Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy new year!


Hope your holidays were great--mine was, but no time to do real post! But just want to say, it's been a great year, and I've really enjoyed getting to know some of you fellow bloggers! Mr. Snowman and I want to wish you a happy new year--see you in 2011!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

LES Girls Club Cookie Swap-The Results!

stuffed chocolate cookies

So, the cookie sale was yesterday and it was a great success!! Over $9,000 raised for the Lower Eastside Girls Club's culinary training program! And we seemed to have lots of satisfied customers (I had one adorable young boy who was a repeat customer), so hurrah! And to my great surprise, I won second place! But I'm kind of getting ahead of myself, so read on!

Packed cookies

These are just some of the cookies I brought (I was up preeeeetty late the night before) These are a variation on the Rolo cookies, except they're stuffed with caramel, coconut, and pecans instead of Rolos. Anyway, I got to Le Vie with no mishaps, found my table, and said hi to my neighbors (Michele and Susan, both of who were great company!), and then immediately left to get (my second) coffee. Le Vie is a nice space, but it's a lounge and it was pretty dark in there! So, I did not get any great photos, and only got a couple of "okay" photos. But this year I had the foresight to go around and buy cookies before the doors opened...because once they did, we were all super busy selling! Okay, I'm going to stop talking so much and post some more photos:

Polka Dots

Polka Dots, dairy free sesame cookies from Susan.

Chocolate Toffee Cranberry Deliciousness

Chocolate Toffee Cranberry Deliciousness, from my other neighbor, Michele. Love the name of this cookie!


Gorgeous chocolate and candy cane cookies. Yeah, that's pretty much it for the photos that were actually taken AT the sale, but fortunately I did buy cookies and was able to take some better photos this morning:

The Loot!

Okay, now, I just have to say, this tin was for my brother, so I didn't get to taste everything. Well, hopefully he will report back!


Just some of the selection available. The brownie in the center of the top row was the 3rd place winner (I did not manage to get a cookie from the winner! Boo!)


A more detailed view. Aren't they all gorgeous? The judges walked around and sampled cookies and chatted with the bakers, which was great! I met Myriam Eberhardt (pastry chef at DBGB*, Sue Torres (chef/owner of Sueno), Nichelle Stephens of Cupcakes Take the Cake, Julie Christopher (from King Arthur Flour! Yay!), Jen Shelbo (pastry chef of Maialino), and Josh Ozersky, food writer/blogger/critic. At first I was deeply envious of their mission, but then I realized that they were going to be eating 25 cookies at one shot, and even if you only ate half of each cookie....that's still a WHOLE LOT OF SUGAR. Which might have done Josh in, because he mysteriously disappeared--I blame sugar crash.

Anyway, here's where I get self-indulgent--I don't think I've ever posted a photo of myself on this blog, but hey! I have to commemorate this somehow! So here's me with my gift basket prize!

I'm #2!

There is so much stuff in it, but I am most excited about the King Arthur Flour cookie book (and the prosecco, heh!)--can't wait to start trying out recipes from it!!! So, thank you to the Lower Eastside Girls Club for putting on an awesome event, thank you to the sponsors (Fiji Water, King Arthur Flour, Mionetto Prosecco and Green & Black Chocolate), and thanks to the judges, and thanks to my friends who came out!! I am not responsible for any weight gain :) Can't wait for next year!!

*Afterwards, we went to DBGB to get some sausages and beer and Myriam came out to say hi! And then she sent us a whole bunch of desserts! Totally unexpected, but so nice. Here is a really terrible photo of us. Also, here is a better photo of me and Julie Christopher--okay, time to go start reading my new cookie books!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookie Test Run

stuffed cookie

I made a mini batch of the cookies I'm planning to bring to the LES Girls Club Cookie Bakeoff as a test run--what do you think? I'm pretty pleased with them! This is a variation on the ever-popular Rolo stuffed cookie, except instead of Rolos, it's stuffed with:

pecans & coconut

Toasted coconut and pecans! And a whole lotta caramel mixed in there too. Now I just have to make 6 dozen of these...:)

Don't forget to buy your tickets here!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Second Annual Lower Eastside Girls Club Holiday Cookie Bakeoff & Benefit!


So, I can hardly believe how fast a year has gone by! It's already time for what is one of my new favorite holiday events, the Lower Eastside Girls Club Cookie Bakeoff! Long time readers (heh, if you've stuck around for a year, I consider you a long time reader ;)) may remember my post about this fab event last year. Well, go take a look anyway, and get yourself in the mood! (And by the way, those are the monster cookies from Sarah over at Accoutrements Online--my favorite photo from last year's event. I hope this year I actually get to taste some of the cookies :))

Anyway, if you are in the NYC area, I highly recommend you come check this out. First, there are cookies (which will be priced between $0.50 and $2.00)! Lots of cookies, baked by 25 volunteers who obviously love cookies (including me!). Secondly, a $15 ticket gets you a cookie tin, a glass of prosecco, and the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out a great organization that provides important services in the community! I mean, how often can you say that about spending $15?

And if you need further motivation and are a baking nerd, you can meet some celebrities in the baking world! For more details and to purchase your ticket in advance (HIGHLY recommended, don't wait until you get to the door), click here.

Ahem, as for my cookie, I am still in the experimental phase. But rest assured, it will be over the top and be full of chocolate. Come on by, say hi :)

Second Annual Lower Eastside Girls Club Holiday Cookie Bakeoff & Benefit

Saturday, December 18th
La Vie @ 64 East 1st Street (between 1/2nd aves) NYC
Tickets available here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Vancouver Post


So the reason we had early Thanksgiving was because I had a little trip planned to Vancouver to see Py, and look at what greeted me--snow! (Well, okay, actually this is what I saw when I woke up--the flight I take always gets me there in the middle of the night.) It was snowing pretty hard, as you can tell from this photo, and I was excited to see it as it's still in the 50s in NYC. (Not that I'm complaining!) Unfortunately, it rained the rest of the time I was there, which is fine, but not so great for photos (or walking around outside).

Portugese egg tart

Nevertheless, we ate well, with some revisits to favorite places like Honjin Sushi and Alpha (mmmm garlic pepper tuna). We also checked out Gyoza King (where the food is great and the signs are hilarious, I especially liked their options for smokers) and Campagnolo, another keeper. I had a great pizza there, and if I had had room, would have gone for the zeppoles--alas. Next time, maybe! Of course, the egg tart above has nothing to do with any of those restaurants; I picked that up at T&T, an awesome Asian grocery. Oh man, their bakery section is amazing! And the people who work there are soooooo much friendlier than at the NYC equivalent (where they are surly at best). They had like 18 types of pineapple buns! Egg tarts (Portugese and regular)! All kinds of seafood, including lots of different kinds of fishballs! The egg tart was yummy, but of course, not quite as awesome as the one we had in Macau. Anyway, I love this supermarket and could spend hours there.

Kimono Koi Crepes

I did get to drop by Kimono Koi Crepes, which I had found out about from Panda Fresh Bakery (sadly, I did not get a chance to visit them this time--sniffle, I really wanted to try their pumpkin pie croissant!!!). It was a really rainy day, so you totally can't tell, but their cart is bright pink. It's very girly AND it's got plastic food models. (It's parked on the corner of Georgia and Granville.) And of course, the proprietors are super friendly (a theme of this city, I find).

Brownie banana crepe

After extensive evaluation of the menu, I went with a brownie banana crepe; mounds of whipped cream, banana slices, nutella drizzle, a chunk of brownie, sprinkles, and a strawberry Pocky, all rolled into a crepe. Over the top? Definitely. Delicious? Yes! A bit rich, maybe, but this is an indulgence, not an everyday kind of thing (they do have savory options, too, which sound like they would make a good lunch). It was much prettier when I first got it, but since it was raining, I took it back to the apartment to eat in comfortable dryness, so it's a bit messy looking.

Bakers Market

And then over the weekend we discovered an event that is pretty much designed for me: the Bakers Market! It's only on for two more weekends but if you like baked goods at all (and are in Vancouver) you must go! It's so great! If I lived in Vancouver, you can bet I would be there selling stuff. We ate a lot of samples, and, as seems to be a theme in Vancouver, all of the bakers were super friendly.

Macarons from Für Elise Patisserie

I wanted to buy pretty much everything I saw, but restricted myself to this pack of macarons from Für Elise Patisserie and a bag of parmesan rosemary shortbreads (which I forgot to take a photo of) from Bah! (what a great name, huh?) Actually the shortbreads were for Py, but we shared :) I kind of hope they make this a year round event so the next time I'm there, I can check out some more yummy stuff.


And since the Olympic Village was right next to the Bakers Market, we went to go check it out. It's a fairly uninteresting block of apartments (apparently quite controversial) but there are, inexplicably, two enormous bird statues in the courtyard. I'm pretty sure they are planning to destroy Vancouver...

Another fab trip, if way too short. I am really bummed to be back, but at least December is a really busy month, then Py will be here for a visit, woohoo!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Well ahem, actually, by the time this publishes, I'll be in beautiful Vancouver (actually, according to the weather reports, it's supposed to rain or snow every day I'm there...) for a short break. I'm not sure what we'll be having for Thanksgiving dinner, but I'm sure it'll be good (and will not be turkey). So anyhow, since I am going to be out of town, I went home and had a little pre-Thanksgiving celebration with my family.

For the last couple of years, we've deep-fried a turkey; this year, my brother decided to go with roasting. The turkey was brined with salt, oregano, and a LOT of garlic. Okay, usually I'm not down with roasting, because in my experience, it results in a dry turkey, but this one was juicy and delicious! And because of the brining, the skin was really tasty (I kind of just wanted to eat the skin, actually).


Side 1, brussels sprouts, parboiled and then sauteed with olive oil and lemon. I probably should have let them brown a bit more.


Side 2, chorizo and mushroom stuffing (using a loaf of my brother's bread). I loooove stuffing, but my stuffing still needs work. I hate to admit it, but I kinda miss the plain old Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix that we ate as kids. Or maybe that's just nostalgia talking. Not pictured are sides 3 and 4, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce (with orange juice and zest)--oh, and gravy. Another thing I need to work on!


My first plate (you know how I complain about not having enough natural light to shoot pictures with during the winter? Okay, in this case, TOO much light.) I won't tell you how many plates this is the first of.


And of course, you can't have Thanksgiving without dessert--I'm very proud of this crust edge.


Not that it stayed that way after baking, HMPH. But oh well, taste trumps appearance, and hey, how can you go wrong with pumpkin pie? This one wasn't as rich as I usually make them, since I had no sour cream on hand. Which is probably just as well!


And with the crust trimmings, I decided to make a little freeform cranberry sauce tart (what was I saying about too much light? eek!)


Hey, presto! Bonus dessert!

Okay, I must run--gotta pack! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! And if you overindulge, I recommend some restorative ginger tea. :) Me, I hope I have time to hit up Panda Fresh Bakery and maybe check out some of the other food trucks on the scene (like Kimono Koi Crepes! Mmm, crepes.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Brother the Bread Baker


Hey, did you know that I'm not the only baker in my family? My brother is something of a genius with bread (to me, at least--I am okay but not great at yeast, so I am always super impressed with what he makes. I hope he is as impressed with my pastries, hehe.) and lately he's been experimenting with sourdough, and more importantly, finally taking pictures of the stuff he bakes (I will consider that to be my influence...can it be long before he starts his own blog??) So, anyhow, I thought I'd show off some of his bread here. All of these photos are his.


And here's the sourdough starter--I believe all of the breads on this post are sourdough based (well, maybe not the melon pan, but I'll have to confirm). He gave me some a couple of weeks ago that I used for sourdough pancakes and the rest is languishing in the back of my fridge. I should probably feed it...yeah, I'll go do that, you guys look at the rest of these photos :)


Bad lighting, good breads!


Oh, I lied--this is the one photo I did take. It's a little blurry because man, he works fast with shaping the dough.


Check out the lovely texture on this bread...this is a fig loaf. Actually he made a new loaf of it today, and I TOTALLY FORGOT TO BRING SOME HOME. Because I am an idiot :(


Speaking of texture, how's this for a crackly crust?


Fruit loaf.


I think these maybe are rye?


More nicely textured bread innards.


Melon pan, before baking! (Melon pan, if you've never had it, is a sweet bread baked with a thin layer of cookie dough on top. Popular in Japan (but also in the rest of Asia).


And here's what they look like baked. I had one this morning for breakfast and they are deeeelicious.


One more gratuitous shot, just because I love the way these look. I keep joking with my brother that we need to join forces and open a bakery, if only we could come up with a catchy name. Anyway, maybe I will give him some pointers in lighting when he takes his photos, but what do you think, shouldn't he start his own blog?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bread Failure=Delicious Pudding

Mini loaves

I was browsing food blogs last week when I came across this post from Ping's Pickings with a recipe for a really soft Asian-bakery style bread. I was also intrigued because it's made with what is basically a pastry cream base, and her photos reminded me of the loaves of super rich, super soft bread I get at Boloniya (a Japanese bakery). Well, I think I may be in need of some new yeast, because my bread came out surprisingly dense!

Custard Bread

I made a couple of mini loaves, and although the texture is nice and fine grained, it is almost like dense sandwich bread, instead of the soft bread that I was hoping for (the kind I buy just pulls apart into long bread "ribbons", if that makes any sense). I'm going to have to give it another try with some new yeast, and maybe a longer rising time because it would be awesome to be able to make this type of bread at home.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

But of course, I'm not just going to let bread go to waste, right? And hey, this bread was just perfect for bread pudding! And since I had half a can of pumpkin left in the fridge (from the muffins I made last time), it made sense to go with an autumn-themed pumpkin bread pudding. This baked up nicely, almost caramelized along the bottom, crunchy on top, and custardy in the center, with little pockets of hot sugary ginger throughout. Have some bread to use up? Try this.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
approximately 4 cups of bread cubes (3/4")

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg until smooth. Fold in raisins, ginger, and bread cubes, and let stand for 20-30 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Pack into buttered baking dish(es) (either an 8" square, or custard cups, or individual bakers, or whatever you feel like) and bake until an inserted knife comes out clean. I baked mine in two individual bakers and a mini loaf pan and it took about 30 minutes. Eat warm or hot. It would be great with a little maple syrup...or there's always ice cream!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Leisurely Sunday


Brr, it sure is getting cold here in NYC--the radiator occasionally kicks in but I haven't gotten around to taking my air conditioner out of the window, so it's still pretty nippy in the apartment. Fortunately I have lots of warm pajamas, and nothing warms the place up like cooking or baking. The farmer's market by me is still going strong, but the tomatoes and zucchinis of the summer have been replaced by potatoes (I picked up some gorgeously colored purple and pink ones), apples of an incredible variety, hard squashes, and jugs of cider. There's a great mushroom stand too, and I succumbed to a big handful of super fresh, beautiful mushrooms (they're going to be sauteed with olive oil and garlic and topped with an egg).

Brussels Sprouts

I also picked up a stalk of brussels sprouts. I know, this is a vegetable you either love or hate, or in my case, you start off hating it and end up loving it. I LOOOOOOOVE these now, especially roasted, and I extra love them when they come on a stalk like this. Not that I'm eating the stalk, but it looks cool--a brussels sprout spear! I also bought a bunch of carrots and some sweet potatoes, which I made into a sweet soup with a bunch of ginger. Perfect for fighting off any sniffles.

almost instant apple pie

I went a little nuts buying apples--there were just so many varieties to choose from, so I bought one or two of each. For a quick, almost instant pie, I chopped up a winesap, a Mcintosh, and a golden delicious apple, tossed them with a bit of cinnamon and lemon juice, and packed them into a small baking dish (bought these on sale ages ago--great for single portions!) and then baked it with a square of puff pastry from Trader Joe's. So simple, so good. The apples are so sweet that they didn't need any sugar added, and they baked down into a lovely sweet, sticky consistency. Actually I could probably dispense with the pastry and just eat the apples next time. But it was perfect to eat while watching movies (Kiki's Delivery Service, so good) with, you guessed it, a big cup of tea.

Sunday's winding down, and tomorrow's the start of another busy week. I've got some cookie testing to do, too, but that'll probably have to wait until next weekend! (In the meantime, are any of you watching the Walking Dead? I can't decide whether I like this series or not, yet.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the Gang

Just a quick note to say Happy Halloween to everyone! By the way, this is what happens when you are too lazy to lug a pumpkin home. Improvisation! :D (You can see Mr. Pumpkin-Duck trying to sneak in in the background.) Updates later with more photos, maybe, but for now I'm off to go buy ingredients for baking :D

Thursday, October 28, 2010



Man, I remember the days when I had time to post 3 times a week--those days seem so far away. I don't know how other bloggers do it (giving up sleep, maybe?). Although actually it's not even that I don't have time to blog, it's more like I don't have time to bake and therefore have nothing to blog about! Anyway, things were pretty calm last weekend (which I mostly spent sleeping--oh, sweet, sweet sleep) so once I finally woke up, I decided it was the right time to get back into it. And boy did it feel good (and taste better!) Plus, I got to use one of my alpaca cups that I brought back from the Sheep and Wool Festival--okay, I know it's not a good shot of the cup, but I assure you, it is cute :)


So, let's talk about Vanillekipferl! They are almond and butter based cookies from Austria (but popular in Germany as well) and are traditionally shaped in a crescent. Because they're shaped, they take a bit more effort than drop cookies or slice-and-bake ones, but I find it frankly relaxing to sit at my coffee table and roll dough. Of course, as you can see from the photo above, I did not exactly achieve consistency in the size or shape of my cookies, but that's okay. I like the rustic look, it says "homemade" ;).

Starting the day with a smile

Besides, with all these varied shapes, you are sure to find two that are perfect for eyebrows :). (This picture also gives you a better idea of the size of the cookies--pretty small! Almost bite sized.) If you find yourself with a spare hour or two, these would be a great way to spend that time. I mean, how can you go wrong with almonds, sugar, and butter? Especially with a cup of hot tea and some applesauce on the side....

There are a ton of Vanillekipferl recipes on the internet, but I used this one from Delicious Days; if you don't have a kitchen scale and don't feel like doing the conversions, then you can try this one.

(I hope this weekend I'll have time to catch up on everyone's blogs!)