Archive | October, 2015

It’s that time of year: Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

8 Oct

Five years and dozens of cookies. Since 2011, we’ve loved taking part in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen — and benefitting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Every year, we up the ante by baking an extra dozen cookies — in addition to the three we already bake and send to other food bloggers — to send to each other.

In honor of five years of holiday cookie creation, here’s a look back at our lineup from years past.

2014

2014 cookie swap

Hannah: Green Tea Biscotti

Nora: Cranberry-Pistachio Shortbread

2013

Hannah: Swirled Sugar Cookies

Nora: Pecan Sandies

2012

Hannah: Cranberry Noels

Nora: Cherry-Almond and Chocolate-Walnut combos

2011

Hannah: Chocolate-Cranberry Biscotti

Nora: Ginger Snaps

 

Can’t wait to see what we come up with this year. Happy Baking!

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Catching you up to speed: Denver (And then…Brooklyn.)

6 Oct

As Nora mentioned in her post, we’ve had crazy years (the lamest excuse) and have both confronted the idea that we need to play with the format of this four year old (!) blog. We’re going to be doing baking challenges less frequently (target is once a month) and more frequent baking/cooking roundup posts. In the meantime, here are a very select few things I baked (or cooked) since we fell off the wagon:

This winter was nuts for me, as I studied for and took the MCAT in January. In February, I made one of my favorite recipes in the world, Martha Stewart’s Chocolate-Espresso Tart. This is out of my Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts book, which is (a) probably my most-used cookbook and (b) was a gift from Nora back in the day. Actually, Nora and I first used this recipe together when she visited my first Denver apartment in 2012! (we drank champagne and wore The Cat Hat and I had a broken arm.)

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Spring rolled around and I did a lot of great baking, and also made these beautiful panna cottas from a great Kitchn recipe to serve my mom for Mother’s Day. Nora visited, and we spent several hours being rained out at a Rockies game.

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I spent my free time in the summer relaxing, camping, hiking, and enjoying the company of my friends! My friend made these amazing eggs shakshuka while camping in August, and they are too pretty not to share.

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Then, in late August, I moved to…New York City! I effectively doubled the distance between the Cats and Commas duo (oops).

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I live in Park Slope, which is the best. My kitchen is…small. Since arriving, I have gotten super into making jams and preserves (not new to me) and have branched out into pickles (definitely new to me!). Here’s some of the plum preserves I made with beautiful Upstate Elephant Heart plums, as well as dilled pickled beans and cardamom-pickled carrots.

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Bonus: here’s what cooking in my Denver house looked like all year:

Rosettes: Portland

6 Oct
Sometimes, baking inspiration just comes to you. For Hannah and I, it took a trip to the Scandinavian Heritage Center in Southwest Portland (with a delicious brunch at my fav place, Broder) and a random garage sale next door.
It was our first try at rosettes, a traditional Scandinavian cookie much like a funnel cake, and these were probably three of the best.
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Our rosette adventure started when we stumbled upon this vintage Nordic Ware rosette iron set — for only 25 cents. And who wouldn’t pass up that kind of deal? Let us also point out that a new set with essentially the same equipment will cost you close to $50.

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Equipment in hand, we mixed up some rosette batter and heated up some oil. We soon learned that the tutorials online make this look a lot easier than it is. Lesson 1: Heat the oil in a deeper pan next time, and make sure the irons are really hot before starting. (Side note: This vintage set is cool because you can, in theory, fry two cookies at once.)

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The recipes we found told us to dip the irons in the oil until hot, then dip in the batter and return to the pan until the bubbling stopped. Lesson 2: Do not get the batter too high on the iron, or it won’t come off easily (kind of duh, but you’d be surprised how many times I messed this up at first).

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Sometimes the rosettes came out perfectly (see below), but most often they didn’t look like the pictures we saw online. Still, now that I’m the proud owner of a rosette set, I’ll have to try these again, probably closer to Christmas.

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Once I try a couple recipes, I’ll get back to you on which worked best. The batter recipes don’t vary much, but the technique and cooking equipment does. Here are a few I looked at online, with some tips from each.

From Food.com: gives a specific temperature and depth for the oil
From Rachael Ray: liquid measure used to hold the batter
From Pinch My Salt: uses a Dutch oven to hold the oil
From Food Network: batter adds cardamom, a lovely spice
From King Arthur Flour: suggests chilling the batter before frying

Belated baked goods: Portland

5 Oct

 

It’s been a busy baking year, though when it comes to sharing (the photos, at least), it’s been a struggle. Here’s a look at some of the more memorable baked goods I made in the first nine months of 2015.

Sept. 1: Chocolate chip bundt cake with chocolate ganache glaze. By special request for a retiring coworker. Recipes: a combination of one from Serious Eats and All Recipes. The ganache was a little too runny, but it worked out ok.

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Sept. 25: Brown sugar apple pie with oatmeal crisp topping. The thin-sliced apples really made this one. Recipe from “Pie,” adapted slightly for more brown sugar.

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April 28: Grilled cheese waffle with homemade tomato soup. Great comfort-food combo. Recipes: waffles from my “Waffles” cookbook (but similar to this one) and soup from the Neelys of Food Network.

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April 12: Beef and bacon pie. Essentially a beef stew inside a savory crust. And with an honest-to-goodness bacon lattice. Baked in honor of the Game of Thrones premiere. Recipe from Blaine’s “A Feast of Ice and Fire” cookbook.

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April 25: Shrimp, leek and asparagus pizza. And hence began this spring’s obsession with leeks, a vegetable I had previously (and quite wrongfully) ignored. Recipe from Foodday in The Oregonian.

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Aug. 23: Tomato tart with mustard, garlic-cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. This summer’s record heat meant Portland’s tomato crop went wild. My coworker was nice enough to donate his extras, and this was the result. Heavily adapted recipe from “The Oregonian Cookbook,” but along these lines.

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Deep-dish apple tart: Portland

5 Oct

Well, it appears I started this post months ago and forgot to finish it. (Rats!) So, much delayed though it is, I present my attempt at an Amsterdam-style apple tart. All in all, I’d say it turned out pretty well for a first attempt.

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Used a combination of apples, including golden delicious and probably gala (honestly, it’s been too long).

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Love how cut butter looks before being blended with sugar.

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The key, it seems, is dough that’s sturdy enough to hold up in a pie crust-like shape, yet dense enough to be fluffy like cake.

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Apples and cinnamon: no better combo

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A little egg wash before baking

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The top came out wonderfully browned

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Not quite the same texture as the piece we ate in Amsterdam, but it was well received at the office and is probably the best-looking baked good I’ve ever made (and mine usually aren’t so aesthetically pleasing), so I’ll call it a victory for Upfish.

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Peach Pie Escapades, August 2015

5 Oct

Excuse my vertical video (I always forget to make them horizontal):

Look at that puppy bubble. My first pie from Brooklyn!

My loosely-followed recipe.