Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking suggestions

I haven't created anything in awhile...I think I will create something soon.

Any suggestions?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Punitions - My Punishment

I've discovered baking. I haven't baked many items but slowly and surely I am getting the hang of it and becoming comfortable.

Today was a busy early day and I decided to make a simple treat. I watched Sunday Morning, one of my favorite shows, a few weeks ago and the were talking about a bakery in France (the famous Poilâne bakery). I am a fan of ALL things sweet so I decided to try these.

I pulled out the workhorse KA food processor and began. The softened butter, the half a cup of sugar, the all purpose flour and the egg. I vanilla, no lemon, no NOTHING? I divided the dough and put one half in our fridge and decided to try the other half right then. It rolls out well and it is one delicate dough.

The cookies are light, delicate and crisp. The punition has no color and I marveled. At first I thought I made a mistake. I was initially disappointed in these cookies. I did not see the hype. I took a bite of the cookie and was not particularly impressed. I thought it lacked flavor. I said to myself "no vanilla, no nothing" I shared the cookies with my partner and before we knew it...the batch was gone.

I beg to differ...the punishment is not in the waiting but the fact that they go so fast.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Brunch

Historically, we have an Easter Brunch and we pull out all the stops. This year, with my partner's impending surgery, we have scaled back. My Mother is the only attendee and we are keeping it simple.

Our menu consists of:

hash brown casserole
green bean casserole
white chocolate pound cake
Macerated strawberries with sugar and balsamic vinegar
roasted turkey
eggs the way you like them
pressed coffee

I served this white chocolate pound cake with the macerated strawberries and offered a choice between riesling sorbet or a delicious gelato from whole foods.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Ahhhhhh this was such a sweet sweet treat. It was labor intensive but the results were worth it. I prepped for the most part of the day and laid everything out.

It was the most amazing experience. The dough was sweet and tender. Very easy to manipulate (which is often not the case). The filling was a dark dark chocolate - I used the best chocolate I could get my hands on. It truly is amazing.

Chocolate Babka - this is SmittenKitchen's version...

When shaping the babka, twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full 5 to 6 turns. The babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.

Makes 3 loaves (but I made two full-sized and three miniature ones)

1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Streusel topping (below)

1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.

8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

* After chopping the chocolate into moderately sized chunks, I used the food processor to pulse the rest of the chocolate in two batches to small bits. It saved a lot of time!

Streusel Topping

Makes 3 3/4 cups.

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Getting to know your blogger, part deux

1. What is your first name? Crystal
2. What is your favorite food? chicken piccata
3. What high school did you go to? Westside
4. What is your favorite color? black
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Keanu Reeves
6. Favorite drink? sweet iced tea
7. Dream vacation? Italy
8. Favorite dessert?Tiramisu
9. What you want to be when you grow up? art curator
10. What do you love most in life? my family
11. One Word to describe you. Glorious
12. Your flickr name. tafkap4d

Getting to know your blogger...


Metal or non-stick? Metal. I use All Clad and/or Le Creuset most of the time

Cast iron or stainless? Cast iron. OOOH! I have my Maternal Grandmother's cast iron skillet and I love it.

Cutting board: silicone or wood? Both

Knife: carbon steel or stainless? Carbon steel. Wusthof Classic.

Kitchenaid or hand mixer? Gah! trick question - I was gifted with the KitchenAid Pro 6 for Christmas one year - so I do use it and then an old school cheap hand model as well.

Cooktop: gas, electric, induction? Electric. Sigh. I dream of having gas. Ahhh the horror! When I was young, I had gas and couldn't master it. Now I am an experienced and a pretty good cook...I can't get gas.

Side-by-side, freezer on top, fridge on top? Freezer on top but that was NOT my idea - I wanted the french refrigerator...ahhhh compromise.

Apron or whoops? Neither - I am a pretty neat cook - it all lands on the counters

Mashed potatoes: by hand, ricer, or mixer? Depends

Sandwich or wrap? Wraps - loving the variety of wraps that are out there

PB & _________ ? jelly - grape or chocolate or just peanut butter. I love peanut butter.

Pancakes: syrup or applesauce? Syrup on pancakes other than potato pancakes and then that is applesauce

Cake: scratch or mix? Scratch. It’s all about the love

Chili: beans or no? Beans.

Napkin: cloth or paper? paper

BBQ: takes the whole weekend to make or take out? BOTH!!!!!

Chicken: white or dark? Both!!!

Ice cream: cone or dish? cup

Comfort food

Comfort food is a GOOD thing! Not just the physical comfort you gain from the familiar but the mental and emotional comfort speaks just as loudly.

For many reasons, these are the times that try men (and women's) souls. Typically, I turn to food for comfort, as I think most of us do. I now am attempting to not overcomfort.

In the midst of issues, I'm eating more to sustain myself and I do understand the difference. I made a great smoothie yesterday morning - organic frozen berries, vanilla whey powder, wheat germ, half of a banana, soy milk, fage yogurt and a small amount of agave syrup. I hate bananas but I need the potassium. This morning the twist was - vanilla soy milk, chocolate whey powder, half of a banana, agave syrup, the requisite ice cubes and two spoonfuls of peanut butter. Not bad.

We had an appointment in Marietta during the week and managed to sneak by Metanoya - I am pleased to say that her food is still as amazing as it was when she was in Roswell.

Check her out! Eat and love with no restraints.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happiness is....

a feeling, an emotion, something that can be triggered, something learned.

I'm tired...I don't have any strength...I ache.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday...lovely Sunday

Sunday has long been my favorite day of the week. Today proved this to me again.

I was so tired and I slept in late. I woke up groggy and grumpy. I had to press the button for coffee and I made a serving of steel cut oatmeal. I saw that tiny amount of oatmeal and my grumpiness went to just plain annoyance. I ate my portion and headed upstairs to shampoo my hair.

We went out to pick out household items and ended up at Olive Garden for a quick meal - Olive Garden gives me good feelings - family and fun. While it is not my fave Italian restaurant (I vote for Baci or Giovanna's) it gives me good feelings. We shared soup, salad, caprese flatbread, calamari and a luscious lemon cake (which was really good) and conversation.

This really made my Sunday. Thanks, SK!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crocdile (Croc) Cooker GelPro Poll

I began this blog lamenting about the hardwood floors in our house. Are we ever truly happy? That is fodder for another blog (smile). The hardwood floors throughout were what sealed it for us in this house and I stood there complaining that my feet hurt. I whined to my partner and showed her the Gel Pro kitchen mats. I stated my case (like the Lawyer in training that I am) and she said "You're kidding me? All that money for a mat." I went to one of my favorite websites for the culinary lover and began asking about the Gel Pro mats only to have my heart broken. "That is way too much money" "Buy the black mats you see in conventional kitchens" "Why don't you wear shoes in your house?" and the case for the Gel Pro mats was not a good one.

Someone mentioned Crocs and I immediately thought about Mario Batali (not a favorite chef of mine at all) and I mentioned it to my partner. On a solitary trek to Whole Foods she came back with...a pair of blue crocs and sparkly jewel jibbitz. Oooooooo, ahhhhhhhh, ohhhhhhhhhh.

Much to my surprise, the Crocs worked and I was exalted to The Crocodile (Croc) Cooker.

Now, the Crocodile Cooker is pleased to announce that for Christmas my partner gave me a gift certificate to GelPro. I am trying to narrow down what I want for the kitchen. We have white cabinetry and the most glorious honey pine flooring. The appliances are stainless (with the exception of the white dishwasher and white stove hood - GROANS) with accents of black. I think black is too start but I love the basket weave pattern and red...makes my heart sing but I am not sure I want the striated one. me decide. Results will be posted and the person whose response helps me make my decision will receive a prize.

What say you?