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Friday, October 29, 2010

Candy Sushi - Take 2

i regret to inform you that i'm feeling piqued with blogging lately. i'm still cooking and baking, albeit mostly repeats because they comfort me, still crafting because it calms me, but blogging? dragging ass feet.


today is another repeat, with much better pix: candy sushi. my friend angie requested them again for halloween, nuria and i did the assembly style workshop to bust them out. we added gummy worms to the mix this year. oh the sugar kick the kids in angie's church will get over these little treats.


have a great halloween weekend, be safe out there and in some parts of the country, stay warm.

new to my Google Reader this week: Three Baking Sheets to the Wind. thanks to wendi of Bon Appetit Hon for getting us together, i have a serious girl crush on her.

new to this here space: an incomplete recipe index. i realize i need it, so far i've only done the sweet stuff and will slowly compile the savories, it's taking me a hot minute. i'm complaining about putting it together now but i'm thinking the maintenance might kill me.

I Walked by Sufjan Stevens

this song is so beautiful.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sweet Onion & Bread Soup

Sweet Onion Soup

last week i went on a soup-spree. i made a new soup every.single.night. it was a comfort thing. it was something that i could control. i used this recipe, tho i ix-nayed the sour cream, used fresh thyme and toasted the croutons in the oven.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Historical Weekend

t rex

busy busy busy weekend with Wandering Chopstick. really, it was just the way to end my horrendous week: beautiful sunny mid 70s weather while traipsing thru DC, George Washington's abode & Little Saigon. ::bliss::

picture above was taken of a t rex at my all time favorite museum: Museum of Natural History.

for more pix: DC Weekend: Fall 2010.

forgive the shots, they're SOOC.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Apple Praline Bread ~ Blessings in Disguise

Apple Praline Bread

sigh. it's been one of those weeks. long, with a stretch of mundane laid out in front of me, with no end in sight. it was like days and days of mondays. don't you just loathe those? during weeks like that i just want to curl up on my red elephant spotted couch, with a book or remote in hand, and be mindless. but i fought thru it, making fresh meals every night, doing necessary grocery shopping trips, cleaning (because hello, i've a special friend visiting this weekend!) and finishing up a crochet project.

so despite this seasonal funk i'm experiencing i'm trying to have some semblance of civility towards others, be functional in daily life and you know what helps? bread. apple praline bread to be specific. it was by luck that i found it. last year while sitting in my orthodontist's office i was flipping thru Southern Living and found this recipe. not wanting to rip the page out, i snapped a pic with my cell and then promptly forgot about it, as i was fighting the good fight of straightening my grill. now that that fight is over, i'm fighting something else (there's always something else, isn't there?!) and this bread is my weapon, a blessing in disguise if you will. with the moistness from the sour cream (really, it's a must, don't skip this or use yogurt instead... just do it) and the crunchiness from the pecans (and i'm not a nut fan!) and the caramel drizzle on top? jesus wept. in joy. seriously. tucking into this for breakfast with my coffee, or 3pm snack with tea OR 8pm break with a glass wine (do not judge me) was a godsend.


this picture has kinda nothing to do with apple praline bread but just to highlight my shitastic week: i stayed late one afternoon to phone screen a candidate. she stood me up. so at 6pm i packed up to leave and noticed this view outside my office window. who knew the sun could kiss the leaves in such a manner to make me pause after railing against the injustice of asshole candidates? yeah.

yarn love crush: Little Thingies

currently reading cormac maccarthy's the road. is this book going to make me sob for hours? cus i might have to put it down, i don't think i can handle sooty grey clouds right now.

ray la montagne's Let It Be Me = swoon

have a loverly weekend.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spinach & Meatball Soup


it's slowly but surely becoming autumn in regards to significant temperature drops. and with the increase of coldness in the air i can feel my mood and spirits dip. Fall has always been a hard time for me. i remember in college bawling right around this time, not sick for home, but sick in humor and disposition. it's a fucking shitty feeling. i went thru it when Spring first made her appearance and i blamed it on allergies until i realized it's probably a form of seasonal depression. OR. i'm a natural asshole.

the only way to tame this beast is to keep me in the kitchen. last week i spent an evening making not one but TWO dinner entrees... a rather intricate greek egg roll type dish that required the use of phyllo dough (which can go to H.E.L.L btw) and this soup. this soup that nuria has called my best so far. don't take much stock in it tho, because she's said that about all the soups i've ever made for her. and also probably because she's worried the angry beast will rear its ugly head out again.

this is almost like an italian wedding soup, except it's not.

Spinach & Meatball Soup

1/2 lb ground chicken
1/2 lb spicy chorizo
1 smallish carrot, peeled & diced small
1 smallish onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
handful bread crumbs
generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
salt/pepper to taste

mix all the ingredients in a bowl and shape into small meatballs. cook up in a spot of oil until outside is nicely browned. it doesn't matter if it's cooked inside because it'll continue to cook in the soup.

1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
homemade stock (i used chicken because i had it on hand)
whatever small pasta you have available, i used penne
spinach, rough chopped, about 2 lbs

in a bit of olive oil, saute onion and garlic until fragrant and translucent. throw in the cooked meatballs, and then carefully add the stock. bring to a boil. add in the pasta and cook until al dente (keep in mind, the pasta will continue to expand and more than likely you'll make enough for leftover lunch, so add however much you think you can consume without feeling like a lardass). at this point i throw in the spinach and allow it to wilt down a bit before serving.

listening to pearl jam, just breathe

would you believe they were my first concert, ever, at 16? half my life ago...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blogger Weekend

Picnik collage

warning: i will be name dropping. it was just one of those weekends.

i spent a loverly evening saturday with Wendi of Bon Appetit Hon, Mary of Sweet Mary (be sure to check out her pumpkin-chocolate tart recipe, it's to die for), Joanne & Adam of Inspired Taste and Father Leo of Grace Before Meals.

sunday morning i hit up the farmer's market with sarah of in the cactus garden and matt, the other half of coconut+lime.

and everything after was spent making an apple-praline bread, sweet onion soup and counting crochet stitches for a gryffindor scarf.

hoping your weekend was just as nice as mine.

played saturday nite (and constant repeat my junior year in HS): U2, Stay (Faraway, So Close)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Honey Poached Pear Salad

Picnik collage

are you getting fruited out? sorry about that. actually, i'm feeling unapologetic about it. i'll tell you why. poached pears? it's a godsend. it warms the abode up, like how stew or soup does, but with a floral air, making you feel heady with anticipation of a light dessert that'll leave you wondering why all your life you shunned pears, shaming you for not paying more attention to the fruit. in the past month or so, i've poached pears in wine twice ~ once in red wine, using this recipe by Laura Calder. it calls for 5 hours in the oven, and the slow prep made the pears so tender, so beautifully red-hued that i took no time to snap pictures, i was only interested in consuming them. the next time i poached them, in white wine this time, was for a girls' night in. i took the short route and did it on the stove top, on medium heat and spiced the wine with a cinnamon stick and a few cloves, for about 25-30 minutes. either way was delicious.

recently, in a fit of clearing my bookshelf, i went thru my pile of old Bon Appetit magazines, tearing out recipes that tickled my fancy. this one caught my eye. i didn't follow it totally: i used walnuts, mixed greens, did not make the thyme-verjus dressing and of course, there was no measuring of any kind. dude. unless it's baking, i rarely measure. i liked it so much, i made it again the next day, only this time slapping it on a piece of toasted apple cinnamon swirl bread. that is how i roll.

new blog crush: Kitsch in the Kitchen.

lastly, i finally updated my bucket/life list, which can also be found on top of the page. what's on yours? and seriously, if there is any mocking (like how Nuria scoffed (who does that? a DREAM CRUSHER IS WHO!) at my desire to go to Hogwarts or to meet Keanu Reeves), as Mark says: "I hope your underpants turn into bedbugs."

have a loverly weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Toffee Apple Cake

Picnik collage
Jon's Bday/BBQ

you may be tired of apples, but i'm not yet. when i went apple picking a few weekends ago i made a point to not overindulge, because who the hell wants 100lbs of apples? typically i like to make a few apple-related dishes, i swear, i have just two more apple-y dishes to make, only one of which will probably be blog-worthy. just humor me, ok?

this past weekend was a particularly nice one for me -- a bbq with H&R and their very precious son Obi, as well as a handful of phamily & friends. i've talked about them before, they host the best sunday afternoon gatherings, where there's always plenty to eat, mutual appreciation for food and tv. we gather during busy times in our lives, to slow down, to catch up, watch a bit of football (how 'bout them skins and ravens, eh?) and for this particular time, to celebrate a birth that occured 29 years ago.

for my cousin jon's bday, buu brought georgetown cupcakes (um, the chocolate peanut butter one? to.die.for.) and i made hungry rabbit's toffee apple cake that was such a pleasure to make, tho i had a mini anxiety attack during the drowning process & well, i burned the butterscotch sauce. i made the cake the day before, wanting at least 24 hours for the flavors to meld together before cutting in. it was the perfect dessert to have on an unseasonably warm sunday afternoon, with friends.

recently attended the 11th Annual DC APA Film Festival and saw the movie Empire of Silver, i even met the director Christina Yao.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate Babka ~ On Perspective


you know Life is all about perspective, being able to see things from all sides. i have a tendency to have tunnel vision in regards to anything to do with me: i set a goal and i go for it, pretty much plowing thru anything and anyone in my way, i don't stop to look around. as a result, sometimes the journey isn't fun. HOWEVER, i have the magical power of seeing things in black & white when it comes to everything else. i don't do it often but when i do, i give good advice, i give food for thought and most importantly, i provide good Perspective.


i first tried babka with a guy i dated for 10 months. it was the most exhilerating 10 months of my entire life, up until that point. he brought it home one day, a gift from a coworker who told him that even if i'd never had babka before, i would love it. she was right. it's a rich & dense bread, heavy on flavor and best washed down with a glass of cold milk. Eff Eff to months later and we broke up due to geography differences. a lot of things came from that relationship: sincere smiles, new friends, some maturity, a bit of clarity, a significant heartbreak and holy shit, first ever Birthday Dumpage. now, years later, i can say, at least he gave me good babka.


i used this recipe from Cooking Light. i actually made this bread twice, the first time for a work function, each time a smidge differently. the last time i used spelt flour instead of AP flour and it made a major difference in texture, it wasn't as smooth, more grainy and dense whereas before, the loaf came out airy and light. but both times garnered rave reviews. my coworkers thought the bread looked too professional, even for my skills (um. thanks?) and nuria liked it better than the apple cinnamon swirl loaf. me, i liked the spelt loaf ok but i think i'll stick to just regular AP for this recipe.

learning lessons, you know. it was good baking, good ingredients.

how's that for perspective?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fabric ModPodge Canvas Art


back in june, while spending a lazy sunday morning with some broads, crafting & just hanging out, i busted out a canvas art. this particular Tree post by craftapple caught my fancy about 2 years ago, taunting me to make one too. and when i sat down that warm morning, intent on doing something, i must've been on crack when i looked thru my stash of fabric. the blue with white polka dots? made me think of clouds but when i modpodge'd it to death on canvas, it ended up looking like SNOW. SNOW IN JUNE. wtf was i thinking?

as a result, when the piece finally dried, i kept it under my desk until the weather chilled. and now with a blank spot on my wall, i finally put it up.

currently listening: Mindy Smith

for this week's blog shout out, i bring you With Bear Hands, written by my friend & fellow Joy Luck Club member Bear. be a doll & check her out, often. you'll realize the type of company i keep: the guffaw-inducing kind.

also, you'll notice on the right side bar i've added two new things: Cold Weather Food and Cold Weather Yarn... just a list of some of my fave comfort foods to keep warm, as well as some projects i've done during the cooler months. it's not a complete list but you get the picture.

last, i've re-opened my twitter for public viewing, not that i ever tweet anything of value.

have a loverly weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread ~ On Being Prepared


"they used to call me Anal Girl..." ~500 Days of Summer

i've said this before, i'm a creature of habit, i like things as so, i plans things out. i used to have an actual planner in my purse to reference when making plans with people. now i maintain a calendar online, sharing it with buu and kim to keep me in check; the only setback is i don't carry my online calendar with me and i've yet to figure out how to synchronize it to my Lan-berry, which sometimes leads to double bookings, and that is so annoying! i am so exact about my planning that sometimes spontaneity just doesn't fit and when it does occur, oh hello anxiety! or some major cluster happens. gone are the days where i can just drop what i'm doing, skip 3 days worth of classes, hop a plane for a long weekend in boston (i don't think bostonboy ever recovered from that debacle, bless his heart). now, i think about what i'm wearing to work the night before (an ingrained childhood habit) and i like to plan my baking and cooking experiments.

don't judge me. that's what weekends are for, that's my thinking anyway.

i went apple picking with some friends sunday and prior to that day, i searched for a proper bread to highlight this autumn fruit. the following recipe is from Rose Levy Beranbaum, who is a flipping genius, never mind i cursed her existence last year when nuria bought the cookbook. i've come to the conclusion that anything worth making takes time, and this particular bread takes time. read thru the recipe a few times (i did) and go back to it often, between steps if necessary, because it is worth it. i like it slathered with fat-free ricotta cheese and a side of sliced pears (or apples) with my AM coffee.

you're welcome.


Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread makes two loaves
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cinnamon Raisin Loaf from The Bread Bible
***note: i am listing the recipe pretty much word for word because the woman knows bread & in order for this bread to be successful, it needs to be followed word for word. any changes/alterations are for flavoring purposes and in italics.

Dough Starter (Sponge)

12oz/341grams/2 1/4 cups + 2 1/2 TBL AP Flour (i used Whole Wheat Flour)
14.3oz/405grams/scant 1 3/4 liquid cups water, room temp
1.5oz/45grams/2 TBL + 1 tsp honey
2/4 tsp yeast

in the mixer bowl, combine flour, water, honey and instant yeast. whisk until very smooth to incorporate air, about 2 minutes. The sponge will be the consistency of a thick batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (i set this aside overnite)

Flour Mixture & Dough

about 11oz/311grams/2 cups + 3 TBL AP Flour (i used Whole Wheat Flour)
1.5oz/40grams/1/4 cup dry milk, preferably nonfat (i used nonfat creamer, WHO KEEPS DRIED MILK IN THEIR PANTRY?)
3/4 tsp yeast
4.5oz/128grams/9 TBL unsalted butter, softened (i used coconut oil)
2 1/4 tsp salt

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, dry milk and instant yeast. sprinkle on top of the sponge and cover tightly with plastic wrap. allow to ferment for 1-4 hours at room temp. during this time the sponge will bubble thru the flour blanket in places, that's fine.

using the kitchenaid mixer, add the butter (or coconut oil) to the bowl and mix on low speed with the dough hook (#2 speed) for 1 minute or until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. scrape down any bits of dough. cover the top of the bowl with plastic and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough on medium speed (#4 speed) for 7-10 minutes. it will not come away from the bowl until twd the last minute or so of kneading; it will be smooth and shiny and stick to your fingers. With an oiled spatula, scrape down any dough clinging to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is not stiff, knead in a little flour. if it not at all sticky, spray it with a little water and knead it in. it will weigh about 44.25oz/1258grams (i did not weigh the dough). cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to relax for 10 minutes.

meanwhile, dice up a medium apple, to equal a cup. *i squeezed a bit of lemon juice on it to keep it from browning.

add the diced apples and mix on low (#2 speed) for about 2 minutes to incorporate them evenly. (due to the extra liquid of the lemon juice, i added 2 TBL flour to the mix) using an oiled spatula, scrape the dough into a 4qt (or just a big ass bowl) lightly oiled. push down the dough and coat with oil. cover container with plastic wrap, allow to rise until doubled, 1 - 1.5 hours.

using an oiled spatula, scrape dough into a floured container and press down on it gently to form a rectangle (i just used a cookie sheet). it will be full of air and resilient. try to maintain as many of the air bubbles as possible. give the dough 1 business letter turn and set it back in the container. oil surface again, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm the dough for rolling.

Cinnamon Sugar Spiral Filling (optional - and this is where i fudged on the measuring thing...)

1/4 cup + 2 TBL raw sugar (i sprinkled it, i don't know how much i used)
4 tsp cinnamon (i was more generous with this sprinkling)
1 lightly beaten egg

in a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredient

turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and cut in half. keep one piece of dough covered while you work with the other piece. to make without the spiral, shape each piece into a loaf and place the dough in the prepared loaf pans; it will be about 1/2" from the top of the pans. to make the spiral, refrigerate the half dough that you're not shaping.

on a lightly floured counter, roll out dough to a rectangle 7 1/2"wide by 14"long and about 1/4" thick. using fingertips, gently press (dimple) the dough all over to deflate air bubbles that result in gaps in the spiral. brush the dough with the lightly beaten egg, leaving a 3/4" margin all around.

sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar evenly over the dough, leaving a 3/4" margin on all sides. starting from the short end, roll the dough up tightly, as you would a jelly roll; brush the top of the dough with egg and squeeze the dough gently all along the length of the roll with each roll so that it will adhere well to the filling. if necessary, use your hands to push in the ends of the roll so that it does not get larger than 7 1/2" long. when you come to the end, make a seam by tightly pinching the edge of the dough to seal in the filling. push in any inner coils of dough on the sides that may have worked their way out and pinch the ends of the dough tightly together to seal. tuck them under so that the loaf will fit into the pan.

place the roll seam side down in a prepared pan; it will be about 1/2" from the top of the pan. repeat for the second loaf.

cover the pans loosely. again, allow to rise about 1-2 hours or until center is 1 1/2" above sides of the pan. when the dough is pressed lightly with the fingertip, the indentation will remain.

preheat oven 350F 45 minutes before baking. have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating. (i didn't do this, i'm a rebel)

quickly but gently set the pans on the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet, and immediately shut the door. bake for 50 minutes (i did it for 40 minutes) or until the bread is medium golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. halfway thru baking, turn pans around for even baking (again, i didn't do this)

optional step: glaze loaves with melted butter. (again, i skipped)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oyamel ~ Tapas & Obsessions


can we talk appetizer-sized portions of food? i'm obsessed with them. i like choices (tho when handing them out, i'm rather stingy... give a person too many choices & they're too indecisive), so when given the chance to sample a lot of food in one sitting, it's usually a win situation.

Oyamel is a José Andrés joint, serving mexican fare spanish tapas style. my girlfriends and i definitely sampled more than i've pictured & it's been some time ago, i can't recall all the dishes. just know that it was lovely, they had the best fresh guacamole & gave Jaleo a run for its money.

Oyamel on Urbanspoon

401 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
t. 202.628.1005

onwards to other obsessions --

Zumba - my zumba freestyle is quite legendary, nevermind i've only done it 4 times
bikram yoga - not really a fixation but it's something i've been doing a lot of lately {read:}
harry potter {again STILL} - i'm re-re-re-re-reading HP7 (nevermind that i re-finished it last weekend), to follow along with Mark Reads HP {no judging} {seriously, YOU DON'T KNOW ME!}
lastly, this song. which i can't write out loud because i am slightly very extremely embarrassed to admit it.

and an obsession i'm loosening my hold on -- snapping pictures of every.single.meal for the sole purpose of blogging about it. this blog is not my Life, it's a part of my Life. i just have to remember that so i can enjoy my food while it's still warm. besides, the early darkness of fall & winter puts a damper on the whole light thing...