Brainfully Delicious

July 31, 2008

I’ve mentioned my friend Dean several times, but there is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet, one of the things that make him so fun and loveable.

You see, my dear friend is obsessed with zombies. Yes, zombies, those rotting, brain eating, undead creatures that might just bring about the apocalypse one of these days.

And no, I am not exagerating by calling this dear man obsessed. He has games and an unbelievable amount of movies (I believe he said he has 4 copies of Night of the Living Dead and I, being such a great friend, convinced him to buy Zombies Gone Wild… :)). He loves to pretend to eat his fiancee’s brains…..he even dressed up as Zombie Elvis for Halloween last year!

Yes friends, the King still lives….just not the way you might hope *g*

Anyways, I really wanted to do something special for Dean for his birthday, and what could a zombie lover enjoy more than brains?

This is more about the decoration than the cupcake itself, but as I wanted to post this I’ll give you the recipe anyways.

Brain Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
4 oz white chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Place liners in cupcake pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time then the melted chocolate and vanilla.

Working in two or three additions, alternate adding in the milk and flour mixture, making sure the flour is last. Mix just until well blended.

Divide batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Whipped Cream Frosting

2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur
1 box white chocolate instant pudding
Red food coloring

Mix all of the ingredients for the whipped cream except the pudding mix in a bowl and put in the fridge with your beaters/whisk to chill while you make the cupcakes.

Beat until stiff peaks form then stir in the pudding mix and add food coloring until you reach a nice brain color shade.

Scoop the icing into a frosting bag with a medium round tip or a ziplock bag. Draw a line of icing down the middle, then squiggle the two halves to make it look like brains. Invite all zombie friends over and enjoy 🙂

This is really a fun cupcake. If you really wanted to get into the swing of things you could use food coloring to color the cupcakes themselves and even add a gooey filling. I have a hard time believing my dear friend is not one of a kind, so it isn’t likely you’ll know someone with the same obsession, but these would be great for a theme party or for halloween…as long as you don’t mind eating a twisted treat 🙂


Taste & Create XII: Birthday Madelines

July 29, 2008

This month is very special for Taste & Create. Though it has only been a few months for me, this monthly event has been bringing food bloggers together for a year. Yes it is Taste & Create’s first birthday!

I was hoping to special birthday cupcakes or something like that to help celebrate, and instead my partner, the talanted woman behind Fuss Free Flavorsoffered something I had been considering making for a while. Instead I made chocolate drizzled birthday Madelines 🙂

Madelines
Source:
Fuss Free Flavors

75g Unsalted butter – melted and cool
100g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs
90g Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Pinch of salt

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they have doubled in size and are light and fluffy. Slowly fold in the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the vanilla. Slowly add in the melted butter, gently folding all the time.

When mixed cover the bowl and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, the batter should be foamy and full of air. Put a dollop of the mixture into a well buttered Madeleine tray, each mold should be about 2/3 full.

Place in an oven at 375F for around 7 minutes until risen, golden and shrinking away from the edges of the mold.

Leave for a few minutes and then turn out. Add a drizzle of melted chocolate and enjoy.

Happy Birthday Taste & Create 🙂


Taste & Create XI: Sugar and Spice…

June 22, 2008

For a while now, a friend of mine has been unwittingly torturing me with his many tales of waffles for breakfast. I have been a good girl, and have resisted so far (it’s more about resisting the syrup that must go on those waffles than the waffles themselves) but when I saw that one of the recipes my partner, Magpie from je le vous dirais had on her blog was for a Dutch Baby, I knew I had to finally break down.

Now, I have never had a Dutch Baby before, but from what I have heard it is much like pancakes, so I went for it, and I am glad I did cause even if I messed something up, it was well worth it.

Dutch Baby
Source: je le vous dirais

1/2 tablespoon butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the over to 400F. Please empty glass pie plate in oven to preheat.

Mix the eggs, milk, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.

Take the pie plate out of the oven and add the butter. Pour the batter on top and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and/or sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cut into wedges and devour immediately with topping of choice. Enjoy.

This recipe called for way too much better, so I adjusted the numbers for the recipe here. If you try it yourself and it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough to grease the pan, just add a touch more.

This recipe was very tasty, and well worth breaking down….let’s just hope that now i have syrup in the house again I will be able to continue resisting it’s call 🙂


Love at First Bite

May 19, 2008

Thanks to the lovely Economic Stimulus check I finally have a replacement pasta machine! And this time I didn’t go cheap, I went for the more expensive one with the highest ratings, so hopefully it will last me for many years.

I’ve already done plain homemade pasta on this blog, and wanted to test it straight before doing something special so instead I decided to write about a new sauce. I am absolutely infatuated with this recipe. Seriously, it’s just…awesome. 🙂

This was a recipe done by the Greedy Gourmet several months ago for Presto Pasta Night hosted by Once Upon a Feast. When I saw the recipe it looked good. I thought it might be fun but honestly when I actually got around to trying it, it was love at first bite 🙂 I hope you’ll try it yourself cause even though it’s about as unhealthy as a sauce can get, it is soooooo worth it. This is just as creamy as any alfredo sauce with a zing of lemon that just gives it so much life. 

Creamy Lemon Romano Sauce
Adapted from: The Greedy Gourmet

6 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated
Grated rind of 1 lemon
12 fl oz Heavy Cream
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Brown the garlic lightly in a sauce pan. Mix in the cheese, grated lemon rind and cream.

Heat gently, stirring frequently until all of the cheese has melted and sauce begins to thicken. Season to taste. If it isn’t getting as thick as you would like it, add a little bit of corn starch, dissolved in milk.

Pour over pasta of your choice. Enjoy

I don’t know what it is about this sauce but I really can’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to try it over chicken or something like that. It really is a great recipe.


The Best Part of Waking Up

May 18, 2008

Even before I moved to New York I have loved bagels. Every once an a while, when I could convince my mother to go to the mall (she’s a people person, but can’t stand malls) we would treat ourselves to a perfectly evil dish. Salt bagels smothered in melted cheese. I refuse to think about what that might have done to our bodies cause it was well worth it to bite into those things.

That just makes it so much better that my wonderful city has perfected this tasty treat. I don’t know what it is about these things, but there is really nothing better to start your day with. Even if it isn’t smothered with cheese. 🙂

I don’t have them often now, and it’s even rarer that they have cheese on them, because there is no way I can convince myself that they’re even remotely good for me. Of course that rarity just makes them so much better, and the idea of actually having one fresh and homemade was impossible to pass up.

I admit, these aren’t as good as a real New York bagel, but it’s so much fun to make and so tasty, that I will definitely be doing this again.

Bagels
Source: The Fresh Loaf

Sponge:
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups water

Dough:
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder (can substitute 1 tablespoon malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar)

1 tablespoon baking soda for the water
Cornmeal for dusting the pan
Toppings for the bagels

The Night Before:
Stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until all ingredients are blended. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for two hours.

Remove the plastic wrap and stir the additional yeast into the sponge. Add 3 cups of the flour, the malt powder, and the salt into the bowl and mix until all of the ingredients form a ball. You need to work in the additional 3/4 cups of flour to stiffen the dough, either while still mixing in the bowl or while kneading. The dough should be stiffer and drier than normal bread dough, but moist enough that all of the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Immediately after kneading, split the dough into a dozen small pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and set it aside. When you have all 12 pieces made, cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes.

To shape the bagel, punch your thumb through the center of each ball and then rotate the dough, working it into a bagel shape, making it as even in width as possible.

Place the shaped bagels on an oiled sheet pan, with an inch or so between one another. If you have parchment paper, line the sheet pan with parchment and spray it lightly with oil before placing the bagels on the pan. Cover the pan with plastic and allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes.

The suggested method of testing whether the bagels are ready to retard is by dropping one of them into a bowl of cool water: if the bagel floats back up to the surface in under ten seconds it is ready to retard. If not, it needs to rise more. Place the covered pan into the refrigerator for the night.

The Next Day

Preheat the oven to 500. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add one tablespoon of baking soda to the pot to alkalize the water.

When the pot is boiling, drop a few of the bagels into the pot one at a time and let them boil for a minute. Use a large, slotted spoon or spatula to gently flip them over and boil them on the other side.

Before removing them from the pot, sprinkle corn meal onto the sheet pan. Remove them one at a time, set them back onto the sheet pan, and top them right away, while they are still slightly moist. Repeat this process until all of the bagels have been boiled and topped.

Once ready, place the sheet pan into the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 450 degrees, rotate the pan, and bake for another 5 minutes until the bagels begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for as long as you can before digging in. Enjoy

I need to work on the shaping a bit (okay, a lot…they were kinda ugly) but they were also very tasty. Definitely worth trying again, especially if I can bribe one of my male friends to knead this very tough dough for me 🙂


Sweetness By Request

May 6, 2008

I am one of those people that try to please everyone. I know, I know, it’s never a good idea, but I do enjoy making people happy. So when not just one, but two people commented about their interest in the cinnamon-sugar crackers, I just had to try it 🙂

I am pretty happy I did cause they really did turn out great, so ladies, I hope you’ll try it yourself. They’re well worth it!

Cinnamon Sugar Crackers
Source: Straight From the Farm

2 ½ c. flour
2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 t. salt
4 T. olive oil
¾ c. cold water

For sprinkling on top:
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Mix dry ingredients together in a medium bowl being sure to get everything well blended.  Add the oil and half of the water and begin mixing.  Add more water as necessary to form a rough dry dough.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until it comes together into a cohesive ball.

Divide dough into even quarters.  On a piece of parchment paper, roll dough as thin as possible.  Cut the dough into squares or other desired shape and use a fork to prick each square.  Sprinkle generously with cinnamon/sugar mix.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown, turning the sheet once half way through.  While the first batch is baking, roll out another quarter of dough.  Let baked crackers cool before breaking apart.  Store in a ziplock bag. Enjoy

This is a wonderful treat, and it would be something fun to make with kids since it is so very easy.

Oh and I was tagged, so I might as well add it here. Grace from A Southern Grace was tagged for a new game called “Look What I Made” and decided to pass on the love. Basically, you compile a list of five recipes that you’ve tried from other blogs. Not so hard for me since that seems to be where I’ve gotten most of the recipes on this blog 🙂

The creator of this little game, Farida of Farida’s Azerbaijani Cookbook, says that “this is a great opportunity to give kudos to the fellow foodies whose recipes we used and inspire them to post more of their yummies. A way to say thank you for what they do. I also think this tag will help us discover some interesting recipes and blogs out there. There are a lot of delicious recipes hidden somewhere in the archives, and this tag may actually give them another chance to shine.”

So here we go five things I’ve made:

Artisan Herb Crackers from Straight From the Farm
Buttermilk Biscuits from For the Love of Food
Cheesy Bread Braid from Cookie Baker Lynn
Kahlua Hot Chocolate from We [Heart] Food
and
Hearty Potato Bread from A Year in Bread

Unfortunately I don’t have that many readers yet, so I don’t have many people to choose from to tag back. However, I will go with Krysta, the Evil Chef Mom, Either/both Todd and Diane from White on Rice Couple and Lisa Rene from Little Bits. Hopefully you guys will have fun with it and not hate me forever 🙂


The Hands-On Approach

May 4, 2008

So a while ago I mentioned that my pasta machine broke. It’s very sad. I missed making pasta enough that I got to the point that I even opened the damn thing up and tried to fix it myself. I thought I got it but of course when I tried to use it again it refused to play nice. *sigh* No problem, once I get that stimulous money I will be buying myself another. 🙂

In the meantime, I still miss making pasta, and friday night it hit me that there were types of pasta that didn’t need to be rolled out! I could make some of that easily! So yesterday I did just that. I made Cavatelli!

It’s an easy enough process, but takes a while so make sure you have the time before you start. It is well worth it though. It’s always so soothing to work with dough.

Cavatelli
Source: Eating Cleveland

16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggs
1 Pinch of Salt
3 Cups (1 pound) All Purpose Flour
 

Pour about 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add the eggs and cheese and stiring in circles, mix everything up well. Add more flour it needed.

Dump the dough out onto your work surface and knead it well, working in more flour as needed until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes or more.

Divide the dough into at least eight balls (the smaller the balls, the easier it is to work with so you might even want to make it 16) cover all but one ball of dough. Take the ball you’re working with and roll it between your palms above your work surface, working it into a long thin tube. Once it gets harder to work with like that, place on the work surface and roll out with your palms until you have a long thin tube about 1/4 inch diameter.

Cover and work out the other balls the same way then cut each tube into pieces 1/2 to 1 inch long. 

With a pastry cutter or the flat edge of a butter knife, angle the blade at approximately 45 degrees, then starting at the far edge and pulling the dough towards you, drag the blade across the dough. It should roll up around the edge of the blade. Drop your cavatelli into a well floured pan and continue working till you’ve done all of the dough.

To cook, drop by handfuls into well salted boiling water and cook until it begins to float. Test one before taking them off the heat but fresh cavatelli should only need a few minutes to cook. Enjoy 🙂