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Mixed Berry Pavlova

Hello there. I really wanted to make a pavlova, you know, back in August. So I did and it was awesome. I combined science-guy Alton Brown’s egg white concoction with yummy-gal Ina Garten’s berries and cream. Mwahahaha. It worked perfectly and I can’t wait to make it again. Maybe for Christmas? Those ruby-colored berries would look merry and bright on the dessert table, and the meringue looks a bit like a sweet snowdrift.

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Alton Brown Pavlova:
4 oz pasteurized egg whites (I used the real thing b/c no one was pregnant)
Pinch kosher salt
6 oz granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp corn starch

Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Use a 9-inch round plate and trace a circle in the middle of the parchment. Turn over the parchment.

Place the egg whites and pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment on high, whisk until stiff peaks form, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add the sugar over 2 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy and stiff peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes. Decrease the speed to low and add the vanilla, vinegar, and cornstarch. Mix just to combine.

Gently spoon the meringue onto the parchment and spread to fit the shape of the circle, forming a slight well in the center. Place the meringue into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave in the oven for 3 hours, or until the meringue is crisp and dry on the outside. Open the oven door and cool completely before removing from the oven, approximately 30 minutes.

Ina Garten mixed berries and cream:

  • Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • Triple Raspberry Sauce, recipe follows (I had tons left over and it was lovely on vanilla ice cream)
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 half-pint fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12-ounce jar)
  • 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur (I omitted)

Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Combine the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about 1/2 cup of raspberry sauce, or enough to coat the berries lightly. Spoon the berries carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don’t overbeat!

Yield: 1 cup

Triple Raspberry Sauce:

Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

Yield: 2 cups

If anyone is still reading this and actually makes this dessert, please send me a picture! TIA. ūüôā

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Rich Roll Cookies

Hi there! If you came of age in the Eighties, like some of us did, you may have been familiar with the pretty blue binder of this Joy of Cooking book.

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My mom had/has a similarly worn copy. I love these recipes, and someday, when I’m in Chicago, I will cook my way through the book. In the meantime, however, I simply can’t let these Rich Roll Cookies slip away.

Pretty-Easter-Egg-Cookies

Mine looked absolutely nothing like this. Mine looked a LOT more like a Pinterest fail picture, but, like I tell my son, I tried really hard. And I actually found this recipe for Royal Icing from the NYT to be so-so at best. It did harden up and make the cookies stackable, which was it’s main job, but I think I just prefer a good thick layer of buttercream on a sugar cookie, stacking be damned.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cream: 1 cup butter, 2/3 cup sugar
  • Beat in: 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Combine and add: 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt (less if you use salted butter)
  • Chill dough 3 to 4 hours before rolling
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes

Some recipes online call for 1/4 tsp baking powder; I will check with my mom and amend this post if necessary. Happy baking!

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Irish Cream Ice Cream Pie/Cake

I avoid Cool Whip as a general rule, though I have to admit it works magic in this recipe. Once you make this pie and let it sit out on the counter for just a very little while, it thaws a bit and takes on a velvety, mousse-like texture that is really quite magnificent. This was very boozy (and I liked it that way) but definitely NOT for kids. I’m thinking I may try it with a different kind of ice cream and just omit the Irish Cream. Tonight would be a good night to do that, or any night, really. I may even bring it to the family Thanksgiving this year. My family aren’t big drinkers and I think they’d be a little tipsy after a big slice of this pie/cake. Mwahahaha.

MI-Irish-Cream-Chocolate-Chip-Pie

Ingredients

  • 30 Oreos, finely crushed (I put them in a ziploc and whacked with a hammer, they were a bit chunky but worked just fine)
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1.5 quart premium vanilla ice cream, at room temp (let sit out for 30 minutes)
  • 2/3 cup Irish Cream liqueur
  • 1 cup Cool Whip Topping (generous), at room temp.
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Heath Bar (I omitted)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I omitted)

Instructions

  1. Place crushed Oreo crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl and mix until combined. In a 9 inch spring-foam pan place the Oreo mixture and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set aside. (Note: I baked this for a few minutes at 350‚ÄĘ to crisp up the crust a bit — just be sure to wrap in foil or put a cookie sheet under it to avoid burnt butter on your oven bottom.)
  2. In a large bowl mix together ice cream and irish cream. Fold in whipped topping and 1 cup of Heath bars (if using). Pour into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate chips for 20 second increments until melted. Mine took about 40 seconds. Drizzle on top of cake and sprinkle with remaining Heath Bars. (I omitted this step, obvs.)

I ran out of time, but planned to serve with lightly sweetened, freshly whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I was hoping to try this Martha Stewart recipe, since so many others call for evaporated milk and I never have that in my pantry.

Also, I didn’t use the Heath Bars because a friend has a nut allergy, but the crunchy element would’ve worked nicely here. In fact, I think if you used chocolate ice cream, a little mint flavoring and toffee on the top, you’d have a fairly good approximation of Frango Mint Ice Cream Pie. Sounds like a delicious experiment!

Adapted from this recipe.

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We All Scream for Zucchini (Pasta)

This Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil¬†from the New York Times food section was labor intensive, but really quite delicious. And no need to turn on the oven! I made a few changes (chicken and walnuts) and I don’t want to forget how I did it. The recipe says 4-6 servings but it makes a huge quantity. Luckily, the leftovers are really good, especially if you top with more parmesan. Maybe try it with half or 3/4 of the pasta called for in the recipe.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts poached with a few smashed garlic cloves and salt, then shredded
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 pounds zucchini, halved, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 2 tablespoons chopped green garlic
  • 1 ounce basil, about 2 cups loose leaves
  • handful of walnuts, 1/4-1/2 cup
  • 1 pound ziti or other dry pasta
  • 8 ounces ricotta, about 1 cup (see recipe)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper (I omitted)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (I omitted)
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, about 1 cup, plus more for serving
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary to keep onions from browning. Add zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until rather soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
  2. Meanwhile, use a mini food processor to grind garlic, basil, walnuts and a little Kosher salt into a rough paste. Stir in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Salt the pasta water well (2T) and put in the pasta, stirring. Boil per package instructions but make sure to keep pasta quite al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
  4. Add cooked pasta and chicken to zucchini in skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup cooking water (I used the whole cup), then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to distribute. Check seasoning and adjust. Cook for 1 minute more. Mixture should look creamy. Add a little more pasta water if necessary. Add the basil paste and half the grated cheese and quickly stir to incorporate. Spoon pasta into warm soup plates and sprinkle with additional cheese. Serve immediately.

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Yummy Fruity Scones

Mere words cannot describe how much I adore the Great British Bake Off. It’s a little sleepy, but in the sweetest possible way. They bake in a dreamy white tent surrounded by green pastures, which in turn are dotted with little white lambs. It’s the perfect thing to watch before bed!

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Thanks to Bake Off, I discovered HUGE British celebrity and sexxy septuagenarian Mary Berry, and her yummy fruity scones. (She is not literally huge. Quite petite, actually, considering how much pastry she eats.) Every time I bake these, I write the American measurements on a scrap of paper and then promptly lose the paper. So I’m recording them here, now, to avoid future sconus interruptus issues.

Mary Berry’s Fruity Scones

6T butter, cubed (1/3 cup)
2 and 2/3 cups self-raising flour (plus more for dusting)
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
2T (or more to taste) sugar
1/3 cup raisins (or more), soaked for a few hours (or even overnight) in enough apple or orange juice to cover them completely
2/3 cup milk minus 2T (or 10T total)
2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425‚ÄĘF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make a light crumbly dough: Put the flour and baking powder into a large chilled mixing bowl. Add the cubes of butter, keeping all the ingredients as cold as possible. Rub the butter in lightly and quickly with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and sultanas.

Pour 7 tablespoons¬†(3 and 1‚ĀĄ¬†2fl oz) of the milk and all but 2 tablespoons of the¬†beaten egg into the flour mixture. Mix together with a round-bladed¬†knife to a soft, but not too sticky dough, adding a bit more milk if needed¬†to mop up any dry bits of mixture in the bottom of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, lightly knead¬†just a few times only until gathered together, then gently roll and pat¬†out to form a rectangle about 2cm (3‚ĀĄ4in) deep.

Cut out as many rounds as possible from the first rolling with a¬†6cm (21‚ĀĄ2in) cutter (a plain cutter is easier to use than a fluted one)¬†and lay them on the baking sheet, spaced slightly apart. Gather the¬†trimmings, then roll and cut out again. Repeat until you have 10 scones.

Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until risen and golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Serve sliced with lightly sweetened whipped cream and good jam!

TIPS FOR GREAT SCONES

Scones need a light touch or they can become tough and heavy, so handle them as little as possible. Roll them out quite thickly to start with; they never rise as much as you think they will. As the dough is quite deep, dip the cutter in flour before cutting out each scone to prevent the dough from sticking to it.

Adapted from the Laura Ashley blog.

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Just Sweet Enough

little feet

Hello! I’ve been re-reading posts from… well a long time ago, and wow I was a snarky little Drucker, wasn’t I? Now I’m a mom, who bakes cake (too much) and drinks vodka (not enough), and I melt when I see little feet peeking out from under a blanket. How the mighty do fall!

Like so many cake-baking bloggers before me, I had to go ahead and try Edna Lewis’s Busy Day Cake. I’ve made it both with buttermilk and without, and I can’t honestly say I noticed a difference. What I can say is that it is absolutely divine. Even the name evokes a simpler time, when people baked cakes on busy days and kept a pitcher of buttermilk out on a countertop, to dip into now and again throughout the day.

It’s buttery and fragrant and just sweet enough, sheer perfection by itself or topped with warm strawberry compote and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Thank you, Reverend Michael, for the gorgeous plate.

Thank you, Reverend Michael, for the gorgeous plate.

Like so many good things in life, this cake¬†goes fast, and when it’s gone, you wish there were more. If you’re reading, please comment! I crave adult conversation. (Not THAT kind of adult, Mr or Ms Naughty Knickers. Adult as in Elmo, Peppa and/or Thomas the Train do not enter the conversation.) TIA!

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It Was A Happy Day

Look! Mother Drucker made an engagement party — and it actually looks kinda good?!! (Proud of self.) I spent so much time being crafty that the hubs has forbidden any more party planning in the foreseeable future. But given how much I love this couple, it was actually super fun, and their reaction to all the little details (ahem, Pinterest) was priceless!

Speaking of priceless, check out these sugar cookies shaped like engagement rings. Yum. Just Nigella’s easy cut out cookie recipe, food color, sparkly sprinkles and my favorite C&H buttercream. And this cookie cutter¬†from Amazon.

ring cookiesChalkboard signCupcake toppersdonuts tableMr and Mrs bannerHydrangeas are from the LA Flower Mart, burlap from the¬†fabric store, a few flea market finds, craft supplies from Michael’s, cupcake toppers from Etsy, donuts from Randy’s¬†and all other cooking and craftiness done by yours truly. (I referenced Ina Garten¬†when creating the cheese tray, and frosted the cupcakes with this tip.) And thanks to my friend Alison for recommending this Pampered Chef Sweet & Salty party mix. It was gone in a matter of minutes!

And just to be sure that this party started their wedding year off with a bang, it rained for about the first time in three years. As I raced around the house setting up, a bolt of lightning hit a nearby car.¬†It was so incredibly loud that I actually stopped to ask¬†myself, is this the apocalypse? No? Well. I’ve got a party to throw.

car lightning

I’m pretty sure I pinned all the tutorials on Pinterest but if you have any questions just ask. Believe me, if I can do this, ANYONE CAN. The groom-to-be summed it all up perfectly: it was a happy day. Good luck Cat & AC!

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