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Archive for April, 2009

Today is special for several reasons. Number one, it’s Easter!!! Number two, it’s Passover!!! Number three, Lizzle’s thesis is due tomorrow!!! So we….spent all day making soup! Duh!!

My walk back home from Easter service at St. John the Divine was so windy and cold I didn’t think I would make it. The only thing that kept me going was thoughts of warm soup. It’s supposed to be spring right now but it’s just not. Lizzle and I calculated that the temperature was 18 degrees outside…so winter soups were obviously legit. In the Easter spirit, I decided to make carrot ginger soup and in the Passover spirit, Lizzle decided to make matzo ball soup. So away we went!

The carrot ginger soup was relatively simple and pretty yummy. The only changes I’ll make next time is lessening the amount of orange juice and increasing the amount of ginger, I like my soup to have a little more bang and be a little less sweet.

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The matzo ball soup was also great. In Lizzle style, we didn’t measure any of the ingredients of the base broth but they are as follows: vegetable bouillon, water, cooking wine, olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onions, carrots, shallots, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper…and one more secret. If we had had parsley Lizzle would have thrown that in there too. We made the matzo balls from a box mix. We shaped the mix into walnut-sized balls without squeezing them like it was our job and they ended up looking (and tasting) like clouds. The soup then had to be cooked for a bajillion years.

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It obviously would have been wrong to exclude Isabelle in our holiday festivities, seeing as Easter is one of her many days to shine. In honor of our favorite bun, Lizzle set off all the mousetraps in the room so Isabelle could safely join us (we maybe have mice, get over it…even though we haven’t) and I assembled a vegetable cake for the princess, made from spinach, sprouts, carrot scraps from the soup, and topped off with a goldfish.

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Carrot Ginger Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cups vegetable broth
4 cups peeled and sliced carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan and sauté onions and ginger until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and chopped carrots and cover the pot, allowing the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes until the carrots are tender. In batches, puree the mixture using a blender then return to the saucepan. Stir in orange juice and half and half and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add spices, salt and pepper to taste. I always let some goldfish swim around in my carrot ginger soup and this time also added some scallion on top.

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Happy holidays!
-Amanda

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(I needed to somehow incorporate this image of Rufus refusing to get out of the car and being such a Rufus about it.)

Going home for the night not only means getting a much needed break from New York but also having the opportunity to cook in a kitchen at least four times the size of my kitchen here. An added plus is when there’s an occasion to celebrate so I have even more of an excuse to spend the majority of my brief visit in the kitch. This time it was Barry Borden’s birthday and I was put in charge of the cake, naturally. Mom and Dana decided on tilapia tacos for the main course so a trip to the grocery store was in order. We returned home with bags filled with fresh veggies, tilapia fillets, and tons of chocolate and I immedietly snuggled up with my mom’s KitchenAid and set to work. I chose a cake recipe that was raved about on one of my favorite cooking blogs and described as a “cake that is so perfect in every way.” While the cake was baking in the oven, I started to work on Mrs. Milman’s Chocolate Frosting, another recipe gifted from Martha. Despite issues with oven temperature and cake overflow, the cake turned out wonderfully…and shaped like a volcano (on purpose! …kind of.) I sprinkled multicolored star sprinkles around the perimeter, wrote Happy Birthday in the center, and popped the colossal cake in the refrigerator just in time to assist with dinner prep.

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As Mom whipped up some Spanish rice, Dana coated each fillet with taco seasoning and chili powder and squeezed fresh lime juice on top, they were then bundled in aluminum foil and popped in the oven. While the fishies were baking we chopped tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, jalapenos, and avacado and set out other favorite toppings. Barry walked through the door just as we were finishing setting the table and once Rufus finished his omg-barry-is-home-loving-life freak out we sat down to eat. Post-dinner we were all so satisfied that we had no room for cake so we hurried off to see Sunshine Cleaning instead and saved the cake for a late night birthday snack 🙂
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Double Chocolate Layer Cake

3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300F and grease two cake pans. Line the bottoms of the cake pans with wax paper and grease the wax paper, I then coated them in cocoa powder for extra ease of popping the cakes out. Chop the chocolate into small chunks and combine with freshly brewed coffee, set aside, stirring occasionally until the chocolate has completely melted. Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using your mom’s amazing KitchenAid, beat the eggs on medium speed for about three minutes. Slowly add oil, buttermilk (*we didn’t have buttermilk so I made my own…1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice added to 1 1/2 cups of milk!), vanilla, and chocolate coffee mixture to eggs, mixing until well combined. Slowly add the dry mixture, mixing on medium speed until just combined. Pour into cake pans and bake for about an hour (or three if your oven temperature is whack) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Mrs. Milman’s Chocolate Frosting

4 cups heavy cream
24 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon light corn syrup

Combine heavy cream and chocolate in a large sauce pan and heat over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring constantly, until they have uniformly combined. Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup. Place mixture in refrigerator for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until thickened. Frost your cake!

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-Amanda

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Let’s rewind to a chilly morning back in March. Christina and Amanda, along with roomie Emily and pledge Kim, dragged themselves out of bed at what seemed like the crack of dawn. We buttoned our colorful cardigans, bundled up with coats and scarves and grabbed starbucks before piling into a cab. The occasion? Tickets to the Martha Stewart show! As we waiting outside the studio in a line filled with 30-something women, our spirits were high and our energy climbing. After a brief tutorial inside on applauding, ooh-ing, ahh-ing, and aww-ing we were ushered into Martha’s mecca. We were seated second row center and classily bopped along to the raging rap music that was playing (to make guest Kenan Thompson feel comfortable) during the moments leading up to the show. During the ensuing seven segments, we laughed, we cried, and we learned how to make fish-print tshirts. Post-show Martha was kind enough to answer some audience questions and Christina stepped up to the plate. After gushing to Martha that we love to bake, Christina asked her what her favorite dessert is. Without hesitation, Martha confessed her love for pies…and then promoted her new book. As if we didn’t already have it, sheesh.
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Now let’s rewind back further…to the February issue of Martha Stewart Living. As if the strawberry cupcakes weren’t fantastic enough, Martha also featured a raspberry and pear pie that Amanda just could not get off of her mind. Brilliant, Martha, brilliant.

Finally, let’s rewind back even further. To the movie The Waitress. Pies everywhere!! More specifically, pies as therapy!! Great movie.

Okay. Fastforward (but actually rewind) to last Saturday. Apparently the pear and raspberry pie coupled with hearing of Martha’s love of pies in person just was not enough to motivate Amanda to make said pie. But throw in some waitress-esque drama with the male species and Amanda was peeling pears in no time. The pie was a success, and served warm to hungry roomies late on Saturday night. Finally! An homage to Martha the magazine, an homage to Martha the person, and a pie with the power to heal!

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Pear-Raspberry Heart (Healing!) Pie

2 pie crusts
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch (I didn’t have this so I substituted flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6-ish pears, peeled and thinly sliced
6 ounces raspberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Fit one of the pie crusts into a pie pan. In a large bowl toss together pears, raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon. On a lightly floured surface roll out the second pie crust and cut out hearts using a cookie cutter. Fill the pie pan with the pear and raspberry mixture, heaping it towards the center. Line the hearts around the pan, alternating their direction and using water to help them adhere together. Once completed, brush the entire surface with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes then reduce heat to 375F and bake until juices begin to bubble, about an hour.

As if the pie weren’t enough, audience members were handed the current issue of Everyday Food upon our exit. The last page held a recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies that had kitteh written all over them. So in the Martha spirit, Amanda made those on Monday. And they were pretty much gone by Tuesday. Silly roomies!!!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces semisweet chocolate CHUNKS

Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Slowly add flour and baking soda and and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks. Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 13 to 15 minutes, or until edges begin to brown.

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