Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Olive Oil Pie

Alright, so it's not really an olive oil pie, but it was an olive oil pie crust and it was shockingly awesome, so I wanted to get your attention.

I am on a constant plight for good foods to bring for lunch. I am not much of a sandwich person and it seems there are only so many days in a row you can eat sesame noodles. Actually, for me, about three days is my top out for the number of days I can eat the same thing in a row. I've always envied people who have a regular. But, I digress. The latest idea I had in my "things I can bring for lunch" mission, is quiche. I like quiche, you can eat it cold, warm, it's got stuff in it and, if made with Sarah-magic (i.e. translate anything that says cream into something non-fat), can be reasonably health conscious.

But then there's the crust and as with all pie-type things, crust is out to get me. How can I put two sticks of butter into a crust? I mean, if I'm not going to go to the gym (and it seems I'm not), I just can't rationalize putting two sticks of butter in anything I'm going to eat. So I went on a hunt for healthy crust. What I found wasn't necessarily "healthy" but it was definitely "healthier". Olive oil crust. It's weird, you have to freeze the olive oil until it solidifies, kind of, and then cut it in like you would normal crust. To be honest, I was pretty sure I was going to end up with a pile of egg and flour goo in the oven because all the oil was just going to melt away. I was pleasantly surprised though. It really is delicious and flakier than a normal butter crust.

I didn't take pics of the crust because I didn't think of it in time, but I took pictures of the after. I made six mini quiches and one large. The mini's were better, I think because I handled the dough less. The dough in the large was a bit more rubbery.

I got the dough recipe here (don't ask me about the vinegar, I have no idea). It made enough for the six mini's (in muffin tins) and one large and I tossed a little at the end. The quiche recipe is after the pics for those who want it. Note, this crust recipe takes forever, so starting the night before you want to use it is recommended.

half-eaten piece of the large pie

mini pie (yum)

Mushroom and Shallot Quiche
(this recipe is originally from, but what they "recommended" and what I did ended up being quite different (shockingly), so here's what I used:

olive oil
2 medium shallots- chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms- sliced
3 eggs
1 c milk (I used 1%)
salt and pepper
Blue cheese (how do you measure "whatever was left in the block that I didn't eat yesterday"?)- crumbled
olive oil crust- blind baked and cooled

Preheat oven to 350

I sauteed the shallots in olive oil until soft, then added the mushrooms and kept cooking until they were soft. Pop the mushroom mixture in the fridge to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together.
When the mushroom mixture is kind of cool (enough to not burn your fingers at least), spread it on the bottom of the crust or mini crusts, cover with egg mixture and then spread cheese in. I might make sure the cheese is a bit more mixed in next time.

The recipe called to cook the quiche for 25 minutes and the minis were pretty much done by then, I think I left them in for an extra 3 minutes, but I like my quiche dry. The large pie wasn't quite done after the 28 minutes. At this point I had to leave so I just turned the oven off and let of keep cooking figuring it might end up a little dry (really, quiche can't be too dry for me), but it ended up just perfect, still moist, so I'd say closer to 30-35 minutes for the big one.

Chill for a bit and then eat (yum)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Iceberg Cake

While creating the disasterous penguin cupcakes, I also took it upon myself to make a birthday cake for the nephew in questions, since I was going to see him that night, but not at his party. Sticking with the penguin theme, I had purchased some chocolate penguins from Burdick a few nights before and planned on putting them on a cake that looked like the ocean, sitting on some icebergs. The whole thing came off pretty much as planned, though I would have preferred the water to have more diversity of color and to be so teal. I also had to ditch the original plan of creating some sort of marshmallow iceberg after both my father and made numerous sticky attempts before remembering that there's a reason we're not structural engineers. The chocolate penguins were tasty (though maybe not enough so for what they cost...).

After all this, I think next year I'm buying the kid a pizza.

The Penguin Cupcakes

...or, why I am pretty sure I hate Hello, Cupcake!

Hello, Cupcake! is a cupcake recipe book. It's one of those books that has the subtitle "Anyone can do it!!!" and then you turn to the back of the book and find out it was written by two experienced, gourmet chefs. In all honestly, anyone could make these cupcakes, I'm just not sure why anyone would want to. It's one of those books that creates things out of things that are already made, like canned frosting, candy shaped like fruit, jelly beans, etc. The cupcakes look cool, but when it comes down to it, I can't imagine wanting to eat any of the creations.

The penguin cupcakes were for my nephew's 8th birthday party. He is having a sleepover, and I think 8 year old boys are the only people in the world these "cupcakes" are decent to be ingested by.

You start by using frosting (I made my own) to glue a mini donut cut in half to the top of the cupcake. I know, I should really just stop here... Then, you use more frosting to glue a donut hole to the middle of the donut, creating a bowling pin-looking thing. To begin with, I couldn't find plain mini-donuts, so I got chocolate frosted. I also couldn't find donut holes that weren't powdered, so I got those frererochepan chocolate things that they advertise on TV all the time.

After you have glued this concoction together, you cover them in frosting and put the whole thing in the freezer for a while. In the meantime, microwave some canned chocolate frosting (I used canned for this part). I was supposed to dye the frosting black, but my black food color had congealed, so we had brown penguins.

Once the penguins were frozen, I was supposed to dip them upside down into the melted frosting. To be honest, this worked surprisingly well. The problem was that my dipped cupcakes did not look like smooth beautiful, tall, penguins. They looked like slightly overweight chickens. I know, I know, I used the wrong ingredients, but come on, anybody can do it...

Anyway, then I was supposed to use half a yellow Starburst for the beak, the end of a marshmallow for the belly and chocolate cookies cut in half for the wings. I think the chocolate cookies are the only part I have any interest in eating of that whole concoction.

Step one

All glued up and ready to be frozen

My dipped blobs, I mean penguin bodies...

Some are penguins, some are not

Ok, so in the end they turned out kind of cute. If you like slightly overweight chickens made of choloesterol with marshmallow stomachs.

These are my favorites. The one on the right looks skeptical, like he knows he's not really a penguin.

The Chocolate Sushi

I was on Tastespotting the other day (shock of shocks...) and I saw this link to a posting on chocolate sushi. It looked fun and easy and kind of awesome. Thus begins my series of posts on things that look easier than they are and how the internet is full of trickery (and perhaps evil, but that might just be too much listening to Harry Potter).

I decided to make this chocolate sushi for my friend's Halloween party. The loose thought was that this was ingredients dressed up as sushi. I bought mint, strawberries, blackberries, and, in a fit of creativity, a pomegranate to put in the sushi. I then began the disaster... It really wasn't that bad, but following directions that say things like, "
let cool a bit and stir in corn syrup. wrap tightly and refrigerate to desired consistency. knead and roll into desired shapes." isn't helpful for me. It's not the blogger's fault. She probably already knew how to make modeling chocolate. I didn't. Anyway, the kitchen ended up caked in chocolate and stickiness, but the sushi was up kind of cool. I'm not sure it's really finger food by the time all is said and done. It looks pretty authentic, but I don't think I'll be taking that one again any time soon (sorry Matt).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Squash Hat

My brother and sister-in-law seem are having another baby which make me fear slightly for the chaos level of the world, but also gives me a reason to crochet super cute things like this squash hat. I got the pattern from and it linked me here. I thought I'd make this one my experiment, so I used some yellow yarn I had laying around. I think I like it better in yellow than orange though, it's like a weird, mutant pumpkin.

It was easy (45 min?) and kind of fun, so I'm going to make more. I also have to work on sizing, because this one fit really well on an apple, which makes me curious about the size of a newborn's head.

Here George models the hat for me, which was nice. It makes him look a bit more like a "hood" than I was going for with the color scheme, but it at least secured my thinking on the size being off.

The Apple Bread

Well, it's been a while. I've been on cake-hiatus. I might be done with cakes all together, but my nephew's birthday is next month, so it's doubtful. Of course, he wants to be a cockatoo for Halloween and if that at all reflects what kind of cake he's going to want for his birthday, he's on his own.

Moving on. I went apple picking today and then came home and went on a mission to create a yeast apple bread. Last year I thought I was making a yeast apple bread, but it turned out it was an apple bread like a pumpkin bread or zucchini bread. You might have thought the lack of yeast and/or rising time in the recipe would have tipped me off.

For this recipe, I followed my father's bread-maker Challah recipe, but before the second rise, I rolled out the dough and spread out a mixture of chopped apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. The result is like a piece of heaven melting slowly in your mouth while simultaneously making the whole house smell of freshly cooked bread. It was truly something to behold.

I'm not sure the pictures really do it justice, but alright...

Then, to add to the amazingness, we slathered it in the cinnamon and sugar rubbed butter I got at the Cabot creamery last month. No words describe this.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Baby Boy Cakes

My friend Kim (pregnant wife of the afformentioned Rob) is due in a few weeks (eek!) so I threw her a baby shower. At this shower, we discovered that the largest baby ever delivered was 23lb 12oz (ouch) and that it takes 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose (ew).

We also had cupcakes.

The Hendrick's Cake

My friend Rob and I share a natural affinity for a certain gin called Hendrick's. Actually, it's made me pretty snobby and now it's the only gin I'll drink. It's cucumber-y and full of goodness.

Anyway, it was his birthday and as I might have stated before, schoolteachers can have a little time on their hands in the summer, so I made him a cake that looked like a Hendrick's bottle. I wasn't super enthusiastic with the way it turned out, but I, like most other crafty-people, am never satisfied with my results. That and I had no #2 tip so my writing and detailing all had to come out the same.

For the record, I couldn't think of a good way to make it an actual Hendrick's-flavored cake. This was partially because Rob's wife is pregnant and that seemed mean, partially because there are lots of extremely uncultured people out there who don't like gin and partially because combining gin with powdered sugar and butter just sounded plain disgusting (as opposed to tequila, with which it matches nicely).


The First Birthday Cake

My niece turned one on July 11th. I originally planned a purple monkey face cake but then ran out of energy and skill (I think it leaves me during the summer). Instead she got a purple cake with fun candy animals. This was her own cake by the way, the rest of us got cupcakes. Of course, the most amusing part of this was the frosting. The frosting was a mish-mosh of about eight different frostings I had made in the past month or two. There was coconut, lime, vanilla, who knows what else... It was VERY sweet. The animals were made with melted mint chocolate candy pieces and candy molds.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The 4th of July Pies

I almost never see things in catalogs that I HAVE to have, but this was one of those times. I saw these pocket pie molds in the Williams-Sonoma catalog and wanted them, no, needed them. So I bought them. (I hardly ever actually buy the things I see in catalogs and want either, so it was quite a feat all over.)

They're very cute. The little contraption cuts out the shape (one with a hole for steam in the oven) and then you open it up, put the bottom on the mold, fill it with a tablespoon or two of filling, put the top on and close it to get a nice sealed, fluted edge. Does it work as well as it looked like it would in the catalog? Of course not- but it was fun nonetheless.

We used the star shaped one to make mini pies for our guests in red (cherry), white (apple) and blue (blueberry). They came out very well and were patriotically adorable.

ready to be baked

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Tape Measure Cake

It's my father's 65th birthday today. Leading up to this event, there was a lot of discussion about what to get him as a gift. My father, unlike most fathers, doesn't fish, doesn't golf, doesn't watch sports, doesn't drink coffee, does't drink booze, does't grill and doesn't particularly care for cars assuming the one he owns gets him where he needs to go. So, what does he like? He likes tools. And thank goodness, because when a man doesn't like any of the things a man is supposed to like, it gets a little rough.

How do you make a cake for a guy who likes tools? Easy, type in "tool cake" to Google image search and you gets lots of results. My dad loves the color orange and after half a bottle of orange food coloring went into the frosting, I gave up, I think it's orange-y enough though. I stuck with the tape measure because I thought it was cuter than tools. Besides, the gift has a tool theme. Below is the cake I made. Here is the cake it was based off of. It's a yellow cake (from scratch- I ran out of cake mixes) I subbed the milk with margarita mix, lemon juice and tequila and the frosting is the meringue buttercream from the CIA cookbook I got for my birthday (easiest recipe ever). The lemon juice, etc. definitely makes the cake more dense, but I think it makes it tastier too.

Check back for pictures of the stromboli I'm making for his birthday dinner.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Fake Wedding Cake

Oh where to begin...

My friend Marcy got married this past weekend and a few months ago, I made the mistake of forcing her and her fiance to look at the pictures of the wedding cake I made last summer. At the time, I was taking pictures of the two of them sitting on a table to send to her cousin who was going to make them a wedding cake topper. About a month after that, she contacted me asking if I would make some sort of display cake for them to put the topper on. Havoc ensued and involved a bunch of back and forth about what the display cake I would be making should be made out of, how big it should be, etc. We finally agreed on sterefoam and all was well. About a month after that, Marcy and I met for dinner and she gave me the much anticipated cake topper. It was quite a masterpiece and she imparted it to me with threats of ending our 28 year friendship should anything happen to it. At this point she also mentioned to me that I wanted to make her a real cake as well, that it would "definitely get eaten." Her cousin had not only created this topper, but attached it to a whole sterefoam cylinder display. It took a little bit of creative thinking, some brute force and some praying, but we finally got it off the display. Once we got it off the display, the idea of putting the little bride and her tulle wedding gown into a pile of a buttercream. This brought about my first foray into the world of fondant. It took both my parents, satin ribbon, coconut frosting, framer's mat and some wood glue, but eventually the creation took form.

The bottom cake is sterefoam and the top is lemon cake with coconut frosting. Both are covered in Wilton Fondant, which is way too much fun to play with and way too disgusting to eat. The top cake is now in my freezer awaiting their anniversary and the bottom is in a dumpster somewhere in New Hampshire. My life is full of adventures :-)

By the way, I made the coconut frosting to go with some lime cupcakes I had made for a party and forgot to take pictures of, but they were gooooood.

The Book Cake

When your work department consists of a bunch of librarians, it is almost a given that you will be able to wow with a book-shaped cake. When you grow up in my family, it is almost a given that you will find a book-shaped cake pan in your parents' basement (or a Donald Duck shaped pan for that matter).

For our big WPS Library Department end of the year celebration this year, I made this book cake. It was a marble cake with some kind of non-descript frosting. I tried to be clever and wish good luck to our department members who are moving on. I still have that often referenced on Cake Wrecks spacing issue, but I'm working on it.

All in all, it was a thunderous success.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The 90th Birthday Cake

For my grandmother's 90th birthday (and my mother's and sister-in-law's, which are on Monday and Tuesday) I thought I'd take on a bit of a bigger challenge. I got this CIA cake art cookbook for my birthday and wanted to try a lemon chiffon cake recipe from it. This, it turned out, was a bit TOO big a challenge for me. My cakes came out looking like, well, pancakes basically. They tasted alright, but the two of them together barely made the height of a regular single layer and, well, they could have under studied in a street hockey game no problem.

I went back to what I know from there and used a Duncan Hines Golden Butter Yellow mix, but substituted fresh lemon juice for the water and I have to say it was outstanding (and I don't even like lemon cake).

I saved grace a little by finally mastering a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe (also from the CIA book). It was actually kind of easy... It's definitely my new go-to frosting, light and fluffy and without that synthetic kind of taste you get from powdered sugar.

I filled the cake with lemon curd and fresh blueberries which I meant to get a picture of but forgot. Lemon curd is a delightful way to get fat.

I kicked the decorations up a notch and pulled out my rose tips and I have to say that although my "golden yellow" food color seems to have turned peach, I think this cake is one of my finest to date. I even had seconds :-)