Before you read any further, ask yourself this question:
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Before you read any further, ask yourself this question:
What is better than a slice of chocolate tart?
Obviously, the only thing better than one slice of chocolate tart is two slices of chocolate tart. Hence, this recipe is based upon two philosophies. The first is that two is twice as good as one, and the second is that anything bland can be redeemed.
Yes, bland. The simple fact of the matter is that this tart is a tad dull by itself. It's practically pure chocolate, which some people will, no doubt, find pleasant enough. However, variety is often the spice of life and the quickener of death. Thus, daredevils and mad scientists may find that a few additions can take this tart from execrable to exciting.
I won't bore you with the recipe itself. The filling and glaze are taken precisely from Epicurious, and the crust can be lifted from my other tart recipe.
Now, the exciting bit.
You will need:
Lots of gastrointestinal fortitude
A selection of fresh fruits and vegetables
Meats, cheeses, and volcanic ash
Ice cream of several different various varieties
I personally opted for the blackberry/vanilla ice cream tart sandwich, but you may do as you please. If you are wondering whether or not certain ingredients will clash with or compliment your tart sandwich, simply ask yourself "What is good with [insert ingredient here]?" If the answer is "everything", proceed.
For the BVICTS mentioned previously, simply cut two generous slices of tart. Slather one slice with vanilla ice cream and strategically place several blackberries on the ice cream. Next, smash the other slice on top, crushing the berries and allowing the juices and ice cream to intermingle freely. Garnish with an additional straag of ice cream with a berry on top.
Now, set aside a few hours for wallowing in a sugar-overloaded torpor and chow down. Next, follow this simple one-step process:
1. Mid-sandwich, ask yourself this question:
Is it good?
If the answer is positive, continue. If it is negative, start over with a different set of ingredients. I suggest the ginger/walnut/ peach sorbet chocolate tart sandwich, or GWPSCTS for short. Eat, and then re-proceed to step one.
Monday, March 8, 2010
So, you're being stalked. You've noticed that man in a hat and trench coat that coincidentally happens to frequent your laundromat, tailor, fishmonger, and bucket supply emporium. You can't see through his dark glasses, and you're scared. Not for yourself, of course, but for your most prized possession: the only extant copy of a certain pear cake recipe.
Why is it the only copy? Your mother wrote it down so you wouldn't forget the family's most valued secret. Why did she write it down? Well, you suffer from acute extreme memory loss.
Fortunately, you have a plan to rid yourself of the interloper. Actually, it is the eighteenth in a series of ingenious plans, but you forgot all the others. You walk to the kitchen window, gazing out upon your well-tended vegetable garden, and there he is, crouching behind the cabbages.
"Hmph!" You harrumph to yourself. "If he wants the recipe so bad, he can have it!"
Cackling gleefully, you gather your materials and set to work. The tattered recipe is written in your mother's stoic scrawl. It reads:
6 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
4 Bosc pears of moderate size
1 and 1/3 cups of cake flour
3/4 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of ground ginger
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
With a steely eye and a steady hand, you preheat your oven to 350 degrees and melt the butter over low heat in your mother's hand-me-down 10-inch cast iron skillet. Ever the multi-tasker, you peel and quarter the pears while the butter slowly degrades into a frothy golden mess.
The man is still outside, only he is now lurking in your begonias, the swine. He is taking photographs with a very undercover camera.
After removing your skillet from the heat, you sprinkle it with a ton of brown sugar and arrange the pears in an artistic, yet sinister design. You search for a very long time until you find where you store your mixing bowls. In a large bowl, you whisk together the flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, making sure to switch hands every so often to insure even toning of your already muscular forearms. Gently, you chop the nectarines and mix them into the big bowl. In a smaller bowl, you whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla.
To confuse your stalker, who is now taking notes, you pretend to add coriander, thyme, nutmeg, and a hefty dose of white wine vinegar.
You chuckle at your own ingenuity as you add the egg mixture to the contents of the large bowl, stirring with firm hand to make sure everything is properly incorporated. Sneakily you reach into the secret compartment of your spice cabinet and feel around until you find your bottle of nitroglycerin. Just before you dump it into the batter, you reconsider.
"What if I had a heart attack while this cake was in the oven?" You ask yourself. "I had better save this... just in case."
You replace the bottle and grab the cyanide instead. Unfortunately, it is empty, but it has a note attached which reads:
Used this as insect repellent. Please replace at earliest convenience."
Grumbling, you look for something else, finally settling on chloroform. After dumping the contents of the bottle into your batter and disposing of the bottle, you pour the contents of your mixing bowl over the pears in your mother's skillet. Then, you put it in the oven and wait 40 minutes, or until a tester toothpick comes out clean.
There's a man in your garden. He's wearing a trench and sunglasses, and he seems to be very interested in you. Assuming him to be one of your many secret admirers, you open the window and hail him.
"Yoohoo!" You wave a handkerchief and smile. "I've just baked some cake. Would you like some?"
"Don't mind if I do! I've been sitting out here every day hoping that you might ask that. Sorry if I've been a bit of a pest."
Since your cake has now cooled for twenty minutes in the skillet, you invert it on a plate and cut the man a hearty slice. Like any man receiving free gourmet dessert, he ravenously devours the cake and collapses senseless beneath your window.
You find this a bit surprising, as your cooking seldom has this effect on people. Then, you see the bottle of cyanide sitting on your counter. You read the note in horror.
"Insect repellent," you mutter, "a bit of a pest!"
The cake smells lovely, but you resist the urge to splurge. Instead, you haul the body into your neighbor's yard and decide to see a doctor about your memory loss. Later, you are surprised to see the police at your neighbor's house. Crying, she comes to you for advice.
Consoling soul that you are, you offer her a slice of your mother's famous cake.
Adapted from Epicurious, as usual.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The sad fact of the matter is that many people do not cook because they simply do not have the time. Fortunately, this recipe is for everyone, even people with no time on their hands. To prove it, let us examine the case of someone who is very rushed: a man or woman attempting to escape a burning building.
Ginger Scones: Express Conflagration Version
You will need:
Two and a half cups of flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
One teaspoon chopped lemon zest
Six ounces of butter
2/3 cup candied ginger
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus some more cream for later
It has already been established that you are in a burning office building. First, take stock of your surroundings. Can you see the fire, or can you only smell it? If you are near the fire, how hot is it? For this recipe, you'll need it to be around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, so stoke the fire if necessary.
First of all, don't panic. People use fires to cook all the time.
Find a bowl-shaped object, such as a plant pot, and get as low to the ground as possible. Combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl and crawl toward a window to get some fresh air. Next, add the lemon zest and butter, mixing until you have achieved the legendary "fine meal" consistency. As you mix, observe the structural integrity of your building. Will it hold for the next twenty minutes? If not, crawl under a desk and continue with your recipe.
Find some scissors or a paper cutter and cut your candied ginger into thin strips. Stir these into your mixture, and make a well in the middle. Pour the cream into the well and mix until your dough forms.
Have you called the Fire Department yet? If not, now would be a good time, as the fire fighters would arrive just in time to eat a fresh hot scone.
Knead your dough and gather it into one big sticky ball. Then, shape it into little triangles and brush the tops with the remaining cream. If your coworkers are trying to evacuate you, tell them to go on ahead because you're almost finished.
Ordinarily, you would bake these scones on a lined baking sheet, but in a hostile office environment, you may have no such luxury. Thus, grab your desk and place it directly over the fire. Empty your largest desk drawer and place the scones inside. If you have any pancake batter, you may also use the top of your desk as a griddle.
Depending on the size of the fire, you'll have to cook them around fifteen minutes. Check on them every so often, just in case.
Once your scones are finished, find a fly swatter and hold it in the fire. This will sterilize the fly swatter so you can use it as a spatula to retrieve your scones from the drawer. Arrange them artistically atop a three-ring binder and crawl toward the door.
If you timed it correctly, the fire department should chop the door into pieces with their fire axes just as you arrive. You will then be carried to safety and given a respirator while the firemen and survivors enjoy your scones and thank you for risking your life to make them. You may now congratulate yourself not only for triumphing over the fiery wrath of nature, but also for proving that anyone can cook, no matter how little time they have.
Thanks to Epicurious for the base recipe, as always.
Posted by Travis Webster at 1:33 PM
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
If there is one superfluous thing in the world, it is crème brûlée.
Instead of being content to be a simple cup of creamy custard, crème brûlée is somehow entitled to become a custard with a caramelized top, thus transcending an ordinary custardian experience. Thus, it has become the standard-bearing dessert of upper-crust society, hob-nobbers, and aristocrats.
Truly, such a lofty luxury was beyond the grasp of the less-privileged... until now.
Yes, now even the grubbiest street urchins can taste the sweet delights of the educated classes.
Of course, it's all thanks to this simple recipe:
You will need:
A brief education of the English language
Elementary reading skills
An oven or other enclosed heating implement
One cup of very heavy cream
3/4 cup of milk, preferably from a cow
2 sticks of cinnamon
1/4 cup of sugar
85 grams of white chocolate
4 egg yolks, preferably from a chicken
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
You'll also need things like spoons, bowls, and hands, but who wants to read such a long list? No one.
First, put your cream, milk, and cinnamon sticks into a saucepan. Cook it over lowish heat until it boils. Don't be discouraged: this will take a very long time. If you are hurried, cook it over high heat and reap the consequences. Regardless, remove it from the heat and cover it, letting it sit for twenty minutes.
If you are a gentleman or lady of leisure, use these twenty minutes to catch up on your correspondence. If you are middle-class or lower, do something constructive, such as preparing the next part of the recipe.
Preheat your oven to 320 (degrees Fahrenheit), and whisk your egg yolks and sugar together with the ground cinnamon. If using ostrich eggs, note that they are large and that you may have to triple the recipe. If using fish eggs, be prepared to use quite a few.
Combine the milk mixture and the egg mixture. Pour the resulting glop back into the pan and heat it until the custard is nice and thick (it will easily coat the back of a wooden spoon or the front of your face).
Here, you have several options:
If you are rich and can afford a quality sieve, pour the custard through the sieve into the ramekins, thus separating the cinnamon sticks from the custard.
If you have no disposable income, use an inferior sieve. The end result will be the same.
If you cannot afford an inferior sieve, hold out your hand and pour the custard through your fingers. Catch the cinnamon sticks as they pass through.
Next, regardless of socio-economic status, place the ramekins in a deep baking dish. Fill said dish with boiling water until the water level is the same height as the custard level. Bake this for 30 minutes or so, depending upon the size of your ramekins. When it's done baking, you'll know. If it is severely over-baked, the fire department will probably let you know.
After you've baked the custard, put it in the refrigerator until cooled (about two hours, depending on the temperature of your fridge). If you have no refrigerator, now is a good time to worry about how you will be storing your cream and eggs.
After you've waited long enough, sprinkle some sugar over your custard and blast it with your culinary torch. More sugar will net you a thicker caramelized topping, obviously.
If you have no culinary torch, you can set your ramekins directly under the broiler for a similar effect. If you have no broiler, use the hair spray and lighter method to approximate a culinary torch.
Good luck with that.
This recipe was scrupulously adapted from an eerily similar recipe at Technicolor Kitchen, by the way.
Friday, February 19, 2010
It's an exclamatory recipe!
Note: Not really. This recipe was shamelessly stolen from Smitten Kitchen. I did, however, make some slight alterations, but, for the sake of this recipe, I will refer to them as "optimizations" instead.
Now, for the recipe (!):
2 cups of normal, everyday flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
4 tablespoons of sugar
half a teaspoon of salt
5 tablespoons of butter, cut up into smallish segments
half a cup of dried cranberries, chopped
half a cup of apricots, chopped
1 cup of heavy cream
The directions (!):
Preheat your oven to 425 and put a rack in the middle. If you are able, you may use an autoclave instead, but make sure it is free of any surgical implements first.
Note: Autoclaves generally only heat up to 250 degrees (F), so for this recipe you'll need almost two of them.
Put your flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a big bowl and whisk it up.
If you have one of those fancy pastry blenders, get it out. If not, use your hands. Regardless of tool, add your butter to the pile and use your hands/blender/mandibles to blend the mixture until it looks like coarse meal.
Note: If you don't know what coarse meal looks like, check out this image, which shows a 8-course meal, courtesy of cheapinnyc.com.
There will be some larger butter lumps. Ignore them. Throw your fruit into the coarse meal-like substance and stir it up. Then, stir in your heavy cream until the dough forms.
Now, dump all of this out onto the counter and knead it all into one big sticky ball. Use your amazing geometric powers to create eight triangles out of this dough. It should look something like this:
Note: Perhaps you have noticed that I have made six triangles, rather than eight. This is because I like my scones to be a bit larger than usual. Also, for all you know, there could be two additional scones sitting just out of frame. Maybe there are and maybe there aren't.
Slap your scones down on a baking sheet and throw them in the oven. Bake them for 15-ish minutes, then let them cool down a bit before indulging. If you are using the autoclave method, divide the scones between your autoclaves, bake them for 25 to 30 minutes and see what happens.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
In keeping with the current trend of healthy desserts, I have prepared a low-calorie alternative to eating pure lard. Behold the Peanut Double-Butter Tart!
This nearly sugar-free slice of heaven is so healthy, you'll have to force your friends and family to eat it! Cringe at the near-tastelessness of its rich dark-chocolate fudgey topping! Cower in fear of the nutritious Oreo and butter crust! Swoon with apprehension at the salubrious smell of the highly-substantive whipped filling! It's even fortified with at least two vitamins or nutrients!
If you value the well-being of your digestive system or the digestive systems of loved ones, print this recipe now!
One 9-inch fluted tart pan!
8 tablespoons of butter!
8 ounces of cream cheese!
1 and 1/4 cups of peanut butter!
1 and 1/4 cups of milk chocolate chips!
3/4 cups of dark chocolate chips!
1/4 cup of corn syrup!
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract!
1 cup of brown sugar!
2 and 1/2 cups of heavy cream!
First, the crust!
Take all of your Oreos and cram them into a food processor. Destroy them. Once they resemble powder, put them in a mixing bowl. Next, melt your butter and put it in with the Oreos. Mix it up with a spatula (or something similar to a spatula, such as a trowel) and press the resulting compound into your tart pan. Refrigerate it.
While your crust is chilling, take half a cup of your milk chocolate chips and melt them in a double boiler. Once melted, spread the chocolate over the crust. I suggest removing the crust from the fridge before you try this. After the inside is coated with a beautiful layer of liquidish chocolate, re-refrigerate your crust. If you live somewhere cold, you could put your crust outside instead.
You are now finished with the crust.
Next, the filling!
Find yourself a sturdy mixer and combine all the peanut butter, brown sugar, and cream cheese. Blend it until it is all one color. You may choose the color. Set that aside and whisk one and a half cups of cream until those highly sought-after "soft peaks" form. Now, fold the whipped cream into the peanut-buttery concoction until you have again reached the uniform color of your choice, such as light brown. Spread the resulting mixture across your tart crust until it looks pretty and stick the whole thing in the freezer (or in an igloo, if you are using the outdoor method) for fourish hours. After that, cover it with tin foil and congratulate yourself on a tart well made.
Finally, the sauce!
Put all the rest of your chocolate in a mixing bowl (heat-proof, obviously) and bring your remaining cup of cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Then, stir the corn syrup into the cream and pour the whole thing over your chocolate. Let that sit for two minutes or so before stirring it up into a delightfully healthy sauce. If you like, you can let the sauce cool and refrigerate it (covered, of course), but it is much more fun to slather it on your tart and eat it then and there.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I, for one, have always wondered what "Soho" meant, so I looked it up. If you are referring to Soho of London, the name purportedly refers to a 17th century hunting call. The SoHo of New York is a portmanteau of "South of Houston Street".
The SOHO Cafe and Bakery of Kansas City, Mo capitalizes every letter of its name, so it could mean anything, even an acronym for Surreptitious Occulators Hunting Omnibuses. Regardless, it's the name of an interesting bakery downtown.
And how about that bakery, you might ask? Well, my experience there was certainly a positive one. Their cafe is high-ceilinged and wide open, as you can see in the artfully captured photo below.
Yes, it's true. The SOHO Bakery actually contains a purple column, which gives them a +1 equity bonus on a second mortgage, should they ever need one.
Now, on to the food. In my usual fashion, I waltzed up to the pastry case and selected an item at random, which turned out to be a heart-shaped chocolate-covered strawberry cake. Also available was a peanut butter mousse tartlette, a cherry tartlette, and a variety of cookies.
This is, of course, a scandalously small selection of baked goods. In their defense, I did not arrive until one o' clock PM, and, as they close at two, there was not a whole lot left of that morning's baking. Most likely, this means that they bake everything fresh every morning, which is definitely a good thing. However, that is not necessarily the case.
Here is a picture of that cake, which rang up at $2.71:
Now, you ought to know that this was served on a napkin on top of a floral-patterned paper plate. Naturally, I excluded this from my pictures. Also, please note the color of the cake. If it was strawberry cake, they must have added the fruit with an eyedropper, because I could neither see it nor taste it. Regardless, the cake was tasty and moist, only not in a strawberryesque fashion. The chocolate was thick and creamy, as it should be. Good? Yes. Great? Almost, but not quite. A tad too dull for my tastes and not quite worth $3.
So, atmosphere was excellent, selection was poor, and the food was pretty good. Also, the use of paper plates and plastic silverware is inexcusable. I must add that this place also serves what looks to be a fantastic lunch, complete with homemade soups. Sadly, this is not a lunch blog, so that will not be taken into consideration. Thus, the SOHO Cafe and Bakery nets three and one-half capybaras out of five.
SOHO Cafe and Bakery
310 w. 8th st. kansas city, mo
Mon- Fri 7-2
Posted by Travis Webster at 7:05 AM
Friday, January 22, 2010
Posted by Travis Webster at 9:24 AM