martha mondays: you know you want to!

just what is this martha mondays and why should you join us? this is the bi-weekly join as you like no rules apply event for people who are interested in checking out martha's recipes, good and bad. if you think she's a perfectionist b*tch then this event is probably not for you. well then again, she probably is one, but that's actually what i like about her ;)

normally i will select a recipe out of her baking handbook but sometimes from her empire of magazines. then you guys and gals go out there and make the magic! i'm a proud member of the daring bakers and tuesdays with dorie, and i just love the idea of everyone out there making the same thing. so that's how i started this event. right now it's not big enough to require its own blog site, but we'll just see what happens!

the no rules "rules" include: post on the same day and email me your blog link. yup, that's it!

the next round: choose any recipe from the current issue of "living" or "everyday food" magazine. sweet or savory, appetizer or dinner, hot or cold ... the possibilities are endless and the choice is up to you! if you don't have her magazine, then click here for the living issue and here for everyday food issue. tweaking is allowed, although i'm more curious to see how her recipes work, as is. post date is monday may 12. don't forget to email me for the round-up!

to see our previous two martha mondays, including links to those who joined us, click for
coconut-caramel sandwich cookies and mocha (or blackberry) roulade.

twd: fluted polenta and ricotta cake

i have to admit that if a recipe doesn't have a photo, i tend to gloss over it, um, next! so when caitlin of engineer baker picked the fluted polenta and ricotta cake for this week's tuesdays with dorie, i was intrigued. it made me think of this tasty little cake called basbousa i have at one of my favorite middle eastern lunch spots near work. of course thanks to wiki, now i know they are not really similar at all. but in the meantime, i was excited to try this interesting combination of ingredients. i mean, who doesn't like to be transported to a sunny mediterranean lifestyle?

the recipe was pretty straightfoward and easy to assemble. and it could've been just me and the fact that this was my third straight day of baking, but it was also pretty darn messy. i had honey dripping everywhere! and the figs kept sticking to my fingers as i cut them! and i was trying to take photos the whole time! but the beautiful smell coming from the oven, honey heaven, made up for all of it as i was cleaning up.

the end result was lovely. the first bite tastes very sweet, but then the corn and ricotta mellow it out. i used mission figs and i should've added more (and also dusted with a little flour so they didn't all plop down to the bottom). i also would've tried adding some sliced almonds, either to the mix or on top.

for the recipe and more figs than you shake your tush at, visit all the blogging bakers at tuesdays with dorie!

i tried another slice tonight, although it seemed a little denser. it's also just in a pie box because i don't have an airtight container big enough for it, so that could be the culprit. but coupled with a freshly made fruit salad, it was still quite good!


going green at the farmer's markets

i love the farmer's markets here in the city. i definitely believe that it is easier to buy local produce, meats, cheeses, wines, and other bountiful items here in the city than it is back at home, surrounded by farms. i don't necessarily mean better; i know all the environmental arguments against trucking it down here to the city. but it is certainly easier to get it all in one location (and isn't a truck from 70 miles away better than a californian truck from 3,000 miles away, or even further?)

when i went to union square this weekend i really appreciated how much i love my not so little but totally manageable farmer's market. but no matter where i picked up my goodies, i knew i wanted to join in the "go local" theme for art you can eat hosted by amanda from mrs. w's kitchen and holly from phemomenon.

here are two dishes that we recently made. the market options are somewhat limited right now. if this event was let's say in two months, i could probably show a variety of 100% local dishes. but green vegetables are still a no-show, except for asparagus which i just can. not. bear. one. more. time. garlic has not yet arrived but onions, shallots, herbs, and potatoes are are still looking fresh. and we saw these amazing mushrooms that were the freshest, moistest, prettiest looking things. i'm not even really fond of the 'shrooms but these were just asking to be made into something, and we obliged.

now, before anyone says anything, i know that eating meat is one of the worst things for the environment. yes, yes, and yes i know! but i only eat meat a couple times of month, and i wanted to illustrate that it is possible to eat meat and still support local farms that utilize, at least relatively speaking, more sustainable methods of producing such meat. i don't think everyone is going to become vegetarian any time too soon. but if we could reduce our average consumption of meat, and eat locally grown meat whenever possible, it would all be a good start :)

chicken marsala with sugar snap peas (local chicken, mushrooms, shallots, chives)

roasted rosemary turkey with chive potatoes and broccoli (local turkey, rosemary, onion, potatoes, chives)

mm: almond-mocha roulade

martha, martha, martha! i mostly love your baking recipes, but this time you slightly drove me crazy.

i wouldn't describe this roulade as either easy or that difficult. but it was all very new to me, so i felt like each step was a learning process. when the learning went smoothly, how terrific! and when it didn't ... well, cursing out martha seemed better than getting into a fight with my darling mr. mimi. but for the purpose of full disclosure, the truth is ... i cursed out the book AND got into an "out of the kitchen, now!" fight. oh yeah, make your ever first mousse at midnight and see what happens ;)

since i don't feel quite like myself if i don't find 100 random reasons to procrastinate, it was friday afternoon when i realized that i would have to make all three of my daring bakers, tuesdays with dorie, and martha mondays baking challenges this weekend - ack! let's get going!

first, what is "espresso powder"? uhh, i hate coffee, so i had no idea. i bought some fresh ground italian roast at the lovely neighborhood leaf and bean but then i realized i need instant espresso, and this was brew. fine, forget the mocha in the mousse, i hate coffee anyway. i decided to make an almond mousse. disaster number one ... against my instincts i read in another recipe to add the almond extract to the chocolate. it may have used a different method than martha's (i can't remember, maybe the chocolate was already added to something else?) but i went and added the extract. go ahead, guess what happened. it tightened up to a big ball of no you didn't just add some liquid to this tempered chocolate. frick. next time, listen to you instincts!

but disaster number two was all of martha's making (plus a wee bit of not listening to instincts after the fact). in her mousse recipe, the sugar gets heated. then it says, take off heat. then it says, whip the egg yolks for 3 minutes. then add the sugar in steady stream. hmm, i bet you can guess what happened. sure enough the sugar hardened up. and unfortunately instead of listening to my nagging this isn't going to work doubts, i decided to try to scrape it in. yes, of course it didn't work!! by that time, now it really was midnight. but i refused to let this one get by me!!

so i went ahead and did it all over again. and wow of wowzers. i have never made mousse before and this was chocolately and creamy and fluffy. i could have just eaten this on its own, licking right out of the bowl.

but the next day i went ahead and made the cake. in the morning i did go out and buy some instant espresso, and so decided to make the cake as written.

and after that, how was the taste? as delish as the original martha photo enticingly predicted, and truly worth every minute of making (or re-making) it. i was going to bring it in to work. but alas, some pieces may just have to stay home with us ;)

thanks for reading this too-long post. here is the recipe, enjoy! if you also joined me for this martha monday, please email me and i'll get a link up here for you!

update: zakia at frosted bakeshop made a beautiful blackberry roulade and alexandra over at addicted sweet tooth created a lovely chocolate roulade. please go visit their yummy looking cakes! and we'd love to have you join us next time ...

so for the next round of martha mondays ... i'm going all pro-choice! pick any recipe from a current magazine issue and post on monday may 12. it can be sweet or savory. if you don't want to buy her magazine, you can find some recipes from current issues here.

almond-mocha roulade: serves many or few, depending on your mood
adapted from martha's baking handbook (2005, p. 187)

for mousse:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tb boiling water + 1 tb water
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
2 tb light corn syrup
4 large egg yolks

1. whip cream to soft peaks, cover with plastic and refrigerate. in double boiler, melt chocolate. heat water (in the original, hot water was used for espresso. wasn't sure if this would change the consistency. so i used half the amount of water just in case).

2. with whisk attachment, beat yolks on medium speed until lightened, about 3 minutes. in the meantime (but not too far in advance), in small saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, and 1 tb water to boil over medium heat, until 238F.

3. with mixer still on medium, slowly pour in sugar syrup. change to high speed and beat about 2 minutes more, until ribbon like trail holds for 2 seconds when whisk is lifted.

4. beat in melted chocolate, extracts, and water to combine. gently fold in the chilled whip cream until well combined. refrigerate overnight.

for cake (bake cake same day as you assemble it):
1/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted (plus more for dusting)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tb instant espresso powder
1 tb hot water
6 eggs, separated, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar

1. preheat oven to 325F. line a 17 x 12 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. dust a large, clean kitchen towel with cocoa and set aside. sift together cocoa and flour, and in small bowl stir together the espresso and water. set aside.

2. with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks on high until thick and pale (with ribbon trail) about 5 minutes. transfer to large bowl, set aside.

3. with whisk attachment, whip egg whites on low speed until foamy. raise to medium-high, and add sugar in slow steady stream. beat until stiff peaks form.

4. fold a third of egg-white mixture into egg-yolk mixture to lighten. gently fold in remaining egg whites until just combined. fold in espresso mixture, then gradually fold in cocoa mixture. do not overmix.

folding eggs, espresso, and cocoa

5. pour batter onto prepared sheet, spread evenly and smooth. bake, rotating halfway through, for 10-12 minutes until cake springs back when lightly touched. immediately place prepared towel on top, turn over, lift off pan and gently peel off parchment. starting on long side, roll towel and cake into log, incorporating towel as you go. transfer to cooling rack, seam side down, and cool completely.

6. unroll cake. spread almond mousse evenly. gently roll cake again and wrap with the towel. refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours. slice with serrated knife.


daring bakers: cheesecake pops

can i tell you the truth? when i first read this month's challenge, i was kinda like meh. i just wasn't that into it. which is weird because i love me some new york cheesecake. but the whole "pops" part wasn't doing it for me, pops-shmops, whatever.

well darn it if i didn't tell you now that these are not only delish, but so fun to make! (yeah, okay a bit messy but isn't that what made it fun?!) i halved the recipe and still came out with tons. i used the dark chocolate dip, with the usual sprinkles, dots, and some chopped almonds.

so a real thanks to elle at feeding my enthusiasms and deborah at taste and tell for picking this gem! i love to be given a chance to push beyond what i think i would like and find out how very wrong my assumptions can be.

i've only just recently joined the daring bakers, but each and every time i am so impressed by how drop dead gorgeous and creative they make these challenges. all they need is one single recipe and you get hundreds of different, beautiful treats to enjoy. so please, go visit everyone else and have a truly terrific poptastic daring baker sunday!


twd: bill's big carrot cake

i'm a pretty big fan of carrot cake, so when amanda of
slow like honey chose bill's big carrot cake for this week's tuesdays with dorie, i was also pretty excited. carrot cake was one of those standard staples that i love, but have never made myself.

since i will be bringing this to work i decided to halve the recipe and make cupcakes instead. and because i am kind of lazy on a late monday night (yes, i am the queen of procastinate!!) i used those foil muffin cups on a baking sheet instead of regular muffin tins. now why does this actually satisfy my laziness?? i really have no idea. but it's all mental folks, and foil cups on a sheet make me feel better ;)

and as some of you may remember, i have not yet been converted to the ILDC (can anyone guess what that stands for?) and so i was a bit hesitant. but they smelled so good from the oven. sure, the cupcakes kind of sank and spread a little. and the cream cheese frosting was a little too thin for me, even with a little extra sugar thrown in. plus, i may have overcooked them (i had them in there for a full 30 minutes). and i had no time to make these cute little marzipan carrots and had to settle with the easy old sprinkle on top quick trick.

but the taste? ... delish!!

yeah okay, so the frosting was a little too sweet. but the cake was delish, even with the overcooking. in fact, it made this crunchy sugary top which was a perfect complement to the creamy frosting. i may tweak it just a wee bit if i make this again, but i think i finally may have found a dorie recipe that i like :)

to see more carrot (cup)cake than you ever thought possible, and for a copy of the recipe, please check out everyone else's concoctions!


happy pesach!

the start of any great gathering ... the wine!
when i was very little i attended lutheran services, and my stepfamily is jewish. but if you gave me a form to fill out, next to "religion?" i would check off "none". i don't follow or practice anything. but if you met me and had a discussion about what religion i feel the most affinity for, i would reply, judaism.

when i was an adolescent, rabbi davidson gave me a copy of a chaim potok book, and i felt like she was nearly the only one who understood my passion (and obsession) with creating art, and my struggle identifying as an artist, even if we didn't explicitly talk about it in that way. i would have loved to have her officiate at my wedding if it were permissible. we did celebrate the jewish tradition of breaking the glass; it's one of my favorite momentos of our wedding day.

when i got older, i was swooning over my philosophy professor (who doesn't fall in love with their college philosophy professor??!) but what really interested me was his philosophical and moral interpretation of judaism. i felt like it spoke to my perspective, moreso than any other organized religion.

and one of my fondest memories is celebrating the jewish holidays with nanny and pop-pop. hanukkah was always fun. who doesn't love receiving gifts? oh yeah, and eating latkes!! yumm. but passover was always a real favorite too. even though reading through the haggadah took f.o.r.e.v.e.r, i loved all the rituals and traditions. i loved bargaining to return the matzoh in exchange for some new nail polish (i think one year that is what i actually asked for!) and for being together with family. although pop-pop no longer presides over the seder prayers, i know that he was with us, in spirit and happiness, as we celebrated on saturday.

vegetables ready to be roasted

and of course, what's a family gathering without me trying to bring a baked goodie? i saw this recipe with an article on passover desserts in living last month and knew i really wanted to make it. the online recipe can be found here. i don't have any slice photos because everyone ate it up so quickly! but it came out absolutely delish. just the right balance of sweetness and juiciness. it would be a wonderful dessert, any time of the year.

almond filling

almond-coconut tart


mimi's attempt at a proustian-worthy madeleine

first, wow, this is my 100th post! who knew it would be coming along like this? it's been a joy not only to play around with my food, learn new baking skills, and get a phat camera ... but what i didn't expect was how much i enjoy reading other people's food blogs. so the past couple of months have been quite a treat. i'm proud i've reached 100 and i look forward to my 1000th :)

so it's an hour before midnight. we've spent a lazy evening watching the mets. now what? oh please i don't even have to tell you what happened! i ended up in the kitchen.

i ate my first madeleine this past christmas. i loved them. so one of the first things i bought when i started baking was a special pan to make my own. all four of my baking books have a madeleine recipe, and surely there are more in my google reader too. but i chose julia's recipe (with flo braker) because i loved how it was written. and it didn't require chilling time, which is a make or break deal an hour before midnight. plus! it required me to fold "gingerly" ... which is like telling me to stop dancing, almost impossible to do! there really is nothing ginger about me! so i was on to this challenge!

and guess what? oops, i think gingerly turned a little bit too eagerly when the flour wasn't incorporating that well. but i piped the batter and hoped for the best. they didn't brown as much as i like (although, are they supposed to be browned? i know the classic french hate brown omelettes, maybe true for madeleines too?) and i think i prefer the full sized versions. they did pop right out and were tasty. i was happy to have made my first (albeit modified with yolks) génoise, but i think next time, i'm going to try this recipe instead. looks delish, doesn't it?

from ginger ...

... to eager

ladyfinger génoise
from baking with julia (1996, p. 41)

3 tb butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temp
4 large egg yolks, room temp
1 tsp vanilla

1. pour melted butter into bowl and set aside. sift flour, 1 tb of sugar, and salt together and set aside.

2. put eggs, yolks, and 1 tb of sugar into mixer with whisk attachment. beat just to combine. add remaining sugar and whisk on medium until airy, pale, and tripled in size, like softly whipped cream, about 4-5 minutes. you know you're ready when you lift the whisk and the mixture falls back into the bowl in a ribbon that rests on the surface, instead of sinking right into the mix. pour vanilla during last moments of whipping.

3. sprinkle about one third of flour mixture into batter and fold, stopping as soon as flour is incorporated. fold in rest of flour in two more additions. the eggs and sugar batter will deflate, don't worry, but go gently.

4. spoon about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl with the butter and fold. fold this butter mixture into the batter (mixing it first helps to incorporate it more easily).

5. use immediately with a buttered/floured madeleine pan in a pre-heated oven at 400F. regular size should take about 10 minutes, minis about 7 or so.