Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Olive Oil Cake... with Orange, Almond and a citrus glaze

For quite a few weeks now, I have been eyeing this un-used bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in my pantry. I really only cook with regular olive oil, as this "extra virgin" stuff, or as Rachael Ray calls it: "EVOO" is super fruity and adds quite a different flavor when you cook. Upon surfing the website (by the way, if you don't know what it is, please check it out as it hosts the best food blogs and recipes all compiled into one big site. I may or may not have spent hours trolling this URL), I came upon an "olive oil cake" recipe. GENIUS!

Upon more hours surfing the world wide webs, the recipes all sounded pretty easy and similar to other cake recipes, but with a fruity twist. I decided to pair mine with some orange zest, and a citrus glaze to keep it moist, topped with slivered almonds for crunch. These flavor combos had my tongue thinking I was in Italy, but alas, this was surely baked in my Brooklyn kitchen, and couldn't be easier. You won't regret this if you try it. Buon Appetit!


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
zest of three large oranges (or 3 tbsp worth)
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds, for topping

Citrus Glaze:
juice of 3 large oranges
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat your oven to 350F and line a 8 or 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper, lightly oil or spray the pan before lining to prevent sticking. Begin with a medium bowl and sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl using an electric mixer, or a whisk, beat together the eggs, sugar and orange zest until the eggs are light and fluffy, sugar is creamed and the mixture about doubles in size (takes roughly 5 minutes if using the electric mixer). Beat in the buttermilk until incorporated, then gradually add the olive oil, little by little, continuing to use the electric mixer or whisking swiftly. This will prevent the batter from looking like an oil&water mess, and rather create a nice emulsion. Once fully incporporated, take the flour mixture and add little by little by folding in with a spatula. This will keep the cake from deflating. Add the batter to your greased/lined cake pan and evenly top with the slivered almonds. Bake for 35-45 minutes (my oven took 47 minutes, so be sure to use the toothpick test and wait until it comes out clean in the middle of the cake). Let cool thoroughly on a drying rack. Prepare the glaze: juice your oranges and add the sugar, & whisk together until sugar fully dissolves. Poke some holes in your cake with a toothpick in an even manner (not too many, just enough to let the glaze seep through in each part). Gently glaze the enture surface area of the cake with a small spoon, and let dry.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This post almost kills me to write. I am anything but a traditional baker, and I am sorry but red velvet cupcakes just don't tickle my fancy. The only word that comes to mind when I hear someone wants this flavor is: BORINGGGG!!!! This, coming from a girl who likes to die a strip of her hair pink in the summer just for the hell of it. It takes all kinds, right?

But hey, these cupcakes are topped with cream cheese frosting and is still a yummy treat. So, when my co-workers asked me to bring some to our pot-luck lunch, I couldn't say no. Shout out to my fellow team members BTW--- I love you all and I did this for you. I think you liked 'em as there were no leftovers come the end of the day. Anyways, here it is. My version of a semi-lighter and yet still delicious red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting.

Yields: 48 mini cupcakes or 24 regular sized-cupcakes
Baking time: 12-15 minutes (mini sized) or until toothpick comes out clean


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp red food coloring
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp distilled white vinegar

Begin by preheating your oven to 350F and lining your cupcake trays. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, oil, apple sauce, vinegar, food coloring, buttermilk & vanilla extract. until just combined. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, & salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk together thoroughly until combined. Fill the cupcakes 3/4 of the way. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean, let cool on rack thoroughly before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:


6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 8 oz package cream cheese
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl of your stand mixer or hand held mixer, beat the butter & cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time, and add the vanilla extract alternatively. This makes a stiff frosting and is beautiful for decorating with fun piping tips. If you like a loser frosting, add 2-4 tbsp milk to thin it out.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Because Love is Dangerous.... and so is baking.

It's about that time. Yup.

Time for hearts, chocolates, love songs, candies & flowers.....


Screw that. It's time for some cookies....

Chocolate Espresso Sandwich cookies, to be precise. Because love is dangerous, and so is sugar. So let's dive right in!

We chose to decorate our cookie sammy's with "?"s and cross-bones, being the rebels that we are. Threw in a few chocolate espresso hearts for good measure & festivity. The frostings can easily be piped into different shapes and logos on the top of the cookie, so get creative! Impress your honey, your friends, or even just yourself. Because let's be honest, that's all that really matters, right?



1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 tsps instant coffee powder
1 egg
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick unsalted)


1 stick butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp milk
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar, more or less for desired texture

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp mascarpone
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp instant coffee

Begin by preheating your oven to 350F. Next, get the food processor out (if you don't have one, your hands and a bowl will work just fine!). Pulse the butter, flour, sugar, vanilla, and coffee in a food processor until forms bread crumb-like texture. Add egg and pulse until dough forms, another 2-3 minutes. Or mush them all together with your hands until you have cookie dough. 

Roll the dough out on a powdered-sugar dusted surface to 1/2 inch thickness. Get out your heart shaped cookie-cutter and slice them up. Arrange on a cookie tray and bake 8-10 minutes (less time if cookies are thinner than 5 millimeters). Let cool thoroughly on a wrack until cooled. Meanwhile, make the frostings.

Chocolate frosting: whip together the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, & milk together until light and fluffy. Pipe into piping bag and snip just the small end of the tip (or even a ziplock bag will work just fine).
Coffee frosting: whip together the butter, mascarpone, instant coffee, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Pipe into a separate piping bag and snip end off similarly to the chocolate. 

Once the cookies have cooled, flip them over (baked flat side up). Pipe a dime size amount of each frosting in the center of the cookie. Take a second cookie, and place onto the frosting (baked flat side on the frosting). Press down to even out frosting. Continue with remainder cookies, and pipe decorations on the top of the sandwich with the chocolate frosting for added effect. 

Happy Valentine's Day, our fellow foodies!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Sometimes to get through the week, all you need is some peanut butter & jelly.

Or at least, that's what I used as therapy last night. No harm, and so much cheaper than a shrink!

Simple, sweet, yet still so decadent and mouth-wateringly fantastic.

These bars don't need much of an introduction, just take a peek and please, for the love of all that's holy in PB&J land, try them. It takes a stellar 15 minutes to whip them together, another 30 to bake, and about 18 seconds to devour.



1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup smooth/creamy peanut butter (all natural works best)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups favorite jam (grape, strawberry, take your pick!)
1/2 cup oats (instant work best)
Nonstick spray for pan

Begin by lining an 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inch pan with tin foil or parchment paper, and spraying with non stick spray. Refrigerate while you make the batter. Preheat oven to 350F.

Batter: cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg until just combined. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. You may need to use your hands towards the end, as the batter gets pretty thick/dough like and a hand mixer won't have the elbow grease.

Knead the dough into one big ball and split in half. Return one half of the mixture to your mixing bowl, and take the other half and press to the bottom of your greased/refrigerated pan with your hands to coat evenly. Meanwhile, take the second half in the mixing bowl and knead in the oats. Place back in bowl while add jam layer.

Jam layer: spread your favorite jam (at least 1 - 1 1/2 cups) evenly across the pressed peanut butter dough on the pan.

Top layer: take the peanut butter & oats dough and sprinkle across the top to make a crumble. Easily done by breaking off into quarter sized rings and placing along the top, coating the jam layer thoroughly.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until top layer is browned. Let cool thoroughly before removing and slicing.

Makes roughly 16-18 squares.

Slice, and store in air tight container in refrigerator, if desired.

Spicy Curry Poached Eggs

Who does not like breakfast for dinner!? It’s a no brainer on a busy weeknight, after a tiring day at work. It’s quick, healthy and delicious! I love it, but I tend to get bored with the regular old scrambled eggs and toast. So I decided to put a fun spin on an old classic Indian Dish of Egg Curry. Egg Curry is traditionally made with hard-boiled eggs (barf!); but I love my eggs with the yolk a little runny, so this recipe worked great for me and for the toasted pita bread, that got the pleasure of sopping up all that yummy yolk and tomato curry!

It’s the perfect way to put a Gourmet Spin on a simple Egg. Here's how you do it:

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Jalapeños, finely chopped (you can add more to suit your taste)
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
2 ½  teaspoon Garam Masala (easily available in your Grocery stores Ethnic Foods aisle)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Salt and Pepper to taste
4-5 eggs (depends on how wide your skillet is and how many people you want to serve)
1/4 cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Chives

Warm Pitas and Home Fries, for serving

·      Heat the oil in a deep bottom skillet. Add green peppers, onions and Jalapeños and cook until soft and golden brown
·      Now add Garlic, Cumin, Turmeric, Garam Masala and paprika, and cook for an additional 2 minutes
·      In a separate bowl, pour the canned whole tomatoes, liquid and all and crush with your hands
·      Now add the crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper
·      Prepare the eggs in the meantime. I used 5 small ramekins, cracked an egg in each, which made it easier to add to the curry sauce. Once the sauce has thickened a little, carefully pour one egg at a time, into the sauce. Use a Spatula to nestle the egg into the sauce, and cover the skillet
·      This will need to now cook for another 5-10 minutes minutes, the whites will be completely cooked and the yolks will settle a bit but still be runny when you serve. Perfect!
·      As soon as eggs are cooked, sprinkle crumbled goat cheese and chives on top and you are ready to eat!!

Serve alongside a warm toasted Pita and a side of Home Fries. Creamy, spicy, tangy and oh so delicious!!