Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mom's Olive Oil Orange Cupcakes

BUNDTS and mothers. Aside from the super-cool Pillsbury boxed Bundt cake mixes from the 70's & 80's, My mom's one and only bundt cake is sacred. It's the only cake she ever makes. It's undoubtedly one of the most popular recipe out there. It's embarrassingly a cake-box-recipe. I'll share that classic later - it's surprisingly good (gasp)! Catch all the traditional bundt versions over at Baked Sunday Mornings - along with the recipe. Or stick around for some cupcakes.

Baked in a birthday present from my friend Elaine at CaliforniaLiving, these vintage "Silver Beauty" muffin tins from the 50's are "beauts". Sized for what muffins were back then (smaller) - in between a mini-muffin tin and today's "standard" pan. Priceless. 

This BAKED recipe combines orange zest, extra virgin olive oil, yogurt and uses the beaten-egg-white-fold-in-technique (for added lightness). I squeezed and added some fresh orange juice as well, since just the zest was called for. You can't have too much orange flavor.

And what's a cupcake without frosting? The BAKED boys recommend confectioners' sugar or an orange glaze - I opted for the glaze and a bit of zest to top them off. Light, orangey - what mom wouldn't enjoy these Sunday delights? Not quite like mom's bundt - but there's nothing like the original.
   – mike 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sundae Sunday

MEET JIM.  Jane's sibling. Jim's nickname is "vanilla". Plain, ordinary, rather common. When our Sundae Sunday Hostess, Di, planned this event, Sundae Sunday, visions of swirled, ice creams filled my head. What shall I make? French-style or Philadelphia, sorbet, two-flavored swirls? The possibilities seemed endless. And here I ended up with Jim.

He's not so bad, actually. The first flavor of ice cream I made - along with my first ice cream maker - a purchase from last summer, with no regrets. "Ice creaming" is addicting. So much, that I have this David Lebovitz recipe engraved in my brain - one that I can make in my sleep.

This variation of vanilla is from his wonderful book, "Perfect Scoop". You can find an online version of it here. Milk, cream, egg yolks, sugar, a dash of salt and the one ingredient that sets it apart: seeds and the pod of a vanilla bean. Add a dash of pure vanilla extract before churning and it's now double vanilla - or French vanilla - but not plain vanilla.

Aside from the pure deliciousness of real vanilla, it's the base for all sorts of celebratory ice creams. Take Friday's Social at work - Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream. A hit with everyone. From there, the "add-ins" are endless. Brownies, candies, fruit swirls . . . 

Many thanks to Di for the Sundae Sunday roundup. Be sure to stop by her blog later this week. You'll find a freezer full of astonishing, tempting and utterly unique of ice creams. Hopefully just not vanilla. 
   – mike 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Peaches & Dreams Pie

ANOTHER PIE.  And more anguish. Unfortunately, this one felt more like a nightmare. Its appearance is rather horrific as well. The story of a perfectly crimped crust that collapses and melts over the edge of the pan. A bubbly, gurgling topping that appeared to be straight out of "The Blob".  I'm quite certain there are plenty of ethereal, dreamy versions over at Baked Sunday Mornings - along with the recipe. So you can make your own nightmare.

Hard to believe something as simple as a peach pie could become so horrifying. Canned peaches mingle with a filling of eggs, sour cream, flour and dark brown sugar. The streusel topping (more nightmares ensue) - made of dark brown sugar, flour and butter, became a greasy entity as it congealed while it cooled. Reminds one of a ground beef and cheddar casserole, does it not?

Feeling rather mischievious, I served this for my Friday Social at work. What horrifying thoughts and expressions would occur? Along side with a batch of David Lebovitz vanilla bean ice cream, this terrifying experience came to a close - with rave reviews. Astonishing. This simple, became the darling of the social. Wonders never cease - it all seems like a dream.
   – mike 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blackberry Mini-Pies

INDEPENDENCE.  I thought I might escape my proverbial "4th of July Pie Guilt Trip" this year. It's no secret I have a fear of this All-American dessert - which everyone seems to make  - much better than I (or is that 'me')?  I'd gladly have passed on Baked Sunday Mornings Blackberry Pie selection, if it weren't for my dad. On a Costco outing yesterday, we stood looking a their selection of organic blackberries. He raved how much he loved this berry. After that surge of guilt ran through me, along with an eye roll - into my cart they went. 

Knowing I'd have to make pie dough especially for this BAKED dessert was a possible "out" for me - until I opened my freezer and stared at a Ziploc bag with not just ordinary pie dough -but BAKED pie dough. Gee, thanks.

Even with my limited knowledge of pie-making, I questioned the recipe's instructions to "fold under and crimp" the bottom crust. Since this is a double crust, isn't it normal to crimp "after" the top crust is applied? Like an idiot, I crimped. Then re-crimped it all over again with the top crust. I made two mini-pies, so you can imagine the carpal-tunnel-crimping involved.

After a few stabs with the knife, egg wash and sanding sugar - my obligatory 4th of July pies were made. I hope they're half as delicious as they smelled (as I'm sure the BAKED boys wouldn't disappoint). They escaped my taste-test, as I delivered them to my folks - along with a sparkler.

   – mike