v, vanilla bean

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T, Tofu. U, Udon. Welcome, my food for fun friends, to V! Today I join Shanna, Sofia, and Ngan as we continue to cook our way through the alphabet. My culinary colleagues smartly assigned V to vanilla bean and I’m … Continue reading

jelly beans, peeps, rice krispy bars–oh my

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From the title alone, you know where I’m going with this, right? Mostly I’m hoping you’ll click over to read my latest Funny Names in Food post as it was heaps of fun to research and write as well as … Continue reading

puppies, not ponies: time for another birthday cake

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My youngest daughter, she of last year’s pony birthday cake, is set to turn a year older. Which means I have an excuse to go all out with another cake. Her chosen party theme for turning 8 is “puppies,” so … Continue reading

food geek chocolate cake

The hardest part of monthly guest posts at Blog of Funny Names is coming up with that funny name. Committing to a food-related name helps narrow the field, but I’m never sure where to look for a name that is fun, fresh, interesting, relevant, and unique enough to be considered “funny.”

Googling always saves the day, but I still need a direction in which to head. This month I got that direction from a small inner voice whispering, “molecular gastronomy.” [While hearing small voices might qualify me for professional help, your reading this might qualify you for the same so we’re in this together. Stay with me? Please?]

So. Searching “molecular gastronomy” was exactly what I needed to do and we all benefit because 1) I found an amazing man named Hervé This, whom I now admire greatly and 2) I thought I’d try a bit of kitcheny science over here as well.

Those kitcheny science results are as laughable as they are delicious and we’ll move on to them as soon as I can convince you to hop over and learn a bit more about Hervé. Click here, then please return for a doozy of a chocolate cake experiment.

***

Back for cake? Very good, then. Learning about Monsieur This inspired me to find a recipe I remembered seeing on Foodography, a favorite Cooking Channel show. Self-proclaimed food nerd Jeff Potter demonstrated a microwave chocolate cake leavened only by N2O gasses in the cream whipper that dispensed the batter.

Long a cream whipper fan, I’ve used mine only to whip cream and branching out sounded like fun. A cake leavened with nitrous oxide instead of chemicals–kitchen science indeed.

ready to rock

ready to rock

Though the recipe threw me a bit: Four ounces chocolate, four eggs, plus smaller amounts of flour and sugar. This sounded like multiple servings, but best I could understand, it all went into one glass. Mention of only filling the “pan” two-thirds full should have been my clue, but after studying the recipe closely, I saw no mention of anything more than one serving. I filled that mug to the top. (also added a dollop of marshmallow fluff after half-filling with batter per recipe suggestion)

batter in place

batter in place

halfway

halfway

fluff!

fluff!

ready for the microwave

ready for the microwave

The first 30 seconds in the microwave didn’t “bake” the batter through, so I added four more 30-second intervals. And by the first minute, the batter was up and over the side of the mug. For sure this recipe is meant to serve four and shame on me for not getting that.

no words for this

no words for this

Just the same, this offers opportunity to turn disaster into triumph. (It’s a game I often play called, “I meant to do it this way.”) The cake turned out nicely on a platter, a bit of gooeyness on the top (now the bottom) adding to its charm. Dusting with powdered sugar, as advised, crowned it in glory and it was happily ever after.

A side of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and it's restaurant worthy.

Add a side of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and it’s restaurant worthy.

No question the batter was meant to be divided evenly among four glasses. Though the numbers divide in half easily enough, making two servings an option as well.

While this was fun, and meeting Hervé was worth any amount of kitchen mess, my next microwave cake will be of the chemically leavened mug variety. Fortunately, another Liz–of Tip Top Shape–has me covered with her funfetti version.

I raise my future mug of Liz’s Funfetti Mug Cake to you all for spending time with me here and over at Blog of Funny Names. I look forward already to our next food adventure.

hot chocolate blogging x 2

Last week’s marshmallows (black cherry whisky! rum!) have been joined by Rumchata marshmallows and they all scream for hot cocoa. Because it’s been a busy week with lots of food prep leading up to a presentation, I’m plumb (or plum?) tuckered and will fall back on work already done for this week’s post.

Hot cocoa made an appearance over at this month’s Funny Names in Food Post. Hoping you’ll click over for a read about San Fransisco’s most famous (and funnily-named) chocolatier, even if just because I use the word “dude” in the title.

The hot cocoa bell was also rung for this month’s Minnesota Soybean post, where I feature a recipe for a DIY chocolate syrup that was written up here over a year ago. Love the stuff so much that I’m never without a jar in my refrigerator and I’d strongly recommend you make yourself a batch as well. Too simple not to.

Speaking of Minnesota Soybean, these are the folks that had me cooking and baking crazy-like for a presentation I did at their annual growers’ meeting. In the interest of offering healthy foods to balance out all the sweets we’ve been enjoying of late, I’ll bring my soyfoods stories–and recipes–next week. For now, here’s a picture of the spread.

tofu, edamame, soynuts, oh my!

tofu, edamame, soynuts, oh my!

Would love to see you back here next week for more on tofu “egg” salad, green onions scones, pumpkin soynut granola, green tea edamame, and edamame chile hummus. Just writing that sentence made me feel healthy. Imagine how awesome we’ll feel once the recipes are out there. Until then, let’s add a few more ‘mallows to our hot chocolates and enjoy!

syrupy sweet

Last week’s post mentioned that I was “taking it easy,” which many of you (accurately) pointed out wasn’t really the case. When does taking it easy include making a pot of soup, loaf of banana bread, lovely cake and caramel sauce, and pumpkin waffles? Yet keep in mind that my profession–and obsession–puts me in the kitchen. And as it is for many of you, the kitchen is my playground. Strangely enough, it’s the weeks I don’t have time to be in the kitchen that are my busiest and most stressful.

Now THIS week, though, I’m really going to take it easy. Really. Because all I’m going to do (well, mostly all), is send you over to yesterday’s Blog of Funny Names in Food post. It was fun to write and I’d love for anyone who hangs out at food for fun to also see what I’m putting out over there. It’s a once-a-month gig and I’ll continue to highlight it here when my turn comes around. (Which, btw, I spaced last month. Read this if you want to see what a hastily thrown together blog post looks like.) So. You head over to read at least the latest waffle iron (spoiler alert, yes) post and I’ll wait here. Promising you something tasty when you return!

Alrighty then, you’re back? Signed up for the Cornelius S Waffle event on facebook? Excellent. Because I promise to never send you home empty-handed, we’ll finish with two recipes that were posted months apart on the same blog. Last April, I mentally bookmarked the first and when the second posted a few days ago, I committed to making them both. Then the waffle flag started flying–it was time.

I admit to being one of those maple syrup snobs–shunning anything in a plastic squeeze bottle on grocery shelves. If it isn’t pure maple syrup (preferably from a local artisan), I’m not buying. When I saw Kitchen Simplicity’s DIY syrup recipe, I was a bit taken aback, but the ingredients looked wholesome (read: no corn syrup) and it seemed a fun project. Ditto when I saw her buttermilk version go up.

butter-flavor on left, buttermilk on right--both divine

butter-flavored on left, buttermilk on right–both divine

These recipes are as easy as it gets. They both came together in under 10 minutes–not 10 minutes each, mind you. I made two syrups in 10 minutes. Now I have two lovely homemade syrups and they’re amazing.

We’ve already enjoyed them on pancakes and waffles and next up will grant my daughter’s wish of pouring over ice cream. They’re going to be grand in cocktails as well.

drizzled over 'cakes

drizzled over ‘cakes

oh, so sweet on waffles

oh, so sweet on waffles

poured over ice cream

poured over ice cream

add a bit of soda water, and this could be a lovely cocktail

add a bit of soda water, and this could be a first-rate cocktail

If you’re up for “taking it easy” this week, I suggest you get into the kitchen and cook up syrup. It’ll be the easiest DIY you ever do.

giving you mo’ crunch

Food for fun is celebrating, folks! This was guest-post week over at Blog of Funny Names and, not only was it a crazy-fun post to write, but it connected me directly to my superstar subject.

My funny-name pick is a food-tv host, but also famous for his work in politics, Hollywood, and journalism. (I won’t name this famous gent here, so I strongly recommend you click over for a read.) When I tweeted him the link to my post, he tweeted back with a thanks, kind words, and share of my link. His simple act put me over the moon and I’m honored and humbled to have someone so public read my homage to him.

To celebrate, I made another round of Momofuku Milk Bar‘s “crunch.” If you’ve not seen their book–and if you’ve made peace with processed sugar–you need to give it a read. It’s drawn me in like that proverbial kid in a candy store. Everything in it is so naughty!

Cereal milks, ice cream made from cereal milks, crack pie™ (yes, they ™ed their crack pie), confetti cookies, candy bar pie, cinnamon bun pie, peanut butter nougat, chocolate malt layer cake, graham ice cream, carrot cake truffles, nut brittles–this list goes on. And then there’s the Crunch chapter. Here’s pastry chef Christina Tosi’s take on The Crunch.

The crunch is all about filtering our snacking spells…making crunchy textural elements all our own. Never too far from the familiar cornflake, pretzel, or cracker, we’ll make crunch out of almost anything the supermarket sells and then use it in something as fancy as a plated dessert or as simple as a cookie dough.

Each crunch recipe has a balance of salt and sugar as well as melted butter–the glue–and milk powder, which seasons and helps bind the mixture once baked. The beauty of the crunch, besides the obvious sugar, butter, and snack-attack allure, it the way it’s baked. Slow and low in the oven yields the most amazing tender caramelization in every crunchy snack-ridden handful, cookie, pie crust, or garnish.

If that doesn’t make you want to whip up a batch of Crunch.Right.Now., there’s no need for you to read further. 😉 But for those still with me, here’s how it went down.

First up was the Ritz cracker version, which I then used in Momofuku’s recipe for cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies, subbing in Ritz Crunch for the cornflake version. These cookies were wicked good. Stopping at just one–something I can usually do–was not an option. Adding Crunch to cookie dough–whether Momofuku’s or another favorite recipe–means you may down at least three or four of these crunch-ified cookies in one sitting. You’ve been warned.

pretty? no. irresistible? absolutely.

pretty? no. irresistible? absolutely.

Today’s celebration batch was all about color: Fruity Pebbles Crunch. (Other options include cinnamon toast, pretzel, and cornflake, though Tosi’s point is good: you could use pretty much anything for the “crunch” ingredient.)

haven't had these on my table since I was 7

haven’t had these on my table since I was 7

To avoid too much of a calorie disaster, I made only a half-batch: 1 1/4 cups fruity pebbles, 1/4 cup nonfat dried milk powder, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, pinch coarse salt, and 3 tablespoons melted butter stirred together, then spread out onto a silicone mat-lined baking pan. Baked 20 minutes at 275ºF, then cooled, it can be sprinkled on ice cream, stirred into batter or dough, mixed with yogurt, or eaten in all its rainbow glory as-is.

spread out before baking

spread out before baking

Next time you want to celebrate (heck, this works when you need to console yourself as well), add “make Crunch” to your to-do list. Sure, do a few crunches afterward if it makes you feel better, but you’ll need to get back to the Milk Bar cookbook eventually as there is more celebrating to do.

fruity pebbles Crunch à la momofuku milk bar

fruity pebbles Crunch à la momofuku milk bar

another funny name in food and how the cookie crumbles

Because last summer’s family camping trip went far better than expected, my husband and I committed to doing it again. We stayed closer to home this year, hitting Duluth for a few days, then traveling north to camp at one of the mind-blowingly gorgeous state parks on Minnesota’s North Shore. I’d taken a page (literally, I tore out a page) from our local paper’s Taste section featuring dining musts in Duluth, so with a car crammed with kids, camping gear, and plenty of food, we hit the highway.

Great fun (and food) followed and I’d hoped to post a recap this week. But re-entry has been tough, so instead I’ll simply ask you to (please) hop over to the latest Funny Names in Food installment for the story of sweet treats.

Though don’t think I’d leave you without at least a little bit more. I offer another story here, this one of crazily crafted cake pops.

cookie "cake" pops

cookie “cake” pops

A recent batch of chocolate raspberry cookies impressed me greatly and I added the two dozen or so that were left to our stash of camping food. They were soft cookies, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when they crumbled into cookie dust during transport. (Ziploc bags only provide so much cushion.) I briefly considered throwing the lot, but remembered the spendy chocolate and fresh berries they contained. Surely there was a use for them.

And there was: cake pops! A cup or so of leftover chocolate frosting waiting for me at home was just enough to moisten the cookie crumbs. The mixture was then formed into balls, dipped in melted chocolate that had been thinned with coconut oil, and rolled in sprinkles and sugars. While not “pretty” à la Martha Stewart, they’re cute in their own rough and tumble way. And more importantly, they taste phenomenal. Combining cookie crumbs, homemade buttercream frosting, and melted chocolate could never be anything but knock-your-socks-off dreamy.

I’ll sign off now as I imagine you need to find some cookies to crumble so you have an excuse to make cake pops. Please return next week as we’ll be showing Food for Fun: The Camping Edition. 🙂

special ed. with pink mushroom cake, vodka gummy bears, and a bourbon ball

Summer crazies have temporarily stalled out food for fun, but I’m back tonight with a special edition highlighting three unrelated tales of fun food and drink:

Tale 1 First, a look back at last post’s Here’s Your D@mn Chocolate Ice Cream. I had lamented that this Humphry Slocombe recipe seemed a lot of work and though it was tasty, wondered if it had been worth the effort. The ice cream accompanied a birthday cake for my oldest daughter and what with those summer crazies, I made yet another cake soon after for another birthday party.

now that's a cupcake

now that’s a cupcake

I used a much-loved cake pan, which when sprayed well enough with baking spray makes two cake layers that come together to make one big cupcake. (When not sprayed well, it makes a big mess.)

All went as planned until it came time to frost. Many a poorly decorated cake has been featured at food for fun (here and here, just for starters), so it should come as no surprise that this one got out of hand as well. Instead of the sweet “cupcake” I’d planned, it looked more like a big pink mushroom. (Or where Smurfette calls home per deLizious facebook post.)

again, best-laid plans

again, best-laid plans

As with my other decorating disasters, the cake tasted far better than it looked. The big surprise, though, was how amazing the HS chocolate ice cream was served alongside. Whether it had aged a bit in the freezer, mellowing its flavors, or was simply a better match for white cake than it was chocolate trifle, I know not. But that ice cream really dazzled here.chocicecream

A word about the cake: Mr. Wonderful White Cake recipe was found in Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook. Corny name aside, it’s one of the best white cakes I’ve had.

do you like the cake saw?

do you like the cake saw?

Mr. Wonderful White Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two cake pans or spray with baking spray.

In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, butter, and vanilla; beat with electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Add egg whites; beat 2 minutes longer. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove cakes directly to wire racks to cool completely. Frost as desired.

Tale 2 Another bit of cocktail news means that Weary Chef can’t be too far away. I found a link through one of her Happy Hour posts for vodka gummy bears and was smitten. With young kids underfoot, there are always gummy bears to be found, and I loved the idea of infusing them (the gummy bears, not the kids) with vodka.

I did exactly as instructed and was unimpressed when unveiling the batch a week later. My cute little sugar bombs had melted into the vodka, leaving me with a thick (albeit colorful) syrup. Anyone who has read food for fun knows that this wouldn’t stop me and I was forging ahead regardless. I mixed some of this goo with carbonated water and loved that it was sweet, fruity, bubbly, and boozy. It went down easy for sure. I’m curious as to why my bears melted down when I Sing in the Kitchen seemed to keep hers intact. Maybe gummy bear brand matters? Regardless, it was a fun cocktail.

the bears make it silly, but it's still a goo cocktail: refreshing and potent

the bears make it silly, but it’s still a fine cocktail–refreshing and potent

Tale 3 You’ll need to hop over to Blog of Funny Names for this tale. A recent guest post highlights another Kentucky favorite: Ruth Hanly Booe and other funnily-named folk who made Rebecca Ruth bourbon balls the internationally known confection they are today.

Many thanks for stopping by during what I know is YOUR crazy-busy life. Your visits here are always appreciated 🙂

special ed.: funny names in food and super sweet

Food for fun is veering off schedule a bit to send out a Special Edition as it has two separate pieces of news, neither or which seemed to fit into regularly scheduled programming.

Piece of News #1: Many moons ago (ok, last January), the folks over at The Blog of Funny Names asked me to write the occasional guest post. Honored by the request from such a distinguished and talented bunch, I signed on. Note that I am not being even the slightest bit tongue-in-cheek when I say “distinguished and talented.” The blog’s creators are are bright (and hilarious) young men on ambitious career paths that include (but are not limited to) writing, filmmaking, medicine, entrepreneurial start-up, and law.

My initial draw to their blog was that it made me laugh and was completely unrelated to food. Anyone who has spent time at food for fun knows that working with and writing about food is my profession as well as my obsession. So it’s nice to have the occasional outlet that steers clear of all things edible. (The irony of my BoFN posts being food-related is not lost on me.) My first BoFN appearance was referred to in an earlier food for fun post (cornbread!) and today I link you to my latest on BoFN, where I introduce folks to savvy food businesswoman, Gesine-Bullock Prado. Would love it if you’d click over for a read, then (please) come back for Special Ed. part 2 🙂

Piece of News #2: The Perky Poppy Seed has honored food for fun with a nomination for a Super Sweet Blogger award. Thrilled, I must admit I am also at a bit of a loss when it comes to award nominations. They’re much-appreciated pats on the back from other like-minded bloggers and I love that someone enjoys food for fun enough to give me such a (sweet) shout-out. But nominating others always stumps me–not because there aren’t other deserving blogs out there, but because there are so many deserving blogs and they’ve already received the awards. What’s a stumped blogger to do?

In the interest of paying it forward, I do want to link you to a Baker’s Dozen of 13 (make that 15) blogs I enjoy. If you’re linked and want to make the Super Sweet award official, you can circle back to Perky’s post to put your plan in action. But there’s no obligation here–it’s just me telling others that I love what I’ve found in your space. (That said, it’s not an all-inclusive list. Just like all of you, my list of blogs enjoyed is seemingly endless and always growing.) A huge shout-out and thank you much to Perky Poppy Seed. If you’ve yet to visit her blog, you must head over. She even has a Foodie Movie page! Others for clicking…Seal_LLC (2)

And that, food for fun friends, completes this inaugural Special Edition. Thanks for coming by 🙂 You can now join the regularly scheduled programming already in progress…