May 23, 2010

blueberry cornmeal cake

Today I woke up promptly at 8:30AM and went straight to Fairway, as I was on Mother's Duty. Of course when I got home, there was still nothing in the fridge and breakfast polished off the rest of the cereal that we had. Don't you ever feel like you shop and spend all that money and then your fridge is bare? My Mom and I bond over this. I'm turning into an old lady, aren't I (I won't even talk about when I put the milk container in the cupboard and the sugar jar in the fridge yesterday). 
Then, I went to Brooklyn for a meeting regarding my summer plans; I'm doing community service for 2 weeks with a program called NY2NO that my sister went on a few summers ago. We'll be helping to run a community garden, canvassing, and generally trying to help rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. I'm also going to Maine, where I go every year (and love), with my Dad, and to California with my Mom and Kelly. The latter, by the way, will entail a full food documentary. Don't you worry. I'm also going to visit Stanford while I'm there, because, well, I may as well dream, right?

So when I got back home there was a major street fair outside my building which usually I love more than anything, but I had to go inside and study. Instead I went inside and baked. Tada! My procrastination brings you good food. Or brings me good food and you the opportunity to make it. I absolutely love using cornmeal (and FYI, I suspect Big Nick's uses it to dust their pizza. It's addictive), and in this cake, along with the addition of ricotta and yogurt, it makes for a crispy moist, fresh, light summer treat. 
Blueberry Cornmeal Cake
from the Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe via Bon Appetit


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Whisk flour and next 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and honey in another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl until creamy. With mixer running on medium speed, gradually add egg mixture; beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture just to blend. Add ricotta and yogurt; beat on low speed just to blend. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Scatter 1 1/2 cups blueberries over. Spoon remaining batter over in dollops, then spread to cover blueberries. Scatter remaining blueberries over. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over.

  • Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

May 14, 2010

deep dark chocolate cookies

Let me introduce you to my newest favorite thing among my many teenage fads.

Last week when I visited my friend Katherine's house we made brownies; you know, just for a thursday night. We were really having a heart to heart when I professed my love for dark chocolate over milk chocolate; something that usually makes people reprimand me with disdain, was mirrored by her nodding, and showing me her chocolate closet. I don't exaggerate; a complete cabinet filled with chocolate chips; semisweet and bittersweet, NestlĂ© and Ghirardelli, and all different types of chocolate bars, and powders.  I swear my heart skipped a beat. 
Yes, the brownies were delicious, out of the oven, and during school the next day as I ate them greedily and refused to share, but I couldn't get over that closet. Why couldn't I have a closet of chocolate? My only problem might be that I would tear into it before actually using the chocolate for baking; I seem to have no willpower lately, especially concerning the jar of Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams in my refrigerator

Because I was in the mood for chocolate but didn't think it wise to have another brownie, I somehow reached the conclusion that I would be better off making cookies. These cookies were the most delicious little morsels I have ever eaten. They aren't like any other cookies; they are not too sweet (my mom didn't like them, for she's more of a milk chocolate person), and they stay chewy. Forever. But don't take my word for it because they were gone within two days and quite frankly I don't know what I'm going to do without them. Perhaps I'll plan out my own Manhattan-downsized chocolate drawer (you know, we can't afford a chocolate closet with the rent up here). I will definitely make these again, and again, and probably soon, because it's taking quite the effort to shoo my sister away from the computer screen, as she keeps staring at the pictures of the cookies, and angrily complaining about how she should have deferred college for a year to get to have eaten them. And did I mention there's no butter, oil, or flour in them? 

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
From Bon Appetit, June 2008

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will become very stiff).
Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

May 8, 2010

pistachio gelato

I would like to propose a toast to the end of my AP European History class; I took the final AP College Board test yesterday, which consisted of 80 multiple choice and 3 essays in 3 hours. Unfortunately, the test, which we took in the smallest possible desks (I was first placed with a left-handed desk, of course) in the gym, ended up taking most of the day, as I arrived at 8AM and left at 5PM. I came home with a roaring headache, a pain in my writing hand, and plopped myself onto the couch while buying It's Complicated on Movies on Demand. The ongoing love feud between Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin entertained me satisfactorily until my sweet tooth kicked in, at which point I decided to make some ice cream, because I'm easily influenced, and, well, that was Meryl's favorite thing to do in the movie when she couldn't sleep. 

I used David Lebovitz's recipe for Pistachio Gelato, and had to go on the hunt for something called "pistachio butter". Unfortunately none of the stores in the tri-state area had it in stock, but the weirdest thing happened; I was in Citarella's, getting distracted from my main purpose of why I set out to the store by the variety of cheeses on display, when I heard a girl ask a store-clerk for pistachio butter!
"Did you say you were looking for pistachio butter? I am too!"
"Really? That's so bizarre! I just tried next door. Have you checked anywhere else?"
"All of the markets in a 5-block radius"
"Shiesa (for those who don't approve of cursing)!"
After conversing for a while, I had the revelation of making my own pistachio butter and no sooner had I bought the pistachios than my mom and I were eating the leftovers out of the container. 

For those of you who like not overly-rich, but flavorful, light and still indulgent ice cream- this is absolutely perfect. The texture tasted completely homemade because of the ground pistachios, and because I like my ice cream on the "more" side, I would increase the amount of pistachio butter that goes into it for a bit extra indulgence. 

Pistachio Gelato
via David Lebovitz
About 3 cups (3/4 liter)*

2 cups (½ liter) whole milk
1/3 cup (65 gr) sugar
2 tablespoons (16 gr) cornstarch (also known as corn flour)
7 ounces (200 gr) Bronte pistachio paste **
a few drops of lemon or orange juice

1. Make a slurry by mixing the 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

2. Heat the rest of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar.

3. When it almost starts to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl, and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

5. Once chilled, whisk in the pistachio paste and just a few drops of citrus juice until smooth.

6. Freeze the gelato in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

*My trial of this recipe produced a bit less than 3 cups, which I can only think to attribute to possibly using less pistachio butter than asked for; since I don't have a scale, I had a hard time measuring 7 oz. I recommend making sure you have a solid method of measuring it out for this recipe. 
**Or use the homemade recipe found here (Note: it is quite time consuming- but also worth it)

May 3, 2010

hot fudge

Have you ever made pizza? Like, from scratch? I'm a big admirer of those who do but for some reason I find it incredibly intimidating. I have a big supply of pizza dough from my Grandma in my freezer that I have yet to use, mostly because I'm afraid the cold has killed the yeast (which already have a "thing" against me and refuse to rise). So I decided to make it from scratch. Everything that could have went wrong, did. The yeast I used must have expired, because the dough had yet to rise after numerous hours, and then I accidently cooked it when I put it in a warm oven. Then it went into the trash along with my day's ambitions.

Now you know why you're reading about hot fudge instead of pizza. Because eventually, I had to give in, and there's a fairly decent pizza place downstairs from my building that served its purpose quite well for yesterday's dinner. For now.

This weekend just wasn't my cooking weekend, probably because I was preoccupied with the AP European History Exam that is coming up next week that I'm completely unprepared for. The hot fudge that was suppossed to make 2 1/2 cups of chocolate glory made a half cup of a runny (but delicious) mess that I left in the refridgerator for tonight. It wasn't as silky as I would have liked, so I'll keep looking for a recipe (maybe one that has cream in it to smooth it out), but it will certainly do for now. It's awfully good on ice cream, the cupcake I had last night, and quite frankly, right from the container.