Thursday, March 31, 2011

Marzipan Cake with Raspberry Coulis

Today was the first breakdown meeting of Season 3 of Team Umi Zoomi, where we watch the episode and discuss what needs to be done. I've been looking for an excuse to bake and this was it. I've had my eye on this recipe for a while, and I just happened to have a can of almond paste, so I crossed my fingers and hoped it would come out ok. It came out BETTER than ok. It's super moist and full of flavor. But the raspberry sauce really added the finishing touch, so don't leave it out.

Recipe from Joy of Cooking:

Marzipan Cake (8-10 servings)

7-8 oz almond paste or marzipan
6 Tbsp butter (3/4 stick)

2/3 cup sugar

3 large eggs
1 Tbsp kirsch or brandy (I used amaretto)

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 8x2" round pan, or line with parchment/wax paper (I recommend the latter, because I had trouble getting it out)

1. Beat almond paste and butter till well blended.
2. Gradually add sugar and beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture (2-3 min)
3. Whisk together then gradually beat in for a total of 3 min the eggs, alcohol and extract
4. Add baking powder, be sure to break up any lumps
5. Fold in flour. Scrape batter into pan and spread evenly.
6. Bake 35-40 min until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean
7. Let it cool completely, dust with powdered sugar

Raspberry Coulis

1 pint raspberries, or 12 oz frozen dry pack thawed

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp strained fresh lemon juice

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Strain through fine mesh sieve, pressing firmly with rubber spatula. Continue to press till you are left with just a heaping tablespoon of seeds. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lavender-Lemon Shortbread

I'd seen a lot of recipes around the internet that included lavender and I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical. Who wants to eat a flower associated with bath and body products? But while wandering around the farmer's market this week, I saw a stall selling locally grown lavender ( They had a small bag specifically meant for baking and tea.

All I can say is, these are delicious. And the fragrance, both when you are making them and baking them is really unique. The taste isn't too "flowery," but it's also distinct enough that you know it's there and compliments the lemon flavor. I now prefer this to regular shortbread.

Recipe from Food and Wine's website, by Allison Attenborough:

Servings (1 was able to make 20, but the recipe claims 1.5 dozen)

Lavender-Lemon Shortbread

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp dried lavender blossoms, chopped (I ground them with a mortar and pestle)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1. Mix the sugar, lavender and lemon zest. Using a mixer, beat in the butter at moderate speed. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for 20 min. Form the dough into a 4 inch log and chill for 45 min longer.
(Note: I made the log right away and chilled it for several hours, wrapped in wax paper).

2. Preheat oven to 350. Slice the shortbread into 1/4" thick rounds and place on ungreased baking sheets. Freeze the rounds for 10 min
(Note: Since my dough had been chilled for several hours, I skipped the freezing)

3. Bake the shortbread for 20-25 min or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw slightly before slicing. The baked shortbread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cinnamon-Sugar Almonds

Recipe altered slightly from, by BJ

1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups whole almonds
3/4 cup
sugar (I'd recommend brown sugar)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 250 F. Lightly grease a 10x15" jelly roll pan
2. Lightly beat the egg white; add water, and beat until frothy but not stiff. Add the nuts, and stir until well coated. Mix the sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the nuts. Toss to coat, and spread evenly on the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 45 min-1 hour, stirring occasionally, until golden. Allow to cool and store in airtight containers

Note: If you eat them right out of the oven, they will be soft, so definitely allow them to cool

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tip: Keeping Pesto Bright Green

I've started subscribing to Cook's Illustrated. I resisted for the longest time because I loved the big glossy photos in all the other magazines. But after sifting through countless ads and whole pages devoted to one photo, you realize there's almost no useful content. Cook's Illustrated has NO ADS, and is the publication of America's Test Kitchen. They give tons of information and explanations as to why one technique is better than another. They also review kitchen equipment and have beautifully detailed artwork.

The above doodle will hopefully be the start of a series of illustrated tips/recipes I plan on doing, inspired by Cook's Illustrated and the website "They Draw and Cook" . I need to practice drawing, because in 2 weeks time I'll have to keep a regular sketchbook for class.

For any techies out there, I drew it in Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro. They have a free 15-day trial, which I downloaded. I'm liking it so far, because it strips down a program like Photoshop and takes the bare essentials needed for drawing, versus having a clutter of menus and palettes. The full version is actually pretty cheap, $68

Friday, March 11, 2011

Macaroni Salad

I can't stand the white gloppy mayonnaise-y mess that most places call macaroni salad. It wasn't till last year, that I discovered a deli (St Mark's Market) that sold a version that I found edible. Their main flavor was mustard, with very little mayo, but it contained almost nothing other than noodles and a few carrot strips. I went home and tried to recreate the seasoning. Over time I added to it and made it a little more substantial. I also found that dill really helps prevent the taste from being too flat and balances out the mustard.

(Serves 2)
1/2 cup cooked macaroni
1 hard boiled egg
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 Tbsp fresh dill
1 tsp grainy dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp mayo
Salt/Pepper to taste

-Cook your macaroni and boil your egg in advance and let cool. You might want to add a touch of olive oil to the pasta so it won't stick together
-Chop all veggies and herbs. Cut up hard boiled egg
-Combine everything and chill, or serve right away

This recipe works perfectly for potato salad too!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Basic Crepes

Today is Mardis Gras! Back in first grade French class this meant making crepes. We all received a photocopied handout with instructions in both English and French with crude drawings of eggs being beaten and batter being poured into a frying pan. Too bad I lost it, or I'd post it here. In my college years, my Swiss roommate brought her crepe pan with her and it became a staple food in our dorm room. That's when I started filling them with whatever was on hand, (pesto-cheese crepes being my favorite). Another version I grew up with has ham, mushrooms and cheese inside, with a bechamel poured over the crepes, which are then baked. And of course, don't forget Nutella!

Recipe from Quick and Delicious, Reader's Digest (Makes 12)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 large eggs

2/3 cup flour

2 Tbsp melted butter

1/8 tsp salt

1. Whisk ingredients together
2. Heat skillet, pour and swirl/spread the batter to get a nice thin layer
3. Cook till underside is golden brown.
You can treat it like a pancake and cook both sides, but I've also been told you do NOT flip it.

Note: If you are stuffing the pancake, add the ingredients after the top looks almost cooked, fold the sides over the filling and continue cooking till the inside has time to heat up