Archive | March, 2009

Guinness cupcakes with Baileys frosting

19 Mar

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we have put a bit of Guinness, whiskey, and Bailey’s Irish cream to good use in this recipe from Smitten Kitchen – Irish car bomb cupcakes. I had already gone through a four pack of the Guinness we had planned to use the first time we wanted to make these delicious cupcakes, so we decided to hurry up and make it, just in time for Boston’s favorite holiday, and to prevent me from finishing another four pack.

These cupcakes are amazing. Christine likes them as long as the ganache filling isn’t too strong tasting. We had to improvise a bit because of some first time mistakes, but overall it turned out really well, and partygoers at a recent CW Taekwondo party seemed to agree.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen: (changes are made in bold)

cupcakes-with-filling

Irish Drunken Cupcakes

Cupcake batter

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup L.A. Burdick’s dark hot chocolate drink mix
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Vanilla Ganache Filling

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk (heavy cream if you have it, we didn’t)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

1/2 shot Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting

3 to 4 cups sugar (for a more smooth frosting, use confectioner’s sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
Baileys to taste (about 1 or 2 shots)

Make the cupcake batter
Heat up the butter and Guinness over medium heat. Add in chocolate powder and mix until thoroughly melted, and take off heat. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Since it’s after Valentine’s Day, leftover heart-covered liners are great.

guinness

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt) in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients (eggs, sour cream, and stout mixture) in another bowl and beat until blended.

ingredients

mixing

Add the dry ingredients and fold into the mixture until completely combined. Do this with a large rubber spatula and make sure that all the dry powder has mixed completely.

cupcake-trays

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full, and bake for about 17 minutes, until a chopstick or toothpick comes out clean when poked into the middle of a cupcake. Rotate tray half way through to ensure even heating.

Make the ganache

On medium heat mix the butter, vanilla, and milk in a sauce pan until the butter is completely melted. Keep stirring and do not let the milk burn. In a small bowl, mix the whiskey and cornstarch until the cornstarch is completely dissolved and the mixture is a thick and smooth liquid.

frosting-ingredients

Pour the mixture into the sauce pan, constantly stirring and flattening out lumps. Pour the sugar into the mixture and stir until everything is combined and thick, and pour into a bowl to cool. Note: to make the ganache less alcoholic tasting, use less whiskey or add more sugar.

Make the frosting

We didn’t quite follow the directions correctly but our frosting came out pretty well anyways. You should have the butter at room temperature and whip it until it is fluffy, then add confectioner’s sugar and keep whipping it until it is thick. We basically heated up cold butter in the microwave until it was basically melted, and added in granulated sugar and made it completely mixed. The sugar remains granular so the icing is kind of crunchy. Then, add in one or two shots of Bailey’s and continue to mix.

baileys-frosting

Fill and frost the cupcakes

We took an empty water bottle, removed the cap, and used the opening to make holes in the cupcakes. Slowly push down as you twist the bottle back and forth, and when it has gone into the cupcake past where the lid usually stops, pull it out.

filling-ganache

There will be a small plug of cupcake in the bottle, and a quick squeeze will cause it to fly out into willing and hungry mouths. To fill them with the ganache, spoon all the ganache into a plastic bag and seal it. Cut off the tip of a corner of the bag, and use the bag to squeeze small amounts of filling into the holes in the cupcakes.

Put the frosting into another bag and use it similarly to put frosting on top of the cupcake. Then use a knife or spoon to spread the frosting around to cover the top of the cupcake. Makes 4 batches of 6 cupcakes plus two more. The frosting and ganache may run out early, so you will end up with some cupcakes with frosting and ganache, some cupcakes with only frosting, and some plain cupcakes, which will be good depending on how Irish your friends are.

cupcakes
cupcakes-with-filling

Total procrastination: about 2.5 hrs
Ways to prolong procrastination: make a mushroom pizza (recipe to be written). Drink the remaining Guinness (you will have about half of a beer left.) Have an actual Irish car bomb.

A Lesson in Patience

12 Mar

This recipe has been a long time coming. I first saw it the week before the West Point taekwondo tournament, when I had to drop five pounds and couldn’t eat anything besides the occasional salad. The week after that was hell week followed by hell weekend, during which I was too busy trying to learn two months work of immunology in a weekend to cook. Last night, finally, there was a smidgen of breathing (read: eating) room before Bobby starts cutting for nationals.

For all intents and purposes, these are dumplings with mushroom filling. But these little dumplings have a gorgeous, flaky, golden crust that is to die for. And with the amount of butter and cream cheese in it, you may just die from heart disease. But let’s not think about that. They are savory and just crisp enough to give you a satisfying crunch and absolutely magical little morsels.

pastry-unopen-small

Mushroom Crescents
Modified from Eat Me Delicious

Pastry

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten

Filling

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped portobello mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

For the pastry…

In large microwaveable bowl, combine cream cheese and butter and microwave to melt. Beat together until fluffy. Stir in flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough begins to form. Knead in until smooth. Divide dough in half and flatten into 2 discs. Cover with saran wrap (Important! Else your dough will end up too dry like ours did…), then refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

On lightly floured surface, roll out each disc into until they’re about 1/8 inch thick. They should be thicker than your average potsticker wrapper, but still thin enough to wrap. With a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter (we just used a cup), cut out circles, rerolling scraps.

rolling-pin

Our rolling pin is pretty kickass, no?

pastry-sheets-and-rolling-pin

For the filling…

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Fry the onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, dill, pepper and salt, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add the mushrooms and fry, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth and cook until liquid is evaporated. Let cool to room temperature.

mushrooms

spices

Putting it all together

Brush the edges of the circles lightly with egg. Place about 1 tsp of the filling in center of each, then fold dough over filling, pinching edges to seal. Try not to get the filling juices to touch the edges, because the liquid keeps them from sealing properly. Place the crescents 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining egg.

Bake in the center of 400F oven until light golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Makes about 40 crescents (so says the recipe, but we only got 22 out of it…).

for-the-oven-small

We had quite a bit of filling and egg left over, so Bobby decided to omlettize it. Epic fail, because there was more filling than egg, but we wrapped it up in fresh spinach leaves and ate them while waiting for the crescents to bake. Dee-licious, and pretty damn cute, too. I thought they resembled little animals floating down a river on little leaf boats (a la this), but I had to push that thought away quickly else I couldn’t eat it.

left-over-stuffing-in-spinach-2-small

pastry

Length of procrastination: 1 hour 35 minutes

Ways to prolong procrastination: Fight over which crescents to take pictures of and which crescents I’m allowed to eat.

Stir-fry Noodles With Two (!) Kinds of Onions

5 Mar

I’ve been craving noodles for the longest time. Specifically, I want steaming bowl of honest-to-goodness, hand-pulled ramen with miso soup (sans bonito flakes), mushrooms, and scallions. Because there’s a 7.10 exam on Thursday and a 7.23 exam on Monday, ramen at Porter Square seems a little out of reach. And since Bobby and I lacked the time and ingredients to make any kind of real broth, stir-fry noodles it was.

Stir-fry Noodles With Two (count ’em!) Kinds of Onions

Ingredients

  • enough noodles to fill your stomach — we used flat buckwheat noodles that my parents sent from California, but honestly any kind of Asian noodles works
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped or a handful of frozen chopped scallions
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 small potato, sliced
  • any other kind of veggies, sliced
  • olive oil
  • vinegar
  • soy sauce
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Bring water in a large pot to a rolling boil. Cook the noodles on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat about 2 tbsp oil in a wok. Add the garlic and scallions and stir-fry until you can smell the aroma. Be careful if you’re using frozen scallions because the water will cause the oil to splatter all over the place.
  3. Add another generous amount of oil and stir-fry the rest of the onions, the potatoes, and any other vegetables you may have in your refrigerator. Take a bite of the slowest-cooking vegetable–you’re done when it’s slightly crunchier than the ideal.
  4. Transfer the noodles from the pot to the wok along with about 1/4 cup of the water. Stir-fry until all the water has evaporated. Add a splash of vinegar and soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir-fry for another 5 minutes.

Notes: Before cooking the noodles in water, I heated them with a bit of oil on low heat in a pan for about 5 minutes. The package of my noodles say that they can be completely cooked this way, but I was pretty skeptical so I cooked them in water, then finished stir-frying. If you’re looking for crunchy noodles, add a lot more oil during the second round of stir-frying.

pan-fried-noodles1
The final result!
broccoli with salt
I love salt.

after nomming

What happens when you do it correctly.

Length of procrastination: 15-20 minutes

Ways to prolong procrastination: Grab a bowl of green tea ice cream for dessert. Length of procrastination is directly proportional to the size of your ice cream tub. Gallon tubs work best.

Snowy day breakfast

2 Mar

This entry is not really a recipe but just a note about how to make a bad snow day into a good breakfast. I biked through three inches of snowcover in the middle of the road this morning to find that the shuttle to work had already left. I was 1 minute late. You’d think that on a snowy day the shuttle would be late rather than early. But when I made the trek back, i decided to have granola and soy milk and a hard boiled egg for breakfast at home. The granola was from Next Dining, and at $1.60 for about a pound(? maybe 3/4 lb) it’s a really good deal. The soymilk was from a Starmarket but still good nonetheless.

Here is how to make a hard boiled egg, in case you didn’t know. Really, it’s simple, except I couldn’t figure out whether the eggs were ready or not, so use this as a quick guideline.

From GoodEgg.com:

1. Place eggs in a saucepan with enough COLD tap water to cover completely by 1 inch. Bring to a ROLLING boil over HIGH heat. Once the water is brought to a rolling boil, PROMPTLY reduce heat to a lower medium boil and cook an additional 10 minutes for a “hard boiled” egg. For a “soft boiled” egg reduce the time by a few minutes.

2. Remove from heat and IMMEDIATELY place eggs under ice cold water or in a bowl of ICED water to chill promptly to help yolks stay bright yellow. Chill for a few minutes in the cold water until the egg is completely cooled. This is an extremely important step which prevents the greenish “ring” from forming on the surface of the yolk over time. If the egg is not chilled immediately after cooking an unsightly dark greenish ring will eventually appear on the outside of the yolk.

A stroke of genius

1 Mar

We’re all very hungry people, but we don’t always have the time or the ingredients to make exactly what we want. Improvisation is a skill and an art perfected by MacGuyver and utilized by overworked college students too busy (or too lazy) to make the trek out to the neighborhood supermarket. What do you do when you open your refrigerator for a cup of milk and realize that you’d eaten the last of it with cereal last night? Well…

(Green Tea) Tomato Soup

Ingredients
2-3 large tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp dried crushed oregano
dill weed
salt
pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 scoops green tea ice cream*

Bring enough water to submerge all tomatoes to a boil. Put the tomatoes in for about 30 seconds, until the skin starts to wrinkle or split. Take the tomatoes out and peel off the skin, and any stems that are left. Cut the tomato into quarters, and using your fingers, remove the pulp inside along with the seeds, leaving only the flesh.
tomatoesraw

tomatoflesh

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, then stir the tomatoes in the hot oil for about five minutes, until juices start to come out into the pan. Take the skillet off heat and transfer the cooked tomatoes into a blender. Blend at high speed until everything is smooth, and pour it back into the skillet. Add half of the garlic, the oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 2 minutes. In a bowl, mix the cornstarch with equal parts water until it is completely dissolved, and add to the tomato puree. Add another cup of water and stir over medium heat for another 2 minutes.

blender

Add the two scoops of green tea ice cream to the pan and stir until completely melted. Pour the soup into a bowl, sprinkle the rest of the garlic and some dill weed to garnish, and serve nom. Makes one large bowl.

greentea

* The green tea ice cream is the result of our lack of ingredients. Perhaps a cup of milk or half a cup of heavy cream would have been more appropriate. However, the green tea ice cream was the only source of dairy in my fridge, and in the end, it added a welcome sweetness that balanced out the tartness tomatoes.

soup

Grilled Cheese and Spinach Sandwiches

4 slices of whole wheat bread
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
6-7 leaves baby spinach

Arrange two slices of bread on a George Foreman grill. Alternatively, a spatula and a drop of olive oil on a hot skillet works just as well. Layer cheese thickly until slices are completely covered. Top with spinach and cover with the other slice of bread. Grill for three minutes or until you smell the toasty aroma. If using a skillet, flip the sandwiches halfway through. Dip in the tomato soup and enjoy! Makes two sandwiches.

georgeforeman

sandwich

Length of procrastination: 20-30 minutes

Ways to prolong procrastination: Complete a crossword while nomming.

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