Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cupcakery Indeed

Mini Guiness Cupcake

And the celebrations keep on keepin' on! (Which is why I have not been blogging. Or at least, that's my excuse ;)) Last week was my friend's birthday (on Friday the 13th no less) but since we were all swamped, we celebrated with dinner on the following Wednesday at the Maple Garden Peking Duck Restaurant (one of our two standby dining places for girls' nights out--maybe we need to branch out. But it's so gooood!!!!) Let me just say, we in the girls club are all Asian, so you can rest assured that there is never any shortage of food (or any lack of putting food on each other's plates). Despite that (and knowing that they would be providing us with complimentary ice cream), I held firm to my belief that a birthday is not a birthday unless there is cake. And since I still had 4 bottles of Guinness left from my coworker's birthday, it seemed only natural and frugal of me to make some more Guinness cupcakes.

Jiao Yian Pai Gu

But before we got to the desserts, we had an entire duck (naturally, since this is a Peking duck restaurant!), followed by a plate of stir-fried crabs (not on the menu and something we get special--it's good to be regulars), then followed by rice, greens, and one of my favorite things of all time, jiao yian pai gu. In English, that translates to salt & pepper pork chops, but we call them Crack Chops because they are SO DARNED ADDICTIVE. I can't figure out how they do it, and I don't care, as long as I get to eat them.

Macarons from Artichoke Cafe

Finally, it was dessert time, and I hauled out my box of mini Guinness cupcakes (because they are so tiny, I had to core out the center to make room for the ganache with one of my small piping tips. Do you know how hard it is to get cake crumbs out of a piping tip?!). Then the birthday girl presented a box of macarons made at her cafe--but wait, there was even more! She even brought along brownies and a couple of slabs of cake, and that was when the waiter showed up with our dish of ice cream (and obligatory fortune cookies and orange slices). At this point, we were all groaning and holding our bellies, but I took a break by taking some photos. You can kind of see in that macaron photo that the left side of the photo is somewhat brighter--that's because my dear friend was trying to assist me by using her Blackberry's screen as a light. We were definitely getting some funny looks from the adjacent table (who had already been staring at us, probably because we demolished so much food. Or was it because we were laughing like hyenas?)

I discovered that I have a second stomach for ice cream. And my fortune? "You should be able to undertake and complete anything." (Obviously they were talking about dinner!) (Although I ended up toting home more food than I had brought, including macarons, one leftover cupcake, a brownie, a slice of red velvet cake, and the duck bones, which are currently simmering away for soup!)

Tiramisu Cupcake

And as soon as I got home, I was back in baking mode, for my coworker's birthday. I had emailed her sister to ask what her favorite cake flavor was; the response was "I don't know about cake, but she likes tiramisu." Well okay then! I went with tiramisu cupcakes. I didn't actually eat any of these, but did taste the mascarpone filling--yum. I guess you can't really go wrong with mascarpone, alcohol, coffee, and sugar.

Senior & Junior

And here is your bonus shot, a tiramisu cupcake next to a tiny Guinness cupcake. A still life representing happiness and joy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Apartment is now a Cupcakery


Whew, did I say that May was a big birthday month? I think I am wrong--I think there are way more birthdays in August to be celebrated. It started in the beginning of the month with my cube-neighbor, who, poor guy, has had to put up with me for way too long. Although, funny story (I really hope he never reads this)--he has this tendency to fall asleep at work (sleep apnea, he says) and for the 4 years that I've worked with him, I've tried and tried to get a photo of him asleep (he sleeps totally upright, one hand on the keyboard, one on the mouse, like he's just REALLY deep in thought) and every single time I whip out the camera, he wakes up. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Anyway, that was kind of a digression, wasn't it? What I was going to say is, the man loves his beer. And so, what could be more appropriate than beer cupcakes? (Well, maybe I could have just gotten him a case of beer, but where's the fun in that?) And so I was googling away (at work, shhh) and came across this brilliant recipe for Guinness cupcakes over at Smitten Kitchen. They seem so over the top--Guinness in the cupcakes, Baileys in the frosting, whiskey in the ganache filling...perfect!


I resisted the urge to make these super girly with pink sugar. See, I am considerate. Chocolate shavings are slightly more manly! Anyway, I waffled a bit about actually filling the cupcakes because the cakes themselves are so moist that I thought it would be too much. In the end, I stuck with the recipe, but omitted the whiskey. It did make it insanely indulgent and rich, but hey, it's a birthday! And the frosting--holy yum.


Over the weekend, I made a batch of mini buttermilk cupcakes for my friend's cafe--is there anything more cheery than a pile of mini cupcakes in the afternoon sunlight?

Teeny Cupcake

Okay, how about a chocolate frosted mini cupcake? AREN'T THEY CUTE??? I know I'm a sucker for all things small and mini, but dang, these are especially cute. I hope they went over well! (By the way, in case you are interested, a standard sized cake recipe makes 81 mini cupcakes. 81 PEOPLE!!)

Mamegoma & cupcake

And last, but not least, Mamegoma wants to wish a belated happy birthday to bento blogging buddy Bentobird! (Mamegoma picked out the sugar flower on this one ;)).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Watermelon Granita

Watermelon Granita

A couple of weeks ago in the midst of the heat wave (oh it was so hot), I was holed up in my bedroom, sitting on top of the air conditioner, reading foodblogs for ideas for icy treats. And, like a bolt from the sky, I saw this post from Petra of Zoom Yummy. (Have you seen her blog? It keeps me giggling constantly. And hungry.) Granita! Brilliant idea! Cold, sweet, delicious, none of the guilt associated with ice cream--I was sold.

I also had no oranges. SOB.

But, according to an old work evaluation form that I found the other day, I am able to adapt in tricky situations. Surely you will agree with me that this was a tricky situation!

Oh have I mentioned the fact that I've had an unbroken supply of watermelon in the fridge? And that I was starting to get tired (blasphemy!) of watermelon juice? What better way to revive my love affair with watermelon than to turn it into a delicious, sparkly, icy, pink granita!

No need for a recipe. Blend yourself some watermelon chunks. Pour into a shallow container (watermelon juice is so sweet you won't need to add any sugar or syrup, but you may want to try a little lemon zest or juice for zing!). Stick in freezer. Stir every hour or two to break up the ice crystals. It'll start getting slushy, then more granular, and finally, you'll have a container of granita. Scoop or scrape into a bowl, and eat. Or directly into your mouth. Either way, mmmmm. Nothing better on a hot summer day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

All the Things I've Been Eating


Hi everyone! Well here we are at Sunday again--where does the time go? Why aren't weekends ever long enough? Sigh. Well, I guess I should stop moping--I mean, it's still only Sunday afternoon, so I still have a few hours to do whatever I feel like. Anyway, right now, I feel like sharing some of the things I've been eating lately, in lieu of any content containing recipes (hey, it's Sunday after all!) First, the weather has finally cooled just enough for me to turn my oven on. HOORAY! The first thing to emerge from the oven is these plain shortbreads. I cut them with a pie-pastry cutter which has a vein pattern stamp built in and then dusted them with some green sugar I found lurking in my freezer. (I went through this phase a while back where I discovered how easy it is to tint sugar with gel paste.) I quite like the way they came out!


And of course, green leaves made me think of Yatta and now I can't get the song out of my head. (In fact, I just rewatched that video AGAIN.)

Apple Frangipane Tart @ Ouest

I had dinner with my girls this past week which is always a blast. We went to Ouest on the Upper West Side (because I had been meaning to try it out for ages) and had a delicious meal. We did show up a little late for our reservation and thus were banished to a table by a waiter station, but I suppose that's our fault! Anyway, the important thing was the food, and our favorite thing all night (well, mine, anyway!) was this apple frangipane tart with caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream. I wanted to lick the plate (I didn't, you'll be happy to know). But we also had delicious braised short ribs and a gorgeous piece of pork belly and soft shelled crabs...I walked home. It put the smallest dent in the number of calories we consumed, but hey! It's the effort.


About a week ago, my family and I had dinner at L'ecole, which is run by the French Culinary Institute and staffed by its students. They have a pretty good value dinner menu of either 4 or 5 courses (depending on what time you go) for $42. And the quality of the food is pretty good (although I thought the service was a bit patchy). Plus, you get a little treat to take home; ours were these crumbcakes, which made a nice breakfast the next morning. I only took a couple of photos because of the lighting, but the two below were my favorites: roasted shrimp and my chocolate tart.


I can't remember what type of ice cream the tart was served with (perhaps coconut, judging from the garnish) but what I do remember is the disk of caramelized bananas the tart was set on. Oh boy! They really made this dessert and I would definitely not have enjoyed it nearly as much without the bananas.

Oh dear, well, look at the time. I have to go get some Guinness cupcakes into the oven. Don't worry, I'll tell you about that next time (and about the zongzi we made this weekend, yum!) Hope you had a great weekend!

2315 Broadway
New York, NY 10024
Tel: 212-580-8700

462 Broadway
New York, NY 10013
Tel: 212-291-3300