Thursday, September 18, 2008

I love Conan O'Brien and Martha Stewart!

I've always found that Martha and Conan have a great chemistry, I wish they would do more stuff together.

Essay

In my Latino Literature class we were assigned to make a list of the places from where the produce in our local supermarket comes from and then write a short paper about it. I thought it would be nice to post it here:


The food and produce eaten by me and my family comes from different corners of the world. Since Puerto Rico is a country that depends on imported foods more than in their own produce, most of the produce and meat are from other countries. For example, most meat bought in my house comes from Costa Rica and the United States, only some poultry is from the Island (companies that are in fast danger of disappearing). When it comes to fish, it can be imported from the United States or from far off places like China, frozen and hard as a slab of wood. The apples we buy many times are imported from Washington and the Tamarind, which grows in the Island, is imported from Thailand, Mangoes many times are from here, can be bought in a “ventorrillo” ( a vegetable and fruit store), but if bought in the supermarket, it will most likely be imported from India. Plantains, which also can be grown in the Island, are imported form the Dominican Republic, just as bananas are sometimes from there too or the American brand Dole, Avocados many times are also imported from the Dominican Republic.

What I've always found terrifying about all the imported produce is the fact that Puerto Rico is an island with rich soil, capable of being used to grow many vegetables and fruits, but those lands are never used to its full potential, mostly used to build condos that sell for half a million dollars. Instead we depend on the produce brought from other places, instead of depending on our own land to feed us. It is a dependency that we have grown accustomed to, making us blind to our Island's own ability to sustain us. We stroll through air conditioned lanes picking fresh produce, meat and cans to consume, without ever questioning the origin of the food we enjoy. Before this assignment I barely ever paid much attention to the place from where my food came from; yes, I was aware of the place from where they came from, but not of what this meant. We don't give much thought to the conditions and type of life those who grow our food go through, to us it is just a nice shiny apple or a juicy pear, we know lots of ways to prepare our meat, but we have no idea about who is responsible for the produce and meat we consume. Right now I must admit that I do not have much knowledge about the conditions of life of the Thailandese people who harvested the tart Tamarinds I ate, or what kind of work policy they have in Costa Rica from where the Beef Steak I love was imported.

I sometimes think that the reason we are so detached from the process of harvesting and the people involved in it is because when our produce is imported we lose touch with them, we are not living where they live and we certainly do not experience the way they are living. By consuming imported products that connection between nature and man is certainly lost and so is the notion that someone went through the trouble of harvesting what we eat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Coconut Layer Cake and Cupcakes



My mom's birthday was on August the 23rd, all she asked from me was A home-baked coconut layer cake. Without knowing she helped decide which layer cake to enter in the Layers of Cake event that is being held at quirky cupcakes. BUT, I have a horrible memory and forgot to submit my cake, I was lucky that I checked the site today and read that the event had been extended... therefore, I still have a chance!!

The layer cake is adapted from the Martha Stewart site and the frosting is from Bon Appetit. The cake was for a three layer cake, but instead of a third layer I used the batter for cupcakes. I got 20 cupcakes from the third layer batter. The cake was very moist with a hint of saltiness from the cream cheese frosting, great with a nice glass of milk!



Coconut Layer Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes about 8-10 servings

* 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* Salt
* 3/4 cup canola oil
* 12 large eggs, separated
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup cream of coconut
* 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
* 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut shavings, for garnish

Procedure

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with butter. Set aside.
-Sift flour, 1 3/4 cups sugar, the baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the bowl of an electric mixer.
-Whisk together 3/4 cup water, canola oil, egg yolks, and vanilla in another bowl. Add yolk mixture to flour mixture; mix on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
-Put egg whites and a pinch of salt into the clean bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar; beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.
-Fold 1/4 of egg-white mixture into batter with a rubber spatula. Fold in remaining egg-white mixture in 2 batches. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden brown and spring back when pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks to cool.
-Bring 1 cup water, the 3/4 cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and the cream of coconut to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute; let stand.
-Place 1 cake on a serving plate, and brush with 1/3 cup coconut syrup. Spread with 1 cup cream cheese frosting, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sweetened coconut. Top with another cake layer; brush with 1/3 cup syrup and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sweetened coconut Top with final cake; brush with remaining 1/3 cup syrup. Refrigerate until firm.
-Spread 1 1/4 cups cream cheese frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.
-Spread 1 1/2 cups cream cheese frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until frosting is very firm, at least 1 hour. Finish frosting cake with remaining frosting. Cake can be refrigerated up to 2 days; let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting (from Bon Appetit)
Makes 3 1/2 cups

2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco L├ępez)*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure
Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until fluffy. Add butter and beat to blend. Add sugar, sweetened cream of coconut and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.


Monday, September 1, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I stole this survey from How to Eat a Cupcake
but it originated in Very Good Taste.


From VGT:

Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Instructions
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding- in Puerto Rico we call it Morcilla and we eat it during the Christmas Holidays
7. Cheese fondue - I'll eat anything with cheese!
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari - I went through a Calamari Fritti phase and would eat them almost everyday
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich - One of my favorite sandwiches.
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart - Ate one out of rebellion. My mom wouldn't let me eat street food because it is "unsanitary and dirty"
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream - Totally awesome!
21. Heirloom tomatoes - Best tomatoes ever.
22. Fresh wild berries - I would eat them in my Grandpa's farm. They used to grow wild, so I would spend hours looking for them.
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - Typical puertorrican food. I've never liked them, I don't like many puertorrican dishes.
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche - Awesome, awesome!
28. Oysters
29. Baklava - I used to make this in Culinary school. Apparently nobody dared work with phillo dough, so I was always the one that would make it.
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl- Perfect for a cold day (which we don't get very often here)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut - Love it on hot dogs
35. Root beer float - Better than regular Coke float.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - I've always wanted to try this.
39. Gumbo- Had it once or twice, can't wait to eat it again.
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel - Had in in tempura a few days ago.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - I ate one a few minutes ago. I drive half an hour to buy them, but it's totally worth it.
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - Haven't had one in a few years.
56. Spaetzle- I love to make these!!!
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores - I have addiction problems...
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - churros... not too crazy about them.
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain- Are you kidding me? Totally puertorrican food! Tostones! everyone has to try them!!
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini- Culinary school, not a fan of those.
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict- There was a time I used to make this a lot, but I hate to make the Hollaindaise Sauce.
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers- There's a flower called "cruz de malta" (don't know it's name in english), when I was a kid me and my cousins used to suck the nectar from them.
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam - Hate it. I remember a Catholic school I went to used to make them breaded and fried, nobody would eat them but my brother. eeeeww.
92. Soft shell crab- In tempura
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox - Bagel
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

31 out of 100.. not bad!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Strawberry-Banana Cupcakes



Awesome recipe from the awesome Vanilla Garlic.

They were very moist and the bits of strawberries gave them a nice touch. Every time you bite into a piece of strawberry it made the cupcake even more moist and sweet. A very simple recipe perfect for a hot day.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Key Limes

Today I was hanging out in my backyard when I discovered that we have a Key Lime Tree back there. I haven't had key limes since I was a teenager! I was inspecting the tree and I think I'll have key limes in a couple of months. Now, my question is: Does anyone want to share recipes that use Key Limes? Because all I can do with Key Limes is Limeade and Key Lime Pie, I would like to do something different with them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blue & Red for St. Valentines Day



I moved to a new house last month, this is like the 5th house I've lived in so far. Last week I was reading about one of Vogue's previous editors-in-chief in this month's Domino magazine and realized that this lady (she must be in her 50's or 60's) had lived in less houses than I had.I have to stop moving so much. So, I haven't been able to bake anything because apparently I'm cursed. First there was the dilemma of the kitchen being tinier than the previous one & there was no space for the stove, so after moving stuff around my mom and I ended up putting it where the fridge was supposed to go. After that we had to install the gas for the stove, but apparently the walls here are made of titanium or something because the guy that came to install the gas couldn't make a single hole in the wall for the gas line, so we ended up with no gas and a wall full of holes. Anyway, my mom called some other guy to install the gas line, he succeeded, but three days later the oven died. We have no clue why since the stove isn't even a year old. Apparently the Bakery Gods don't think we are meant to bake in this house. Since I've been cursed, I'll leave you with some cupcakes I did last month.
I baked some red velvet cupcakes. This time I tried a different recipe because even though I liked the other recipe, it seemed too dry for my taste. Me and my best friend decided to bake cupcakes for St. Valentines. We both wanted to bake Red Velvet Cupcakes shaped like hearts, she brought her pan to my house and we set everything to bake, but we couldn't decide which recipe to do. We looked at a few recipes and ended up deciding for a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, mainly because it used butter instead of vegetable oil. The cupcakes turned out very moist and we could barely keep ourselves from eating them as soon as they would come out from the oven. I specially loved the shade of red they had, it was very deep and somehow they looked almost natural, like the cupcakes were that shade and not like we had used two bottles of red food coloring. I frosted mine with a Speckled Cinnamon Frosting from Martha Stewart and my friend frosted hers with the traditional cream cheese frosting. The frosting I used was a very good substitute for those that don't like the sweetness of butter cream and for those that are tired of the traditional cream cheese frosting. I only had a minor problem with it, apparently I wasn't patient enough when during the cooking, because the frosting even though fluffy had a strange consistency. Other than that, it was so good that I could have eaten it alone with a spoon, very soft and fluffy with a hint of buttery goodness.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Quick Update

Oh my god! I cannot believe that I haven't posted anything here since October! Time does pass by fast!

Anyway, I'll just do a quick show and tell of what I've been doing lately and if anyone's interested in a particular recipe, just ask for it.

Carrot-Pumpkin Cupcakes. It's like I'm obsessed with that combination, but these were very different because the had walnuts and coconut and were extremely moist. So moist that they would break apart while eating it. Got the recipe from verybestbaking.com


Chocolate on Chocolate Cupcakes with Pepermint Bark Garnish. I made them for my brother because he's very picky, and almost never eats my cupcakes. They were good, if you are a chocoholic. Got the recipe from A Baker's Field Guide for Cupcakes by Dede Wilson.


Pumpkin and mascarpone pie. It was a good pie, I've had better, but it was good. What made this pie good was the mascarpone whipped cream topping, which would be awesome on top of some cupcakes. I don't remember where I got the recipe, I just have it written down in one of my recipe notebooks.


Butter Pecan Ice Cream. Making ice cream is easy, but not as easy as I thought it would be, but it was totally worth it. It was creamy, rich and full of flavor, the pecans added a salty note to the ice cream. Eating store bought ice cream will never be the same after this ice cream. Got the recipe from http://www.ice-cream-recipes.com