Monday, October 31, 2011

I have a super exciting announcement.... I'm Moving!  Ok.. well kinda.   My Blog is moving.   My blog has a new home on the web.  After many long hours of starring at the computer and figuring out this hosting mumbo jumbo, my blog has been redesigned and hosted on a new domain. 

My new address is  Update your bookmark and subscribe to the RSS.

I'll see you there! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Last week I admitted to being a cookbook snob..  then I had a realization.  I've been neglecting my cookbooks.  I've been collecting cookbooks but not actually using them.  I should be ashamed of myself.. I know.  Time to change that! This week I've dusted off a Martha Stewart favorite, Cupcakes.

Fall is finally in the air, which means its time for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Pumpkin Patches, and The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, so I present you with...  Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes 
Adapted from Martha Stewart's: Cupcakes

Yield: 32 Cupcakes


4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.



16 ounces cream cheese
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoons almond extract


Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add butter, and beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low; gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, and mix to combine.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Your food photographs should tell a story.

Your food photographs should tell a story. They should Inspire.

I’ll totally admit it… I’m a cookbook snob. I’m a firm believer that cookbooks and food magazines should have photos- beautiful, captivating photos. Each month I look forward to the crisp, glossy copy of Bon Appetit magazine in my mailbox; the exquisite photos capturing every detail of a dish and luring me into the kitchen to test out another recipe.  And of course each new recipe.. is another photo opportunity.

When I found out that the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance (@atxfoodblogs) was hosting a Food Photography workshop, I jumped at the chance to meet other local food bloggers and work on my food photography skills. We met at Aviary Lounge (@Aviarydecor), a whimsical home décor store and wine bar located in South Austin. Aviary’s owner, Marco was a gracious host and cheerfully stepped in as a food stylist.

The Workshop Leaders included: Marshall Wright (@MarshallWright), Matthew Lemke (@SnapMatt), Loren Root (@TheLeftOverChef), Peter Tsai (@SuperTsai), John Knox (@Windaddict), and Don Mason (@AngrySong). The photographers and bloggers were grouped by interest - creating a home studio, working with natural light, getting the most out of a Point & Shoot, and shooting with a dSLR - allowing each blogger to choose their interest.

I spent my afternoon working with Marshall Wright and fellow blogger Ginny (@Kaupilimakoa), focusing on capturing images with natural light. We worked with a challenging Charcuterie Plate until we convinced Marco to step in as a food stylist and rearrange the plate for us… then eventually hijacked another group’s food.  I’d call it being an opportunist…

Reoccurring Themes for the Afternoon:

Look for beautiful Light. Look for a spot by the window where there is plenty of natural light. Use a white foam board to bounce light onto your food. This will keep the light soft and keep the food looking natural.

Don’t be afraid to play with your food. Change up the food placement and take photos from multiple angles to come up with different compositions.

If you have a tripod… USE IT.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pound Cake with Fig Chutney

Pound Cake with Fig Chutney 
Recipe From Bon Appetit October 2011 - Maxcel Hardy 

Pound Cake 
Yield: 12 Servings

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for pan, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

Equipment: A 13-cup Bundt pan

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350°. Butter pan generously. Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter and shortening in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly beat in sugar. Mix in eggs 1 at a time; beat until pale and fluffy. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions; begin and end with dry ingredients. Transfer to pan; smooth top.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, remove cake from pan, and let cool completely.

Fig Chutney 
Yield: 3 Cups

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 pound firm, ripe figs, stemmed, halved

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot; stir to coat. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sugar; stir until dissolved. Add red wine and next 6 ingredients. Increase heat to medium-high; simmer until syrupy, about 15 minutes. Add figs; stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until figs are soft but hold their shape, 10-15 minutes, depending on ripeness of figs. Transfer to a jar. Let cool. Cover and chill.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rustic Apple and Cherry Galette

This free-form tart is wonderful served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. This super simple and easy to make pastry is perfect for the baker that still hasn't mastered their grandmother's perfect pie crust.   Enjoy!

Rustic Apple and Dried Cherry Galette
Adapted from Bon Appétit | April 1998 

Yield: Makes 8 servings

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons (about) ice water filling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds tart green apples (such as Granny Smith; about 5), peeled, cored, each cut into 8 wedges
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup dried tart cherries (about 2 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons coarse raw sugar

Ice Cream for serving (optional)
Caramel Sauce for serving (optional)


For crust:
Mix flour and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons ice water and process until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

For filling:
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add apples to skillet; sprinkle 3 tablespoons sugar over. Sauté until apples are golden and begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add dried cherries and cinnamon and stir 30 seconds. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom as aid, transfer dough to rimless baking sheet. Arrange apple mixture atop dough, leaving 3-inch border. Fold edge of dough over apple mixture, pinching to seal any cracks in dough. Brush all exposed dough with egg wash to seal the crust. Sprinkle coarse raw sugar over apple mixture and dough edge.

Bake galette 15 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake galette until crust is light golden around edges and apples are tender, about 35 minutes longer. Using tart pan bottom as aid, transfer galette to rack; cool 15 minutes.

Serve warm with Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cocoa Brownies

    Ever have one of those cravings for something sweet and to no avail you can't find a single thing in the house? That was exactly my position today, I haven't been to the grocery store in weeks (shame on me, I know!) but after a little searching I found this recipe. ... I double checked my pantry and did a little happy dance when I figured out that had everything I needed for chocolately goodness within just a few minutes!

Best Cocoa Brownies 
Epicurious | November 2003 Alice Medrich - BitterSweet 

Cocoa brownies have the softest center and chewiest candylike top "crust" of all because all of the fat in the recipe (except for a small amount of cocoa butter in the cocoa) is butter, and all of the sugar is granulated sugar rather than the finely milled sugar used in chocolate. Use the best cocoa you know for these fabulous brownies.

Yield: Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Chocolate note: Any unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder works well here. Natural cocoa produces brownies with more flavor complexity and lots of tart, fruity notes. I think it's more exciting. Dutch-process cocoa results in a darker brownie with a mellower, old-fashioned chocolate pudding flavor, pleasantly reminiscent of childhood.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread

I've never been a huge fan of traditional banana breads, but this one is far from the usual. Perfectly ripe strawberries give this bread the taste of Summer that I seem to crave all year long. For you nut lovers, just add a few walnuts and it's complete.

Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread
Recipe from on

Yield: makes 1 9x5-inch loaf


6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt (any fat content) or buttermilk
1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup diced strawberries plus 1 strawberry very thinly sliced, for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan and the butter cooks. When the butter brown and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and yogurt or buttermilk. Whisk in the mashed bananas. When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold in the diced strawberries. Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with thinly sliced strawberries. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Bread will last 4 days, well wrapped at room temperature. This loaf also freezes well.