Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fish pie for a nontraditional Feast of Seven Fishes

Fish Pie!

Up until a week ago, when a coworker friend of mine mentioned wanting to hold one, I didn't know anything about the Feast of the Seven Fishes; now, I still don't know anything about it, besides what I just read on Wikipedia. (Isn't it strange to think that there are now generations growing up who will probably never have to learn how to do research in a library because of the ready availability of information on the Internet? Am I showing my age, or what?) But anyhow, it is apparently a mostly Italian-American tradition to celebrate Christmas Eve. I couldn't find anything too concrete about whether there are specific dishes that are supposed to be eaten, but the general idea is that they should be fish-themed, and there should be seven of them. And, anyway, a cocktail party consisting of fish-themed nibbles?? Sign me up!

Fish Pie's Soulless Eye

Of course, I offered to bring dessert. I had initially kicked around the idea of bringing a stargazy pie but I didn't have enough time to buy fish (thanks to all you can eat/drink happy hour in Koreatown) and didn't feel like lugging a fish pie around all day! So I made apple pie instead, and shaped it like a fish. Cheating? Perhaps! Tasty? Naturally! I went with the less filling more crust version because it lent itself to shaping much more readily than a traditional pie, and because I love this recipe so. I think this is the 4th or 5th time I've made it now, incidentally.

Eye socket and scales

Okay, so I didn't pack the apples down enough, and so the eyesocket looks a bit frightening, but aren't the scales neat? I cut them with just a regular old round biscuit cutter from the scraps and stuck them on with milk. I wish I had gotten photos of the other fish food (taramasalata, latkes with salmon, salmon pinwheels, crab dip, shrimp & pesto on endive, pissaladiere with anchovies...) but frankly, I was too busy stuffing my face. And the pie, though not fish flavored, seemed to go down well.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! It is pouring down rain here, perfect for a day of going through photos and drafting recipe posts for my Christmas Cookie Boxes this year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

LES Girls Club Holiday Cookie Swap--the results!

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Well this past weekend was very busy--as I mentioned before, I participated in the first Lower East Side Girls Club Holiday Cookie Swap and Bakeoff on Saturday and had a GREAT TIME. I did not win, but I didn't even care--it was a super fun time and I sold every single cookie I brought (about 120) and all in all, the event raised quite a bit of money for the Girls Club. Above is my display; I brought Totoro along to act as mascot (although no one recognized him!) and preside over my green tea shortbread and pineapple tarts. The judging was a bit disorganized and I wish I had had a chance to chat with them but it was so busy that I didn't chat much with anyone except for the lovely ladies on either side of me. I mostly got positive reactions to my cookies, except for the two girls who walked by and said "oh, these flavors are too...mature...for us". I'm still trying to figure out if I should be offended or not :) And, enough of my babbling, here are some photos of the other cookies on offer:

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Candy cane meringues from the lady on my right! These were the only cookies I got to taste, and they were delicious.

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Cherry Garcia cookies from the lady on my left! I really really wanted to try these, but she said they tasted just like the ice cream. Does that sound awesome or what?

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Apparently I was having shaky hands (probably from lack of sugar) when I took this, but how cute is this display? Pecan tassies! They won third place or honorable mention, I can't remember which.

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Multiple flavors of macarons. Yet another cookie I wanted to try. (Oh, let's face it--I wanted to try every single one.)

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Gorgeous biscotti!

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Monster cookies! The baker who made these also has a blog, complete with recipe, so at least I can make these myself and taste what I was missing out on. Cute name, cuter cookies!

I missed out on taking photos of the winning cookies, the ingenious Pie Pops made by Blondie and Brownie, but I have been assured by a friend who was lucky enough to score one that they were delicious. Besides, who DOESN'T want a pie on a stick? I hope someone was around to help them cart their enormous gift basket home--congratulations!!! :) The full set of photos from the event is here

Tunisienne sausage @ DBGB

Anyway, afterwards, we headed across the street to DBGB (and ran into several fellow bakers--great minds think alike!) and I had a Tunisienne. It was a fab day. Special thanks to my friends for coming out and supporting this event! Hope you had as much fun as I did. And here's hoping that they make this an annual event!

Monday, December 14, 2009

NYC area folks--Come to the Lower East Side Girls Club Cookie Swap!

LES Cookie


Looking for something to do next Saturday? Want to have holiday cookies, but don't have time to make your own? Well then this is the perfect event for you! It's a cookie swap! And I will be there with pineapple tarts and green tea shortbread in hand. Please consider helping to support this wonderful organization; they provide a lot of great resources and services to girls and young women.

Want to see what I'm bringing??

Gong xi fa cai!

Pineapple tarts! (Not these specific ones, obviously, since this photo is from Chinese New Year.)

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And matcha shortbreads. I guarantee yumminess.

Here is the info from the LES Girls Club:
Saturday, December 19th
1:00pm-3:00pm
The new Lower Eastside Girls Club's "Celebrate Cafe"
at the Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery at 1st Street, NYC

TICKETS: $15 https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/87429

Stop by to warm up during your holiday shopping! Here's how it works:

+25 volunteer "Sweet Angel" bakers have entered the "bake off" challenge and will be donating their cookies to the event.

+A panel of celebrity chefs (and you!) will judge their recipes and creative confections. Judges include chefs from Babbo, DBGB, Suenos, Cupcakes Take the Cake, and the Sweet Things Bake Shop.

+With each ticket purchase, guests will get an empty cookie tin to fill up with delicious treats, and a drink ticket for a special holiday cocktail.

+Sweet Angels will each have a table stationed inside the event and will sell their cookies for between 50c and $2 a piece.

+All proceeds will benefit the Girls Club's entrepreneurial training programs.

Event donors include: Fiji Water, Ghirardelli Chocolate, King Arthur Flour, Oxo and Mionetto Prosecco.

To purchase tickets go here: http://www.girlsclub.org/about/cookieswap

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Bakingest Time of the Year

The other day I had an OMGI'MALREADYBEHINDONCHRISTMASCOOKIES AUUUGH moment--so, yes, here I am at 10:48 p.m., baking cookies. First up? Chewy ginger cookies, with both ground and crystallized ginger. I just pulled the first pan out of the oven, and they smell amazing. These are good keeper cookies and I'm just going to wrap them well and store them in the freezer until I'm ready to pack up my boxes.

Of course, since it is 10:48 P.M., there is no good photo light available. So...you'll have to wait until the morning. Or maybe Sunday morning, because I'm going to try to make at least one type of cookie a day so that I don't have to go on a 3 day no-sleep sprint at the end! Not that that's ever happened to me before, ahem. Tomorrow...lime sabl├ęs!

Chocolate-chocolate Cupcakes

Starry Cupcakes

Birthday baking is the best kind of baking, in my opinion. But maybe I like it because it gives me an excuse to make something? At any rate--yay birthdays!

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Sugar star sprinkles may not be as elegant as silver dragees or sugar pearls, but they are undeniably festive looking and colorful! I feel a bit more cheerful just looking at this photo. This was my first time making the chocolate-chocolate cupcakes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours (my go-to!). I'm on a bit of a hunt for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe, and the problem lies in the fact that I want something that is light but not spongy. Most recipes I've tried either fall into the very airy or the dense (like poundcake) camps. So far, the frontrunner is still the Old Fashioned Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Chockylit's Cupcake Bakeshop. But I have to give these a second try. Do you want to see what the frosting is hiding?

Naked cupcake

Is weird looking, right? Kind of like an all chocolate version of the popular self-frosting nutella cupcake? That is because I am a dummy! The recipe calls for both cocoa and melted chocolate in the batter, so I dutifully melted some nice 70% chocolate and left it on the counter to cool...where it stayed until I had already put the tray of cupcakes in the oven. Frickinfrackin!#$!!#$!#%!# So I tried to stir the chocolate into the already portioned cupcakes--unsuccessfully as you can see. But actually the cupcakes were pretty good, even with the screw up, and I bet they would be even better if I had made them right. So, next time. The glaze is definitely a keeper, though!

So, I just looked at my calendar and realized how close we are to Christmas--eep! Where did the time go! I'm going to have to start making batches of dough and freezing them this weekend!