Wednesday, August 27, 2014

White Russian Cupcakes *The Cupcake Abides*

White Russian Cupcakes
As seen on HelloGiggles.com


This recipe was first posted on HelloGiggles as part of my Cupcake Girl column.

Photo by Robert Giglio
What you’ll need 

•   2 ¾ cups sifted flour (1 ¼ cups cake flour and 1 ½ cups all purpose flour)

•   3 ½ teaspoons baking powder, just a tad less is good.

•   1/2  teaspoon salt, just a tad less is good.

•   4 egg whites

•   1/2  teaspoon cream of tartar

•   1 ½  cups sugar ( ¾ cup granulated, ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar)

•   3/4 cup butter, softened

•   1/4  cup milk

•   1/4 cup vodka

•   1/2  cup Kahlua

•   1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat egg whites until foamy with cream of tartar. In a separate bowl, cream butter and add sugar.  Blend egg mixture into this bowl. Combine milk, Kahlua and vodka, set aside. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk mixture, a small amount at a time. Blend in extract. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool.


Now for the Kahlua buttercream frosting!

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2-3 cups powdered sugar, by taste/texture

¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Kahlua, or Kahlua to taste

Mix it up! Frost cupcakes and garnish with cocoa powder. 

Cheers!!! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When Life Gives You Leftover Lemon Jelly ...

Lemon Linzer Torte Cookies 
With Leftover Lemon Drizzle

A couple of weeks ago, I made Lemon Drop cupcakes for my HelloGiggles column. I had leftover lemon drizzle and decided:

When Life Gives You Leftover Lemon Jelly ... 
... You make Lemon Linzers! 

Best decision I ever made.  



Ingredients for the cookie dough: 
I used this recipe as a guide, but tweaked it ... 
PS If you are OCD, you are going to hate this thrown together recipe ... 
Sorry. 

3/4 cup butter, softened 
1 cup sugar 
1 to 2 egg whites 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
Pinch Clove
Big Pinch Nutmeg
2 teaspoons Vanilla, Almond or Arak extract 

Cream butter and sugar. 
Beat in egg, lemon and extracts. 
Add dry ingredients and spices. 
Roll out dough over flour and cut into shapes of your choosing. Remember, the cookies will be made into sandwiches. Pair each cookie with a mate and cut hole into half of the cookies. (See above image.)
Bake on greased baking sheet at 350 until cookies are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Apply lemon jam (recipe below) as the center of the cookie sandwich. The cookie with hole in the middle atop a regular cookie, the jam visible in the center hole (See above image).
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Enjoy!

For the Lemon Jam 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla

Use a double boiler (or use a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water): melt the butter in the top bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice until blended and pour into the top bowl. Cook and whisk constantly (to prevent the egg from curdling)over the simmering water. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes pale in color and thickens to the consistency of sour cream (about 10 minutes of steady whisking or 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer if there are any lumps (strainer step optional). Keep the cooked lemon mixture off the heat, and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

About the Linzer ... 
We fell in love at the Hungarian Pastry Shop in New York.

I attended a summer session at Columbia University in June. While I was in the neighborhood, I found myself returning the to the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights. It is an adorable little bakery cafe with a European vibe ... and staff. I had Linzers before, but here is where I fell in love. 

This Linzer Torte — a cake — is named after the Austrian city Linz.  Like the cookie, it is a jam filled dessert topped with powdered sugar. This cake is often referred to as the oldest in the world, with a known recipe dating back to 1653! The little cookie version of the confection, which is often referred to in the U.S. by the same name, is actually called a Linzer Sable. So, I hope you enjoy my Linzer Sable recipe! 




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lemon Drop (YES like the martini!!!) Cupcakes

Lemon Drop Cupcakes
As seen on HelloGiggles!


This recipe was first posted on HelloGiggles as part of my Cupcake Girl column.

That lemon drizzle ... 

•   2 ¾ cups sifted flour (1 ¼ cups cake flour and 1 ½ cups all purpose flour)
•   4 ½ teaspoons baking powder, just a tad less is good.
•   ½  teaspoon salt, just a tad less is good. Do Not Exceed ½ teaspoon.
•   4 egg whites
•   ½  teaspoon cream of tartar
•   1 ½  cups sugar ( ¾ cup granulated, ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar)
•   ¾ cup butter, softened
•   ¾  cup milk
•   ¼  cup vodka
•   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•   juice from half a lemon
•   1 tablespoon lemon zest

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat egg whites until foamy with cream of tartar.
In a separate bowl, cream butter and add sugar.  Blend egg mixture into this bowl.
Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, a small amount at a time.
Blend in extracts, lemon parts and vodka.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Allow cupcakes to cool.

For the Lemon Vodka Buttercream 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vodka, vodka to taste
Whip it all together!



For the Lemon Drizzle 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla

Use a double boiler (or use a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water): melt the butter in the top bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice until blended and pour into the top bowl. Cook and whisk constantly (to prevent the egg from curdling)over the simmering water. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes pale in color and thickens to the consistency of sour cream (about 10 minutes of steady whisking or 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer if there are any lumps (strainer step optional). Keep the cooked lemon mixture off the heat, and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

Add buttercream & top with lemon drizzle! 
Cheers!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cologne & An Old Friend



The final installment in my Food & Travel series: 
German favorites & Cologne

As some of you may know, German food was the basis for this blog.  The Old Country is Germany. And the indigenous Bavarian cuisine — coupled with Lebanese and Louisiana dishes —taught to me by my Oma became a little blog. This was my second visit to Germany and my first visit after losing my Oma. It was a happy reminder of the stories she read me, the chocolate candies she snuck me, the language she spoke in whispers to my mom and the food she cooked for us. 

Cologne was also significant because I stayed with a dear friend.  We had the luxury (after living out of a duffle and cheap baguette lunches) of home cooked, healthy meals in Cologne. 

If you would like to try any German inspired meals at home, I invite you to peruse the German recipes in the "100 Recipes & Counting" box [see lefthand side]. Or click here!  

Scenes from Cologne 
German love.

The Cologne Cathedral.
After 5 years, we had a lot of catching up to do. 
Kolsch beer.
A pretzel at the 500+ year old Haus Zims Brewery.

Yummy food prepared by my friend Janina.

The Original Cologne perfume.
Cologne dome clock tower.

We made it to the top of the cathedral ... 500 ancient stairs later.
Janina & Robert on the Rhine's version of the Love Lock bride.
Old town.


A little note on friendship ... 

I first met Janina when she was an exchange student at my high school in 2005. Janina had excellent timing, moving to New Orleans in August 2005 ... Her arrival could be marked in days before Katrina's. I couldn't imagine being a 15-year-old, far from home and thrown in a disaster. Obviously, it was a tumultuous year for us both and we became fast friends. My family — and Oma — quickly bonded to Janina with a German common ground. We celebrated our 16th birthdays together, a few holidays, dances, Janina's first Mardi Gras, inhaled my SATC dvds and attended lots of losing high school football games. When Janina went back to Germany, we stayed in touch emailing each other massive essays about boys, school and dreamy futures in big US or European cities. Janina stayed with my family in summer 2007 and surprised me with a visit again in summer 2008. In 2009, Janina's family hosted my family in Germany. But then five years passed without a visit. Although we were continents apart, we stayed friends. When we went through breakups, moves, new boyfriends and loss, we still messaged or called each other — though months may have passed since the last conversation. So we were both a little nervous to see each other again when I visited her in Cologne. And we both felt silly for being nervous. Because some friendships, regardless of time and distance and change, never go out of style. 

With Janina summer 2008.





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dark & Stormy Cupcakes AKA Rum, Lime and Ginger treats!!!


Dark & Stormy Cupcakes 
As seen on HelloGiggles

This recipe was first posted on HelloGiggles as part of my Cupcake Girl column. 


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped ginger
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (1 cup sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp of rum (set rum aside)
Steps:

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and milk.
Add dry ingredients, including ground ginger, slowly. Mix in minced ginger (I actually chopped the ginger in a food processor).
Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Use the 2 tablespoons of rum you set aside to lightly brush the tops of cupcakes.

Now for the buttercream lime frosting!
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ (AKA powdered) sugar
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3½ tablespoons lime juice
Optional: 1 tablespoon rum, or rum to taste
Mix it up. (If icing is too runny, add more sugar. If too thick, add a splash of milk.)

Apply frosting.
Garnish with limes, ginger or zest! (I used all three!)
Yum!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Amsterdam & Appeltaart

The Third in my Food & Travel series: 
The Appeltaart & Amsterdam


Cafe Winkel Appeltaart 
Dutch Apple Pie 

When I asked a couple of friends what I should do in Amsterdam, I got a resounding "GO TO CAFE WINKEL!" And, order the appeltaart


And it was excellent advice — as you can see! Cafe Winkel is located in the Jordaan (I loved this Amsterdam neighborhood) and has a very European al fresco vibe. Several copycat recipes can be found online. This one looks pretty good ... but I doubt anything can beat the deep crust, rich apple flavor of the real deal. 


Amsterdam
Home of the yellow tulip, my favorite! 










Our Amsterdam highlights ... 
The Park
My black jumpsuit purchase in the Jordaan
Cafe Winkel
The little white dog that pranced on the canal
The little boat that played music a la the Mary Poppins chimney sweep & went in circles
Tulips
Getting lost in the red light district Chinatown
Cheese
Bicycles
Amsterdam Centraal 




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Moroccan Sweet Potatoes & Summer Salad

I have been doing a lot of cupcakes and travel posts lately, so I decided to take a little break from that and post a summer recipe: Moroccan Sweet Potatoes & Strawberry Arugula Salad


Moroccan Sweet Potatoes 
With Mint Yogurt Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbs. Harissa (paste or sprinkle)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coarse salt
1-2 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup mint leaves, dried, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Golden Raisins

Cube potatoes. Pour oil over potatoes and make sure the oil is spread throughout baking sheet.
Coat potatoes in harissa, cayenne, sesame seeds and salt. The harissa paste is quite spicy, so make sure the potatoes are lightly coated. You can add flavors to taste halfway (or longer) through baking.
Bake for ~25 minutes at 425 until potatoes are tender and mush when pressed/cut.
Saute about a half cup of golden raisins on the stovetop in olive oil. Browning the raisins will only take a couple of minutes.

To make the sauce, mix the yogurt, mint, and lemon to taste in a chopper/mixer. A dash of salt and pepper to taste is good.

Serve the potatoes warm, mixed with raisins, and the dipping sauce on the side.


Summer Salad 
Fruit + Prosciutto

Arugula, feta, prosciutto (pan fried), strawberries* & balsamic.
*I also make this salad with watermelon instead of strawberry. 

Harissa makes it Moroccan 

Whenever you read a menu with Moroccan this or that, it is because the item contains Harissa — a multi-pepper paste with garlic and herbs (sometimes sold as pepper flakes). An NPR article describes the tangy, spicy sauce as Sriracha's cousin and the "ketchup" of North Africa due to its ubiquity as a condiment for entrees and spread for bread.

Harissa's ingredients vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, though it is always a complex pepper blend. And though the sauce is considered Moroccan, the peppers it uses are native to the New World.

"It wasn't until Christopher Columbus and crew arrived that pepper fever really took off," the NPR piece states. "With the arrival of the spice-seeking Spanish and Portuguese, it was not long before chilies were shipped back to Europe and thence to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia." [The article sites Greg Malouf's book, From Artichokes to Za'taar: Modern Middle Eastern Food.]

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