Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a-list: ice-cream making

I've been dying to make ice cream all summer.

Excuses I've given myself:
a) I don't have the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment (desperate for one, though I haven't been able to cough up the $80. Please add to my non-existent registry...)
b) My freezer has been packed tight with little room to freeze mixing bowls

But! I love ice cream and eat it as much as possible during the warm summer months. Who (if you're not lactose intolerant or watching your weight) can resist?! So last week when I spotted a Sunday afternoon ice-cream making class via DailyCandy I jumped onto PayPal and secured three spots.

It was with Guerrilla Ice Cream, a fabulous NYC ice cream company that is saving the world one scoop at a time. It was founded this summer by two 23-year olds (Ethan Frisch, ex-Pasty Chef at Allen & Delancey, and Ori Zohar, businessman extraordinaire), and this little ice cream truck is creating buzz by donating 100% of its proceeds to "marginalized populations in NYC and around the world." And one of the ways it makes its profits is through intimate ice-cream making classes.

So bf, our friend Emily and I all trekked down to a random building in the financial district to get our scoop on. We were a little late so we skulked into the class and took the only empty seats left around the table... which were directly next to Blake Lively (gorge), Chace Crawford (swoon!) and their random friend. Um, yeah. We made ice cream with Gossip Girl on Sunday night (can you even?! ONLY in NYC...).

Despite the obvious distraction, the class was really fun and Ethan was a great teacher. We made "starters" for Lemon Poppyseed Custard and Jasmine Raspberry Sorbet and my initial ice-cream making intimidation was cured. It's easy! And it turns out that Blake is a big ice-cream maker herself. Shoot, if she looks that good I don't mind treating myself to some Haagen Dazs once in a while.

After making our starters we were treated to a few of their favorite flavors to try ourselves: the Lemon Poppyseed from the class, a DELICIOUS Mango Coconut Sorbet, spicy Chai Masala, and their Port Wine Chocolate with caramelized bananas. We were sent home with stars in our eyes and 2 pints each, ready to be "spun" the next day into ice cream.

If anyone's around in NYC in the next few weeks it's worth a trip to their ice cream cart (and its definitely worth the $4.50) to sample one of their gourmet flavors.

If you can't get to the cart, try their basic custard recipe and add your own mix-ins!

Basic Frozen Custard

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (we used 3 cups of half and half instead of the first two ingredients)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Flavoring: herbs, spices, extracts, fruits, coffee, tea, etc
1/2 cup mix-ins: chocolate chips, fresh fruit, nuts, etc

Mix milk, cream and flavoring in a heavy-bottomed pot, and simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes or until the flavor has been infused into the milk and cream.

Whisk egg yolks with sugar until the color changes slightly and the sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes).

Carefully temper the eggs into the milk/cream mixture - put a few ladlefuls of warm milk into the eggs, mix slowly to incorporate, then our the warmed eggs back into the pot with the milk.

Stir carefully until the mixture thickens, and holds a line on a wooden spoon.

Strain the mixture through a sieve to separate out any egg solids, herbs, spices, etc. and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Spin in your ice cream machine, or pour into small paper cups and freeze with popsicle sticks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

upstate adventure: zucchini bread

This weekend we went on a last-minute getaway (which if you ask me, is the best kind). We picked a spot within a 3-hour driving radius, Googled a bed & breakfast, and set off for our one-night adventure.

We found our lovely B&B in the countryside of North Stonington, CT and couldn't have made a better choice. It was a horse farm! With hens! And a farm house from the 1700's... and about 100-acres of property to explore. Turns out we were the only guests for the weekend so we settled into our room upstairs and got ready for dinner.

We spent the rest of the evening exploring Stonington, had delicious mexican food at Milagro, and treated ourselves to a Dairy Queen mini-blizzard on the way home (new favorite flavor: banana split). I swear we're not a 60 year old married couple (shoot, we're not even married), but we spent the rest of the night cuddled up reading our books... and we went to bed at like 10pm! It was chilly with our bedroom windows open and all you could hear was crickets for miles - perfect sleeping weather.

We woke up on Sunday the best way possible: tucked deep in thick white sheets to the smell of something baking in the oven and bacon crackling on the stove. We padded downstairs and our host, Peter, had a spread ready. I drank coffee and bf read the paper while we gobbled up melon and blueberries and just-out-of-the-oven zucchini bread with fresh cherry preserves. The next treat was scrambled eggs from the farm, thick-cut bacon and a buttery english muffin. I couldn't have been more happily full so we took an after-breakfast stroll around the property to walk it off.

We showered in the claw-foot tub and checked out to head to a nearby winery for an afternoon tasting. 8 tastes and 1 full glass of Jonathan Edwards Zinfandel later, we were nibbling baguette and local "Bridgid's Abbey" cheese on their patio overlooking the grapes (I could have stayed all day).

It was a wonderful weekend - I love New England! - and other than the absolute peace we felt waking up in the country, I couldn't stop thinking about that zucchini bread! Here's a recipe I found to mimic it - I just need a recipe for cherry preserves... does anyone have one they love?

Now if only this bread can induce that peaceful feeling...

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread with Cinnamon (and dark chocolate)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
(4 oz. dark chocolate, chunked)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9x4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with paper cups.

In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.

Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

Spoon batter into loaf pan and muffin tins. Bake for approximately 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen sides and remove from pan. Cool completely before serving.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BTS: chocolate chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

This week launched "back to school." While bf laid out his clothes and sharpened pencils to head back to high school [I'm dating an English teacher (swoon!)], I enlisted in a few courses of my own. Sushi-making last night, ice cream-making this weekend, and yesterday I took a blogging class.

My company offers internal courses once in a while, kind of like an in-house adult education program taught by upper executives in subjects ranging in everything from leadership to navigating the corporate ladder. It's a huge benefit and this week I signed up for one that triggered my interest: "Blogging."

It was taught by a leading newspaperman turned TV critic turned blogger at EW.com who was nothing if not completely lovely. The presentation was an hour and a half, and I definitely learned a thing or two. He concluded with some blogging commandments so I thought I'd grade myself tonight:

1. Post every day
2. Create a conversation with your readers
3. Believe in what you blog about

So here goes:

1. OK, this ain't happenin' mostly so I can fit into my jeans this fall (D+)
2. I love hearing what you guys have to say! Comments are LIKE CHRISTMAS! (B)
3. Umm... hello! Friends, I BELIEVE!!! (A+)

In fact, I believe so much in today's recipe that they're my new crack. I know, I know. I've alluded to other addictions before. But these babies... wowza. Maybe I'm a sucker for peanut butter and chocolate (damn Hershey's and their Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!), but the addition of cocoa to the peanut butter cookie is SHEER GENIUS.

I urge you to walk (no, run!) to your standing mixer and get to it. Even if it's 9:45pm at night. Just make sure you have a quick escape plan for the cookies, or else you'll be eating the entire batch yourself.

Reese's Pieces Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
From Neil and Jessica at Kohler Created

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter, creamy
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups whoe wheat or all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cups Reese's Pieces, frozen (I used chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, and honey until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and stir until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Slowly add dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture. Stir in the Reese's Pieces.

Drop or roll into balls onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. (I crossed them with the prongs of a fork, like a peanut butter cookie)

Bake 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 2 minutes until eating!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

get your roll on: sushi-making

Tonight was fun. Super fun! I walked into a 100-year old warehouse in Chelsea between 11th and 12th Avenues not knowing what to expect. It was at the invitation of my friend Jill who had won a sushi-making class at the Dean & Deluca corporate kitchen. It was a Facebook promotion she'd randomly entered, and I was one of the lucky +3 that got to "roll" with her - thanks, Jill!

As the elevator doors opened on the 6th floor of this no-name warehouse and we walked into a Top Chef rivaling industrial kitchen, we were immediately greeted by sushi Chef Tracy Griffith (also an actress, singer/songwriter, and half-sister to Melanie), Mark Daley the CEO (!!) of Dean & Deluca, and their Executive Sous-Chef among a few others. It was champagne all around as we staked out positions around the table and got ready to roll up a few "American-Style" (read: raw-fish-free) rolls.

I've lived in Japan and I've eaten my fair share of sushi inside and out of the country (my absolute NYC favorite is the omakase sushi at Gari on the UWS), but I've never rolled it myself. When I worked at Cosmopolitan I'd stare in awe at the sushi guys who created perfect roll after perfect roll for hungry magazine staffers in the Hearst cafe (in minutes!) - but I never thought to make it. Turns out? It's SUPER FUN.

We were introduced to Tracy's method of sushi-making: with no raw fish, and little seaweed to be found (instead she uses vegetable-based wraps nori-like wraps). We made an inside-out "Cowboy Roll" (grilled skirt steak, blue cheese, baby spinach and red onion wrapped with nori), a "Mexicali Roll" (marinated skirt steak, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes, scallions, black beans and cilantro in a corn wrap), a "Caesar Chicken Roll" (roasted chicken, romaine hearts, caesar dressing and fried onions in a corn wrap) and a modified "Rooster Roll" (Shredded chicken, scallions, red bell pepper, roasted peanuts and sweet thai chili sauce). And let me tell you, we ATE as we went along because THEY WERE DELICIOUS. At first I was skeptical of this "Americanized" sushi, but the flavors were big and her citrus and jalapeno-infused soy sauces were the perfect pairing.

By the end of the night I was a sushi rolling pro, and - stuffed to the gills - we were presented with to-go boxes for our creations, our own bamboo sushi rolling mats, and signed copies of Tracy's book Sushi, American Style.

[Oh, and I made friends with the Executive Sous-Chef who snuck me into the walk-in and sent me home with 6 Dean & Deluca cookie dough balls. Love. Him!]

It was a super unexpected and fun, and all of us were (very) pleasantly surprised. Thanks Dean & Deluca, for a great Wednesday night!

My favorite roll of the night was the first one we made - not sure if I was just hungry, but the combo of the steak and blue cheese was fantastic. If I learned one thing it's not to be intimidated by sushi - it's very easy and really not bad for you if you keep the rice "light." So throw some rice in your cooker, pick up some nori at the market and give it a try. I definitely will be.

[Apologies on the poor photo quality - all I had on me was a Blackberry!]

Cowboy Roll with Jalapeno Soy Sauce
by Tracy Griffith of Sushi, American Style

1/2 cup sushi rice, prepared
1 1/2 sheet nori
2 oz. skirt steak, grilled medium rare, sliced into strips
2 tsp. blue cheese
1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp. pink peppercorns, husked
  • Lay nori on mat
  • Press sushi rice over whole nori sheet
  • Sprinkle with pink peppercorns, flip nori over
  • Spread a thin wipe of cheese down center of nori, horizontally
  • Lay in spinach over cheese
  • Lay in onions over spinach
  • Lay in steak over onions
  • Roll and cut into 8 even pieces
  • Serve with jalapeno soy sauce

Monday, August 16, 2010

weddings everywhere: chocolate pound cake

I don't know about ya'll but this summer has been just like the last few: the beginning of wedding season. I've been invited to six between July and November, and am making it to five of them - which means 8 flights, 4 hotel rooms and 4 rental cars. I'm at that late 20's stage where many friends are participating in one (or more) of three life stages: getting married, having babies, or buying their first homes. Three major decisions that many girls make before they turn 30 - well, unless they live in New York City.

You see, we breed a specific type of lady - the type who at 30-years old is meeting her friends for happy hour on a Monday night, dating whenever (and whomever) she wants, and renting her 400 square-foot studio apartment. There's a reason Sex & The City lives on in re-runs - New York City women are fabulous, and many of us are single. But being city-fabulous doesn't mean we don't envy our suburban-fabulous counterparts who are racking up life stages like we rack up Jimmy Choo's from sample sales. I mean, shoot. We want to get married and have babies and washer/dryer's too!

But, for the time being we'll be patient, take our laundry to the laundromat, and travel far and wide to throw rice, blow bubbles, and drink champagne toasts. After all, weddings are FUN.

This weekend I got to celebrate a dear friend who had a lovely midwestern wedding in her hometown in Ohio. Oh, and she looked absolutely STUNNING! We had so much fun dancing the night away and I'm so happy for her. Congrats, congrats Alyssa and Mark!

The recipe I'm sharing is a knock-off from another wedding - my cousin's nuptials last month in South Georgia. She had a wedding cake and a groom's cake, and I ate my share of the chocolately latter (and then some). It was so amazing that I tried to re-create it at home a few days later. My version wasn't perfect but it was close! My Mom called it chocolate pound cake like her great aunt used to make, but this was better than any pound cake from Starbucks.

You can make it in a tube or bundt pan or in two loaves - it was delicious and you can't beat the ease of directions! Give it a shot the next time you need to bring a hostess gift - it would wrap up nicely with a pretty bow!

Chocolate Pound Cake
Recipe found in my grandmother's old cookbook and submitted by the following teachers:
Nola Allen, Russelville, AL
Betty Coe, Montevallo, AL
Annie Childress, Mangham, LA
Mary Markham, Lumberton, NC

1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream together butter and shortening. Add sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to creamed mixture. Bake in 10" tube pan at 325 F for 80 minutes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

winner! and breakfast: blueberry pancakes

We have a winner.

"Sarah Winchester, come onnnnn dowwwnnnnn!!"

Sarah was lucky commenter #8 on my giveaway post last week and wins a delectable Chocolate Lover's Baking Bag from Fretzels by Jill. Delightful!

I actually "know" Sarah through her super cute cousin Blythe who works in my office. Blythe introduced me to Sarah's gorgeous blog and I can't get enough of her photographs. Check her out! (And Sarah - Congrats! Let me know where I can send the goodies)

This week has been a departure from my last few. I purposefully un-scheduled myself and have had a couple nights of needed relaxing. I went for a run. I caught up on DVR. I painted my toes. I read my book (LOVING the Dragon Tattoo series). And I am now actually fairly zen. It's amazing what a little time for yourself can do :)

The recipe I'm sharing is one that's pretty relaxing in and of itself. Comfort food, I tell you. There's nothing wrong with it. Last weekend I woke up on Sunday and was in the mood for nothing other than big, fluffy pancakes. And not the Bisquick kind. What can I say, it was just one of those days. So I searched around and found some delicious looking pancakes on Smitten Kitchen. They're Martha (of course) but they're the best from-scratch pancakes I've made, and the fresh blueberries added just enough sweet and tart.

Trust me on this one - these puppies are a must for a summer Sunday in the near future. I'd even add some fresh lemon juice to the batter next time for extra tang.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart from SmittenKitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tbsp. extra for brushing griddle
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tbsp. melted butter, and whisk to combine. The batter should have small to medium lumps.

Test the griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If the water bounces and spatters, the griddle is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining butter onto the griddle.

Using a 1/2 cup, pour the batter in pools 2 inches apart. Arrange a handful of blueberries over the cooking pancake, pressing them in slightly. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip over. If any batter oozes or blueberries roll out, push them back under with your spatula. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.

Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm with syrup, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

save the gulf: fish in foil

Well ya'll, I have great news to report. During my stay in Gulf Shores, AL last week the public beach flags changed from double red (as they have been since the oil spill) to yellow and the swimming advisory was lifted - proof that the Gulf is clearing and the waters are becoming safe again.

I was worried about how I'd find Gulf Shores, a town that primarily survives on summer tourism and seafood sales to make it through the off-season. There were definitely more empty rental houses than I've ever seen in July and very little foot traffic "downtown" among souvenir shops, but the white sandy beaches were absolutely as beautiful as they've ever been. In fact, with all the sand sifting that's going on to remove "tar balls," the beaches are cleaner than ever - and the water is crystal clear with no oil to be seen.

Last week we celebrated with daily swims and seafood dinners, and here's a simple recipe I used one night at home.

We got fresh Mahi Mahi, dill, and a lemon, and then stuffed them all into aluminum foil packets for the grill. The result was delicious and super easy!

Also, don't forget to comment on my last post for your chance to win a delicious Chocolate Lover's Baking Bag from Fretzels by Jill! Giveaway ends Monday 8/9 so comment now!

Beachy Fish in Foil

2 white fish fillets (we used Mahi Mahi)
3 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
Half a lemon, sliced thin

Mix together the juice of half a lemon, olive oil, dill, and Old Bay. Add salt and pepper to taste. Immerse both fillets in the mixture, coat on each side.

Place each fillet on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Arrange 2-3 lemon slices on top of the fish, and top with leftover lemon mixture. Carefully seal all edges of foil to form enclosed packets. Place packets on a heated charcoal grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, checking for flakiness. Do not over-cook.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bloggaversary (and a giveaway): peach pie

Oh em gee!! Can you believe it's been a full year of Baking Therapy? I surely can't - it's flown right by and I can't even imagine how fast the next year will go! I started this blog as a way to chronicle my baking adventures (and sometimes culinary delights) and it's been such a pleasure. I've gotten my "therapy" but I've also gotten to know many of my readers - and that's something I couldn't be more grateful for. You guys are the best and thank you so much for your comments and love over the past year!

To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway :)

One lucky reader will win:
Inside this adorable canvas bag you'll find a set of mini baking utensils, one dozen Fretzels chocolate covered pretzels, three decadent gourmet mochas, and The Little Black Book of Chocolate, full of fun facts and indulgent chocolate recipes.

If you haven't heard of Fretzels yet, ya'll better get on it. My friend Jill whips up the tastiest gourmet chocolate covered pretzels you've EVER HAD. And they're the perfect gift for anyone, any time. Delish!!

Just follow ONE of these easy steps to enter:
1. Comment to this post and tell me what your favorite thing about the past year has been
2. Share this post on your Facebook page (and leave another comment letting me know that you did)
3. Follow me on Twitter @bakingtherapy and re-tweet this post to your followers (and leave another comment with your Twitter handle)

I'll randomly select a winner next Monday 8/9/10. Good luck!

I looked back at my very first post from 8/2/09 and it made me nostalgic, so I'm sharing a summer fruit pie recipe that also makes me a little nostalgic. I spent last week in Gulf Shores, Alabama and after 9 days of beaching, fried food eating, and Blue Moon chugging I still wasn't quite ready to get on the plane to NYC. It's just a magical place for me, and even though my grandmother has been gone for 2 years now her presence still hugs me when I breathe in the thick Gulf air.

So this is a recipe that reminds me of her for two reasons: because the peaches came from Burris' Farm Market in Loxley, Alabama (and I remember stopping there with her to get the best tomatoes in the county) and because she once told me that I'd never find a man if I didn't know how to make my own pie crust.

Well I do know how to make it, but it's a good thing I've already got a man since I relied on Pillsbury to get the job done last week. My defense is that there wasn't a pastry cutter or food processor to be found in the beach house kitchen and I wasn't about to cut in butter with two knives when I could be lying on the beach instead (right?!).

So this recipe is for my grandmother (and all of ya'll!) in celebration of my 1st anniversary. Enjoy, it just SCREAMS summer (and is AWESOME with a scoop of Edy's Caramel Delight ice cream)!

Peach Pie the Old Fashion Two-Crust Way

1 (15 oz.) package pastry for a 9-inch double crust pie
1 egg, beaten
5 cups sliced peeled peaches
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2-cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter

Preaheat oven to 450 F.

Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts. Brush with some of the beaten egg to keep the dough from becoming soggy later.

Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the peaches, and mix gently. Pour into the pie crust, and dot with butter. Cover with the other pie crust, and fold the edges under. Flute the edges to seal. Brush the remaining egg over the top crust. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent steam (I did a lattice).

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the vents. If the top browns too fast, cover it with aluminum foil about half-way through baking. Cool completely.
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