Thursday, July 30, 2009

New beauty things I like

1.) Booths's Deep Cleansing Volcanic Mud Mask- $9.99 at

This stuff is lovely, since I have sensitive skin and my old mask got discontinued. It smells really good. It actually works. It is reasonably priced.

2.) Rimmel's Glam Eyes Mascara- $7.50 at

If I didn't wear mascara, you wouldn't even know I had eyelashes. This stuff is awesome- the applicator brush is silicone, it doesn't clump, and it's really easy to get the tiny lashes at the edge of you eyes.

3.) Elf's Nail Polish Remover Pads- $1.00 at

I adore these little pads. One of them will remove navy nail polish from all ten digits. They smell like oranges instead of chemicals, and they don't make your hands taste like poison for a week no matter how many times you wash them.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MORE Cupcakes.

So, this weekend we stopped at More, the cupcake store with cupcakes designed by Chicago pastry chef Gale Gand. I recently met Gale at the Green City Market- she was super nice and suggested a couple bakeries I should visit when I'm in Paris. She also told me to e-mail her and then never e-mailed me back. (E-mail me back, Gale!) Anyway. I had a brioche cupcake filled with sour cherry butter cream and iced (made to order) with foie gras buttercream.

There it is. Yum, I love foie buttercream.

Cupcake rundown! (from left to right): The salted caramel, lemon meringue, and the BLT.

The savory cupcakes were pretty good. The cake wasn't as moist as I would've liked, except in the red velvet, which had disappointing frosting. All in all, I'd go back for the foie cupcake, but that's about it.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oven Pancake!

You can call it a lot of things- Dutch baby, an oven pancake, a German pancake. I don't care- it is the simplest breakfast to make for a crowd. The batter puffs into craters and mountains of crisp, buttery peaks, with a doughy, sweet base. I never remember the exact proportions of my mother's recipe, but my guesses always seem to turn out okay. I did this one with 1/2 whole wheat which only makes you feel marginally better about the stick of butter.

Whole Wheat Dutch Oven German Pancake

1 stick butter
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
2 cups milk

Place stick of butter in large baking dish and stick in the oven while preheating. Preheat oven to 400. Mix all remaining ingredients together until smooth. When oven reaches 400 and butter is sizzling, pour batter into the middle of the pan. Cook until puffy and batter has set, about 15 minutes.

Top with powdered sugar, warm cinnamon apples, whipped cream.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nothing to eat for dinner.

Last weekend I got too caught up in watching Mad Men to do things like shop or cook or generally get off the couch. This always ends up with me eating the most ridiculous things. For instance- I had a frozen dinner lined up with a salad on Sunday evening. I couldn't bear to actually eat it, so instead I took the few things in my fridge and whipped up some truffled Parmesan scrambled eggs.

2 eggs
dribble of white truffle oil
dash of heavy cream
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Beat remaining ingredients in a small bowl till fluffy. Add to hot oil. Stir quickly and continuously until eggs form tiny curds and are soft-set, don't overcook! Grab a glass of whiskey and continue watching Mad Men.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Honey wheat pizza with garlic scape pesto, mascarpone, ventresca tuna.

Whew. I actually cut some of the ingredients from that list and it's still too wordy. I recently got a new pizza stone and decided to try it out. The crust was easy:

Honey Wheat Pizza Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon honey

Combine warm water, honey, and yeast in small bowl- let sit until yeast has proofed. Add flour and salt and knead, adding more flour, until dough isn't sticky. Place for an hour or so in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. You don't have to let this rise, but I think that science says this develops gluten and it gets all flexy.

Garlic Scape Pesto:

1 cup chopped garlic scapes
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper, to taste

Put all of above in blender. Grind into paste. Eat, because it is delicious. To be honest, I was a little hesitant to make the garlic scape pesto, but now I am a believer. That stuff is AMAZING, and the garlic taste is so subtle once it's been cooked. Yum.

Additional Pizza Toppings:
1 package baby portabellas
2 cups fresh spinach
mascarpone cheese
Parmesan cheese
1 can or jar ventresca tuna, packed in olive oil, drained

Saute mushrooms and portabellas. Squeeze out excess moisture. Roll out pizza dough (you should probably pre-bake this for about 15 minutes at 350). Spread pesto on pizza. Sprinkle on veggies and tuna. Dot with mascarpone, then finish entire pizza with a decent amount of shredded parmesan. Bake. Eat.

The mascarpone melts into these delightful buttery sweet puddles, the tuna is salty and rich, the pesto is creamy, the mushrooms are earthy... The crust is chewy and crisp and hearty and sweet. This is an amazing pizza.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Hazelnut Streusel Buttermilk Coffee Cake

I had house guests the other weekend, and I wanted to make something delicious that could sit out and people could snack on during the day. I had a ton of hazelnuts leftover from my hazelnut macarons, so I decided to make a coffee cake.

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, softened
Mix all streusel ingredients together in a small bowl until soft and crumby.
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar together with your mixer. Add eggs slowly, one at a time to butter and sugar mixture until soft and fluffy. In a seperate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating slowly, into batter until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Pour half of the batter into a buttered, floured bundt pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of streusel mix over the batter. Swirl two layers together lightly with a butter knife. Pour remaining batter into pan and again top with remaining streusel and again swirl with knife. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

The cake was pretty good. I'm just happy that it came out of my cathedral-inspired bundt pan, which I can NEVER get a cake out of.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hot Doug's at Work Day!

I'm lucky (unlucky?) enough to work within a scary distance of Hot Doug's, a gourmet hotdoggery in Chicago. Sometimes we will order the sausages and have them for lunch. Today I am having the Spicy Thai Chicken Sausage with Thai Peanut Sauce and Toasted Coconut. Last time I had the Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Sel Gris, which was really good but so rich I could only eat half of it.

Happy Hot Doug's at Work Day!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bastille Day!

Bonjour! Bastille Day is finally here for real now, not like last week when I just thought it was. I'm celebrating by wearing my tacky Paris tee shirt today, and later I'll snack on champagne and leftover macarons.

Here's your Bastille Day rundown:

The NYT has the places to go for authentic French cuisine if you happen to be in New York today.

The Baltimore Sun has some book recommendations.

Chicago chimes in with restaurant recommendations.

And finally, here are your pictures of the military parade earlier today down the Champs-Elysees.

What are you doing to celebrate?

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Thursday, July 9, 2009


So, I jumped the gun on Bastille Day, turns out it's not till next week. This is after I spent the last two days toiling away making three different kinds of macarons. I swear, this cookie kick will be over as soon as I get destroyed by Parisian macarons. All of my shells came out pretty well- I think I'm getting better at this.

Ah, the pecan/ praline buttercream macarons. These are my favorite. The buttercream is hands-down, the most delicious frosting I've ever made. It's a mix of Swiss buttercream mixed with ground pecan caramel candy. I had to make the candy twice to get it right.

This is the hazelnut/blackberry buttercream macaron. The Swiss buttercream curdled a bit when I added the blackberry preserves, but despite the appearance, this cookie is PERFECT- the tartness of the preserves, the sweet creaminess of the buttercream, the crunchy, chewy, nuttiness of the shell. Sigh.

Here are the pistachio/dark chocolate ganache macarons. For these I used half ground pistachios and half almonds. The ganache is equal parts heavy cream and Trader Joe's "Pound Plus" Dark Chocolate. I didn't use the 75% Dark Chocolate because I prefer milk chocolate, but thought I'd make a compromise. I then whipped the hell out of the ganache. These are delicious, but too rich for me.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Petunia the Pig

So, this 4th of July, I attended a pig roast in Columbus, Ohio. This is Petunia, who was slow-roasted on a spit for almost all day over a bed of coals. She was delicious, except for her tongue, which tasted like super-chewy bacon and wasn't exactly delicious.

These are the pups who attended the roast, and only got a few bites of pork. This is them trying to work in tandem to receive more pork- they are adorable, but unsuccessful.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Red, White and Macarons

Special thanks to J.F for the photo and J. M. for her hand.

Here are my 4th of July macarons- traditional almond shells were dyed blue, swiss meringue cream cheese buttercream filling with a dollop of raspberry preserves in the center. I topped them with a bit more buttercream and a fresh raspberry. I'll spare everyone the recipes, but here are some tricks I learned:

It is better to underbeat your shell batter than overbeat it, as you'll knock some air out when you pipe the shells.

Macarons do not need to sit out for an hour to "harden" their shells. This is a lie.

Swiss meringue over Italian meringue, always. It's easier and more stable, especially when you're adding butter and cream cheese.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Oh, the possibilities...

Damnit, Martha. So this morning I find out that Shrinky Dinks, those wonderful plastic cutouts from your (my) childhood are AVAILABLE FOR LASER PRINTING. Awesome.

This week on OMG, Sammiches:

PHOTOS! Red, white and blue macarons (Almond, Swiss cream cheese buttercream, raspberry preserves).

Bastille Day! I'm making more macarons (Pistachio with Chocolate Ganache? Hazelnut with Blackberry Buttercream? Pecan with Praline Bourbon Buttercream?) Possibly croissants. And Dijon, there will definitely be Dijon.

Pig Roast recap, complete with tasty part eating.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

OMFG. Needs more pants.

The first photos for Anna Sui's Gossip Girl inspired line for Target are out. I'm half excited, half disappointed. The line will be available at Target starting September 13th. Almost all of the looks are minidresses, I think there's only one pair of pants in the whole collection. New York Mag's Slideshow is here. Again, why no Chuck Bass inspired pieces for the ladies? Unfair.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Whole Wheat Fresh Ricotta Ravioli with Garlic Scapes, Asparagus and Portabella


The garlic scape! Usually people make these silly little things into pesto, which I set out trying to avoid (but failed- I totally made garlic scape pesto. More on that later). So I decided to sauté them with some other fresh vegetables and serve them with teeny fresh cheese pastas.

Whole Wheat Fresh Ricotta Ravioli:
3 eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup fresh high moisture ricotta (can sub mascarpone)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Mix flours and eggs with a pinch of salt. Knead for about ten minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for 20 minutes to develop gluten or something. In the meantime, mix the cheeses together with a little salt and pepper. Roll out pasta, dab on filling in teaspoon size, cover with more rolled out pasta, cut out with biscuit cutter. Drop carefully in boiling water till tender, freeze extras. Ta-da!

My pastas are adorable!

For the scapes, I cut them into green bean sized pieces and sauteed them with some asparagus and mushrooms with a little butter and olive oil. I served this over the pasta. Hooray for spring!

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Bonjour, mousies!

Yesterday I finally caved and bought a pair of Marc Jacob's signature mouse flats in Gold patent leather. Some of his designs just allude to the mouse design, but these are full-on mouse shoes. They probably won't fit and I'll have to return them, but it was fun while it lasted, no?

Mouse round up, insert pied piper joke here:

Here's a cheaper, sling back pair in black.

Litte brown mice on Shopbop.

Casual denim printed mice, too.

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