Friday, April 8, 2011

Rogue Ales' Chocolate Stout Cupcake with Whipped Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting

Yeah, that's right, I made a car bomb cupcake!

I was bored the other night and in the mood the bake something. When my roommate texted me and told me she was suffering through some seasonal allergies (I think her exact words were, "I still feel like a pile of dog sh*t"), I decided to do something sweet for her. I knew one thing: it had to be chocolate. I don't think I've seen her eat a dessert that wasn't chocolate-based... So I started brainstorming and looking through my favorite food blogs to get some ideas.

Now I cannot claim credit for the idea of this cupcake. I owe that to the goddess over at Smitten Kitchen for her chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes. She even made a chocolate whiskey ganache and filled the cupcakes so it would look like a shot of Bailey's being dropped unceremoniously into a pint of Guinness. While the ingenuity of this idea astounds me, I felt like it would be too sweet for my personal taste. The Smitten Kitchen recipe also uses a butter cream frosting. I am not the biggest fan of butter cream; it is super sweet and the texture is just a little boring to me. Plus, EVERYBODY uses butter cream. I wanted to do something a little lighter and more fun for the frosting AND I wanted to use a more exciting brew than a Guinness.

That, my friends, is where I started to get a little creative with what I wanted to do with these cupcakes. I love Rogue Ales' Chocolate Stout. It is rich, dark, and totally oozes chocolatey goodness. Since it is a CHOCOLATE stout I figured it would be perfect for the cupcakes. Another reason for the choice: the recipe only calls for 1 cup of the beer which means I would have quite a bit left over to enjoy. Winning! (Sorry, please forgive the Sheenism. I can't help myself.) 
With a brew selected for the cupcake, it was on to the frosting. Like I said before, I didn't to want to do a butter cream. I wanted a frosting that would resemble a rich and frothy head of foam like you would find on a nice glass of stout. But, I still wanted to incorporate the Bailey's Irish Cream into the frosting as the main flavor. At first I thought of a whipped 7 minute frosting but then I figured that the Irish cream flavor wouldn't combine well with the corn syrup and egg white base of the 7 minute frosting.  I found a recipe for a very basic whipped cream frosting. It sounded like the perfect base for what I wanted to make. It would be light, fluffy, and the Irish Cream would blend in perfectly with the cream and cream cheese base of the icing. With everything figured out, it was time to bake!

Recipe after the jump!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Salmon Burgers with Lemon Basil Pasta and a Zesty Arugula Salad

Sorry it has been so long. I promise to get a post about the brunch with some recipes and pictures up soon. In the meantime, I though that I would satisfy your hunger for a new recipe with these two little gems that I whipped up last night. I have been wanting to cook something new since Saturday when I planted a little herb garden on our patio, all potted of course. We now have Cilantro, Sweet Basil, Mint, Chives, Thyme, and Lavender that I need to keep alive through out the spring. Any of you green thumbs out there got any tips?
  Since the weather was so gorgeous yesterday (70s AND sunny!!!! Hallelujah), I decided to go for a short run outside instead of just going into the dark and dreary gym. It was so refreshing to be outside in the warm sun. While I was jogging (a very generous term for how slow I was actually going) over Key Bridge, I was trying to decide what I wanted for dinner.

Getting to see the water really got me in the mood for something de la mer and since the weather was so nice I wanted to do something really light. A further inspiration for the meal was seeing the sign for Kafe Leopolds' as I huffed down M Street. I have been dreaming about the tangy lemon-mustard dressing they served the Veal Schnitzel with for days now. So I decided to make an arugula salad with julienned pear, gorgonzola, and some form of a lemon mustard seed dressing and a light angel hair pasta with lemon, basil, capers, and asparagus tips. I figured I could use the salmon burger sliders (from Wegmans-BEST GROCERY STORE EVER) sitting in the fridge for the seafood/protein portion of the meal.  With my mind made up, I powered through the remainder of the "run", White Lies' Farewell to the Fairground on my iPod didn't hurt either. 

One quick trip to the store for a few last minute ingredients and I was ready to create something yummy. I looked at a few recipes for pasta with lemon and salmon and a few recipes for lemon mustard seed dressing in order to get an idea of measurements and cooking times but, other than that, I would say that these recipes are "original" though not extremely creative. I hope you enjoy them as much as my roommate and I did. We even splurged and had some wine with dinner! So decadent, I know.

Recipes after the jump!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

White Chocolate and Limoncello Cream

So this is another recipe I am testing out ahead of my Spring Brunch on Sunday. It is so close! My guest list is growing (10 already) and I realized that I don't have nearly enough silverware (we have 3 knifes), or champagne flutes, or plates, or serving dishes... So I went to Goodwill; I told you my budget was kicsi! It is a great place to look for kitchen supplies. I bought an amazing pampered chef heavy-bottomed and double-handled saute pan there for $2! I found everything I needed and some really cute little Chinese painted bowl that I can use to set up my Mise en Place on Sunday! But, I digress. The White Chocolate Limoncello Cream is probably what you are more interested in reading about, am I right?

The recipe I used is a slightly modified and re-purposed version of this recipe from a blog called The Bakers' Daughter. I plan on using the cream as a garnish for lemon ricotta pancakes with caramel passion fruit sauce and a mixed berry compote. If you live in the DC area, this dish may sound familiar to you... It is on the brunch prix fixe menu at my favorite restaurant, CoCo Sala, under the name Hotcake Obsession. Just as the name suggests, I am obsessed with it. I'm glad I tested the recipe ahead of time because this wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it is delicious and the recipe is definitely going to be staying in my cook book! I found some soft waffle cookies at Whole Foods while I was shopping for the white chocolate. It was a quick and easy way to serve the white chocolate limoncello cream. Hey, it was late on a Tuesday night, sorry I wasn't more creative. My roommate and I enjoyed these while we indulged another guilty pleasure: watching Gossip Girl. Please don't judge me!

Recipe after the jump!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Leopold Kafe and Konditorei

The other weekend my Mom and I spent the day together. We went for fishy pedicures at Yvonne's Day Spa in Crystal City. It was the weirdest and most ticklish thing I think that I have ever done, but, we both totally loved it. Afterward we were both famished. I was in charged of picking the restaurant. Since the weather was nice, I decided that we could walk over Key Bridge into Georgetown and go to this little German cafe I had heard about called Kafe Leopold.

 I was intrigued by their menu which lists the name of everything in German but gives descriptions in English. I love learning new things and bilingual menus are a simple way to do so. Additionally my Dad’s German mother, my Omi, and was apparently an AMAZING cook. He is constantly talking about dishes she made or particular (and incredibly complex) techniques she used. So, it is always fun to try some of the dishes that my Dad talks about! Their website also happened to mention that they have an in-house Konditorei (German for cake shop) that makes loads of fresh pastries! I was sold.

We got to the restaurant around 2 pm and only had to wait about 15 minutes to be seated on the little patio for brunch (they don't take reservations). My Mom and I both started to peruse the menu and BOTH stopped almost immediately, looked at each other, and said, "Well, the pork belly looks good." We both just laughed; any place that has pork belly on the menu is A-Okay by us.

More about the meal after the jump!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bacon & Gruyere Egg Tartlet

Last Friday night, a friend of my roommate was having a bad day and came over with Champagne and Orange Juice. I thought, what better time for a brunch than 9:00 P.M. on a Friday night? I had wanted to test this recipe out for a while because I am planning on serving these tartlets at a brunch party on the 20th. I also wanted an excuse to FINALLY buy tartlet pans from William Sonoma. This was a perfect win-win situation.

So I hopped in the car and practically raced to William Sonoma. Now, as a rule, I am not allowed to go into the store too often or stay too long because I run the risk of over drafting my bank account every time I walk into the store. I was so good! I walked right up to the pie and tart pans, spent a few seconds debating the merits of buying the non-stick pans (I opted for the original pans), and then calmly walked to the register, being careful to not let my eyes wander around the store. Another benefit of going to William Sonoma was that there is a Whole Paycheck Foods right next door!... But, I still had to rationalize purchasing all the ingredients there. "I have a friend 'in crisis' at home," I told myself, "I have to splurge on the ingredients!" With everything I needed purchased and my roommate's camera charged, I was ready to get started!  

The recipe I used for the filling was adapted from this this William Sonoma recipe and the dough recipe was adapted from this Sugar Laws recipe. My inspiration for the tartlet was a Croque Madame - a French hot ham and cheese sandwich with a fried or poached egg on top. As you will see, the tartlet has all the basic components of this sandwich - except the ham... I'm notorious for replacing ham with bacon in breakfast recipes... I have never heard anyone complain!

Recipe after the jump!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let the great experiment begin!...

I have been wanting to start a blog for ages. I just have never followed through on those thoughts. Finally, my friends have suggested, prodded, and encouraged me enough that I finally have the courage to begin.

I love food. I mean L-O-V-E. I am the person who, at brunch, is already asking what people want for dinner and planning where to buy the best ingredients for it. I am the person who researches every aspect of a dish, ingredient, or technique that I have never heard of or don't think I know enough about. I am a person who brings her own Thai chili peppers with her to a Vietnamese Phở Restaurant just in case it isn't spicy enough. I am someone who will happily spend a small fortune at the grocery store in order to make the very best meal for 3 or 4 friends at the last minute. I realize that this pursuit of amazing culinary experiences is not just some phase I am going through, but a compulsion. While I try to figure out if this compulsion is enough to sustain a career in the culinary arts world, I figure I might as well share my experiences with other like-minded foodies out there.

I hope to post at least once a week, but my budget, like my kitchen, is kicsi. We work with what we got, right?!?! I'll try to post a recipe later this evening. I have to make dinner anyway, might as well share it with you. Until then, I hope you are enjoying something delicious!