Friday, March 30, 2012

The Most Important Meal of the Day

I am a huge fan of breakfast; it is definitely my favorite meal of the day. I try to stick to a healthy breakfast of egg whites and fruit during the week and indulge on the weekends. By Saturday morning I am usually eager for a sky high stack of pancakes or a hearty omelet. Scones have always been another breakfast favorite. They always remind me of weekend mornings with my dad when we would walk to get muffins and cranberry-orange scones from our nearby coffee shop. These raspberry scones are perfect, not to dense and just sweet enough!
Ingredients:
·         2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
·         1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
·         1 tablespoon baking powder
·         3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
·         1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
·         3/4 cup buttermilk
·         1 large egg yolk
·         1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries (6 ounces)
Preparation:
1.      Preheat oven to 400.
2.      Cut butter into pieces and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. When making scones and pie crusts, the colder the butter the better.
3.      In a food processor, pulse together flour, cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and pulse until pea-size pieces form. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg yolk. Slowly pour buttermilk mixture through feed tube into processor, pulsing until dough just comes together.
Pulse butter and dry ingredients

Slowly add buttermilk
 
4.      Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle raspberries on top. The frozen raspberries work better as they don't get mushy when you work them into the dough. Knead three times to fold in raspberries (there may be loose pieces of dough and a stray berry or two). Gather and pat dough into a 1-inch-thick square and cut or pull apart into 2-inch pieces. Place pieces, about 2 inches apart, on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets and sprinkle tops with 1 tablespoon sugar.
5.      Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let scones cool slightly on sheets on wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Push raspberries into dough
   
         
                Cut into small squares
 
         
                Place in the oven and bake!
                           




  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Summer Lovin


Welcome

Our brief encounter with summer, and the now chilly temperatures, has left me daydreaming of beach days and summer nights. Although I grew up in NY, the Rhode Island coast has always been my second home. I started spending my summer’s in a small town in Rhode Island when I was about 8 years old and I have spent every summer there since. It is truly one of the most beautiful, peaceful places in the world and I am itching for the time to finally arrive when I can hop in the car and head straight to the beach. The New England coast has a long list of things to do and see, however the beautiful beach houses always catch my eye. Here are some of my favorite beachy  New England homes to get you daydreaming as well!




Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"I'm Turning Japanese" The Vapors

Sushi Time!
I would definitely call myself an avid sushi lover. Sushi, take out or delivery, is generally a weekly habit of mine, and has been for many years. I am willing to try anything, although I generally am a repeat offender when it comes to my rolls. I do partake in the occasional fancy roll but I go back to my spicy tuna roll every time. Making sushi has always been on my to do list but when looking at the colorful assortment of fish, packed tightly inside rice and seaweed makes the task daunting. This past weekend I decided I was going to tackle my fear and attempted to create a few rolls. The result was just as wonderful as I imagined (I also reconfirmed my love for spicy mayo). Once you get the hang of how to roll the sushi the types of rolls you can create are endless!

Tools:
·         Sushi Mat (I used plastic wrap because I couldn’t find one anywhere, it worked pretty well)
·         Sharp Serrated Knife

Ingredients:
·         Nori (Seaweed)
·         Sesame Seeds
·         Sushi Rice
·         Tuna (sushi grade only)
·         Avocado
·         Hot Sesame Oil
·         Wasabi
·         Rice Vinegar
·         Light Mayo
·         Sriracha Chili Sauce
·         Soy Sauce


Spicy Tuna Roll with Avocado
  • Tuna
  • Sushi Rice
  • ½ of an Avocado, sliced
  • 1 tsp. Hot Sesame Oil
Spicy Mayo 
  • ½ Cup Light Mayo 
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha Chili Sauce (depends on your desired level of spiciness, I like it hot!)
  • Dash of Hot Sesame Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Soy Sauce
Preparation
1. Prepare sushi rice as directed; add 2 Tbsps. of rice vinegar to rice while cooking.
2. While rice is cooking make spicy mayo by comibining all ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
3. Dice tuna and place in small bowl. Add sesame oil and spicy mayo. Stir to combine.
4. Place 1 sheet of Nori on your sushi mat or plastic wrap. Wet your fingers in water. Spread a thin layer of sushi rice over the seaweed, but do not cover completely. Leave a 1-inch margin at the ends to seal the roll.
5. Spread 2 tablespoons of the tuna mixture across the rice. Place avocado slices on top.


 
6.      Time to Roll: carefully fold the end of the mat nearest to you over the filling and roll it under. You must be gentle but you also want to make sure it is rolled tightly. Remove the mat and place on a cutting board, seam side down. Dampen your knife and slice the roll in half and then into smaller slices. Top with sesame seeds. Serve with Wasabi and Soy Sauce.

Slice and Serve!
*Some rolling skills courtesy of my boyfriend

A Little Something Extra
I had a bit of the spicy tuna mixture left over and I decided to attempt a version of the amazing Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice from Katsuya in Los Angeles. It turned out pretty great if I do say so myself!
1.      Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan.
2.      Take a handful of sushi rice and pack it into a flat patty. Place in the oiled pan and fry.
3.      Carefully flip the rice patty, cooking until crisp.
4.      Once the rice is nice and crispy slide it onto a plate and top with avocado, spicy tuna mixture, sesame seeds and a dash of soy sauce.
5.      Yum!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Neon Nation


The Bright Side
After Ultra Music Festival this past weekend, and with our brief stint of warm weather, neon is everywhere. Our quick glimpse of summer seemed to get everyone excited for spring trends. I am a huge fan of the bright color trend that is popping up everywhere this spring and plan to incorporate it into my wardrobe. The trick is to not overdo it, stick with basic pieces to compliment your statement. Also, adding a little splash of color to an outfit definitely brightens up your day!

Chartreuse

 
Head to Toe
  
Bright Lights
 
Pink Lady
 



 



Accessorize
Hint of Pink

Monday, March 26, 2012

"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines..." Ludwig Bemelmas

Heavenly Madelines

I had been debating getting a Madelines tray for a while, after I had become absolutely addicted to the French cookies, and I finally picked one up last week. I love the buttery delicious Madelines from Starbucks (they are a workday guilty pleasure) and I was determined to recreate them on my own. Although these did not turn out as buttery, they were light and heavenly, and so easy to make! These cookies also go perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee. There are also a ton of variations you can try with Madelines, which I will certainly be making in the future!

Ingredients:
·         1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 2 Tbsp. for brushing the pan
·         1 cup all-purpose flour
·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·         1/8 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon lemon zest
·         3 large eggs, at room temperature
·         2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated white sugar
·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:
1.       Preheat to 375 degrees F,
2.       Melt the butter and allow it to cool while you make the batter.
3.       In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
4.       In a large bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat at medium-high speed until the mixture has double in size and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted (around 5 minutes).  Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest, mix to combine.
5.       Sift a small amount of the flour mixture into the egg mixture. With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour to create a light batter. Continuing sifting the rest of the flour until just combined. Make sure not to over mix or the batter will become dense. 
6.       Add a small amount of the egg mixture into the melted butter and whisk to lighten it. Then fold in the rest of the melted butter in stages. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
7.       While batter is being refrigerated melt the remaining butter. Using a brush, coat the Madeline tray with butter (you can also spray the pan with cooking spray). Lightly dust molds with flour, tapping the pan to remove any excess flour.
8.       Remove batter from the fridge. Using a tablespoon, drop a generous amount of the batter into the center of each mold. Resist the urge to spread, leave the batter in the center (I made this mistake with the first batch leaving them with uneven edges).  
9.       Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the centers spring back when lightly touched.  I recommend checking on these right at 11 minutes, you do not want to over bake them or they will be dry.
10.    Let the cookies rest for 10 minutes and gently remove them from the mold. They should come out very easily. Place the Madelines smooth side down on a wire rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar if you would like.
Fresh from the oven

Makes about 24 - 3 inch madeleines.

Variations:
Lemon-Glazed Madeleines:
In a small bowl mix 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water.
When madelines have cooled, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated.
After dipping, place on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze is firm.

Black and White Madeleines:
Melt 4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler until melted.  Let cool slightly.
Once Madelines have cooled slightly, dip half of the cookie into the melted chocolate. Place on tray until hardened.
 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Time to Bake


Lemonade Layer Cake

The Perfect Spring Cake

Recently my grandma had us over for an impromptu family dinner and I jumped at the opportunity as I had been waiting for an excuse to make an oogey gooey chocolaty goodness type dessert. Just as soon as my mouth began to water my mom reminded me that she had given up chocolate for Lent and it would be much appreciated if I made something she could enjoy as well. After searching through my go to dessert recipes and seeing chocolate after chocolate I stumbled upon a hidden gem; Lemonade Cake. This cake was fabulous as it was light and airy while the frosting added a bit more density to it. Aside from being scrumptious it went perfectly with the new spring weather!


Ingredients

Ingredients 

    Cake:
    • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
    • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
    • 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 large egg whites
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
    • Cooking spray

    Frosting:
    • 2 tablespoons butter, softened 
    • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind 
    • 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate*
    • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream (whole milk can be used as well)
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese 
    • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    *I used Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade as it always and forever reminds me of setting up shop on my stoop and selling lemonade. You can use pink lemonade too to add a little flare!

    Preparation

      Lemon Zest
    1. Preheat oven to 350°.
    2. For the cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until all ingredients are well blended (a few minutes). Combine the eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Measure the flour and combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir until mixed. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beating the mixture well after each addition.
      Add flour mixture and buttermilk to batter
    3. Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; carefully tap pans on the counter to remove air bubbles.
    4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
    5. To prepare frosting, place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time and beating at low speed until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
    6. Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
    7. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread top of cake with frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (If frosting is too soft refrigerate cake for half an hour)
    8. Eat and enjoy!
    Adapted from Cooking Light