Archive for Unbaked

Triple Ginger Cookie Icebox Cake

I disappeared for a few months. If anyone is still reading this, this is my apology.

I have since left New Jersey for New York. I’ve moved into a brand new (for me – it’s actually quite old) apartment without a roommate and I’ve started my first real salaried job. I didn’t take any of my old furniture with me so it’s been a lot of shopping, assembling, moving, and learning. In the midst of it all this blog fell to the wayside. I thought about ending it all – working 80 hours a week hasn’t left much time for myself, Boy, or much else. Checking my email has come down to the 5 minutes before I fall asleep at night. Baking still exists but it is hurried and never that attractive.

But Boy convinced me otherwise and so I’m here. I may not be here as often as before but I’m still here. The purpose of the blog was to push my baking boundaries and that drive still exists. I’m determined to be comfortable with a cupboard of flour and sugar and to know in the back on my mind what I can do with it without having to check the internet.

My little treat for the week was this delicious icebox cake. I was contacted by Andrea several months ago about her new book, The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook. While I’m long out of college, the idea of quick and simple and the idea of Trader Joe’s both resonate with me. I was immediately intrigued.

This cookbook has a TON of great ideas to offer. While you can obviously just wander around TJ’s and eat the food as is, this expands your repertoire without breaking the bank or the clock. This icebox cake took minutes to assemble and just a quick overnight trip to the freezer and it was done! And the flavor is incredible. It tastes as if I slaved all day making the cake layers. The ginger flavor is prominent but well-balanced. I can’t say enough about this. I’m eating the huge piece I photographed right now!

Triple Ginger Cookie Icebox Cake
adapted from The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook by Andrea Lynn

Ingredients

  • 2 9-oz packages Trader Joe‘s Cookie Thins Triple Ginger cookies
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger (I didn’t have any so I used 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp crystallized ginger, minced)
  • 2 c heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tbsp sugar
Instructions
In a large bowl, place ginger, cream, and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form by gradually increasing the speed from low to medium-high. Set aside about one-fifth of the cream and 6 cookies.
Use a spatula to spread about 2 tbsp of the whipped cream on a large plate. Top the cream with a single layer of cookies. Fit as many as possible. Layer with whipped cream. Continue layering cookies followed by cream until you have 8-10 complete layers. When finished, use set-aside whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (I stuck mine in the freezer) for at least 8 hours. When ready to serve, crumble set-aside 6 cookies and sprinkle over the top.

As a bonus treat, Andrea was kind enough to send me a book to giveaway as well! Here’s how you can enter to win:

1. Comment on this post for one entry.

2. Advertise via facebook, twitter, blog, whatever. Comment again with what you did for another entry.

Giveaway ends August 12 at midnight!

If you don’t win, you can always purchase the book yourself here.

Thanks for sticking with me.

S’mores Bars

I apologize for the lack of posting this week but I’ve been doing a lot of carpe diem lately. This past week I went to the NY Wine Expo (and became a hot mess), watched the Knicks v. Heat game on Sunday while eating wings (yum), shopped for snowgear (but didn’t buy anything), and ate out a grand total of five times. Also I saw the King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Tangled. All of which were fabulous. (If you want my opinion, while I thought King’s Speech was good, I didn’t think it should have won Best Picture but that’s the Academy for you!)

And all this time I’ve been working.

So there hasn’t been much time for baking or blogging (my Reader is out of control at the moment). But there has been time for these bars because they took all of 10 minutes to throw together! They were delicious to boot. Who can resist the classic s’mores combination? I have to say the chocolate was a little bit too sweet for my taste though. Next time I may try bittersweet chocolate or even unsweetened (the condensed milk adds a lot of sugar). These were easy, quick, and perfect for any sort of gathering. (Except I ate all of them on my own but shhhhhhh don’t tell!)

This Week I Ate..

  • Smitten Kitchen’s Sour Cream Pancakes. These were wonderful! Tangy and fluffy, perfect for dousing in maple syrup with a side of strawberries. A solid breakfast is always best way to start my day.
  • Curry Creamed Chicken with Couscous Salad. I used to make this all the time when I first started living on my own but my need for variety and the staggering amount of good recipes I have yet to try have prevented me from making it the past few years. I revisited my old favorite and can only say that I usually double the cream sauce because it’s so delicious. This dish comes together in under 20 minutes and it’s great for a weeknight meal (and fairly healthy too besides the cream).
  • Annie’s Eats Chicken Ranch Pizza. There was a sale on fresh pizza dough at my local supermarket this week so I stocked up and made a bunch of pizza. This is one of my favorite pizzas ever! I’ve made it at least half a dozen times now and Boy can’t get enough.
  • Chicken BBQ pizza. With my extra pizza dough I just threw on about 1/4 c barbecue sauce (hickory smoked), 3/4 c shredded mozzarella, caramelized red onion, and cooked chicken, and called it a day. Simple but delicious just the same.

S’mores Bars
adapted from Williams Sonoma, seen on Annie’s Eats

Makes 16 or 1 8×8″ square pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs (approximately 6-7 graham crackers)
  • 3/4 c sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c mini marshmallows
  • 2 whole graham crackers
  • extra butter to grease the pan

Instructions
Line an 8×8″ baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with extra butter. (I found it easier to grease the foil first and then place in the pan.

Using a fork, mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs until evenly moistened. Pour into the bottom of the pan and press into an even layer. (I used the bottom of a glass.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Quickly pour the mixture over the graham cracker base and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle marshmallows over the chocolate and gently press them in so they are anchored. Break up the whole graham crackers and insert between the marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve cool.

When was the last time you carpe diem’d?

Homemade Caramel

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!!

Are you all ready for the craziness?

I’m not. Still one more gift to wrap and cookies to bake.. but we’re getting there.

I served these caramels at my holiday party last Friday and between then and now I’m still working on finishing them. They’re wonderfully vanilla-y, creamy, and the little bit of sea salt on top is a touch of perfection. They’re rich though and we usually just eat a piece or two at a time so they’ve been taking a little bit to consume. The good thing is they keep really well in an air-tight container so make these today, gift them to people you may have missed, or eat them all yourself.

You won’t regret it.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday, that you all get what you need and maybe all that you asked for as well, that you all spend it with the people you love the most and that you get a chance to go “home” wherever that may be in your heart.

I’ll be back next week before the New Year’s!


Homemade Caramels
adapted from AllRecipes, seen on Sinful Sundays and Shawn’s Plate

Makes 1 tray.

Ingredients

  • 2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 c corn syrup
  • 1 c evaporated milk
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • candy thermometer
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions
Grease a 12×15 inch baking sheet. Tread lightly as these are not likely to stick.

In a medium-sized pot, combine both sugars, corn syrup, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and butter. Place the pot over medium-low heat, erring on the side of low. Stirring constantly and while monitoring the temperature, bring the mixture to 250F. This will take nearly an hour so sit back and be patient.

Once up to 250F, take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the caramel into the baking sheet. Allow to set up a bit before sprinkling sea salt all over the top of the caramel. Let cool completely before cutting up into little caramels. Store in an airtight container using wax paper to separate layers of caramels.

Happy Holidays!!

Lychee Coconut Sorbet

So let me tell you about Boy’s birthday extravaganza!

All-in-all the dinner was a huge success but it wasn’t without its bumps in the road. Also, if I didn’t start the night before and then start the day of at noon we would have eaten at midnight. I’m not a very organized cook. I’m definitely a much better baker.

But so it goes. He loved it anyway.

(And we all know he’d have loved anything I made – or at least said he loved it.)

First course, Momofuku’s Pork Belly Buns adapted from epicurious.

High points: They were absolutely delicious and tasted very much like the original buns that I had with Joanne. (Hi Joanne!) Assembly was quite easy as was the actually pork belly part. Plus, they make for a beautiful looking appetizer. Boy loves him some pork belly!

Low points: I couldn’t, for the life of me, get my bun dough to cooperate. The yeast wasn’t having it, the flour to water ratio seemed off, and a box of dry milk ran me $10. After several attempts, two the night before and one the day of, I ran out to the Asian store for some frozen premade buns which still tasted delicious so I highly recommend it.

Next course, Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs from No Recipes with Wilted Watercress from epicurious and jasmine rice.

High points: Everything. This was super easy to make. For the beef, you just throw everything into a pot and let it simmer away for a few hours until it’s beautifully tender and dark! I used a cheaper bottle of red wine and it came out perfect. The watercress took minutes and was a perfect side to the beef.

Low points: Nothing!

And for dessert, Lychee Coconut Sorbet from epicurious with Vermicelli Crisps from epicurious and the October Daring Bakers Challenge.

Can’t show you the Challenge dish yet but I thought I’d share the recipe for the sorbet since it was so delicious and super easy.

Lychee Coconut Sorbet
adapted from epicurious

Makes 1 pint.

Ingredients

  • 1 can lychees in syrup
  • 1/2 c well-stirred cream of coconut (Coco Lopez brand preferred; this is NOT coconut milk and NOT coconut cream)
  • juice of one lime, plus more if desired

* also need a pre-frozen ice cream maker

Instructions

Drain lychees, reserving syrup.

Combine lychees, cream of coconut, 1/4 c syrup, and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Strain to remove leftover lychee pulp and taste, adding more lime if desired. Refrigerate until cold.

Freeze in pre-frozen ice cream maker.

Vermicelli Crisps
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients

  • Dried rice vermicelli (rice-stick noodles)
  • Enough vegetable oil for 1 1/2 inches of oil in whatever vessel you are frying in
  • Powdered sugar

*also need a deep-frying or candy thermometer

Instructions

Soak noodles in cold water until pliable. (This took me about an hour.) Drain, pat dry, and spread on paper towels to air-dry for about 30 minutes.

When ready to fry, begin heating oil until thermometer reads 350F.

Gather mounds of noodles (about 1 tbsp) and pull apart slightly to form a loose tangle. Drop tangles into oil and fry until crisp. about 20 seconds. They will sink, the oil will bubble, and then the noodles will rise to the surface for the duration of frying. Use a slotted spoon to pull crisps out of oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar.

Dinner was a lot of work but definitely worth every bit of effort. It was a wonderful birthday for Boy!

Tune in on Wednesday to find out how the Daring Bakers October challenge went!

Strawberry Icebox Cake

I’ve been wanting to make this cake every since Tara posted the recipe back in April.

Last week, I finally got my shot.

“Something refreshing” was the response I got when I asked what a friend wanted for her birthday dinner. She said that I didn’t have to bake a cake knowing full well that we’re all short on time these days since most of us are studying to take our second set of board exams. But.. it’s me and someone’s birthday which means I have to make a cake.

But did I have to bake a cake?

The answer is no.

Because when she said “something refreshing,” my mind immediately went to this cake. What could be more refreshing that a cold cake “baked” in the cold?!

So this is what I made.

The preparation was simple. The hardest part was waiting while the cake sat for hours mocking me, begging to be tasted before anyone else laid eyes on it.

Let me tell you, it was most definitely refreshing. Nice and cold in the warm evening air as we sat outside at picnic tables at a local restaurant. The subtle sweetness of the homemade sauce/jam paired with the straight-from-a-box graham crackers with just enough whipped cream made for a new twist on a strawberry shortcake and my friends and I welcomed it with open arms. Without a doubt, it was a hit!

Strawberry Icebox Cake
from seven spoons

Ingredients
1 lb strawberries, chopped
1/3 c caster sugar (I used regular sugar and it worked fine)
1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh preferable
Salt
3 1/2 c heavy cream, chilled and divided
3/4 c confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
A box of honey graham crackers

Instructions

Jam/Sauce:
Place three-quarters of the berries in a medium saucepan with 2 tbsp sugar, a pinch of salt and 2 tsp of lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, until the fruit becomes soft and the juices begin to thicken, around 7-10 minutes.

Carefully transfer the strawberries to a blender and purée. Push the puréed sauce through a sieve back into the saucepan. Again, bring the berries to a simmer, stirring often, until it becomes thick and glossy. This should take around 10 minutes. Tara says it should be “on the verge of jammy-ness, close to the texture of hot fudge sauce.”

Add in the rest of the reserved berries and cook for a minute or so. Again, transfer the strawberries to a blender, purée, and push through a sieve to a clean container. Set aside to cool. Once cool, taste and add sugar and/or lemon as needed.

Cake:
Line an 8-by-8-inch metal cake pan with a cross of clingfilm, leaving an overhang on all sides.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or a hand mixer or whisk), whip 2 cups of heavy cream. Once it begins to thicken, sift in 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and a punch salt. Turn the mixer on medium-high and whip until the cream holds soft peaks. Add vanilla, then beat until the cream until stiff peaks.

For assembly, spread a small amount of the cream on the bottom of the cake pan. Then add a layer of graham crackers (about 9 crackers total). Spread a layer of 1/2 c cream on top of the crackers followed by a few tbsp of strawberry sauce. Continue layering until there are 5 layers of crackers and 4 layers of cream and sauce. Leave a small amount of cream to cover the last layer (although I forgot to do this and this layer was still soft and delectable).

Note: Tara says that you’ll use about 1/2 c of the strawberry sauce in the cake which should leave you with some leftover for serving with the cake. I just piled it all in the cake since I was taking this to a restaurant. The choice is yours!

Cover loosely with clingfilm, then draw the overhanging clingfilm from the sides up. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.

About 1 hour before serving, remove the clingfilm, invert the cake onto a serving plate, and remove the rest of the clingfilm. Place the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Using whatever means necessary, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream. Sift in the remaining 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar once the cream begins to thicken and then whip until a firm peak. Try not to overbeat please! Spread a thin layer of the whipped cream to cover the cake and then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Serve with the reserved sauce if you have any!


[Blurry, I know. But I needed to be eating the cake instead of taking pictures so.. shoot me.]

‘Twas darn good!

– Sharlene

Indian Rice Pudding with Peaches

Well, my friends, now that Cupcake Hero July has ended we can finally go back to our scheduled programming.

[PS! Amy’s already posted Cupcake Hero August’s ingredient! Go check it out!]

No voting, no crazy concoctions, no one else’s material.

Just me.

Don’t sound so excited.

Actually, I won’t be around for a week and half because.. I’m going to London/Ireland with the fambam! Yayyyyyyy!!

[That’s okay. I don’t mind if you’re jealous. I’d be jealous too.]

However, I’ll be re-posting some of the first recipes I posted here. Since starting this blog in February, I’ve gained a reader or two and I definitely do not want you to be missing out on any goodness.

But, for now, I’ll leave you with a final cold flour-less recipe in honor of my last day living with a kitchen that has no flour or baking supplies whatsoever. (At least now it has sugar!) Pardon the pictures, the peach syrup may have skewed the view of the rice pudding a little but but I assure you the flavor was all there and was outstanding.

Indian Rice Pudding
adapted from Alton Brown

1 c uncooked long gran or basmati rice
1 1/4 c whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole cloves
1 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c coconut milk
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla

Cook rice per usual. I cooked mine in a large nonstick saute pan so I could make the rice pudding right away.

In a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat, combine the cooked rice, milk, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Heat until the mixture begins to boil. Decrease the heat to low and cook at a simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently, approximately 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium, add the heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken again, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Once the mixture just begins to thicken, remove from the heat and take out cinnamon and cloves. Transfer the mixture to individual serving dishes or a glass bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Serve chilled or at room temperature with peaches.

Peaches in Orange Syrup
adapted from a magazine but I don’t remember which. oops.

3.5 oz sugar
2 c water
2 oranges, zested and juiced
10 ripe peaches, skins on

Bring sugar, water, orange zest, and orange juice to boil. Bubble for 5 minutes. Add the peaches and boil them over. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until peaches are soft, turning them occasionally. The skins will begin turning the syrup into a beautiful shade of red/orange. Once peaches are done, remove peaches, allow to cool a little and remove their skins. Meanwhile, bring the reserved liquid to boil for 10 minutes or until it becomes a thick syrup. Pour over peaches when serving.

Stay cool! I’ll be in rainy London/Ireland!

– Sharlene

White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

REMINDER: CUPCAKE HERO JULY [COCONUT] ENTRIES DUE JULY 17TH!! Email me at smalltownoven[at]gmail[dot]com!

JULY 17TH!!!!!!

ENTER NOW!!!!!!

The weather has been absolutely disgusting this week.

Hot.

Humid.

Muggy.

Gross.

For the better half of the week, it was just terrible. You’d march out the door, walk five steps, and immediately want to go back inside where it’s air-conditioned and your anti-perspirant isn’t 500% necessary.

Today, however, it was beautiful out.

The sun shone, the air was clear, and life was good.

I delivered 4 babies today. That may have helped. Two of those were twins. That may have helped too.

I sutured, I stapled, I came, I saw, I conquered.

Today was a bright spot in a dreary week (well, a dreary week that included meeting Alec Baldwin).

The only thing that kept me going this week in the grossness that was NYC?

These strawberries.

I kid you not.

I’d run home after work and go straight for the refrigerator. Right to these here strawberries.

My only regret is that I only made a pint.

Next time, there will be more.

Heaven.


White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp lemon zest
6 oz white chocolate, chopped
1 pint ripe strawberries

Instructions
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Rub the sugar and zest together with fingertips until moist and fragrant. Set aside. Melt white chocolate either over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave, make sure to heat in small increments to prevent freezing up of the chocolate.

Dip strawberries into chocolate to coat 2/3 of the berry. Shake excess into bowl. Sprinkle citrus sugar on top of the chocolate. Place on prepared sheet. Once all the berries are dipped, chill in the refrigerator until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Hope you’re surviving the heat/cold or whatever you have where you are 🙂

– Sharlene

Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding

REMINDER: CUPCAKE HERO JULY [COCONUT] ENTRIES DUE JULY 17TH!! Email me at smalltownoven[at]gmail[dot]com!

onto the entry..

No flour. No baking powder. No baking soda. Sugar but only in the form of packets.

You have just entered the twilight zone.

Just kidding.

You’re actually in the studio I’m staying in for the month.

I KNOW.

Such a place exists? you may ask. And my answer would be Sad, but true.

So what is a girl to do when she yearns to bake all day every day but has an empty kitchen smaller than her closet at home??

[Back story: I’m staying with a friend in NYC because I’m doing a rotation here for a month. She lives in a studio with a kitchen that actually has less than a square foot of provided counter space. I’m talking fridge, sink, stove. She installed a countertop that is on a hinge so you can fold it down when you don’t want it which works because you can’t really move when it’s set up. It’s tiny. So she doesn’t cook. Or bake.]

I racked my brain for ideas on how I could get my fix. And I though PUDDING!

What a fantastic idea! I needed to buy a few ingredients, yes, but not nearly as many as if I were to make cookies, cupcakes, etc which were all first on my list.

So here I am with pudding. And oreos.

Because for some reason I’m obsessed with oreos these days. No lectures on how obscenely unhealthy they are for you please.

If you’ve ever had dirt pudding, it’s usually made with vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and oreos. I decided to make it a cinnamon pudding and add in some bananas to make it a little fancier. Can I tell you? This version of dirt pudding is delicious. The cinnamon pudding itself is unbelievable and could very well stand on its own but add it to some oreos, bananas, and whipped topping? Good gravy we have a winner!

If you’re low on flour, or even if you’re not, let me introduce you to my friend Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding. BEST friend, in fact.

Cinnamon Pudding
adapted from Sweet World

Ingredients
2/3 c sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 cups milk (I used whole)
3 egg yolks
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk. Then add the yolks and cinnamon stick.

Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with whisk, approximately 7-8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly 1 to 2 minutes, until pudding is thick. Remove the pan from the stove.

Strain the pudding into a medium bowl. Add the cinnamon and whisk until the cinnamon is completely mixed in. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Leave the pudding on the counter for 30 minutes, until lukewarm then place in the refrigerator to completely cool down.

Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding
a smalltownoven original

1 recipe chilled Cinnamon Pudding (see above)
2-3 large bananas
1/2 tub Cool Whip
1 package oreos

Instructions
Crush oreos in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, frying pan, etc. Set aside. Slice bananas however thickness desired. Set aside.

In a serving container (I used an 8×8 brownie pan because it’s all I could find) layer the oreos, pudding, whipped topping, and bananas. Continue layering with oreos, pudding, whipped topping, and finish with oreos, reserving a handful or two. I only did one layer of bananas. It’s up to you.

Chill for several hours before serving to allow oreos to soften. Just before serving, top with remaining crushed cookies for a little crunch.

Simple but delicious!

Blueberry Pancakes

REMINDER: CUPCAKE HERO JULY [COCONUT] ENTRIES DUE JULY 17TH!! Email me at smalltownoven[at]gmail[dot]com!

onto the entry..

I have to tell you a secret.

I didn’t always like breakfast.

Oh come on! Sit down! Don’t leave! I LOVE breakfast now!

HONEST!

Okay so let me explain. In my house growing up breakfast was never a big deal. Sure we had fried eggs on the weekends sometimes with some fried rice (oh how I adore my dad’s fried rice!) and maybe if we were lucky my mom found some sausages in the freezer. On rare occasion we ate pancakes or french toast but it would always be a mix or something frozen.

They don’t do breakfast in the Philippines like they do breakfast here. How was I supposed to know?

In high school, when I started hanging out with people at IHOP, I finally understood.

WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING ALL MY LIFE?!

These days all I seem to order at the diner (I’m from Jersey. We go to diners. Don’t judge me.) is breakfast. The french toast calls my name. The waffles with ice cream make my tummy growl. And the pancakes? Don’t even get me started on the pancakes.

When I make breakfast at home it’s usually simple. Oatmeal or yogurt with granola are my usuals. They don’t involve a pan that needs washing and can be made quickly. I’m a mover! I gotta move! No time to sit around mixing batter!

But the second I found time on my hands and blueberries on my counter, I knew I had to do something about it.

Hence the first pancakes I’ve made in a long long time.

And ohhhhhh were they winners!! They actually only took a few minutes to whip up, literally the time it took to preheat my pan. They were light and airy and everything a pancake should be. And for me, pancakes are all about the butter on top. Butter IN the pancake? Even better. I highly recommend these. Thanks, smitten kitchen!

Blueberry Pancakes
adapted from smitten kitchen; originally from Martha Stewart’s Original Classics Cookbook

This is a half recipe and I ate it for breakfast for 3 days. Not sure how many that made.

Ingredients
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or slightly less table salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the griddle/pan
1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen/thawed

Instructions

Prepare griddle or, if you don’t have one like me, heat a frying pan with 1/2 tbsp of butter so that it browns a bit (I find butter makes pancakes brown better than anything else).

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter, and whisk to combine. The batter should have small to medium lumps.

If using a griddle, Deb says to test it by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If the water bounces and spatters, the griddle is hot enough and 1/2 tsp of butter can be brushed on with a pastry brush. Wipe off the excess with a folded paper towel. Personally, I just assume I’m going to throw out my first batch anyway and I go for it.

Ladle about 1/2 cup for a 6-inch pancake into the pan, pouring the batter in pools 2 inches apart. Arrange a handful of blueberries over the cooking pancake, pressing them in slightly. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip them over. If any batter oozes or blueberries roll out, push them back under with your spatula. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.

Repeat with the remaining batter. You can keep the finished pancakes on a heat-proof plate in the oven at 175°F. Serve warm.

I topped mine with leftover mint and white chocolate whipped cream from my winning cupcakes. Oh yum.

Loves it!

– Sharlene

Chocolate Mousse

“I know you forgot about me but it’s okay I won’t tell anyone.”

On Tuesdays, Grand Rounds for Internal Medicine are held at 8am at the hospital I’m at right now. As medical students and residents, we show up at 7am every day for sign-out (the team on at night tells the day team what happened to their patients etc), eat breakfast depending on the resident (mine believes in this thank goodness), and then round on patients. On Tuesdays, you see as many patients as you can before 8 with enough time to make it to the conference room to snag a seat in the back where no one will see if you (accidentally) fall asleep despite the 2 cups of coffee you’ve already had (really just one cup but a 16- or 24-oz cup is really not a single cup at all, let’s not kid ourselves).

Yesterday, however, while I was sitting at the nurses’ station trying to copy down labs for one of my patients, my two residents proceeded to walk by, chit-chatting, and forgot to pick me up to go to rounds. Being the good little student that I am, I saw them, grabbed my stuff, and proceeded to trot after them without saying a word.
Halfway to the elevator, my one resident saw me out of the corner of her eye, scowled, and didn’t look my way again.

She thought I was a creepo stalker.

I’m not a stalker! I’m your med student! Remember me? We’ve been together for over a week now! We laugh and I’m eager to learn? Hello?

When we finally reached the elevator and they had no choice but to turn around they figured it out.

We had a good laugh. I really do love my residents and they’ve never done anything mean to me whatsoever to make me think they intentionally left me behind. All was quickly forgiven and forgotten.


The same thing happened with me and chocolate mousse except it was I who forgot, not the mousse.

Chocolate mousse was one of the first things I tried out as a young baker. Sometime around 13 or 14 I started trying out things other than boxed cakes and mousse and apple pie were at the top of my list. I often made mousse throughout high school because it was light and comforted me through the stresses of teenage angst (I grew up in the era of Dawson’s Creek) while making me feel as if I wasn’t eating a bajillion calories that would contribute to any amount of embarrassing weight gain. I was, after all, trying to obtain the affection of some popular guy who didn’t even know my name. Must. Be. Skinny. So. Guy. Notices. You. [Mind you, I graduated with 700 other kids so this was quite the task I was setting myself to. By the way, the guy never noticed me. Surprise surprise!] But, yes, mousse became one of my favorite things to make.

For some reason, I haven’t attempted a mousse since those high school days and when I thought of it the other day, knew I had to make it. I don’t know what recipe I made in high school but the one I found from David Lebovitz definitely did the trick. Oh and bonus? Boy loved it too. And we don’t really care if the other gets fat. [Boy, if you’re reading this, please don’t get fat. That can lead to diabetes, cancer, and heart problems. I know you know this and that you’re more conscious of healthy eating than I am but just thought I’d remind you. Kisses!]

So chocolate mousse, I’m sorry I forgot you for all those years. It’s nothing compared to my residents forgetting me for two minutes. But I’m glad you’ve forgiven me and tasted just as good as I remember. You’re the bestest. Let’s do this again sometime, yes?

Chocolate Mousse
adapted from David Lebovitz who adapted it from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

Makes 6-8 servings depending on the size. I opted for 6.

Ingredients
4 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
2/3 c, plus 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 c dark-brewed coffee
2 tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp water

Instructions
Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks. Whip in the tbsp of sugar and beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff. Add vanilla.

In a medium bowl, place the chocolate, butter, and coffee. Heat the bowl over a pot of simmering water (about 1/3 full), stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat.

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. In another large bowl [bowl #4!], set over the pot of simmering water, whisk [or use a hand mixer] the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of sugar, the rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. Remove from heat and place the bowl of yolks in the bowl of ice water. Beat until cool and thick.

Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporate. Don’t over-fold or the mousse will collapse! Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Delish!

– Sharlene