Tag Archives: kitchen creativity

ice cream sandwich cookie #1: C is for cayenne pepper chocolate

chocolate cayenne pepper cookies

i think i may be possessed by a cookie demon. this cookie demon worms its way into my brain and convinces me that it’s a good idea to make a trio of ice cream sandwiches for dessert at rambling restaurant. i listen to this cookie demon and then i find myself experimentally baking 3 kinds of cookies for 3 kinds of ice cream sandwiches (each requiring 2 cookies)  for 19 diners last night. all of which, including screwups and overspicing and um-let-me-try-another-one-of-those-to-make-sure-it’s-good adds up to…almost 200 cookies baked in the last 4 days. damn you cookie demon!

luckily, i happen to like cookies (duh). if you don’t like cookies, you have your own demons.  i also enjoyed the excuse to play around with new recipes and have an automatic tester audience.  it did make me slightly nervous that these cookies were for paying customers and therefore needed to be really good. but most of all, i was very happy to have an automatic set of mouths to feed these cookies to. if i bake by myself,  there’s a possibility i will consume all the fruits of my labor and that’s never good. although let’s be honest – i definitely ate a lot of cookies this week.  so many cookies that at certain points i kind of wanted to toss my cookies.

sorry. that’s gross. but true.

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homemade ginger ice cream…without an ice cream maker!

homemade ginger ice cream made by hand

i’ve been bewitched by food porn in the form of ice cream sandwiches. back in boston last week, i snatched the last issue of gourmet ice cream sandwichesgourmet from my house and spent parts of a long car ride and a plane trip devouring articles on chinese bbq in canada, mentally planning an extended stay at an organic farm outside beijing, and fantasizing about caramel. i was particularly attracted to the idea of homemade ice cream sandwiches, as depicted on the magazine cover to the right which entices me with its summery colors like a party dress at a bash in the hamptons with lusciously rich desserts from swanky catering companies. to drive the point home, there’s a huge section on homemade ice cream. and as if to prove the power of visual stimulation, there is currently homemade ice cream in my freezer right now. it’s slowly edging its way to the crystallization phase and then i will jump on it and break up those crystals, because i don’t have an ice cream maker. although in case you’re wondering, my birthday was last week and i am still accepting presents.

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experiments in the kitchen: orange spice pecan shortbread cookies made with leftover egg yolks

orange nutmeg shortbread cookies

suppose you’ve made a delicious meringue. suppose you then have six egg yolks, tragically separated from their egg white counterparts, sitting forlornly on your kitchen counter and hoping not to be wasted. what to do?

the obvious answer:  you make cookies! i actually think that answer applies to many different scenarios, but maybe that’s just me. anyway, in a valiant attempt to save the extra egg yolks, i went for a little baking experimentation. i decided to throw together all the usual cookie suspects – butter, sugar, flour – and add the extra egg yolks and see what happened. a little poking around in the kitchen cupboards resulted in the addition of nutmeg and allspice for added flavor and an orange in the fridge was also requesting to be consumed and zested. and as soon as the cookie dough circles were baking, i noticed a big bag of pecans next to the oven so i pulled the cookies back out and pressed the halves on top for an additional flavor dimension and some visual excitement.
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experiments in the kitchen: orange spice pecan shortbread cookies made with leftover egg yolks

orange nutmeg shortbread cookies

suppose you’ve made a delicious meringue. suppose you then have six egg yolks, tragically separated from their egg white counterparts, sitting forlornly on your kitchen counter and hoping not to be wasted. what to do?

the obvious answer:  you make cookies! i actually think that answer applies to many different scenarios, but maybe that’s just me. anyway, in a valiant attempt to save the extra egg yolks, i went for a little baking experimentation. i decided to throw together all the usual cookie suspects – butter, sugar, flour – and add the extra egg yolks and see what happened. a little poking around in the kitchen cupboards resulted in the addition of nutmeg and allspice for added flavor and an orange in the fridge was also requesting to be consumed and zested. and as soon as the cookie dough circles were baking, i noticed a big bag of pecans next to the oven so i pulled the cookies back out and pressed the halves on top for an additional flavor dimension and some visual excitement.
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ginger meringue + fresh whipped cream + perfectly ripe berries = the holy trinity that is pavlova

ginger meringue and berries

i’ve always been meh about meringues. the texture’s so dry and chalky and the taste so overly sweet that it felt like a dried out hardened marshmallow left to die a lonely death on the arid plains of some forbodingly airless planet. actually, now that i think about it, meringues resemble astronaut ice cream, but less awesome because they don’t come from the science museum or exist in space.

but… all of a sudden, the meringue has new meaning! i’ve always been a sucker for desserts involving fruit and cream and  i have recently become acquainted with the fabulous and apparently sort of retro dessert known as the pavlova.  oh, the pavlova – named for the ballerina anna pavlova and invented somewhere down under (both australia and new zealand claim ownership) – it elevates the lowly meringue to a shining pedestal for a magical combination of pure whipped cream and fresh ripe berries. no longer dry and chalky, the cream adds a light and airy feeling to offset the brittle meringue and the juices bursting forth from the fruit. no longer marshmallowy sweet, the unsugared cream and tartness of the berries temper the intense sweetness of the meringue to perfection.  hooray! the meringue has returned with a vengeance.

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experiments in the kitchen: zucchini, potato, and onion focaccia with fresh herbs

potato zucchini focaccia dough photo

i’m making focaccia for rambling restaurant tomorrow! i’m excited because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and because i’m currently in the midst of a focaccia obsession. i’m also a little nervous because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and it better be good because people are paying for it. yikes! i think it’ll be great, but bread can be temperamental and i really hope it doesn’t get angry with me tomorrow.

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experiments in the kitchen: zucchini, potato, and onion focaccia with fresh herbs

potato zucchini focaccia dough photo

i’m making focaccia for rambling restaurant tomorrow! i’m excited because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and because i’m currently in the midst of a focaccia obsession. i’m also a little nervous because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and it better be good because people are paying for it. yikes! i think it’ll be great, but bread can be temperamental and i really hope it doesn’t get angry with me tomorrow.

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experiments in the kitchen: a (non)recipe for roasted tomato focaccia with mixed garden herbs

roasted tomato focaccia

i am not particularly good at following directions when it comes to baking. often, i am also bad at planning ahead to make sure i have/purchase all the ingredients necessary to make whatever i initially planned. i used to think that both those failings were major liabilities on the kitchen front, but i’ve decided that they can actually result in unexpectedly useful instances of discovery and creativity.

take, for example, the above roasted tomato focaccia. i made my first rosemary and sea salt focaccia last week, following this recipe from a spoonful of sugar as closely as my inattentive measuring and poor gram-to-cup conversion skills would allow. the result was a tasty but certainly not exciting sort of flatbread, a little too thin and a little too dry to be considered a really stellar focaccia.

upon attempting my second round of focaccia,  i had the brief thought that maybe i should pay better attention to the recipe, which seemed to work really well for the author. then i decided to screw it and go the opposite route. instead, i’d just make the adjustments i deemed necessary – i wanted it to rise more, so i added more yeast. i wanted a more moist bread, so i added more olive oil. i also found this recipe for perfect cherry focaccia from a chef from the river cafe (their menu makes for some very enticing reading btw; i shall venture there once i actually start generating an income).  i really like what this writer, stevie parle, says in the recipe:

‘Its hard to give a recipe for bread, as it is in the hands of the baker, use this recipe as a guide.’

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it’s literally food porn: a breadman competition, a bedroom scene and a fiery breadperson sacrifice

you know you’ve just spent one of the most bizarrely amusing and creatively satisfying evenings of your life when the following quotes come out of the kitchen:

1. ‘that looks like f*cking George Washington.”

2. “you better be scared, b*tch!”

3. “there’s a fine line between pleasure, pain, and fiery human sacrifice.”

yes, it’s been quite an entertaining evening. one of my bestest friends kellin is visiting from florence, which means nonstop entertainment of all kinds. however, i think we may have topped our own personal most-ridiculous-night-ever by entering ourselves in the breadman competition. assuming you’ve never heard of the breadman competition, i will explain it to you.

breadman holding breadman

traipsing around soho today post-dumpling fest, we stopped by a bread and pastry cart to drool over the chocolate bears and the tomato focaccia and ended up trading italian slang with the funny british guy running the stall. upon further discussion, he invited us to compete in the breadman competition. regard live breadman holding not-live breadman to the right.

the breadman competition involves: 1) getting a breadman (not the live one). 2) taking a picture of said breadman. 3) posting the photo on the facebook page. for this, you get cake! which would really be enough reason for us, but the whole idea  just fired up our creative juices and stoked our competitive fires. you ain’t NEVER gonna see a breadman photo  like our breadman photo.

to explain ourselves just a bit, i’m pretty sure that kell and i were visually influenced by the predominant type of store in the soho neighborhood. in case you’ve never been there, one particularly representative establishment is the aptly titled, no-imagination-necessary ‘trashy lingerie.’ with that information in mind, you may not be surprised that we decided to do a ‘bedroom scene.’ yes, it’s quite literally food porn.

don’t worry, it’s not graphic (all naughty bits have been covered up), but it may not be suitable for those underage. so if you’re not yet legal in the state of alabama, or if you’re my mother or any other family member of an older generation, or if  you don’t approve of consensual bedroom activities as practiced by two willing and eager bread products, you probably shouldn’t click below. on the other hand, if you’re interested in breadperson bondage….

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fun with leftovers – the ultimate cage fighting of the cooking world

to follow up on my food politics and cooking post, i’m going to try to write a bit about easy, affordable, healthy, and hopefully sustainable ways to cook. one way to keep things free and sustainable is by recycling the items already available in your fridge! if you find yourself in the somewhat-unlikely-but-always-possible scenario of having a fridge full of leftovers from a bacon smackdown, you may not be able to cover the healthy part, but hey, animal fat is good for you, right? right?

the thing i like best about cooking with leftovers is that there are no rules. it’s like the ultimate cage fighting of cooking  – you can forcefully fish-hook someone in the nostrils or make brown sugar pork pie if you that’s what you fucking feel like doing. you’re not trying to follow a predefined recipe or get your souffle to rise, you’re just tossing together what you’ve got in a way that hopefully tastes delicious. so what if it’s not an actual dish? when you’re done mixing shit up, it will be.

food porn and alien pigs after the jump.

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