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Cake Doughnuts

8 Sep

Yay! As promised, my next recipe. Sorry there aren’t pictures but my computer wouldn’t upload them….

2 1/2 cups of flour (doesn’t matter what kind)

1/2 cups of white sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup of milk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Oil (you decide how much)

For covering doughnuts:

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup white sugar

Directions!

1) In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2) Make a well in the mixture.

3) Pour the milk, butter, egg, and vanilla.

4) Mix it up! When you’re done, put it in the fridge for an hour, covered up.

5) Pour oil in a pan, and put a doughnut in the pain and flip when golden brown. When a doughnut is done, put it on a cookie rack with a paper towel on it to soak up the oil. If you’re me, you made latka-like doughnuts cause I couldn’t figure out how to make doughnuts, so my AMAZING dad had to help and now they look perfect.

When done, sprinkle the doughnuts with the cinnamon and nutmeg.

So, best advice from this post? Always listen to your dads cause they’re usually right (mine is always right though…).

Tip on getting only egg yolks

4 Sep

I completely forgot to mention that I found this nifty trick to getting only the egg yolks from the egg.

You take a turkey baster and suck up the egg whites, leaving behind only the egg yolk.

Yeah, that’s it. I found it easier for some reason.

Also! My next recipe will be up this weekend so see you then!

Nutella-Filled Shortbread Cookies

2 Sep

Yay! My first blog entry! Okay, for those who have not read my sister’s previous post, she is off to China and can’t maintain the blog while she is gone so she decided to let me (her sister) manage it until she gets back so I hope you guys enjoy my first entry and the rest that will come at a different time. So here it goes:

The ingredients for Nutella-Filled Shortbread Cookies are:

1 1/2 cups of flour (they recommend all purpose but any kind works)

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks of butter, softened–they say unsalted but I used salted and it was fine

1/3 cups sugar

3 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Nutella (Use as much as you want for each cookie)

Procedure:

1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line however many baking sheets you personally need with parchment paper (or if you’re me and you ran out you would use non-stick spray).

2) Mix the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt into a bowl and set it aside.

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3) Using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer, cream the butter so it is fluffy like so:

4) Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Then add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until smooth.

5) Mix in the flour mixture 1 cup at a time.

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6) Okay, the dough may be kind of sticky so cover your hands in flour. Then take 1-2 tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball and flatten it out. Then, take 1 1/2 teaspoons of nutella and fold the dough to cover all the nutella. Mine look ugly because I don’t know how to fold anything….

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7)  Put in the oven for 14-18 minutes.

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8) Now you have nutella-filled shortbread. Sorry if my pictures aren’t fantastic quality, I’m still getting the hang of it.

I hope you enjoyed guys and I’ll post again next weekend probably.

Another Announcement!

31 Aug

So I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would putting this blog on tentative hiatus while I’m in China.

Well…

I take it back!  Rather than abandon the blog for a whole year, I’m handing the reins over to my very capable sister, who is also an enthusiastic baker.  She is also more creative with her recipes.  So the next post you see here will be hers, and I’ll take it back sometime in June.

You can also keep up with my China blog, which is over here.

Happy reading!

Baklava

29 Aug

Baklava.

So delicious, and so intimidating.  We’ve all heard horror stories about working with phyllo dough.  And even if we haven’t (you really haven’t?  Huh.), it’s just hard to imagine being able to recreate something with so many precise layers, something so unbelievably delicious that it necessarily seems unattainable.

Maybe you don’t overanalyze your desserts like this.  Whatever.

I was intimidated by the idea of baklava.  I heard phyllo dough horror stories.  I was craving some and made it anyway.

It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.  But it did get done, and wow my baklava was (were?) insanely delicious.  So rich with butter, honey, and pistachios.  So sticky and good!

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And okay, actually?

Shelling the pistachios is the hardest part, no joke.  My thumb was in SO MUCH pain for days from wedging it under shells and prying them open.

You can use walnuts or pecans if you prefer, but I happen to love pistachios and for some reason the only unshelled ones that were in my grocery store came in little snack packs…  So I had to buy shelled ones.

But if, unlike me, your friends have not all left to resume college/left the country completely, you can enlist their help.

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Or you can do what I did, and shell pistachios while watching Orange is the New Black to distract yourself from the pain.  (You could watch the show anyway, you know, because it’s amazing.)

I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Ingredients:

  • One package phyllo dough
  • 4 cups chopped pistachios, walnuts, or pecans
  • 1 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla

Recipe:

First of all, if your nuts have not come pre-chopped, food processor the hell out of them.

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Set those aside.

Now, about that phyllo dough.  The package will tell you how to defrost it, but maybe you’re like me and don’t want to follow the directions because the directions tell you to wait 24 hours for the dough to defrost.

Lame.

I did a lot of anxious searching for defrosting methods that didn’t take forever, thinking that surely there were people out there who went to make something with phyllo dough the night of some event or dinner and had to defrost in a hurry.

And I was right.

(Betting on the existence of human error is always a safe bet, especially when it comes to baking.)

Some people talked of a suspicious-sounding microwave method, while other talked about hot water baths.  Most, however, said to let it sit around for a few hours on the counter.  You might want to do your own searching for a method you like, or that is more precise, but I let mine sit out for about three hours and it was totally fine.

So okay, dough is out of the way.

Once you’re ready to work with the dough, butter a large pan.  Check the dimensions of your dough to determine the size of pan you should use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On your phyllo pile, butter the top sheet and lay it and the sheet below it into your pan, buttered side down.  Repeat two more times.

Sprinkle a single layer of nuts.  I would sprinkle sparsely, because I ran out of nuts a bit too soon.

Butter two sheets and lay them over the nuts.  Add a layer of nuts, then two more buttered sheets.  Repeat until you use up all your nuts, then lay four buttered sheets on top.

Slice into diamonds very carefully and with a very sharp knife.

Bake for 45 minutes, until a deep, golden brown.

While the baklava is baking, make the syrupy stuff.

In a pot over medium-high heat, combine one stick of butter, the honey, sugar, water, and vanilla, and bring to a boil, then simmer until the baklava is done.

When the baklava is out of the oven, pour half the syrup evenly over the pan and wait a few minutes for it to soak in.  Then, pour the other half.

Wait a few more hours for it to set and become gooey and wonderful (don’t worry, it’ll still be warm), and then go bananas and eat as much as you can stand.

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That’s what was left after family carved out their slices and after I ate many slices during many meandering, late nigh phone calls.

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Cover with plastic wrap to keep them fresh for up to a week and a half.

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You’ve probably heard of the new Netflix show Orange is the New Black, and maybe you’ve already watched it.  If you haven’t, this is your gentle reminder to get on that shit because it is pure gold.

I had my reservations about it, which is why I’m so late to the party.  I thought it would be a case of “Here is a real world problem that no one usually cares about, but we can care now because we have a pretty white female protagonist.”

I thought the other prisoners would be pigeon-holed and stereotyped, and that the main character would dominate the show.  They wouldn’t even be playing second fiddle; they’d be playing viola.  (No offense, violists, but you know.)

I was so wrong, and so happy to be so wrong.

In fact, all the characters are incredibly complex, well-written, well-developed and likeable.  I love all of them.  (Okay, most of them.)  Rarely do we get good ensemble cast shows where the ensemble is racially, sexually (there’s a trans* woman played by a trans* woman!  Sexuality is portrayed as a spectrum, not a “choice” of two options!), socio-economically diverse.

The show also handles prison life really well (I think).  It shows prison as being horrific and degrading without making the women look weak and like victims.

It’s a really well-written show with amazing characters, and I highly, highly recommend it.

White Chocolate Mango Bars

26 Aug

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I have quite the recipe for you today.

These bars are SO GOOD, let me tell you.

The original recipe called for passion fruit, but I couldn’t find any, so I used mango.  However, if you have goji berries handy, I would highly recommend using those instead.

(I’m a little obsessed with goji berries at the moment.)

I think my favorite thing about these, however, is that the chocolate isn’t melted to make a white chocolate-flavored bar.  It’s chopped so you get delicious bites of white chocolate in each bar.

I love the texture.  I love the sudden burst of buttery white chocolate.

(You’re going to want to get the good stuff, by the way.)

These bars go very well with a chai latte.  They go very well with nothing at all.

These bars are good if you have recently been to the library and you found the despairingly small collection of feminist books interspersed with books about being single.

These bars are good even if you haven’t done that.

I don’t know, I feel like you should probably just make these bars.  You won’t regret it.

I found this recipe in a sort of funny way because I follow other blogs on WordPress, as one does… but I never check them.  I never see my WordPress dashboard because I have no idea where it is.  When I was writing my last post, though, my computer died before I could finish so I went to use a different computer and when I logged into my account, it showed me all the blogs I apparently follow.

One of them is a really beautiful travel/food blog that I wish I had paid attention to earlier called Le Pirate, which is where I got the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 7 tbsp butter, nearly melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp mango, chopped; goji berries; passion fruit pulp
  • 7 grams white chocolate

Recipe:

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Whisk the butter and sugar together until well-combined.

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Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and salt and whisk well.  Stir in the flour, chocolate, and fruit of your choice.

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Pour into a greased pan (or a pan lined with parchment paper).  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until just set.

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I’ve been reading a lot of David Sedaris lately.  I first read him in high school after I went to see him doing a reading at the Strand.  He signed my book very nicely (“To Kate – I can’t spell skateboard without you”) and my dad’s very snidely (“Your story touched my heart” – this to the man who barely said a word to Sedaris).  His stories never fail to embarrass me in public as I laugh out loud and disturb fellow subway-riders, park-sitters-in, and cafe-goers.  I highly recommend almost anything he’s written, and if you can’t get the audiobooks read by him, so much the better.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Comcast just re-imbursed me $65.41 so I’m going to have a Frances Ha moment and find some way to spend it.

 

 

 

 

Matcha Pound Cake

17 Aug

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I could never get sick of this place.  I think I’ve made my peace with living in Chicago at last because I know it’s temporary.  I’ve even fallen a bit in love with Chicago knowing that I only have another year left there.

I used to hate it because it wasn’t New York (and for other less petty reasons, I swear).  But while I do love Chicago, I’ll never live there again, whereas New York will always be the home I return to.  It’s where I grew up and it’s where I can always go back to.

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I love Chicago and I love Paris and I’ll probably love Beijing, and I have no doubt that I’ll live all over the world, but wherever I go there will be a string around my finger that leads straight back to New York.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this place, so I’m going to stop before I veer too far into oversharing awkward sentimentality and actually get to the subject of this post.

Which is… some seriously delicious pound cake.

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Matcha, if you don’t know, is green tea powder made by grinding the whole leaf superfine.  You can use it in baking, you can make lattes (amazing lattes!), and you can brew a much stronger, earthier cup of tea than you would get from loose leaves or a tea bag.

I was very excited to get some matcha powder recently (thanks, Mom!) because I am a serious green tea fiend.  I’ll eat anything flavored with green tea (but especially ice cream).  This pound cake certainly being no exception.

Interestingly, it doesn’t really taste like green tea…  It tastes like your average pound cake, but it’s earthier, fuller tasting.  It’s got a very subtle something that pound cake doesn’t have.  Even if you don’t like green tea you will probably love this pound cake.

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The recipe is straight from Appetite for China.  The only thing I would change would be to grate 1/4-1/2 tsp of ginger into the batter, which I sadly didn’t think of until after I had baked it.  But you know it would be amazing.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp matcha powder
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ginger, grated (optional)

Recipe:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and matcha powder.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs.  Add the flour mixture and stir until well-combined.  Stir in the grated ginger, if you’re using it.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for at least 45 minutes.  Typically, mine took probably 20 minutes longer.  I don’t know why I have such trouble with loaves.  A tester should come out clean when inserted into the middle, and don’t worry if the top gets super brown and crispy, as mine did.  It actually made it taste like it had a sugar crust, which was cool.

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I have books to recommend but I’m going to forgo them in favor of a film.  I saw Frances Ha last night at the IFC Center and I loved it to little pieces.  It’s a Noah Baumbach film, written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, who plays Frances.  It’s a slice of life film about being poor and in your 20s and kind of a human disaster in New York, but it’s got some things that those kinds of films usually don’t:

  • a super strong female friendship that totally eclipses any romantic relationship in the movie (possibly in any movie)
  • a modern dancer for a main character (that’s just cool)
  • some nods to Leos Carax
  • a main character who is a total mess and can’t handle basic adult things and bumbles through life so hard but isn’t an anxious trainwreck and isn’t depressed and isn’t ambitious.  She’s just happy.  She’s so happy.  In a city of 8 million crazily ambitious people and tons and tons of folks who follow the college degree -> job -> marry a person -> suburbs (give or take) and tons more who stop at “job” and become Career People, it was awesome to see a character who isn’t ambitious and really just wants to have good friends and be happy and bounce around wherever life might toss her.  She’s not immune to sadness, but she accepts the bad things and bends around them, accommodates them, and then moves on, fundamentally untouched.  She reacts badly to things, she gets depressed, she does stupid, impulsive shit, but she never spirals out of control and she always finds a way to move, if not forward, then at least in some direction worth pursuing, at least for now.