Monday, September 16, 2013

Carrot Cake Pancakes


I think, no I'm pretty sure I am living in an alternate life.
One that I have not been living thus far, but somehow stumbled into through a series of cataclysmic events. Like I was caught in Dorothy's tornado and ended up on the other side in full-blown technicolor, married, in a really cool job and confident in myself. Yeah, this must not be real.

I remember a time not too long ago when I was making Blackberry Scones that I felt lost. I felt so fed up with the world and the way it spun around in orbit and stuff--I was done with it. All of it. Then one day, I was sitting up in bed for the third day that week waiting to hear if I would get married on August 31...yes! Okay, that was done. Next up, final at school...I need an A on it to get an A in the class....Done!! Alright, spear through this one, job interview...

Now, I knew I MUST have this job. Not only was it going to be the coolest job ever, but I needed it FOR REALS....I got it. Then I started to work really really hard.

To be honest, I couldn't even remember what my last post was, but I thought I would bring it back with some pancakes. I was writing a recipe for How to Feed Yourself When I'm Not Home for a simple pancake, because EVERYONE should know how to make pancakes and I thought to add some grated carrot, cinnamon and pecans and the result was cakey, but not desserty and freakin' delicious.

Alternate life or not, I feel so fortunate, very blessed and in love with life right now. I'm a happy girl.

Carrot Cake Pancakes
Makes 3-4

Ingredients:
1 cup (145g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons (35g) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3-1/2 cup milk
1 cup (75g) carrot, finely grated (leave about 2 tablespoons out for garnish)
1/2 cup (75g) pecans, finely chopped (leave about 2 tablespoons out for garnish)


Method:
Preheat a skillet to medium heat. Combine flour, baking powder, sugars, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together until well combined. Add the egg, oil, vanilla and 1/3 cup of milk, stir lightly until the ingredients just start to come together. Add the carrot and pecans and mix until mixture is smooth. Add more milk if needed to achieve a pourable consistency.
Use cooking spray or butter on the hot skillet and pour on the batter. Cook for 2 minutes on one side, or until the edges are dry, flip and cook on the other side for 1 more minute, or until completely cooked.
Serve immediately with maple syrup or cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Glaze
4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1-2 Tablespoons hot water

 Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer until completely smooth. Add vanilla and hot water and continue mixing until you reach a thin glaze consistency.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Brown Butter Bourbon Ice Cream Sandwiches


Brown butter is instant gratification.
It is butter slipping into something a little more comfortable, if you know what I mean and it is way sexy.

I have such a crush on brown butter, its not even funny. I want to come up with a million and one ways to make it into something wonderful and sinful. Honestly, I can't think of a way to make something more sinful than by adding butter to cream, milk, egg yolk and sugar. Come on...that's just down right evil.

This ice cream is even sexier because I added a nice dose of bourbon to it and sandwiched the boozy, cold and creamy delight in between two brownie cookies.

Pour brown butter over pasta or make it firm in the fridge and cream it with sugar to make chocolate chip cookies, add it to cakes, add it to sauces and just about anything that you'd add butter to. Alright, well I'm done now. Instant gratification.

Brown Butter Bourbon Ice Cream
2 cups          Heavy Cream
1 cup           Whole Milk
3/4 cup         Brown Sugar, softly packed
1/2 tsp          Salt
6                   Egg Yolk
1 stick          Brown Butter, melted and kept warm (take a look at the tutorial on brown butter below)
1/3 cup         Bourbon (like Jim Beam)

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and set aside. Keep a slightly smaller bowl handy.
In a medium sauce pot, bring the heavy cream and milk to a scald with half of the sugar. Once the milk has heated, whisk the yolks and sugar together and slowly add the hot milk into the yolks, whisking constantly. Return the liquid back to the pot and to the heat. Cook the custard to about 165-170 degrees, making sure to stir constantly with a rubber spatula. Pour the cooked ice cream base through a strainer into the slightly smaller bowl.While continuously whisking, slowly pour in the brown butter and keep whisking until everything is emulsified. Place the smaller bowl into the ice bath and stir occasionally to cool. Chill completely in the refrigerator. Add the bourbon, to taste to the ice cream base before churning. Churn the ice cream according to the specific manufacturer instructions and transfer to a clean, dry container and freeze for at least 1 hour before serving.

Make your favorite cookie and sandwich scoops of ice cream between the two.


What is browned butter? It is when the milk solids found in butter have been toasted by breaking down the layers of butter through heat. The resulting flavor is lovely; nutty, sweet and full.  Here are the steps to brown butter for the recipe that follows. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.

  1. Melt 1 stick plus 2 tbsp. of butter in a stainless steel pot over medium-high heat. It’s important you do not use a non-stick pot, because you can’t see the color of the butter and you’re gonna need to scrape everything off the bottom with a metal whisk.
  2. Next, after the melting stage, the butter will begin to foam, then bubble. This is the water evaporating.
  3. The butter solids will begin to float to the top. Note: if you remove the butter from the heat right now and let the solids fall to the bottom, separate that from the rest of the liquid, and you will have, “clarified butter”.
  4. Keep the heat going and the next thing that you will notice is that the bubbles begin to get smaller and foam begins to appear.
  5. Whisk the butter a few times.
  6. Start paying really close attention to the butter.
  7. Now, the butter solids will begin to brown. It will appear foamy and you will notice a change in scent. Keep whisking every so often to make sure the solids don’t stick and burn by slightly scraping the bottom of the pot with the whisk as well. Be careful because this part happens really fast and you could have black butter in no time.
  8. It should be the color of hazelnuts. Pour it into another container like a glass measuring cup and there you will have browned butter. I like to add half a vanilla pod to the butter to give it a little bit of essence.

Each recipe and written work on OriginalCinn is the original work of Mariel Balderas, unless otherwise expressed and may not be used on any other site or blog without permission. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

What I Like to Eat


One of the best compliments I have ever received as a chef was from another chef-a particularly douchy chef, probably the douchiest chef I ever worked with. But he was brilliant and very much affirmed my culinary style and philosophy of food. 
I'll never forget, one super-busy night, we were cooking side by side and he had me taste something. I picked out a particular flavor from the sample and he looked at me with a very, "this kid can play some ball" kind of look, and told me, "Hey, chef. You have an good palate, good job!"
Firstly, that was the first time he called me chef. Next, for a man who takes very fresh ingredients and manipulates them until they taste like the best version of itself, that was quite the compliment. 

Seeing as how I decided to order a wedding gown that was half a size too small, I have thought a lot about what I like to eat lately. Apparently its a common thing to do, a lot of brides to such things and with gowns that are way more than half a size to small. But I digress. Knowing that I will need to shed a few (wink wink) pounds before our wedding day, I have never before craved such terrible, terrible foods than I have in the last week or so.

There was the day that I felt like I couldn't breathe if I couldn't have a chili cheese dog. Then there was the time I wanted to eat a good amount of zucchini which sounds alright, but I wanted to bread it and deep fry it first. Then, today...oh today. Today I wanted to make brown butter ice cream and sandwich it between some chocolate souffle cookies. But I did not. I had a nectarine instead and then did some yoga. Its alright. I don't really eat chili cheese dogs and I can't remember the last time I made fried zucchini, but knowing I cant have them makes me want them all the time.

I'd like to close this post with something cheesy. Something we ate at our wedding venue when we went to make sure it was THE place. Now, I'm a sucker for cheese, so forgive me when I say that the second most beautiful thing at my table was this piece of cheese; melted on a block of cedar and served with fresh figs, local honey and pistachios. 

This is what I like to eat: things that when paired with simple ingredients make them taste like the most incredible version of itself.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Coconut Jam and Blackberry Scones


I was listening to Billie Holiday a few days ago. Her voice soothes me in my solitude.
I've been at home this week and in a truly wildly, strange and horrible turn of events, I've decided to stay at home for a while. On the first day, I felt triumphant! The second day, I felt strategic; the third day, I felt lost and I desperately found a million things to do...which included coconut cajeta.

On this fourth day, I felt lonely with nothing to console me except for the pleasant voice of Nigella Lawson on TV. I wanted to make a quick breakfast that was comforting and sweet and since I wont be getting a paycheck in a while, used up some of the fruit I had in stock. I needed something that I could eat just one of. Or two. Something I could eat with that creamy coconut jam and enjoy with a cup of coffee, out on my patio all by myself.

Blackberry scones, you have made my morning. Coconut jam, you are so lovely. Thanks for hanging out with me today. Love, Mariel



             Blackberry Scones     Makes 6
 (Adapted from Joy the Baker's Lavender Blackberry Scones)
             1 ½ cup         Flour
             ¼ cup            Sugar
             1 ¼ tsp.         Baking Powder
             1 ¼ tsp.         Baking Soda
             ¾ tsp.            Salt
             1/3 cup          Butter, cold and cut into chunks
             1 ea.                Egg, divided in half
             1/3 cup           Buttermilk
             ½ tsp.            Vanilla Extract
             ½ cup             Blackberries
             Preheat oven to 400°

       1.     In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. In a small measuring cup, whisk the egg and then pour half of it into a smaller bowl for the egg wash. Add the buttermilk and vanilla to the egg and set aside.
2.     Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or by working quickly with your fingers to create coarse crumbles.
3.     Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture into the flour and toss gently with your fingers to incorporate just until everything comes together. Add the blackberries.
4.     Drop the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead about 10-15 times until everything is uniform. Form the dough into a disc and gently dust a rolling pin.
5.     Roll the dough to about ¾ of an inch to about an inch and cut rounds with a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter. Set 2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet.
6.     Mix 1 Tbsp. of water in with the remaining egg and brush over the tops of the scones and then sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.
Note: I use my coarse, Mexican, “Azucar Morena” that has a great molasses-y scent, and I have stuck in a few leftover vanilla pods into make an aromatic vanilla sugar. It is available in the Hispanic section of the supermarket. Or, if you cannot find it, just use organic cane sugar.
7.     Bake for 14-18 minutes or until the tops are a light, golden brown.
*To double this recipe, use 2 whole eggs and remove only about a tablespoon of beaten egg for the egg wash. Everything else can be simply doubled.


Coconut Jam  Makes 1 Cup
AKA coconut cajeta and coconut dulce de leche and it is totally vegan!

1 can (15oz.)             Coconut milk-I used Chakoh
¾ cup                       Brown Sugar, Packed
½ tsp.                       Salt

1.     In a bowl, stir together all of the ingredients until the sugar is just about dissolved. Pour into at least a 4 quart pot.
2.     Turn the heat onto medium high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. The milk will bubble up and then slowly subside with gentle, occasional stirring.
3.     Lower the heat to medium so the mixture is at a rapid simmer. Continue stirring every few minutes to make sure the bottom does not scorch for about 12-15 minutes.
4.     Remove from the heat and pour through a strainer to get out any scorched bits and pour into a glass or heatproof bowl to cool. Once it has cooled a bit, but is still liquid, pour into a glass jar and chill completely. Store in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks with the jar covered tightly.

You can easily double this recipe, just adjust the cooking time to about 5-7 minutes longer.


This is an unusually sad post. But don’t worry, I’m ok! If you haven’t noticed, I have had a lot more time to write and post, so, to be honest, I’m pretty stoked! I’ll just go about, doing my thing, baking, writing, and being thankful for the incredible people and support system I have in my life.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pasta Frolla- Sweet Italian Tart Dough


Sometimes I have too many sweets in the house. Occupational hazard, and of course really not that bad, but I still find that from one recipe, I've inadvertently made 3 other desserts!

The other day, it was my fiancee's birthday and she specifically requested a fruit tart and I made it for her. I made the sweet tart dough, a delightful vanilla custard, applied fruit gently and lovingly atop and finished it with some edible flowers and a baby blue candle. But I had too much dough left over...what to do...

Pasta Frolla which means "tender dough" in Italian is just that. so incredibly tender. 

You don't need a mixer, it doesn't require a two-hour resting time and you can make into a multitude of things from tart shells, to cookies, to bar cookie bases, galettes and even for a delicious alternative to graham cracker crumbs for a cheesecake! 

The cookies I made from the leftover tart dough were filled with chocolate ganache that I had leftover (from the last OC class)  flavored with cinnamon and chipotle paste (only about a teaspoon or two for a bit of a kick). I just baked them with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top and sandwich them with ganache or even some Nutella would be good. Yup, good.

This recipe also works perfectly with Cup4Cup gluten free all-purpose flour.

Pasta Frolla      Makes 2 large tart shells

2c          All Purpose Flour
1/4 c      Sugar
1/4 tsp.  Baking Powder
1/4 tsp.  Salt
1 stick   Unsalted Butter
2            Eggs, cold
1 tsp.     Vanilla Extract

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with a pastry blender, or quickly with your fingers until the butter is completely worked in and the mixture looks like coarse crumbles.
2. Beat the eggs and vanilla together until well combined and add to the flour mixture. 
3. Mix gently and quickly with your hands until a dough forms and just sticks together. Toss some extra flour on it and knead a few times if it is too sticky.
4. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30-40 minutes or until firm but soft enough to roll.

For a tart:
Roll dough to 1/8 of an inch and bake at 375 degrees lined with foil and pie weights* until it is a light golden brown and the foil is easily removed, about 25 minutes. Bake another 10-14 minutes longer until it is golden brown. Cool completely before filling.

For cookies:
Roll dough to 1/8 inch, sprinkle with crystal sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Note: Pie weights are sold at kitchen specialty stores but you can use beans, rice or orzo pasta instead. Just make sure to keep them separate after you're done, because can no longer cook them.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Camp Blogaway


Going to Camp Blogaway really made me realize that being a blogger, no matter how strong my numbers are or how many followers I have on Twitter (@TheOriginalCinn) makes me a member of an incredibly talented, super food-serious community who tell stories and share recipes for the same exact reason that I do...because we love it.

Let me share with you the Camp Blogaway weekend from the perspective of the first time camper. This was not only my first Camp B. but it was also my first bloggers conference ever.

At first I was a little nervous about having a carpool buddy. I thought I would be a little more at ease without one. But then I connected with Alisa from GoDairyFree.com and she was so great to drive with; great conversation, super-sweet person and very down to earth. I couldn't have asked for a better carpool friend.

Upon arriving, my "meeting new people all at once freaks me the f out" complex came around and I just wanted to turn right around and fly back home. I had to tell myself to suck it up and get in there and  schmooooze, which as it turns out is not so bad. Everyone was really, really nice. I mean, so sweet to me.

Really talented folks....
Stephanie at Girl vs Dough, Sarah at Lettuce Eat Kale, Jennifer at Savory Simple,
Stephanie at 52 Kitchen Adventures, Daisy at Daisy's World and Kelly at Sinful Shenanigans


I met people who were really knowledgeable about the world of blogging and photography who were really eager to share their experiences with publishing, branding, PR-ing and social media. Quickly I realized that I am quite a novice to all of these things and what I learned from my interactions with everyone is that no one will know how great you are until you tell them and no one will value YOU unless you value yourself. Everyone has their path and like any chef, you make a meal with what you have, not with what you wish you had. OriginalCinn is what I make of it and understanding that was so important coming home from Camp Blogaway.

Lessons learned:
1. I am not suited for sleeping in cabins.
2. Vodka WILL hit you hard at high elevations.
3. Teresa can actually Feed Herself when I'm Not Home!

Thanks to Patti at Worth the Whisk...this lady knows how to put on an event!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Creamy Tofu Spread with Strawberries and Chives

Tofu is tasty. Eat it.

Lately I have been trying, searching my brain for something to write about. So bear with me, I'm probably just gonna spout off some stuff, totally rando.
I am so envious of those bloggers who constantly have new material to bring all with pretty Photoshopped pictures, witty stories and recipes. All the time. More than weekly. It's kind of insane.

T tells me, "Mariel, are the people who post multiple times a week going to school? Do they work full-time? Are they starting a business with a gig every weekend and classes to develop and teach?" This is when I say, probably not, but their blog is their full-time job and everyone's journey is different, right? I have a shit-ton of things going on and it leaves my little blog a little lonely. 

la, la la, la la.

When I attend an event that I have also been asked to cater dessert for and then I see each little plate is cleaned off, I feel amazing. Because not only did I make dessert, get it there on time with food in perfect condition, and set it up perfectly because I am a professional, I also have to wear a dress and do my hair and its kind of exhausting. But this is when I can feel proud of myself. I did it. Planned, prepped and executed.

You know what's awesome? When people say my dessert changed their life. I understand that the statement is wildly hyperbolic-BUT it is so gratifying. "I'm so glad you liked it", I say and then I give myself a little mental high-five. 

I'm really looking forward to my Summer Night Tastings. More on that, later (Winky-face)

Writer's block is terrible. Thoughts just bounce 'round and 'round...

Hey, want a recipe for a yummy, healthy snack? Here you go...


Strawberry and Tofu Crostini
This snack is packed with flavor, and color. It is a great springtime treat but it can also be made with other fruits like pears, apples, mangoes or tomatoes. Serve it with pita chips, celery and a handful of walnuts or almonds to make a tasty, savory snack. Makes 12

Tofu Spread
6oz. Silken Tofu
4oz. Neufatchel Cheese
1-2 Tbsp. Chives, chopped
In a food processor, blend the tofu and cheese until creamy and smooth.

Other ingredients
12 slices of Whole Wheat Baguette, sliced & toasted 1 pint of Strawberries, sliced 1/4” thick
1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Chives, chopped
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Assembly
Place crostini onto a platter, spread the tofu and cheese among 12 slices of baguette. Arrange strawberries on top. Drizzle the balsamic and the olive oil all over the crostinis and top with chopped chives. Finish with cracked black pepper.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Strawberries with Rhubarb Compote and Rice Pudding




Oh, I love strawberries.
Its the only fruit I wait for every single year and being farther South in the Bay Area, we get beautiful, bright and crisp strawberries. Over the years, I've developed quite a few recipes with strawberries and for the most part, I'll take them any way I can get them...
Fresh, lightly dressed with citrus syrup.
  Pureed, strained and poured over a slice of cake.
    Frozen in chunks, surrounded by ice cream and served in a waffle cone.
        Simply eaten, one by one out of a green, plastic basket, still cold by a light rinse in water.

Recently, I have really come to also love rhubarb. Probably, only because I have learned to cook it properly. First of all, you need to discard the leaves. They're dangerous, beware.
Rhubarb is almost inedible without a very generous dose of sugar, but there are so many ways you can cook it and my favorite is by making a simple compote.

This is my last recipe posting for my "recipe project". I have found that because I collect baking and pastry cookbooks, I was making something with a generous dose of sugar every week. In an effort to maintain my health and my matronly figure, I must pare down this project and share recipes, like this one that have really been my go-to, must make this, must eat this recipe. I never meant to abandon this project, but the amount of sugar I was buying and consuming was getting outta hand, even for me!

The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook by Jennie Schacht and Mary Cech is a gorgeous book I got at Powell's during a work trip to Portland, OR and I fell in love with this recipe. I met Jennie at the IACP Book and Blog Festival where I bought her most recent book, I Scream Sandwich. These are both great books and excellent additions to my collection. Now the recipes:

Rhubarb Compote with Strawberries-Makes 2 cups
2 cups     Rhubarb, Cut into 1/2 inch, diagonal slices. (If the stalk is wide, cut it in half then, slice)
3/4 cup   Sugar
1/3 cup   Water
2 Tbsp.   Lemon Juice
1/2         Vanilla Bean, scraped (optional)
1/2 cup   Fresh Strawberries, diced

1.  Combine rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice and vanilla bean in a medium saute pan. Allow the sugar and water to mix completely with the rhubarb. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
2.  Simmer slowly for about 12-15 minutes or until the rhubarb is bright pink, and soft. Allow to cool completely and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3.  Stir in diced strawberries. Serve slightly chilled.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding (Adapted from The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook)
*The original recipe uses heavy cream, whipped, added to the pudding at the end and I have left it out.

1/2 cup       Arborio rice
3 to 4 cups  2% Milk
1/3 cup       Sugar (start with a little less than 1/3 cup sugar and keep adding to taste)
Pinch of Salt
1/4              Vanilla Bean, scraped

In a heavy saucepan, combine  rice, 3 cups of milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, keeping it at a lively bubble. Stir every few minutes until the rice has absorbed most of the milk, but is still tender. Stir in up to one cup of milk as the rice simmers to keep the pudding soupy; it will thicken as it cools. Serve warm with Rhubarb Compote and Strawberries.






Monday, March 4, 2013

What Week Is It? Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding



Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding with Apricot Jam

Uh...
yeah, I have no idea what week I'm on with this project. It's for a good reason though...

I have had an incredible burst of inspiration while looking at my books their recipes that I just ran loose around my apartment kitchen whisking and whipping and piping and writing recipes on random sheets of paper that I have around here...somewhere, I think.

I have been a very busy girl, actually. I turned 30 on Valentine's Day, alright 31but February was filled with a lot of really cool stuff for me and I have felt very blessed.

As a birthday gift, my fiancee got me a seat in a food writing workshop that inspired some new ideas for our cookbook. After, I had a drink with a friend that I had since high school who a few years ago reached out to me about my experience in culinary school. I had her come work with me at a restaurant I was working at and shortly after she had attended and graduated from culinary school and found a job at a bakery, baking bread. Bread requires a completely different breed of culinary professional (one that is not me). But I can certainly eat it. She brought me a few loaves and I made with one of them a Broccoli and Cheese Strata. I got the recipe from Brunch! by Gale Gand. Basically, I had this loaf of delicious hearth bread and I made savory bread pudding and it was definitely savory and a very hearty meal. If I'd had some in the fridge, I would have topped it with some goat cheese.

I bought another book this month too. Little Paris Kitchen  by Rachel Khoo. I had my parents over for breakfast on Sunday, and I made egg white omelettes with hollandaise. It was a delicious breakfast and I think what made it really special was the toast we made right before we started eating for Teresa and my 8 year anniversary. Love.

Somewhere in between all that, I developed a recipe for Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding. It certainly does not taste like its made from silken tofu and it is as delightfully rich as any chocolate pudding.

Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding       Makes 4, 4oz cups

11.5oz    Silken Tofu, divided
4 oz        Chocolate, melted and cooled + 2 Tbsp. Sugar
4 oz        Peanut Butter + 2 Tbsp. Sugar or a few squeezes of honey
1/4 cup   Apricot Jam

1.  In a small food processor, pulse 7.5oz of tofu and slowly add the melted chocolate. Continue to process until it is completely smooth. Spoon into bowls.
2.  Create a layer over the chocolate with the apricot jam.
3.  In the same processor, combine the remaining tofu, peanut butter and honey/sugar (or both) and process until smooth.
4.  Top the apricot jam with the peanut butter pudding. Dust with cocoa powder.

I am kind of behind with this project, but I hope you enjoy this recipe. Try it. Its delicious.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Cookbook Project Weeks 2-5: Soft Pretzels


I'm the kind of girl who will buy herself something pretty when she gets the case of the gloomies. Of course the stomach flu that both T and myself came down with just took us down and it was a straight week of the high-grade fever gloomies-hence the dress. I really thought that in the first month of this project I was going to fall behind which made me feel even more awful. And I did, just not with the baking, moreso with the posting. So please excuse me.
For my second week, I made Olive Oil Pound Cake from Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. I buy my olive oil from this great local store and this particular variety was blood orange flavor. I whipped up this incredibly quick pound cake and served it with lightly whipped cream and blackberries. This book also inspired my new OriginalCinn class on March 1st at Whole Foods in Cupertino--Simple Sweets and Everyday Baking where you will not only get some great recipes, but the science and technique behind making staple desserts you can whip up in no time.
The third week of January, before it got really gloomy in this house, I made Scallops with Linguine, Avocado and Lime from Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist. I actually have a signed copy of this book from a demo she did in San Francisco. I watched her cook, got her to sign my book and I feel deeply in love with her southern accent. She is flawless... right, sorry, well this dish was incredible. I never thought I'd like this combination but like the rest of the recipes in this book, it has amazing flavor.

Then there was the return of the NHL. There was a 3 month lockout which meant no hockey. For my hockey-loving fiancee, this was pretty much torture. But now that I was back from flu-hell, I made a super snack for our first game. I got this recipe from my Good Housekeeping book and looking around, its not really available anymore...unless you want to pay $120 for it, which I don't really recommend so here's the recipe. It will make some really tasty soft pretzels. I served it with Cheddar Beer Sauce and it made for a really great first game snack. Go Sharks!!!

Soft Pretzels
2 cups Warm Water (about 115 degrees)
1 packet Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon Sugar
4+ Cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Kosher, Sea Salt or Coarse Pretzel Salt

1. In a large bowl, add 1 1/2 cups of warm water and sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes or until it becomes foamy.
2. Add 2 cups of flour and the salt and mix until combined. Gradually add the remaining flour until it becomes a soft dough and is no longer sticky.
3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until firm and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning the dough over so the entire surface is greased. Cover bowl with plastic and set in a warm area to double in size. This will take about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease 2 large cookie sheets. Punch down the dough and cut, one by one, 18-24 inch long strips.
5. Combine the last 1/2 cup of water and baking soda. Stir to dissolve.
6. Shape dough into loop-shaped pretzels and dip into the baking soda. Place the pretzels on the sheet, 2 inches apart and sprinkle with salt.
7. Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pans about 12 minutes into baking, until browned. Cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.

Oh yeah, then I made ice cream. Oh delicious ice cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. By this point, I have developed more recipes than I have found in a book, but I owe it all to this project. I didn't just make Lemon Ice Cream...I added a blueberry swirl that I scented with lavender. Whenever I get asked the question, "What's your favorite thing to make?" I always say Ice Cream. Because you can do a million different things with it, but its still ice cream. I am a happy girl with ice cream!

Thanks for reading this awfully long post. But I've been up to a lot of baking! Cheers.