May 31, 2009

Iron Chef

Friday, one of the other librarians came up to me at the desk and said, "So there's talk of having a bake off between you and [other employee]." I'm not sure if I'm getting a reputation for my cockiness or my cooking, but I said I would absolutely love to do it. We have joked about having a distribution list to notify people when I've brought goodies to work.

I hope to have an Iron Chef competition next month sometime. I started spreading word in my social circles. Any closet blog readers (and I know you're there) who are interested in participating should let me know. Not sure on the date, probably on a Saturday evening. I want to wait until Wendy gets here so she can be my sous chef.

I have many ideas for running the contest. I think there should be a few teams of 2-3 people. Each team can nominate a theme ingredient for the teams to cook with, and there would be a drawing to choose it, so it would be random. Everyone would receive a text message revealing the theme ingredient, and they could decide on which meal course to prepare. I'm not sure how much time to give everyone, maybe two hours to allow for grocery shopping. The teams would describe their dish in a presentation to the judges. And I would keep my cutthroat competitive nature in check.

I was proud of myself for making a dozen cupcakes in under an hour this week. I got home from work and had to hurry to make it to dinner on time. I made my standard dark chocolate cupcake recipe and one-sixth of Martha's Chocolate Buttercream while they were in the oven. I used Callebaut 60% bittersweet chocolate. I popped the cupcakes in the freezer to cool them down before frosting. Working on my speed to gear up for next month's contest. Allez cuisine!

May 30, 2009


I found out about a new cupcake place in Lubbock, Cake, which opens May 30 in South Kingsgate. I am excited to try this place. We have nothing approximating a decent bakery in this town, and I was disappointed with Peace O'Cake Cupcakes. Cute flavors, cute store, mediocre product. I was especially disappointed in their frosting. However, I got the word from Holley that Cake has potential based on the view from the store window.

Also tried a great eatery with lots of local flavor, as Rob put it, that I had never heard of, Ranch House. Yesterday for lunch there I had chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes with gravy, peas and carrots, cole slaw, bread, and pineapple cobbler and ice cream for dessert. I like that this place doesn't make any pretense about what they are. Their menu has a section of "Lite" Plates. I guess the quotes around "lite" mean they're still capable of clogging arteries.

Cake CupcakesUpdate: Remember that time I bought 12 cupcakes in New York? I went to Cake and accidentally did the same thing today. Their dozen was only $30 compared to Eleni's $42.50, though. Yes, we all know Kimberly will splurge on food. Their store is cute, and they had some very lovely cakes on display. I've only tried the Velvet Elvis, a banana cake with peanut butter buttercream and crisp bacon garnish. I'm happy to announce that it was wonderful.

Cake Cupcakes

May 27, 2009

Breakfast Sandwich

On Memorial Day, Katie, Porter, and Eric came for breakfast. "Come over at 7:30-ish," I said, and it sounded like a good idea Sunday night, but not particularly so Monday morning at 5am when I was making pudding, nor at 6am when I was headed to United's deli counter. Oh well, I was pleasantly surprised at United to find the raspberries and deli black forest ham and turkey on sale.

Monte Cristo SandwichI asked what we should have for breakfast, and I was very proud of Porter for suggesting Monte Cristos. I think I've been a good influence on him. What a good idea for breakfast: a sandwich of ham, turkey, and cheese on French toast served with raspberry jam. I recommend smoked Gruyère for the cheese and hot pepper raspberry preserves.

Along with the sandwiches, we had vanilla pudding and berries. Kind of patriotic, I thought, with the white pudding, red raspberries, and um, black blackberries. Well, almost.

Defying Gravity

I added a new cake to my repertoire this weekend, a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or Black Forest Cake for you English speakers, Pastel de Bosque Negro, for Spanish speakers. I'm not sure what it's called in Esperanto. Katie, a little help with the Chinese translation? Porter, Finnish? Wendy, what would that be called in Utah?

I did quite a bit of scouting for recipes, and ended up using one printed in the NYTimes, the source of which is the executive pastry chef at Jean Georges.

Several components to this cake. First, chocolate cake: I think traditionally a chocolate Génoise or sponge cake is used because they soak up the Kirsch syrup well and the texture goes well with the other components, ganache, soft fruit filling, whipped cream. This chocolate cake recipe is on the dry side - no butter, but not made with whipped egg whites either.

Black Forest CakeThe chocolate cake is baked in three 8" rounds. Each is then soaked with a simple syrup spiked with Kirsch. A semisweet chocolate ganache is spread over the bottom two layers. Cherry preserves are spread on top of the ganache.

This recipe also includes whipped cream, stabilized by butter. It's spread on top of each layer. I piped some rosettes and put a cherry in the middle of them. I realized later that I forgot to grate chocolate on top.

Black Forest Cake

I was worried about the whole thing toppling over. It was one of the tallest cakes I've ever made. So I sang Defying Gravity from Wicked for the rest of the weekend. I sing in the kitchen a lot, and I talk to myself and my kitchen utensils, which is just, yeah.

May 23, 2009

Man on Wire

Friday dinner and a movie: what dinner menu goes with Man on Wire?

It's a documentary that I'd heard good reviews of from a few people. The movie's tagline:

"A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, 'the artistic crime of the century.'"

Seeing as he was a Frenchman, I decided on a French menu. Chicken Cordon Bleu, Perfect Fingerling Potatoes, and roasted asparagus.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

You can't pronounce it "cordon blue" either. It's "cordon bleh." For dessert, vanilla bean ice cream with raspberries and blackberries macerated in sugar and Chambord.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Berries

I enjoyed the movie. My heart pounded when I saw those camera shots of the view you have from the top of the World Trade Center towers. I can't imagine standing on that wire and looking down. I'm sure if you fell from that height, after 10 feet you’d be going the speed of sound. Then your neck would break when your body broke the sound barrier. Yes, also watched This Is Spinal Tap plus all the extra film footage which was as funny as the stuff that made the final cut of the movie. It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

May 20, 2009

Deal Breakers

Once upon a time, this blog was as much about Kimberly's life adventures as the food she was cooking. I've gotten away from that somewhat, and even though I've wanted to write about my new job and reentrance into the dating scene, I've avoided it. We're all so connected online these days - not a bad thing in itself - but even in a small town like Lubbock where only a handful of people know how to use the Internet, the chances I'd face repercussions for something I wrote is great. See, I bet that offended someone.

I think dating discussions are great fodder, especially in regards to dating horror stories. I used to get set up on blind dates pretty frequently, and it was fun to relate the "Guess what happened to me!" shocker stories when things went badly. No recent horror stories to report, except a guy did try to hit on me by holding my hand, tracing its curves, and reading my palm. The good news is that I have a long life line. After the second hug in only a few minutes, I decided to walk away.

One of my friends told me that Lubbock is so small and incestuous, if you haven't met the person you're going to marry by age 14, you're out of luck in this pond. Where does that leave me? Waiting for Providence to put someone amazing in my path? Should I look online? I'm not looking to get married tomorrow, but I do want a boyfriend to spoil. I figure I can dispatch my lovely friends to find a man worthy of me. I'm probably pickier than ever about what I'm looking for.

Lemon Meringue PieWhen I'm scouring my usual sources for a recipe, I do have my mental list of recipe deal breakers: "Whether for reasons practical or psychological, even the most experienced cooks have an ingredient, technique or phrase that will make them bypass a recipe...ingredients or instructions that make them throw down the whisk and walk away." Right now, for example, I'm eschewing anything calling for egg yolks, because I already have what feels like dozens of egg whites waiting for their chance to shine in an angel food cake, meringue, frosting, etc.

In the same vein, most people have a few deal breakers in mind as far as characteristics they couldn't tolerate in a significant other. I've been giving some thought lately as to what mine are, and also what traits I possess that are on the guys' lists. I'm trying to perceive myself the way someone that has just met me will. Some men are downright helpful with that self-analysis. Actual comments of late:
"You dance like Elaine."

"I've only seen you three times in the last couple of weeks and you've worn that shirt twice." [In my defense, he was mistaken, but yeah, maybe I need to cut back on the turquoise-colored shirts.]

Several remarks about not being allowed to help in the kitchen and how I stare at people who are eating my cooking.
As for my own deal breakers, I have a few I'll disclose:
I have a Dilbert calendar and Dilbert candy dispenser on my desk. Dude's gotta be a nerd.

I would probably dump a guy that was unwilling to watch old movies and listen to old music. I'll go a step further and say he probably even has to like it.

If I found out a guy had unique eating habits, e.g., is vegan, pescetarian, juicearian, or only eats on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, I'd say "More power to you, but I think we're too different to make this work. It's not you. It's me." I don't think I could be with a dieter. He'd have no fun in my world that revolves around trying new foods. I went out a few times with a guy who was allergic to nuts. I always knew that could never work out. How could I be with someone who can't eat peanut butter?

I think next month I'm going to have another Still Single Shower. Are you allowed to have more than one? What should be on the menu? Any requests?

What are your deal breakers? Recipe, dating, or otherwise?

May 19, 2009

Tomato Herb Tartlets

Here is an idea for an easy appetizer. Very adaptable to what you have on hand. You can use fresh or canned/dried tomatoes and herbs. I used "Hot" RO*TEL, which has a tiny tiny kick. Any good Texan should be able to handle that level of heat.

Tomato Herb Puff Pastry Tartlets
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 can RO*TEL chunky tomatoes, drained
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
olive oil
fresh or dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, Italian blend)
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. With knife or pizza cutter, cut puff pastry into equal sized rectangles. (I cut the sheet into nine pieces.) Lay the pieces a couple of inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Top each piece of dough with a few tomato pieces, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Sprinkle each with herbs, then grate Parmesan cheese over the top with a micro grater. Bake until golden and crisp, 25-30 minutes.

Tomato Herb Puff Pastry Tartlets

May 18, 2009

Let's Eat Jicama

"Let's eat Mama!" OR "Let's eat, Mama!"
Punctuation: It saves lives.

I don't think there was too much excitement at my house yesterday when I said, "Let's eat jicama." The reactions were more like, "What's that?"


Jicama. Pronunciation: HIH-kuh-ma Equivalents: One jicama, cubed = 2 cups Notes: This tan-skinned tuber has a mild, nondescript flavor, but a nice crunchy texture. It's a good, cheap substitute for water chestnuts in stir-fries. Since it doesn't discolor, it's also a great vegetable to serve raw on a crudité platter. Peel it before using.

Since I'm on a Bobby Flay kick, I decided to try his recipe for Jicama Slaw. I thought it would contrast nicely with the main course, Maple-Glazed Pork Roast with Smoked Paprika. Katie helped by grating the jicama, but she kept stopping to ask, "Are you sure you want the whole thing in here?" She was right to be wary. The slaw was only so-so. I'm not really a huge cole slaw fan either. The jicama slaw would go better with fish tacos, a pupusa, or maybe some juicy pulled pork barbecue, but I get points for trying something new. I've made the pork with maple syrup glaze before; this time I tried a variation adding paprika, cinnamon, and cloves.

Maple-Glazed Pork and Jicama Salad

Coconut Layer CakeFor dessert, Coconut Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Related: Here's a cake cutting guide (some people really need it!): To cut round tiers, move 2" in from the outer edge; cut a circle and slice 1" pieces within the circle. Move in another 2", cut another circle, slice 1" pieces, and so on until the tier is cut. The center cores and small top tier can be cut into 2,4,6 pieces, etc. depending on size.

Coconut Layer Cake

Porter's brother Eric is home from school for a few weeks. He came over for dessert and said it was the best thing he'd eaten all semester. Flattery like that will get you places with a spinster librarian, so I tried to sidle up close to him and made him watch Big Train sketches on YouTube with me. Charming.

May 15, 2009

Food for Thought

India Palace was profiled on Food for Thought last night, and neither Christy nor Gul told me about it. I'm hurt. Catch the video clip here. I recommend the Murg Mirch Masala and the Vindaloo.

May 10, 2009

Steak and Eggs

I served bruncheon at my house last weekend, and I made Croque Madame sandwiches for the monsieur that came to dine. That's a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top, if you didn't know, and I didn't before I spotted the recipe. It's topped with a Gruyère Mornay sauce to make it a little snobbier. A Croque Monsieur doesn't have the fried egg on top.


Berry FoolFor dessert, a Berry Fool. That's an English dessert made by mixing puréed fruit, whipped cream, and sugar, if you didn't know, and I didn't. It's topped with graham cracker crumbs to make it a little less snobby. The traditional fruit used in a fool is gooseberries. I used strawberries and raspberries for this one.

In the Cook's Illustrated recipe, the fruit purée is stabilized with a little gelatin, to keep it from getting soupy. Some of the purée is folded into whipped cream flavored with a little sour cream. To serve, layer macerated berries, fruit purée, and the berry whipped cream, then repeat. It'd be pretty much impossible to serve this at large parties, because the cream has to be whipped just before serving.

Beef tenderloin and ribeye were on sale at United this week. I have the prices memorized for a few grocery items - namely Callebaut and Ghiradelli chocolate, heavy cream, etc., but also beef tenderloin. It's usually $27.99/pound for the Certified Angus, but this week it was on sale for $17.99/pound, so I accidentally ate it on Wednesday and Friday. Ribeye was about half price, so we had that for Mother's Day dinner, with shrimp, baked potatoes, and salad. Used a spice rub of ancho chile, cumin, cinnamon, brown sugar, kosher salt, and pepper on the steaks. I could obviously eat steak several times a week, but I still think that it's not froufrou enough for Mother's Day.

Mother's Day Dinner

I fell asleep after dinner and my mom did the dinner dishes. Isn't that awful?

May 9, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

The Chocolate Blackout Cake also known as the pepper cake also known as the cake I made for Katie's wedding is fast becoming my signature recipe. I am making three 10" cakes for a Mother's Day party tomorrow. Here are the ingredient amounts needed (cake, ganache, coconut frosting):
7 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
6 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons salt
5 pounds butter
11 1/4 cups sugar
18 whole eggs
5 tablespoons vanilla
3 cups buttermilk
3 cups coffee
1 1/2 pounds semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate
6 cups heavy cream
2 cups toffee bits
18 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut milk
2 14 oz. packages flaked sweetened coconut
Those 10" cake layers have to bake for 45 minutes each. Lots of time for blogging while they're in the oven.

Pig Candy

One of my flickr photos made it on Slashfood, which is a pretty fun food blog. Yea Creative Commons! Go read the post here.

Pig Candy

Wordle: Kimberly It figures that the picture I'd be "immortalized" by is one of fried bacon dipped in chocolate. I bought some during my last trip to visit my now former lover. The stuff is good. Milk chocolate is better than dark chocolate. Available at Roni Sue's in the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. I'll also plug their Bacon Buttercrunch and truffles. You only live once.

Derby Day

I found a wonderful new annual tradition in which to participate: the Kentucky Derby party.

Kentucky Derby Party

My kind of party. It mainly revolves around eating and mingling and wearing a big, flamboyant hat, but you can watch the horse race if you want. My hat was decidedly not big and flamboyant enough, but next year I'll know what to expect from the competition. Kim was the hostess and definitely the winner of the best hat contest. I'm not sure how she'll top herself next year. There was four yards of tulle around that brim. She also had some rhinestones and the letter 'K' on there. The picture really doesn't do it justice. I told her she needs to wear that hat while tailgating during football season.

Kentucky Derby Party

I took little lemon tartlets. I made thirty-two tarts, and I have never juiced so many lemons in my life. I tried a new recipe for the filling that turned out well, but I accidentally forgot to put a couple of tablespoons of cream in the first batch I made. Those were very sour pucker-up tarts, which I served as second string eats.

Kentucky Derby Party

I cheered for Pioneerof the Nile. The finish was amazing.