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Archive for March, 2009

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You probably have been wondering where your sexy saucy girls have been. We’re sorry but we had a little thing called our last spring break ever. So obviously we milked it for all it was worth by going to two places- Miami and New Orleans. Miami provided us with a change of pace from our usual hectic schedules. We relaxed on Christina’s uncle’s boat, caught up on some sleep, and tried to alter the paleness that plagues New Yorkers every winter. Our eating experience was less than stellar (our diet consisted mainly of goldfish and bananas—sorry Charlotte!) but New Orleans was able to revive our taste buds.

Our first meal in the Big Easy satisfied our longing for poached eggs (woo!), which we found at a cute café called Stanley. Our host, Amanda’s mommy (facebook her here!) graciously set us up with a variety of service activities and entertainment. Thursday night we volunteered to cook and serve dinner at a shelter. We dished out some dirty rice, breaded chicken, and corn on the cob to a hundred hungry mouths. Afterward we satisfied our culinary curiosity regarding Creole cooking with crab cakes at dinner that night (how’s that for alliteration?!) After crepes on Friday night, we walked through the French Quarter and indulged in a New Orleans delight: beingets. For those who are unaware, beignet is the French word for doughnut. At the famous Cafe Le Monde, we split plates of beignets topped with moutains of powdered sugar and sipped on cafe au laits.

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We spent Saturday morning working for Habitat and rewarded ourselves with a well-deserved lunch at a corner café called Cake. We sat at a sidewalk table and enjoyed roasted vegetables, biscuits with goat cheese, and shared a carrot cake cupcake. A few hours later after exploring the famous Lafayette Cemetery and the rest of the Garden District, we scouted out one of Christina’s sister’s restaurant recommendations le Petite Grocery. Our gastronomic delight continued with New Orleans style cocktails complemented by delicious oysters. Sunday, we returned to Stanley for another yummy breakfast . Stina splurged with Bananas Foster French Toast, while Amanda continued Saucy’s love fest with poached eggs.

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Despite the fun times over break, we were eager to return back to cuddlegan, and in true saucy fashion made a quick stop en route from the airport for the P&W sandwiches we longed for all break. We have ambitious plans to honor our New Orleans escapades with biscuits, ratatouille and maybe even crab cakes.

Xoxo

Saucy girlz

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At this time last year I was studying abroad in Madrid. I lived with a Spanish family and two other American students. We called ourselves hermanas (sisters!) and loved our lives almost as much as we loved each other. Hermana Jess’s parents had just visited and brought with them a stack of American magazines. Having been deprived of American magazines for months, I read each one word for word. Literally. The featured recipe in the New York Magazine (to which I am now a proud subscriber) was for Hamantaschen, tricornered cookies that are traditionally baked to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. Though I myself am not Jewish, I count a handful of Jews as some of my closest friends and knew that the recipe would come in handy. I tore it out and somehow managed to keep track of it. And so here I am, a year later and finally able to break out my Hamantaschen recipe. I had a little bit of difficulty keeping the corners sealed and was perhaps a bit too ambitious with some of the filling but oh well! Happy Purim!

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Incorporate flour and salt. Dough should be sticky! Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator for at least an hour. Afterward, preheat oven to 350F. Roll out dough on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter (aka a wine glass…) to cut dough into circles. Place a teaspoon of filling (I used raspberry jam and experimented with chocolate chips, nutella, peanut butter, and a chocolate paste -1/4cup cocoa powder, 1/4 sugar, and some heavy cream) in the center of each circle then pinch the corners closed by folding the dough in on three sides. Brush the surface with a whisked egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes or until the sides start to brown.

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There are some nights when a little something sweet is totally needed after dinner. Flashback to last night in cuddlegan: having lazily munched and picked our way through dinner, we were all struck with a desire for chocolate. Spoons and forks in hand, we crowded around the last sliver of the Bachelor Cake but we each were barely able to get a bite in before it was gone. I personally was totally cupcaked out. The obvious go-to? Cookies! My oatmeal cookies are so dear to my heart but I thought it was time to stray a bit…so I strayed a bit backwards, and went with classic chocolate chip cookies. I used a new recipe that promised crunchy outsides followed by chewy insides and was more than happy with the result. As were my roomies, whose needs for sweets were appeased as they eagerly reached for seconds.

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chip

Preheat oven to 325F. Cream together butter and sugars. Add vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and blend until combined. Mix in dry ingredients until evenly distributed throughout. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Using a tablespoon, drop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, about three inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Let cool for a minute or two before removing from the tray.

-Amanda

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So the Bachelor finale was on last night and OMFG. This episode marked the culminating event of all of our 2009 Monday nights (sorry Gossip Girl, but you left us with no other choice!)  This season we laughed, we cried, and we watched Shannon blow boogers. ABC’s promotions of this episode announced that the After the Final Rose ceremony was going to be so dramatic that an audience would not be allowed. Spoilers were flying left and right, each one more scandalous than the next, one even involving an illegitimate child (Jason’s second!) So we knew it was going to be big. And dramatic. And emotional…not just for the bachelor and his lady friends but for every female across America.

Everybody knows that a girl’s best friend during times of stress is chocolate, so a giant Matilda-style chocolate cake was a must. Christina labored between classes and even during commercial breaks to ensure that Cuddlegan would have a dense, rich chocolate cake to turn to when the going got tough.  And in true Bachelor tradition, we had a bottle of pink champagne chilled and ready to accompany the cake.

But rewind back to dinner. Naisy was the ultimate sous-chef tonight. Firstly she helped Christina with the cake–which was definitely not a job for one. They whisked and folded to a little Minutes Like Ours and the requisite Whitney Houston, “I wanna dance with somebody”. With the cake slowly rising in the oven, they scurried off to various events and later hurried home just in time to see Jason meeting up with Ty again. Amanda power walked home from Italian just in time to help out with dinner. Nais feverishly satueed, sliced, and chopped while Amanda whisked together eggs and cream. By the first commercial break we were able to whip up a quiche of shallots, onion, tomato, and spinach. The episode itself was pretty standard, with perhaps a little extra male-crying sessions than previous seasons. Despite the egg-overflow and the smoke that quickly filled our tiny kitchen, our heart rates were (for the most part) normal.  The quiche was quite a masterpiece, and the flavors were a much better combination than Jason and Molly, perhaps our best quiche yet!

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Christina whipped the frosting just after Jason proposed to Melissa and assembled the cake just in time for the after-show. And boy did we need it. Within minutes we found ourselves shouting at the tv with mouths full of cake, shaking our icing covered fingers at Jason’s “pained” expressions, and guzzling pink champagne between bites. Thus, as Jason Mesnick proceeded to single-handedly destroy our faith in the male gender, our faith in chocolate cake as the ultimate coping mechanism was strengthened. The cake was our savior.

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And tulips. Obviously.

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This past Friday I got called to duty. AKA our friends from Mansuite had entered an Iron Chef Competition and the thought of making dessert was causing anxiety and stress. So they called Amanda. Duh! The secret ingredient was ginger, one of my favorites, and I quickly set to work researching relatively quick and simple options. What I came up with was mini ginger cupcakes with ginger cream cheese frosting, topped with candied ginger. I only had half a bite of the finished product before hopping in a cab to meet my dad midtown but the little guys looked like a sure success. Except that Mansuite didn’t win…or even come close to winning. But! The loss is due to poor planning on the organizers’ part; of course risotto and salmon cakes aren’t going to taste their best after sitting out for an hour! Silly. Anyway, everyone’s a winner in my book (or at least I am…and so is Mansuite I guess).

Just after the competition, I got another call to duty. My sister was attending the birthday party of two good friends on Saturday night and wanted to know if I could please please please make cupcakes for it?! Yes please! The only catch was that one of the birthday boys is vegan so some cuppies had to be vegan-friendly. Vegan margarine was needed for the frosting so a trip to Whole Foods was obviously in order. After returning home, I spent the afternoon baking up a storm. Mini vegan chocolate cupcakes and mini vanilla cupcakes soon covered our dinner table. I whipped up the frosting and dyed the vegan batch purple and the non-vegan batch pink. I decided the special occassion was a good reason to break out the icing piper that my stepmom recently gave me but that I have yet to use. I stuck to the basics and piped a baby spiral on top of each baby cuppy. By some grace of god, the cupcakes survived the trek to the lower east side and were received with love and eaten by all.

Fresh Ginger Cake

1 smallish ginger root, grated
1 cup mild molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine molasses, sugar, and oil. Bring the water to a boil, stir in baking soda then add to molasses mixture. Stir in grated ginger. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients. When just combined, add eggs one at a time. Pour into mini cupcake tins and bake for about twenty minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar, sifted
1 tsp ground ginger

Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar and blend until smooth. Add ground ginger to taste (I ended up using a lot more than 1 teaspoon!)

Candied Ginger

*I tried this out as an experiment and had to use pre-sliced ginger instead of fresh. I think it would be much better with fresh ginger but supplies were limited!**

1 pound (500g) fresh ginger, peeled
4 cups (800g) sugar, plus additional sugar for coating the ginger slices, if desired
4 cups (1l) water
pinch of salt

Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to boil then let simmer for ten minutes. Drain and repeat. Add wate, sugar, and salt and heat until the liquid is the consistency of thin honey. Drain the ginger and toss in sugar.

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Vegan Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix together dry ingredients then add in wet ingredients and blend. Fill baking cups 3/4 full and bake for about fifteen minutes.

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Vegan Vanilla Frosting

1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon soy milk

Blend together, adding more sugar or milk until you reach desired consistency.

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Vanilla Cupcakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar then add eggs one at a time. Whisk together dry ingredients then add the butter mixture, alternating with milk. Fill baking cups 3/4 way full and bake for 12-15 minutes.

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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk

See directions for vegan frosting above.

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