Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For your next Acid trip

Not that I’ve ever done acid, but I imagine if one were to do acid this would keep the eye occupied for a good long while. 
Kaleidoscope. As a kid, do you remember those paper tubes with the crystals in the bottom, you hold them up to the light and turn the base to get a lovely array of ever changing colors and patterns? My aunt sent this to my mom who in turn sent it to me =) Family sharing! And now I’m sharing it with you. It’s a computer generated kaleidoscope. It’s really just pretty and cute. If you run your cursor across the image (which is already in motion) it changes as well. Enjoy!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Mabon!

I was a bad witch this weekend. I didn’t do a full ritual for the Equinox but that’s ok. I feasted and baked and spent time with those closest to me. And as it’s a holiday of harvest and plenty I feel this was quite an alright way to spend it.
I did feel the need to make a seasonal offering in celebration though so this year I made apple bread. I brought all my ingredients over to Friends house and made a delightful apple bread. Autumn ingredients shared with  close friends is a good ritual in my book. Friends wife was tickled that I included them in my celebration. Friend responded with, well we’re practically family after all. I had mixed feelings about this but for all intents and purposes the sentiment was a warm one.
This recipe made two loafs. It was surprisingly balanced. I was afraid it would be uber sweet, but it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely had sweetness to it, but it wasn’t a smash in your face sweetness. I also used granny smith apples so there was a really nice balance.  Quite delightful. I love autumn. I love apples. I love baking with apples.

Apple Bread
Prep Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hrs 35 mins
Yield: 2 loafs
-       3 cups flour
-       1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
-       1 teaspoon baking soda
-       1 teaspoon salt
-       1/4 teaspoon baking powder
-       3 eggs
-       2 cups sugar
-       1 cup oil
-       1 tablespoon vanilla
-       2 cups diced apples ( , without skins)
-       1/2 cup chopped walnuts
-       1 teaspoon flour
-       Mix flour, cinnamon, soda, salt and baking powder together.
-       Beat eggs and add sugar and oil.
-       Add vanilla and dry ingredients.
-       Stir in apples.
-       Mix walnuts in a tsp of flour and add to batter.
-       Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.
-       Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Friday, September 23, 2011

French Apple Tart

Mmmmm it’s apple season again! Seriously I love fall. I love autumn weather, autumn holidays, autumn scents, autumn foods. And nothing is more fall-like than apples =) Last Sunday I made a big dinner for me, Roommate and her boyfriend. I made Braised Morroccan Chicken with Apricots, Turkish Almond Soup, and a French Apple Tart. All of which came out fantastically. I was stoked about the tart though. I’ve never made it before and it was simply and utterly delightful. Roommate is kind of a finicky eater, especially with desserts, and she had 3rds. And leftovers. If you like apple pie but want something a little easier to make, and a little lighter, this is the perfect compromise.

French Apple Tart
For the pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water
For the apples:
4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water
For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!
When the tart's done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture.
Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Maker Faire

Why does the weekend always end? I suppose the flip side to that is, the weekend always comes again. So, there’s something to look forward to.

I went to the NYC Maker’s Faire this weekend. I have to say, I was a little disappointed this year. Last year was the first time I went to the Maker’s Faire and it was way more odd and unusual than it was this year, hence my disappointment. Maker Faire is an outside event created to celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects, and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. So right up my alley.  Last year it seemed like there was a lot more bizarre, mad-sciencey type things going on. This year was pretty main stream technology. Call me an elitist but that’s just sort of ho-hum in my book. I want things that can take over moon bases and hold the world hostage! Or at least the awesome rocket ponies that they had last year. Have you ever though… Gee, I wonder what it would be like to strap myself onto a rocket and get propelled in insanely quick circles? Well that’s exactly what you get with the rocket ponies. Also, temporary deafness. Unfortunately all that they had this year in the area of suitably unsafe interactiveness was an odd see-saw weldment that spins on its axis and looks like it might fall apart… but that’s probably what the caution tape was for. They did have a giant rusted fire breathing dinosaur on wheels for the kids to play on though. That was pretty neat. One of my favorite things that did not disappoint was ArcAttack! They’re this crazy high tech musical collaborative that uses robotic drums and tesla coils for a really amazing musical stage show. I highly recommend checking them out.
I also did no shopping in there either. Usually there’s a few merchants that I have to beat my impulsive brain into submission from. This time though the vendor area was more like a giant hipster garage sale. That just doesn’t work for me. We left a little early and missed the Diet Coke/Mentos explosion performance which is worth seeing once. Fortunately I saw it last year so I know what I’m missing. Oh well. Next year I’ll find something new to do.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Little of this, little of that

Holy crap that was a long break! I know I didn’t post about my vacation but it was a really off vacation for me so I’m just gonna skip it and we can pretend I had a crazy bizarre time dressing up in medieval/middle eastern garb, drinking mead, and bellydancing by campfire light….. which I did.

Today however, I’ve been cooking again! Sunday I went to Friend’s house and made a Turkish/Egyptian dinner to finish off my ideas for the Mediterranean dinner party.  I made Pistachio Soup, Mahmudiye, and Mujadarra.
Gotta say: I loved the (Turkish) Pistachio Soup. It was very, pistachio-y. And simple to make once I got finished shelling all the freakin’ pistachios. By hand. One at a time. Totally worth it.
I enjoyed the Mujadarra as well but I think I overcooked the lentils a bit. Friend and the wife said that it had a very meaty consistency that made it very hearty. I did this in three parts. The lentils/rice/spices, fried carmelized onions, and a middle eastern tomato sauce. All in all I think it came out rather tasty though next time I’ll add the rice to the lentils sooner so I don’t have even  a little overcookedness.
Mahmudiye is unlike anything so instead of trying to describe what it’s like. Here’s the ingredients:
-         Skinless Chicken Breast, cubed
-         2 Tbsp butter
-         16-18 Pearl onions or 1 medium onion chopped
-         6 dry apricots (quartered)
-         1 bunch seedless grapes, cut, or 3 Tbsp Golden raisins (I used both)
-         1 tsp honey
-         2 Tbsp lemon juice
-         1 c. hot chicken brother
-         ½ tsp. cinnamon
-         4 Tbsp blanched almonds
-         Salt and Pepper to taste
Apparently the apricot really came through in the seasoning. I don’t remember a lot of what they said, but I’m told it was tasty.
Thus concludes the array of dishes I’m torn between. Now I just have to take the 20 or so recipes I’ve made in the past couple  months and knock it down to 4 that I want to serve a dining room of 15 people + 4 cooks (myself included). Aye! That’s going to be the hard part.