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Chocolate Banana Icebox Cake
Test Kitchen: Icebox Cake /Research
Homemade Corned Beef on Homemade Rye
Simple Chocolate Mousse
Test Kitchen: Questions
Superbowl Cake (A Week Late)
Experimenting: Butternut Squash Update
Experimenting: Butternut Squash Pancakes
Picnic Bento
From the Formica Top #6: Test Kitchen (+ Other Thi...
Foodie Blog Roll
Just Bento
Chez Pim
Amateur Gourmet
Serious Eats
Traveler's Lunchbox
Foodie Farmgirl
Always in the Kitchen
Dorie Greenspan
Picnic Bento
Saturday, January 26, 2008
My favorite bento yet...

The nutrition facts of each component

Left: Tomato and lettuce salad with pimentos
Right: Prosciutto potato salad made with soft Laughing Cow cheese

Left: A roasted spinach and artichoke wrap with parmesan
Right: Mushroom stuffed with turkey sausage

posted by Rose @ 11:13 PM   0 comments
From the Formica Top #6: Test Kitchen (+ Other Things)
From the Formica Top #6

Test Kitchen
I have gotten bored. Very bored. After a marathon of holiday baking (and some holiday eating), I'm ready to try something new and not eat the same old thing because I know it's healthy. It's time to find new healthy things!

By healthy, I do not mean creative salads. I mean using whole grains like millet and quinoa, seafood like salmon and scallops, leaner options for the fatty classics like turkey and chicken sausage instead of the greasy pork versions, trying new things like tempeh and all sorts of mushrooms.

This has translated into millet and quinoa whole wheat bread, portabella mushrooms stuffed with turkey sausage, pimentos, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese pizza and new bentos.

All of these, of course, will eventually end up here, but I thought I would fill you in lest you think me a lazy cook in the New Year. In fact, next week is a busy cooking week, but I'll talk about all that in the next sections.

Hold your breath for new features like Investigating, a series on trying things I've never tried before, Cook the Book: Tapas by Penelope Casas, which I got for the holidays, and, come full-blown farm season, recipes local to Connecticut, stories about the farms and other bits that I haven't come up for a name with yet.

I have big plans for this blog this year...

A Week of Cooking
I'm hosting a meeting at my center at work on Friday and I'm determined to provide not only coffee, but a nice little table of refreshments--understated but delicious. It's not a big deal of a meeting, but it is a little important, especially to me.

I think a dozen muffins, a yummy loaf of bread with jam and butter, coffee and juice would be just fine. But with Baking by Dorie Greenspan still checked out of the library (they very nicely allowed me to extend my check out, mostly because I begged and pleaded), the choices are never easy.

Then Saturday is Imbolc (or Candlemas), the first pagan sabbat of the year. I'm looking to a tapas inspired dinner that isn't too over the top. I've learned my lesson about making dinner parties hard for myself, so an affair of appetizers seems doable.

Penelope Casas has some lovely recipes in her Tapas book and I've tested a few things out lately that I'd like to share, like stuffed mushrooms and a leaner spinach artichoke "dip." There are a few recipes with Serrano ham that I'm dying to try.

Then a cake for a Superbowl party on Sunday. I might have watched too much of Ace of Cakes lately, but my plan is a football field with football players. Yes, Duff made a Superbowl cake and that episode aired recently, so I have ideas. Little football players, goal posts, shredded coconut for grass (which informs the flavor of the cake, really), precise work.

This will require a trip to a craft store for fondant and icing tips. I'll also need a cake pan, one of those 9x13 jobs with cornered edges, like my brownie pans. And, yeah, the grocery store. I'm planning on baking the cake during the week and doing little things, as well, so I don't end up with a crazy Sunday morning, after a nutty Saturday night.

Reports will come. I promise.

Functional Kitchen

So, at my more diary/journal like blog, I posted about using chalkboard paint in my kitchen. This idea hasn't died, I just need to do a little more hunting around for the actual paint. I'm excited about the idea of posting a dinner party menu on the board, like a restaurant menu, being creative with chalk, adding one more surface to write on, putting up poems and other things.

Since I'm doing a lot more experimenting with recipes, I got myself a new recipe "sketchbook" of sorts, where I can track attempts at different things and keep a handle of how many calories there are in certain things. If I know there's 250 calories in the cupcake than I'll eat it and account for it the rest of the day. But if I have no clue, than I'm less likely to eat it. And I'm sick of that.

Clipboards have also been added, with the idea being that I can Velcro them to the cabinets and put recipes on there, so I can read them while I cook and not have it be in the way or get completely filthy. A cookbook shelf will also be necessary, but I'm working out the construction of that. Probably a shelf with a lip in front and a clip to hold open the book.

I'll let you know how all these go...
posted by Rose @ 6:03 PM   0 comments
Interesting Things on Foodie Blogs
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Since I read a few different foodie blogs, I thought I'd let you in on a few nifty things I've seen lately...

@Serious Eats
If you don't read Serious Eats and you love food, I definitely recommend it! They do a great job and Dorie Greenspan runs a column there called Baking with Dorie.

Photo of the Day: Edible Tic Tac Toe
- I love the Photo of the Day posts; there's always something interesting!

Barbecue Turkey Meatball Sliders - I think these are a nice lean alternative for Superbowl snacking.

Sunday Brunch: Dorie Greenspan's Oatmeal Breakfast Bread
- Nothing that's come out of Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours has been bad and I'm excited to try this particular recipe.

Chocolate Purist: An Interview with Sam Madell - Incredibly enlightening information about chocolate farming and production, refuting any idea that "all chocolate is organic" and discussing the political/economic ramifications of cocoa farmers.

@Amateur Gourmet
Adam is funny and doesn't pound you over the head with elitism. I like him an awful lot. He also wrote a book, The Amateur Gourmet.

Egg Salad Soliloquy - A letter from Egg Salad, with some interesting tips (you mean, there's a way to boil an egg and not get a green ring?).

Alice Waters Shopping at the Union Square Green Market - Where else, but on the Amateur Gourmet?

@Farmgirl Fare
A city girl turned country farmer, almost all of her recipes fall into the slow food/seasonal recipes/local eating category.

The Year in Bread has some fantastic recipes I must try!

Her collection of heart rocks is charming. And a bizarre, in the "Is the earth talking to her?" kind of way.

Other Food Blogs I Read
Have I done this before?

Just Bento - As I am now a bento-luncher, I love her ideas, especially since she focuses on healthy (not cute) bento.

Eggbeater - Shuna has some really interesting and eye-opening things to say about the food industiry. And the way she writes about creating pastry and desserts is inspirational.

Matt Bites - A foodie and a photographer, he straddles two of my great interests/hobbies/someday-maybe careers.

posted by Rose @ 6:55 AM   0 comments
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I made a million of these this holiday season, for my cookie boxes, in the shape of Yule trees (pictured at left). It's a solid recipe I've used since I was about ten and my mom made cookies for Easter. The little trick to these is the almond extract--it makes them taste fancy, almost like wedding cake. The confectioners sugar in the dough makes for a fine-textured cookie. Of course, keep the dough chilled for rolling, but not too cold. Leave these overnight in the fridge, and you'll want to take the dough out at least an hour before rolling.

Also, watch these in the oven! Seriously. They really do take about 7-8 minutes to bake and you really want a barely golden brown bottom on this cookie, especially if you don't exactly cool your cookies on a a separate cooling rack (I don't, mostly because I don't have the room)--they'll continue to cook a little out of the oven (carryover cooking it's called, which I learned from Alton Brown). These keep really well, especially with icing. They also ship well!

Have fun with the shapes, but if you're going for quantity, stick with one shape, frosting color and additional decors--it'll be much easier, trust me.

By the way, this recipe came with train and bear cookie cutters that was a very involved little design--the cutters made indentations into the cookies with details on the bear's face and body and the train engine's little parts. I don't know where those cookie cutters are anymore, but the recipe is live and kicking. I finally wrote it down next year, instead of making my mom dig through her ancient version of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, where she had stuck the card with the recipe on it, every time I wanted to make them.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (use the real, not imitation)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Cream the butter with the sugar, stirring until combined.
2. Add the egg, mix until good and combined.
3. Add the extracts. Again, use the real almond stuff. The imitation really doesn't taste the same.
4. Separately sift the flour and baking soda.
5. Add dry ingredients to the wet in 3 batches, combining thoroughly before adding the next bit.
6. Chill 2-3 hours in the fridge, or blast it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
8. Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use your cutesy cookie cutters.
9. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until lightly golden brown around the edges. Taste one warm, just because they're so yummy.
10. Frost (frosting recipe below) or eat plain.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

1 pound confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 large egg white
Water, on the cold side
Food coloring (optional, but so much fun)

1. Mix the confectioners sugar and egg white. It won't really mix well, because there's not enough liquid, but you don't want to dump water in immediately.
2. Add water by tablespoons until you get a thick frosting. Thankfully, this is a forgiving frosting, so if it turns out to be too runny, just add more sugar. Too thick? More water! Add food coloring to your desired color.
3. Spread onto cookies in a thin layer. This frosting sets hard, so let the cookies dry a while before storing. 30 minutes will work, overnight is better (especially if shipping).

This frosting keeps well in the fridge. All it needs is a little time at room temperature and a good stir--it'll be good as new.

These really are the best sugar cookies I've tried for cut-outs and I've tried several. They are incredibly tasty.
posted by Rose @ 5:45 AM   0 comments
Redesign! (Not Quite Done)
Thursday, January 03, 2008
What do you think? There's still some tinkering to be done, but I'm tired. Tomorrow morning, I promise.

Hey, Karen, commenting should work now!
posted by Rose @ 10:16 PM   1 comments
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Name: Starry Rose
Home: New Haven, CT

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