My 15 Minutes of Fame

Remember a month ago I posted about my upcoming 15-minutes of fame? Well, the day has arrived, my friends, for when the world gets to see my shenanigans in a kitchen.

So, what exactly happened? Well, the commercial for Breville Toaster Ovens was filmed at Brooklyn Kitchen and it was done in the style of Chopped!, where my fellow contestants and me were given a basket with the following secret ingredients: quick cook tapioca, organic canned pumpkin, organic apple cider and organic quick cook oatmeal. Believe it or not, I was pretty nonplussed by the quick cook tapioca – mainly because I am not a fan of the substance and have never really cooked with it.

But we had 90 mins, which gave me more than enough time to burn one batch of tapioca (oh yes, I think I burned the most things out of anyone there – I was so unlike myself; this is what live action does
to me) and still make another batch that turned into a filling for a layered-concoction.

The end result of 90 minutes of me hyperventilating was:

Sage Pumpkin Apple Cider Shortbread layered with Pumpkin Tapioca Custard, topped with an Oatmeal Brown Sugar Crisp and then served with a side of Apple Cider Whipped Cream.

I have to admit, I was pretty proud of my Apple Cider Whipped Cream because it tasted fresh like apple cider, but it was still smooth and creamy like a good whipped cream. But according to the commercial, which aired last night - the judges were more impressed with my Oatmeal Brown Sugar Crisp - who knew!

So...that's the story of my 15 minutes of fame. Just keep your eye out when watching Chopped! and you just might see me looking all "professional" in the kitchen!


More about the Bake-Off

While I do know I have a bake-off page here, I did want to share the winning items here individually. And they are:

Apricot Pine Nut Squares, made by Sandy Cheung - winner for Sweet

Puff Pastry filled with Duck, Apples and Pumpkin, made by Isabelle Nguyen - winner for Savory!

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding made by Anna Miller-Bailer, winner for Crowd Favorite!

The event was a complete and utter success and everyone had such a good time! No diabetes reports at all, so I'm happy. I can't wait for next year! And if you want to check out the fun - see the pictures here:



Things I need to do

1) Post recipe for Sweet Potato and Blue Cheese whoopie pies
2) Post recipe for Dark Chocolate and Yuzu Curd whoopie pies
3) Bake something for Diwali.


Chopped! Or, how I got on TV

So, thanks to all the running around  I've been doing for the Bake-Off I found myself submitting my name and my passion for food via email to a television producer, filming an amateur version of Chopped! for Breville Toaster Ovens.

I was chosen as a contestant. And now I am the proud owner of this fancy toaster oven, which I am supposed to get used to because the premise of the clip I'll be in (yes, I am going to be on TV) demands for the use of this toaster oven. This weekend, I plan to bake my way into a reasonable sense of calm so when I am faced with 90 minutes, 4 mystery ingredients and no recipe cards to be seen, it'll be all good.

So, the first thing I decide to make, of course, is my chocolate chip cookies. Simple, classic and you know when you mess up the recipe.

From scratch, from memory - rattling off the ingredients, almost forgetting the baking powder. But in the end, they did come out pretty normal looking and they tasted like chocolate chip cookies should taste warm out of the oven - caramel-y, chocolate-y and perfect with a glass of milk.

Next on the agenda - Focaccia.


Gimme a little sugar...brown sugar brownies that is.

A good friend of mine makes these amazing muscovado sugar brownies that are rich, fudgey and droolworthingly delicious.

They are wonderful and now I am thinking I need to get him to make me some soon. I did not have muscovado sugar in my pantry, but I did have some lovely regular brown sugar so I decided to make a version of his brownies.

I also wanted to reassure myself that my baking prowess did not desert me - my last two baking attempts were less than satisfactory. I've since confirmed that the organic flour I used was the culprit. Thank god for regular all-purpose! Not to mention, for this particular recipe, I was able to use my wonderful new food scale. Yes, I did not have a food scale until recently. I love it.

Brown Sugar Brownie (adapted from All Recipes UK)

25g unsweetened chocolate
60g semi-sweet chocolate pieces
100g unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
100g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, beaten
100g all-purpose flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 x 8 baking pan. In a double boiler (or a bowl over a pot of simmering water), melt the chocolate and the butter together. Once melted, set aside to cool. Add the white and dark brown sugar to the cooled chocolate mixture and mix well. Stir in vanilla and then add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder, and fold into the chocolate egg mixture. Do not over mix. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the brownie.

 Let cool slightly and then cut into your serving size. I got 16 pieces out of this recipe - they only lasted a day. These are fudge-y chocolate-y goodness.


Tarting up Tomatoes

I bought a bunch of fancy tomato plants this year from Cross Country Nurseries out in New Jersey. Plants with names like Isis Candy and Black Seaman...yes, I did buy the latter plant because of the name.

As a result, a bunch of beautiful tomatoes have been slowly covering a fence in my backyard and I've been itching to bake with them. A bunch of yellow and bright red heirlooms were sitting in my fruit basket when inspiration struck - a tart. A tomato tart with an herb crust.Tomatoes are lovely when fresh and in salads, but this is a great way to use them even when they're not in season - removing some of the moisture before baking just concentrates the flavor and makes it lovely and rich.

So what I did first was slice the tomatoes about a 1/4 inch thick, laid them out on a layer of paper towel, salted them lightly in order to bring out some of the moisture. I covered them with another layer of paper towel and let them hang out for a while.

While they were sweating away, I made my herb pie crust.

Herb Pie Crust
Ingredients1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup of chilled, cubed unsalted butter
a few tablespoons of ice water
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh herbs (here I used tarragon, thyme and sage from the garden)


Mix together the flour and salt, then add the chilled butter. With a pastry mixer or two knives or a fork, work the butter into the flour until fully incorporated and the mixture is the size of large crumbs. Add the herbs and mix in some more until they are also incorporated. Add the ice water little by little, mixing until a firm dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

For the tart itself, it was more about assembly than anything. You needed your tomatoes, pie crust, any good grated cheese and some additional herbs and seasonings.

Tomato Tart

1 recipe herb pie crust (see above)
4 large heirloom tomatoes, salted and drained
2/3 cup of good grated cheese (here I used smoked mozzarella)
10 sage leaves
3 sprigs of thyme, all leave removed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the pie crust in a tart pan for 15 mins. Remove from oven and cool.

Once the shell is cool, layer on the shredded cheese, then arrange the tomatoes on top. Sprinkle the thyme on top and layer in the sage leaves and sprinkle the pepper on top.

Bake the tart in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for another 15-20 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked through. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. This makes about 8 servings. Enjoy!


I am not lame.

I just have been busy with stuff and nonsense.

That being said, I have baked over these past couple of weeks. There was lime and coconut (and mix it all up). Baklava. Impromptu lactose-tolerant cupcakes. My awesome trail mix cookies - which are essentially my Orange Oatmeal Cookies with more stuff added to it. Like nuts, seeds, granola, etc. What you would find in good trail mix, you can add to this recipe and voila - a trail mix cookie.

More recipes to come! And also an update on the Bake-off!


Fake Baking

I can't think of baking when the weather is so hot and humid that all I want to do is just turn on the air conditioning and pretend my room is a fridge and I'm a lukewarm bottle of white wine in need of a good chill.

But a dessert was needed for a barbecue on a hot June day, so I decided to go with trifle since it was a no-bake dessert and since berries are in season. What better use of berries than in a trifle? Don't answer that, just check out the recipe and assemblage instructions below and you'll see what I mean.

Berry Trifle with Lemon Vanilla Cream

1 store bought Vanilla Angel Food Cake
1 recipe Lemon Vanilla Cream
4 cups mixed macerated berries
Whipped Cream, about 1 or 1 1/2 cups

I used store bought Vanilla Angel Food Cake (already prepared mind you) because I was trying not to turn on the oven. What you need to do with this is slice it into 1/4 inch slices and set aside until assembling time.

Regarding the berries, I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - but you can use any summer berries you like. I added a 1/4 cup of white sugar, juice from half a lemon and zest from half a lemon to the berries, tossed to combine and set aside.

Now, for the Lemon Vanilla Cream (adapted from Mark Bittman's version)


2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
zest from half a lemon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


Mix together the 2 cups of half-and-half or milk, sugar and salt in a small or medium saucepan over medium-low heat. If using a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into milk or half-and-half using small sharp knife. Do not discard the pod.* Cook just until mixture begins to steam.

Combine cornstarch and remaining milk or half-and-half in a bowl and blend; there should be no lumps. Add cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to very low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in butter and lemon zest.

Pour mixture into a bowl or dish to cool. Put plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent formation of a skin, or do not cover if you like skin. Refrigerate until chilled.

*I put the vanilla pod in my white sugar bowl to make vanilla sugar - it's definitely added a little something extra to my coffee!


In a glass trifle dish, or in my case, an 8-inch square glass dish, lay down a layer of the sliced angel food cake. Then dollop on a third of the lemon vanilla cream on top of the slices. Add a third of the berries and the juice from the maceration. Repeat until all layers are complete and then pipe the whipped cream around the edges. Voila - Summer Berry Trifle! Perfect for a lazy summer evening after a BBQ.


Bears, Beets, Battlestar Gallactica

Let’s face it. It’s weird when you mix vegetables in with dessert – like something went wrong in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and all of a sudden instead of Turkish Delight, you have Broccoli Delight. Not the kind of delight I like in a sweet treat.

However, vegetables seem to somehow make their way into desserts and cakes all the time: Carrot Cake, Zucchini Bread, Pumpkin Pie, not to mention the southern classic –Red Velvet Cake, which got its coloring and name from beets.

Speaking of beets, a good friend of mine mentioned that she once had a wonderful Beet Chocolate Cake at a local restaurant and that it was her favorite cake ever. She then told me that they took it off their menu and she wished that she could find as good a beet chocolate cake so she could have it for her birthday. So, instead of buying her a gift, I offered to make her some beet chocolate cupcakes for her birthday get together. I had never made these cupcakes before before and I knew that I wanted to go more chocolate than beet. So I ended up with the following recipe (which is an amalgamation of research into different recipes and takes the best out of many to create something pretty darn tasty).

Beet Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Rum Glaze


2 cups of fresh beet puree (use about 6 medium beets for this)
3/4 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup of dark cocoa powder (I used E.guittard here)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your cupcake tins as you would always – i.e. line with cupcake liners. Boil beets until tender, then drain and cool. Once cool, use a food processor (or whatever you use to blend boiled vegetables) to puree the beets into a fine pulp. Set aside.

Cream the margarine and sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and add in alternating amounts with the milk. Add the beet puree and mix for a couple minutes or until very smooth. Using s small spoon, scoop the batter into your prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 15 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake. Cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze,

4 oz dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon dark rum


In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter. Stir frequently until smooth and incorporated. Add corn syrup and rum and stir until smooth. Cool till room temperature before use. If the glaze is too runny, add some powdered sugar to it. If it’s too thick, add some more corn syrup.

I added some silver non-pareils to make these little mini bites more festive, but they taste good with or without a silvery sparkle. Enjoy!


It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Growing up I never used to have proper peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My parents didn't buy grape jelly for some reason; they preferred to have marmalade and strawberry jam in the house. So our peanut butter sandwiches were with marmalade or strawberry jams.

Sometimes, on very rare occasions, they would buy Goobers® for me and my brothers and we would be ecstatic. As I grew older, I grew used to the different jams with my peanut butter sandwiches, and didn't mind apricot or guava or even good old strawberry jam with my peanut butter. One thing that I grew out of was the taste and texture of over-processed peanut butter and preferred natural, no sugar added stuff. This was primarily due to my living abroad in a country where peanut butter was just ground up roasted peanuts - no bells and whistles attached. This is my favorite kind of peanut butter to use for baking because, well, it's peanutier (not a word I know)and it doesn't add anything other than a good, rich peanut butter flavor to a batter, frosting, filling. And it's better for you than processed, sugar-filled peanut butter.

This rambling introduction brings me to the point of this post - peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. Which I made as a ode to my lack of true peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (and also because they are really cool).

There are 3 components to these cupcakes: the cake, the filling and the frosting - all of which are modifications to other recipes I've worked on/used before.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

1 recipe for peanut butter cake (use natural peanut butter versus processed and you'll have a better batter guaranteed)
1 cup of grape jelly, melted and cooled
1 recipe for peanut butter and jelly frosting (see below)

Bake your cupcakes as you would and let cool. Fill a piping bag with a No. 2 or 3 round tip with the melted grape jelly. Insert tip in middle of cupcakes and fill until you see the jelly poking through the top of the cupcake.

Using another piping bag with a shell tip, fill with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes.

And voila - peanut butter jelly time!

So, here's the frosting recipe I created for this cupcake:

1 cup (2 sticks), room temperature unsalted butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons natural no sugar added peanut butter
1 tablespoon melted grape jelly

n a large bowl, cream the butter until it's light and fluffy. Add the confectioner's sugar gradually, beating the sugar into the butter. Add the peanut butter and grape jelly. Continue to beat until the ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is double in volume. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.



I love Tiramisu.

One of the first places I tried it was at the San Genaro Festival, which they hold in the last remnants of Little Italy in NYC. It was a perfect amalgamation of cookie, cream, coffee and alcohol - and they sold it by the cup so you didn't feel too guilty after scarfing it down.

Ever since I tried it those many years ago, I've made it on particular occasions. Something about Tiramisu begs for an occasions to bring it out - it's a festive, wonderfully decadent dessert and while there is no real "baking" involved, I feel that it deserved a shout out on my woefully neglected blog.

So this time around, the festive occasion was Mother's Day! And since we were planning an Italian inspired early supper, what better to end it than with a wonderful tiramisu. I trolled my favorite online cookbook, Epicurious and found the following recipe:

Tiramisu (adapted from Epicurious.com)

3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) container mascarpone cheese (1 scant cup)
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
2 cups very strong brewed coffee or brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Starbucks brand here)
18 Ladyfingers (the crunchy variety)
2 tablespoons good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat whites with a pinch of cream of tartar in another bowl with cleaned beaters until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, then continue to beat whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat cream in another bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds soft peaks. Fold cream into mascarpone mixture gently but thoroughly, then fold in whites.

Stir together coffee and coffee liqueur in a shallow bowl. Dip 1 ladyfinger in coffee mixture, soaking it about 4 seconds on each side, and transfer to an 8-inch glass baking dish (2-quart capacity). Repeat with 8 more ladyfingers and arrange in bottom of dish, trimming as needed to fit snugly.

Spread half of mascarpone mixture evenly over ladyfingers. Make another layer in same manner with remaining ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture. Chill tiramisu, covered, at least 6 hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle with cocoa powder. And voila - Tiramisu!

Come to think of it, I might have to make this again especially with the weather becoming warmer and warmer (hot as hades here in the NYC) and oven-prohibitive!

I'll Be Back

This is a long overdue post.

I have been taken over by all things work/life/etc. and as a result have woefully neglected this blog. This doesn't mean I haven't been baking, though.

I've made Tiramisu, Peanut Butter Cupcakes, other kinds of cupcakes, some horrible diet cookies (never again!) and other baked goodies (both sweet and savory).

I'm going to posit my Tiramisu recipe sometime soon and the rest as well. There's just too much baking to be done and documented to be lazy about it anymore. And I felt it was necessary to mention that before restarting the engines on this blog.

Can't wait!