Sushi Sushi Sushi!

I have been meaning to post this for an obscenely long time, but as my blog description clearly disclaims, I post only during four times of the year; and this isn't one of those "I only drink wine on days that end in Y..." kinds of things. I actually only post when I have a kitchen, which--considering my life is currently packed into four boxes, a suitcase the size of a German shepherd, and my Gregory pack--is not now.

**disclaimer: I don't currently have a camera, either, so all pictures are from my Blackberry.**

I made candy sushi for an April Fool's joke for my Big. It was Rice Krispie treats wrapped around delicious candy bits like Swedish fish (only the red ones, obviously), Glo-Worms, and green Twizzler cucumbers. My friend Ali and I also made Fruit Roll-up nori, Fruit-by-the-foot ginger, and frosting wasabi. (Wow, that was a lot of licensing.)

The final product looked surprisingly real. We tucked it into a real sushi container and couldn't hand it to Helen before busting out laughing. In hindsight, it really wasn't that funny. But she was a good sport about it.

At the same time I was fooling around with my Rice Krispies, Ali was doing this:

Yeah, that's a basket weave... made with frosting. She is frightening with a pastry bag and nozzle. Girl can do anything with a little royal icing! (And yes, that's a recipe written on the back of her hand.)

We were making a cake for a charity competition for our sorority, and the theme was spring, so we made a strawberry cake with lemon buttercream filling, marzipan flowers, and crystallized lemon. I managed to lose the pictures of the cake itself, but it was BEAUTIFUL. Ali is really, really great at cake decorating.

And I maintain that the sushi wasn't so bad, either.


The Macaron

I am going to Nice next spring for a semester abroad. Of all of the wonderful things to see there, I'm of course most excited for the food!!! (Ok, and the Cote d'Azur.) And there is one specialty that I want more than anything... les macarons!

This lovely picture is from Amuses bouche. Like their cookies, I've noticed that French blogs are very well-presented as well as being mouth-wateringly inspiring.

I am desperate to try these. I have, of course, had a macaroon before--I've even made them several times. But they are not the same cookie. It is like comparing cheesecake and flan: they have some of the same ingredients, and they are both desserts, but the comparison ends there. French macarons are an entirely different class of confection, and they seem to be a symbol among the baking community. And why not? Look how cute!!

American macaroons are sometimes difficult to get right. I won't pretend I've made them perfectly, ok, well. Ok, even successfully. Mine have always turned out too flat, or too dry, or too sandy... They are edible, of course, because how can almonds, coconut, egg white, and sugar be inedible? My brother and sister wolfed them down this summer the two times I tried. (I don't usually judge success on my family and friends' reactions, because like me, they will eat anything edible.)

But these cookies are nothing like what I've made! In typical French fashion, macarons are tent iems more beautiful than my peaked and uneven German-american macaroons. I don't think that that speaks poorly of macaroons; these treats are just different and exotic.

If you know anything about macarons, or where I can get them in the Baltimore/DC area, please tell me!



Still thinking about St. Patrick's Day and what I could have made to go along with the grilled cheeses... Gouda is one of them. If I'd had the foresight to go to the store before dinner, I would have bought gouda and havarti for sandwiches. But more importantly, I would have made this little treat from Saveur:

Spicy Guinness Mustard

1 12-oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout
1 1⁄2 cups brown mustard seeds (10 oz.)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice

1. Combine ingredients in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1–2 days so that the mustard seeds soften and the flavors meld.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a jar and cover.


These are a few of my favorite things.

LinkI cook a lot in my dorm. I used to cook a lot more, but now I'm busier. Anyway, this is the best thing I've cooked in my dorm. I wish I'd taken a picture of the appetizers, the mushroom tarts were delicious! The only thing I would change about them is the color, because they were a little bland looking--ok, they looked like beige mush. Using fresh mushrooms would probably improve that, but there weren't any around.

The farmer's market really sucks in Baltimore. I don't care how many people say Waverly is awesome (and apparently it's the best in the city): it sucks. Every vendor is selling the same thing. The only go
od thing I can say about it, is that it has nice cheeses and good cooked foods. But don't go there expecting good quality, reasonably priced fresh produce.

On to the best dorm meal. We started with brie cheese and granny smith apples (my friend didn't like apples so she brought crackers). I thought baked brie was overkill considering how much food was to come. I will post my mom's baked brie recipe later, though, because it is delicious.

After the cheese we moved onto...

Creamy Mushroom Tarts

You will need:
  • Puff pastry cups
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups mushrooms (I used canned)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can condensed milk (I used low fat)
  • fresh dill (sprinkling on top)
Thaw pastries and bake according to directions. Cook garlic and shallot over low heat, then add mushrooms and cook until soft. Salt and pepper. Add the milk and reduce, reduce, reduce.

I think adding cheese to this would be nice, or some kind of acid... It's very, very rich. Anyway, put in cups and sprinkle with dill.

THEN THE MAIN DISH. Steak with a rosemary cabernet sauce, green beans (from farmer's market) with caramelized onions, and garlic mashed potatoes (my friend brought them, from a box).

I won't say much about the steak, because honestly it's just a steak. The sauce is just carrots and more mushrooms (half-cooked in the microwave with four cloves of whole garlic tossed in the steamer, then soaked in wine with rosemary for about half an hour), then cooked in the pan after the steak. Add more wine, reduce, and voila! Sauce! It was done just as the steak was finished resting.

So, there it is! The best dormitory meal ever. Oh, and we had Dominion for dessert. I didn't have time to bake anything AND go shopping AND cook!

Scoops for Spring

It's getting warm(er) in Baltimore now that spring is coming, and I'm in the mood for something sweet and cool... as are, apparently, Leighton Meester and Blake Lively from "Gossip Girl"--according to the latest Rolling Stone cover.

Aaaaah, celebrity. "Gossip Girl" is possibly the greatest show ever. Mmmmm.

And now that I've destroyed any credibility I once had, let me tell you about the joys of Dominion Ice Cream, in Charles Village. Despite having the weirdest hours ever (I won't even bother listing them, because I think they change every couple of months or maybe I just never remember) this is my favorite ice cream! The woman who owns it makes vegetable ice cream. That's right, ice cream out of vegetables.

My favorite flavor is carrot, because it has just the right sweetness. Jalapeno, spinach, and tomato ar epopular as well, and Dominion also has unique flavors like Cardamon for more adventurous palates.

However, I do not get ice cream to be healthy, and my favorite thing at Dominion is the brownie sundae with Cappucino Crunch and chocolate ice creams. Yuuuuuum, first she warms up one of those Little Debbie plastic-wrapped brownies, then the ice cream goes on top, and some other magic happens with fudge sauce and sprinkles and BAM! I am in heaven.

Speaking of ice cream, back on the West Coast I am a frozen yogurt FIEND, and my favorite place is the much-hyped (and never disappointing) Big Spoon on J Street. Chances are, if you're between four and twenty-four, you've been there on a Friday or Saturday (or Tuesday) night (or afternoon). Every time I go I run into someone from my high school.

There are other "fro-yo" venues that I frequent, like Yogurt Monkey on Fair Oaks, near Sierra Oaks, and Mochii on O or P street and 13th. Both of these have wonderful, fresh flavored yogurt and many fruit and chocolate toppings to choose from. I always leave satisfied and happy that I made a semi-healthy dessert choice. These places are great on any summer afternoon. But they are not Big Spoon.

The beauty of Big Spoon lies in the toppings. The yogurt flavors are pretty standard: vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, raspberry, mango, cookies and cream. Seasonally they have unique flavors, like eggnog and peppermint (yum), and snickerdoodle (not yum). But they have every kind of topping you can think of, from marshmallow sauce to magic shell and hot fudge, Scnickers, Kitkat, Reeses, Butterfinger along with carob chips, chocolate covered raisins, and yogurt pretzels. They have mochi and granola as well as cheesecake, brownies, and cookie dough. There is something for everyone at this place, and it won't feel healthy.

My Big Spoon recipe:

  • Cookies and cream OR peanut butter and chocolate and vanilla
  • peanut butter sauce
  • "hard hat" (magic shell)
  • brownie bits
  • cheesecake
  • cookie dough
  • Reeses chunks
  • graham crackers

See, not healthy.

My Mochii Recipe:

  • "Plain" yogurt (it has a wonderful yogurt flavor, not at all like King's Skate's vanilla soft serve that it resembles)
  • raspberries
  • green tea mochi
  • graham cracker
  • chocolate chips
  • granola clusters


Brown Sugar Cupcakes

Inspired by this post from Ezra Pound Cake (originally Martha Stewart), and having just been turned down for an internship, I decided to put off my job interviews and make something delicious. This will also be my first time baking cupcakes (I KNOW!) and I'm not great at frosting, so this will be an adventure.

The batter was a lot thicker than I was expecting it to be. I really had no idea what it would be like, so I'm not sure if that's this recipe or all cupcake batters. I ended up spooning it into the paper cups; it stayed light and fluffy until I popped them in the oven. 

I ruined one when I pulled it out the oven {{klutz}} but I thought, "Frosting should cover it..."

For frosting I used my mom's classic cream cheese recipe, plus a little brown sugar. This recipe is so easy I've been making it since I was five or six years old. In middle school I brought it to class for us to eat with spoons--it's that good. However I was little iffy on the details of the recipe and did the following:

8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese (low fat Philadelphia)
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs milk
and 1 box powdered sugar.

Not enough powdered sugar! I would probably double it next time. As you can see, the frosting is more than a little droopy. (Also, this is one of the bad ones. All the good looking cupcakes disappeared before I had a chance to take pictures.) I also like the frosting to be a little more cream-cheesy, less buttery, but that's just personal preference.

All in all, I was happy but not elated about the final product. The cakes and the frosting were both a little too sweet for me, and the cakes were a little dry. Of course, my family loved them.



Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop is, if not the happiest place on earth, at least the happiest place in Baltimore. I was there a few weeks ago with a group of friends, on Sunday night, and the place was packed! We had to wait about forty minutes to get a seat--granted, we were a group of six or seven. 

But it was so worth the wait. My friend Helen and I split their massive chocolate eclair and "one scoop" of their caffe gelato. Service was slow but, come on, if you're at a pastry shop at eight thirty on a sunday night you're not there for the service.

The food came and it was AMAAAAAAZING. Enough gelato for five people, we passed it around multiple times and it never dwindled! 

222 Albemarle Street
Baltimore, MD

***On mondays, they have a $12.95 all you can eat special. 

St. Patrick's Grilled Cheese

Yesterday I was browsing my favorite food blogs, looking for St. Patrick's Day inspiration. My dad and I are both fasting from meat for lent, so corned beef and cabbage were out. And anything with Bailey's would be out of reach for my younger brother, fifteen, and sister, eighteen. And then I came across a beautiful skillet bread recipe by Nicole from bakingsbites.com. I absolutely love her blog, and this recipe is super super easy, and easily adapted for either sweet (more sugar) or savory (less sugar). 

When I poked my head in our fridge to grab the milk, I noticed my mom's cheese drawer and a beautiful idea formed in my head. Grilled cheese is one of my most favorite foods. We had a bunch of this amazing gruyere and for people who don't like swiss, a mild cheddar, provolone, and shredded jack also worked, although the cheddar got a little oily. (My brother had his with all of the above.) We also had a fresh tomato, a chicken breast leftover, and some spinach. If only we'd had some bacon or smoked ham!

I simply cut the wheel-shaped bread into wedges, sliced those horizontally and stuffed them full of my ingredients. Warm them, covered, in a skillet over low heat and voila! My favorite combination was just gruyere, spinach and tomato, with a little extra salt and pepper.

2 cups flour (plus extra for kneading)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tbs - 2 tbs sugar
1 cup buttermilk (I use regular milk, add 3/4 tsp cream of tartar, and let it set for ten minutes)

Just whisk together dry ingredients, add the milk (I made a well and added milk slowly, but I'm not sure it was necessary; just something I picked up from other bread making), and knead as little as you can, only until it's no longer sticky. I had to add about 1/4 cup of flour to get to this point. Shape it into a ball and roll it out to match the size of your skillet. "Bake" it, uncovered, over low to medium heat for about seven-ten minutes per side, until the crust is golden brown and the bread is set.

For my savory bread, I added onion powder, dried parmesan cheese, and cracked pepper to the dry ingredients; when I rolled it out, I coated one side of the crust in corn meal. I also made a dessert soda bread, adding cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice (1 tbs, 1/2, 1/2, 1/2) and raisins and walnuts to the dry ingredients. When it was done, I drizzled creamed honey over the warm bread and dusted it with powdered sugar. (Only half of it was eaten, so for breakfast I cut it open, toasted it, and spread it with butter.)

Happy cooking!