30 December 2009

2009 Wrap-Up

So my Google Reader alerted me to the fact that it's about that time again: time for a year-end wrap up. This has been a year of a lot of cooking and not a lot of posting, so instead of doing a month-to-moth I'm just going to link some of my favorite recipes for the year. 2010 will mark some changes, I think. I'm resolving to post more, and especially to comment more on the foodblogs I enjoy. I've also had some stomach difficulties recently, which means my diet may shift a little bit away from the cheese and sugar end of things. Other than TWD, I'll be avoiding desserts. Finally, I got a breadmaker for Christmas, so there may be some bread recipes every now and again when I decide to shift away from plain whole wheat sandwich bread. Happy New Decade, everyone!

Best 2009 Recipes

Dim & the Dark Cookies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Savory Scones
See the Top Ten or So Here
Pecan Pie

29 December 2009

Cookbook Review: Cornbread Gospels

This review is a long time coming, and I'm a little embarrassed because this is actually the best review copy I've received so far as a foodblogger. Way back in October 2008, I posted about an unfortunate cornbread experience. Soon after, cookbook author Crescent Dragonwagon contacted me about her book, Cornbread Gospels, and offered to send me a copy. I was really excited when I flipped through, because it's chock full of recipes for one of my favorite foods, and I really like the way it's organized by region so you both have an idea of what you're getting and can take a little tour of the cornbread world. Which brings me to my cornbread experience. So, a year later, after law school, I finally got around to actually making cornbread again. I thought I'd use some leftover buttermilk in a recipe, but ended up committing cornbread sacrilege. See, I'm from North Carolina, and I picked a recipe in the Yankee section of the book (technically "Northern Cornbreads," chapter two). The problem is, I've always loved sweet cornbreads, and none of the Southern recipes had quite enough sugar to be satisfying. So I ditched the buttermilk, got some half and half, and tried Durgin Park cornbread. Yes, not only Yankee, but Boston, even. And it was very good. Dense, sweet, maybe not the best cornbread I've ever had, but definitely satisfying. No recipe, because you can get the darned book for $10 on Amazon, and it's worth it. I noticed that Crescent has a book called Passionate Vegetarian, too, so I may have to take a look at that.

28 December 2009

Cookbook Review: Vegetarian Revenge

Recently, the publisher Purslane Press sent my a review copy of a book called Vegetarian Revenge. The book is geared towards low-fat vegetarian cooking, which isn't necessarily my personal focus (I care more about all-around nutrients than fat content). It does have a good selection of recipes, though, if you're looking to eat healthy, and nice full-color photos. I tried a balsamic roast onion recipe, which was easy and pretty tasty. I think next time I would've boosted the proportion of sugar to vinegar in the recipe, or maybe just used better vinegar. The onions were pleasantly soft, though, with a good flavor, and easy to eat. Thanks to Purslane Press for the book!

22 December 2009

TWD: My Favorite Pecan Pie

I have to agree with Dorie on this one, folks. This is definitely my favorite pecan pie, too. Someone mentioned that the chocolate and espresso and cinnamon cut the sweetness of the pie, which is what makes it so good, but for me it's just chocolate. And espresso. I mean, say no more. It's beautiful just a teeny bit warmer than room temp, with the chocolate still melty. I don't have a pie tin so I made it in a 9" cake pan, and the dough turned out kind of thick around the bottom, so I made 2/3 of the filling recipe to compensate, which worked perfectly. The crust is like one big cookie. It's definitely good, though I'm not sure the effort is necessarily worth it compared to a frozen crust. This would be great for Christmas Day if anyone's still looking for recipes. You can find out how the other TWD bakers did here.

18 December 2009

Sage Apple Crumble with Eggnog Sauce

So this is one of those recipes that I made last year and sadly can't for the life of me remember how I did it. It's a combination of a few recipes, I do remember -- one for the apple filling, one for the crumble topping with the sage, and another for the eggnog sauce. So it was really good, but perhaps not recreateable. I'm going to think about it and get back to you if anything comes to me!

17 December 2009

Roasted Applesauce & Delicata Squash

Given how much I cooked last year around this time, and given how much my budget is reduced having been unsuccessful at job-hunting for 14 months, I'm taking this opportunity to blog some winter recipes that I made last year. This post features a recipe for roasted spiced applesauce that I found on a blog called my muffin thursdays and a recipe for maple-glazed delicata squash rings found on a blog called chick in the kitchen. I made these both to bring in to an editing session for my law journal, and they got very good reviews.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I think I used pancake syrup or maybe honey for the squash, because I know I didn't have maple syrup at the time. I might try the recipe again now that I have the real thing. The applesauce was really impressive. I love that dark, roasted apple flavor with the spices. I kept it quite chunky, too.

08 December 2009

TWD: Sablés

They're far more appetizing than they look in this image, enough so that I ate 15 in two days, but I have to say that the recipe was kind of a pain. I always have this problem with shortbread, where the dough is too crumbly to work with and most of it ends up on the counter or floor. About half of my cookies were pieced together from crumbs, and I got 15 instead of fifty. Even with plastic I couldn't get an actual log shape, and it hardly held together when yolking, sugaring, and slicing, even after six hours in the fridge. The taste is mostly worth it, as I've been craving shortbread forever, but I wouldn't make it more than once a year. Check out all the other TWD bakers.

05 December 2009

Cranberry Relish

For this giveaway, Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker is asking us to blog about our favorite holiday recipes. I have to admit, though, that I haven't actually made any of my family's holiday dishes since I started taking photographs of my food. I hope a photo-free post will thus be welcomed. Also, my #1 favorite holiday dish has a seafood, which I don't eat anymore, and my #2 favorite isn't a recipe at all (yeast rolls, which we buy at the store). Now that I think about it, I don't actually have a favorite holiday recipe, because we don't really have any holiday recipes in our family. Thus, I'm going to have to go with the only recipe I know of, which I don't even like, but hey, it's a holiday recipe! Cranberry relish, made with a meat grinder. No, I don't know why. It's tradition. That was always my job, and as the meat grinder got older, it got more and more difficult, until we finally stopped, but the basic idea is this. Take a bunch of cranberries and couple of orange peels sliced in ribbons and feed them through an old fashioned hand-crank meat grinder. Add sugar to taste. Ta da!

04 December 2009

Shortcut to Mushrooms Recipe Index

Please note: This is a comprehensive index of all the recipes found on my website. Some are typed out in full, some are just linked. I'll try to make a note if the links are to a non-English website. Of course, full credit for all recipes goes to whoever created them originally; this is just intended to be a way to surf around the blog if you're looking for meal ideas. Original recipes are indicated by an (O) in front of the link, and my favorite recipes have a * in front of them.


Cranberry Hazelnut Crisps
Sweet and Spicy Walnuts


*Breakfast Quinoa
*Chai Spiced Buttermilk Pancakes
(O) *Cheesy Grits My Way
Crunchy Granola I
*Crunchy Granola II
(O) Deviled Eggs
Eggnog Pancakes
Fried Matzoh
(O) *Menemen My Way
*Rosemary and Feta Fried Potatoes
Scrambled Eggs
Spanish Tortilla

Spreads, Dips, Jams, Jellies, and Other Condiments

*Barbecued Tempeh Spread
*Caramelized Onions
*Cheddar Ale Spread
(O) Coconut Corn and Black Bean Salsa
(O) *Fig-Whisky Jam
*Pimento Cheese
(O) Spinach Dip
*Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Cilantro Sauce
Eggplant Marinara
Hollandaise Sauce
*Mushrooms Bourgignon

Appetizers and Sides

Asparagus with Citrus Sauce and Almonds on Mashed Potatoes
Balsamic Roast Onions
Bloomin' Onion and Horseradish Sauce
Corn-Stuffed Red Peppers
*Curried Green Tomatoes Over Polenta
(O) Everything But the Kitchen Sink Devilled Eggs
Fried Brussels Sprouts
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Okra
Eggplant Caviar
(O) Grilled Tortilla Wedges with Fancy Mustard
(O) Judith's Super Easy Vegetables
Leeks Simmered in Wine
(O) Melon Bruschetta
Microwave Mushroom Leek Risotto
(O) *Mushroom Improv
(O) *Mushrooms Over Polenta
*Poêlée au Champignons du Miel (French)
(O) Quick Veggie Fry Up
Ricotta Stuffed Mushrooms
(O) *Roast Acorn Squash
Roast Delicata Squash
Roast Delicata Squash II
(O) *Roast Summer Squash with Goat Cheese
*Roasted Applesauce
*Spaghetti Squash
*Zucchini Patties

Soups and Salads

Bulgur Salad
Cucumber and Avocado Soup
Cucumber Salad
Eggplant Panazella
(O) Eggplant Yoghurt Salad
(O) Fruit Salad
*Leek and Potato Soup
(O) Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad
*Winter Friendship Soup


Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
*Grilled Cheese
Mom's Grilled Cheese
*Mom's Grilled Cheese II
Pa amb Tomàquet


(O) Cheesy Pasta with Cheese (and Basil)
(O) *Cherry Tomato Mommy Pasta Variation
(O) Easy Peasy Pasta
(O) Eggplant "Leftovers Pasta" with Tomato Sauce and Goat Cheese
Linguine with Sage Burnt Butter Sauce and Sauteed Sweet Potato
*Mac 'n' Cheese I
*Mac 'n' Cheese II
*Mushroom Caviar
*Mushroom Stroganoff
Pasta Gratins with Goat Cheese, Sage, and Mushrooms
Spaghetti with Avocado and Cashew Pesto
(O) Spring Pasta


(O) Broccoli Casserole
Corn Pudding
Corn Pudding II
*Eggplant Rounds with Cheese and Red Wine Tomato Sauce
Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte
Scalloped Potatoes
Squash Casserole
Sweet Corn Puddin'
Tater Tot Casserole
*Vegetable Gratins

Curries, Stir Fries, and Sautes

*Bohemienne (French)
*Cheesy Baked Leeks
Coconut Curried Tofu with Green Jasmine Rice
*Eggplant Korma
*Roasted Eggplant Medley
Thai Butternut Squash Over Quinoa
Tofu Scramble
Vegetable Tian

Other Mains

(O) Beans and Rice Medley
(O) Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tortilla
*Cheesy Tortilla Pie
*Cottage Cheese Walnut Nutloaf
(O) Easy Tacos
Orange-Glazed Tofu
Quinoa Cakes with Zucchini Ragu


Banana Bread
Banana Bread with Cinnamon Chips
Cake au Miel, Romarin, et Gorgonzola
Cocoanana Bread
*Durgin Park Cornbread
Fresh Corn Cornbread
Pain d'Epices
*Vegan Banana Bread

Biscuits, Rolls, and Savory Pastry

Caramelized Vegetable Tart
Dill Sour Cream Rolls
*Green Tomato Tarte Tatin
Parmesan and Rosemary Shortbreads
Mini Pizzas
Port Salut Tart
(O) Quick Mushroom Pastry Pockets
*Savory Scones
Sweet Potato Biscuits


Allspice Crumb Muffins
(O) Good Life Muffins


(O) Cheater Black Forest Cherry Cake
*Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake
Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake
*Coconut Angel Food Cake
Coconut Cupcakes
*Coconut Tea Cake
*Ginger-Ginger Cake
*Grapefruit Yoghurt Cake
Holiday Bundt Cake
Mocha Coffee Cake
*No-Bake Cheesecake with Cherry Sauce
*Red Plum and Kiwi Cheesecake
*Red Velvet Cake
*Spice Cake
*Swedish Visiting Cake
Wacky Cake


Chocolate Chess Pie
*Mooless Chocolate Pie
*My Favorite Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie
*Ridiculously Amazing Pumpkin Pie Thing

Brownies and Bars

*Chocolate Cream Cheese Ricotta Brownies
Espresso Cheesecake Brownies
*Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia


*Almond Crunch Cookies
Candy Cane Kiss Cookies
*Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies II
*Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies
*Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Mint Cookies
Cranberry Oat Cookies
*Dim and the Dark Cookies
Everything Oat Cookies
Hilary's Super-Easy Peanut Butter Cookies
*Mini Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Thumbprints for Us Big Guys
Vegan Oatmeal Cookies
*World Peace Cookies


Flaky Apple Turnovers
Holiday Fig Scones
*Kala Jamun

Fruit-Based Desserts

Apricot Compote
*Apricot Crumble
Brandied Plums
*Cran-Apple Crisps
Figs in Muscat
Pumpkin Challah Bread Pudding
* Sage Apple Crumble with Eggnog Sauce
(O) Sweet Rice Pancakes

Frozen Desserts

*Cool Coffee Granita
Red Wine Granita
Vanilla Frozen Yogurt


*Black and White Truffles
*Whisky Peanut Fudge
White Chocolate Gnocchi with Strawberry Sauce

Puddings, Mousses, Etc.

*Butterscotch Pudding
*Chocolate Orange Custard Cups
Coconut Creams with Poached Rhubarb
Coconut Panna Cotta
Pumpkin Flan
Sabayon with Blackberries
Tangelo Creme Brulee


(O) *Cherry Garcia Cocktail
(O) *Chocolate Cherrytini
Egg Cream
(O) Frozen Berry Smoothie
(O) Judith's Calcium-Fortified Debate Cocktail
Mulled Wine
(O) *Peanut Butter Smoothie
Root Beer Float
(O) *Sweet Tea
(O) White Peach and Banana Smoothie

26 November 2009

Blogs I Am Thankful For

All right, folks. Behold, the project I've been working on for the past two months, which is why I've only had TWD posts for a while. As you know, I normally do a blogs I am thankful for post, but this year I wanted to not only mention the blogs but actually make a recipe from each of them. This was a somewhat daunting tasks, but I succeeded, with only one exception (I was going to make something from Delicious Days today and there was a big of an egg shortage in my refrigerator). In order from least to most successful recipe (though let's be clear, the blogs themselves are all great -- sometimes I just have a faux pas), here are some of my favorite blogs. Happy Thanksgiving!

#21: Sweet and Spicy Almonds from Dragon's Kitchen

The failure of this recipe, I have to point out, was totally my fault. I was watching fairly carefully, stirring every few minutes as Dragon suggests, but in about 30 seconds they went from golden and bubbling to blackened. I tried a few anyway, but I couldn't really stomach my blackened walnuts. That said, I really like this blog because it's full of fairly basic recipes that look tasty and easy to prepare.

#20: Cranberry Hazelnut Crisps from La Cuisine d'Helene

This is a blog that I come across frequently when I'm looking for baking and dessert recipes. I tried the cranberry hazelnut crisps, which weren't bad, but I had a little storage snafu. Don't put these in a bread box -- they were crisp when they came out of the oven, but then softened up in the bread box, and ended up tasting kind of stale. That said, I like the cranberry and hazelnut flavor a lot and the recipe's not hard. You want to make sure the loaf is nice and cold before slicing, but you don't have to do it paper thin to get results.

#19: Linguine with Sage Burnt Butter Sauce and Sauteed Sweet Potato from Cook (Almost) Anything Once

Cook (Almost) Anything Once is a long-time favorite blog of mine because of the beautiful pictures and very simple recipes. Unfortunately, the recipes often feature some specialty ingredient or brand that I can't get or can't afford, so I haven't done much cooking from this blog. The linguine I found to be good overall, though it took me a long time to get the butter to even start to brown, and I don't think it was really dark enough. The pasta was mostly oily, though the sweet potato and sage were nice flavors and I enjoyed it with shaved parmesan.

#18: Pasta Gratins with Goat Cheese, Sage, and Mushrooms from Cafe Fernando

Cafe Fernando is one of those big-name blogs that everyone reads, and I don't keep terribly good track of it, but I studied Turkish and so I enjoy seeing what Turkish food bloggers are cooking. These gratins are a really clever idea for health food, but I found them lacking in taste. The mushrooms came through, but the sauce was quite bland. It was mostly the taste of the herb (I used basil instead of cheese), and I didn't think that was enough to carry the dish. I might try a stronger cheese were I to do this again. Also, I used a little bit more pasta than called for so I ended up getting six tartelette tins and an 8 x 8 dish out of it The big dish was much better and more moist.

#17: Eggplant Marinara from Coconut & Lime

This eggplant marinara didn't strike me so much as marinara as just a pasta sauce. It was thinner than I think of for marinara, with big chunks of eggplant, instead of uniformly thick. That said, I liked the tangy taste and it went well with pasta, if not so much a great dipper for mozzarella sticks. I love Coconut & Lime's blog because Rachel does only original recipes, and because she's a fellow Baltimore blogger. I also enjoy that there are thoughts after each recipe so that you get an honest, concise take on the recipe. I've done several recipes from her blog and though this isn't my favorite, it's a good staple pasta sauce.

#16: Sweet Corn Puddin' from Kitchen Wench

I used to visit Kitchen Wench more than I do these days, but it's still a great standby blog for recipes. I love corn puddin', just like all the delicious Southern corn recipes -- cornbread, corn muffins, corn pie... really, after living in Iowa, I wonder if we don't like corn more than they do. This is a nice reliable dish, dense and sweet and plenty corny, as well as being easy to prepare. It's also not watery, which is a problem I've had before in corn pudding.

#15: Spaghetti with Avocado and Cashew Pesto from the Passionate Cook

Again, a blog that I don't visit as much as I used to, but a very reliable source for recipes. This pesto was an interesting idea, though I did a lot of substitutions, using mint and almonds instead of the specified ingredients. I liked the way the creamy avocado brought the pasta together, though the mint taste as very strong and next time I would probably just stick with basil.

#14: Pain d'Épices by Amuses Bouche

I have a number of French blogs on my list, and this is a longtime favorite. The pain d'épices was relatively straightforward, and the taste was about what you would expect: a dense, sweet spice cake. The amount of honey in the recipe seemed really off to me, so I reduced to a few tablespoons and that worked well. I also mixed my own basic ratio of quatre d'épices, playing around with it a bit.

#13: Eggplant Korma by Beau à la Louche

Beau à la Louche is a fun blogger I've been following for a while, and this korma did not disappoint. It's my standby fare for Indian restaurants, but the last time I tried it at home I wasn't too impressed. I found that using full-fat coconut milk really helped, and quality does make a difference here. The recipe was a great balance of sweet and spicy, and definitely recognizable as korma.

#12: Cheddar Ale Spread by Peabody

I adore Peabody because not only does she produce consistently tasty-looking recipes, but she also has a sense of humor and always comes across as very candid in her blog posts. She's a big fan of sweet things, but I selected a savory recipe this time, and was not disappointed. The flavor of the ale (I used Pyramid's apricot ale) was definitely pleasant, and the crunch of the hazelnuts worked well. My food processor situation right now is... interesting... so there were more chunks than intended, but I actually liked that. Very dense, actually works as a meal if you're so inclined. Also, it looks like potato salad in the picture but in reality it's orange.

#11: Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake by Tartelette

I have to admit that I'm kind of intimidated by Tartelette, who always has the most gorgeous little desserts with several different subsets of steps. However, despite the number of steps her recipes usually seem doable enough, and this first one was not bad at all. The cake was a bit dense and dry in European fashion, but the mousse was fantastic, and so the combination worked really well. I didn't bother with a crumb coating and I don't think it needed it. Got rave reviews at the office.

#10: Cake au Miel, Romarin, et Gorgonzola by Foodbeam

Foodbeam is a fantastic French/English blog that specializes in desserts but has a little bit of everything. This "cake" is sort of in between a cake and a bread, with a really interesting mix of flavors. It has a nice dense, moist crumb with a delicious melty ribbon of blue cheese running through the middle. My crust got a bit too dark, but I found it really yummy sliced and reheated by the slice for about 30 seconds in the microwave.

#9: Poêlée de Champignons au Miel by Chez Lorette

Another French blog I enjoy is Chez Lorette, and of course any mushroom recipe gets bumped up a few points by default on this blog. Like any side dish involving mushrooms, these reduced down a lot so that they were dark and delicious but only a few servings. Still, despite my wanting more more more, I liked the idea of doing a mushroom sautée with honey, and I loved the really dark and sweet mushrooms.

#8: Mini Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Sugar Plum

Sugar Plum is a fun storyteller whose blog uses tons of photographs and lots of original recipes. I actually had intended to make a different recipe, and this was the first one I chickened out on and switched at the last minute, from Cheddar Chipotle Biscuits to these cookies. I'm glad I did, because cookies are easy and these were very good cookies. I froze half the dough for later and was able to pop it in the toaster oven for a quick dessert option for a birthday potluck at work. Everyone loved them, especially with my sub of cinnamon chips for chocolate.

#7: Chai Spiced Buttermilk Pancakes by Joy the Baker

Joy the Baker has one of my favorite blogs because her personality comes straight through the screen and you just want to grin with her. She's a breakfast nut, and hopefully would approve of my turning to her blog to satisfy a 3 am pancake craving. The chai spice is a great flavor for these pancakes, and I love how yummy and fluffy they are. 3 am needs more pancakes, really. I enjoyed them with some real Canadian maple syrup (#1 medium, in case you were wondering) and thought this was an awesome idea.

#6: Butterscotch Pudding by David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz is quite a big name blogger, and though I don't use his blog much for recipes, I like how simple they are, and I also like that he throws in some of the French recipes I crave. This butterscotch pudding was awesome, and relatively easy for a pudding recipe. I tend to suck at any kind of smooth, creamy, make over the stove and don't mess up recipe, especially if there's a danger of curdling, but this barely curdled at all, and all the curdle stayed at the bottom so I could just leave it in the pan. Perfect.

#5: Spinach and Artichoke Dip by Stephanie's Kitchen

Stephanie is yet another tasty, reliable food blogger with fabulous easy recipes. This dip really hit the spot, so much so that I did a spin off (post to come). I loved the combo of cream cheese and cheddar with the veggies, and baking it with the parmesan in the last step. This is another dip you can eat as a meal. It's also good on baguettes if you want to add in some carbs.

#4: Mac 'n' Cheese by My Madison Bistro

My Madison Bistro is one of my newest favorite blogs, which lured me in because of the pretty pictures but kept me because of the awesome recipes. I am a huge mac 'n' cheese freak, and this is definitely going to be one of my standbys. It's nothing super fancy, just your usual bechamel sauce and cheeses, but I thought the panko bread crumb topping worked really well, as did the thyme. This is my first try at panko, and I loved how it turned out. Of course, it probably doesn't hurt that she got the recipe from Ina Garten!

#3: Bohemiènne by La Tartine Gourmande

Another of my absolute favorite French foodblogs, with gorgeous photos and recipes. You really can't go wrong with a recipe like this. I've seen quite a few variations on the basic eggplant, tomato, onion, olive oil combo, and I never can complain. In fact, my only complaint is that they never seem to have enough servings! I am a huge fan of earthy vegetables, and this dish wins for that.

#2: Mushrooms Bourgignon by Smitten Kitchen

I'd been planning to make this for my Thanksgiving entree for quite a while. A small bridge was thrown in the works when I saw the price of baby bellas, and so I actually used half the mushroom amount (and no pearl onions, because there weren't any). It was thus a little more gravy like, but still awesome. I ended up getting invited to Thanksgiving with friends, and so instead of an entree for one with leftovers, it ended up being a sort of gravy for four over mashed potatoes. I used a Cabernet for the wine and Emeril's vegetable stock, courtesy of my awesome partners at Foodbuzz, for the liquid. Delicious, earthy, boozy, and dark. Can't go wrong. Smitten Kitchen remains my favorite blog, and I hope she sticks around for many years to come.

#1: Almond Crunch Cookies by Use Real Butter

I'm so amused that this was my favorite recipe of them all, because it was really an accident. I had an egg crisis last night at 11 pm when I was getting ready to make crustless pumpkin pie to take to Thanksgiving and realized that I only had one egg, that the store was already closed, and wouldn't be open today due to the holiday. I didn't want to neglect Use Real Butter, as it's one of my favorite blogs with never-fail recipes and great photos, but I couldn't go with the plan. After a small anxiety attack, I found these cookies instead, and boy were they awesome. The inside is like marzipan, the outside crunchy and delicious. Perfect for dessert as pictured with apple crunch, vanilla ice cream, and runny custard.

24 November 2009

TWD: Holiday Bundt Cake

It's Tuesday, so that must mean my camera's funky! This is kind of a placeholder post while it's still Tuesday, but the basic idea is that I loved the holiday bundt cake. I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin, almond extract instead of vanilla, and almonds instead of pecans, but it worked really well. Nice and dense and crumbly, with the tartness of cranberries and mild sweetness of apples. Very nice.

10 November 2009

TWD: Cran-apple Crisps

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie host is Em of the Repressed Pastry Chef, and she chose Cran-Apple Crisps for our recipe. This one was a big hit with my Sunday brunch guests, which is a bit of a relief, since Dorie's recipes have not been on the whole particularly successful for me thus far. I don't want to believe that such a big book of such good-looking recipes will yield a ton of flops! Here, my friend Bizzy shows her enjoyment of said crisp.

I made one large version as Dorie allows for, but instead of a 9" deep dish pie pan I used an 8" square pan (a little topping left over, but for the most part it worked. I had a vegan and a gluten-free guest coming, so I made the filling first without the flour and put a bit of the fruit into a couple of oiled tartelette tins, then finished the recipe. The small ones only took about 25-30 minutes, the full crisp about 40. The fruit was hot and bubbling before the crisp was browned, but everything worked out well. Other bakers complained about the sweetness of the crisp, and I suppose it could be more tart, but I had enough of a sweet tooth to enjoy this one

20 October 2009

TWD: Sweet Potato Biscuits

A bit of a placeholder post tonight, since there are some computer issues, but I'll go ahead and post my thoughts on time. Sadly, I couldn't not overwork these biscuits. The recipe is super easy, but it's very difficult to quickly incorporate the mashed sweet potatoes with the flour mixture. They didn't rise and were dense rather than flaky, telltale signs of overworking. They also ended up black on bottom after the minimum time, and I didn't love the taste. Oh, well.

13 October 2009

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

Today's recipe, Allspice Crumb Muffins, was selected by Kayte at Grandma's Kitchen Table. I didn't think it was a fabulous recipe, but it was a good one. As with most struessel topping muffins, I ended up with extra streussel, but I piled as much on top of each muffin as I could. I did have a couple of oopsies, one being that the butter wasn't quite cool enough when I added the milk, so it solidified and I had to stick it back in the microwave to thin it out before adding to the batter. That didn't affect anything. I also misplaced my allspice, so my muffins had nutmeg in the crumb and cardamom in the muffin, which worked quite well. You can find out how all the other TWD bakers did at the Tuesdays with Dorie site.

26 September 2009

Taste & Create: Scrambled Eggs

I had some technical difficulties this month, so I hope my partner, Columbus Foodie, will forgive my T&C entry being a couple of days late! Once again, I had a bit of trouble finding a recipe I liked. With omnivorous blogs, I keep ending up having a week where I don't really want to make a sweet, and so it takes a lot of digging to find what I'm looking for, but after scrolling through CF's recipes, I found a Gordon Brown recipe for scrambled eggs that she enjoyed. I decided to try it, and this is the result. My thoughts? I have to admit, I like my own scrambled egg style better. It took an age for any setting to occur, and I ended up having to crank up the heat. The eggs took about half an hour to scramble. However, I did like the addition of sour cream to the eggs. I paired them with Morningstar Farms sausage links and a hashbrown for a nice big breakfast.

15 September 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

Bear with me - my camera's being funky and since I need to get TWD up tonight, I'm going to post now and add the picture later. Anyway, this week's recipe was Flaky Apple Turnovers. I thought they were pretty good, but far more of a pain than I expected. I don't know that it was really worth it. The dough seemed really neat, with few ingredients and sour cream for moisture, but it was hard to work with. Last night, I did the first two steps, and I found that it needed a lot of pressing and kneading together to make it possible to roll out. Then tonight when I finished the recipe, I had trouble getting it to roll thin enough, and it kept tearing so I had to patch it up, creating thicker bits of dough that weren't very flaky when baked. I couldn't get much of the apples in, so I only used half the apples. I'm wondering if maybe I could just boil the remainder down for applesauce so that it's not a total waste. The final product was sweet, crispy, and fairly flaky, if a little light on the apples. I froze half for later, too, since Dorie suggests that you don't refrigerate or freeze the end product. You can see how the rest of the TWD bakers fared here.

03 September 2009

The Edible Word: Confessions of a Master Baker

Okay, the Internet's being a bit funny so let's see if I can get this out without having to look anything up. The Edible Word is a foodie book club hosted by The Happy Sorceress and A Blithe Palate, and this round we're reading Confessions of a Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Whew. Did it. Okay! So I read the book a few weeks ago and I found it quite enjoyable. It's a light, easy read, and like most foodie memoirs has a recipe at the end of every chapter. Film fans may enjoy the Hollywood references (Gesine being the sister of Sandra Bullock), but for me the best part was the family stories about food and Gesine's German heritage. I spent some time in Germany as a teenager and I studied German for a long time, but the same could be said for French. My high school German teacher and I used to tease each other about my liking French more, including (especially) French food. She was always trying to open me up to the joys of German cuisine, and even gave me a German cookbook as a high school graduation present. Thus, it was fun for me to read about some of the delicious German treats like Mandelhörnchen (literally, little almond horns) made with marzipan. I thought about trying one of those, but I ended up really intrigued by a savory scones recipe. The first time I tried scones, you may recall if you've been reading for a while, they fell rather flat - quite literally. This time, I used a very gentle hand, and they came together perfectly. I left out the ham in the recipe, of course, and used shaved parmesan rather than grueyere. It worked out just fine that way! I love the feel of the heavy, elastic dough with big chunks of butter in it, and these scones are heaven just out of the oven with a pat of butter or margarine. They're sweet, but subtly so, and fluffy with crisp bottoms. Though any baked good is best right out of the oven, these also freeze well and warm just fine in the microwave. Thanks, Cath and Steph for hosting, and thanks Gesine for the lovely stories and the great recipe!

01 September 2009

TWD: Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Yes, I finally decided to join Tuesdays with Dorie. I've had the book since Christmas, but I just couldn't commit to baking twice a month in law school. Even now, I'm not sure I can afford to, but I'm going to give it a try! This month's recipe was Espresso Cheesecake Brownies, picked by Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell. You can get the recipe at her blog and see the other bakers' efforts here. My impression of these brownies? Well I loved the idea. I've done swirl brownies before and loved them, but I've never done one where you put part of the brownie on top of the cheesecake layer. I was right to be sceptical. I found the cheesecake layer great and really tasty, but the brownie layer was dry and uninspired. Letting it sit while preparing the cheesecake layer makes the batter thick and hard to swirl, and may also account for the lacking moisture. I also did it in a round 9" pan, lacking a 9" square pan, and I baked the full 35 minutes. I left the sour cream topping off because it seemed kind of extraneous.

26 August 2009

Taco Time!

I've been craving tacos for a while. This is really the easiest thing ever, not actually a recipe. I got some of those easy-to-stuff shells with flat bottoms, warmed them in the microwave, and stuffed them with warmed refried beans mixed with grated Cheddar. Then just a couple of torn pieces of lettuce and a little spoonful of sour cream and we have a happy camper! Yum.

24 August 2009

Comfort Food

What does comfort food mean to you? Meatloaf? Mashed potatoes? A big tray of sticky buns? I think that for most people, comfort food has roots in childhood. This scrambled egg and toast with butter combination is something that makes me think of my father, and breakfasts that were never spectacular but were warm and filling nonetheless. Most of my other comfort foods weren't something I ate much as a child though. Biscuits and gravy, grits, veggie pot pie, mac and cheese, grilled cheese... you may notice a carb theme, here.

Another major comfort food for me is chocolate cake. Dense, delicious, terrible for you chocolate cake, preferably with soda, which I rarely consume otherwise. This is the cake and root beer I mentioned plans to pick up for my blogaversary. Sadly, the vegan chocolate cake slice was not nearly as good as vegan cake normally is. There's just something about the icing that I usually love in vegan cakes, but New Pi didn't do too well with this one. Ah, well.

Before I moved, I had some puff pastry I needed to take care of, and I developed this comfortingly fatting pastry pocket for a tasty dinner treat. It's basically just rectangles of puff pastry stuffed with canned mushrooms, whole grain mustard, and cheese. Boy is it tasty! Sometimes I just need a little fat and salt to get me through my day.

Restuarant Review: Miss Shirley's

I've been slacking on bringing my camera to restaurants lately. I wish I could show you the zucchini brie pancakes from the Golden West that I've been dying to recreate, or my very tasty eggplant with cabrales cheese sauce from La Tasca (sadly, the only really tasty thing on offer; the manchengo cheese was not that great, nor were the churros). But I did remember Friday morning, when I ate with my friend Jen at downtown Baltimore's breakfast-all-day place Miss Shirleys. They do lunch, as well, but I was far more enticed by their breakfast menu (and need to come back to order more!) I had fried green tomatoes, which were fabulous, and this veggie egg tower, which I had already dug into when I realised I should be photographing it. It's basically a variation on eggs florentine. Instead of an English muffin or cooked spinach, you have fresh spinach, tomatoes, avocado, and of course poached eggs and hollandaise. Delicious!

13 August 2009

More from the Land of Restaurant Dining

The weekend before last, I went to a family reunion in the NC mountains, which was nice in terms of seeing family but also, of course, in terms of good old southern food. The night we arrived I gorged myself on hush puppies and cherry cobbler to a certain extreme. The next day my mom and aunt and I went out to lunch, and I picked a place in Boone called the Red Onion Cafe for its vegetarian selections. I got a kick out of this portobello sandwich complete with cole slaw. As you can see, I also indulged my inner sweet tea enthusiast.

I've also been doing restauranting in Baltimore, though I keep forgetting my camera. I went to lunch at a Turkish place called Cazbar and had acili ezme and imam bayildi, both very good but the latter was fantastic. Also Sunday I had brunch after church at Donna's, a well-loved Mt. Vernon spot. They do a fantastic portobello omelette with roasted red peppers and goat cheese, plus roasted potatoes, homemade rye toast, and fruit for only $8. As you can see, I did have one opportunity to bake recently. My roommate had some bananas that were overripe so I offered to make banana bread. I used a new recipe that I got from Simply Recipes via Cafe Fernando. It's supposed to be not too sweet, so I added cinnamon chips. Actually it's pretty sweet, so if I were going to add nutella I would take out some of the sugar. Still very good!

27 July 2009

Salads, Salads, and New York Restaurant and Bar Reviews

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming! I've moved from Iowa City to Baltimore and am all settled in, so I thought I'd pop in and tell you about a few things I've been eating and drinking lately. This first photo is of a lovely salad that my friend Cass made me on a stopover in Pittsburgh Wednesday night. It was fabulous to have some nice fresh veggies for dinner after eating energy bars all day on the drive. Here we have lettuce, tomato, dried cranberries, roasted red peppers, and ranch. Yum!

I arrived in Baltimore on Thursday, but immediately disappeared again for a weekend in New York. After another day of energy bars, I had a great dinner at John's Pizzeria in midtown Manhattan with Rita, my Aunt Judith (pictured here with me), and her partner David. I went to John's once several years ago, and though the pizza wasn't exactly what I remembered, it was still very good. Rita and I split a spinach salad and a bruschetta pizza. I like the lack of tomato sauce, and the ingredients were definitely high quality.

After we said goodbye to Judith and David, Rita and I headed to the nearest Pinkberry for frozen yoghurt. Apparently, yoghurt is a big deal in New York this summer. There have to be at least ten chains, some national and some just local. I had meant to go to Pinkberry in LA but was too full, so it was fun to try it here. This photo is Rita and I at the Pinkberry, and below you see our cups (we were too eager to take a picture of the actual yoghurt!) I had coconut yoghurt with cherries and strawberries, which was good but maybe not as fabulous as all the bloggers had led me to believe.

We also went to Yogurt Station on Saturday evening, after the many food adventures described below. I liked it a lot better. There were more choices of flavors, the yoghurt was really good, and you get to choose what you want. You pay 35 cents an ounce and can get whatever you want - a little, a lot, multiple flavors, toppings or none. I had coffee and cheesecake yogurt with graham cracker crumbs, resees, and heath bar crumbles. Delicious!

Backtracking a bit, this photo is of me in Dean & Delucas, which I couldn't pass by when we stopped downtown for sunscreen. I got a peach to eat on Brighton Beach as well as some chocolate covered brandied cherries and chocolate covered espresso beans. All good, though I was bummed that there wasn't any matcha powder. I couldn't spend too long in there or I would have gone broke, quite literally. I'd love to go sometime and just sample chocolates all day!

After the beach, we headed to Rita's friend's Kim's neighborhood in Brooklyn (Court Street) and decided to go to a place called Mezcals. It was a tossup between that and South Brooklyn Pizza, apparently the best pizza in New York, but I'm glad we picked what we did. The food was great, especially the guacamole taco (isn't that an awesome idea?) I had a couple of drinks called Chilam Balam that involved cream of coconut, kaluha, rum, and pineapple juice, and also tried Rita's Mexican Coffee. This is my "that's interesting" face. After dinner, we went to lower Manhattan for cocktails at Death & Company, a very cool little bar with lots of cocktail choices and a prohibition theme. I had a delicious gin cocktail called the European Union in honor of a class Rita and I took in law school.

We then went to Mamoud's, an amazing falafel place where you can get falafel with baba ghanoush for $3, and Yogurt Station. Finally, there was just enough time the next morning to run to my beloved Pink Teacup for grits and biscuits to eat at the bus station. All in all, a good trip for eating! The last picture for today is of tonight's dinner, another salad made with spinach/lettuce mix, strawberries, goat cheese, and pomegranate vinaigrette. Yum!

18 July 2009

Shortcut to Mushrooms' Second Birthday!

Last year, I celebrated my blogaversary with a cake. This year, I'm moving in four days and the only food in my house is two pre-packaged salads, a wrapped spanikopita for the road, a rootbeer, two slices of bread, half a jar of peanut butter, a few jars of jam, and some organic cherry pops. I think I may, nonetheless, go to the co-op and get a cake slice to have with my root beer :-)

So here are some of my favourite cake recipes:

Coconut Angel Food Cake
Ginger-Ginger Cake
Grapefruit Yoghurt Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Looking forward to another, more productive year!

16 July 2009

Some Good Things and an Update

I've been trying not to update without pictures, since that's what a foodblog is about, but I feel like at least letting my readers know that yes, I'm still alive, that if you still have me on your RSS feeds please don't give up on me, and to give you an idea of what's going on with me. I'm moving to Baltimore next week, at which point I'll finally get a chance to decompress and live life at a semi normal pace. It's not that I haven't had time to blog lately, but actually more that I haven't thought about it because I haven't been cooking. The combination of needing to pack up my pans and appliances and food and the fact that it's been warm enough not to want to use a stove have led me to a lot of simple things like salads. I do have a few things I'd like to recommend, though, while you wait for me to return for real:

1) Larabars. I might have just spent $77 on a very large supply of them at Amazon (so worth it).

2) Cascadian Farms jam. It's organic, and it's really, really tasty. I've tried strawberry and raspberry but I'm saving the even more appealing apricot and blueberry for later.

3) Tofurky kielbasa. It's kind of surprising, but if you fry them they're really tasty and spicy and sausage-like.

I may not be cooking much over the next few weeks, either, since I'm trying not to unpack much when I'm in a sublet for three weeks, but I am definitely excited about being back to Baltimore restaurants - Sofi's! XS! Golden West! Cazbar! Liquid Earth! - and I'll also try to get up some of the dessert recipes I made a little while back and didn't post.

26 June 2009

Cooking for Our Rights: Nyponsoppa

Long ago I posted about a package I receieved full of Scandinavian goodies, most remarkable being that fabulous Danish Sortie Sara cheese. Well, I've recently had an opportunity to try something else in that pacakage, a powdered soup mix called nyponsoppa (rosehip soup) and the accompanying Mandelbiskvier (almond cookies). The sender informed me that the key to this soup is to dunk the cookies in it, and a friend also suggested that I add vanilla ice cream. The verdict? Well, I like cold fruit soups, and I really like almond, so the cookies were fantastic (they're quite hard but the soup helps that). The taste of the soup itself is very strong. I followed instructions and mixed with a liter of water, but if I were to try it again I might dilute it more. I ended up letting the ice cream melt a bit, though, and when I swirled them together it cut the taste of the soup so it made quite a nice dinner. Yes, I had ice cream and cookies for dinner. This also means that I can cross Sweeden off the Cooking for Our Rights challenge list!

20 June 2009

Follow me on Twitter!

In a few weeks, I'll be leaving Iowa City and all my residual law school busy-ness behind. What this means for the blog is regular posting once again, hurrah! I started this blog when I started law school, and I admit that I've been really slack in the last semester, but I'm going to be assessing my blogging priorities, assigning a certain amount of time each week to work on posts for each blog, and get back on the posting train. Until then, if you're on Twitter I encourage you to follow me @shroomshortcut. I'm using Twitpic to update more regularly with little things, pictures of what I'm eating when the recipe isn't worth sharing or I've posted it here before, or sometimes food I had in restaurants and don't have time to review. I've noticed that my harddrive tends to fill up with these pictures, and I can't think of much to say about the food for a real post, but that makes a Twitter tie-in for the blog perfect! If you're following my personal Twitter, feel free to continue to do so; I'm just switching to follow all foodie Twitters from the new one to keep things organized. Happy summer eating, everyone!

06 June 2009

Happy Anniversary, Coconut & Lime!

So I know I've been away for almost two months, but I hope you won't take my blog off your read-list. I'm only a few weeks away from being DONE with law school, and back to regular posting. I did want to show you some of the massive supply of desserts I baked for a going-away party, and the first recipe is brought to us by Rachel, blogger over at Coconut & Lime, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary! I thought this was particularly appropriate for my going-away party, since where I'm going is back to Baltimore, where Rachel lives. This recipe is for Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies, and it was very much up to the C&L standard. You may remember me mentioning this blog before on the site - Rachel's recipes are all original, and I'm constantly impressed. They're not all super fancy, but they're always delicious. This one is a great comfort dessert. The cookies are soft and crumbly, but still with a little bit of crisp. Though crumbly, they don't fall apart too badly, and I love the peanut butter flavor. They were one of the most popular desserts on the table.