Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Filling and Chocolate Frosting

These I made shortly after Christmas-- and this leaves for the last of my Christmas posts. Now all posts will actually be from this year-- hurrah! That's more caught up than I expected to be!
While I was home and cooking for my little brothers I went through a whole slew of my recipes to decide what to make for them. I had leftover pumpkin from making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and I thought that was a good reason to make more pumpkin flavoured things. I still didn't use all the pumpkin before I left.
My mom doesn't really like pumpkin (or any squash) either.

But whatever! Originally this recipe calls for a dulce de leche frosting, but I decided to go with chocolate instead. I really like the combo of pumpkin and chocolate, though I can't exactly tell you why. It's probably just the spice and chocolate, since I love mexican chocolate and cinnamon chocolate too. Spicy, sweet, bitter, all in one load-- can't go wrong with that.

My dulce de leche didn't set very well. I was sort of under time constraints (imagine, with two little boys running underfoot) so I didn't give it as much time as it needed. Thus, the dulce looks good here, but within a day or so it was completely absorbed into the center of the cupcake and just made it moister. Which was fine-- considering half a week later I was feeding them to Brian and they were still almost as moist as the day I had made them (unlike the red velvet cupcakes).
These were moist cupcakes anyway-- which were more like muffins, really, with the way they were prepared and the texture inside. But they were still tasty-- muffins with frosting. Less complicated than cupcake making, and still really just as delicious. I really liked the chocolate frosting.

They were a hit among the boys, and Brian, and etc. I was pleased with the results. I didn't get around to making pumpkin bread yesterday (I realized I had left my spices at Brian's), but I have every intention of doing it today. :D

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Dulche de Leche Filling
Inspired from Sweetest Kitchens

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7.5 oz of pumpkin puree
1 small can sweetened condensed milk

Oven at 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together your dries (including the spices). In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Add the dries, then add the pumpkin.
Pour into 12 prepared cupcake cups and bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

For the Dulce de Leche, take one small can of sweetened condensed milk and bake in the oven for one hour in a tin. Until golden and thick.

To prepare the cupcakes, once cool, using a melon scooper remove the centers of the cupcakes and add a dollop of Dulce de Leche. Replace cupcake centers and top with frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1 oz bakers chocolate, melted with 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk, optional, to thin

Combine butter and chocolate, whisk until smooth. Add powdered sugar when butter starts to break apart, and mix until thick and fluffy. Add vanilla extract.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

So for Christmas I made these red velvet cupcakes. I know what you're thinking--Christmas? Well... now it's the end of January! What happened!
I wrote the recipe down on a piece of paper which I then lost when I came back home. Not to mention I've been very busy with photoshoots (going in to see my agency this week, cross your fingers I start getting paid to work or there will be even fewer posts from now on). Also, I'm working on an animation for mofilm--which I should be doing right now-- but I wanted to post while I still have it in me. It's on my "to do" list.

But yeah, so, I live in Los Angeles, and here we have Sprinkles cupcakes. They have amazing red velvet cupcakes (as does Yummy cupcakes, and also this vegan place near Titmouse, they have amazing red velvet too). Sometimes, I just want red velvet. When I was in Savannah I would rarely ever get it, even though Red Velvet cake is notoriously a southern food. I don't really think it's a Christmas cake-- but I don't see why not. It's red and white and delicious all over.

It took some doing to get my mom to want to try the cupcakes. But she seemed to enjoy them-- eveybody did, even Brian, who had his after New Years because he was quite sick when I came home from Colorado.

I really wish I had some of these right now. The cake was perfect-- mildly chocolatey, rich in moist texture, and brightly coloured. The frosting was thick, sweet, tangy, the perfect accompaniment. I topped the entire thing with a red hot and red sugar crystals and sprinkles for decoration (I admit, I'm not a great decorator). My little brother, Dylan, who is 8 or 9ish, helped me.
By the time I left, even with having made pumpkin cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies, these were gone. I was even able to give some to my childhood friends, Shoshana and Jenny, when they came up for a visit.
I encourage to make these. I might make them again soon. Or at least, I would, if I didn't have so many other recipes to try.

I'm kind of disappointed with myself. These are the only things I've really 'made'-- from my own head-- and really the recipe is a hodge podge of other peoples things. I used to make my own food more often, create my own recipes, but lately it's mostly been trying other peoples. I think I'm in a dry period. I'm going to have to go through all the recipes on my laptop and just hope that I get creative influence again. Like I used to have. Alas.

However, I am excited to try some of these recipes. I'm going to try to make a stew tonight. :) I'm also going to make some pumpkin bread today. But, knowing me, you won't see those recipes for another month. Sorry, guys!Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 oz red food colouring (I believe I only used 1 oz in the end)
1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Oven at 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift the cake flour and baking powder in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy -- approximately five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time.
In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa, red colour, and vanilla. Add to the batter. Stir the salt into the buttermilk and add in 3 batches, alternating with the flour.
In a small cup, mix the baking soda and vinegar. Mix into the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure evenly combined.
Pour into prepared cupcake cups-- makes about 36 cupcakes.
Bake for 20 minutes or until springy and centers come out clean when stuck with a toothpick. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
I believe this is the Sprinkles Recipe, thereabouts

1 stick of butter
8 oz of cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 pound of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add salt and sugar. Finish with vanilla extract-- add milk if necessary to even and smooth out for easier frosting.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Christmas Dinner

Hi all! You guys are seeing bits and pieces of my Christmas dinner--especially because I've kind of been too poor since I've come back to make anything new (it's been suggested to me to make a donation tab, which would be helpful, but I admit I feel bad asking anyone for money ever. Except the California Government. And even that has a twinge of guilt and shame). So here are a few pictures of things that I had. Above, devilled eggs. These are my moms creation, she's made them every year (every holiday) without fail for the last... oh, since I can remember eating. I love these buggers. She puts pickle juice and dijon mustard in them and that makes them all tangy and good. Now whenever I have an egg sandwich it doesn't have enough tang unless it has dijon. Same with devilled eggs, except for the roommate AJ, she makes good ones too.

This is my brother, older brother Chris, I believe, reaching for another egg. I had two halves. I wish I could have eaten more than that-- but between the 6 of us all the eggs disappeared. I think this plate is part of my mom and dad's wedding china. Isn't it pretty? I wonder if people still get wedding china. I love the idea of it, it's so quaint and cute. I'd probably just end up taking photos on it all the time....... but what's the harm in that?

This is the Turkey I made. I have a recipe for it, which... I'll edit this post and add it later. It's basically Alton Brown's recipe, really. My mom made Turkey for Thanksgiving and had a lot leftover in the freezer so she didn't want me to make a lot of Turkey. But she did want to try my version (which she loved, by the way, the Turkey was flavorful, succulent, tender. EVEN THOUGH I forgot to defrost it the night before and had to be archaic and give it a water bath. Sorry Alton, I know, I'm a loser). This method includes a brine and then slow roasting. I like roasting.
I like Turkey. Especially mine (slash Alton's).

This is the stove. In my last post for the Cranberry Pinot Noir sauce I said that I had like, the last 10 minutes to make it before my mom was anxious. This was me multitasking with cranberry sauce, spinach, and gravy. The gravy was weird, but still good in small doses. Inside the oven are rolls (Sarah Lee. Lawl).
Look at those wooden spoons!! Aren't they fantastic? I GREW UP with those. They're my dad's. I kind of want to inherit them someday. They're so great because they're just... rustic, and I haven't found wooden spoons quite as awesome as these sense. Also, be impressed by the electric smooth cooktop. I know gas ranges are, generally, better... and they're all that I use out here in LA because they're all that you can find. However, I'm just... always so amazed to see an electric cooktop when I go home.

Okay, that's enough. I hope all of your holidays were swell and full of fantastic food and fun!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce

I love cranberry sauce. It's one of my favourite things about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love it in Jelly form, I love it in tasty non jelly form. I love it in any kind of cranberry on turkey or ham or sandwich form.
I like cranberry sauce.

I also really adore pinot noir-- it's my favourite type of wine. So when I saw this recipe on Closet Cooking, I was like. Man. Kevin is onto something. Really!

So I tried it out for Christmas. I didn't let it cook long enough to set all the way (my family was like "I WANT TO EAT NOW!" so the last few items such as the gravy and cranberry sauce were a bit rushed), but the flavor was fantastic. My only issue with making my own cranberry sauce is I make so much of it, I can't bring it back to LA with me. Heck, I think I even still have some from last year in my freezer that I was making into sauce for waffles and things.

This has a rich flavor. Richly cranberry, but rich also because of the depth of the pinot noir with it. I can't remember what pinot noir I bought (though I did finish it that night. Surprise surprise). Anywho, I could see me making this again. I want to make it for Brian. I just need the occasion.
Maybe we should have 'cranberry sauce' night. Hah.

Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce
Recipe from Closet Cooking

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cranberries
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
2 cups Pinot Noir
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 pinch of Chinese five-spice powder

Heat the oil in a pan and add the cranberries and ginger. Stir until the cranberries begin to burst. About 3-5 minutes. Add the wine and sugar and boil for fifteen to twenty minutes until reduced. Stir in the crystallized ginger, curry powder, and Chinese five spice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sauteed Spinach

Sometimes you need to post a really simple dish. This is one of those.
This was one of the sides I made for Christmas dinner (I know, kinda late for that. Well, be prepared, there's a lot of those posts coming up. I'm on back log, I've had a lot of photoshoots when I got back to LA). It's really simple. It's just... spinach. Garlic. Parmesan. Oil. Salt and pepper! Parmesan. Sauteed. But, you know, it's one of those things that you just sometimes have to do, have to share. I really love sauteed spinach-- I especially made it because Brian loves spinach that's sauteed and covered in parmesan (he, however, does not like frozen spinach, which I eat all the time).
Anyway, there are healthier ways to make this. Less oil, less cheese. But I like cheese, and olive oil is at least somewhat decently good for you. This also makes a lot of spinach, my family of 6 ate the entire thing. Except for Ricky. He doesn't like spinach.

Sauteed Spinach

1 bag of fresh spinach
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large pan until warm. Add the onion and sautee until just lightly golden. Add the spinach and sautee until beginning to wilt. Add the garlic and continue cookie. Once all the spinach has wilted down, add salt and pepper. Serve covered with parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

While home in Colorado for the Holidays, I spent a lot of time with the two child'ins that are my adopted little brothers. I was planning on making all sorts of treats for them, and I did, though not as many as originally planned. These kids were quite the hyper bunch, so too many sweets set them on edge. Luckily I got to make them savory food for Christmas Dinner, though the eldest did turn his nose up at some of it (he wasn't a fan of sweet potatoes). Nor was he a fan of pumpkin, quite like my mom, and so these cookies were also sneered at. The youngest, however, loved them, and I though they were quite good, if somewhat soft and squishy. When I made these cookies, I didn't compensate for the altitude-- I had forgotten-- but it really turned out not to matter much. I made them with a batch of my chocolate chip cookies so as to keep everyone happy. Needless to say, regular cookies went faster. Hah.

The cookie itself was soft, tender, squishy, but flavorful. It had a heavy kick of spice which I enjoyed. I kept eating it over my holiday as a breakfast cookie (as if it were that. It isn't. While pumpkin may have health benefits having it in a sugary treat is no doubt a failsafe way to pack on the waistline). I love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies-- when I used to work at Fresh Market in Savannah, GA, we would get them every halloween until Christmas. I would be sooo excited. Honestly, they were just oranger spicier versions of our regular chocolate chip cookies-- perhaps slightly, just slightly softer (but our regular cookie was somewhat stiff, in my opinion). So to make my own (finally) was quite the thrill.

This is my dad eating a regular cookie. I just thought it was awesome.

Anywho, big hit, yatta yatta. I realized I make a lot of cookies on this blog-- I used to make more. I am making some pumpkin bread soon, that will be slightly different. Hurrah!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Inspired from Deelish Dish

1 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and lightened in color. Beat in the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix the flour mixture and stir until smooth (I often switch to a wooden spoon for this part). Stir in the chocolate chips.
Scoop mounds of the dough onto a prepared baking sheet, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the top feels firm and a toothpick inserted comes out dry, about fifteen minutes. Let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack or plate to cool completely

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lamb Risotto

These aren't very good photos. We were starving, I didn't have time to set it up. I apologize in advance. HOWEVER. This is, I promise you, a very good dish. I created this years ago, making my own lamb stock and everything. You'll find its different than normal risotto-- I use red wine instead of white. Lamb stock instead of chicken. It's tasty, very rich, full of flavour. I believe I used a cabernet with this particular version-- but that's because I'm cheap and it's what I had. A merlot may actually be better. Or a pinot noir. However, whatever works, really, it's the headiness you're after.

You can use beef stock if not lamb stock. I always get way more lamb than necessary so I can, in fact, make the lamb stock-- this time I didn't get quite enough bonestuff, so I have to admit, the stock was a bit weak. But, still very tasty. Honestly, I love this stuff, it's one of my favourite dishes ever, it's just so complicated I don't make it all that much.

The trick with risotto is you have to slowly stir the stuff in. I use a rubber spatula, just cover the rice (Alton Brown method), and stir occasionally and allow to thicken. I also keep the stock warm in a pot right next to the main one-- I don't have an electric kettle, nor can I afford one or have room for one at this point in time. However, the idea is awesome.

I made this for Brian. He seemed to enjoy it. I'm not 100% sure if he reallllly loved it, but he said it was very good and was pleased. This was always a hit, though, with anyone I made it for, so it comes highly recommended.

Honestly, it's hard to give this recipe up.

Lamb Risotto

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup and 1/8 cup arborrio rice
3-4 cups of lamp stock
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/8 cup tablespoons red wine
salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon rosemary
¼ cup peas
¼ cup chopped, cooked asparagus
¼ cup chopped, sauteed mushrooms
1/4 cup cooked lamb

Heat the olive oil in a small pot. Stir in the the onions and garlic, sauteeing until golden. Stir the rice in and cook one to two minutes to break the hull. Pour in the wine and stir for another one to two minutes. Add a little lamb stock, just enough to cover the rice, and simmer until dry, adding a small amount (like 1/8 to ¼ c, just enough to cover the rice, and stirring all the while) at a time continually for about 20 minutes or until the rice is soft. Mix in the butter and the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted and combined, making sure everything is soft and creamy. Add the vegetables and spices, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

To cook the lamb.

Take a lamb shoulder, chop, or whatever piece you have-- with bone. Rub with coriander, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Sautee olive oil, onion, and garlic. Place the lamb in and brown on each side. Scrape the pan with red wine, and roast until medium.
Remove meat, use the bones with vegetable scraps and 5 cups water to create lamb stock. Reduce and skim the fat from the finished stock.

For the Mushrooms:
Take mushrooms and clean and slice them. Sautee in olive oil with poultry seasoning (I knooow), salt, pepper, garlic, and onion until just withered. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the asparagus, sautee in olive oil and white wine, with a little salt, until just crisp. Set aside.

white wine and olive oil - asparagus