Recipe Attempted: Strawberry-Lemon Poppy Seed Shortcakes

The sun is shining and the air is light. Though it’s still brisk in these parts, the weather certainly is shaping up.

It’s the perfect time to bake with fresh fruit. Even though strawberries season is about a month away, they’re definitely in season somewhere. How can I tell? Simply, the flavor. They’re sweet and succulent, and beautifully shaped.

This weekend, I baked strawberry-lemon poppy seed shortcakes. I had most of the ingredients, but purchased the poppy seeds, lemon, heavy whipping cream and strawberries from my local supermarket, Met.

The result?

shortcakes

strawberry-lemon poppy seed shortcakes

The whipped cream is homemade, too. I used some confectioners sugar and a bit of vanilla to flavor the cream.

MDP thought this dessert was out of this world. Good thing I have leftovers!

I got the recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It was marked as a “favorite” by the editor. I can see why.

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Recipe Attempted: French Apple Cobbler

In the mood for peach cobbler, I scoured the local grocery store, in search of ripe peaches. Well, silly me, it’s clearly no longer peach season, so when I finally found them, I wasn’t too surprised to see that these (imported) peaches were about $4 per pound.

So, still angling for a cobbler, I decided on an apple version instead. I selected five perfectly round Granny Smith apples from the grocery store and picked up a box of sugar, and was on my way.

The recipe is fairly straightforward, although I wish they had mentioned up front that the oven needs to be set at 375 (I searched and searched through the recipe to finally find the oven temp.). I chose this recipe, of all the recipes that came up in my Google search, because it treated the apples with cinnamon, flour, water and vanilla–which, I though, would enhance the flavor of the cobbler. And I was right.

french apple cobbler

french apple cobbler

The delicately sliced apples are soft and supple, while the minimal cobbler topping is just enough to thicken out the dessert.

Yum!

 

Recipe: Garden Harvest Cake

Lately, I’ve been using Cooking Light for many of the recipes I prepare for dinners. In an issue from long ago, I noticed a recipe for Garden Harvest Cake. ‘Tis the season for fresh vegetables, so I said, “Why the hell not. Let me make this.”

Though the recipe calls for vegetables that are not currently locally available (such as zucchini), I found some healthy options at our Met supermarket. In a few weeks, I’ll be able to pick up some carrots, zucchini and granny smith apples at our neighborhood farmer’s market. For now, try this recipe for Garden Harvest Cake  with whatever vegetables your grocer carries.

And voila.

garden harvest cake

garden harvest cake

Recipe Attempted: In-N-Out Burger, Double Double, Animal Style

I’m a big fan of hamburgers, if you haven’t noticed.

When we went to San Diego, I tried for the first time In-N-Out Burger. The special sauce was addicting. The cute wax paper wrapper reminded me of the Shake Shack, but I trust that In-N-Out did the wax paper wrap first.

So, how does In-N-Out Burger compare with the Shake Shack? Ah, the age old question. It’s nearly impossible to know for certain that one is better than the other because the burger joints are on opposite coasts. A five hour plane ride could ruin the important, delicious facets of either burger.

I took matters into my own hands. Instead of pining for In-N-Out Burger, I decided to try making my own Double Double, Animal Style 

.

double double animal style

in-n-out's double double animal style by me

As you can see in the link I shared above, the recipe is quite long. But that’s only because they urge you to create your own ground beef, a part of the recipe I did not follow. I simply bought some ground chuck from the supermarket and proceeded to step five. The recipe calls for squishy hamburger buns, but I opted for the potato buns that I bought from Whole Foods. I made the onions according to plan and assembled the burger as recommended.

Made of mayonnaise, ketchup, white vinegar, sweet pickle relish, and sugar, the sauce was right on the money. I wondered how Serious Eats came to know In-N-Out’s recipe…

My dining partner and I ended up eating only one patty of the sandwich. As you can see in the above picture, the sandwich was huge and unwieldy with two patties. He ate his second patty with a fork and knife, and I elected to toss mine. I served crisp, matchstick fries with the burgers.

If Shake Shack doesn’t do it for you any more, I urge you to try making your own In-N-Out burgers. It’s fun and yields delicious output. How could you resist?

Recipe Attempted: Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peanut Butter Cinnamon Cream

The name of these cookies is a mouthful, but then again, the cookies themselves are, too. In the original recipe, it appears that the baker made small sandwiches. I’m not sure how the baker did this. I followed her instructions to make tablespoon-size balls and to squash them with the bottom of a glass. I situated each ball two inches from its neighbor. Still, they baked into one another.

My batch yielded 15 cookies, not 16, which made seven sandwiches with one bruised and broken cookie leftover. Flourless, the cookies were hard to roll into balls, but tasted delicious. The filling, made with a recipe lifted from the heralded Bouchon Bakery, is sweet and light, tasting of cinnamon cream instead of the heavy flavor of peanut butter.

As you can see, my cookies are on the large side.

flourless peanut butter sandwich cookie

flourless peanut butter sandwich cookies

What would I do differently? First, I’d use a teaspoon instead of tablespoon to measure the size of the balls. Second, I might refrigerate the cookie batter so that it’s less gooey and easier to roll. Third, I’d let the cookies take their own shape instead of molding them into a circle with the bottom of the glass. (Many of the cookies ended up exploding into non-circles anyway.)

The recipe isn’t great, but the results are pretty good. I’m fairly sure this recipe is gluten-free, also.

Recipe Attempted: Apple Crisp

So the nagging question of what differentiates a crumble from a cobbler from a crisp has been on my mind. As a result, I decided to try making an apple crisp.

I found the recipe on allrecipes.com, a holding place for meals and treats made by middle-aged white ladies. (How do I know this? Just look at some of the usernames: “Josie,” “jandtsmom,” and “let_them_eat_cake.” I don’t see any ethnic threads here.)

A simple execution, the recipe, calling for dashes of delicious cinnamon and nutmeg, was easy-to-follow and yielded brilliant results:

allrecipes.com apple crisp

apple crisp

Raspberry Summer Cake

For most people, baking in August is anathema. But given the glorious weather on this August day, I thought, What the hell, let me bake a cake.

Yesterday, I went fruit and vegetable picking at Lawrence Farms in Newburgh, NY. We collected peaches, plums, peppers, corn, and raspberries. As we paid for our produce, a gigantic black cloud loomed overhead and spilled gallons of rainwater upon us. An organic vegetable rinse.

A coworker recently sent me a recipe for strawberry summer cake. I had wanted to try it out, but recognized that strawberry season had passed. Fate dropped an entire pint of raspberries in my lap, so I decided to bake the cake with raspberries, instead of strawberries.

raspberry summer cake

raspberry summer cake

The results? A fine not-too-sweet cake filled with delicious, fresh-picked raspberries. The recipe recommends some fresh whipped cream to accompany the cake. I may have to take a trip to Met to buy some.

 

From the source: Buckeyes

I’m not a candy person. When people rave over chocolate (especially dark chocolate), I roll my eyes and think about hamburgers. I’m just not that into it.

But when I saw this Buckeyes recipe advertised on Shi’s Eating, I couldn’t resist. My partner has a fond place for peanut butter and chocolate in his belly, so I knew I had to make them.

Buckeyes

my buckeyes

They’re pretty easy to make and assemble. I didn’t have a skewer so I used a fork to dip them in the dark chocolate. (I used Ghirardelli 70%.) I don’t have any other tips about this recipe other than to enjoy the results!

Tortilleria Nixtamal: Tortillas

Tortilleria Nixtamal tortillas

tortillas from tortilleria nixtamal

Sure, Whole Foods wheat tortillas are edible. Mission are preferred, in most cases, where taste and texture are prized. But you haven’t tried tortillas until you’ve been to Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona, Queens. Buy ’em by the pound (14/lb.). They’ll warm your fingers as you day dream of their potential on the 7 train.

I first learned of Nixtamal from New York Magazine. Ho-hum, I thought. What’s the big deal about tortillas? Then, Autumn Makes & Does raved about them. Now, I’ll inoculate you with Nixtamal fever, the most delicious threat to Queens’ public health since Avian flu. (They’re not a threat unless you make the below meals several times per week.)

So, the tortillas. Fresh, mildly corny, perfect. Here’s how I used them:

 

 

 

 

Tortilleria Nixtamal tortillas

soft tacos and quesadillas

 

1) Quesadillas – In my cast iron skillet, I heated a tablespoon of vegetable oil and allowed one tortilla to sizzle for about one minute. I placed a hand full of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese on its center and placed another tortilla on top. Cooked until slightly shrunken in diameter and light brown on both sides.

2) Soft tacos – There’s a taco truck near the 52nd St. 7 train station where I always see people waiting patiently for their delicious chorizo and pollo tacos. Patient, they are, since the tacos are meticulously crafted by two taco artisans, a woman (the cook) and man (the assembler). An aspiring taco master myself, I cooked up a lime chicken filling for our tacos and heated up a few tortillas in the cast iron pan.

homemade salsa

Homemade guacamole, homemade salsa, cheese, sour cream and cilantro topped ’em. I think you’d agree that you’d patiently wait for these flavorful tacos.

3) Huevos Rancheros (or something like that) – I only like fried or scrambled eggs, so, from the get-go, I know my huevos rancheros are anything but authentic. Black beans and hash browns sat alongside jalapeno scrambled eggs. I distributed cheese over the eggs and spooned the homemade salsa on top. Again, I heated the tortillas in the pan and cut them into quarters, making softer, flimsier versions of Tostitos. Sour cream on the side. Done and delicious.

Tortilleria Nixtamal tortillas

my huevos rancheros

Buy tortillas from Tortilleria Nixtamal and buy often. If you aren’t interested in cooking your own tacos, you can sit down and eat there. And! When you’re done eating, you can walk to Flushing-Meadows Corona Park to check out the Queens Zoo, New York Hall of Science, Queens Botanical Garden, and the Queens Museum of Art. What are you waiting for?

Rice Krispies Treats Twist

A tempting recipe appeared in my google reader last week: Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats shared by as bad as it looks. Intriguing, I thought. I haven’t had a Rice Krispies treat in about 10 years, and neither have you (unless you are a child reading this blog, or have a child.)

Completely consumable for adults.

They took about 20 minutes to prepare and 1+ hours to set. (Your desire to eat them probably determines how firm you’ll allow them to be.) What makes them so great? Four ingredients! One pot! No oven! Irresistible buttery flavor! Make them today.