Wednesday, March 25, 2009

red velvet cupcakes

geez! two weekends ago (already?) i went on a total baking bender. red velvet cupcakes were the first adventure.

our story begins... in january i ditched out of an awkward fundraiser that i helped plan to get cupcakes. and lo! the cupcakes were the best that i've EVER had.

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after months of fantasizing about them, i tried my hand. oh, red velvet cupcakes. why is something merely "food coloring" flavored so absolutely enticing? it probably comes from the same part of my brain that genuinely loves waffle house and little people, big world. the kitschy, happy, slightly dumb part.

anyway, these are pretty cheerful suckers and delicious to boot and if i had more foresight (sat word, sadly enough) i would have made them for valentines day.

from better homes and gardens via the internet

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups granulated sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs red food coloring
1½ cups buttermilk (or add 1 tbs vinegar per 1 cup milk, let it get all groovy for a few minutes. home science!!!)
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until combined. One at a time, add eggs; beat on medium speed after each. Bet in food coloring on low.

4. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture; beat on low-medium after each just until combined. Stir together baking soda and vinegar. Add to batter; beat just until combined.

5. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full. Bake 15 to 17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Gently remove cupcakes from pans; cool.

i made marshmallow frosting but it was a pretty bootleg endeavor and hardened kind of nastily (don't get me wrong, i snacked on these puppies all week). in hindsight, i probably just should have made seven minute frosting. its in the joy of cooking, or any cookbook, or here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

mushroom risotto

h weather: you're hot and you're cold, you're yes and you're no. What to do when skirt weather turns into jacket weather? Make risotto! It's cheap and hearty and doesn't actually take that long, especially if you have some sweet podcasts to listen to or people over to entertain you while you stir or what have you.

1 cup arborio rice (short grain)
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine (NOTE: we all know that the best risotto is made from Chateau Diana purchased from Appletree in the middle of the day while looking over your shoulder sheepishly. If you cannot recreate this glorious culinary experience, this is delicious without wine)
1/4 cup (or until you get bored grating) grated parmesan
4-5 cups hot chicken stock OR veggie stock OR mushroom stock
1 large onion, chopped (or a couple of shallots)
1 cup dried mushrooms

Reconstitute some fancypants mushrooms you've got kicking around in boiling water. Or / and fry some button mushrooms.

Heat olive oil in a big ole pot. Fry up the onion until it's translucent/smells delicious. Meanwhile, heat up your stock, veg or not. If you used dried mushrooms, you should for sure throw some of that mushroom stock in there. 5 cups.

Add the rice to the onion and stir until grains are coated with oil. If you are going the wine route, add wine and stir constantly on medium heat until wine is absorbed. Add one cup hot stock, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Then add some more stock and keep stirring. When that is absorbed, add some more and stir some more. This is the part that takes awhile.

When you're almost done, add the mushrooms (chopped, if you're not there yet.) Now take it off the heat, stir in that cheese, and eat up. In like a lion, out like a lamb, right? Whatever: I'm California dreamin' until April.

Friday, March 6, 2009

hey new yorkers!

Do you live in NYC? Are you planning on eating out on Sunday?

At the list of restaurants here:

they'll make a donation to God's Love We Deliver if you mention this event during your meal. Lots of good places on there (Marseilles, Nice Matin) and a surprising number of CU haunts (Deluxe, Le Monde). God's Love We Deliver does awesome work-- not only that, but the coupla times I volunteered in their kitchens everyone I met was radiant and inspiring. Good folks, good mission, good food.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

no duh beets

The Minimalist this week has roasted beets! I ate these at least every other day last year-- it is the only way to make beets. I thought that it was so "the only way to make beets" that this was a no-duh recipe, but the Times published it so. There. Maybe these aren't part of your life yet, and you will thank me forever.

At the (farmer's) market, look for a bunch of beets that are about the same size.

Take yer beets and cut off the greens. Don't throw them away! Wash and boil/steam them for 10 minutes or so, then fry them up with some garlic. Delicious!

Preheat the oven to 400. Hot!

Rinse the beets, then wrap them up in tinfoil.

Stick them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven.

Do your homework, putter, whatever for about an hour. The beets should be soft. Are they soft?

Yum. Stick tomorrow's beets in the fridge as is. Quel convenience! For dinner: rub off the skin, then serve with goat cheese or (if like Mark Bittman you are sick of the beet&goat cheese monopoly) a squeeze of lemon and some rosemary.