Sunday, January 30, 2011

chili, bands and beer: NYChiliFest 2011

Tonight was a true test of stomach capacity. It was NYC's biggest chili festival - with dozens of NYC's best restaurants serving up their finest and competing for the ultimate prize: the golden chili cup. All proceeds went to Food Systems NYC, but we didn't need the charity excuse to stuff our faces full.

We checked in to get a bowl and spoon and then set off to find our fill of chili and Brooklyn Brewery beer inside Chelsea Market. With 2 dozen chili stations and a couple thousand hungry patrons it was chaos for a while as mugs and spoons clinked together searching for the next ladleful. But we pushed our way through to make the most of the "unlimited" experience and OMG.

Chili. Coma.

I think in the end I had about 14 helpings. 14. Helpings of chili. But I had to try them all (well, most of them)! And they were only about an ice cream scoop-ful, we're not talking full bowls here. So, that's fine, right..?

My favorites:

And the very best of the night (in bf and my eyes): a dark, bbq-rich short rib chili from Fette Sau

Some surprising dislikes:
and the Food Network Test Kitchen

The biggest issue were the crowds (and the chili shoveling that ensued). We ate like it was our last meal and we were in the wild fighting lions for a fresh kill. But it was worth it! After all, there was live music and all the chili you could eat.

If you didn't make it this year, mark your calendars for 2012. We'll be back, and we might be throwing elbows next to you :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

blue: flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Ok, my fingers are blue. Some shade between blue jean blue and royal. Why? 'Cause there's no heat in my apartment. And it's in the teens outside. So.

I'm baking.


Oh and thanks for all the well wishes on my big move! Ya'll are so sweet - really. I know, I'm excited too. And yes, you can come over for dessert sometime around our new expands-to-be-90" dining room table. We'd love to have you for an evening in the country!

In the meantime I suppose it's fitting that my last few weeks in Manhattan are spent living like a true hardcore New Yorker (freezing in my pre-war brownstone, under 4 blankets, wearing sweatpants to bed).

Inspiration from tonight's recipe came after perusing Tastespotting and finding an unusual amount of flourless peanut butter cookie recipes. I heart flour and I was pretty skeptical of the results, but photos in the posts showed gorgeous puffy cookies. So I gave them a try.

How do cookies puff with no flour? Good question. But they did and OH MY they're sinfully good. If you have a peanut butter cup craving, trade in the Reese's for a homemade treat. These are deeeeeelightful!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Southern Living

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup Hershey kisses, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, sugars, egg, baking soda and salt and combine with a hand blender until mixed. Fold in chocolate chips.

Using a 2-tablespoon scoop, measure cookies to a baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time at 350 F for 10-12 minutes, or until puffed and edges are just brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool until firm.

OH! AND GO STEELERS! Super Bowl #7 here we COME!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

new digs: alexis cookies

It's been 10 days since my last post. 10! Miss Marla even called me out for leaving you hanging. And ya'll, I apologize sincerely... I just had to wait until all was final so I couldn't jinx it with an early slip. But papers are signed, checks have been exchanged and here is my news:

I'm trading my 300 square feet for 12o0! And trading the 88th Street kitchen closet for this:

Do you see that? Do you see that shiny silvery thing? IT'S A DISHWASHER. And that black thing on top of the cabinets? GRANITE COUNTER TOPS. Are you swooning?

I don't think I've ever shared the kitchen closet with you. For the past two years everything I've beaten, creamed, whipped, and baked for this blog has come out of a kitchen closet no bigger than a Port-O-John. But you get what you get (a brownstone apartment steps from Central Park) and you don't get upset - you just cook in 4 square feet. I even had (a couple) dinner parties! It's amazing what you can do with a kitchen closet when you put your mind to it.

The truth is I've been dreaming of the new place since we put the offer down, but it's bittersweet. 2/19 will mark my official departure from this island I've loved and called home for the past 6 years. Trading kitchens means I'm leaving the 212 for the 203 and becoming the very thing I've snubbed as a New Yorker... a commuter.

Don't worry, I'll be in the city every day for work and play! I'm terrified, overwhelmed, nervous and absolutely thrilled, but change is good and this one means bf and I get more of the quality time we've been missing. We're gonna be roommates :)

So the countdown is on! I'm so excited for the creative freedom the new kitchen will bring and can't wait to share it with you. In the meantime, tonight's recipe came from a friend whose cookie taste I trust. I'd never heard of Alexis Stewart's chocolate chip cookies but between her famous Mother and my friends enthusiastic thumbs up I had to give them a try.

The butter and brown sugar are intense but they really do make a perfect chocolate chip cookie. They're soft, chewy and crispy in all the right places - so if you can get past the calorie count they make a great treat! Give them a try for a tasty update on a classic. For now I'll be here. Packing and decorating the charming 1890's farmhouse I don't live in yet.

Alexis' Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Alexis Stewart

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 package semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini's)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Cream butter until smooth; add sugars and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop 2-3 tbsp. dough per cookie onto prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, 8-10 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets, and allow to cool on racks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

belated: pretzel salad

Well I have no idea how it's already January 10th, I just don't. A minute ago I was in an all-sequin dress for NYE (yes I was) and the next I'm speeding through Connecticut on the Metro North last Friday with feet of white stuff coming down around me.

Now it's January 10th, we've seen two Bachelor episodes, and we're staring a long weekend in the face. And in the middle of all that I'm on the cusp of some very exciting news :)

Hopefully I can spill the beans in the coming days but for now that's the teaser!

In the meantime, here's a much-belated recipe that was requested by Maris a few posts ago. This pretzel "salad" is a staple on my Mom's holiday table and I've grown to crave it over the years.

Salty, crunchy pretzels paired with sweet strawberries and cream make this a favorite. Serve it as an appetizer "salad" or dessert and your guests will love you for it!

Pretzel Salad
from "Favorite Recipes of Alabama Vocational Home Economics Teachers, 7th Edition"
recipe by Deborah G. Kidd, Benjamin Russell High School, Alexander City

2 cups thin pretzels, crushed
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. package cream cheese
2 10-oz. packages frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 small carton Cool Whip
1 large package strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix pretzel crumbs, butter, and 1 tbsp. sugar. Pat into a 9" x 13" dish. Bake 8 minutes and cool.

Cream cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Stir in Cool Whip and spread on pretzel layer.

Combine Jell-O and boiling water. Stir in strawberries and mix well. Pour over cream cheese, sugar, and Cool Whip layer.

Refrigerate until top layer is congealed and ready to serve.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

HNY! the '10 highlights post

Well Happy New Year everyone! It's really hard to believe that 2010 is done and done (when will time slow down?) but I hope you celebrated the year last night and welcomed the new one in style with yummy food and drinks like me. Many drinks.

I thought about how to wrap up the year of Baking Therapy and got inspired by someone whose delicious blog I visit almost daily. Joanne is talented, hilarious, a NYC runner (!!) and one of the better food photogs around - if you haven't been reading, hop on over! Her post today featured her Eats Well With Others resolution and top 10 posts - and as I scrolled down (and started salivating) I agree there's no better way to recap the year.

So here it is. Baking Therapy's 2011 resolution - push my comfort zone and break into Bon Appetit Desserts (thanks J)!

And the top 10!

The year started off with some incredible soft pretzels that I need to make again soon. They're easy, fun to shape, and provide instant gratification when they pop out of the oven looking perfect. These would be great for a Super Bowl party served with some hot mustard or cheese spread!

It's hard to believe it's been nearly a year since the best night of my life (aka my night with Dorie Greenspan). The randomness of this evening combined with the fact that I got to work alongside Dorie, baking Dorie's cookies, in Dorie's rented commercial kitchen, FOR FREE continues to astound me. New. York. Moment.

These were a really fun Baking Therapy creation for a friends Valentines Day party and though I won't take credit for the creative genius behind the concept I was pretty proud of myself and my little hearts. So cute! So easy! So impressive at a party :)

This was a Real Simple recipe I really adored, for its ease as well as its pretty final product. Potato and fresh rosemary makes this flatbread a light app or a filling meal depending on the size of the slice.

I'm convinced these cookies won me friendship with my boyfriend's closest girl friends, so for that I'm eternally grateful. Not only do I truly love the girls, but I love the cookies! I've made them several times since and each time they come out of the oven in chewy perfect rounds.

There are some foods that hit your tongue and make ever fiber in your body smile with the bright sun of summer. It doesn't get more summer than ripe peach pie and this recipe is a keeper - if I could make it in our beach house kitchen (read: oven which is only used to heat frozen pizza), it's a 10!

Well who could forget ice cream making with Blake Lively and Chace Crawford (i.e. the most-read Baking Therapy post EVER). It was fun, random, supported marginalized populations around the globe, and gave me starry eyes that lasted for days. AND! Thanks to Santa and my new KitchenAid Ice Cream Attachment (YAY) there will be ice cream in 2011. And it will be homemade.

And for the second most-read post of 2010: Kristin Chenoweth's Pumpkin Roll! It was part of my October pumpkin obsession and fun to make - next rolling recipe in line, chocolate roll cake with Hostess Ho Ho-inspired filling!

These croissants were a real coup for me. Light, layered, flaky, and YEAST! They were made with yeast! And they came out of the oven with French accents. I can't wait to try them again soon.

My only yeast loaf bread of the year and this challah turned out well enough to inspire brioche, rye and raisin bread to come in 2011. It's just so easy!

Ok! I hope this post (and my blog) has inspired you to break out the standing mixer once in a while. It's been a great year and I'm looking forward to lots more in 2011! Thanks as always for reading, for commenting, for emailing, and for making my 2010 one to remember.

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