Tuesday, December 11, 2007

gifts- el día de los muertos

My mom loves all things latin, and for some reason I have been on a tea-gift kick. (I think it was the blooming tea in marie antionette which was the theme for two other presents) Actually after years of being pissed off at tea because it wasn't coffee, tea and I have finally made peace. Anyway I decided to make sugar skull sugar cubes and go with a día de los muertos theme for my mom. I have also been using sugar in my artwork so it was easy to whip up. I then paired the skulls with some yerba matte tea from Trader Joe's, a book about food, a handmade mexican tea cup and pressed tin rooster from that mexican store on the avenue whose name is escaping me right now. I especially lov the little rooster ornament- tied everything back to christmas.

ed sugar skulls

Decorating with royal icing would be more traditional, but kind of gross to have bits of icing floating in your tea, so I went with the edible markers instead.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. meringue powder
  • 1 tsp. water
  • skull mold (I got mine on ebay)
  • food safe markers

Mix sugar and meringue powder in a bowl. Add water and mix with you hands until sugar is evenly moist. (it should be the texture of wet sand) Press into skull molds and invert onto cardboard to air dry for about eight hours. Decorate with markers.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

gifts- wine flight

Everyone has a wino friend (Denene...) and I saw this wine flight in a catalogue that I thought would be an awesome Christmas gift for her, but it was expensive and I had resolved to make as many of my gifts as possible this year. Shortly thereafter I came across this awesome orange barnwood (matches her kitchen) and decided to make my own.

barnwood wine fligh

  • scrap wood- long enough to hold three wine glasses
  • 3 wine glasses (I got mine at ikea)
  • holesaw an 1/8 bigger than the bottem of your glasses
  • wood chisel & hammer
  • 3 felt cut into circles the size as your hole saw

Measure out your hole equally spaced along the board. (Add more room on the ends if you prefer) Cut about half way down with the hole saw- I like to mark it to make things easier. Chisel out the center of the hole and smooth the bottem as much as possible. Place felt circles in the hole and top with wine glasses. I made one for red and one for white. I also plan to make a version for myself with tealights instead of glasses. Cute.

Monday, October 1, 2007

spiced pumpkin & cider highballs with sugared rosemary

This is a perfect fall cocktail. I came up with it after making some spiced pumpkin bourbon that I wanted to use up. I love coo
king with pumpkin in the fall-- but find that most recipes only require half a pumpkin-- so the rest usually goes into making this bourbon. It is sweetened with a brown sugar rosemary apple simple syrup and finished off with real (unpasteurized) apple cider. this tastes infinitely better than the stuff at the grocery store. I get mine at the farmer's market under the jfx. You can use either fresh cider or let it start to ferment in your fridge and become hard cider. The homemade hard cider is tasty on it's own, but drink it quickly or you'll have cider vinegar. Don't use commercially bottled hard cider-- it is too sweet. (At least I have yet to find one that isn't too sweet anyway) This drink tastes very light, but is actually quite strong.

spiced pumpkin & cider highballs with sugared rosemary

  • 2 oz. spiced pumpkin bourbon (recipe follows)
  • brown sugar rosemary apple simple syrup (recipe follows)
  • 1 oz. unpasteurized apple cider
  • sugared rosemary sprigs (recipe follows)

to be honest I almost never measure drinks and rarely make just one at a time so feel free to adjust to your taste. (i am more likely to dump everything in a pitcher and adjust until it tastes right.) Mix the bourbon and cider and syrup to taste. Pour over ice and garnish with a sugared rosemary sprig.

brown sugar rosemary apple simple syrup

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • peel of one apple (2 if they are small)
  • sprig of dried rosemary

put sugar and water in a small saucepan, cook on medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. (it can be a little tricky to tell with dark sugar touch it if you aren't sure) add apple peel and rosemary and tent pan with foil. allow to cool completely. strain.

spiced pumpkin bourbon

  • half a smallish pumpkin (i use sugar pie pumpkins)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • tbs. whole cloves
  • half a vanilla pod
  • 1 litre of bourbon (i tend to use the cheap stuff)

cut the pumpkin into medium sized pieces and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until soft and lightly caramelized. **
do not oil the pumpkin or you will have oily bourbon and that is nasty. trust me. put the roasted pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla in a container with the bourbon. i use those throw away tupperware containers but you will need to keep the bourbon reasonably out of direct light so use something dark if that concerns you. (i don't throw the containers away either) alternatively you can pour out some of the bourbon from the bottle and put the pumpkin directly in but you will end up with much less bourbon and it's hard to get the pumpkin out once it goes in. it does make a nice gift that way though. let sit out of direct sunlight for as long as you have patience-- at least a week or two ideally more. the longer it sits the stronger it gets.

sugared rosemary sprigs

  • 4 or 5 fresh rosemary sprigs about 3 inches long (you can cut longer sprigs in half)
  • 1 egg white
  • sugar

mix the egg with a tsp. or so of water to make an egg wash. ** you could use powdered egg whites if you are fussy about raw eggs. dump the sugar in a small dish. dip the rosemary in the egg wash and shake off excess. dip into sugar and roll to coat. set on wax paper or a silpat to dry.

Friday, September 14, 2007

honey drizzled apple roses

I am half jewish and half catholic so I celebrate lots of holidays- luckily I adore holidays. There is a tradition on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) of eating apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year that I always try to observe. It seems like such a poetic gesture. This was my take this year.

honey drizzled apple roses

  • poached apples (recipe follows)
  • puff pastry (use good quality store bought or recipe here)
  • honey
  • pecans
  • brown sugar
  • whipped cream (to garnish)
Cut the pastry into small circles and dock the centers. (or use the pre- made shells) I put brown sugar and pecans into the shells before the apples, but didn’t entirely like the result. Too crunchy. Twist and fold poached apple slices into rose shapes (each slice is a petal) and drop into baked shells. Warm up honey in a sauce pan and drizzle over the tarts.

poached apples for roses

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 1 lemon, halved (2 to 3 lemons total)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 green apples
  • 3 red apples
Bring 4 cups water, 1/4 lemon juice, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat; cover. Cut a round of parchment paper that has a diameter 1 inch greater than that of pan; set aside. Core apples. (Do not peel them) Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut all apples crosswise into thin (less than 1/8 inch) slices. Drizzle with reserved lemon to prevent browning. Transfer slices to syrup and shake pan to coat slices. Place parchment directly onto surface of apple mixture. Let syrup cool completely, about 40 minutes.

Monday, February 12, 2007

valentine's treats

Valentines Day is my second favorite holiday, which is slightly self absorbed because it's also my birthday... but it's mostly because it's an excuse to make elaborate chocolate desserts and decorate things with hearts. Top picture is my favorite truffle ever- rum/coffee/hot pepper. Cream is infused with hot peppers from the garden and then I add the rum and coffee before mixing it into the chocolate. They are just rolled in cocoa. I love making cookies that say "eat me." I give them to my friends every year. I guess I like valentines that are rude and sweet at the same time. The cookies themselves are a chocolate clove sugar cookie that is my go to recipe this time of year. Chocolate covered strawberries are always good even though there shouldn't be strawberries around this time of year... and they are super easy to make. Coriander orange flower truffles. Good- but the first ones are better.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

chinese new year

I first made this drink for a chinese new party years ago and had a horrible mishap... somehow the pitcher of drinks had started leaking in the car on the way to DC unbeknownst to me, and then while I was walking down the sidewalk to my friend's house the bottom of the (paper) bag fell out and chinese new year spilled all over the pavement. The rats in Mt. Pleasant got tipsy that night. Which is probably good considering all of the fireworks we set off in the alley. Anyway it is made from ginger infused vodka, lychee juice and black tea infused simple syrup. The spiciness of the ginger and the bitterness of the tea prevent this from being an overly sweet drink. I garnished it here with crystallized ginger, but I have also used fresh lychees and cocktail picks that look like little firecrackers. Throw in some dumplings, A & J thousand layer pancakes and illegal firecrackers and you've got yourself a party.