Sunday, September 26, 2010

Edamame Hummus

Over the past few years, I've discovered something that many Americans have known for a while. Edamame is good!

For those of you not already in the know, edamame is a soybean. It's most commonly eaten as an appetizer of sorts. It comes in a green pod and is usually dusted with salt, then served warm. To eat, hold one end of the pod, pop the other end in your mouth and pull it back out hrough your teeth to release the beans. Simple, right?

I've eaten a lot of edamame since we've been introduced. And now I've discovered another way to dive into this soybean: Hummus. More specifically: Edamame Hummus.

Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip that is typically made with chickpeas. Chickpeas are one of the two types of beans that I can stand to be around. Edamame is the second. But I recently stumbled across the idea of making an edamame hummus. I'm not sure where I first saw such an idea. Undoubtedly it was on the interweb somewhere. I searched for some recipes and found a relatively simple one on Life's Ambrosia's blog. I immediately bookmarked the recipe for later use.

Now it's "later"! Why does that statement sound like "Now and Later", the fabulous taffy candy from my childhood. I think they still sell them. Apple's my favorite flavor, if you want to get me a belated birthday gift.


OK, back on track. Edamame hummus. Let's get to the recipe.

Edamame Hummus
recipe from Life's Ambrosia
  • 1 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsps tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
1) Cook the edamame according to package directions. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

2) Combine the edamame, water, lemon juice, garlic, tahini, and soy sauce in a food processor and process until well blended.

3) With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. The amount of olive oil you add depends on how smooth/chunky you like your hummus.

4) Taste test the hummus and add salt as necessary.

This hummus was smooth and creamy. It had a nice salty flavor from the soy sauce and the additional salt, yet it was refreshing as a result of the lemon juice. I could taste the flavor of the edamame even though it was a bit subdued by the tahini. That was fine with me even though it makes this hummus taste more like a traditional hummus that is made with chickpeas. If you want the dip to taste more like edamame, you can decrease the amount of tahini you use. Another option is to nix the tahini altogether and just use sesame oil. I discovered this trick during my search on the web. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I saw it, but you can do a Google search. It's out there somewhere.

I dipped just about everything in this hummus. I used baby carrots, celery, mushrooms, crackers, etc. It's a great afternoon snack that's pretty healthy as well. Although it might not be so healthy to sit down and eat almost half of this dip in one sitting, which I somehow managed to do. You might want to show a bit more restraint than I did.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chocolate Buttery Nipple Cupcakes (aka Steelers Cupcakes!)

For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge, HUGE Pittsburgh Steelers fan. And yes, that's a football team. I've been a fan for years now and as last year's football season rolled around I began thinking about making Steelers-inspired cupcakes. Unfortunately, this was around the time that the Steelers were on a 5-game losing streak so I lost motivation pretty quickly.

Well now it's 2010 and the Steelers are not sucking so I figured it was probably wise to make these cupcakes as early in the season as possible. Somewhere around the same time, I got a hankering for a drink that I haven't had since college. A Buttery Nipple. It's not the most PC name, but hey, you gotta be over 21 to have a drink, right? (18 if you're in the Bahamas...orrrr you at least need to be tall enough to reach the bar.) So hopefully you can handle the word "nipple". A Buttery Nipple is a drink which consists of a 1:1 ratio of Bailey's Irish Cream (which I believe could be one of the nectar of the gods) and Butterscotch Schnapps. Enjoy chilled over a few ice cubes. But let's get back to talking about cupcakes.

Since the Steelers' colors are black and gold, I decided to make a chocolate cupcake with a goldish-yellow frosting. Since my tried and true recipe for chocolate cupcakes comes from Hershey's I decided to stick with a sure thing. The frosting for the cupcakes is already relatively pale as-is, so I picked up some yellow food coloring and tossed that suckerin. Seriously, I stopped counting drops after I reached 30.

HERSHEY'S "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
(makes ~24 cupcakes)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
1) Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.

2) Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in mixing bowl.

3) In another bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4) With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in several increments. Mix ingredients together for another 2 minutes to blend completely.

5) Stir in boiling water. The batter will be thin.

6) Pour batter into cupcake liners. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter.

7) Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost with Buttery Nipple Frosting (recipe below).

Buttery Nipple Frosting
adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Bailey's frosting
  • 4 - 5 cups confections sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsps Baileys Irish Cream
  • 3 tbsps Butterscotch Schnapps
  • yellow food coloring (optional if you're not a Steelers fan)
Note: I actually doubled this recipe so I would have enough frosting to pipe onto the cupcakes. If you're planning on spreading the frosting onto your cupcakes, you can cut this recipe in half.

1) Whip the butter using an electric or hand mixer for several minutes. You want the butter to look almost white and be very light and fluffy.

2) Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Slowly.
3) When the frosting is thick, drizzle in the Baileys and Butterscotch schnapps. Whip until combined. If the frosting is too thin at this point, add another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
4) Add yellow food coloring, if desired. For those Steeler fans out there: I really did add over 30 drops of yellow food coloring to get the perfect Steeler gold.
5) Pipe or spread on the cupcakes.
As you can see, I chose to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. The choice decoration consisted of the letters S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S and 6-X (the Steelers have won the Superbowl 6 times which is kind of a big deal since no other NFL team has ever done that). Then there were some extra cupcakes on which I just practiced using that darn star tip.
Let's discuss the taste of these boozy cupcakes. I love the chocolate cake, first of all. The recipe calls for oil, so it has the perfect level of moist-ness and the Hershey's chocolate makes it super chocolate-y. The frosting is smooth and most definitely reminds me of downing a Buttery Nipple drink. I guess "eating" would be more appropriate? In any case, you should try this out! I also took the liberty of taking copious amount of pictures which you can find below with comments. Enjoy!

The 6X cupcakes
Spell it out! (Don't mind that bottle of tonic in the background.)
The Steelers cupcakes - all packed up and ready to head to the Steelers bar
How about a closeup?
Star tip practice
Made it to the bar safely. Surrounded by Terrible Towels and Steeler cars.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vanilla Bean Mini Donuts

My friend Diego sent me a recipe for baked mini donuts via Twitter a few weeks ago. (Yes, I accept recipe suggestions through Twitter. Welcome to the year 2010.) The recipe was from Heather at Sprinkles Bakes and these donuts are just soooo cute that I knew I had to make them myself. An added advantage to making something mini-style is that you can eat 15 of them and not feel guilty about it. At least until you get that nasty stomachache an hour later.

The only thing stopping me now was the fact that I didn't have a mini donut pan. Which. I. Couldn't. Find. Anywhere. How is it that no major retail stores on the East Coast sell mini donut pans? OK, I confess that I didn't search that hard. Eventually I caved and purchased a pan online at It was pretty cheap and as soon as the pan came in the mail and I saw how small it was, I realized that I had made a costly mistake. The pan itself was great. But I had purchased only 1 pan. For the sake of your own sanity, I urge you to purchase at least 2 mini donut pans. 3 would be best, since this recipe yields about 5 dozen donuts.

Vanilla Bean Mini Donuts
recipe from Heather at Sprinkles Bakes
yields ~5 dozen donuts

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • Seeds from one vanilla bean
* You can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp of lemon juice to 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes so that it curdles, then use the amount required.

1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly spray the donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, sift together all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3) Add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and butter. Beat until just combined.

4) Fill each donut mold approximately 1/2 full.

5) Bake ~5 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched.

6) Let cool in pan for another 5 minutes before removing and topping with vanilla glaze.

Vanilla Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioner’ s sugar
  • ~ 1/4 cup milk**
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • several drops of liquid food coloring, if using any
** Add the milk slowly as you may need more or less of the milk, depending on how thin you want your glaze.

1) In a small bowl, stir together sugar, milk and vanilla extract until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2) Add food coloring, if using any, and stir until color is uniform.

3) Dip donuts in glaze immediately. Sprinkle on any nonpareils immediately after, as the glaze will become firm over time.

As mentioned in Heather's blog, I put the donut batter in a piping bag to help speed the donut pan-filling process. Best advice ever. Of course, after I was done, I realized that there was nonstick cooking spray all over the kitchen counters and the floor. Unfortunately this is a side effect of making numerous batches of mini donuts. On the positive side, this recipe was really easy to whip together, but as I mentioned earlier, the baking process was tedious with only 1 pan.

So, about those donuts. It really hurts my soul to say this, but I wasn't bowled over by them. The vanilla flavor shone through, but the texture of the donuts was a little dry and rubbery. I also think the dough/batter could also have used another 1/4 cup of sugar.

Well, there will be another attempt in the future. Perhaps I will find another recipe to use. I will not be conquered by the baked donut. But maybe I'll order another donut pan before I get to all that conquering.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lobster Arugula Sauce

Have I mentioned yet that Giada De Laurentiis is my hero? If I could, I would make just about every recipe she's created. At least the ones that don't call for olives. I'm not a huge fan of them.

So as I was watching Giada at Home last week, I saw her making an appetizer called Bruschetta with Shrimp, Tarragon and Arugula. I was intrigued by the idea and of course by the images of the resulting food. Now, my roommate and I don't really host many events, which means that we don't actually need to create many appetizers. All the same, I vowed that this limitation would not stop me from recreating this dish for myself. I'd just have to tweak it a bit.

First of all, since this recipe is already tomato based, I decided that instead of slathering it on pieces of toasted bread as an appetizer, I could toss it with some cooked pasta as a sauce.

Secondly, I have done some experimentation over the past year or so and I realize that I'm not a great fan of shrimp. I always expect to be blown away by it, but I'm typically left feeling let down. Sorry to all you shrimp lovers out there, but it has to be cut out of this recipe. The most decadent seafood in my opinion is lobster. I eat a lot of it at home in the Bahamas, but I'd never actually made it myself before. I guess there's no time like the present...

Lobster Arugula Sauce
adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
  • ~1 lb lobster meat*
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and black pepper
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 packed cup arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
Boil the Lobster:

* You can use live lobster or frozen lobster for this dish. I chose to use frozen lobster tails which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator.

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with a clove of garlic, a few dashes of Old Bay seasoning, and a generous pinch of salt.

2) Drop the lobsters in the water. (I boiled my lobsters for approximately 6 minutes, but I would recommend boiling for only 4-5 minutes.)

3) Use tongs to remove the lobsters from the water and let cool for a few minutes.

4) Pull the lobster meat out of the shell, taking care not to get any of the shell stuck in the meat.

5) Chop the meat into 1/2 inch pieces.

Make the Sauce:

1) In a medium skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.

2) Add the shallots and garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3) Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4) Cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes are soft, about 8 minutes.

5) Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits that may be clinging to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2 minutes.

6) Stir in the stock and cook for another 2 minutes.

7) Remove the pan from the heat and add the basil, oregano, arugula, mascarpone cheese, and lobster**.

8) Stir until the mixture is creamy, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

9) Serve over a bowl of pasta.

**Since I had cooked my lobster all the way through by accident, I didn't actually add the lobster to the sauce because I didn't want to overcook it. If I had cooked the lobster for less time, then I would have tossed it in to the sauce when the sauce came off the heat.

I layered this sauce over fresh spinach pasta and got down to the best part of having this blog: the taste test. The best word to describe this dish is "obscene". That's a positive adjective, by the way. The first thing that hits your senses is the smell of the fresh herbs. The oregano provides a spicy and slightly smoky aroma. Because the sauce isn't pureed, there are small chunks of meaty tomatoes that are slightly sweet and slightly tart. The lobster meat is smooth and creamy, which works quite well with the creamy mascarpone cheese that I used to finish the dish. Pure heaven.

Now excuse me while I go back for seconds...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Apple Almond Tart

I sometimes wish I could come up with more clever (clever-er?) names for my food, but I kinda just like to state what it is. That way there are no surprises down the road.

Anyhow, this recipe was born out of a need to use a leftover pie crust that was sitting in the refrigerator for a while. When I was in France several (ok, many) years ago, I was a huge fan of the Galette de Roi...aka King Cake. It's basically an almond tart that the French make every year around Epiphany. They will bake a little trinket into the tart and the person who gets the piece with the trinket will be king for the day. It's an old tradition. Don't know how it got started, but I'm so glad it did.

I was looking in my Food bookmarks and found an old Galette de Roi post that I had saved a long times ago. (I really need to clean out my bookmarks). So I figured that now was as good a time as any to venture into the realm of French desserts. Traditionally, this tart is made using two sheets of puff pastry, but since I only had one pie crust I realized I'd have to improvise. Similar to the Zucchini & Caramelized Onion Galette that I made before, I thought that I could make an open tart with the almond filling. Then, to s0rt of provide a "cover" for the tart, I could fill the opening with apples. Because in my world, apples and almonds can be pretty good friends.

I saw a lot of different ideas from various websites, but in the end the two most influential recipes that I used for inspiration were: Chocolate and Zucchini's Homemade Galette des Rois & Buttermilk Party Cake's Free Form Apple Galette.

Apple Almond Tart

for the Almond Filling (Crème D'Amande):
  • 9 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps sugar
  • ~5 oz. almond, ground finely in a food processor (I basically ground up about half of a 9.5 oz container of almonds)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-2 drops almond extract
  • 1 tbsp Nassau Royale liqueur (or some other rum-type liquor of your choice)

for the apples:
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsps brown sugar (I used light brown sugar, but I'm sure dark brown sugar would work just as well)
  • 9-inch Ready to Bake pie crust (I used a store-bought crust that I could just unroll, though you can make your own if you're motivated enough)

Make the Crème D'Amande:

1) Beat the butter until creamy.

2) Combine the sugar, almonds, corn starch, and salt in a separate bowl and stir with a whisk to remove any lumps.

3) Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and mix until smooth.

4) Add the almond extract and liquor, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.

5) Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

Make the apple mixture:

1) Meanwhile, mix the diced apples with the lemon juice. This will prevent browning.

2) Add the sugar and cinnamon and toss to coat the apples.

Assemble the Tart*:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2 ) Roll out the pie crust.

3) Spread the crème d'amande over the pie crust, leaving about two inches around the edges.

4) Top the crème d'amande with the apple mixture.

5) Fold up and pleat the edges of the galette.

6) Bake the tart for ~35 minutes.

7) Once the tart is done, let it cool before cutting and serving.

*OK, now the assembly process is where things started to go a little awry. I initially wanted to mimic the tart structure that I used in my previous tart post. As you can see from the picture collage above, this is how I started out. Approximately 3 minutes into the baking process, the tart began to collapse. Apparently when the crème d'amande heats up, it starts spreading everywhere and overpowers the fragile edges of the pie crust. Thus, I had to place the galette in a pie dish for the rest of the baking process. Note that it might be easier to use a ready-made pie crust in a pie tin for this tart.

The taste and texture of this tart is pretty interesting, but in a good way. When I bite into the apples, they are soft but still crunchy. I can also taste the sweet molasses in the brown sugar. It reminds me of eating an apple pie. But then my taste buds register the smooth flavor of the ground almonds. The creme d'amande has a creamy texture, which really compliments the mild crunch of the apples.

I am so glad I stumbled onto the idea for this tart. It brings together two of my favorite desserts and it also transports me back to my time in Europe. As I'm writing this, I am finishing my last slice of this tart. I have already begun counting down the days until I can make it again!