Tag Archives: Confectioners Cocktail

Happy New Year’s Eve To Everyone!

December 31, 2012

I’m sure cashiers and retailers will hear this hundreds of times today, “where did 2012 go? It went by sooo fast!” It may seem trite, but yet, here I am repeating the same small talk because it’s sooo true. I still need to acknowledge life’s pace, step back and give 2012 the proper reflection it deserves. I still need to form my thoughts for 2013 into actionable plans. Somewhere between the reflections and resolutions, there is this: a mocktail! “But it’s New Year’s Eve!” you say, “Why a “mocktail?”

Serve Your Mocktails

This is a mocktail post because we who use our hearts and hands to nourish those we love need to remember those who commit to keeping our nearest and dearest safe! These cherished ones deserve more than water or soda. They deserve some attention too! This is a mocktail post because this drink puts my mind and spirit back on an Indian journey (more on that to come). This is a mocktail post because the start of a great cocktail should be a great mocktail! Those staying put or being chauffeured around the town can add whiskey or gin or the spirit of their choice, but here’s wishing a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve to EVERYONE!

Lemon Ginger Soda w/ Basil & Mint

Lemons and Ginger

To reiterate, I am very much of the Grandmother School of Thought when it comes to food & drink preparation, so this “recipe” is all about your taste, your guests’ tastes and approximations. As such, you will need…

Lemons (I used 3 lemons for 4 of us, so go crazy depending on your party list)
*Ginger Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
Seltzer Water
Fresh Basil
Fresh mint
Salt

Ginger and Sucre

*Ginger Simple Syrup

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

1 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
1 thick piece of gnarly, fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

Directions

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add ginger; bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat, and let steep 30 minutes.

Pour syrup through a fine sieve into an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

Ginger Syrup

Resolve to be more resourceful! Instead of just discarding the ginger, as many recipes would suggest, I challenge you to find new ways of using it. My mom is planning to use the ginger remains in her morning smoothie. You could also use its final flavors in a stir fry or add a little spike of flavor to your morning espresso. Leave me a note if you have more ideas!

Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Add Fresh Lemon Juice

Salted Rims and Garnishes

A recent trip in a warm land taught me how refreshing a little bit of salt and citrus can be. I suggest dipping your cocktail glasses in lemon juice and then in salt. You could do the same with extra raw sugar for a sweeter version.

Get Sloshy

To Each His or Her Own Ratios…

Some like it tart, some like it sweet, some just won’t like it. Such is life, but the basic guideline for this is…

1 part fresh, pulpy lemon juice + 1 part seltzer water + ginger syrup to taste + Basil & Mint galore!

If you have all your mixolgoy tools with you (I did not, as I was concocting in my mom’s kitchen), I’d suggest muddling extra basil and mint in each glass for more flavor.

Final Mocktails

Happy New Year’s Eve!

ps: If you live in the Pittsburgh area, the face from the bilboards has lots of info on cabs, designated drivers and smart party hosting, including some coupons and freebies, so venture to the Edgar Snyder Facebook page for more details.

Pumpkin Without Chocolate is Just Pumpkin

November 2012

There are some bakers and eaters and general complainers who begin to grumble early in November and say, “I am over pumpkin!” To which I reply, “but what about pumpkin and CHOCOLATE?!?!” By that point, I am too consumed by the thought of pumpkin and chocolate to listen to the complainers anymore. I’m a baking super heroine with a chocolate force field!

Pumpkin without chocolate is just pumpkin, BUT pumpkin WITH chocolate is…

Whip The Kraken Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons Kraken Rum

Directions

Chill the heavy cream in a bowl in the freezer until it just starts to freeze.

Remove from the freezer. Add the maple syrup and vanilla.

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat until peaks begin to form.

Release the Kraken, and add the rum. Mix until combined.

Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
2 cups organic raw sugar
4 eggs (local/free-range)
1 can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons instant espresso powder

Directions

Makes approximately one 9-inch cake for taking to a friend’s and extra cupcakes for you to keep!

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Oil the springform pan, and line cupcake pan with parchment liners (about 6-12 cupcakes, depending on size).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla and espresso powder.

Whisk flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until well combined then transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Set aside to let cool then cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar, if you like.

… divine!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Batter Resplatter

September 2012

Ambitious retreat.

When I think of the special cabin in the woods, I think of eating, conversing, wandering, sitting, talking, eating, sitting, warming, reading…. With the slower pace and simpler agenda, I consider each meal an opportunity for a brand new creative endeavor. I let the seasons inspire and try the recipes I’ve stored patiently in my arsenal. The meals link other aspects of my cabin memories, so heating leftovers doesn’t seem to do justice to the special cabin (instead we pack the leftovers for our return dinner). I tend to be overly ambitious in my menu planning, but sometimes a small measure can twist a leftover into the new experience I seek to create.

As my special one waffled his way through the large bowl of batter for our first brunch, his hunger and patience proved to be inversely proportional. Since we had plenty of waffles to eat, I saved the batter for a resplatter, in the form of pancakes, the following morn. Granted, this does not make me the Picasso of pancakes or a kitchen trailblazer by any means, but let this remind and with any hope, slightly inspire. With the addition of roasted kuri squash and a new whipping of cream, we had a new meal with half the steps and risked waste less.

“Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs.”
-Mark Twain

Much like this avocado egg or these harvest nests, these ham cups are a blank canvas awaiting your cravings and creativity. In my case, I used leftover root vegetables from the previous night’s dinner, with a sprinkling of salty cheese, as the secret surprise ingredients beneath the egg top. Mushrooms and leeks would be delicious, par example.

Ham Cups

Ingredients

Organic Maple Ham
Local/Free-range eggs
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Veggies of choice
Cheese of choice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line each muffin cup with a slice of ham, letting it ruffle up the sides.

Crack an egg into each, sprinkle with a bit of cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve immediately, on their own on a plate or set in small dishes for extra support.

Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
“I’ll take the one on top.”
Who else wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Theresa smiles and says,
“I’ll take the one in the middle.”

-Shel Silverstein

Batter Resplatter Pancakes

This Pumpkin Waffle Recipe + Leftover Roasted Red Kuri Squash = A Brand New Pancake!

Whipped Cream

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons AITA Snap

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form. Add the Snap liquor and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

enjoy!

Dancing Japanese Pancakes (Teppanyaki Kyoto, Pittsburgh)

September 2012

If “Japanese food” means more to you than sushi, there is a Pittsburgh restaurant just for you! If you like your food to combine fresh ingredients and a little bit of spectacle, there is a Pittsburgh restaurant just for you! If you like your food to encourage sharing…you get the idea! Said Pittsburgh restaurant is Teppanyaki Kyoto, located on the tiny main drag of the Highland Park neighborhood (where you’ll also find me brunching at e2). Teppanyaki (teppan for iron plate and yaki for grilled/boiled/pan-fried) is a style of cuisine centered around the iron griddle.

The faded logo made my chopsticks look unhappy, but luckily, there is an old Japanese remedy for unhappiness, and at Teppanyaki, the happiness syrum arrives in beautiful pottery. It is even purported to slay goblins!

“Goblin Killer” Sake
Warm, smooth and sips so easily. There will be refills!

Seaweed Salad
Pretty straightforward but worth ordering nonetheless.

Takoyaki
Dumplings made of batter and filled with diced octopus

If the more gelatinous preparations of octopus send you to other sections of a menu, have no fear. These little dumplings are amply packed with octopus chunks that still require a bite. I highly recommend this appetizer!

Japanese Pancakes (multiple varieties)
Wheat flour, cabbage, egg, choice of meat, topped with bonito fish flakes and spicy mayo

This is the specialty, and the advantage of eating with several friends is sampling all the different flavor combinations of pork, beef and seafood. The pancakes are really light, so the other advantage of sharing is justifying the number of pancakes that end up on the table. As the plates arrive, a little flutter might catch your eye. No, you are not mistaken. That pancake is dancing! Want to know why…?

Now you’ll be able to impress your dining companions when they behold the magic of the dancing pancake, and you tell them, “it’s simply thermal expansion at work. It’s science!” Be sure to offer your enlightening knowledge before dessert arrives. Studies show listening wanes when green tea mochi is served!

My First Ever Wedding Cake (Part I): Proposals & Preparations

September 2012

Let me tell you about a woman I admire. She is intelligent and dedicated, as exhibited by her collection of degrees from Carnegie Mellon, Oxford, and one PhD from Berkeley in the works. She is disciplined and compassionate, having run multiple marathons for charity. She is sincere. She’s the type of woman who will listen to your woes and give very thoughtful and intelligent advice in return. She wants to make the world a better, more sustainable place. She is creative and talented, and I admire her immensely. Beyond admiration, I have the great fortune to call Renee my friend.

ReneeAndRamseyChristianWeddingImages-1287

Photo by Photographick Studios.

Now let me tell you about a man I know. We used to be neighbors, and he welcomed me to that block of row homes with a glass of wine and a warm heart. He chose to follow creative outlets in his life and put pen to paper in a substantial way.  Ramsey mixes a childlike spirit with an intelligent mind, and he has a way of filling a room with laughter.

Dashing Ramsey

Photo by Photographick Studios.

On one fateful day, these two amazing friends of mine reconnected in my backyard. I knew Ramsey wanted to marry Renee from day one. He couldn’t contain his adoration. It was only a matter of time until Renee saw a life partner in Ramsey as well, and I was so glad to share a small part in such a love story. When the engagement announcement came, I offered my baking efforts in addition to my congratulations. To my utter joy, my two dear friends said they could not think of a better person to bake their wedding cake! So it was I came to fulfill one of my longtime goals for two very dear people, and this is how that cake began.

Renee and Ramsey were the perfect pair for my wedding cake philosophies. They both truly value whole, natural ingredients, and they left the cake details to my creativity. It was a dream experience! I chose a vanilla pound cake accented with flavors of amaretto, brandy, rum and whiskey! I added a peach compote featuring local peaches to appeal to the couple’s love of local, seasonal ingredients. Since Renee and Ramsey are avid wine drinkers, and the wedding setting was a winery, I used a red and white wine combo for the compote. I was pretty nervous about the cake, but most people went back for seconds and supported me so enthusiastically. The memory still fills me with happiness! Thank you again to this beautiful couple for including me in your festivities!

Renee & Ramsey Wedding Cake Recipe
(cut everything in half if you’re not aiming for a 3-tiered wedding cake)

Vanilla Pound Cake
adapted from Cake Love
Makes 3 layers

Dry Ingredients

5 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons Potato Starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Liquid Ingredients

2 cups (16 oz) Sour Cream (from local dairy)
½ cup local heavy cream (from local dairy)
1/2 cup Brandy
2 Tablespoons Amaretto
2 Tablespoons rum
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons whiskey

Creaming Ingredients

1 lb (16 oz)- organic, unsalted butter, at room temp
6 cups raw sugar

10 Large Eggs (local/free-range)
2 Yolks (local/free-range)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine all the liquid ingredients and whisk to combine.

Combine the butter and sugar and use an electric mixer to cream together on the lowest speed for 2-3 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolk, fully incorporating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the liquid mixture in 3-5 additions, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.

Move swiftly to avoid over mixing the batter. Scrape down the bowl and then mix for 20 seconds to fully incorporate.

Spray your pan (loaf, bundt,etc) with nonstick spray and then fill 3/4 of the way up with the batter.

Bake a 10” springform pan for 50-55 minutes and smaller muffin size loafs for 15 minutes.

******************************************************************************************************************

Classic Buttercream
Makes 5 cups

Ingredients

2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks or 1 pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
6-8 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
up to 8 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Instructions

Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.

Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.

Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes.

If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

******************************************************************************************************************

Peach Pinot Compote

Ingredients

10 cups fresh peaches, skinned and quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups white wine
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 cup red wine
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and 2 cups of the white wine. Mix well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Stir together the cornstarch and the 1 cup of red wine.

Raise the heat so that the liquid in the pan begins to boil.

Add the cornstarch mixture and stir for 1 minute, or until the liquid thickens and becomes clear.

Transfer to a serving bowl and add the vanilla.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Can be served on cake, on pudding or with whipped toppings.

Fleatique + Piquenique (Tarentum, PA)

July 2012

There is a field where many different personalities gather, on the third Sunday of the warmer months. Some come bearing the collections they have gleaned from old homes, markets, antique stores and other treasure-guarding nooks and crannies. Some come to scour each table and to bargain until they walk away with a new addition to their own collections.

Fleatique is what brings all the personalities to the field, and after last year’s Fleatique, I found a new way to enjoy that third Sunday. There’s something so peaceful about the green, grassy patch of land, under large shade trees, where each table holds an oddity, a curiosity or a trigger for a memory. I extended that peacefulness in the best way I knew how- a picnic!

As we set up our spot, a rather grizzly yet friendly man stopped his white, Ford truck to ask us, “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?” It made my morning!

Each jam jar arrived ready for a splash of Italian Moscato wine. After partaking in the bubbly, we refreshed with a tart, berry lemonade.

Muddled Blueberries + Lemon Slices + Lemon Juice + Lavender Chamomile Tea + Great Company

When a cake is made with whole grains, wildflower honey, lavender, lemon and almonds, it’s ok to eat cake for breakfast! That’s exactly what we did!

(I will share this recipe in a subsequent post)

Effie’s Oatcakes + Sour Cherry Goat Cheese + Fresh Cherries. There was also fresh cantaloupe in the spread because even if the breakfast cake is on the healthier side, one should still eat extra fruit.

After wrapping the picnic into its wooden cases again, it was time to explore the offerings…

My pal Dino, the baker & music maker, was there selling fresh, warm paczki. The exterior was sweet, and a bite revealed a yellowy, sweet dough with plump raisins. Full from the picnic, these dense delights were reserved for Monday morning, and they made the return to the real world all the better!

*Side note: If they weren’t as delicious as they were, and a surplus mounted, I mused about a paczki food fight. Those donuts could really fly!

Until the next Fleatique… Better safe than zombie!

(stay tuned for the cake recipe)

Table Magazine + Porsche + e2 = “Drive & Dine Breakfast”

June 2012

It pays to join Table Magazine’s mailing list because when you do, you’ll receive emails like the one advertising the “Drive & Dine” event- an odd, yet enticing offer to test drive a Porsche at Auto Palace and then (more importantly in my book) be rewarded with a mimosa AND free donuts at one of my favorite Pittsburgh brunch institutions, e2.  Until Auto Palace decides they want to sponsor local bloggers, this was one of my few opportunities to drive a Porsche, so I recruited a pair of friends, who turned out to be waaaaay more into this than I ever imagined, and zipping and zeppoli-ing we went!

Red is my favorite color!  I think it suits me in its Porsche form, don’t you?

Ever wondered what the world looks like reflected in an expensive, German sports car? Pretty fantastic, let me tell you…!

Look how cute my Porsche loving pair of friends is…!

Rev it…

My test drive supervisor: “So what kind of car do you have?”

Me: “A red vespa… oh, and these two legs.”

Not having a lot of “car talk” to offer, I sought other avenues [intentional driving pun #1] of conversation with my passenger.  What’s the most unusual test drive experience he had had?  He once ended up eating dinner on a test drive. The husband/driver wanted to show his wife the car in question, and she was home prepping spaghetti.  Next thing you know, the three of them were eating dinner together (and probably talking mostly about Porsches).  Too bad it was only spaghetti [this girl ↑ = so judgmental].

↑ That’s me!

Step on that gas pedal a tad, accelerate through the morning [intentional driving pun #2], and next thing you know, we were reading the very Porsche-centric menu at e2.

Really this marketing event had me at free donuts!  Though I never expected to say it, a morning comprised of a Porsche drive followed by mimosas and ginger donuts is quite simply a very happy morning. Damn those rich folks.  They’re onto something with their expensive toys and lavish living!

The Fast Frenchy was my choice for refueling [intentional driving pun #3] with a few sneaky bites of my pal’s Cayman Carbonara.  How could I resist the creamy pasta with plump, sweet peas and chunks of salty bacon?!? As always with e2, the food was so fresh.  The style of the food may seem simple, but the flavors of each ingredient really shine. Even the toast has a complex contrast of textures and flavors- the toast!  Chef Kate has such a way with tomatoes and sauces.  Look at those beautiful reds…they’d match my new ride!

Me: “Heeeeey, Quit playin’.  Give me back my keys! Get back here!”

What’s next Table MagazineBeamers and Beignets? See you soon. Can’t wait!

The End.