Monday, March 28, 2011

Bonus Weekly Recipe - Buttery Yellow Cake

This is a delicious all purpose yellow cake

12 3/8 oz Cake flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Salt
16 tbsp unsalted butter
11 2/3 oz granulated sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole mile (room temperature)

2 8" or 9" round cake pans (or a 9"x13" cake pan)
Vegetable cooking spray
Parchment paper
Electric mixer
Rubber spatula

  1. Heat over to 350 degrees
  2. Coat pans with cooking spray and place parchment over the bottom
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and set aside
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (usually 3-6 minutes)
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
  6. Beat in the vanilla
  7. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in 1/3 of flour mixture until combined
  8. Add 1/2 of the milk and beat until combines
  9. Add second 1/3 of flour mixture and beat until combined
  10. Add second 1/2 of the milk and beat until combined
  11. Add the final portion of the flour and beat until combined
  12. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure that it is thoroughly combined
  13. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and shake to level and smooth the top
  14. Bake about 20-25 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with only a few crumbs (rotate the pans half way through cooking)
  15. Let the cakes cool in the pans for ten minutes on wire racks
  16. Run a knife around the edge and then flip out onto the racks, remove parchment and flip the cakes upright
  17. Cool 1 to 2 hours before icing

Weekly Recipe - Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are so easy to make that a 3 year old can do most of the work.

14 tbsp     Butter
1/2 cup     Sugar
3/4 cup     Brown Sugar
2 tbsp       Vanilla Extract
8 3/4 oz    AP Flour
1 tsp         Salt
1              Eggs
1              Egg Yolk
1/2 tsp     Baking soda
8.5 oz      Ghirardelli bitter sweet chips

Small light colored skillet
2 glass bowls
kitchen scale
#24 scoop
measuring cups and spoons
1/2 sheet pan
Cooling racks
Parchment paper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Melt 10 tbsp of butter is the light colored skillet and continue to cook for 1-3 minutes until lightly browned.
  3.  Place remaining 4 tbsp of butter into a heat resistant bowl, pour in hot melted butter and whisk until melted.
  4. Add sugars to butter mixture and whisk  
  5. Add salt, vanilla extract and eggs.  Whisk until combined.
  6. Allow mixture to sit for three minutes and whisk again (repeat three more times)
  7. In a separate bowl combine flour and baking soda
  8. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir to combine. 
  9. Add chocolate chips and mix to distribute evenly through dough.
  10. Scoop eight 3 tbsp cookies (#24 scoop) onto half sheet pan lines with parchment paper
  11. Bake for roughly 11-14 minutes until the cookies are just brown on the edges.
  12. Allow to sit on sheet pan for 2 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekly Recipe - Crème Brûlée

I thought I would start something new on my blog so I am going to try and post one of my favorite recipes along with some of the background on how it evolved to what it is. Many of the recipes that I use regularly started out pretty different from their current form. Often I start with something out of my library of cookbooks and I make little changes over time (either by necessity because I didn't have an ingredient on hand, or on a whim because I think it will make it better). Others I happened upon and loved so much that I kept making them.

I absolutely LOVE Crème Brûlée. It is hands down my favorite dessert. Too often I will order it at a restaurant only to be utterly disappointed. Usually it is because the chef doesn't actually know what a Crème Brûlée is and ends up serving a Creme Carmel/Flan or just did a really poor job making the custard.

The first time I made it I was so scared that I was going to mess it up but it turns out that it is really easy to make. So easy that I can make it with my 3 year old 'helping.'

4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1 Vanilla bean*
10 Large egg yolks
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (i.e. sugar in the raw)

Large roasting pan
Dish towel
8 six oz ramekins
Kettle of boiling water
Medium non-stick saucepan
Silicone whisk
Large measuring cup or pitcher
Tong with rubber bands wrapped around the tips
Cooling rack

  1. Adjust oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cover the bottom of a roasting pan with dish towel.
  3. Arrange eight 6oz ramekins in the pan making sure they don’t touch.
  4. Bring kettle of water to a boil.
  5. Combine 2 cups of cream, granulated sugar and salt in a medium saucepan
  6. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add it to the pan along with the pod.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  8. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
  9. Place egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk.
  10. Stir the remaining 2 cups of cream into the hot mixture.
  11. Slowly add in 1 cup of the cream mixture whisking constantly until smooth.
  12. Whisk in the remaining cream until thoroughly combined.
  13. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or pitcher.
  14. Pour the custard evenly into the ramekins
  15. Put pan in the oven and pour boiling water to 2/3 up the sides of the ramekins.
  16. Bake until the custards are barely set and are no longer sloshy (30-35 minutes or 25-30 for shallow or fluted dishes).
  17. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and allow to cool for 2 hours.
  18. Set on baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  19. Just before serving uncover the ramekin and blot the top dry with a paper towel.
  20. Sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar and shake to distribute evenly.
  21. Ignite torch and caramelize the sugar. (Keep flame 2in above ramekin move in a sweeping motion from the perimeter to towards the middle until the sugar is bubbling and deep golden brown.

Helpful Hints #1: You have to use heavy cream. There is no way to make this dish low or lower fat.
Helpful Hint #2: You really need to use a vanilla bean. It is impossible to get the wonderful vanilla flavor with the extract. If you plan ahead there are great places to get vanilla beans online for way cheaper than $5 each that you pay at the grocery.
Helpful Hint #3: If you get the packets of turbinado a single one is the perfect amount for the top of one ramekin.
Helpful Hint #4: I am a big fan of Oxo tongs. The large rubber bands that come on fresh broccoli work great to help the tips grip the ramekins. All other methods I have tried of extracting the ramekins from the water bath have failed miserably.
Helpful Hint #5: Don't spend the extra money on one of the specialty kitchen torches. Just get a butane torch from your local hardware store or at a garage sale for a $1 like I did.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So Much More

It has been just over a week since my grandmother died and only I have spent a lot of time reflecting on how she impacted my life and how things will be different now that she is gone.

From her I learned the joys of being woken up by a song.

I learned the importance of telling, and more importantly showing, people that you love and care for them and that hugs and kisses are important even when you are angry.

I learned to love the awesomeness of nature. She made everything interesting, from the tiniest detail on a flower petal to the vastness of an old gnarly oak. She taught me to love the fierceness of torrential rain, the harshness of rolling thunder and the beauty of the jagged bolts of lightning all while snuggling together on a screened porch in a hammock.

She was the person who taught me to be adventurous and that is okay to take the long way or even the wrong way just to see something new.

She was a gateway into world of creation. Mostly through painting and photography but she also helped me to see how I could used my more orderly mind to be creative as well.

She transformed by hatred of writing and horrid penmanship by teaching me to draw my letter. I loved to watch her write using calligraphy pens and my love of fountain pens grew from that.

She was my cheerleader, my teacher, my sounding board, a comfort when the world was harsh and a dear friend.

She was my grandmother, but also so much more.