Monthly Archives: June 2012

Happy Friday!

It suits me, I think…

Lovelies, as you read this I am en route to sunny Southern California! Woooooo vacation woooooo! In addition to Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, In ‘N Out (duh), and late night greasy Mexican food, I’ll be attending a luau with The BF’s family and will surely stuff my face with kalua pork and lomi salmon and poi and I’ll come back ten pounds heavier and ten times happier and ooooh I just can’t wait.

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Tips for Making Fluffy Cakes

Hello friends! Don’t miss my post over at Yumm.com today on tips for making fluffy cakes. One time I baked a cake that turned out like a brick. It was embarrassing. Don’t let that happen to you.

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The Late Night Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake / It ain’t pretty but it sure tasted good.

Here’s a nice story for you. Last Saturday night, The BF and I had ourselves a nice little date night. One might think that a twenty-COUGH-year old and a thirty-COUGH-year old wouldn’t have to plan Saturday nights out, but when your nice squishy couch and a cheap bottle of wine and Mad Men reruns and old sweatpants are calling your name, you really have to push yourself to leave the house. But leave the house we did. We sat at a bar, we had some drinks, we laughed, we spent money neither of us has… but all the while I was distracted. Seriously distracted.

By cake.

I wanted some cake. Guys, when a cake craving takes over my body, I can’t help it. It’s all I think about. It’s all I can talk about. “Should I get some cake?” I said out loud, eying a perfectly frosted white cake on the counter of the bar. But something told me I didn’t want that cake. How old was it? Was it pure white cake in the middle? Would it cost $10 a slice? Would I be disappointed that I wasted the calories (and, more importantly, the craving) on something mediocre?

I turned away. I finished my drink. We went home.

And then I baked my own cake.

Who cares if it was 2AM and I was out of butter? I found a simple recipe for one bowl quick chocolate cake, I whipped that sucker up, cooled it over the AC unit, dumped the still-warm cakes on a plate, poured a cocoa-powder-powdered-sugar-water glaze over the top of the heap, and set it in front of The BF… with two forks. We turned on Mad Men reruns, I changed into old sweats, and it was heaven. Why we ever leave the house, I’ll never know.

On the menu:
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
Serves 2 (just kidding… serves 12)

Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Split the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk (you might need more depending on the consistency of the glaze that you like)

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the cake. Eat like it’s going out of style.

*In the interest of full disclosure… I ran out of milk. I mixed together half a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of water and called it milk. Blame the three G&T’s I had before I baked this.

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Rainbow Cake

“I want a cake that looks like a watermelon and is rainbow colors on the inside.” If you’re part of my group of friends, this request doesn’t surprise you. I was happy to hear it and happy to make it. Friends, I give you… the rainbow watermelon cake. Happy Birthday, Becca!

On the menu:
Rainbow watermelon cake
Serves 12 – 14

Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
Red, yellow, and blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add in egg yolks one at a time. Add vanilla.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Mix into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Add milk until mixture is blended.

In a small bowl, beat together your egg whites until light and fluffy and soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into the cake batter.

You can totally end the recipe here, fill 2 greased 8-in round cake pans, bake for 30 – 40 minutes, and have a beautiful white cake. OR… you can do what I did.

Separate batter, cup by cup, into six small bowls of equal size. Add food coloring as follows: 8 drops of red [red]; 8 drops of blue [blue]; 8 drops of yellow [yellow]; 4 drops of red and 4 drops of blue [violet]; 4 drops of red and 4 drops of yellow [orange]; 4 drops of blue and 4 drops of yellow [green]

Mix together each color with a separate spoon. Into a greased 8-in round baking pan, pour the first color. Tap the baking sheet until the batter has spread to an even height all the way around. Pour the second color on top of that and tap again until the batter spreads (you may have to coax it with a rubber spatula but VERY gently so you don’t mix the colors!). Pour the third color on top of that and tap again. In the second 8-in round baking pan, repeat the pouring steps with your last 3 colors.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until you press the cake and it springs back to shape. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a cooking rack before frosting.

Buttercream frosting:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

Beat together the sugar and butter until blended. Add vanilla. Add milk bit by bit until you reach the desired consistency.

For watermelon decoration: split the frosting up into 3 bowls. Leave 3/4 cup white. 1/2 cup dyed red. Remaining frosting dyed green. Spread 1/2 of the white frosting on first cake layer and then top with second layer. Once your cakes are stacked, frost the outside with the green. Use your red frosting to make a frosting circle on the top layer, leaving 1/2 inch around the perimeter.

Using a pastry bag, create a green circle on the perimeter of the cake (like a little frosting fence). On the interior of the green, use a separate pastry bag and your remaining white frosting to make a white circle (this is the rind of the watermelon). Use the chocolate chips to make the “seeds.”

Seriously, if anyone just followed all those directions… props to you. Props. To. You. ENJOY!

*Note: this is not your standard fluffy boxed cake. It’s a bit on the dense side, but the flavor is unbeatable. It’s not overly sweet but hits the cake-craving spot, and is the perfect vehicle for super sweet buttercream frosting. Drool…

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Penne with Mushrooms and Pancetta

I know, this is not the most appetizing picture ever. But it’s better then nothing!

It’s a blessing and a curse, guys. I am phenomenal at making basic comfort foods. I know, I know. Humble, too.

You might be thinking, “How in the world is this a curse?” Because in my house, that’s all I ever get asked to make. The below dish is a perfect example. It’s not groundbreaking cuisine here, folks. It’s just a different sauce. But after I made it The BF said, “You gotta make more stuff like THIS!” Ah… more cheesy pasta. Noted.

On the menu:
Penne with mushrooms and pancetta

1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 cup dry red wine (I used Malbec… because I.Love.Malbec.)
8 oz pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
12 ounces of assorted mushrooms, cut into large pieces (I used baby bellas and crimini but you can use anything fresh)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp fresh sage (OR 1 Tbsp dried sage), chopped
1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (OR 1/2 tsp dried rosemary), chopped
1 lb penne
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large sauce pan, combine the beef broth and the wine over medium/high heat. Let cook for 18 – 20 minutes until the liquid is reduced to one cup.

In the meantime, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a LARGE pot (the entire pound of pasta will eventually go into this pot so keep that in mind when choosing a size). Add mushrooms and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until softened, around 6 – 8 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a plate.

[AT THIS TIME: start cooking your penne! Just remember to cook until JUST al dente, and reserve half a cup of the pasta water for later in the recipe]

Add pancetta to the large pot that your mushrooms were in and saute until the pancetta is crispy and brown, around 10 – 12 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Add wine reduction, butter, and herbs to the pot. Simmer until liquid thickens slightly, around 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms.

Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese to the mushroom mixture. Cook over medium/high heat until the sauce really thickens and coats the pasta, about 7 – 9 minutes, adding a bit of pasta water little by little if the sauce is dry. Plate pasta and top with remaining cheese.

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Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

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A quick post to wish my daddy a very happy Father’s Day! Thanks for introducing me to escargot, vinegar on French fries (“It’s white ketchup!”), and seafood, all at a ridiculously young age. I would also be remiss if I did not thank you for passing on your love of booze. Happy Father’s Day, Fruit!

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Indonesian Food Bazaar

A vegetarian patty from the food bazaar in 2010

I have BIG news! Two years ago I went to an incredible Indonesian Food Bazaar in Astoria and ate myself silly off of some of the most delectable Indonesian food ever made, for a handful of singles. The mosque that hosts this bazaar is not really all that great about promoting the food bazaar so for two years I forgot to check back to their website to find out where the next one was. Well, today, by stroke of luck and maybe the phases of the moon, I remembered. Lo and behold… it is this Sunday.

So if you need something to do this Sunday June 17th from 10AM – 4PM head over to Masjid Al-Hikmah at 31st Avenue and 48th Street in Astoria, Queens for an endless treasure trove of delicious eats. And don’t forget that it’s Father’s Day, so if your dad is an adventurous eater, this might be the perfect gift.

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