Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy 4th of July! (the MOST American) Chocolate Chip Cookies

'Tis the season...for summer desserts.  I have always loved the 4th of July because my family used to go to the beach in Santa Barbara to watch fireworks off the pier.  We never really barbecued at home, but at the beach my best food memories involved grilled sweet yellow ears of corn and spicy kebabs.  I first saw a Martha Stewart "American Flag Cake" recipe in the 9th grade and my successful attempt at it was a major milestone in my baking career. Since then I've played around with the classic use of strawberries and blueberries to celebrate the season.  This year I thought...if the most American dessert is chocolate chip cookies, how can I decorate them in honor of our upcoming Independence Day celebrations?  And this idea was born.  This is not my actual most beloved chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I chose it because i holds up exceptionally well to being covered in cool whip or icing and topped with fruit.  And it's of course super easy.  This weekend I'm off to the beach in Ocean City on the Atlantic coast to relax and celebrate and I can't wait...

Here are a few past favorites from the 4th!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sushi Night!!!

This post isn't so much a recipe as an inspiration.  YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN SUSHI!  I never thought about this idea until just a few years ago and now I absolutely love sushi night.  It does take some effort, but it really isn't difficult, and it's such a fun kitchen experience to share with someone.  Everyone can help and the glorious ginormous platter of sushi that awaits your delight at the end is well worth it.  Making your own sushi is also super inexpensive. is the all-time best sushi making advice site, it will be a huge help to you .

I usually shy away from actually using raw fish when I make my own sushi with one caveat.  You can find sushi-grade tuna in the market, but I would still sear the edges on a hot pan just to reassure yourself that it's safe to eat.  For the other fillings I like to use cucumber, avocado, teriyaki grilled chicken, and crab (imitation). For the flavorings I make wasabi and siracha mayos by mixing about a 1/4 cub mayonnaise with 1 tsp. of either wasabi or siracha sauce. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blue Cheese Crackers...dedicated to the devotion of a girl to a dairy product.

True love is so powerful it courses through your veins and overpowers your every sense.  When you fall in love you can somehow see it, hear it, feel it, smell it and  most importantly (especially in this case) taste it.  I get like this when I venture down the cheese aisle at the grocery store.  Just as my cart turns the corner and I spy the dairy delight the heavenly stench permeates my nostrils and my mouth begins to water.

Tonight is the Jewish holiday of Shavuout and it is traditional to eat lots of milk and cheese.  For a good article about this tradition and a delicious chalah recipe, see the one featured in the LA Times this week.  In honor of the day I decided to post these delicious cheese infused crackers.  I made these for Mother's Day this year and have been saving them for a good time to post.  These are best with wine but compliment any cocktail or appetizer party very well.  As per usual, the recipe is another gem from Ina Garten.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sombrero Fiesta Cake, que rico sabor!

My high school level 4 Spanish skills are finally coming to good use...aside from my ability to order MAS GUACAMOLE at Lauriol Plaza (DC classic Mexican food establishment) they’ve been kept a bit rusty.  For my co-workers send off to her new job I offered to make a celebratory cake.  Using the Quick and Delicious vanilla cake recipe (featured here) I decided to attempt something a bit more exciting.  The theme of the party was Fiesta-del-Rachel-o! (because Rachel loves a fiesta…, but really, who doesn’t?) so I immediately thought of sombrero cake.  I Google imaged a few options and decided this wouldn’t be that difficult.  And actually…it wasn’t!

After baking two 9 x 13 in. sheet pan cakes, one cupcake and three mini round cakes (you’ll need to quadruple the original recipe for this so I’ve adjusted the portions below to save you the math troubles.) I let them cool completely and then crafted the delicious Mexican hat.  When the cakes have completely cooled take them out of their pans and place the two sheet cakes beside one another.  Cut out an oval shape and then ice the base completely.  Next, stack the mini cakes and top with the cupcake.  Use toothpicks to secure the top of the hat.  Place the top in the center of the cake and cover in icing.  Then, decorate away!  There are lots of fun Mexican patterns online that are simple geometric and colorful to use as inspiration.


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