California Citrus Tart (Navel, Cara Cara, Tangelo, Blood & Clementines)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

California Citrus Tart
California Citrus Rocks! Tart

If we were face-to-face, I would look you straight in the eye, get all serious and say:

"I have something to tell you.
{pause for emphasis here}
California. Citrus. Rocks."

I'm not kidding.

I went to the Studio City Farmers Market last weekend and picked up a bunch of citrus to make this Ode to California Citrus tart!

California Citrus Tart
The Oranges:
Navel (front right big one)
Cara Cara (behind the blood)
Tangelo (funky top, back left)
Blood (middle front, reddish skin)
Clementine (note to self: not fun to section a little itty bitty Clementine tangerine!)

California Citrus Tart
Outside alternates between the navel and pinkish Cara Cara orange. Next circle is tangelos and blood followed by those little tiny sectioned clementines.

California Citrus Tart
Isn't the blood orange awesome!?

California Citrus Tart
I made Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart (fully baked) and Ina Garten's Pastry Cream (I skipped the liquor and added the zest of one navel orange)

The pastry cream was a bit too soft so it oozed when sliced; next time I might make little tarts or figure out a way to make the cream more solid (cook it more?)

I glazed the tart with a bit of simple syrup to add a bit more sweetness and shine. I think I can skip that next time or use a warmed marmalade.

California Citrus Tart
Recipes:
Cafe Johnsonia has great step-by-step photos to make Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart Dough. Ina's Pastry Cream recipe is on the Food Network's website.

This is a delicious dose of Vitamin C in a tart shell! My co-workers liked this a lot and I was really pleased with the combo of fresh citrus and well, lotsa butter and eggs! Caroline said it was like eating an orange creamsicle! :)
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Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Everyday Food)

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Peanut Butter and Chocolate.
Best friends forever.


I made these simple Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Cookies (from Everyday Food) last night for a peanut butter fix.

I enjoyed them a lot because they were, well, fluffy! You know how regular peanut butter cookies (with the criss-cross) are sometimes crispy? Well, these were little balls of baked peanut butter goodness. My co-workers and I ate them all on the first day...so I never know how things are "the second day."

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Simple ingredients: flour, baking soda, peanut butter (I used Skippy smooth), butter, dark brown sugar, regular sugar, eggs, vanilla and semi-sweet chocolate chunks (I used chocolate chips).

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Cookies Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
The recipe says it makes 36 cookies, but I made them small (with my cookie scoop) and got 71 cookies! Yes, 71 cookies of goodness! Here is the recipe from Martha Stewart's website!
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Pancake Day - Cornmeal Pancakes with Maple Syrup

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cornmeal Pancakes for Pancake Day
It's National Pancake Day!

IHOP is giving away free pancakes (requesting a donation to a good cause) and they say: "National Pancake Day dates back several centuries to when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products...hence the name Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday."

Cornmeal Pancakes for Pancake Day Cornmeal Pancakes for Pancake Day
Adapted the recipe from Everyday Food's Basic Pancake recipe (I added a little cornmeal for texture). Here is what I used...

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs

Follow directions on Everyday Food's recipe for mixing and cooking!

Have a great Pancake Day!
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Caramel Crunch Bar (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Caramel Crunch Bars
Caramel Crunch Bars

Caramel Crunch Bars
For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Whitney of What’s left on the table? chose Caramel Crunch Bars, page 112-113 of Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

There are few things I've never seen on the baking aisle in Los Angeles: Heath Toffee Bits and Cinnamon Chips. Not saying they aren't here (see below)...but I don't remember coming across them. I was contemplating making my own English toffee bits for this recipe...

Caramel Crunch Bars
Sunday: Visiting my friend Helen. I was washing the dishes after lunch, telling her about my toffee bit dilemma, and mentally planning out when we should go to Menchie's for kosher frozen yogurt sold by the ounce (I, of course, love the little mochi balls). Anyway, all of a sudden, I look up and Helen has a package of Heath Toffee Bits in her hands! She bought them during the holidays...and knew where they were in the cabinets! Thanks Helen!

Caramel Crunch Bars
I thought these were good, but really, really, super, duper sweet. A wee bit sweet for me...but enjoyed at work.

Caramel Crunch Bars
Thanks again Helen for the toffee bits! I'm going to make the recipe on the back of the package for oatmeal and toffee bit cookies...and bring you and the girls some!

In Dorie's book, she sandwiches these with ice cream to make a beautiful sandwich. Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers and get the recipe from Whitney's blog or Dorie's great book. Next week, fun with prunes! :)
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Thank you...mysterious librarian friend!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I came into work today (our schedule changed so I work late one night and some Saturdays) and an ordinary interoffice envelope was on my desk. Since I love, love, love mail I ripped into it before even putting down my boring lunch of banana, apple and can of Trader Joe's Organic Joe's O's Pasta (their low-fat and organic version of Spaghetti O's) (Oh yes, I'm living large today!)

And in that envelope were these adorable note cards!

2009_02FoodLib 909

They were created by Just Jenn Designs.

Unfortunately, there was no card inside the envelope...so, thank you to the library staff who sent me these cute cards!!! I'll bake you a cupcake like the one on the card!
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Southern Coconut Cake (Cake Slice Bakers)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Southern Coconut Cake
Southern Coconut Cake

For this month's, Cake Slice Bakers, we voted to make Southern Coconut Cake from Alisa Huntsman's book: Sky-High Cakes: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. (Luckily, I made it early before my oven started giving me troubles.)

I must tell you something. I'm not a fan of flaked coconut. I do enjoy coconut milk in Thai food curries and the "makes me weak in the knees" mango with sticky rice. But I can't stand the texture of flaked coconut. Seriously, there is very little difference between coconut and dental floss.

And that's why I love my job. It's interesting, challenging, and there is a group of people who like coconut!! :)

Southern Coconut Cake Southern Coconut Cake
I loved the cake. The cake has a lovely crumb and uses coconut milk for a delicious (sans dental floss) coconut yumminess. Okay, I had to make this cake twice. The first time, I completely missed the sugar! What?! How did that happen? Well, this recipe uses the fat-flour method and mixes the dry ingredients with the butter before adding in the wet ingredients. If it started with creaming the butter and sugar, I wouldn't have forgotten the sugar (at least I hope so! :) Oh, well, it was sorta funny when it happened!

Southern Coconut Cake
I made the frosting twice too! The original recipe calls for an Italian meringue technique (adding hot sugar syrup to egg whites), but I tried the Swiss meringue technique (heating the sugar and egg whites over a double-boiler) since I'm more familiar with it and I can get the egg whites up to 160 degrees. But adding the cream cheese/butter mixture didn't go as planned and I ended up with soup (the meringue was probably too warm). All my fault. I should have followed the recipe exactly and not messed with it!

Southern Coconut Cake
I ended up creaming together 12 ounces (1 1/2 blocks) of cream cheese, 4 T (1/2 stick) of butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 t vanilla for a frosting. It was yummy and easy.

Southern Coconut Cake
My co-workers really liked it. I could smell the coconut from my desk! I pushed off the dental floss and enjoyed the cake and cream cheese frosting.

You can find the recipe on Gigi's blog but you should really buy the book: Sky-High Cakes by Alisa Huntsman. All the recipes have been sooooo good!! Can't wait for next month's selection!
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Monkey Munch or Chex's Muddy Buddies

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monkey Munch or Muddy Buddies
Monkey Munch or Chex's Muddy Buddies
One Delicious Bowl of Goodness

For my last three baking endeavors, my oven has been either (1) giving me attitude or (2) crying out for help. I turn it on, it doesn't heat up for a long time or gets stuck at 250-275 F until I put it on broil to "wake it up." Once, it got up to 350 right away and then fell back to 250 within 20 minutes. Perhaps this is why my little 4" Devil's Food cakes took 45 minutes to cook! Sigh.

So, until the Southern California Gas comes out to calibrate the oven and check it out (such a great free service...and I just hope I don't need a new oven like Madam Chow), I'm going to try to make "short bake" items such as cookies and no-bake items such as this crazy yummy Monkey Munch or Muddy Buddies.

Monkey Munch or Muddy Buddies
I doled them out in 3 dozen nut & party cups to bring to work.
(By the way, you can get a boatload of these sooo cheap at Smart & Final (sorry, S&F are only in CA, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico)

Jon and Kate Plus 8 make this on their show and "I'm-getting-really-tired-of-you-but-your-kids-are-so-damn-cute-I-keep-watching-the-show-with-you-on-MUTE" Kate calls it Monkey Munch.

Here is the easy, simple Muddy Buddies recipe from the Chex's website.

Monkey Munch or Muddy Buddies
So easy! Melt 1 cup chips, 1/2 c peanut butter, 1/2 stick butter in the microwave. Stir til smooth then add 1 t vanilla.

Monkey Munch or Muddy Buddies Monkey Munch or Muddy Buddies
9 cups Chex Mix (I used Rice Chex). Mix the melted mixture with the cereal then pop it into large ziploc bags with powdered sugar. Shake and spread out on a cookie sheet. And that's it! It would be a lot of fun to make with kids as they get to shake, shake, shake and then eat, eat, eat! I'm going to make this with my niece and nephews real soon.

Monkey Munch or Muddy Buddies
Monkey Munch. Muddy Buddies. Or even Monkey Buddies. Whatever the name, I could eat a gallon of this stuff. Make it in a quick minute! Here's the recipe!
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Glazed Meyer Lemon Cakes

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake
Glazed Meyer Lemon Cakes

Whoo hoo! Top Chef tonight! Second to last episode! I'm on the West Coast so I've been careful to avoid spoilers online...and if you are reading this and have Top Chef on your DVR, um, come back later!

Okay, this morning I made these Everyday Food's Glazed Lemon Cakes using Meyer lemons.

Quick fire with three kicked off chefs...and crawfish. Please, please don't come back Leah. Seriously.

And in my Access Hollywood moment, I want to know if either Leah or Hosea are with their girl/boy friends anymore.

Okay, Jeff is back but can stay only if he wins the next challenge. Just a wee bit of pressure.

Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake
You are supposed to make these in a cupcake pan and then pour the glaze over the top. I decided to use my cute little cupcakey-like molds (what is the proper name for this pan? I'm completely brain dead and concentrating on Top Chef.) And how many people were so sad to have a Fashion Week come and go...with no Project Runway?!? The LA Times had a whole pull out about the sadness that is PRunway's absence and lawsuit...damn, this just says in neon letters that I really need a life...

Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake
Yeah, after a cooling, a lemon glaze tops the cake. I could drink the glaze.

Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake
Rock on Carla! Your dishes look great and I like your drink (I don't drink and that spritzer looks yum). Carla is like a NCAA Basketball team peaking during March Madness.

I could just reach into the screen and slap Stefan. Seriously b-slap that smirk off his face and his over-confident little head.

Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake
Elimination.
S. t. e. f. a. n.
Pick Stefan!
Come on, Padma... say, "Stefan."

Oh, so sad. It's Fabio. I loved him. I'll have to drive up the coast and go to his restaurant like Judy of Judy's Gross Eats.

Oh yeah, the cake. Here's the recipe for Glazed Lemon Cakes from Everyday Food. See you next week for the finale. Go Carla!!!
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Devils Food White Out Cake (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Devils Food White Out Cake (Dorie Greenspan)
Devils Food White Out Cake

Whew! Getting this one done right under the wire. I was busy this weekend (two movies: Shopaholic - enjoyable but no Bridget Jones; The International - bad but Clive Owen is worth my $13.50 at the Arclight; day trip to UC Santa Barbara to visit my friend's daughter - can't believe little Emily is in college!!) However, I was also the Michael Phelp's of the sport of napping and lounging (sans his extracurricular stupid activities). I think I was horizontal for a whole day with a down comforter, warm cat and the DVR remote control firmly in my grip (it was r.a.i.n.i.n.g. really hard in Los Angeles and the place and its people just shut down!)

Thanks Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater for picking the Cover Cake: Devils Food White Out Cake on page 247 of Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Devils Food White Out Cake (Dorie Greenspan)
I made half the recipe and used little 4" cake pans. I didn't have success with the frosting (my eggs got curdled, my syrup practically caramelized, and it was just a disaster). I ended up making a 7-minute frosting instead, but do want to try Dorie's recipe again!

Devils Food White Out Cake (Dorie Greenspan)
Two layers are split and one of the layers is crumbled and placed around the cake.

Devils Food White Out Cake (Dorie Greenspan)
Have a great week everyone! I'm going to start earlier on next week's recipe so I'm not stressing so much!!! :) Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers!

Q-Tip's 12th Birthday
P.S. How perfect is this cake? Today, Feb 17th, is my cat's 13th birthday! Q-Tip is black & white...and my cake matches my cat! Happy Birthday Q-Tip!
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Dorie Greenspan's Coffee-Break Muffins with Chocolate

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coffee-Break Muffins
Coffee-Break Muffins

Coffee-Break Muffins
...with some added mini chocolate chips (1/2 cup)

I started a new schedule at work where I work 10 am - 7 pm on Thursdays. I have big dreams. My plans are to get up at the same time as normal (my body likes routine) and bake something that needs to be eaten warm or can't be refrigerated overnight. I imagine waltzing into the library holding a croquembouche (that crazy beautiful French cream puff tower surrounded by spun sugar).

Well, at least I can say I still have lots of dreams and aspirations.

I stayed up too late staying up watching Top Chef (Thank Goodness Leah the Quitter, Crazy-flirt-home-wrecker got kicked off...and poor Fabio with his finger and best quote of the season...Karla is growing on me...can't wait til next week's episode) so this morning I tried to salvage my baking dreams by making these quick muffins.

Coffee-Break Muffins
This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking book, page 15. With instant espresso powder and cooled strong coffee, it has some caffeine for an edible coffee break. Here I am cooling my instant coffee over an ice bath. The recipe uses melted butter so it comes together pretty quickly. The recipe makes 12 muffins, but I got 15. Next time, I'll fill them more to get a domed top.

Coffee-Break Muffins
Coffee-Break Muffins with mini-chocolate chips

Quick, easy. A coffee break with the coffee built in!
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Mexican Chocolate Brownies made with Ibarra

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mexican Chocolate Valentine's Brownies
Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Recently, I received Mexican chocolate and a bottle of vanilla from Mexico from two co-worker's recent trips. When I saw the recipe for Mexican Chocolate Brownies in Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book, page 82, I wanted to use my new ingredients. I came close. I couldn't find where I put the Mexican chocolate from Jessica, so I used my stash of Ibarra chocolate.

Mexican Chocolate Valentine's Brownies
Have you had Mexican hot chocolate? It's so yum. I'm disappointed I wasn't introduced to it earlier in life. Two popular brands here are Ibarra and Abuelita. If you haven't had it, it's inexpensive and widely available now (I've even seen it in Target). Get yourself a knife and whisk or blender, and enjoy some yumminess.

Mexican Chocolate Valentine's Brownies
Thanks to Fit Chick of Lady Craddock's Bakery blog who was my Elfster TWD Secret Santa! I got a box full of lovely sprinkles and exactly-what-I've-been-looking-for white cupcake holders. My friends and I used lots of the Christmas sprinkles over the holidays...and I was so excited to use these heart sprinkles. Aren't these soooo cute?!

Mexican Chocolate Valentine's Brownies
3 circles of Ibarra chocolate along with 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate get melted with 1 1/2 sticks butter.

Mexican Chocolate Valentine's Brownies Mexican Chocolate Valentine's Brownies
After the chocolate cools for about 10 minutes, beat in 1 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar. Next, beat in 3 eggs one at a time. I added 2 t of my Mexican vanilla. The dry ingredients are folded in...1 3/4 c four, 1/2 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt. Baked at 350 for 25 minutes. I topped mine with melted white chocolate and my cool hearts.

Mexican Chocolate Valentine's Brownies
Hum, were these my favorite? Well, they were good, but just not what I imagined. I love, love Mexican Hot Chocolate (I make it with soy milk) and I guess I thought these would be the same in a square! :) I can't pinpoint what it was...the texture wasn't my favorite and I guess I love the "milky-ness" of the hot chocolate and that wasn't replicated here. I've made Mexican Chocolate Pudding from Martha's site and that was delicious - perhaps because of the milk base. Anyway, they were fun to make as a Valentine's treat!
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