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Summer preview

Haven’t felt like blogging too much, but to sum up: I am spending the summer in Vermont and I have an ice cream maker. Oh yessss I do.

A preview of summer so far:

Blackberry Custard

Chicken Piccata

At the grand prix jumpers

It is amazing how productive I can be during finals. I mean, I am on a roll. In the past 48 hours alone, I have: mailed in my parking tickets, secured a part time job for the summer, written that last blog post, written this blog post, and made THESE:
Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies. I had half a tub of mascarpone leftover from my tart and I didn’t know what to do with it. So while I was procrastinating, I happened to see this which led me to this recipe. I just happened to have the exact amount of mascarpone, as well as a whole bag of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and Ghiradelli cocoa powder. “PERFECT!” I said to myself as I put aside my english paper again.
Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

I would like to note that I adore my paper topic. However, I love it so much that I don’t want to ruin it by writing about it. Especially when writing about it involves 15 pages! I have never written something so long (maybe a lab report). Especially not about LITERATURE. I will pause right now to reccomend that anyone who hasn’t read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God should go read it immediately. I am rarely effected by a novel. Especially not a book that one would read as “classic literature” <insert haughty accent>. However I was floored by this book. It is vivid and vibrant and so beautiful. Anyone out there who is as addicted to food blogs as much as I am is surely a visual person, and Hurston’s language is as visual as you can get. As I read more and more criticism, I continue to be more and more impressed. For anyone who cares (probably no one, but that’s ok), I am writing about Janie’s ability to visualize herself and her self empowerment, as relating to the power of the visual and the female body.

But back to procrastination…These brownies were superb. They hardly belong in the “brownie” category. More like “fudgy bite of heaven” category. And, you know what? They were not hard to make. This was my first experience with ganache. SO simple and SO delicious. I think next time I would like to use a darker chocolate.

Some more “visual power” for you:
Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

Last week I spent one whole day eating. Then skipped lunch the next days so I could eat more. Especially more of THIS:

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

Let me just talk briefly about thursday, though. First of all, I was very tired, having stayed up until 2 am finishing a presentation. I woke up a little later than I wanted to, so my breakfast was a little late. Then I went to class. Then I was supossed to meet a friend for lunch. Then I went to my afternoon class where we had a long day of presentations. Our prof. brought us snacks as a treat. From there I went to the Relay for Life VIP reception, which was catered, where I ate a whole bunch of snacks and watched everyone sample the beer. So I ate more snacks and complained about how my 21st birthday was in one week. From there I went to dinner with my english class at a prof’s house, where I continued to eat and watch everyone drink wine and complain about how my 21st birthday was in one week. From there I went to our Relay for Life wrap up committee meeting where we got ice cream and sundae stuff to treat the committee. And I ate half a pint of ice cream. What a day! Delicious, but fattening.

But I knew there was more to come, for Friday was the Equestrian Team End of the Year dinner & trail ride. As usual, I was assigned the task of dessert.
Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

I was fretting because I wasn’t sure if people wanted chocolatey or fruity or cakey or creamy. I had originally considered doing this lemon-strawberry tart thing, but I was concerned about my ability to make lemon curd. I had never done it before and I was pressed for time, because I had to finish my research paper before I could go bake. And then there was my iGoogle home page.

This little beauty showed up on my Simply Recipes gadget in my time of need. It was my first time ever making a tart, and it went really well! The tart itself was refreshing and the team polished off the entire thing. The balsamic was subtle and tangy. It was a really interesting addition. My glaze had gotten a little sticky because I let it cool a little too long and it was difficult to glaze with, so I actually would have liked MORE balsamic on my tart, but it was still good.

Next time I make this tart: I will cut my strawberries in halves to make decorating a little easier. I will let my strawberries drain a little more. My only option for draining was a colander and I didn’t get as much of the juice out as I would have liked. They were a little too wet so the top of the tart got a little juicy when I cut it… Now for the recipe:

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Balsamic Glaze

Prep time: About 2 hours, including refrigeration of the dough

  • Crust (used Easy Tart Crust recipe from Epicurious)
  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest, divided
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Bake crust, following directions, weighting it down with pie weights (I used parchment paper with uncooked rice). Let cool.

2. Whilst the crust bakes: Combine your strawberries with half of orange zest and granulated sugar so the strawberries are coated with sugar. Let sit for 30 min to macerate.

3. Mix together the mascarpone cheese, confectioner’s sugar, the remaining orange zest, lemon juice and the vanilla until well combined. Refrigerate until needed.

4. After the strawberries have macerated for 30 minutes, place a sieve over a bowl and drain the liquid out of the strawberry mixture into the bowl. Take that strawberry liquid and put it in a small saucepan. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the saucepan, and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Boil until the liquid has reduced to the consistency of syrup, remove from heat and let cool. I let mine cool too long and it became kind of goopy…Maybe I boiled it too long too?

5. Assemble the tart. Spread the mascarpone mixture over the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the strawberries on top of the mascarpone mixture. Use a pastry brush to brush on the balsamic glaze.

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Helloooo readers! This past weekend was Equestrian Team Movie Night. We watched Hidalgo. I hadn’t baked anything in a while because midterms are HORRIBLE terrible nasty evil creatures. Luckily I had this excuse to procrastinate. So I made these deliiiicous chocolate cupcakes and plopped strawberries on top of them.

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Ever since I went home for spring break to sunny sunny florida I’ve been wanting to make something with strawberries. I also recently bought some muffin tins (mini and regular sized) that I need to get more use out of. Then I realized it’s not exactly strawberry season in Vermont. All the same I went to the grocery store and the strawberries were on sale so I grabbed a couple boxes. My original intent  was to make strawberry cupcakes, but then I realized I needed to puree my strawberries which was not going to happen here in my dorm kitchen. Then I decided that everyone loves chocolate and I had a bunch of it in my Bag of Baking Goodies so I should use it. And besides, strawberries and chocolate TOTALLY go together.

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

I went for simplicity because I did not have a lot of time on my hands. Of course I ended up with too much batter and loved the mini-muffin trays so much that I made..oh…4 or 5 trays of mini cupcakes. One at a time. While watching Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo. Oops. I used the Hersheys cake recipe, which I saw on Lovin’ from the Oven, but I did not in fact use Hersheys chocolate because I think it has a very distinct taste that I don’t like that much. So I used ghiradelli cocoa instead. As for the frosting…well…I REALLY adore Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate frosting. I could eat a tub of that stuff without the cupcake, so why change a bad thing? Being resourceful, I spooned it into a ziplock bag and used it to pipe little swirlies onto my cupcakes.

As usual, the cupcakes were photographed on our grimy kitchen table using our collection of frisbees for dishware and the light of a kind of rainy day.

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ghiradelli cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with bake cups.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on med speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter onto prepared pans.
3. Bake 30-35 minutes if doing 9-inch round pans, 22-25 minutes for cupcakes until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans/cups to wire racks and cool completely.
Frosting: Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate frosting. Spread it on. Pipe it on. Skip the cupcake entirely and eat it with a spoon…

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Update:

  • I have a new, working camera.
  • I just got back from Paris (literally. I’m sitting in the airport. I’ve been “traveling” for 16+ hours right now)
  • All I did was walk around museums and eat for a week (not at the same time).
  • Amanda Palmer is amazing.
  • Spring semester starts tomorrow.
  • I feel sick from this milkshake because I pass the time in airports by eating. Oops.

Since my camera is broken, I checked my iPhoto for any outstanding pictures, and I found these apple pie pictures from early fall, post-Happy Valley. As many people know, I LOVE pie. But you know what I’m not a big fan of? The gooey-ness in fruitpies. I don’t mind it in strawberry rhubarb, but I have a bit problem with cherry pie because of the goo-factor. You know that cornstarch-y goo that messes up those delicious cherries? Bleh!

As such, when it comes to my apple pies, ain’t no cornstarch goin’ near my apples! Luckily, most “Vermont Apple Pie” recipes are in agreement. The first requirement are apples fresh from a Vermont orchard. The apples are then peeled and thinly sliced then tossed with a number of yummy ingredients – sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, flour, etc.

I used the Basic Flaky Pie Crust recipe off of epicurious.

Apples covered in deliciousness peek through the latticetop.

Apples covered in deliciousness peek through the latticetop.

I left my little recipe book up at school, unfortunately, so I don’t have the recipe I used. Most “Vermont Apple Pie” recipes suffice, however. Some have an egg, some have more flour or more butter than others. I like the ones that include a bit of cider vinegar or fresh cider, since we always have those in supply up here. They’re all quite good. All they need is a melted slice of cabot and they are truly vermont pies, then

Apple Pie Time

There’s no goop in THIS pie! Only juicy deliciousness. You can see that space in the pie is taken up by layers of apples and the juice leeched from them during baking. Mmm…

Apple Pie Time

A true Vermont college student enjoys their pie from a Frisbee with Vermont Woodchuck Draft Cider.

It’s the end of fall semester, junior year. What does that mean? It means people are going abroad and this is going to be the last time I see many of them before we are seniors! It is tres, tres sad. We girls decided to have a nice dinner together before everyone dispersed. My initial email said “Make something! It doesn’t matter what just claim it quickly before someone else does”.

Well, due to that little comment we had QUITE the variety of food. And no good pictures because my camera was broken. Here’s what I made though:

Me with Tomato-Mozarella PokeBalls

Tomato-mozarella skewers! We took vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, the little balls of mozarella, cut each one in half and put them together to make one whole sphere. Sarah thought they looked like the PokeBalls in Pokemon. We wrapped a thin slice of basil around them and skewered ‘em. I made a simple balsamic reduction to dip them in.

I also made another appetizer on a whim: Dates with Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto. I saw it on the homepage of epicurious before I went to the store and I was like !!!. If I had to pick my top 10 favorite foods those three things would all be there. Here’s where I found them: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Dates-with-Goat-Cheese-Wrapped-in-Prosciutto-241134 . Pier, who was one of the many people to happen upon our dinner, described them as “An excellent and surprising combination of flavors. The basil is a perfect buffer from the prosciutto to the date.” Well, whatever you say, Pier. They were EXCELLENT, flavorful, and easy to make (only 4 ingredients!). I was later reading the epicurious comments and someone mentioned using walnuts in them. I think the extra crunch would be a great addition. Unfortunately only one horrible picture of them was taken.

Kelsey made spinach-artichoke dip. Kelsey needs..hm…some extra supervision when cooking. She has a bad habit of reading measurements wrong (Which she did even with me there next to her. We just ended up doubling the recipe.). We used the spinach-artichoke dip recipe from Closet Cooking. We did not leave enough time for it to bake to that nice golden crust on top but it was good all the same. I think I would have been content with a simpler version still.

We just doubled the recipe...

Kelsey making dip, messing up dip, then fixing it.

Laurel made a salad with spinach and mixed baby greens, pine nuts, goat cheese, cranberry’s and Brianna’s Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing. Laurel also brought along the music… A couple weeks ago Laurel went to the SIM-Mamajamas a capella concert and bought a raffle ticket for $1. It seems she was the only person to do so because she won a song from SIM (Stuck In the Middle – one of our boys a capella groups) whenever she wanted. Well we thought our dinner would be the perfect time. And they sung three songs. “A dollar well spent?” we asked her. “Definitely! Three songs? That’s better than iTunes!” she replied.

Our own personal performance. Definitely better than iTunes.

Our own personal performance. Definitely better than iTunes.

Sarah made pasta with pesto. Wendy made something wonderful with a spanish name I don’t remember, but it was pretty much deconstructed pot roast; Shredded beef with chopped carrots, potatoes, and onions. Jenny made her “yummy grape thing“, which was essentially grapes with cream cheese icing. Claire made a caramel turtle cake. Halley made this delicious beverage made out of mixed berry sherbet and 7up.

We ate off of frisbees (because that’s how we do in Brooker…) and it was lovely and delicious.

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