Saturday, April 21, 2012

Food (Winter 2012)

This is a post about food. It will probably be extensive, to make up for all the posts I haven't posted about food in the last three months! Here goes. (Let me pull up my folder of pictures for reference.)

Oh jeez, some of these are old (haha, January seems so long ago!).

For one thing, when I was home, I made pecan tassies, because I had been wanting to for ages, but didn't have the right pan, but didn't want the right pan because what do I need with a one-use pan? Anyway, they came out fun:

They are adorable, and would be popular among my friends in New York, but really they're not good enough to be worth the pain in the ass of shaping all those tiny individual pie shells. Next time I will just make pecan pie!

Shortly after I got back, I made peanut butter truffles, aka buckeyes:

Also individual and time consuming, but not as irritatingly tedious as the tassies. A little too sweet (how to get the right consistency in the center using less powdered sugar? maybe processed peanut butter instead of natural? because the natural is so wet and sticky, it really needed the sugar to smooth it out into a good filling) but still totally addictive. These warrant making again and playing with the recipe.

Next I made rumballs! I totally did not love these at all, but every single other person who tried them raved nonstop (even the people who are used to my baking and therefore have acquired some discrimination), so I'm keeping the recipe. They'll be great party favors/thank-you or birthday gifts/spoil-coworkers dessert. And they're attractive!

In a brief digression from baking, I am still making excellent use of the fondue pot. Usually, this involves Faye, Emily, and sometimes others coming over with ingredients, which is a great way to get me to bring this darling out of the cupboard for a new fondue recipe.

Here is the beautiful feta walnut fondue we tried in February:

It was thoroughly enjoyed by all!

The first one I ever made (which was a pretty straightfoward cheddar, I think) is still my favorite, though. I guess at heart I'm a basic-flavors kinda woman!

I also threw a chocolate fondue party a few weeks ago to welcome Faye's friend Katie to town, and it was a smashing success! All 10 or so of us couldn't finish the (double recipe) of chocolate fondue with fruit, pound cake, and (just to try it) avocado. (Avocado in chocolate, it turns out, really just tastes like avocado and chocolate. No blending or complementing - but not terrible.)

I also brought back from California a souffle dish, which allowed me to make the souffle recipe I'd had sitting around for some time!

 How pretty is this prep picture?
I love the stiff egg whites
and the creamy yellow yolks.

Folding away!

I am always afraid that things that are supposed to puff in the oven,

But they always do!

I also made mushroom piroshkes one day when Alex was out rehearsing Rainbow Fish.

The batter for the dough looked so cool before I mixed it!

It was another of those have-to-make-a-bunch-of-individually-put-together-things recipes...

But they came out so beautiful - and so delicious - that it was totally worth it!

I would make them again. They are basically stuffed with mushrooms, cream cheese, and not a whole lot else that I can remember!

Anyway, back to baking! (I can never stay away from dessert for long.) I made these (I think they're firecracker fudge) cookies with peppermint icing a couple months ago. I think next time I would leave off the powdered sugar on the outside, which is a little too sweet. There's something a little funny or that I don't totally love about these cookies in general, but I'm not sure what it is - and I did keep eating them! Also, they're beautiful.

Here also are some pastries I made. They tasted fine. Like pastries. Tossed the recipe.

I also tried a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe that everybody on the internet swears by. It was pretty interesting - a whole different thing from white flour chocolate chip cookies - with a more complicated taste and a more hearty feel. Jamie loved them, but Alex and I only thought they were ok. I don't remember if I kept the recipe (if I did, it's because Jamie pressured me!).

I also made some kind of layered thing with caramel (homemade - I'll get to that soon!), which I don't remember being any better than any of the other layered things I make, and which I think I tossed the recipe for.

But speaking of caramel (it is soon already!), I have been a little obsessed with ice cream sauces recently. The first time I tried to make caramel, it seized all around my whisk as soon as I poured in the cream. I was flipping out a little - I may have shouted at Alex to help me while also shoving him out of my way - but after some vain reconstruction efforts, I decompressed for ten minutes and then tried again, with much better results. In the two or three days after that, I made many sauces!

Clockwise from top left:
creamy caramel sauce (the one that went wrong the first time);
butterscotch sauce;
salted butter caramel;
classic hot fudge (PERFECT).

They were all delicious. I liked the plain caramel the best; Jamie loved the salted butter caramel; and butterscotch has a permanent place in Alex's heart. I also made a pecan praline sauce (with whiskey) that was delicious, a lean chocolate sauce that was fine but no competitor for the classic hot fudge, and several batches of vanilla ice cream to eat it all with! I still have a bunch of sauce recipes to try, too: dulce de leche; semisweet hot fudge; marshmallow hot fudge; marshmallow sauce; mocha sauce; and white chocolate sauce. Let's get on it!

And here ends the pictures I've taken of food recently, because after the sauces happened, Alex went on tour and I let him take the camera, since he would be doing more interesting things than I would. I do miss it for food pics, though! I'll draw this post to a close, though, since it's so long, and start another post on more recent cooking projects ASAP!

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