10. greek honey baklava & the world's worst blogger (me!)
So. I’m still alive!
I report this fact because maybe you thought otherwise, seeing as how I haven’t updated since Thanksgiving (!). Of last year. So I confess that I’ve been existing and breathing, and even baking and cooking, I just haven’t been updating here. :/ We all knew I am not the best at routines, right? So forgive me and have grace with me for disappearing.
In order to win you back, I’m making a return with a post about the most decadent dessert you could make. This baklava is perfect for:
Impressing that sister-in-law who totally intimidates you.
Apologizing for always forgetting to respond to someone’s emails.
When the queen comes to visit.
Melting the hearts of villains like the Grinch or Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda.
Convincing your parents to let you spend your whole summer surfing in Hawaii. Maybe even get them to pay for it?
Those days when you want to wallow in bed and eat 4000 calories (per meal)
Why? Because whoever gets to try this baklava will experience something like this: First, the smell of floral and natural honey. Then, the sound of literally dozens and dozens of layers of tissue-thin pastry, crunching and melting immediately. The full flavor of walnuts and oven-baked pastry. A happy dance.
Greek honey baklava:
You’ll need honey, walnuts, a couple cups of butter, a pastry brush, patience, phyllo dough sheets, and a towel to cover your unused dough.
Start by creating a sort of assembly line to be ready. You want your baking pan, your butter (melted) with your pastry brush, your bowl of walnuts (crushed via food processor or the way i did it, which was putting them in ziploc bags and taking out my stress on them), and your lightly thawed phyllo sheets with a towel over them.
The basic idea is to lay down a sheet of paper thin phyllo dough, then brush it with butter, then sprinkle a layer of crushed nuts. Over and over again. Probably about 50 times. I’m not being too specific, because making baklava is your own process of creativity and maybe even family tradition! When I made this, I was basically just following the directions of my dear friendCW’s grandma and mom. They make this every Christmas (: Trust me, you might be scared to work with the phyllo dough because it pretty thin, but however YOU do it will be your own perfect baklava!
Bake at 350 for about a half hour, then your sheets should be puffy and golden brown. Use a knife to cut slices in a pretty pattern! In a saucepan, simmer togetherhoney and cinnamon and a little water, and then pour that magical syrup over the whole thing. Let cool, and then be ready to die to the heaven that is baklava (:
Enjoy and I promise I’ll be back soon (: I have a lot of recipes to share this month!
9. milk tea cupcakes w/ crème fraîche frosting & a birthday in london
i remember very clearly, five years ago, meeting GM. it was freshman orientation at TJ and i remember what she was wearing, how it was raining, and that one of the first things she told me was that she wanted to go to college in London (talk about making your dreams come true). a couple days later, we were already best friends and the topic of birthdays came up. “mine’s november 23rd,” i told her, standing next to those blue lockers by the Latin classroom. i will never forget how she squealed when i said that and how she told me hers was only two days before mine, on the 21st. i remember squealing/screaming/dancing with her, and i remember people walking past us and secretly judging us for being cray cray.
then about an hour later, she asks me: “wait did i just tell you that my birthday is on the 21st? … well. it’s actually on the 20th. i think.”
so there we have it everyone: i may proud of my graciepoo for being so beautiful and smart and making her dreams come true to study in the UK right now, but she can never remember her own birthday. you can imagine how much the rest of us try to confuse her whenever this time of year comes around.
so even though her birthday was “technically” yesterday, it’s actually today. right, graciepoo? shadow of the what? pub can’t even handle who right now? is that miranda cosgrove i hear on the radio right now? hehe. no but seriously, i love you graceface and i wish we could be throwing one of our PPP birthday parties together this year… i hate that we’re separated on your birthday (whenever it may be) but i know the snugglybears will be assembled soon when we’re home for the holidays.
milk tea cupcakes w/ crème fraîche frosting
of course this has to include tea. we’re talking england, after all. if you love cupcakes that are on the less-sweet side, this one is for you.
let’s start with the milk tea cupcakes. the first step is to make the milk tea of course.
boil 1 cup of milk (making sure not to scorch it) and steep your tea as directed. i used a combination of tazo green and earl grey, but you could use your favorite (:
while the milk soaks up all that good tea, mix together your dry ingredients in a bowl. 2 1/4 cups of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, & a pinch of salt. in another bowl, cream together 3/4 cup of butter and 2 cups of sugar. when well incorporated, add 3 eggs, one at a time, then a dash of vanilla.
now to mix the dry with the wet ingredients. to make the smoothest, lightest batter, you need to take another large bowl, and start with about 1/3 of the dry mixture. then mix in 1/3 of the wet mixture. alternate dry then wet, dry then wet. this goes for almost all cake batters! now you’re ready to distribute into cupcake molds.
while these bake in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes, let’s work on the frosting.
crème fraîche is a very smooth cream with a slightly nutty flavor. it’s originally french, but you can find it in the dairy section at most stores. OR you can make your own! this requires about 24 hours for the process to finish, so planning ahead is advised.
you’ll need 1 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon buttermilk. in a saucepan over low heat, warm the cream but don’t heat it all the way to boiling. removed from the heat, stir in the buttermilk to the cream. the buttermilk has all sorts of goodies that will help transform the cream. pour this liquid into a glass jar or bowl and let it stand in a warm place with just some plastic wrap over it. let it rest for 24 hours, and stir it every every 8 hours or so, making sure your cream is slowly thickening. this cream can stay in the fridge for a week or so!
now to learn how to whip this crème fraîche into frosting. you’ll need: a very cold bowl, a very cold whisk, and very cold cream. i like to keep my bowl and whisk in the freezer for a few minutes before i start. if you have a hand mixer or stand mixer, all you have to do is set it at a medium speed and then slowly raise it up to a higher speed. add some powdered sugar and vanilla until your cream reaches semi-stiff peaks. i live in a dorm, so i don’t have a mixer.
i did it the old fashioned way - with a lot of arm power, anger, switching between hands, getting tired, recruiting my neighbor to help me, and eventually whipping the heck out of that frosting.
once your smooth and milky cupcakes are cooled, use a pipette bag or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off to top them off with the perfect light, nutty, slightly sweet, floaty frosting.
wish i could royal mail these to you graceface. happy birthday, welcome to your 20’s! love you
8. chocolate pumpkin thumbprint cookies & my sarahbear's favorite pumpkin butter
have you ever heard of the five love languages test? it’s a personality test that measures the ways that you best give and receive love: service, words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, and quality time. everyone is different, and you can have different combinations for how you most like to give love and how you best get it from others.
i’d like to propose a sixth love language: food! obviously i love to make food - way more than i actually love eating it. most of all, i love to feed others, especially if i know their favorite comfort foods. one of my hallmates, SE, asked me what my ideal perfect day would be like. i loved that question :) and you know, it really truly would be:
-wake up well rested, and spend the first hour of the morning moving very slowly, because we all know i’m not very good at mornings. -yoga on the beach -cook from noon to five by myself, making all sorts of courses, in the perfect kitchen with the perfect ocean view -have everyone that i love come over, and have a huge dinner on the beach. be able to spend time with every person from all seasons of life, and have the people that i love get to know each other. -as the sun goes down, start a bonfire - music, conversations, prayer, laughter, lms, kelloggs, family -watch the waves crash through the night with the right person
:) anyways that wasn’t my point at all. the point is that as i was making this pumpkin butter, i couldn’t help but think about how my best friend SD loves loves loves butternut squash. it’s her ultimate comfort food (after salt and vinegar chips and sour gummy worms of course), and she wants it at every home-made meal. well i wish i could be at uva right now to cook for you, but for now, this will have to do. love you sarahbear.
very easy to make. especially if you have pumpkins lying around from halloween or other autumnal festivities that are just waiting to be used to their fullest potential :) take all the pulp of your pumpkin, and purée it down in your blender. so so so much better than the canned stuff! this (about three cups of pumpkin goodness) will go in a big pot with 3/4 cup of milk, pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, and 3/4 cup of brown sugar. i chose this ratio of sugar because i like my pumpkin butter to not be very sweet, but rather to retain that delicious rich squash aroma.
bring this to a hard boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour. after this, your pumpkin purée will be thickened and this will smell beyond. amazing. beyond. amazing. it reminded me of birthday dinners at the davis household, when butternut squash is a side dish to anything and everything, even mexican food :) anyways, that’s your pumpkin butter. i enjoyed almost all of it on my breakfast toast, granola, pretty much anything that i could spread it on. this is fall in a jar, people!
chocolate pumpkin thumbprint cookies
so after devouring most of that with my neighbors, i wanted to use the precious remaining pumpkin butter wisely. soon it was obvious what i had to do… thumbprint cookies. and the combination of dark chocolate and spicy pumpkin is perfect. plus who doesn’t love a good buttery shortbread cookie?
the dough is started by creaming together 1 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar. add 2 egg yolks and a couple drops of vanilla and well combing this wet mixture. to it, incorporate 2 cups of flour and a pinch of salt. this dough should form into a ball - wrap in plastic wrap and chill it for at least half an hour.
once chilled, break off 1 inch balls of the dough and literally use your thumb to create cute little indents. fill these centers with a little dollop of pumpkin butter and top with a chocolate chip! place your cookies on a greased pan and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 oven.
these cookies are the perfect combination of smooth buttery cookie and slightly bittersweet hints of pumpkin and chocolate. they turn out simple and elegant, and two entire batches were gone in a matter of minutes at a recent party that i took them to. i promise this is such an easy cookie, and they will be perfect for thanksgiving potlucks that might be coming up!
i enjoyed them while doing a little crafting - i hope you make these little bite sized cookies soon. sarahbear, let’s bake up a batch when we are reunited in just one week. i can’t wait at all.
there’s something about taking handfuls of this & that and ending up with a delicious & healthy snack. when you just look at some golden raisins or rice puffs, there’s not much there. but all it takes is a little patience and ingenuity, and somehow you’ve got something totally different and totally magical.
lately, i’ve been feeling pretty lackluster. apparently there’s a reason they came up with the phrase “sophomore slump.” after surviving the first year of college, i found myself feeling empowered, setting a lot of goals, and pretty much convinced that i was invincible. of course i could balance classes, dance, sleeping a lot, ministry, being an activist, keeping in touch with the people who make me feel at home, preparing for traveling a lot in the next year, having a social life, my own spiritual formation, leading first year small group, street child project, my job(s), and baking.
turns out though, that my name’s not chandler. “i can handle it - handle is my middle name. actually, it’s the middle of my first name.” so here i am, feeling like all i’ve got are a thousand wishes but nothing to show for them. and you know, it’s understandable that i can’t always deliver to my expectations. but what about God? where was He when i was going to sleep feeling exhausted and waking up paralyzed with both fear and an unwillingness to face the day? what happens when you believe in a God who is good, loving, kind, patient, glorious, powerful, and most of all, full of grace and redemption… but you suddenly can’t see Him in your life anymore? apparently you’re left feeling pretty hopeless.
being the conflict-avoider that i can tend to be, my answer to my all of this was to… make granola. it seemed like a pretty good idea! at least in the kitchen, i know what i’m doing. i needed to make a snack for a group gathering, anyways. every sunday evening, my room is host to a spiritual discipline small group. for the past couple weeks, i’ve felt like the only thing i had to offer to the group was my baking. hence the granola-fest. here’s how it went down:
start by gathering different grains, seeds, dried fruits, nuts that you love. i used:
gluten free oats (you could of course use normal oats, but then obviously your granola won’t be gluten free) pumpkin seeds (i had a ton left over from other baking adventures. keep an eye out for my pumpkin butter & pumpkin thumbprint cookies to come!) brown rice puffs (these were great because they are gluten free, but add crispy texture) golden raisins (why are these infinitely better than their non-golden counterparts???) dried cherries (my dear mom sent me a care package with my favorite tart dried bing cherries!) hazelnuts (there’s no need to explain this. they just rule.)
excluding the fruits, all these ingredients should be placed on a lightly buttered baking sheet and toasted in the oven at 350 for about fifteen minutes. in the meantime, simmer together a wet mixture of 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 tablespoons margarine, a couple drops of vanilla extract, a sprinkle of salt, a lot of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of honey or agave nectar. bring to a strong boil for a minute, then reduce the heat.
then combine the toasted oats/grains with the dried fruits and pour in the wet mixture. stir vigorously until well coated and combined. now all that’s left to do is create little bars/mounds of granola on a baking sheet and bake for five minutes, remove from the oven, and let it cool until hardened. i like to keep my granola bars in the fridge, so that i can easily grab one for breakfast! great with my pumpkin butter :)
at the end of it all, the granola didn’t change my life or grant me my wishes. you know what all this made me realize, though? i’ve always known about the magic of baking. you can call it chemistry, the combining of basic ingredients to create soufflés or pastries, but to me, the process is the miracle. how had i forgotten that? the process is the miracle.
when i simply focus on the fact that i still feel like a boring list of ingredients like flour and baking soda, instead of something amazing like a chocolate mousse… i forget that the process is the miracle. it’s the journey, yknow? everyday, i’m being made into something new, thanks to the infinite power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. and with that, i can find hope. i hope you too can see the miracle of each day (: if you need a little help, try the granola.
6. ayurvedic chai mate apple cider & missing central park
it seems fall is back. after the last few days of snotober, it’s good, odd, confusing, even a little eerie to have sweater weather back. let me make a list of things about snotober:
1. i got to wear turtlenecks and wool socks. this is my second favorite outfit. my favorite outfit is when you can wear shorts and a long sleeve top because it’s a summer night. 2. we used our fireplace for the first time this semester and made s’mores. i love wellesley. 3. one a.m. snow streaking. enough said. 4. there are two huge snowmen still standing in the middle of wellesley, even though all the snow around them have melted, so they are standing on a field of green grass and orange leaves. it is a sight to behold.
but today as i woke up and thought about how i’m so confused about what kind of jacket to wear…. i was missing my latest trip to nyc a couple weeks ago. not only was it a glorious time with old friends like GK, KJ, and LQ, but also the weather was a perfect 80 degrees that weekend. i went to the nyc ballet (ahhhhhhhh), had scones in an alice in wonderland themed tea shop, watched the lizzie mcguire movie until 4 am, flea marketed in chelsea, had delicious meals in the village, and picnic-ed in central park. all of this reminiscing left me with a craving for apple cider, which i enjoyed a couple times over the weekend, as such:
hence, this post is inspired & dedicated to the beautiful LQ who shares my taste in rings, thrift stores, choreography, disney movies, and hot delicious drinks, and who i think would really appreciate the chai in my apple cider. and so on and so forth ;)
ayurvedic chai mate apple cider:
start by collecting apples of different varieties. you can pick and choose your favorites! i used about 10 apples, and had enough cider in the end to take to a meeting of about eight people. you don’t need to peel them, just core them and cut them into quarters. throw into a pot and cover with water, and boil them until they are soft enough to dent with your finger. (careful, hot!)
transfer the softened apple slices into your blender or food processor, and give them a go go until it looks like apple sauce. when this is through, take a (clean!) t-shirt that you are willing to get rid of, and squeeeeeeeeze the apple mush over a large bowl. this is the part of the process that takes a little patience, but it was very therapeutic for me. got any stress about midterms? you can take it out on your apples, and end up with some delish cider. works for me!
***note: you should probably wait/cool your apple mush before squeezing it. i was working on a deadline (aka wanted to take the cider to a veritas forum meeting i was going to) and so i was rushing, and ended up with slight burn blisters all over my hands. heh. the things i do for food….
once you’ve gone through this with all of your apples, you should have some delicious apple juice - this is the part where we spice it up. i used grated nutmeg, a little salt, grated cinnamon, and also i’m going to use some cinnamon sticks, but not just yet. once those spices are in, keep your juice to the side and let’s focus on the tea now. try not to drink all of it yet.
you might have your own favorite brand or type of chai tea. i used teavana’s white ayurvedic chai, which is an out-of-this-world mix of cinnamon, coconut, pineapple, ginger, cardamom and cloves. one of my top 5 favorite scents in the world i think. which… is saying something because i love smells. as you probably have noticed by now, i always comment on how the things i make smell :) anyways, this is a loose tea, so i steeped in hot water for five minutes, with those cinnamon sticks that i mentioned. then i simply poured an equal amount of this tea into my apple cider.
it.was.heavenly. please please please try this. even if you don’t have time or you’re not weird enough to be a college student who makes apple cider, just buy some cider and this tea and try it together. it is an aromatic blend of tart apple and deeply spicy cinnamon. notice that i didn’t even use any sugar, so this can’t be bad for you! ;) of course, you could always sweeten your drink a little bit with some brown sugar or honey if you so please!
chai apple cider. great for autumn walks, picnics, movie nights, sitting under the stars, and definitely my favorite study companion. wish you were here, LQ.
5. perfectly adorable bite-size apple pies & a snowed in saturday
it’s halloween weekend, aka college for crazy - and aka wellesley for leaving campus to join in on boston’s festivities. but … it’s october 29th … and it’s snowing! which makes me so happy because it’s beautiful while i’m safe inside my room. but sad because i was baking all day to bring these treats to my friends at tufts, and then the buses got canceled :(
so i’m sorry i can’t share these with you in real life, but here’s to all you great tufts kids anyways! i love y’all and hanging out twice a year at retreat is not enough. i promise i’ll invite myself over again soon -
perfectly adorable bite-size apple pies:
there are three simple sections of this recipe - the amazingly flaky crust, the sweet & spicy apple filling, and the cute assembly :) let’s start with the dough.
so i’ve been over this in my last post, but pie crust requires practice and a lot of patience. we start with 1/2 cup of butter, cut into small cubes. make sure that this butter is very cold, kept chilled until the very last moment possible. the butter then goes into 1 1/4 cup of flour, and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the flour. the end result will be small, pea-sized chunks of butter mixed into the flour with the consistency of oats. add a few tablespoons of sugar and a dash of salt. then pour in slowly 1/4 cup of very very very cold (important!) water, and use your hands to gently kneed the dough into a ball.
roll out the dough flat on a lightly floured surface, and use a cookie cutter to make about 2.5 inch circles. set these aside, maybe even chill them in the fridge if you think you’ll take a long time doing the next step. the important part about pie crust dough is to keep it cold as much as possible!
the next part is easy so i’ll keep it short & sweet. slice up apples thinly into small discs, toss in a bowl with a little melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. just add as much as you want until you feel happy :)
the last part is assembly. this part is fun! so - in a little bowl, make a mixture of a couple tablespoons of water and one egg white. take one of your dough circles that you made earlier, and brush one side of it with that egg water mixture. this will help the other dough circle stick to it! hold that circle in the palm of your hand with the wet side up, and put a few pieces of apple in the center. then put another circle on top of it, and
use your fingers to squish together the edges. to decorate, use a fork to crimp the edges and use a sharp knife to cut slits on the top. tada! adorable :)
bake for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until puffy and golden brown. your entire dorm/house will smell like butter & cinnamon and it doesn’t get much better than that. even if buses get canceled because it’s snowing in october. it’s all good :) also be ready to experience flaky like never before.
happy first snow! embrace it, boston, because soon it’ll have been snowing for 6 months straight and you’ll be tired of it :)
[note the deliciously visible specks of vanilla bean. is it bad that this makes me so happy?]
there are a few things that i really love. sea glass, conversations at 2 am, leading first year small group, lily of the valley, warm nights, and friends who know you so well that you can speak in code with them. for example: mawk, frawk, bladder, wench, les 1, les 2, les 6, les 7.
today i got to make bake with plums, and it made me think of my dear friend SH the entire time. because she would understand: moofy, spitch, saids, manchovies, and yummy like plummy. so here’s to old friends who are on the same brain wave as you all the time :)
plum vanilla bean tart:
the first (and maybe best) part of making any tart is making the crust. this is so therapeutic to me. i think people are afraid of making pie crust, but really it is so worth it for perfect, flaky, buttery tarts.
start with 1/2 cup of cold butter. cut your sticks of butter into really small cubes. add these cubes into 1 1/4 cup of flour and proceed to do a technique called “cutting butter”. if you know what this means, then you probably have a butter cutter. if not, then you can use a fork to basically break down and incorporate your butter all through the flour. what you don’t want is to smoosh the butter and melt it. you want the end result to look like little pea-sized chunks of butter throughout your flour.
next, once your flour/butter looks like rough oatmeal, sprinkle in some salt and three tablespoons of sugar. take 1/4 cup of ice cold water and a splash of vanilla extract - pour this in to your dry mixture, a little at a time. in between putting in the liquid, use your hands (your best kitchen tool, in my opinion!) to kneed the dough carefully. eventually, all the liquid should be incorporated, and your dough should come together into a ball. not too sticky, but not too hard. just perfect. you should be so happy at this point because you hand-made your pie crust!!! wrap this in saran wrap and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
the next part of course, is the tart filling. this is the part where you get to use vanilla bean. so aromatic, you might die from vanilla-induced joy.
take a cup of whole milk and heat it up slowly on low heat. drop in a vanilla bean pod. when it boils lightly, take your milk off the heat. stir lightly, and remove your bean. run your knife down the middle of it, and you will find a bajillion little specks of pure vanilla - scrape all of this out into your cooled milk.
in another bowl, whisk together two egg yolks, 1/3 cup of sugar, and 1/3 cup of flour. stream in your vanilla-infused milk, and whisk well. put back on the heat, and slowly stir with a spoon. this is the custard-making process, so your milk should start to thicken. when it really starts to change texture, switch to a whisk, and beat constantly until you have a thick, creamy, smooth vanilla bean custard. the little black specks of vanilla not only smell heavenly, but are so pretty, too :)
now all you have to do is roll out the dough that you’ve chilled. the colder the dough, the flakier the crust is going to turn out! those flakes are the best part :) so roll out the dough, and press down into your tart/pie pan. then pour in the custard, and bake for 30-40 minutes in 350 degrees. just make sure your crust turns that beautiful golden brown color!
when you take your tart out, the smell might just knock you out. but wait, it actually gets better. i arranged slices of fresh plum on the top of the filling, and then drizzled some honey on the very top. back in the oven for five more minutes, and this is what you get:
either i have a very active imagination, or the aroma of madagascar vanilla bean & honey plums is still in my room right now. the perfect treat for the middle of a busy week. and the perfect reminder of an old friend i love so much :)
* special! today i feature a guest baker! i present the beautiful KRH (that’s right, you’re married now so i get to use both your last names! hehehe). thank you times infinity for helping me feed our small group tonight. thank you also that you are so pretty with that tart. you might consider becoming a professional pie modeler.
3. bread pudding with home-made craisins & it's pumpkin season
everybody who has ever met me knows that i love summer an above-average amount. everything about that season is pretty magical. while it’s not nice to pick favorites… it’s not hard to say that summer is my favorite. but that doesn’t mean i can’t appreciate the rest of the year. especially on this campus, i’m always excited when fall comes, because autumn means a whole different kind of beauty that is amazing.
it’s been rainy here lately, and i walked to my spanish & peace and justice classes this morning with my head down. after my classes ended, i walked outside expecting the same dreariness, but instead found this:
yup, i love my campus. the leaves are just beginning to change, and every morning i wake up to the smell of autumn in new england. at the farmer’s market, i found gorgeous sugar pumpkins. great when roasted, perfect when baked with bread pudding inside!
bread pudding with home-made craisins, inside a pumpkin: dedicated to my friend, small group leader, and big sister CW. besides from being one of the most beautiful women i know, she also grew up on a cranberry bog. how cool is that! her family grew the fresh cranberries used in this bread pudding :)
the first step here was to dry the cranberries and make craisins. i had never done this before, so it was pretty exciting. really simple too. take a bowl of fresh cranberries, and pour boiling water over them. wait a few minutes, and you’ll hear/see each of the skins pop a little bit. i did this part at 1 am last night, and it amused me greatly. if you do this in the afternoon, you probs won’t be quite as giggly. anyways, after that, scoop out your berries, and lightly coat them with sugar. then place these berries in the freezer for about 2 hours. this is going to help break down the cell walls, so they dry better!
if you are like eddie, chandler’s crazy roommate from season 2, then you own a fruit dehydrator. otherwise, you can simply heat your oven to 350 for about 10 minutes then turn it off. place your cranberries on a sheet and keep this in the oven overnight. then you have craisins, and it is a wonderful thing to wake up to.
ok now that we’ve converted these tart berries into chewy pieces of deliciousness, it’s time to use them in bread pudding. if you’ve ever made bread pudding before, you know it’s pretty simple. it involves:
cutting up leftover bread into cubes. mixing 3/4 cup half&half, one egg, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 1/2 cup brown sugar. in a baking pan, layer your cubes of bread, sprinkle around your awesome craisins, maybe throw in some chocolate chips or pecan pieces, sprinkle some cinnamon, and simply pour the wet mixture over this. i trust your judgment to appropriately soak the bread until it looks delicious.
but that’s just a recipe for regular, boring bread pudding. we aren’t really into boring here. so at the same time, take a small pumpkin, cut off the top, and scoop out the insides til clean - seeds and pulp. save this for pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin flan, pumpkin seed granola, etc! coat the insides with a little melted butter and some sugar. so goooood. put the “lid” back on.
bake both your bread pudding and your pumpkin in a 350 oven. 25 minutes later, tada:
if only you could experience what that smelled like. why has nobody invented that technology yet? i really think that if fax machines can exist, anything can. cause really, think about it. they’re practically like magic! anyways, it smelled so good, i got that bubbly feeling in my heart that otherwise only happens when i look at pictures of sleeping babies, laughing babies, babies hugging other babies, or puppies nuzzling babies.
i scooped the bread pudding into my now golden-baked pumpkin bowl, and that combination of toasted spicy pumpkin, warm brown sugar, and tangy cranberry is something that you really need to experience. if you get a chance, you should make this and have your own welcome-autumn-party! you could even use smaller pumpkins and make each person their individual serving. if you try it, take pictures and share with me. that’d be fun :)
take your allergy meds, go outside, and roll in some leaves for me - love, lisa
2. strawberry-raspberry jam with candied ginger & happy birthday sally!
so five years ago, i met this girl, and now she’s twenty years old!
SW, I love you oh so much. this birthday wish is a couple days old, but it still comes from the bottom of my jam-loving heart. here’s what inspired me today:
1) i made jam, because bundt cakes or scones are much harder to mail. 2) i’ve wanted to make preserves ever since my host-mom in seattle kept feeding me her delicious raspberry jam! 3) every friday, there’s a wonderful farmer’s market in copley square, boston. keep an eye out for more good produce to be used in the near future.
this week, i got some great fresh baby ginger, and so without further ado,
strawberry-raspberry jam with candied ginger:
first start with the candied ginger part, taking your fresh ginger root, and slicing it into slivers. don’t make them too fat, unless you really want to bite into a big ol chunk of ginger extreme. anyways, take those ginger slivers, and put them into a pot of water with the same amount of water and sugar. for example, if you have a cup of ginger, use a cup of water and sugar. easy!
once that has boiled for about 20-30 minutes, your ginger will become translucent and it’s time to take the pieces out. but they’re not ready to chew just yet - coat each piece with a little bit of sugar, and bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 40 minutes!
now for the strawberry-raspberry jam. this really couldn’t be simpler! two cups of fruit, your candied ginger, and one to three cups of sugar (i used less because i wanted the jam to be more tart than sweet). also put in as much cinnamon as you want :) boil this for about three minutes, and add half a pouch of pectin. pectin is what makes the jam have that thick texture. let this boil really hard for a minute or so, then bam, you have jam!
while i was jamming, a girl came down into the kitchen, and said “mmmm this smells so good!” when i told her what i was doing, she was very alarmed! apparently, it’s not normal for college students to be making jam at 1 pm in the basement.
the point is, SR&CB&CL are in my room right now, snacking on some jamz, talking about people named abibi and the irrationality of boxers, and there’s a little jar of jam here ready to be shipped out to SW tomorrow. i hope you enjoy! i’m sorry it’s not made by a blind french orphan whose life dream was to make jam, like lorelai got luke :) love you and happy birthday.
1. peach oatmeal bars with a mango glaze & welcome to my kitchen
kitchens come in all shapes and sizes. i guess that’s part of their charm: they can be modern, spacious, or wood-burning, but no matter what, the kitchen is a place where serious magic happens. a twisted piece of ginger root can become spiced autumn tea or a ripe avocado can start a fiesta.
i happen to be in that very. very. special. stage of life that is college. that means my kitchen is not really my kitchen, it’s more a museum of stove-tops and sinks that have been around since the 1870’s. i kept using this as an excuse not to bake in college… but i couldn’t hold off any longer. like i said, a kitchen is a kitchen is a kitchen. i don’t know why i’ve been waiting so long to start obsessively feeding my cakes/muffins/scones/inventions to my roommates, but watch out CB&CE, the baking has officially started.
this is a project to fill an creative gap in my life right now. health problems this semester = no wellesley college dancers = small existential crisis. but i’m turning this around and using this as an opportunity to do other things that i love. MAKE FOOD. and write. and eat.
disclaimer: before today i had very few cooking supplies with me. after 6 hours of scouring all of boston for college-student-budget pans and pots (in the pouring rain by the way), i have the bare necessities now. so please be patient! know that i’m working with stolen dining hall salt and no such thing as mixers or butter cutters. also, my dorm’s kitchen is kind of the definition of eclectic:
nice, right? i found some gems all over the wall, such as:
anyways, the point is that this is the start of my insane baking blogging obsession. i think my entire life has been leading up to this point…. i knew all those hours-of-secretly-staying-up-late-in-my-room-during-high school-to-watch-clips-of-the-barefoot-contessa would get me somewhere someday! so here we go.
peach oatmeal bars with a mango glaze:
dedicated to my roommate CB, who willingly puts up with me being the most indecisive human being alive, who answers every question of whether i should get this silicone spatula or this other silicone spatula, who stands in the rain with me at the bus corner for 2 hours, who spontaneously suggests making a list of everything in the world that we appreciate because that’s just who she is, and who has agreed to be my baking partner at least 33% of the time! and who helped me steal mangoes from the dining hall this morning.
so many inspirations for this creation. think peaches & cream, warm oatmeal in the mornings, sharing a mango smoothie with a gal pal on spa day, etc etc.
i swear you can do this too. just take: 1/2 cup unsalted butter & 1 cup brown sugar and cream together. beat in 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. create a separate mixture of 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda, & a pinch of salt. fold in this dry mixture to your wet mixture til nice and smooooooth then add 2 scooping cups of rolled oats until it’s lumpy and lovely!! then for the peach, i just diced up some peaches into cubes and put in a pinch or so of cornstarch to give it consistency. then put that right in my oats goodness. or you could use a cup of preserves if peaches are not available around you!
do the usual: grease a baking pan, preheat the oven to 350, then bake for 30 minutes, or basically until everything looks golden and yum. cool & cut. seriously could not be easier.
for the glaze: 1 cup of diced mangoes goes straight into a processor or a blender, with a tablespoon of cornstarch and two tablespoons of powder sugar. boom. done. delish.
now to warn you: those might be the most precise directions i give all year. i am a firm believer that when you bake, you should never actually listen to what someone else tells you. seriously, if you really like cinnamon, you should put more than i tell you to. if you want to make this into a breakfast bar, just put half the sugar and add some flax seeds. i am not the boss of you. it’s your kitchen!
but after i did it the way i did it (which was an adventure…. i wanted to make it in this adorable tiny pan i got today, so i did. had to try to divide all the ingredients proportionately, and i tried my best to use “1/6” of an egg. heh heh heh), everything was gloriously peachy and oaty and mangoey!!!
this has been a wonderful time. if you read all the way to this part…. you are probably one of my roommates that i’m forcing to stay up til i’m done writing this blog entry! or SD because you helped me develop my insanely high level of love for food in the first place. so for the rest of you, here are my promises for the next baked goodie coming your way: 1) it will be in the spirit of autumn (: 2) i will ramble less 3) i will dedicate it to someone awesome, and it just might be you…. so i guess you just have to read & find out!