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Archive for December, 2009

Happy New Year!

Or, balls to 2009! Was it a good year for you with lots of treats? It ‘sho was, on this end. I’ve learned a lot about many things sugar-coated, cream-filled, fried, brittled, and spun, and I’m looking forward to absorb twice as much and share them with you.  I wish you all a not-too-sweet new year and a toothsome decade.

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If you’re lucky enough to take it easy at the office today, have a listen to this Brian Lehrer show about the best and the worst food gifts you’ve ever received. But before that, warm up by reading the comments on the show page. Maybe it is true that the Forking Fantastic ladies have a bad case of the giggles, but it goes to show NPR/WNYC listeners are not above others in that they too can be way too serious, or too juvenile, or just plain mean.

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hazelnut kipferls

Alright, my holiday-baking friends: what doughs are you elbow deep in right now? Mexican wedding cake cookies? Pignolis? Or the gool ‘ol classic gingersnaps? If I can muster up the energy, I might whip up a batch or two of some hazelnut kipferls, which are lip-smacking cookies that don’t have a big enough presence in my life. Come find me sometime during Xmas day, and I might just have a few leftover. You better hope that there’s not another foot-tall snowfall, because you might just go weak-kneed after tasting these and then you won’t be able to get home. Which is fine, because I’ve missed you for the past four months and we can spend some QT together.

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uno, dos, tres...leches

My mother sometimes visits the bustling Bergenline Avenue shops and buys little cartons of tres leches cake, the treat soaked in three different kinds of milk that’s rich in all senses of the word. She keeps them in the freezer and eats them little by little like a squirrel with its winter stash of acorns.

For her birthday, I thought I’d make her a tres leches cake from this epicurious.com recipe. I cherry-picked only parts of it, namely the cake and the milk syrup cocktail because I was severely limited in time and energy. After Saturday night shifts, I can only guess that I’m experiencing something akin to combat fatigue. And baking is sometimes just simple math: Add here, take away there, limit this, and that equals, alright! A cake fit to serve for an occasion.

Step 1: Sponge Cake

This cake, as sponge cakes go, is really easy to make, but it turned out a little tougher than I would’ve liked, so I suggest going easy when you fold the batter. Next time, I would also add less cinnamon, and sub in a little cardamom.

Being ’tis the season and all, I would’ve really poured on the rum for the syrup, but I omitted it because it’s not baked or cooked off and my four-year-old second cousin would be in attendance. I regretted the omission, however, because again, he ended up running away from his slice without a single bite. I’m just glad he didn’t start crying like he did with the chocolate cake.

Cake, it's time for your syrup bath

The recipe calls for a meringue for icing, but I thought since the condensed milk is already so sweet, I could just whip up some heavy cream, and it made a fine and easy topper for the cake without adding too much other richness or contributing to jawaches.

So I guess that would make it…quatro leches? Or a mouthful tres leches y una crema cake, si.

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One Swiss Miss, please

I kid, I kid! From Budget Travel, where to go to get the best hot chocolate in the city and shake off the chill.

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Orange you glad

At the end of the Times dining review of a Korean bbq spot called Madangsui today, Mr. Sifton writes, “Dessert’s an orange cut into eighths. It tastes of magic and happiness.” The curious thing is, I’ve never had an orange at the end of a meal at any establishment in K-town that didn’t taste of magic and happiness. So consistent is the quality of oranges served at K-town restaurants—which is to say, sweet, juicy, and sunny—that I’ve often wondered what fantasy orange farm supplies all of them (from Florida or California? My bet’s on California), like an inverse of the joke that all the Indian places on 6th Street share one long kitchen.

In the summer, in lieu of oranges, the restaurants serve thin watermelon slices, but those do not consistently taste of magic and happiness, however refreshing.

Let’s resolve to look into this orange conundrum further, shall we?

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Brioche French toast with maple cranberries (sausages not pictured)

Brioche French toast with maple cranberries (sausages not pictured)

Necessity is the mother of invention, and last weekend, a bag of fresh cranberries the bf had purchased very badly needed to be used. A lightbulb flashed (tsssst….!) over my head while I was making French toast and I grabbed two large handfuls from the little cranberry bog I made for them (that is to say, a bowl of water) into a saucepan and I poured maple syrup (Vermont Grade B Amber) over them. I grated some nutmeg and cinnamon, and cooked the berries down. So perfect were they with some breakfast sausage links from Faicco’s and the rich custardy brioche French toast, I didn’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before and thought it might be nice to have Christmas morning. All the ingredients connected so nicely, from the orange zest and vanilla bean in the custard (I take French toast seriously) to the salty, unctuous sausages that you must liberally bathe in the syrup, now brightened with the sour tang of the cranberries.

The post-prandial downside? You’ll want to beeline for the bed and nap it off. It’s the only fix.

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