Hello?  Anyone there?  If you are, I apologize for my 3 month-long blog silence.  I can’t even feign being super busy this spring (speaking of, what spring?), as I was only taking one class this semester.  And boy, was that SO nice.  But not nice enough to make me want to spend the next 4 years getting my grad degree.  We’ll stick with 2.5 or so, if possible.  That’s slow enough as it is!

Anyway, thanks for sticking around, blogging friends.  As you can see, my poor blog wasn’t a high priority for me this winter/spring.  I have been making and eating some amazing meals, but I haven’t been chronicling them enough, or at all.  I got an ice cream attachment for my mixer, and oh man, the world of homemade ice cream is a really amazing (and fattening) one.  Sadly it’s the one baked good/dessert that I can’t just send to work with Brad and be done with.  We actually eat the ice cream ourselves, and all of it at that!

This recipe, oh this recipe.  So this was one of the more involved ice creams I have made (although there has been talk of trying to make coffee oreo with homemade oeros.  I’ve done both, but separately), and it’s SO delicious.  I honestly don’t remember if I have had tin roof ice cream (or sundaes) before, but the flavor combination is pretty awesome.  Vanilla ice cream (and not that yellowy crap you might find at the grocery store, this has beans in it), homemade fudge ripple (again, another favorite), and chocolate covered peanuts.

I’ve gotten it down where I will make the base one evening, chill it overnight, churn it the next evening (or day, depending), and then chill that overnight, so that I have some really delicious and firm ice cream.  I still do love to go to the beach (Revere, don’t judge) to get ice cream at my favorite shop Twist & Shake (the owner is pretty awesome).  But nothing beats the homemade stuff.

I promise I am going to try to come around more often, I really will.

Tin Roof Ice Cream

Source: Brown Eyed Baker

¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1½ cups heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup Chocolate-Covered Peanuts (recipe follows)
Fudge Ripple (recipe follows)

1. Warm the milk, sugar, salt and ½ cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. With a sharp paring knife, scrape the flavorful seeds from the vanilla bean and add them, along with the pod, to the hot milk mixture. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Rewarm the vanilla-infused mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream to cool. Remove the vanilla bean, wipe it clean of any egg bits, and add it back to the custard. Stir in the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

4. When ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean (it can be rinsed and reused). Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is freezing, chop the peanuts into bite-sized peanuts.

5. Fold the peanut pieces into the frozen ice cream as you remove it from the machine, and layer it with Fudge Ripple.


Chocolate-Covered Peanuts

4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

1. Put the pieces of chocolate in an absolutely dry heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. In the meantime, stretch a piece of plastic wrap over a dinner plate.

2. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the peanuts, coating them with the chocolate. Spread the mixture on the plastic-lined plate and chil.

Mixing them in: Use a chef’s knife to chop the chocolate-covered block of peanuts into bite-sized pieces, then mix them into 1 quart of ice cream as you remove it from the machine.

Storage: Chocolate-Covered Peanuts can be stored for several months in an air-tight container, refrigerated at room temperature.


Fudge Ripple

½ cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges.

2. Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil. Cook for 1  minute, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. Chill in the refrigerator before using.

Mixing it in: The Fudge Ripple should be thoroughly chilled, as it’s easiest to use when very cold. Just before you remove the ice cream from the machine, spoon some of the Fudge Ripple onto the bottom of the storage container. As you remove the ice cream from the machine, layer generous spoonfuls of the sauce between layers of ice cream. Avoid stirring the Fudge Ripple, as it will make the ice cream muddy looking.

Storage: Fudge Ripple can be stored for up to 2 weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.

This winter I have actually been trying some new recipes….and then not photographing them because I just want to eat them immediately.  It almost happened with this chicken vindaloo dish, but I managed to quickly grab the camera and tell Brad to snap a few pictures before we sat down to eat it.

I was in the mood to make something Indian, or Indian inspired, after some friends and I were driving around Cambridge, and ended up driving past Christina’s Spices in Inman Square.  I had never been to the actual spice shop, just the ice cream shop next door, and kind of wanted an excuse to go there.  I’d been trying to get to Penzey’s in Arlington practically forever, but a) actually knew where Christina’s is, and b) it’s kind of easier to go to Cambridge than Arlington from where I live.  And after reading reviews online I knew that they would most likely have the slightly obscure spices that I needed (black mustard seed?  who knew such a thing existed!).  And I was right.  Well, except for the black mustard seed, which they didn’t have, but I used brown and I have no idea what the difference would have been.

This delicious and hearty dish was a bit labor intensive, as Brad had to grind many a spice using a mortar and pestle (from Ikea, so the quality is so-so).  Had I owned a spice grinder that portion of the evening would have taken much less time.  But maybe would have been less authentic.  The sauce is hearty, spicy (but not TOO spicy) and just plain delicious.  So delicious in fact, that I am making this dish again this weekend in celebration of Brad and my father’s birthdays.  Brad turns 30 next week (and we’re going to New York to celebrate, I can’t wait to get out of Boston for a bit!), and my father’s birthday was last weekend.  My mother will make this cake, and now that I am in an ice cream phase, I am trying to figure out what ice cream to make with it.  I’m thinking either vanilla or perhaps a vanilla earl grey lavender ice cream.  We’ll see what happens.

It’s a great dish for entertaining though, as you can make it ahead and just keep it bubbling away on the stove.  Serve over some basmati rice with some naan, and you’ve got a great meal.

 

Chicken Vindaloo

Source: India Snacks

2 teaspoon cumin seeds, whole
1 teaspoon peppercorns, black
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon (3 in stick)
1 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds, whole
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, whole
5 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar, light
10 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into; half-rings
6 tablespoon water
1 ginger, fresh (1-inch cube), peeled; and coarsely chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely; chopped (or less)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
2 lb chicken breast (boneless), cut into; bite-sized pieces
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 lb new potatoes, peeled and quartered

Grind cumin seeds, black pepper, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds together in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine ground spices, vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. Set aside.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Fry onions, stirring frequently, until they are a rich, dark brown. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and put them in a blender. Turn off the heat, but do not discard the oil. Add about 3 T water (or more if necessary) to the onions and blend until you have a smooth paste. Add this onion paste to the spices in the bowl. This mixture is the vindaloo paste.

Put the ginger and garlic in a blender. Add about 3 T water and blend until you have a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, garlic paste. Stir until the paste browns slightly. Add the coriander and turmeric. Stir a few seconds. Add the chicken, a little at a time, and brown lightly.

Add the vindaloo paste, tomato sauce and potatoes to the chicken in the saucepan. Stir and bring to a slight boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. Serve over rice.

I hope you all had a fantastic New Year!  It’s hard to believe that we’re already more than halfway through January, which sadly means my break between semesters is coming to a close.  I go back to school on Thursday, and I am only taking one class this semester, which will most likely seem like a cake walk compared to taking two at a time while also working full-time.

I’m hoping that I might have more time to blog, but I’m not going to make any promises that I can’t keep.  I have been cooking a lot, and one of my friends shares a similar love of technically challenging recipes (we made homemade ravioli last Friday, THAT was an undertaking).  When you have a cooking partner in crime it can definitely help make things seem less daunting.  Brad turns 30 in March, and after much back and forth, and with some inspiration from the lovely Julia Child, I’m hoping to put together a fantastic homemade celebration dinner.  That’s the plan, at least for the time being.

But that’s not what you came here for.  You came here for a recipe!  This cinnamon swirl bread is one of my favorites, and back in 2008 we received a few bread baking books for Christmas from both sides of our family (they knew we had gotten into bread).  This one is pretty easy to make, although no matter how many times I try, it never comes out as big and luxurious as a store-bought loaf of cinnamon bread.  But that’s also probably because while this recipe calls for two loaves, you could easily make one monster loaf.  But I like having two loaves, as nothing beats cinnamon toast in the morning with some good butter and a cup of delicious tea.  It helps get me through these awful winter months.

It’s also perfect for making into french toast for a lovely brunch.  In fact, we had just that this morning, with some home fries cooked up in bacon grease (there’s no other way to do it) and some thick cut peppered bacon.  It was delicious, if I do say so myself.

 

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”

Makes two loaves

For Christmas this year I got a food scale, and I got to play with it for this, which is why measurements are in both cups and ounces.

 

3 1/2 cups (16 oz) bread flour
4 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tb. butter (or shortening)
1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature (I used powdered buttermilk, always works)
3/4 cup water at room temperature

 

Cinnamon Swirl Filling

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tb. ground cinnamon

Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (you can also do this by hand, but I’ll be giving mixer instructions).  Add the egg, butter, buttermilk, and water.  Stir together with the paddle attachment until ingredients come together.  Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.

Switch to the dough hook, and beat on low for about 6-8 minutes.  You want the dough to be tacky but not sticky.  If you have an instant read thermometer (a necessity in every kitchen if you ask me) the dough should be between 77 and 81 Fahrenheit.   Transfer dough to a large bowl that has been lightly oiled.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free place (above the fridge is my go to).

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled.

Divide the dough into two pieces and form them into loaves.  In order to form into a loaf, shape the dough into a rectangle that is about 5 inches long and 6-8 inches wide.  Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle on the surface of the dough.  Roll up from the short side of the dough and roll up into a loaf shape.  Pinch the ends and slightly roll to even it out.  Place dough seam side down into a lightly oiled loaf pan.  Form the second loaf and then spray with oil (I use pam).  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise a second time until at least doubled, or until dough comes close to cresting above the lip of the pan.

Let rise for at least an hour, if not more.  If your loaves are a bit small at this point don’t panic, mine never get to be very large but they still come out delicious and that’s what matters most, right?

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place loaf pans on a sheet pan (and remove plastic wrap) and make sure they are not touching.  Bake for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes until they are golden brown on top.  They should make a hollow sound when you thump them on the bottom.

Immediately remove bread from pans and let cool on a rack for at least an hour (2 if possible) until slicing.  I know it’s hard to not want to slice right into the bread, but it’s sadly for the best.

 

 

Happy New Year friends!  I know it has been far too long, and I sadly don’t have a new recipe to share with you right this second.  Since everyone in the blogging world is looking back on 2010, I figured I would join in and do the same, and wish my readers a happy 2011!

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed already.  I feel like it went by in a blur.  So much happened last year: I changed jobs, started grad school (and survived my first semester!), made some fantastic new friends, spent a lot of time decorating my house (hard to believe we moved there a year and a half ago), and ate some amazing food.  I also have a new nephew to buy books for (what can I say, I want everyone to love reading as much as I do).

Since becoming besties with a couple that lives upstairs, Brad and I have become part of what we have called an informal supper club.  Our neighbors happen to love food just as much as we do, and we take turns having dinner in each others homes.  We also love to cook and bake together, and K happened to be my sous chef and taster extraordinaire when we were coming up for a recipe for my office’s bake off at our holiday party.  Sadly I came in second, but my Mexican chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel butter cream (I had no idea I could make a real butter cream!) were to die for.  At least in our eyes.

The holidays came and went in a blur (well technically New Year’s hasn’t happened yet), we had a flurry of parties to go to, final papers to write, and families to visit.  Once again we hosted Thanksgiving, and I feel that we get better at it each and every year.

I don’t ever make resolutions, as I believe that changing one’s habits should be an ongoing process that isn’t limited to beginning on every January 1st.  I have slowly gotten back into yoga (mostly for my sanity and lower back more than anything), and having a yoga buddy makes it even better.  I am hoping that 2011 will be a year of travel, I’m going to LA in March to visit one of my dearest friends, and Brad and I are hoping for an adventure this summer, to a yet to be determined location (we’re eying Europe at the moment).

I hope you all have a fantastic New Year!  I’ll be doing what I do best, eating a delicious meal with friends, drinking some good champagne, and watching fantastically trashy TV to ring in the new year.  Happy 2011!

I realize that it has been close to 2 months since my last post.  I have been struggling with what to do about my blog these days.  As you might remember, life has changed quite a bit for me this summer, new job, new friends, and grad school started last week.  I have still been cooking, but haven’t been as good about documenting it as I was in the past.

I feel like I am at a crossroads with my blog, and I am trying to figure out where to go.  I started this blog 2 years ago as a project, a hobby, something to pour my energy and creativity into.  I had just gotten married, and as anyone who has anything to do with planning a wedding knows, it can be time consuming and once it’s over you can be left with a feeling of, “well what now?”.  So I decided to start a food blog.  It was a learning process, my photography was pretty bad in the beginning (not that it’s magazine quality now), and I had yet to really find a voice as a blogger.

After that first year we bought a condo, which was a great place to focus my energy and creativity.  It’s grown so much, and for the time being I am truly happy with the decor, so I don’t need to focus as much time into that.  I am a person who craves projects (although I don’t always finish them quickly, take my quilt I have been working on for close to 2 years, the good news is that it is so close to being finished!), because I like having things to do.  Just ask Brad, I’m not one to sit around doing nothing for days on end (unless it’s a vacation from work, then I definitely can sit around and do nothing but read).

Right now school will be the focus of my energy.  Working full time and going to grad school part time at night is definitely going to be a challenge, but a welcome one at that.  I am hoping that when I am done I will be able to have the skills to someday down the road run some sort of community arts organization, a true collaboration of my artist within and my desire to work for the arts in a different way than being a traditional artist.

So for now I am going on a bit of a blog hiatus.  I will still continue to read my favorite blogs and keep up with what is going on in the blogging world (as well as the world of the home cook/foodie), but I think I will not be spending as much of my time hunting for new recipes to try and share with the world.

I wasn’t sure what would come of this project, and it made me break out of my regular cooking shell and try new things.  Some were successful, others were complete failures (and not necessarily shared with my readers).  I wasn’t sure if anyone would actually read my blog besides my mom and friends, but people did.  And they commented, which I also really appreciated.  So here’s to seeing where the road takes me, and who knows, maybe we will meet again sometime in the future!

P.S. I just discovered that I never posted the recipe for s’mores cupcakes, so I am going to share them below.  They are easy, awesome, and a total crowd-pleaser, so make them, immediately.

S’mores Cupcakes

Source: Macaroni and Cheesecake

3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil or applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with foil liners or squares of foil for the rustic look; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Spoon batter out evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. tub of marshmallow cream (or fluff, if you are from New England)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on high until light and fluffy. Add the confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, and beat until fluffy each time

Beat in the vanilla until incorporated. Add the marshmallow fluff and beat until creamy.

Pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes using a large ziploc bag with the end snipped off (a la Sandra Lee).  Top the piped frosting with crushed graham crackers and an individual piece of hershey’s chocolate.

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