October 2011 Archives

Nutella Soufflé

OTHER GROWN-UP TREATS: M&M Blondies; Raspberry Crumb Squares; Madeleines; Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

When you’re a kid, you have to search outside your home for candy. If you were anything like Phoebe or me, your pantry wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams with fruit roll-ups and Pepperidge Farm goldfish and other elementary-school goodies, and Halloween–today!–was the moment to go out and stuff yourself silly on the Tootsie Rolls, Twix Bars, and Peppermint Patties that generous neighbors doled out.

I think there’s a moment of awakening for most of us, around the time we first leave home for college, when we realize that if we wanted to, we could eat candy and ice cream for breakfast. Not just on Halloween, but any day, any time of year. In the end, we usually choose not to. But not always.

In the winter of my sophomore year of college, I went to visit Jordana, who had just started studying abroad in Florence. We walked around the cold, damp city (January = not the best time to visit Italy), looking at art and eating panini, pasta, and gelato along the way.

As if we weren’t getting our fill on all that, we decided it was important to start our day right: with breakfast. And what was on the menu?

Nutella.

We spent our morning hours (and some afternoons, when we needed a snack) dipping these little biscuits Jor had found at the supermarket into a jar of nutella. For all intents and purposes, we were eating candy for breakfast.

So as you celebrate Halloween today, or recover from this weekend’s candy or alcohol intake, consider this homemade, candy-like dessert (or, ahem, breakfast) the kind of indulgent sweet you now get to make, and eat, on your terms, being the grown-up twentysomething you are.

From my kitchen, where I do what I want, to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Nutella Soufflé
Serves 4

You can also make this in one big dish–you’ll want a 4- or 5-cup souffle pan.

Ingredients
About 1 teaspoon softened butter
3 tablespoons sugar plus extra for the ramekins
1/3 cup nutella
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter (optional; helps make sure you don’t overbeat your egg whites)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Butter the ramekins or big soufflé dish.

Sprinkle the bottoms and sides with sugar, then dump out any extra.

In a medium bowl, combine the nutella with the egg yolks.

The mixture will be a little bit think and hard to stir, but you shouldn’t have a problem incorporating them. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt and the cream of tarter, using a handheld mixer on medium speed. When they hold soft peaks (about 2-3 minutes), add the 3 tablespoons of sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating the whole time. Increase to high speed and beat until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. (That means when you raise your beaters out of the bowl, they leave behind a sturdy-looking mountain.) Pour about 1/3 of the whites into the nutella and stir to combine. Then, working very gently, pour the nutella mixture into the remaining whites and fold until thoroughly combined.

Pour 1/4 of the batter into each ramekin, then bake until puffed and crusted on top, about 12 minutes. The soufflé should still jiggle a bit when you touch the pan. Serve immediately, before they deflate! Dollop some unsweetened whipped cream on top if you like.

Devilish Eggs (for Halloween!)

Not gonna lie: I’m a little bit obsessed with Halloween. When I was growing up, I did the witch and tiger thing. But by age 7, I had graduated to playing real people. People who your parents hope you’ll never become, not even on Halloween.

When I moved to New York City in 3rd grade, I traded my Laura Ashley sweater sets for ripped jeans from the GAP, and got introduced to rock. Green Day Dookie quickly made its way into my five CD “collection,” and for Halloween, instead of the usual variation of Disney princess, I bought a fake nose ring and dressed up as Axel Rose. My parents thought it was funny, but they weren’t laughing the following year when somehow I got it in my head to dress up as Marsha Clarke, the lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson trail. A rocker was an understandable display of youth. Dressing up as a lawyer at age 8, however, meant New York City was really causing me to grow up too fast.

In addition to watching too much CSPAN, I was also clearly tuning in to too much Baywatch. At age 10, I borrowed my mother’s red one-piece Speedo, bought a pair of tan balloons, and went as Pamela Anderson. Fast forward to the present, and I’m still watching too much random television and letting it dictate my Halloween choices. I’ve gone as two members of the Draper family (first as Betty, then last year as Sally), and had I not had my 2011 Halloween plans foiled, I might have broken out those tan balloons again to play Joan.

This year, I’ll be at my friends Steph and Rodrigo‘s wedding in Santa Barbara. Instead of dressing up like another member of the Mad Men cast, as planned, I will be wearing black tie and pretending to be someone who is classy. In honor of my dear, devilish friends, who are one of the only couples I would un-begrudgingly miss Halloween weekend for, I now turn the conversation back to food, and give you a recipe for the ultimate Halloween cocktail party food: devilish eggs with sriracha and lime juice.

Whether or not you’ve graduated from white angel get-up to Bella from Twilight, get a group of friends together, dress up, drink too much witch’s brew, have yourself a few hard-boiled eggs and, more importantly, a devilishly good time.

From my kitchen, haunted with ghosts of Halloween costumes past, to yours,

Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK


**Recipe**

Devilish Eggs with Lime and Siracha
Makes 24 deviled eggs

You can make the hard boiled eggs in advance–just store them carefully so there is no breaking!

Ingredients
1 dozen extra-large eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1 ½ teaspoons siracha
¾ teaspoon salt
Sweet paprika, for garnish

See directions for how to make a perfect hard-boiled egg.

Cut the hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Over a medium mixing bowl, gently squeeze the center of the eggs so the yolk pops into the bowl. With a fork, mash the yolks with the mayo and mustard until smooth. Add the lime juice, siracha, and salt, and mix until incorporated. Taste for seasoning.

Using a teaspoon, carefully scoop the filling into the cavity of each egg. Arrange on a serving platter or cutting board, garnish with a shake of paprika and half a lime, and enjoy your spooky Halloween cocktail party!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf

We’ve always loved a good loaf cake. Not only are quickbreads and their variations easy to make, but the ingredients are also easy to remember.

‘Tis the season for pumpkin, so today we’re bringing you a video version of one of our favorite quickbreads: pumpkin chocolate chip. Great for a pumpkin-carving party or any everyday eating this fall.

From  my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Pumpkin Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 can pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and soda. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla, and vegetable oil until thick. Fold the dry ingredients into the beaten mixture until well blended. Stir in the pumpkin, then add the nuts and the chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared loaf pan or pans and bake 1 hour, until it tests done. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

This post is participating in Food Network’s Fall Fest. Check out other bloggers’ lovely pumpkin posts here:

What’s Gaby Cooking: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
The Cultural Dish: Pumpkin Waffles
Cooking With Elise: Pumpkin Chip Scones
And Love It Too: Creamy Pumpkin Fruit Dip
CIA Dropout: Pumpkin Panna Cotta With Gingerbread
Haute Apple Pie Girls: Pumpkin Bread Parfait
I Am Mommy: Pumpkin Pancakes
Dishin and Dishes: Maple Pumpkin Creme Brulee
Virtually Homemade: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins With Pumpkin Seed Streusel
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pumpkin Pizza
Daydreamer Desserts: Pumpkin Fattigman
From My Corner of Saratoga: Baking Pie In The Pumpkin
FN Dish: The Ultimate Pumpkin Soup
Cooking Channel: Pumpkin Risotto
The Sensitive Epicure: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies With Molasses Marshmallows
Daily*Dishin: Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake
ZaikaZabardast: Pumpkin Jalebi
Mooshu Jenne: Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Cara’s Engaged!

photo (4)

Big news to share!

I’m marrying Alex!

He surprised me with a ring a few weeks ago over chili and cornbread (the cornbread said “marry me?”). Homebodies that we are, we took a few weeks to bask in our excitement ourselves before sharing the news. He’s since started calling me wifey (a bit premature, I know). And I’ve tried to keep cooking him delicious food like this and this and this, so he wouldn’t feel, you know, misled.

We’re hoping to get married next fall. Wedding plans naturally revolve around food, so if you have delicious wedding ideas that’ll work in the NYC area, don’t hesitate to share some advice in the comments (no, really, do it, please). I’ll keep you up to date in posts here as we plan, shop, and taste.

So…moral of the story? Talk to cute guys you don’t know on the subway. It will serve you well. (For those of you who haven’t read In the Small Kitchen, I met Alex on our morning commute from Park Slope to midtown back in the winter of ’09.)

Yay!

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Buttercream


EVENT: Jill’s Birthday
VENUE: Cara’s Mom’s House, Long Island
PARTY-SIZE: 7
TYPE: End of Summer Deliciousness
MENU: Hummus, Cheese, and Crackers; Surf and Turf (Lobster and Flank Steak); Grandpa Salad; Roasted Potatoes; Corn; Bread; Raspberry-Lemon Birthday Cake

To each her own.

This, I imagine, had to be my mom’s philosophy when my sisters and I were growing up. When you have three girls, I imagine, it can’t be easy to keep them out of each other’s hair.

Whatever Jill had, I wanted–even if it was a pair of patent leather sneakers, chunky platform clogs, or atrocious, square-toed boots that were just so in at that particular moment.

Katie, the youngest, either wanted the stuff Jill and I had ten times more than I wanted Jill’s stuff–or, cool as a cucumber, she wanted nothing to do with it at all. By the time she was in high school, anyway, clunky shoes had gone the way of the early ’00s and everyone was wearing delicate boots and sleek ballet flats.

When it came to birthday cakes, differing footwear or not, Rich Chocolate Cake was the one for all of us, though. Perhaps it would be decorated differently in October than August, but as the pinnacle of celebration cakes, it couldn’t be missed on a birthday. Jill and Kate, who have summer birthdays two days apart sometimes got an ice cream cake instead–this awesome watermelon one, preferably.

Despite the moments of being three peas in a birthday cake pod, there are differences too. I like roller coasters; no one else in my family does. I will always and forever love chocolate and tend to think fruit is a bit of a waste for dessert; others think tarts like this one are totally viable, even for a birthday.

To each her own.

In the end, the second most important ingredient for a homemade birthday cake (love, of course, is the first) has nothing to do with sisterly imitation. It’s perfect-as-possible customization. When I make a birthday cake for someone these days, the idea is not just that I’m giving them a slice of cake, but that I’ve created a cake that precisely suits their dining personality and their expressed desires. Mom got a creamy ricotta tart after filling out my “survey” one day in the car, not long before her birthday. Alex gets dairy-free carrot cake. Sarah gets peanut butter filling.

Jill, a backseat chef year-round, spent a while brainstorming the perfect cake for her 2011 birthday. Last year, I made a blueberry cake with lemony cream cheese frosting. It was pretty nice-looking and great-tasting, but I didn’t get a very good picture, so I never posted about it here.

This year, we figured out that what would be the perfect cake. It would have light, lemony layers. Pink-tinted raspberry buttercream. More raspberries for decoration. Pretty and delicious–and so perfectly suited to Jill that her friend Rachel actually guessed the flavor combination in advance.

For some of the fall birthdays (and it always seems there are a lot), give this cake a whirl. That is, if the birthday gal or guy has a special affection for raspberries and lemon. Otherwise, tweak it til it’s perfect for them.

From my kitchen, where a cake is a gift, to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Lemon Birthday Cake with Raspberry Buttercream
Makes 1 cake

**Based on some questions in the comments, I want to clarify the amount of raspberries in this recipe. You’ll want to buy two pint-sized “clamshells” of raspberries. Then you use 1 1/2 of those in the icing’s puree and the remaining 1/2 for decorating. Clamshells in my area have always been labeled pints – they are about 1 dry cup’s worth of raspberries. That means it’s a different measurement than a pint of cream. So if the raspberries you buy are labelled differently, stick to the cup measurement.

Also: if you make this buttercream ahead of time and refrigerate it, you must let it get to room temperature and re-beat it before trying to spread it on the cake. If it curdles when you beat it, it’s still too cold.**

Ingredients
For the cake:
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons
3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at soft room temperature

For the icing and decoration:
(adapted from The Dessert Bible)
2 pints fresh raspberries (about 2 cups)
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt

To make the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch springform cake pans, then place a circle of parchment at the bottom of each. Grease that with softened butter too.

Whisk the eggs with 6 tablespoons of the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest.

In a separate bowl–the bowl of a stand mixer if you have one–whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add the butter, cut into rough tablespoon-sized chunks, and the remaining sour cream, and, using your hand-held mixer or your very strong arm if you don’t have a stand mixer, beat this together for nearly two minutes. It will be very creamy. Pour in the egg mixture in two parts, beating for nearly a minute after each.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. A toothpick inserted will come out clean, and the cake will bounce back when you press it lightly. Run a butter knife along the edges, then remove the sides of the pan and cool completely. When cool, flip the cake to remove the parchment from the bottom.

To make the icing: Puree 1 1/2 pints of raspberries with 1/3 cup sugar in a blender or mini food processor. Strain through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds (this takes a little while, so be patient), then set aside the seedless puree. Reserve the remaining 1/2 pint for decorating the cake.

Combine the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl–metal works great–and set it over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly but not too hard, until the egg-sugar mixture is warm (a drop on the inside of your wrist should feel hot but not burning). Be careful not to curdle it. If you’re using a thermometer, you want it to read 160°F.

Remove from the heat and beat on high speed using a handheld or electric mixer (I wouldn’t recommend doing this by hand). After about 5 minutes, it should have increased in volume and be light, airy, and cool. Turn the mixer to medium and add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing until incorporated. At points, the icing may look curdled. When all the butter is in, add the salt and raspberry puree and beat again.

Store for up to 5 days in the fridge, but let the icing come to room temperature before using (you may have to re-whip it).

To assemble the cake, place one layer on a serving platter. Spread a thick layer of buttercream across. Carefully place the second layer, top side down, on the buttercream. Use the remaining icing to ice the top and sides thickly and evenly. Arrange the fresh raspberries in three-berry clusters around the edge of the cake–or any way that strikes your fancy.

BlissTree: We Need More TV Chefs to Teach Food Basics

We got a great shout out from BlissTree in this article on TV chefs. Check out what they have to say on the subject here!