One Week Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Friday, November 30, 2007

Yippee! It's Friday. It's pay day. And it's one week til my birthday!

It rained today.
Yes, it rained all day.

I tried the Everyday Food issue again and made the Cream Cheese Pound Cake. At first, I was afraid it would fall flat because there is no baking powder or soda. But you beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar for a long time and add 3 eggs.

The crumb was very nice and you can taste a light hint of cream cheese. Try it!

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Gingerbread Snacking Cake

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gingerbread dusted with powdered sugar. Seriously, everything is prettier with powdered sugar. I think I'm going to dust myself.

Yippee! It is 8 days before my birthday today! I'm soooo into my birthday! Not for the gifts, but for the "special-dayness" of it. I'm heading up to San Francisco on my b-day to celebrate and, of course, eat lots of desserts and cake!

Anyway, this morning (8 days before my birthday), I made Gingerbread Snacking Cake from the Martha Stewart website.

It uses 1 cup of unsulphured molasses, dark brown sugar, lots of spices and one whole tablespoon of grated ginger. Serious yummy ingredients.

The Southern California version - no dusting of snow! :) However, it is getting SUPER COLD here (don't laugh Sunshine, remember you used to live here too). It is in the 40s and 50s at night!!!
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Snickerdoodle Cookies!

Snickerdoodle cookies rock!

They have a cool name. (According to Baking Illustrated, the name comes from the German word for "crinkly noodle.")
They have lots of butter.
They are coated in cinnamon and sugar. Don't you want to be coated in sugar and cinnamon?! (No, not that way, but like a cinnamon-sugar toast sweetness kinda way)

These are from Baking Illustrated (page 430) and they were quite easy to make. America's Test Kitchen, of course, tested a zillion things and found the secret is the cream of tartar, baking soda, and the crazy ratio of butter to shortening.

Last weekend I went to Surfas and picked up some more 1/2 sheet pans. Thank goodness! Originally, I had two pans and love them. But when you are making 4 dozen have to cool them off between batches, yada yada. So, I picked up more (only $6 each) and making cookies is a breeze. Don't forget to get pre-cut 1/2 sheet pan parchment paper too - the best stuff in the world!

I brought these into work today and they flew out the door!

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Eggs! Eggs! Eggs! & Pears

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Okay, let me be quick. Project Runway is starting in 90 minutes, I don't have Tivo or a DVR, and I'm just finishing up some snickerdoodle cookies.

This morning, I tried to make the Pear Custard Pie from that same Everyday Food holiday issue. Um, I'm not feeling it with this issue...I made three things - and two of them met with Mr. Trashcan.

This was really easy to make - cut pears and put the custard ingredients (including three eggs) in the blender! But the custard was overpoweringly eggie (or is it 'eggy')? I'm not the biggest fan of the egg-related dessert so I thought my palate was oversensitive. I had Jessica try it at work...and the YA Librarian says it tastes like an egg custard topped with baked pears. Exactly what I was not going for.

Anyway, this guy met the library's Mr. Trashcan!

Gotta go, Project Runway in almost on!!! By the way, my "fantasy" team has me 7 points. I think I'm in 2500th place... (see badge on right hand side)

P.S. There is a Foodie Blogroll on the right hand side. If you want to browse other blogs, check it out!
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Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Made this Chocolate Peppermint Cake that is on the cover of the Everyday Food Holiday Baking issue. Everyday Food is published by the folks at Martha Stewart and they have a show on PBS with a lot of didactic moments, and hella bad lighting. I always wonder, can't they get some of the crew from Martha's show? (To Yuko: It is just like NHK!)

This "cake" actually turned into an 8" round brownie. It was very dense! I didn't know I was making a flourless chocolate cake (with 1 cup of flour). It only had 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder in it.

Anyway, it weighed almost 2 pounds (used my trusty scale to determine that!!)

The peppermint ganache was yumtastic though and saved the day. Next time, I think I would make a regular chocolate cake and cover it with this ganache.

P.S. Happy Birthday today to Dave - my undergrad UCLA buddy from the very first day of school way, way back in time!! Happy Birthday yesterday to Librarian Brian! AND, Countdown to my birthday and those of my fellow Decemberists (Helen, Rose, Diane, Jami, Jamillah, Gary!)!!

I shaved some white chocolate to top this cake. Next time, crushed candy canes!
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Pay de Lima con Facial

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oh dear. The post-turkey, ham, steak, garlic mashed potatoes, killer 6-loaf bread stuffing, cranberries, gravy, fruit salad, rolls, and way too much chips and dip... after-Thanksgiving bloat-fest. Oh yes. We mustn't forget the apple pie. The scale. Broken.

It took me awhile to get back to the kitchen and the gym. I tried to make some chocolate chip & oatmeal cookies (yucko) and some cappuccino brownies (sadly awful). I thought I lost my baking mojo. Sigh.

So, last night I grabbed some limes and made Pay de Lima (Lime Pie) from the delightful book, Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking.

The pie was tart! Face puckering tart. But not sour, just "filled with citrus." If you are someone who ate lemons as a child (and as an adult), this is the pie for you! And since I am, it was!

1 teaspoon of fresh lime zest makes this a zesty pie!

Someone asked if it was a Key Lime Pie. No, this is a "Limes from my Dad's backyard" pie.

I mashed up a sleeve of honey graham crackers to make this crust. I think the pieces should be smaller and regular graham crackers (not honey), but it turned out "rustic."

The filling was made with 4 eggs, hella sugar, 3/4 cup of lime juice, zesty zest, a stick of butter and 15 minutes of constant whisking over a double boiler. Yes, I got pie and a facial!
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Pumpkin Chocolate Mini-Chip Cookies

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coookies - Light, chewy and cute

Only a few more days until the Thanksgiving holiday. Oh, I can't wait!! I'm going to my brother's for some turkey, killer sausage stuffing, garlic mash potatoes, green beans, King's Hawaiian sweet rolls, apple & pumpkin pie and lots of gravy. My sister-in-law also makes the best cranberry relish. I could eat it on everything. All year long.

Tonight, I made some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with those cute Nestle mini-chocolate chips. These are from the Ultimate book that Brian "loaned" me.

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The Giant Blueberry Muffin Top

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Frozen Maine Wild Blueberries were used to make this breakfast "cake" (aka extremely large muffin top)

Freakish "crumb" topping. Don't know what went wrong and too tired to try to figure it out.

This morning, I jumped out of bed at 5 am thinking it was Friday…and was so disappointed. I made the Blueberry Crumb Cake from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans (page 153). According to her cookbook, she got the recipe from the Pineapple Inn in Nantucket.

Sure, in my last post, I did a whole bit about fresh fall fruits and veggies…and I now use a crop that is out-of-season. What’s the secret? Freezeriness! I had three opened bags of Wild Maine Blueberries from Trader Joe's in the freezer that I purchased and purchased and purchased (and opened and opened and opened) recently during my short lived smoothie faze.

The entire recipe calls for only one stick of butter. 5 tablespoons for the batter and 3 tablespoons for the topping. Pleeeeeease. I should have known better.

The resulting cake was more like a semi-low-fat muffin with crazy crumb topping. It wasn’t bad…it just wasn’t cake. The crumb topping is absolutely necessary because it gives the cake those essential mouth-feel moments. I don’t know why my crumb topping looks a little strange, but I have issues with streusel toppings!

Overall, I might make this cake again for breakfast and serve it hot from the oven…and/or use cream instead of milk in the batter.

I guess my baking experience has taught me one thing: how to tell when something doesn’t have enough fat!

By the way, did you catch Project Runway last night? I’m not spoiling anything…but I’m not too keen on any one designer...and we already found our Stephen/Marcel (to use Top Chef terminology). That first episode is much like crazy speed dating - trying to find out who you like in just a few moments!

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Food Librarian Runway

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yes! Project Runway starts this week! Project Runway is simply one of my little obsessions. I'm the opposite of a fashion diva, but I love this show (and its psuedo-sister program, Top Chef). It is well edited, has actual challenges, and Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum are great.

In honor of the show and my most recent visit to the Torrance Farmer's Market, here is the Food Librarian's Fall Collection. (Be sure to visit your local farmer's market and pick some up...along with some pupusas and kettle corn!)

Satsuma Tangerines
Seriously, these gems are more precious than diamonds. Most of the time, they are a bit ugly; but after you pull off the thin skin, its a party in your mouth. And I could literally eat three pounds in one sitting. Yum.

Persimmon (Fuyu variety)
These are from my dad's tree that has been producing these perfect fall foods for over 20 years. Persimmons are great peeled and cut into I'm doing every day at work during the fall. You can also dice them and add them to spinach salads for a wonderful sweet/savory combination.

Petite jewels of the world. Thank goodness these fruits came over from Persia. And so damn good for you. The secret to peeling them is to do it underwater! The membrane and seeds separate - one floats and one sinks, and your clothes stay stain-free!

Asian Pears
The Apple and The Pear. A match made in heaven. Fruit. Of. The. Gods. enough said.

Arkansas Black Apples
I love fall apples. My favorites are the Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, and Arkansas Black - these are from Ha's Apple Farm who are regular at many farmer's markets. I still need to make an apple pie, but now that my friend Julie has had success with the Baking Illustrated recipe, I'm going to try it soon!
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Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Friday, November 9, 2007

Brian, my first guest blogger, received a cool book from his friend, "The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book" and I borrowed it...and forgot to return it before Brian left for his new job at Stanford. His loss, my gain. (Don't worry Brian, I'll bring it back on my December trip up north!)

These cookies are described as a chocolate snickerdoodle rolled in a ginger-sugar mixture. They were very simple to make and the taste of ginger is light.

Although photos have a real finger of ginger, this recipe used ground ginger!

Yippee! It is Friday of a three-day weekend!

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Oranginess Orange Chiffon Cake

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Since I had such good luck with the Williams Sonoma Cake book with the carrot cake and apple cake, I decided to try a third recipe - the Orange Chiffon Cake with Orange Glaze.

By the way, you may have noticed that I'm baking a lot. In fact, as I dictate this, I'm trying to make some cookies. And the truthiness is that I need to occupy the emptiness that was the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Oh, please negotiate and end the strike! I was at physical therapy for my arms this morning and the adjacent patient (with something wrong with his shoulder) said, "I've been in the union since I was 18. I'm all for the union... but I really need my '24'."

Back to baking...I'm so tired that I'll just say - Um, not much orange flavor. The cake had 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice and orange zest, but it wasn't as orangey as I wanted. I made the glaze at work (since the damn instructions say to "serve immediately" after glazing) and that made it a bit more orangey. But I guess this whole exercise is ultimately just an excuse to go out and eat King's Hawaiian Bakery's chiffon cake! My chiffon had a nice texture, but it felt was more like an Angel Food cake with the added yolks. I need to figure out how they make theirs...and therefore I'm sure I need to eat a lot of it (research, you know).

This recipe calls for 7 egg whites and 7 egg yolks. The whites are whipped and folded into the batter. After the cake comes out of the oven, you need to invert it for an hour. I used this glass, but I need to get me a tube pan with little feet.

Photo taken at work...nothing like cake and tape dispensers!
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Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Peanut Butter and Chocolate.

Really, can anything be better together? I know this isn't shocking (I think Reese's figured out this combo several decades ago), but seeing them together brings a smile to my face, heart and stomach.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart's magazine; I think it was a special brownie issue. Here is the recipe. (Please note! There is a difference between the print version and this online recipe. Put the 2 teaspoons vanilla in the main batter and 1/2 teaspoon in the peanut butter filling).

Also, the recipe says to use an 8 x 8 pan but I used a 9 x 9 pan and that worked great. I think using a 8 x 8 pan would have made them too tall.

Do you have one of these measuring devices? It is too cool! Alton Brown uses one on his show (in fact, he sells one...but I got this one at Sur la Table). It is great for measuring sticky, gooey and wet goods.

1/3 of the batter is placed in the pan and the peanut butter filling is dolloped on top.

The rest of the batter is placed on top along with more dollops of peanut butter. Then a knife is run through both ways to create the swirls.

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Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Monday, November 5, 2007

I love the cranberry. Now, I know you must think I "Love" all food (which is partly true), but I find the cranberry very special indeed.

It is red.
It is tart.
It is very fall.
It can be a food AND holiday decoration! (How many foods can say that?!)
It is full of those helpful anti-oxidants.
It can prevent bladder infections (okay, well, although technically a wonderful thing (especially when you are suffering from one...), that factoid probably doesn't make you want to eat cake.

Here is the Cranberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake from Thanks to Marjorita Whyte!

Butter and brown sugar is brought to a boil to create the caramel bottom.
Then, cute little cranberries are placed on top.

Coffee cake batter is placed on top of the cranberries.

I wish the cranberries were a bit more "red" - some were red and some were more brown.
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Pumpkin & Chocolate - A Happy Couple

Years and years ago, I went with my cousins to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. We had a great time seeing lots of pumpkin patches and pumpkin foods. Half Moon Bay is so very beautiful! I hope you get a chance to visit the area soon.

If I remember correctly, I picked up the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival program. Only one page remains...the Pumpkin Bread recipe! It is completely stained and has little "memories" (AKA stuck on crumbs) of past pumpkin breads.

My friend Jessica mentioned chocolate chips with pumpkin bread...and so I decided to make that yummy combo! However, I had a brain fart and forgot to add the chips. So after I already poured the batter into the loaf pan, I tried to stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Well, that resulted in a severely unevenly distributed chocolate chip-to-pumpkin bread ratio. But it tasted good. Next time, I'm going to try to make it properly and use mini-chocolate chips.

Fall Foods Rock!
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