Monday, July 25, 2011

Tasty Cakes for Mom

I have said before that I was a baker before I ever got interested in cooking. Partly this is because I have a seemingly insatiable sweet tooth (I always thought you were supposed to outgrow those sorts of things, but my appetite for all things sweet seems to only be growing stronger), but mostly it’s because I love making something delicious for people I care about. Sure, I could make something savory to tell someone I love them, but there’s just something about a baked good that is guaranteed to make people smile.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Friends, I have a confession to make. It’s a bit embarrassing; promise me you won’t laugh. The other day, ostensibly to bring to my aunt’s house for tea, but really just because I felt like baking something, I made a cake. That’s not the embarrassing part. The embarrassing part is what I used to make the cake – namely, Betty Crocker Super Moist white cake mix, and powdered raspberry Jell-O. Oh, yeah. Here it is:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Lovin' (with Raspberry Curd)

I have to confess, I don’t think I’ll ever be a Southern California girl. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be able to run outside in February without worrying about snow, ice and freezing temperatures. And even though Riverside gets its share of blistering heat in the summer (it is the desert, after all), the air is blessedly dry (and Los Angeles, where we’ll be moving in a few weeks, is actually quite a bit cooler since it is on the coast).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Pasta

As anyone who has read this post will know, last year I met and fell hard for a guy – so hard that our third date was a whirlwind 24 hours in Paris (we met in London so it’s actually not as insane as it sounds, only mildly irresponsible); our fourth date was a weekend spent in New York City and at our house on Long Island, where he was introduced to my family; and the fifth was a sushi dinner the night in Riverside, California, the night I flew out there to move in with him. That was about 9 months ago, so yeah, we’re moving right along.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Magic Brownies

I started baking long before I started cooking, and it is still my preferred activity in the kitchen. To those who know me this may come as a surprise, since baking requires one to be exact, to measure out ingredients and (usually at least) to follow a recipe step by step – in short, baking is almost like science, and science and math were always my worst subjects in school. I was an English major in college for a reason, after all, and I do enjoy the relative freedom that comes from cooking, adding a little of this and a little of that, deviating from recipes to make them my own. It’s harder to do that when baking without ruining the finished product.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Viva Espana

This past weekend, while in Delaware to attend a wedding, I went out with my family to a tapas restaurant. Most people who pay attention to food trends at all will know what tapas are: they’re basically bar snacks that are served in Spain to tide people over while they have drinks before dinner. Since the dinner hour is very late in Spain, it is common to go “bar hopping” beforehand to drink a few glasses of vino and chat with your friends after work, and most places will offer a variety of small plates to go with drinks (sometimes for free: I studied in Spain one summer a few years ago, and my friends and I were delighted and surprised to be served some ham and bread with our sangria. Unfamiliar with the “snack” concept, we kept waiting hungrily for more food to arrive, which of course it never did, as you’re supposed to finish up and move on to the next place.).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Go Ahead, Have a Scone

I had my share of cream teas while getting my Master’s degree in London last year: in its simplest form, this ineffably British ritual is a little snack taken in the afternoon, consisting of a pot of tea and a scone (or two), served with clotted cream and jam. They can get much fancier (and more expensive) of course, almost like light meals, with things like tiny cucumber sandwiches and miniature cakes, but scones are always present. Traditional British scones* look something like small Southern-style biscuits, with a similar tender crumb and buttery flavor, only slightly sweet, and are often studded with currants or raisins. Of course, bakeries and coffee shops (Starbucks, for example) both in the UK and US have taken the dainty scone and morphed it into a sugar- and butter-packed behemoth of a pastry the size of a baby’s head. While admittedly delicious, they are not exactly appropriate everyday snack fare.