May 13, 2013

Sourdough Vanilla Cashew Scones - May Secret Recipe Club

Yesterday, I went to charity 5K on the mall.  As I'm crossing the field to get to my group, I go down.  Left (good? not bionic at least) ankle and left knee rolled, awesome.  So by the end of the day (after still doing the walk because I'm a glutton for punishment) I end up walking like a penguin.  So, I'm back in my kitchen cooking on crutches.

Luckily, I planned ahead this week for secret recipe club.  I was assigned Shelley from C Mom Cook, who actually had me last month!  I was inspired by her baking audacity, with her daring challenges and sourdough surprises.  From pasta to pancakes to babka, Shelley has so many interesting ways to incorporate her sourdough starter.  

My starter is a little baby starter, only a few days old, so I supplemented the first feeding with yeast to ensure I would have a good starter by the time I had to bake.  I used whole wheat flour at Shelley's suggestion and kept it on my counter for the first week, covered with a dish towel.  I originally wanted to take one of her morning bun recipes and make it with the sourdough starter but the double ankle injuries meant I needed something fast and easy.  So, I settled on her sourdough scones.

And boy was in quick and easy!  A little bit of flour, very cold butter, and a lot of vanilla mixed in with the sourdough starter came together in the ten minutes it took to preheat my oven.  I used roasted unsalted cashews instead of dried cranberries and made a quick biscoff glaze to drizzle over the still warm scones.  I can't wait to work through the rest of her sourdough recipes because this was definitely a winner!

May 03, 2013

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites - (Secretly) Two Years Old!

Two years ago, I was at the end of the first year of grad school while also ending a long term relationship.  I had so much nervous energy without an outlet and knew I needed to throw myself into projects.  I joined a kickball league and a bocce team.  I started spending every weekend night on my girlfriends' couch to stay busy and not sit at home overanalyzing everything.  And most pertinent to this particular post, I started to write this blog.

For the first few months, I wrote in secret.  I was confident in my passion for food and could talk about it for hours, but I hadn't written anything other than design reports and immunology exams since high school.  I didn't feel proficient enough to add to the conversation, neither as an amateur cook nor a photographer.  I wanted to find myself and my style of cooking before I shared anything.

It was just me and my dinky point and shoot camera, terrible rental half-galley kitchen with no dishwasher, and low popcorn ceilings that let in absolutely no natural light.  I would write everything down in this little green notebook while I let every utensil, bowl, plate, and pan I owned soak in the sink.  The pictures were horrible and I had no idea what I was doing, but god I loved it!  Eventually, I saved up enough money to buy a "big girl camera" and decided to take myself public.  I am so happy that I did.  It was so fun to pour myself into this project, to really research food and try new things.  I love having a creative outlet and sharing my food and couldn't imagine a better way to de-stress at the end of the day!

So in celebration, yet another Toasty cheesecake!  I decided to go full-on birthday and rock the funfetti.  I couldn't use the box mix (on principle) so I turned to Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar for tips on how to recreate the flavor.  The secret to box cake fake out is cake flour, imitation vanilla extract (still not happy about it, but it does the trick!), and a whole bunch of rainbow sprinkles.  I used Tosi's recipe for funfetti cake crumbs, buzzed them up in the food processor, and approximated a funfetti version of the graham cracker crust!  I will definitely be using this trick for future cheesecake adaptations, it was so easy and a great way to impart more flavor!  A little bit of sour cream, a heaping half cup of sprinkles, and a healthy dose of imitation vanilla brought the birthday flavor to the cheesecake base.  When cooled, I topped the baby cheesecakes with a few more cake crumbs for a fun and festive finish!

One move, three broken bones, and two years later I think I'm finally getting the hang of this!  Thanks to my friends, family, and readers for supporting me in this ridiculous endeavor.  (And of course for eating my leftovers so I don't get fat... Most appreciated!)

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