Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Portmanteaus: Canmoneesecake and Doffins

Portmanteau recipes have become really trendy in baking circles ever since the cronut became so popular.  Ridiculously popular, really - the wikipedia article for cronuts says that people were selling them on the black market for $100.  A black market for upscale New York City bakery items.  My mind is officially boggled.

Now that I'm going to a monthly potluck (thanks, M and S!), I've got a regular schedule for experimenting.  This time I scrolled through my enormous collection of untried recipes and selected the first two that caught my eye: candied lemon cheesecake and sugar doughnut muffins (aka doffins).  I hadn't tried any portmanteau recipes before this so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon.  Who doesn't want a sugar doughnut muffin?

I've also been making lots of cheesecakes lately.  Although I don't really like cheesecake that much, I do enjoy making cheesecakes.  It's a win-win: I make it and somebody else eats most of it.  This recipe was intriguing because it included candied lemons, which I've been wanting to try making for a while.  It also has a crust that isn't made out of graham crackers.  The question of what to use instead of graham crackers if you're outside the US has been discussed by lots of people (1, 2, 3, 4) so I figured I'd give that a try as well.

With the exception of the candied lemons, both of these recipes were very easy to make (almost).  I put together the doffin batter while the cheesecake was baking and still had time to wash the dishes.

The cheesecake had a really nice, light texture.  I'm planning to use this recipe and swap out the lemon zest for other flavors (matcha green tea, cocoa, vanilla).

The only snag was that the ingredient list for the cheesecake didn't list the amounts of the ingredients very clearly.  The crust is made with biscotti, and the recipe said "12 biscotti".  How much is 12 biscotti?  I had mini-biscotti instead of full-sized biscotti and I started off using 24 biscotti and then kept adding until there was enough crust to cover the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.  I have fixed the recipe so that it has volume, mass, or weight measurements.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Organization! Bitter Orange and Blueberry (Blackberry) Tart

Second post in a month!  Even though I wrote the last one in February but didn't hit the "publish" button until March, it still counts!  I am an organized and responsible adult!  Right?  *crickets*

First off, the internet needs a sarcasm font.  Second, I really am trying to be organized and get new recipes written up in a timely fashion.  As strange as it sounds, being sick all of last week has been helpful for this because I've been compiling a very long list of all of the things that haven't gotten done while I've been lying in bed, awake and not hungry and on drugs.

My doctor gave me ephedrine (edit: actually pseudoephedrine) to help with the sinus infection.  Holy crap is that stuff a strong upper!  I was up all day Tuesday and part of Wednesday, about 30 hours total.  I was so completely exhausted but I could not fall asleep.  I lay in bed and watched the sun rise on Wednesday morning and couldn't figure out what was going on.  I also didn't eat for a couple of days because I just wasn't hungry even though I could feel literal hunger pains in my stomach.  And I was still pretty congested.  So I ended up with a very detailed list of everything that I needed to do as soon as I was better.

Blogging isn't very high on my priority list but to me it is symbolic of organization, probably because it isn't necessary for my life to keep functioning and therefore if I have time to blog then it means that I have finished all of the truly important items on my life to-do list.  At least, this seems to be what my subconscious thinks.  In reality, there are an infinite number of important items on my life to-do list that are breeding with each other and spawning more important items when I'm not looking.  But at least I'm blogging.  Priorities!

I've made this recipe twice, once to try it out and which I completely forgot to take pictures of, and the second time because lots of people liked the first attempt and to take some photos.  The original recipe is from Nigella but isn't on her website.  Food.com has it, complete with automatic US/metric conversion.  Unfortunately the automatic converter is literal so it doesn't convert mass to weight (maybe I should do a post on the different measurement systems...).  This means that the recipes ends up with ingredients like "0.39 pounds plain flour".  The recipe below is from the American version of How To Be A Domestic Goddess and has more useful measurements.

Although the recipe title says "blueberry" and the recipe calls for blueberries, I used blackberries.  This doesn't have anything to do with what's in season.  The first time I made this tart, I saw the recipe and thought, "orange and blueberry sounds like a great combination!", wrote down blackberries on my shopping list, bought blackberries, made the tart, made the blackberry topping, and was putting it on the tart before I realized that I was using the wrong fruit.  I liked the result enough to make it a second time.

This tart is not as sweet as most fruit tarts, so it's perfect to make if you or a friend don't like desserts that are too sweet.  If you want more sweetness, whipped cream or ice cream is a nice topping with the blackberries.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Second Time's the Charm

Edit #2: oh my god it's March.  At this point, there just isn't any excuse for how long this has taken to write up.  The good news is that I have made several other recipes since the Super Bowl potluck.  Hopefully each of those won't take a whole month to get finished.

Edit #1: This used to be a wonderfully amusing write-up of what I made for K and B's Super Bowl potluck. I saved it multiple times, got the pictures exactly the way I wanted them, and even bothered to spellcheck the post.  And then, for some unknown reason, everything except the first couple of paragraphs disappeared.

So the entire post is gone, never to return.  Instead, I will leave you with the best part of it:

That is the team with possession of the ball for the first play of the game loosing control of said ball and then everybody running crazily after it.  It set the tone for the rest of the game.

K and B had a potluck at their new place to watch the Super Bowl.  B was interested in watching because he's from Alaska and the Seattle Seahawks are the closest football team to Alaska, so he grew up rooting for them.  The rest of us were just there to have a potluck and hang out.  Luckily, the Denver Broncos played so badly that we all sat around and laughed at them for 2 hours.  It's nice to have something to bond over.

The "second time" in the title is actually a reference to the fact that I used the potluck as an excuse to fix a couple of recipes that hadn't turned out well the first time but which had promise (and to try something new, of course).  In January, I had tried making a nutella cheesecake and Nigella's gooey chocolate stack.  The cheesecake never solidified but tasted great and the chocolate stack melted but tasted great.  My course was clear: get the great tasting desserts to have the right consistency.  I also made a batch of cookies just in case things didn't work out.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Everything's New But The Recipes

The original draft of this entry had a very long and complicated explanation of what happened after I moved, but I deleted it because a) it was boring and b) it can be summed up in one sentence: my new commute is much longer than my old commute.  It really has taken me 5 months to get my work/life balance sorted out, and even that isn't really done yet.  I will be transferring to a different office that is much closer, hopefully in the spring.  (I have also been procrastinating and have not gotten myself organized, which wastes most of my free time.)

The other thing I'm missing is a potluck group.  Right now I don't bake very often because there isn't anybody to eat the results.  As I meet more people and make some new friends, I will also acquire new guinea pigs.

Because I haven't had that much time to bake, I've been falling back on old recipes that I know like the back of my hand.  I've blogged about some of them before (my mother's hallah), thought I blogged about them but apparently didn't (pavlovas), and blogged about something similar (pumkpin souffle) that I then combined with yet another recipe that I thought I had previously written about but which also doesn't have a post (sufganiyot).  I posted pictures of pavlovas and sufganiyot on facebook but never got around to making blog entries for either one.  Did I mention that I'm disorganized and procrastinate a lot?

So this post has 4 months worth of experimentation: 3 new recipes, 2 explanations of things that I haven't written about but should have, and 1 success.

The three new recipes are apple stuffed cardamom hallah, pavlova with raspberry-pomegranate topping, and pumpkin sufganiyot.  These are all adaptations of recipes that I really like, so I've posted the original recipes and the changes I made.

Moving takes weeks longer than just the actual act of moving physical things from one location to another.  Usually I spend the first two weeks unpacking things and then wandering around the apartment, vainly trying to remember where I put all of my stuff.  My apartment is from the 1950's and hasn't been updated since then except for the oven and fridge.  Things it doesn't have: lots of electrical outlets, muted color schemes, a dishwasher, or a garbage disposal.  This is the kitchen:

Lucy Ricardo would have loved this place.

Check out the bathroom:
It would be so classy if it was tiled in black and white.
I always laugh when anybody says that the 1950's were so glamorous, people knew how to dress and decorate, etc.  No.  Some of the worst color schemes ever showed up in the 1950's.  While I'm living here, I pretend that I am a time-traveling anthropologist who is studying how the natives live in their pink-and-maroon habitat.  This is a very nice apartment with the exception of the color schemes (one for every room!).