Thursday, December 23, 2010

When life breaks your leg...Make Marshmallows!

I've been a little obsessed lately...obsessed with hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows.  It's just that kind of season, and there's a cafe that I love that has the best of both of those.  The Husband and I have been enjoying cocoa dates quite often lately.  Since the marshmallows are my favorite part I thought that I should try my hand at making them.  It can't be that hard right?

This seemed like the perfect time too, I recently injured my leg so bad that I have to be off of it for a while. (Yes, learning new pole tricks can be hazardous!) Even though cooking technically requires standing, most of this I was able to do while sitting at the kitchen table.  And nothing makes you feel better more than a homemade sweet treat that makes you feel like your 8 years old again!

I have a little feeling of guilt that I actually used corn syrup, because I am sure that you can do it without. But when I went to my pantry, I saw a bottle of it in there from a pecan pie from a few Thanksgivings ago. I thought I might as well use it up.  But rest assure, I will not be using corn syrup for the next batch!  I am certain that you can make this recipe just as good without it.  But believe me these are good!! The Husband and I fully enjoyed our sugar high after eating a couple of them last night! Here's the recipe I used.  I got it from an old issue of Bon Appetite.

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup potato starch*

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar                                                                                                                                                                                    

  • nonstick vegetable oil spray

  • 1 cup cold water, divided

  • 3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/4 teaspoonLine 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil.
    Coat foil lightly with nonstick spray. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.
    Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over mediumlow heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240°F, about 8 minutes.
    With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer.
    Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours.
    Stir potato starch and powdered sugar in small bowl to blend. Sift generous dusting of starch-sugar mixture onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. Turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. Sift more starch-sugar mixture over marshmallow slab. Coat large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining starch-sugar mixture to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.

  • Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Pickled Vegetables

    This is a quick I can get back to the naked Husband...

    This has become a staple in our refrigerator.  Honestly, we get a little sad when these vegetables run out.  They are a great snack late at night, they're perfect on homemade Bahn Mi sandwiches and they're really easy to make.  Simply said, I love them, and the Husband does as well.  Yesterday, The Husband and I had fun cleaning out the refrigerator and putting new veggies in the pickle solution.  Some of the veggies did not workout though, I'll warn you ahead of time...see note below recipe.

    Vietnamese Style Pickled Vegetables

    1 cup distilled white vinegar
    2 cups water
    2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
    3 tablespoons kosher salt

    Veggies I have used (feel free to try your own!)- chopped in bite size pieces
    daikon radish
    red radish
    ****garlic**** is great to throw in because it adds a nice flavor to the pickle juice, but it isn't the best for eating unless you like strong raw garlic!

    Add water, vinegar, sugar and salt to pan.  Bring to boil.  Dissolve sugar and salt. Place chopped vegetables in a large bowl.  Pour warm water/vinegar solution over vegetables.  Make sure all vegetables are submerged in the liquid.  Cover with a towel.  Leave out at room temperature for at least 4 hours.  After that time has passed, put into a jar and refrigerate.  They'll last about a month in the refrigerator.

    There you have it!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Simple Ginger Cauliflower Soup

    Ever since I started cooking, and cooking well, I have had this battle...

    Sometimes I really want to treat myself to a nice meal out.  I think of all of my favorite restaurants, and dream of what I would get.  I dream of duck breasts, oysters, bouillabaisse, I could go on and on...  I love eating, and I am a very adventurous eater.  But, I also am a professional burlesque dancer.  Which means that I am on a pretty strict budget.  The more I learn about food, means the more expensive the restaurant that I actually want to go is.  I can't just go to your average good restaurant anymore.  Because no matter how decent it is, I will no doubt mention how I could have made it better. And The Husband will always agree with me.  It has to be spectacular for me to choose someone else's cooking over mine.

    On one hand, it's fantastic that I enjoy cooking enough to learn to cook as well as I have, and I've done it pretty much on my own, by reading cookbooks like most people read novels. But on the other hand, it forces me into the kitchen more than ever. Which I love!  If I could stay in my kitchen all day everyday, I a heartbeat.

    But for example, today...I'm exhausted from working all night last night.  I wanted a day where I could do nothing. So, I decide I'm going to do my errands, and treat myself to lunch at one of my favorite lunch spots.  I get to the door, think of what I really want, and realize what I always realize....I could make it myself, and I'll probably like mine every bit as much, and if I make it it's cheaper.  So I turn around, go to the market and get a few things, and cook.  I always feel better.  Being in my kitchen is more relaxing to me than doing nothing.  It's like meditation.  Delicious Meditation.

    This is what I came up with today...

    Ginger Cauliflower Soup

    2 heads of cauliflower chopped
    3 cups Chicken Stock-homemade
    2 cups water
    2 small onions
    1 shallot
    3 garlic cloves
    2 tablespoons chopped ginger
    1 teaspoon of the ginger juice: I run it over a bumpy surface to get liquid...(I don't know what this is called!)
    1/2 Cup Romano Cheese

    In a large soup pan, sauté onions, shallot, garlic and ginger until onions soften a little.  About 3 minutes.  Then add the cauliflower.  Saute for another 4 or 5 minutes.  Add Stock, water, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt.  Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered until the cauliflower is very soft.  Using an immersion blender, (you could also use a food processor or regular blender) bring the soup to a smooth liquid.  Add cheese, and blend once more.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve!

    You'll get about 4 or 5 servings out of it.  I like to put the rest in a mason jar, and save it for future lunches or quick dinners.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Is that poly-fill in your underpants?

    So, you may think that I've lost my mind...but I crafted the perfect pillow last night.  I was helping The Husband go through his clothes and get rid of a lot of old stuff, and re-organize his drawers.  Really I was just telling him what looked good on him and what he should keep.  Going through your clothes is not really the most exciting chore in the world, so to make it more interesting I tried to think of different things to do with all the old clothes that he was throwing away.  I wanted to save buttons, snaps from old shirts, collars, and then we got to his old underwear...I took a couple pairs for myself because they're really comfy for around the house.  Then, he pulled out the tidy-whitey's...ugh, is there any man that actually looks good in those?  I doubt it, and if he does it has nothing to do with the underwear.  I immediately told him to trash them!  What woman wouldn't? And, then...I gave them another look...grabbed them, and pulled out my sewing kit...

    I created the most hilarious and surprisingly perfect pillow!  I made underwear into a pillow...and I even tested it out last night.  The Husband kept stealing it throughout the night because it was so comfortable!  And honestly, mens underwear is really the perfect shape.  It fits perfectly around your shoulder.  And it's pretty cute. I think I'm going to make a couple out of new underwear and post them on my etsy shop.  If you're interested they would look great on any couch or bed!

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    This shit is glamorous!

    We all have our faults, even if we don't like to admit them to anyone else and sometimes even ourselves.  One of mine is that sometimes, well often, I forget to clean the cat box.  

    I have 2 beautiful cats that I love dearly....Dee Wee is a pure white persian kitty with a HUGE attitude. Seriously, it doesn't get more cliche for a Burlesque dancer to have a cat like her.  She looks like a white ball of fluff with a pink nose and pink ears.  And sometimes The Husband cuts her hair to look like a lion, complete with a puff on the end of her tail.  After it grows out enough to not look so busted, it's freaking adorable.  With or without a haircut, she's so cute it makes you want to barf. Frankly, I'm surprised we burlesque girls don't all have one just like her....(well, Bob does have the dog version, Movie Star.)  

    And then theres Jules.  He's my senior citizen with separation anxiety and his anxiety is expressed in the wonderful sounds of his chirping and howling at night when I'm far away at work, causing The Husband to lose his mind, every...single...night. It's really fun for him...I mean, it's really 

    So, I really need to fix this fault of mine.  And today I came up with what might be a solution.  I looked at what made me forget.  And I thought, well, I can't see the shit.  The shit box just blends into the background and I don't even notice it half the time.  If I don't notice it, how am I going to remember to clean it?? Other than the smell, yes...yeah, I know...

    So here's my plan, we'll see if it works.  I went out today and bought a covered circular cat box.  It has a brand name, but I call it the "Hoot Hut" because Jules looks like an owl perching on a branch when he takes a dump.  And I like to make fun of him.  After I brought it home, I pulled out all the scraps from burlesque costumes from the past.  Sequins, feathers, trim. Then I pulled out The Husbands art supplies and a piece of cardboard.  I decided, if I can SEE the cat box then maybe I'll CLEAN the cat box.  It makes sense right.  So, I made them the cutest, and most tacky cat box in all of Brooklyn,  here it is.  Wish me luck.