Thursday, December 22, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 22, 2011 - Chrisanukkah Edition

Yes folks it's that magical time of year where Chanukah lights its way through Christmas. The first night was this past Tuesday and though I haven't made latkes yet, you can bet this combo holiday will be full of good food and good cheer. I've always celebrated both, but if you celebrate one or the other or neither, I hope you have a great end of December, holidays or no.

So I haven't made my traditional latkes yet, but I might also have to make these! Oh wow, do they ever look delicious.

The Wall Street Journal Features Kenny & Zuke's Deli: As a part of our holiday meals, Aaron has been working on some brisket to make corned beef for reubens. One of the best reubens in Portland is available at K&Z and New York's love for Portland is well documented, so I am not surprised by this article. It's nice to see that some of the best NY deli in America is right here in Portland. And can I give a shout out to the pastrami fries? Because holy crap, they are so good.

Eating Local Cookbooks: I think cookbooks are a great gift for foodies - it's filled with possibilities and yummy ideas. A couple I have noticed recently -  Farm Anatomy (check out the cool illustrations here) and the Green Market Baking Book. All about cooking and eating locally and being better to our world through food. Sounds like a complete win to me.
Food Gifts That Matter: Mark Bittman, as always, is totally on the ball about gifts for your foodie friends - especially those that want to do something good. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a group my dear friend Amy has worked with before and Heifer International I mentioned in my last minute gift guide last year. All of these are worthy causes and well worth your consideration.

Homemade Goodies: I can't tell you what I made this year because I haven't given them all out yet, but I can tell you that it was fun to make, made my house smell really good, and looked really pretty when decorated. I will attempt to remember to post about them. Just know that they were good. I also had a really enjoyable evening this past weekend making holiday cookies with my girlfriends. I am terrible at decorating cookies, but it is still fun. Especially when you can make a Christmas Moose. Or Christmas Vader.

Speaking of Christmas Vader, for the Star Wars baker/chef in your life, check out all that Williams-Sonoma has to offer. I already have the aforementioned cookie cutters and the cupcake stencils (featured in the blog here)
Pumpkin Buttermilk Scones: Sounds perfect for fall/winter/spending a lot of time indoors with family & friends.

Cocoa + Christmas Movies: Spiked or no, what better way to enjoy your favorite Christmas films like Love Actually (an annual tradition for me), Elf, Home Alone, or Die Hard (yes, it is a Christmas movie. With explosions). Make your own cocoa mix to make it really special or splurge on some of the good stuff.
(potatoes gotta do what potatoes gotta become latkes)
I'm also loving: the crazy amount of meal planning Aaron and I have done; how excited I am to actually eat all of those; holiday cookies from friends; holiday liqueurs (!) from friends; gelt, even when it is impossibly hard to open; buying stocking stuffers (hint: it's mostly candy because duh); making Jamie jump up and down because of a Packers beer coozie stuffed with gummi bears; the smell coming from the Widmer Brewery on a cold night; winter cocktails (hot toddies, I'm looking at you); grinding my own cardamom; library holiday parties; food + family + friends.

What are you loving this week? 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jam Muffins

Wow, I made these a long time ago. And they were messy. And pretty good. But messy. Have extra homemade jam that you have no idea what to do with? Want to make them too? Follow along!

Jam Muffins from Serious Eats:

Makes 12 muffins

¾ c. all purpose flour
¾ c. white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. milk
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 Tb. vanilla
1 egg
¼ c. honey
½ c. jam

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray 12 standard-sized muffin tins with baking spray, or line them with paper liners. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, egg, and honey. Whisk to combine, making sure the honey is fully dissolved.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just enough to combine. It will be lumpy. Add the jam, and fold the mixture a few times to distribute it, but leave the mixture streaky. Portion the mixture evenly into the muffin tins. I topped mine with extra jam, which turned out to be kind of a mistake because the jam leaked a lot and I had to scrub my poor baking stone that was sitting underneath the muffin tray. Sad.

Bake at 375 degrees until the muffins are browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

Like I said, these a pretty good, but very messy. Be careful with your jam mixing. I thought they also tasted a little gritty, so really make sure you get your dry and wet ingredients well mixed. I might fiddle with these some more, but if nothing else, it’s a great way to use jam.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Caramel Apples

When it first started to feel like fall in Portland, my friend Sarah invited a collective of us ladies over for caramel apple making and wine. Now that it is feeling very much like fall and almost winter (where's the snow Portland? It should feel all the way like winter now!), I highly recommend this activity.

Caramel Apples:

1 package caramel candies, unwrapped (or homemade caramel...mmm....)
6-8 apples (lean toward the tart side)
Sea salt (optional)
Parchment paper for covering your plates

Melt up your caramel. When it cools a little bit, dunk in the apples. We discovered that this worked really well in a partner system: one person dunks and turns while the other spoons on more caramel. Place on plates covered in parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until you can't stand it anymore and then eat them. Sticky, gooey, and wonderful.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 15, 2011

Man, I need to get photos into some of my posts. They are all prepped and ready to go, but then I got in early to this game and with working 3 jobs and all, I don't want to do anything else. Blogging? Feh! But I have time right now to tell you about food stuff I love before I go home, drag myself to the gym, and then go pew pew pew for too many hours.

Speaking of jobs and my field of work, I love that there is such a thing as a wine librarian. I am not at all qualified, but man, this is so cool! And yes, there is such a thing as a food librarian too. The best part of this whole field? The -brarian part. You can add that on to anything! Foodbrarian. Cupcakebrarian. See? Awesome.

Jameson Select Black Reserve Barrel: Also in the world of adult beverages, Serious Eats reviewed this new version of Jameson that just sounds delightful. Spendy, but the holidays are worth something special, aren't they?
The Holiday Finger-Food Combination Generator: Food + infographics = one happy foodie librarian. Thanks Slaven for the tweet on this one! Also this is helpful if you do have a last minute party...or just want to play around with weird or amazing food combos in snack form.
Jewelery That Looks Like Food: Love sushi? How about a bracelet of California rolls? Ice cream makes for a fun necklace. This necklace is sold, but kind of rad. I'd probably try to eat it all the time and then be disappointed. And then maybe confused as to why I thought I was wearing a cracker around my neck. Also out of stock, but fun are these toast earrings. All fun ideas for the foodie in your life (including yourself) for now or whenever.

One Shooter Sandwich and a Guinness Please: Holy crap meat-a-pa-sandwich. Convenience! From Britain! Also, a whole loaf of bread and two steaks.
(cake + penguins? Yes please!)
In other meatastic news, I give you - The Year in Burgers! Sure, it's mostly about chains, but it also talks about Wahlburgers! Have I not mentioned this place before? Yeah, so as it turns out this year Mark and Donnie Wahlberg opened up a burger joint. Yeah. If that's not rad, I don't know what is.

Burger King is Where You Can Eat Bread Crumbs With a Piece of Meat Inside: More burgers! Or - Dinosaur Comics explains Burger King and I laugh so hard I snort. Are you not already reading Dinosaur Comics? Why not? T-Rex has opinions about things and they are funny! Also - dinosaurs!
Edible Gift Wrap: Yes, this is a thing. You make it yourself. And it is AWESOME.

A Swedish Winter Smorgasboard: A fun and interesting way to fight the winter blues. Aquavit now just makes me thing about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series (have you read it? You should read it), but I also love gravlax and ginger cookies. I also shared this because two things happen when I hear the world smorgasboard. The first is that this song gets stuck in my head. And then I just think about the Swedish Chef doing his thing. It's all fun.
(instructions here)
I'm also loving: seeing Cake Spy (aka Jessie Oleson) at Crafty Wonderland (did you buy her book yet? You should buy her book); coming home to pizza after getting super wet walking home in the rain; that snap/ping when your jars seal; also, not really hurting myself when canning. Total bonus.; slow cooked everything; finding out its cookie day at work when you get there hungry; surprise dinners at Russell St. (do I link there every TILT? probably. It's good, y'all); homemade dinner + football with my faves; trying new sausages from Sheridan's (also I place I link to frequently; friends asking me food questions; @StephenAtHome - "This Norwegian butter shortage is the worst international food crisis since they devalued the chocolate euro." (ILY Stephen Colbert).

What are you loving this week? 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 8, 2011

Today's TILT is dedicated to my good friend Corey and her fiancé Brian since the visa stuff has finally worked out and he'll be in America on Sunday. Congratulations to you both and welcome to America Brian. We're glad to have you.
What's more American than a roast turkey sandwich with cranberries? I want to eat this right now. I have not yet been to Lovejoy Bakers, but now I will definitely need to make a point of going there. The rest of the menu also sounds fantastic.

Favorite Cookbooks of 2011: I haven't posted anything from David Lebovitz in awhile, which is sad because his writing is so wonderful. I love the way he describes some of these cookbooks - makes me want to jam more into my already crowded shelf. These are some unique cookbooks as many of them seem to tell a story along with their recipes. Good gift ideas in here!

How to Deal with Baker's Block: Aside from just buying more and more cookbooks and creating a never ending list of recipes you will probably never see the end of? Yeah, this is good advice. Sometimes just hitting that old recipe you know you can do so well brings the pride back into it. When I pull a perfect loaf of challah out of the oven or make cookies from a recipe I have basically memorized? Baking life feels good! Baking for friends also helps.
2011 Food Trends I Can Agree With: I posted this for one reason and one reason only - pimento cheese. Kirst and I are already well aware of how amazing this Southern appetizer really is. One of the commenters even says to get it at our favorite place to eat it - Russell St. BBQ. Corey is already a fan of the 'q so we'll just need to get Brian on board.

Speaking of food trends, Alton Brown (one of my fave celebrity chefs) has a great piece about why he's against food trends. It's not that they are bad, per se, but it's awesome to just make food because it's all kind of magical.
Gruesome Body Parts Made Out of Bread: Lisa sent this to me some time ago and it is super creepy. And intriguing. But also really, really creepy. And maybe a little punk rock? But mostly creepy.

Snakes and Lattes: Here's a link that's been sitting in my reader for some time now. Oops. But doesn't this place sound awesome? Look at that wall of games! If I'm ever in Toronto, I am seeking this place out.

You know what would be great to sip at a place like that? Numi's Holiday Chai.I'm a sucker for chai and I love Numi teas, so this sounds like absolute perfection to me.
I'm also loving: wine nights with Kirst, somehow made better by talking about work stuff and cover letters; honey crisp apples; spicy ramen bowls; mulled apple cider; all warm drinks right now; "'Do you spike your eggnog? With what' 'I put whiskey in my glass and then sort of wave it near the eggnog. That counts, right?" -Amandarama via Serious Eats; Aaron making OMG alfredo with pasta from Pastaworks; how many kitchen items are always on my gift wish lists; how much more tea I seem to drink when I have company; making new baking buddies; "forcing" chocolate cake on people; whiskey club; seriously, why are honey crisp apples so delicious?

What are you loving this week? Seriously, I want to know. Comment away.  

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I love Joy the Baker. A lot. This was an interesting baking experience for me because the first of these cakes I didn’t love and that surprised me. The problem was in the rolling. I didn’t roll the cake quite tight enough and it tasted really bready and not appley enough. The second one, which was devoured with my girlfriends while watching Sex and the City 2 (cocktails required. It’s BAD.), was much better. And that’s not just the cocktails talking. Do what she says and make two. And roll them tight!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake from Joy the Baker:

Makes 2 cakes

For the dough-
2 ¼ tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
¼ c. warm water, about 105 to 155 degrees F.
big pinch of sugar
6 Tb. granulated sugar
¾ c. (1½  sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. salt
3 large eggs
4½  to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 c. warm whole milk, 105 to 115 degrees F.

For the filling-
3 large apples, peeled and cut into small cubes (Honey Crisp for life!)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cornstarch
½  tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

For the Streusel:
½  c. all-purpose flour
½ c. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of cardamom
3 Tb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg and sugar for brushing and topping the dough before baking

To make the dough, in a small bowl, mix together yeast, warm water and pinch of sugar.  Stir together until yeast is dissolved and set aside for 10 minutes.  Yeast will foam up. 

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the sugar, butter, cardamom, and salt.  Blend on medium speed until pale in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl, and add eggs and 1 cup of flour.  Blend on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated and creamy, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and add 2 cups more cups of flour, foamy yeast mixture, and warm milk.  Blend in medium speed until the flour disappears.  Mixture will be very wet. Add 1½  to 2 more cups of flour.  Blend until the flour is almost incorporated.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead for 5 to 8 minutes by hand.  Dough will be glossy and just slightly sticky.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rest in a warm place for 1½ hours, or until doubled in size. Sometimes if my house is too cold, I’ll put the oven on warm. That usually works.

While the dough rises, make the apple filling and the streusel.

To make the apple filling, toss together diced apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, nutmeg and salt.  Leave at room temperature and set aside until ready to use.

To make the streusel filling:

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cardamom.  Add butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Break up the butter into the mixture, until thoroughly incorporated and crumbly.  Set aside.

Continue on with the dough. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. I didn’t do this, but even though the pans for pretty messy, they cleaned up easily enough in hot water.
When the dough has doubled in size, dump it out onto a lightly floured work surface.   Use a large knife or a bench knife to divide the dough in two.  Roll each dough piece into about a 10×14-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture.  Add half of the apple mixture over the apples.  Add a bit of the apple juices too. 

Starting from the longest side, begin to roll the dough.  This isn’t like a cinnamon roll, you don’t have to roll it into a super tight swirl, but as I noted, make it pretty tight or it will be too bready.  Fold in about 1 1/2 to 1-inch folds.  Keep the seam on the bottom.

Repeat the same steps for the second piece of dough.

Carefully lift roll onto the prepared baking sheet. Now is a great time to freeze or refrigerate the coffee cake  dough for later baking. If you decide to freeze the dough, place it in the fridge to thaw the evening before you’d like to bake it.  Once it’s thawed, slice it according to the above directions.  Allow to come to room temperature, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes beyond that.  Wash with egg and sugar, then bake. This is what I did with my second loaf.

If you decide to refrigerate the dough, simple take it out of the fridge, slice according to the above directions.  Let come to room temperature, then allow to rise for 30 minutes beyond that.  Brush with egg and sugar, then bake.
Take a pair of clean scissors and slice into the dough leaving about 3/4-inch of dough still attached.  Slice at 1-inch intervals.  Carefully begin to curve the sliced dough into a semi-circle/horseshoe shape.  If some of the apple juices escape, that’s ok.  Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.  Best served warm with cocktails.  Coffee cake will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 3 days. I think we may have made it through most of the movie. Maybe. I think this would be a great addition to a brunch potluck, especially if you make two and keep one in the freezer. Bam! Instant brunching. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 1, 2011

Rabbit, rabbit.

Hey guys, how are you? I'm back with a new TILT. I've been hesitant to do one because the last one I did (for Halloween) ended up compromising my blog. Yeah. Serious business. I only noticed because I was trying to change my Twitter profile and it wouldn't let me use a website with known malware. And then Chrome wouldn't let me look at it. I was all oh no and then deleted some stuff and tried to do some Google Site stuff and got really frustrated and left it alone and the next day it was fine. This is what you get for hot linking I guess. Anyway, I'm back at it! And hopefully without any nastiness this time.

Happy December y'all!

The Sriracha Lover's Ultimate Gift Pack: I already entered, so you can too. I meant to blog about this cookbook about a billion years ago, but never did. I think I was waiting to do a holiday post about it or something. Anyway, sriracha is rad and so is free stuff. I always put way too much in my pho and end up a big snotty mess by the end of the meal and also looking like I'm dying, but it is so good! PS: I love pho. In case you were wondering where to take me for a not sexy dinner because of the aforementioned snot.

What School Lunches Looks Like in 20 Countries Around the World: Not gonna lie, the Swedish lunch just makes me think of IKEA. Also, really want to eat the French school kids food, but that's not really a surprise. Also, rice is wonderful and a big part of a lot of school lunches.

Overcompensating on the Olive Garden: hahaha. Also, I hate the Olive Garden. Except for those damn breadsticks and that salad dressing. Fortunately I don't live near one and I can usually defeat that craving with good food near me. And now that I think of it, I've only been there twice. No worries.

The Simpsons "Foodie Episode": I haven't actually seen this yet, but the clip is hilarious. And I am a food blogger or whatever.

How to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese: I don't know about everyone else, but this time of year is all about soup for me and what's great with soup? Grilled cheese sandwiches. I think I make a darn good one, especially since I found the superfrico recipe, but even with basics, it's good to have hints to perfect your technique. Plus an excuse to make many grilled cheeses? Count me in.
Bodum Coffee and Tea Maker: I can't find it on the original site anymore, but look how cool it is! It's like caffeinated science!

How to Quickly Cook Pasta: This does in fact change everything. And yet Aaron and I made mac and cheese last night and cooked the noodles the old way. But still! I know about this now and can possibly speed up my pasta cooking to pasta eating time! Might help me make Bolognese Machiavelli (PS: read this. It's hilarious. Here's a preview: "Perhaps, in a dark place without witnesses, the tomato shall meet with the knife.").

The Cider Press Guide to Drinking Sidra in Spain: You guys, I've been to one of these places! Casa Mingo, specifically, in Madrid. Twice, actually. Once at the beginning of the trip and once at the end. I was told to drink sidra before my trip and I was so glad I did because it is delicious. I want to go back to Spain and drink so much more. And you know, see stuff. But mostly drink sidra.
I'm also loving: kombucha with chia seeds (why were you not in my life earlier?!); drinking with like a grown up (matching wine glasses make me more grown up, right?); having a lovely Thanksgiving with my friendos; seriously, deviled eggs for breakfast; creative use of leftovers; kale, dear lovely kale; hot toddies because it's cold out and that makes it better; Plan B: burgers; bagels with peanut butter; drooling over desserts online with Kirst; comté cheese (thanks Corey!); pumpkin seeds; @stephenathome - "Just learned the one thing you can't use Americone Dream for: getting out ice cream stains :("; wishing IKEA kitchens were my kitchen; plotting future kitchens; liking my kitchen anyway.

What are you loving this week? Seriously, I want to know. Comment away.  
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