Tuesday, September 27, 2011


A room-sized work at MOMA

I went to New York this summer, and in my non-bloggingness, forgot to talk about it. I was visiting a good friend from high school/college/travelling abroad and it was my first time in the city (well, since I was 10). I spent a lot of time wandering about the midtown area. MOMA was amazing, as was the natural history museum. We got rush tickets to Memphis (which won best musical last year), which was excellent, especially at BOGO student prices. I love musicals.

Food highlights included Caracas arepa bar, a gyro from "the best" Halal cart, a bagel from H&H with salmon spread, a chocolate chip cookie from Levain (yum!), red bean ice cream from a cute place in Chinatown, and a Kosher Indian dinner that we cooked. Cooking kosher is hard. But kind of fun. For one night.

This guy is a pro dog-walker. Really.

I've been eyeing this apple "cake" recipe for several months. It's really a pie baked in a cake pan. But kind of a tart because it's open on top. I love that it takes 10 apples. I brought it to a pasta dinner for my frisbee team and it was rapidly consumed. On that note, I played frisbee at practice this week for the first time in 3 months. Wooooooo! My physical therapist says that my hamstring is almost totally normal again. Too bad I missed the end of this season, but I'm going to be raring and ready for next year.

Rougemont Apple Pastry Cake
adapted from A Passion for Baking
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, in chunks
  • 5 Tbsp ice water
  • 10 large apples, cored and slices
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. For the pastry crust, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until grainy. Add ice water and mix gently until just combined. The dough should be dry and shaggy, but should hold together when squished. Place into a bag and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Brush a springform pan with melted butter and place on a baking sheet. Roll the dough into a circle and fit into the bottom and sides of the 10-inch springform.
  3. Toss apples with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Fill the crust with the apples (you can make them pretty if you like). Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 60-75 minutes until apples are soft.
  4. For vanilla sauce, mix melted butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, flour and cinnamon. Pour over the hot cake. Make sure you get the sauce into all the nooks and crannies. Bake another 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy (late) Mid-Autumn Festival

Moon cakes are the traditional treat passed around during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. They are also one of my favorite pastries. Matt got me a moon cake mold a couple of years ago, and I've made several batches. This recipe is the best yet. I like red bean paste filling, but I'm particularly fond of sweet red bean stuff. You can use other sweet fillings too. When I was in Beijing, my European friends took a couple of months to realize that the brownish stuff oozing out of the pastries in the window was bean paste and not chocolate. This was a serious disappointment for them, but not for me.

Forming the cake without mangling it is tricky.

Moon Cakes
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup or simple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 can black or red sweet bean paste
  • 1 egg
  1. Mix the first 4 ingredients together to form a soft dough. Divide into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each ball into a circle using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking.
  2. Place a tablespoon of into each dough circle and gently place into the moon cake mold. Close the dough over the filling and whack the mold to get the cake out.
  3. Bake cakes for 15 minutes at 350F.
  4. Brush with an egg wash made from one beaten egg with 1 Tbsp water and bake another 15 minutes until golden.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pumpkin love and fish paste

They opened up an IKEA in Colorado, and I went with a friend last weekend. I've always been a little fixated with IKEA. It's like walking around in someone else's well-designed and fabulously clean house. And they have $1 ice cream. This time, I also discovered they have salmon paste. Which is delicious. And in a tube.

One of my favorite parts of fall is the prerogative to bake delicious apple and pumpkin items. Matt likes pumpkin more than anyone I've ever met. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread. When we set out to find a pumpkin bread recipe this week, we browsed through recipes and he pointed out which breads were acceptable by their picture. Is the top a bit shiny? Does it look moist inside? This one fit the bill for all. And I got to change the name. I'm so funny.

I brought some so school today, only to find that my friend SB had also brought pumpkin bread. After bantering about how delicious pumpkin bread is an whose would be yummier, we discovered that we had both made the same recipe from online. Creepy.

Pumpking Beard
adapted from Allrecipes

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 9x4 inch loaf pans (or 3 7x3 inchers).
  2. Mic pumpkin with eggs oil, water, and sugar until well blended. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet (no whisking!) Pour into pans.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes, turning halfway through, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool a couple of minutes before removing from pan.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yoga? Me?

We've been making out like bandits on our farm share this summer. Every week, we drop by the farms booth at the farmer's market and get a huge amount of local produce (as above). We've been eating a lot of bruschetta and cucumber salads (though we don't have a good use for bell peppers, as neither of us are really excited about them). I am especially partial to the adorable fingerling potatoes we get in three colors. It's actually rare for the strawberries to make it home from the market, so you can tell we were restrained this week. We have been trying to use our produce in different ways, like this onion/tomato focaccia:

I bought a groupon for a local yoga studio this summer, and just started going this week. Previously, I've always dismissed yoga as being too touchy-feely. Then again, I didn't think much of stretching or cooling down after a workout either. Here in Boulder it seems like half the people you meet are yoga enthusiasts. Yes, this town is full of hippies. But it's also full of phenomenal athletes, many of whom do yoga to keep up their core strength and flexibility. I did my first session of hot (100F) yoga this afternoon, and despite feeling a little ill at times, I got some unbelievably good stretches. Though I probably won't dish out the $160 a month for a membership to this studio, I hope to make the most of my month of yoga and to incorporate some poses into what has become my regular stretching routine.

Fall has set in for real here. The students are back, the temperatures have dropped, and soon enough we'll be getting those crazy chinook winds out of the mountains. Even though I'm not taking classes this semester, my schedule is a lot more structured than in the summer. I started tutoring at the engineering student center, and I really enjoy going through problems with students. Maybe I miss have a concrete answer to a problem and then being able to move on the the next problem. Or maybe I just miss math and physics. They seemed so magical when I studied them in college.

Matt and I have been watching old episodes of Good Eats. If you've never seen it, you should. It's cooking for nerdy people who wonder why things happen the way they do in the kitchen. In an episode about cinnamon buns, he makes this ginger ring bread that I couldn't resist trying on my own.

Citrus-Ginger Ring
from Good Eats

For the dough:
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6Tbsp melted butter
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) buttermilk or yogurt
  • approx. 4 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
For filling:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • zest from 2 medium lemons
  • 2 Tbsp candied ginger , finely chopper
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
For the glaze:
  • 4 ounces apricot or other jam
  • 2 Tbsp candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp water
  1. For the dough, combine yolks and egg (should be at room temperature) and sugar, butter and buttermilk. Whisk in 2 cups of the flour, yeast and salt until combined. Add 1 1/2 cups more flour and knead for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes on high and 5 minutes on low in a mixture. Add more flour if the dough is sticky. It should be soft, but not sticky. If mixed in a mixer, knead by hand for 30 seconds. Oil a large bowl, place dough in it and let rise until double (2-2.5 hours)
  2. For the filling, mix sugar, flour, gingers, and zest until combined, and set aside
  3. When the dough is risen, roll into a 12x24 inch rectangle. Brush the 2 Tbsp melted butter on the dough and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, leaving one inch along one of the long edges. Press it in lightly. Roll the dough and seal using the inch you left free of filling. Pinch it together real good. Place on greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Place the ring in an unheated oven with a pan of boiling water and let it proof there for 30 minutes. Remove from over
  5. Preheat oven to 350F. When ready, put ring in middle rack and bake 30 minutes.
  6. While ring bakes, combine jam, ginger, and water in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 5 1-minute intervals on high, stirring each time. Brush over the warm ring when it comes out of the oven.
  7. Serve as soon as possible.