Saturday, January 30, 2010

Photo Essay: Behind the scenes in Tamale Town.

Pork Tamales 1

Pork Tamales 2: Masa

Pork Tamales 3

Pork Tamales 4

Pork Tamales 5: wrapping

Pork Tamales 6

Pork Tamales 8

Pork Tamales 9: Self-portrait

Pork Tamales 10

Pork Tamales 11

To eat these tamales (or the bean tamales being made tomorrow), attend the next FEAST event on Saturday, February 6th!

Thank you, David and Molly, for teaching us your family's tamale technique. And thank you, Brooklyn Kitchen/Meat Hook, for the use of your beautiful teaching space.

Secretly diet, and I don't like secrets.


Diet drinks should be required be law to announce their diet-ness in type larger than the brand name. I don't like being tricked.

All swap and no flop.

Whoopie Pie

Smores Bar

Yesterday at lunch, Caitlin and I traded bites of each other's dessert from Paradis. I had a whoopie pie, while she chose a s'mores bar. Both were excellent, and good alternatives to the Paradis chocolate chip cookie, which I have said has seen better days. I'd like to see the s'mores bar, in particular, stay on the menu.

My kind of retail therapy.

Sparkle, Sparkle!

Friday was hard. This turned out to be just what I needed.

Purchase in Haste, Repent in Hunger.

Portugese cookies

Lessons learned:
1. Don't buy cookies for the packaging.
2. Don't buy cookies online just because they're from Portugal.
3. Don't buy cookies from a store that is not known for its delicious edible items.
4. Beware of buying cookies as a gift if you've never tasted them.

Joneves cookies are like hard, eggy cream puffs with no filling. In my opinion, they're not worth importing, despite the cute kids on the bag. I think that not wanting to eat these has been a major block on my blogging since Christmas. I hate waste, but today, I'm tossing the rest.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Mmmm....street soda.

Grapefruit Jarritos

We found unopened grapefruit Jarritos by the curb. Almost as good as Squirt!

Oh, Paul, I'm sorry.

Newman bar

Not so toffee

I fear Mr. Newman might roll over in his grave, were he suddenly and posthumously made aware of how little toffee crunch is contained in the "Butter Toffee Crunch" bar that bears his name.

No one came over for pudding, so I ate it all myself.


That's a lie. I haven't eaten it all yet. I still have 4 ramekins in the fridge. This recipe for butterscotch budino (Italian for "pudding") was too much work, and very worth it. Assembled, from bottom to top, one ends up with butterscotch pudding, caramel sauce, Maldon sea salt, and cream whipped with crème fraiche.

Butterscotch Pudding

p.s. I only have 4 ramekins, so I put the rest of the pudding in tea cups.

recipe from Great Gatherings by the Macy's Culinary Council, via Ruth Reichl.

I Hate That I Love Going Away Parties.

Goodbye cakes

I feel so conflicted when people serve snacks at sorrowful events. I also feel hungry.

Everyone gathers

Look at my coworkers start to gather!

Sorrow cupcake

We miss you already, Jeremy, but the cupcakes helped ease the transition. I picked Oreo.

Oh, and congratulations on your new gig. I hope you find the time to make more of these:

Tiny cupcakes from Crumbs kindly procured by my employer.

Unhelpful Review: Blazin' Buffalo & Ranch


Spicier than my cat's snore.

Can't Fool Me.

Nestle Suisse front

Nestlé's fancy now?

Nestle Suisse back

Is chocolate supposed to be better when it's made in Switzerland? Because it was good, but not amazing.

Chocolate courtesy of my coworker Jeff, who received a box of these in a goody bag at some opera event.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recipe Box 2009

Sugar Cookies

(Recipe Box 2008 can be found here)

Let's talk Cookie Party. What really worked this year? What was new? What will I make again? Which recipes can you find online? Here's a rundown:

Artichoke & Spinach Dip with crackers (not pictured) -- I'm still using my favorite recipe, which my friend Angela gave to me. It has red pepper flakes in it for spice. This year, I made it a day ahead and heated it up right before the party started. Perfect!

Black and White Espresso Chip
Black and White Espresso Chip Cookies - NEW! I decided to try this recipe because I wanted to make a cookie flavored with the instant espresso powder in my spice cabinet, but I didn't want to make the chocolate mint cookies I've used it for in the past. I'd gotten burnt out on those when I baked cookies for Tim and Holly's wedding. These espresso chip cookies were okay, but not my favorite of the cookies I served this year. (recipe here, nuts omitted)

Boy Scout Bars
Boy Scout Bars
-- Jeff suggested I rename these, as he and I are uncomfortable with The Boy Scouts of America as an organization. I didn't have a much better experience with The Girl Scouts when I was a child, so the lady scouts are out, too. Other possible names being tossed around include "Girl Guide Bars" and "Brunettes." Everyone seems to love these, as do I. (recipe here)

Buttermilk bacon pralines
Buttermilk Bacon Pralines - NEW! -- I'm still on the search for the perfect bacon cookie or sweet. These pralines were good, but too sweet. I also felt the citrus flavor wasn't balanced against anything, but I used lemon juice instead of orange, so that might be my fault. (recipe here)

Chocolate Peppermint
Chocolate Peppermint Snaps
- NEW! -- Since, as I mentioned above, I decided not to make more chocolate butter cookies with mint glaze this year, I wanted to find a new cookie to represent "mint" in the taste spectrum. These are simple and really minty. They do, as the cookbook suggests, taste something like Girl Scout Thin Mints. (recipe here, from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

Chocolate Wakeups
Chocolate Wakeups -- I've made these several years in a row now. They're the perfect mixture of spice and chocolate. (recipe here, from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

Citrus Sizzlers - close
Citrus Sizzlers -- These come off spicier than the chocolate wakeups, but they're also a favorite of more people than the chocolate version. I love both kinds. (from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

Cocoa Snowflakes
Cocoa Snowflakes
(pistachios) -- I made this cookie for the second year in a row. I don't know why, but I liked them better last year. I think they may not do too well being made ahead of time. If I make them again next year, I'll shuffle them to the end of the baking schedule. (recipe here)

Coconut Joe Froggers
Coconut Joe Froggers
(vegan) -- People kept asking me where the name "Froggers" comes from, but I had forgotten this cookie's origin story (which varies). I think they are fine, but nothing special. Send me your awesome vegan cookie recipes!! (recipe here, but add coconut; from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

Cornflake Pecan Honeys
Cornflake Pecan Honeys - IMPROVED! -- Last year, I felt these cookies were missing something. You may remember, I got the recipe off of MySpace, despite the fact that I've never belonged to MySpace or spent much time there. Thanks for the tip, Tia! Anyway, this year I substituted local honey (a gift from my friend Stephen) for half of the sugar in the recipe. I also used pecans. Chewy and crispy at once, these turned out to be one of my favorites for the year. They were reborn; I absolutely love this cookie with honey. I will make these again and again. (recipe here, but substitute honey for half the sugar)

Crispix Mix
Crispix Mix (pistachios) - Lime or Original -- Dan made two batches of Crispix Mix, each with a different flavor profile. Dan makes the Mix every year, and lime was a nice variation, if a tad burnt. (recipe on the box)

Cut Out
Deluxe Sugar Cookies
to decorate -- I've never had a better tasting sugar cookie. I don't even bother sprinkling the tops with granulated sugar anymore. They're so lovely. (recipe from Betty Crocker, via Mom)

fudge closeup
Double Decker Peanut Butter Marbled Meltaway Fudge
-- This is a classic "Mom" recipe, and every year I love her more for making it and sharing it with me. It keeps in the freezer forever.

Peanut Toffee
English Toffee
(peanuts) -- I made the toffee with peanuts this year, but I'm going back to almonds. The peanuts just didn't have the right stuff. (recipe source unknown)

Herb Biscuits with filling -- vegetarian (not pictured) -- I almost forget to make these most years, but I'm always glad to have the mini rosemary biscuits with vegetarian sandwich filling inside. (recipe from Mom)

Hot Buttered Rum Mix
Hot Buttered Rum
-- Okay, I'll admit it. This mix has been in the freezer since last year. It's still good! Just add rum and boiling water. (recipe here)

Hot Cranberry Tea -- optional: with rum or bourbon (not pictured) -- Last year, I made two batches. I had to do that again this year. Demand is just that great for this stuff. It's good on its own or spiked. It doesn't really quench your thirst (perhaps it's a little too sweet), but it does usually make a person desire a second glass. I vary the spices every year, so it never comes out quite the same as it did the year before. (adapted from a recipe in 365 Foods Kids Love to Eat)

Peanut Butterscotch Cookies
Magnolia Peanut Butterscotch -- This cookie was a big hit last year, so I had to make it again. I must give credit to my sister for informing me a few years ago that butterscotch chips are perfect in peanut butter cookies. She was so right. (recipe here, but add butterscotch chips)

Margarita Cookies
Margarita Cookies
-- Here's another recipe that's relatively new. I think this was my second year making these beauties. Rimmed with salt and full of tequila and lime, they're really something. Somehow, they were much more sour this year, which was a good thing. (recipe here)

Midnight Rum Balls
Midnight Rum Balls
(vegan) -- Thank goodness Oreos are "accidentally vegan!" These are a breeze to make, plus they taste good and boozy. I love them, as do a lot of the guests. (recipe here)

Mrs. Fields cookies
Mrs. Fields Cookies
(walnuts) -- I don't know... These are great right out of the oven (which is how I served them) but don't store well. I'm still looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe (with or without nuts). (recipe from Mom)

Nutella Cranberry Crisps 2
Nutella Cranberry Crisps (hazelnut) -- I don't do a lot of recipe development, but I did create these cookies based on a simpler chocolate cookie recipe. I wanted something with Nutella and something using dried cranberries. After a little internet searching, I decided to combine the two, base it all on a recipe that called for melted chocolate (but substitute Nutella) and see how things tasted. I made a couple of test cookies before I stirred in the entire amount of dried cranberries, and found that I was willing to take the plunge. (adapted from this recipe)

10 oz. Nutella brand chocolate hazelnut spread
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or chocolate chips

1 cup all purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Beat in eggs, then vanilla. Beat in the Nutella. By hand or with lowest speed of a mixer, stir in the flour mixture. Add cranberries and chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Stir to combine.

Scoop the dough up by teaspoons and space mounds of dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake one sheet at a time on center rack for 10-12 minutes or until edges are dry. Tops should crack and cookies should spread out quite a bit Let cool on cookie sheets for about 1-2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Pecan Turtle Cookies - close

Pecan Turtle Bars
Pecan Turtle Bars -- Just plain good. I love you, Mom! (recipe from her, obvs.)

Salty Oatmeal
Salty Oatmeal Cookies
-- I made these for Tim and Holly's wedding, so they were in danger of being pulled out of cookie party rotation for the year, but they're so "wow," so "something special," I had to make more. Seriously. Do they look boring? They taste great. (recipe here, from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

Shortbread Jammies
Shortbread Jammies
- NEW! -- I like to serve at least one cookie that incorporates jam in the recipe. This is an excellent, buttery shortbread, and I loved the jam flavors (quince and mixed berry) that Dan chose at the store. (recipe here, from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

Snickerdoodles -- Classic. Perfect. Mom's recipe. I'd never have a cookie party without them.

Cheese Puffs in a pickle tub.
Spicy Cheese Puffs -- These are a popular item, and I'm as much of a fan as the next snacker. I made a quintuple recipe this year and served some at my office holiday party, too. People there didn't seem to catch on to how good they are, which is okay by me. I was happy to take the leftovers home. (recipe source unknown)

Spritz Cookies
Spritz Cookies (contain almond extract) -- My mom gave me an antique aluminum cookie press one year, and I always make colored spritz cookies for the cookie party. This cookie is mostly butter, and is therefore excellent. We miss you, Matthew Nauser! He's their biggest fan. (recipe from Mom)

Triple Ginger Spice Cookies
Triple Ginger Spice Cookies (vegan) -- These cookies are so flavorful, they're almost as good in their vegan permutation (made with applesauce instead of egg and vegan butter substitute) as they are in their intended form. That said, if you don't have to make the vegan substitutions, they turn out quite a bit prettier. (recipe here)

Turkey Meatballs (not pictured) -- It may be the Cookie Party, but I know that some of my guests really consider it the Meatball Party. I use the same recipe every time and I usually don't dare deviate (except for using turkey meat). However, this year I ran out of chili powder and substituted cayenne. Surprise! Nothing's sacred! They were still terrific. (recipe from Mom)

Walnut Rum Errors - 2 ways
Walnut Rum Errors (2 ways) - NEW! I found this recipe in Martha Stewart Living this year, but failed to read it carefully. Because of this, I added all of the chopped walnuts to the batter, but I was actually supposed to reserve some of the walnuts to sprinkle on top of the cookies. What came out of the oven after my error were sticky, brittle, delicate, and prone to shattering. I may have done some swearing at that point. Then, the test batch to which I added extra flour came out hard as rocks. So I tried to make my mistake work, salvaging as many cookies as I could by allowing them to cool completely on the baking sheet (ungreased worked better than parchment- or silpat-covered, I discovered) before transferring them to the cookie rack. And they were, actually and surprisingly, delicious when served at the cookie party, pleasing me and many others with their deep walnut flavor. (recipe, which I failed to follow correctly, here)

World Peace Cookies
World Peace Cookies - NEW! I saw the recipe for these cookies all over the blogosphere in 2009. They seemed so trendy, but I had to try them. And I liked them, though I would have enjoyed them even more if they'd been a little saltier. (recipe here)

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