A Little About Me

New York, New York
As a newly married woman, it has become my mission in life to learn how to cook. Gone are the days of picking up sushi and ordering curries. In order to jump-start my education, I enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education's Fine Cooking I course where I learned the basics, from roasting to boiling to mousse-making (ok, maybe not that basic)! I've attempted to replicate some recipes - somewhat successfully- and create a few of my own. This blog is for friends and foodies and is intended to document my cooking adventures (and occasional fiascoes). Enjoy the pictures and bon appetite!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Saturday morning, I was up before 8:00 and thought it would be nice to surprise my husband, who was in a coma-like sleep, with something sweet and homemade for breakfast. Since it was way too cold to run out to the market, I decided to use a recipe that called for ingredients already in the pantry. I remembered another blogger having posted a recipe for a spiced pumpkin loaf he had found on Epicurious and thought I'd try it out too. The bread was moist and delicious, almost cake-like, and my husband couldn't get enough of it (once he woke up, that is).

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 large eggs
3/4 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. (aka, coat with butter, then sprinkle with flour and shake off excess).

In a bowl, combine sugar and oil. Add in the eggs and canned pumpkin.

Slowly mix in flour then cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

Add chopped walnuts.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for an hour and ten minutes.

Remove and let cool...

for some really deliciously moist and dense cake/bread...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Hannukah" Brussel Sprouts

For some reason, my husband insists that potatoes fried in oil does not equal a 'complete dinner.' While I'd be happy consuming twenty latkes and calling it a night, I opted to make a vegetable side dish for my husband and our Hannukah guests. I decided to make some brussel sprouts with toasted almonds and cleverly incorporated some of the oil used to fry the latkes in order to make them exceptionally tasty!

1/2 lb brussel sprouts
1/4 cup slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
vegetable oil from latke pan

Start by toasting the almonds. To do, this, heat a dry pan over medium heat. Toss in the almonds and keep them moving until they begin to brown.

Once toasted, remove and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in the same pan and toss in the brussel sprouts. I like to slice mine in half for quicker cooking and easier consumption.

Season with salt and pepper and, after a couple minutes, add the toasted almonds back in. In order to make the whole dish a little tastier, take a couple spoonfuls of the vegetable oil used to fry your latkes and drizzle over the brussel sprouts. This will add a really nice depth and unique flavor.

Continue to cook for a couple more minutes, or until the outer leaves of the brussel sprouts begin to brown. Remove and serve immediately!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh yes, I did! Happy Hannukah!

Despite all the cooking I've done, I've never actually made latkes for Hannukah before. I think it was all the oil splattering everywhere that kind of freaked me out a bit. Growing up, I watched my mom slave away all afternoon making latkes for my sister and I, so I figured I should try to perfect the art of latke making for when I have my own two little ones running around :) Thanks to my mom's Google skills, I was armed with an array of articles detailing the proper cooking techniques and, thanks to my friend Jenna, a great recipe to go off! With my sister's help, the latkes turned out just like the ones my mom used to make us and my apartment still smells like grease today; mission accomplished!

5 lb bag of Russet potatoes
1 large or 2 small onions
3/4 to 1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
vegetable oil for frying

The first step in latke making is peeling and shredding your potatoes. This can be tricky because potatoes turn black once exposed to the air. Since we wanted to do a lot of the prep work earlier in the day, I made my sister stand there and peel the entire bag of potatoes, cut them into thinner pieces (easier to get into the food processor that way), and let them soak in a bowl of cold water until they were ready to be shredded that evening.

While the potatoes were soaking, we readied the remainder of our ingredients. Using the food processor, we shred one large onion and set it aside. We also measured out the dry ingredients and bet the eggs so we could quickly mix it all together later on.

Right before you're ready to make the latkes, shred the potatoes. Once done, remove as much liquid from the potatoes as possible. This took my sister and I a good 15 minutes, an entire roll of paper towel and a strainer!

Once the potatoes are dry enough, mix in the eggs and dry ingredients. The recipe originally called for 1/2 cup of flour but I ended up adding about another half to make the mixture a little drier... resulting in latkes that weren't soggy and greasy.

Heat about 1/4 inch of canola oil in a heavy duty pan or skillet and let it get really hot. Test out the temperature by dropping a small amount of the latke mixture in and seeing if it turns brown within a minute. Once your oil is hot enough, scoop some of the latke mixture using 1/3 cup measurement and drop it in.
Flatten with a spatula and let them cook a couple minutes on each side, or until brown and crispy. Remove and drain the latkes on a paper towel immediately.

Serve with sour cream and apple sauce. Happy Hannukah!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ice Cold Piraguas

A trip to Puerto Rico wouldn't be complete without a walk through the old city, and a walk through the old city wouldn't be complete without an ice cold piragua! Piraguas are made by shaving a big block of ice, molding the shavings into a cone shape and dousing with sweet, tropical flavored syrups. A piragua is the most refreshing thing you could ask for when the sun is beating down on your shoulders and I love the exotic flavors like tamarindo, guanabana and acerola that you can't find in New York very often!

Lots of flavors to choose from, some more exciting than others...

Piragua man, hard at work shaving ice...

My piragua, a combination of guanabana and tamarindo...

I really enjoyed it and almost bought another :)