. Then, one day recently I spotted this chocolate swirl cinnamon marshmallow recipe on Food52. Turned out fabulous. I couldn't believe how easy they were, and they were very fun to make.

So first you sprinkle gelatin over water and leave it there.

 Then you've got water, sugar, corn syrup and kosher salt cooking over low heat.

 Get on up to 240 degrees. (This candy thermometer was a bridal shower gift in Calgary, and I recommend it to everyone - especially people who want to make ice cream.)

  Pour this mixture over the gelatin mixture.

 Beat it with a mixer until it is thick and opaque. I was surprised how quickly this happened, and how quickly I …

Cookbook Spotlight: Best of Bridge

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I have heard of cookbook addicts who have a problem - that is people who constantly buy cookbooks and never use them. These individuals seem to get fed up with themselves and say things like "I am going to cook my way through that entire cookbook all in subsequent days". Who have you ever known (besides Julie Powell) who has actually done that? My approach is more balanced. I don't buy a crazy amount of them, and what I do have I actually use. We keep them on a shelf in the dining room so we can never forget which ones we have.


Also, sometimes if I have nothing to do for an evening I might browse through one I had never looked at very closely before. You can always revisit them, and some times we go through phases where we revisit cookbooks we've had for a long time. This browsing through them turns out to be useful when one random night you really wish you knew what to do with some leftover chicken, and you remember some interesting quesadilla recipe you read from B…

Cupcake Decorating Class at Bettie's Cakes

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Tonight I attended a cupcake decorating class at Bettie's Cakes at Hoffman's Playland. I know I have previously made fun of caring too much about how food looks, and also fondant.  But decorating and fondant both turn out to be really fun. Check out my zombie fingers above. It is like playdough made out of sugar. How could that not be a good time? Apparently next month they are doing a full size Christmas cake class. What will my end result be? I don't know, but maybe one day in the future someone will get a totally awesome birthday cake made by me.

Garlic Soup

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Back when we were still getting our CSA, I was making a lot of soup. Mostly because we were drowning in vegetables. I'd start with chicken broth and then try to adjust the seasonings to the types of vegatables I was using. It was all very random, and I think we went through a good amount of random things from the pantry that way. One day we forgot the chicken broth, but I still wanted to make some soup. Scott found a garlic soup recipe on the New York Times website and read it off to me as I was working in the kitchen. I can't be sure which one it was, although this one by Julie Powell sounds pretty close. I could not believe how easy and cheap it was and yet how amazingly delicious. In fact, I just ate a portion of it from my freezer for lunch, and it has a way of making you feel more alive, awake, and yet light on your feet. It feels medicinal - completely light and delicious, but the garlic broth has a bit of a zing to it.  I am sure if you had a cold this would really do …

Provence

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I used to always say Provence was my favorite restaurant in Albany (I only say used to say because New World has taken up so much of my heart, I can't be sure). This is not surprising because I always used to say Balthazar was my favorite restaurant in NYC. Like Thomas Keller, my first instinct in cooking always seems to lean towards the French. I may proclaim that Indian food is my favorite, but it is the rarity of having something that makes it exciting. On a random weeknight it is a roasted chicken we'll probably make, and if it is a dessert I'm thinking of, it is probably based on something I had in France when I was a teenager.

I think we first stumbled on Provence when we were just walking around Stuyvesant Plaza and I stopped and said "I am going to love that place!", which was pretty much my exact reaction to Bettie Page Clothing in Las Vegas and was equally as true. Some places are just made for you, you can't resist it.

We first went there for our…

Fall Mexican Themed Cocktail Party

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Tonight was a party at my house! I decided to invite some ladies over. I made a lobster avocado salad with mangos in it from a Disney cookbook my coworker bought for me last year as thanks for dogsitting and kept asking me if I made anything out of. It was from the Napa Rose Restaurant from the Grand Californian Hotel. I'm not necessarily a Disney fan, but it was a gift and the salad was very good. I served the salad in Chinese ravioli wrappers, an idea I got from the Big Flavor Cookbook. It dawned on me how much Chinese ravioli wrappers can be used in entertaining, including desserts. You can bake them in a muffin pan for twelve minutes and stuff them with whatever you want.



I made chilis stuffed with cheese from the Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy, and I think they turned out great. I also served these on cooked Chinese ravioli wrappers so that they would not be difficult to eat. I believe the key to cocktail parties is making everything as easy to eat as possible.


I served …

Picky Eaters

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We have some freelance photographers at my job who come to shoot the art work who come all the way from Northampton, MA. They bring delicious pastries from Bread Euphoria. It is sort of ridiculous how much the Fruit and Nut scone from this place has over the last two years become a big highlight of my month. Today they brought them (as expected), and I was so excited.... except that my favorite scone seemed now to have the flavor of banana in it. I can't be sure, but that is pretty much the only food I hate. I guess you can't really taste bananas baked into things, but this faint suspicion really took away from the excitement of the scone for me. I HATE bananas to an irrational extent. In kindergarten I ate one and threw up immediately, and since then the mere scent of them can make me completely nauseous. The mushy, sticky texture, the way the smell of them takes over a room - who likes these things?? (Lots of people apparently, also they are apparently high in potassium, bu…

Meat House, Stuyvesant Plaza

My coworker was really excited a few months ago when she heard The Meat House was coming to Stuyvesant Plaza. They had one up in Clifton Park, and her husband loved all the different marinades. Her excitement rubbed off on me, and when this one opened up I was pretty psyched for it. I'll start by saying the workers don't seem to want to let you browse. The fact that they market it "For the Foodie", well they think they have to tell you what a "foodie" would eat. The first worker at least let us kind of describe what we wanted, but then was really pushy about their house marinated steak tips. We cooked them up in a cast iron skillet and put them in a salad with a roasted shallot vinaigrette. It was pretty good, but Scott sort of felt like the mustard flavor was really strong, which would be ok if it was top quality mustard (which it wasn't). It was alright though. She should have backed off and let us decide on our own.

The second time I went in there I …

Fruitcake

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Why am I writing about fruitcake in October, you wonder? Because apparently you have to make fruitcake months before you want to eat it so that it ages properly. I realized this last Christmas and was really disappointed that I had missed my chance. So this year I am prepared. And it is October and my house smells like Christmas. Most recipes I found were pretty similar, so I kind of followed a few vaguely with my own riffs. I soaked whatever dried fruits I found around in whatever booze I found around. In this case it was dried cherries, golden raisins, dried cranberries, and a few prunes in a mix of brandy and rum (mostly rum).
I let this sit for a while and watched "Parenthood". Then I preheat the oven to 325 and greased a loaf pan. I mixed together a stick of butter and a fourth cup brown sugar. I beat in an egg.

The recipe I was using only wanted cinnamon, but I really wanted the flavor of Christmas. To me the essence of Christmas is this liquer I tried at Zuni Cafe in …

I Love Eggs

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I struggled for a long time about what to eat for breakfast. Then, on our honeymoon, we enjoyed the hotel breakfast buffets all up and down the west coast. I realized that having eggs for breakfast is very satisfying. They make you feel full for a lot longer than a bagel, and they are very healthy. If I make a bunch of hard cooked eggs on a Sunday and peel them, it is a super quick breakfast. It is also super cheap. My idea of protein for breakfast was started by drinking Special K protein shakes, which did the job of preventing my stomach growling in 11am staff meetings, but are actually very expensive. $6.99 for four shakes can't compare to a couple bucks for a dozen eggs.

First, I started out with the recipe from Martha Stewart's Cooking School. The eggs came out a little rubbery sometimes. The technique is to cover the eggs in a saucepan with an inch higher than the eggs in cold water. Then put the heat on high and bring it up to a boil. Immediately take the eggs off the h…