dude fude, food, mommies

birthday cupcakes 2012; who’s in charge?

Chemistry is important. I’ve written about this before here. I like to watch whipped butter lighten or sugar transform. But this year, around M’s birthday, I was busy. I found one cupcake recipe that sounded good but called for three sticks of butter for twelve cupcakes. Uh… and it took an hour of prep.

So I turned to Cooks Illustrated, where after “much testing,” they dumped all the ingredients (and just 1 stick of butter) into a kitchen aid and mixed for 30 seconds. Voila! as they say. Then I doubled the recipe (again) and made another twenty-four.

I had picked out this lovely butterfly pattern for decorating but M overruled me (she’s about to be 6). She wanted Backyardigans and Backyardigans only, which meant a Backyardigans ring set in the middle of green (like a backyard) frosting. I got to add the dark green sugar and purple sprinkles. And that’s what it was.

I’ll post the recipe shortly. And here’s the frosting (minus the lemon zest) + food coloring.

dude fude, food, recipes, Uncategorized

Cupcakification–year 5!

I like surprises. I’m not gaga crazy for them, but I do seem to have a thing for a little something something in my cake batter. Today we weren’t making the big birthday cake (more on that later) but just some cupcake bites for the kids at school. M wanted vanilla so we went simple, except for a little chocolate surprise in the center. We added Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips (these are currently my favorite chocolate chips) in the middle of each.

many gotten eaten

Actually, I wanted it to be more like a chocolately pudding bite, so I probably needed a hunk of chocolate for that (or pudding). Chips weren’t really right, but they’ll still be a little surprise for the kids, and that is always fun.

Into cold storage they went until Thursday when they’ll receive their Meyer lemon icing. M seems to be fixated on that flavor … also rainbows. We’re going to add a little candy rainbow. I talked her out of the blue sky, white clouds (that we saw on Martha Stewart’s website–too big for our “bites,” but we’ll approximate. I’ve been looking up candy stores (I may have to go south for this…) and baking stores in SF.

they cooked for 11-12 minutes

Apparently, Sugar and Spice in Daly City is good, but I haven’t been there yet. I’ve been looking for silver frosting (Sur la Table didn’t have it) for the big cake, but I may just give up and go with pink(s). And, yes, that cake will have a little surprise as well…

They look good!

Here’s the cupcake recipe–it’s Amy Sedaris’s recipe:

Yield:

24 cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • 2 In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, two teaspoons vanilla, salt and baking powder.  Add flour and milk in batches, starting and ending with flour. Stir until batter is smooth and satiny.
  • 3 Fill paper-lined muffin tins with batter. Bake at 375° for 18- 20 minutes.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/amy-sedaris-vanilla-cupcakes-181181#ixzz1Ft5qshpd

Um … the best part!

yum

Finished product:

We love these little guys...

Getting ready to go to school

recipes

Make This! (dude fude: cranberry sauce)

Cranberry Sauce

This is the best and easiest cranberry sauce ever. I’ve been waiting a year to eat it again. It comes from the now defunct Cookie Magazine (which I really kind of liked).

Here’s what it is:

4 ripe pears (any variety)

2 12-ounce bags cranberries (fresh or thawed frozen)

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar (but I’ve used no sugar, it’s still great)

1. put pears and cranberries on sheet pan.

2. dot the fruit with butter and sprinkle it with sugar

3. roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, stirring once about halfway through.

Just do it.

dude fude, food, Uncategorized

On being irresistible…

As a kid, chocolate chip mint ice cream was my favorite flavor.  In this, I was not  alone.  However, I was alone in thinking chocolate chip mint pares perfectly with caramel, and pare it I did, when I had the opportunity to have an ice cream sunday which was usually once a year with my grandparents, on the way to the Berkshires from New York City.

Askew glances from waitresses aside, I stuck to my guns.  Glowing accounts of fudge sauce could not dissuade me.  Nor could the sight of the stuff itself. I always preferred the golden tendrils off caramel cooling against soft minty mounds.

Many years later, I unsuccessfully pitched the idea to Ben and Jerry’s during a nationwide ice cream flavor contest.  I forget which flavor won that year.

And so it has come to pass that I, on occasion, make my own ice cream.  I try not to make it too much because it is so delicious.

But with a small but significant peppermint bush growing in my garden, and an excess of cream in my fridge, I decided to make some.  The only sugar I had in the house was brown sugar and I decided to use it.

And so it was that I found myself back to the minty caramel marriage of my youth.  Not quite caramel, but just an absolutely addictive undercurrent of caramel taste.  Teasing in that way, so that you must take another bite just to make sure it’s really there. And another.  Combined with the freshest, brightest mint (from garden to pot in 10 minutes), it’s a real delight.

Butter Mint Chip

Adapted from Elise’s Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream (she’s got pictures and step by step making instructions)

Here’s my version:

Put lots (2-3 cups) of mint leaves in a pot with 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cup of cream.  Heat until just boiling, cover, turn off heat and let sit for 30 minutes.  Repeat, but you can let it sit for less time.  Strain out leaves, mashing milk out of them and put back mixture back into the pot.

Mix in 1/2 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of salt until dissolved.

Pour 1/3 or so of the milk mixture into 4 egg yolks, stirring constantly (you don’t want to scramble the eggs).  Then pour the egg/milk mixture back in pot on the stove, turn up the heat to medium, stir constantly and make a custard.  It’s done when the mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Don’t let it boil.

Strain into 1 cup of cream.  Let cool.  Sometimes I do this overnight.   Sometimes I put this mixture in a bowl surrounded by ice first.

Once it’s cold, put into ice cream maker.  I add a little bit of alcohol or vanilla, and chopped up chocolate. I like it chopped finely.  I actually chop the chocolate first and put it in the freeze prior to the whole process.

After it comes out of the ice cream maker, it’s this beautifully soft and creamy ambrosia.  You can eat it now.  Or,  if you put it in a container and let it freeze, it will harden a lot.  Both forms are irresistible.  It’s food that brings on the quiet and completely focussed concentration of my four year old.  Bliss.

Update:

I have now made a chocolate ice cream with chocolate hunks and caramelized pecans and a Meyer lemon with slivers of dark chocolate.  Uh… both delicious.  It’s kind of ridiculous how good this stuff–too good. And so now, left with a huge number of egg whites left over I forge into new egg white-related domains…

yum
Meyer Lemon with chocolate

into the freezer

dude fude, food, Uncategorized

dude fude-French green beans and shallots

Since I just wrote the blog post that cannot yet be published, I thought I’d share, instead, an excellent and easy way to prepare veggies, although I mostly do it with French green beans, broccoli, or asparagus.

Shallots are small onions that carmelize easily and delisiously.

Slice several shallots.  Cut up veggies in the size you want.  I usually cut the ends off the beans and cut them once or twice.

Put olive oil (or butter) in a 12 inch skillet (and let me just confess now, that once I got the 12 incher, I stopped using the 10 or 8, even to cook small things.  12 is my go to skillet.)

Throw in shallots, medium heat, let them cook until they are brown.  Put in vegetables and cook until it tastes good and they get very green.  Add salt.

The crazy thing is, the next day, there are good to the third power–like candy–and never enough left over.

food, Uncategorized

Dude Fude-Lentil Soup

When I finally purchased my iphone, I felt, and I say this without irony, that I had acquired a new best friend.  And while that may reflect a bit (just a bit) on my current life situation, I think many of us have a long history of deep love and admiration for our tools.  Good design cannot be underrated in its affect on quality of life.  I touch, countless times, that little iphone and enjoy in the doing the task much more than I might.

All this is to say that the immersion blender makes the lentil soup and most soups for that matter.  Ah, and the joy of the blend…

However, needing or having to buy an immersion blender flies in the face of the concept for Dude Fude and the ease of making. I assume most people do not, and should not,  have this tool.

AND you can wait for your lentil soup to cool and dump it into your regular blender (in stages) or you can eat lentil soup unblended, in which case chop everything very small.

In any case, Lentil soup is easy and delicious.  I do these steps fairly casually with imperfect measurements and it always works.

In a big pot, saute 1 large onion with chopped fresh parsley and thyme (or dried if you don’t have fresh) in olive oil or butter.

After about 7 minutes (stirring occasionally), add 1 or 2 chopped carrot (s) and 1 chopped stalk of celery (chop finely if you won’t be blending), and 3 cloves of garlic.

Add 15 oz (1 can of diced tomatoes)

Cook for another 5 or so minutes, scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan

Add 5 cups of water  (or chicken broth) and 1 1/2 cups of French (smaller and browner) lentils (wash and check for stones), 1 teaspoon of salt, a couple of bay leaves if you have them.

Cover partially and let cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are cooked.

If you’ve got the immersion blender, you can just put that in the hot soup blend (if you are using your regular blender, you’ll need to let the soup cool.  I let mine cool, only barely, but hot soup can jump up, so be careful.

Then add more salt to taste and pepper.  You can add a 1 tablespoon of sherry (or red wine) vinegar  and 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard for kick (although often I leave this last step out.

I freeze what I don’t eat in small batches, because it reheats beautifully.

Enjoy!

food, Uncategorized

the alchemy and the ecstasy

Can one desire too much of a good thing?

Picture 3

Shakespeare poses this question in As You Like It (Act IV, Scene I ) through Rosalind and the idea come very much into our vernacular. I couldn’t resist the google search.

Picture 2

It’s one of the those questions that has an obvious, knee jerk first answer and then a deeper second one.

Thinking I had answered–for myself, anyway–the chocolate chip cookie question, I was forced the other day, due to an absence of brown sugar, to deviate from my tried and true method and improvise.  A few days later I served the cookies, straight from the freeze, for dessert to my brother and his girlfriend.

Brother’s girlfriend:  These are possibly the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.  I love the texture of them frozen.   But, I generally like burnt cookies so, maybe that’s it… There’s something a little…

Me:  …bitter about them?

Brother: But I don’t like burnt cookies at all, and I love the deliciousy goodness of these. (Digression to the time I accidentally caramelized ghee, making the world’s most delicious butter spread.)

Brother’s girlfriend: Finally, a cookie we can agree on.

They clasp hands.

Spurred on by such enthusiastic eaters, I decided to make another variation of the cookies.

This time, I omitted brown sugar again, and added an equal amount of raw honey as white sugar.  I also used two kind of chocolate (Callebaut 60% and Scharffenberger 70%) for the “chips” part.

The molasses variation uses 1/4 cup of molasses and 1 cup of white sugar.  I used the Guittard chocolate chips for this batch.

Because:  can you really desire too much of good thing?

food, Uncategorized

dude fude-the stir fry

dinner

You eat more stir fry, straight from the pan, standing up in the kitchen when you’re meant to be cleaning up.

Your daughter kisses your arm after getting up from the table.

She asks for more vegetables and eats two helpings of pasta.

She sucks at the little florets of oily, seasoned broccoli and picks out the onions to eat, when only last night she told you, she didn’t like onions.

You both eat in concentrated silence.

You grate just a little bit of parmesain on the pasta parts of both plates.

Your daughter claims she doesn’t want to eat dinner, but pulls up a chair anyway.

You put two plates down on the table, each filled; half with the freshest, most delicious stir fry and half with perfectly salted pasta.

You turn off the fan and leave the kitchen.

***

Boil water. Salt it more than you think you should.  Then add even more salt.  Cook pasta.

See what’s in your CSA box.  Today in mine:  onions, red peppers, zuccini, baby brocolli, garlic.  Herbs from my garden (basil, thyme, greek oregano).  Chop everything.

Put olive oil in a pan.  Add garlic and spices with a little salt and pepper.

Cook onions

Add peppers

Add zucchini and broccoli

Cook until everything is almost done.

Add more garlic and some of that extra salty reserved pasta water until your stir fry is perfect (like mine was tonight) or even if it’s just pretty good, it will still be delicious.  The pasta too. It will remind you to always salt your noodles.

food

Roast Chicken and Other Stories

So, I was going to post my second Dude Fude, but I just checked out a book at the library (more on that later) called, brilliantly, Roast Chicken and Other Stories.  Blurbed as, “The Most Useful Cookbook Of All Time,” it’s written by Simon Hopkinson, and I had read about it, then forgotten it and just happened upon it today.  Yea!  I love it when that happens. 

I just wanted you to know how he does his Roast Chicken and what he says about the importance of a good bird.

There is chicken, and there is chicken.  The French chicken, from Bresse, is the finest in the world.  It is nurtured and cosseted like no other living creature (save, perhaps, the Japanese Kobe cattle, which are bred better and given a daily massage).  The poulet de Bresse is a “controlled” breed in France and carries its own special criteria…as wine does…It has a superb flavor, due to its diet and upbringing…”

You can start to understand why French food is so damn good.  So Simon puts a little more effort into his RC than you might have, but if you’re going to try something a little bit, this is the one to make.

1/2 cup butter, room temp.

4 lb. chicken

salt and pepper

1 lemon

thyme or tarragon, or a mixture

1 garlic clove, peeler and crushed.

 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Smear butter with your hands all over the bird.

Put the chicken in a roasting pan that will accommodate it with room to spare.

Season liberally, with the herbs and garlic inside the cavity, together with the squeezed-out lemon halves.

Roast the chicken in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  

Baste (scoop up juices and pour over the chicken), then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and roast a further 30-45 minutes with occasional basting.

Turn off oven, leaving door ajar, and leave the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.  

You can use the juice in the pan as “gravy.”  If you want to add extra flavor, you can scoop the garlic and herbs out of the chicken cavity, stir them into the gravy, and heat through, then strain before serving.

This is a fabulous cookbook, even though I don’t plan to cook from the Brains chapter, I can’t wait to get to Custard.

Next up:  Mashed potatoes (and why I love and revere libraries).

food, Uncategorized

Roast Chicken

Okay.  Recipe numero uno.

Roast Chicken.  It’s easy, it’s quick, it will be much better than the one that’s been sitting around at the store in a plastic container, and you can use the leftovers to make chicken salad.
How easy?  Really, really, super duper easy.

I’m going to add another law of Dude Fude, and it’s the most important one.

Buy the highest quality ingredients you can.

It will be more expensive, but this is something you are going to eat, not put in the garage and use once a year. That means, it should be organic, stamped with something that says so, cage-free, free range, grass fed, and if possible, some marking by the humane society. Trust me, this is the foundation of the whole shebang and for why your food will taste so good. You wouldn’t use cardboard as a foundation for your house, right? Don’t skimp here unless you must.

Ingredients:

A whole chicken (around 4 lbs)

one bunch of carrots

two big handfuls of red potatoes

Take anything that may be in your oven out and turn it on to 400 degrees (here after called preheating).

1.  Find a baking pan that shallow and has edges (the shallower the pan, the crisper the skin). The best thing is a cookie sheet with edges, but a lasagne pan will do, or even a pie pan. You are going to roast the chicken in this pan sitting on top of carrots and pototoes. Chicken fat will make the vegetables very delicious, but will drip all over the place, hence the the sides.  Do not let chicken parts be spilling over the sides or you will soon have a roaring chicken fire in your oven.

2.  Wash carrots and potatoes.  It’s good to give them a little scrub with a clean scrubby.  Cut potatoes in quarters unless they are the tiny ones, then cut only in half.  Slice carrots in half, long wise so they have one long flat side.  (If you’re going to make chicken salad with the leftovers, chop one carrot now and put aside).

3. Lay carrots and potatoes in a single layer along the bottom of your pan. I usually put the carrots in the center and the potatoes around the outside. (The bigger your veggie layer, the more yummy veggies you will end up with).  If you cut up too much stuff, don’t cram it in.  Wrap it up and put in your fridge.

IDEA You can eat the carrots raw or dipped them in humus or peanut butter.

4.  Wad up several paper towels and put them near the sink.  Have the filled pan nearby.  Unwrap chicken. Take yucky inards out of the cavity and throw away.  Rinse chicken off with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and lay on top of carrots. Breast side up.  Sal the whole thing all over.

Put in oven and cook for about an hour.  When you prick the thigh with a fork, the juices should run clear.  If you cook a bigger chicken, cook 8 extra minutes for each extra pound.

Let rest outside of the oven for 15 minutes before eating.

IDEA After dinner, pull all the chicken off the carcass, and shred (rip in pieces with fingers) and put in a bowl.  Add mayo, chopped carrot, salt, pepper.

If you want to get a little fancy, you can add nuts, or celery.  They’re are many variations.  You can skip the carrot and put in pickles or capers, or grapes and nuts.  It’s nice to have one crunchy thing and one sweet thing.

Finally, roast chicken has about a million variations.  But, let’s not talk about those now.

Enjoy!  Let me know how it goes.