Friday, January 29, 2010

Padrone

The moment you open your car door and take a deep breath the aroma races up your nose, as if it were little marathon runners racing to get those magnificant smells to tickle your taste buds and fill your lungs with the sweet essence of fresh meat, cheese, those delicious crunchy chocolate dipped biscotti, the clams...oh the raw clams right at a stand on the side of the road... the aroma of macaroni and garlicky red sauce, the greasy but sweet fried zeppoli..the cannoli... oh that thick sweet air!!! 
I saved the best for last... no I didn't forget... the crunchy... the soft.... the sliced, the chunks, the olive... THE BREAD...
Not only are your tastes buds tickled...but your ears are too by the sound of old school music that is played through the speakers on the posts of the street (even better than  listening to the sunday italian house party on the radio)... Yes!!! Your taste buds, your ears, your stomach tell you...
you are definitely here...
Arthur Avenue...Little Italy...
Heaven.

THE BREAD click here for the recipe!
Let me just say that the bread I worked on this week filled my kitchen with the mouth watering smells of arthur avenue. It was heaven to be in my ktitchen this week.
You might be wondering... why or how I would be able to give these perfect little breads away ... who is worthy of giving up that crunchy crust, that warm fluffy, melt in your mouth center...bread.
WHO???
THE PADRONE.. that's who.
This weekend a wonderful man celebrates his birthday, some call him dad, some call him Mr... most call him by his first name... but a few little admirers, that I know, call him the name he loves the most... Padrone.
He's a successful educator, always a fair man, a good listener, a wonderful father, a good friend, a generous giver, a husband, a grandfather... a wealth of knowledge that he has gained through his years. He is admired, looked up to..and well respected. He's the man that calls on the weekend from the food store and asks... "do you need anything while I'm out?" He's the man who stops over with new shirts & coats when he knows things are tight... The man that was "just in the neighborhood" so he thought he'd stop by to drop off some ribs, because they were "on sale" and he knows his little R.C. loves them... He's the man who gives out great advice, who can bargain with anyone and still keep friends...
The man who negotiated the price of our house so we could have a home of our own...
The man who knows everyone, & everyone knows him... AND not just knows him...likes him..no LOVES him and welcomes him into their home... (even if it's just to watch a tv show on,your tv, because his cable package doesn't include the same channels!) 
He's got connections anywhere you could ever imagine! "Do you need a reservation?? I know a guy"...
 He's the man at the center of the attention in your meetings and dinner parties..
He's the man who loves his job everyday-even on the weekends... 
He's the man who feels most comfortable with his remote in his hand, diet soda by his side... relaxing on his couch, watching his favorite episode of Law and Order or ESPN... until he has to work again.
He's a well admired individual that everyone looks up to..but most importantly...WE look up to and love very much...

These crunchy breads are my birthday offering to this wonderful man that has everything... but "loves" my bread. I know he deserves so much more...but my heart knows that he will enjoy this bread, on his special day..and because it's the one thing I know how to make  that can bring a full belly kind of happiness and smile to his face
THESE BREADS...go to him...

Happy Birthday PADRONE

 




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Bread Recipe

This recipes has endless possiblities..once you get the hang of it. You will be able to make this bread your own!

Makes one loaf

3 cups bread flour (i use king arthur)
1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of warm water

For this you will need a cast iron pot... I use my le crueset big red pot.
BUT NOT YET! bread  making is a bit of a process...but this recipe is not that bad! Don't worry!

First combine all your ingredients in a big bowl until all the dough comes together. It will probably be kind of raggy & messy. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit out for 12-20 hours...

After that.... The dough will be bubbly and sticky. With a wet spatula, pour the dough onto your floured counter (or cutting board..whatever you use) Fold end of dough over a few times and form a ball shape. I use my hands for this..just make sure they are damp so that they don't stick to the dough.  Once you have your dough into a ball shape, grab a clean cotton  towel (NOT TERRYCLOTH or one w/ ridges...those are a no no!!) and make sure you dust the towel.. GENEROUSLY with flour...you don't want your dough to rise and stick to the towel. Set dough seam side down on top of the towel. Dust the top of the dough w/ a little more flour. Fold the towel over the dough and let is rest for 2 hours.

A 1/2 hour before your ready to cook your dough... preheat your oven to 450 degree and place your covered pot in while it preheats.

When your oven is ready... take your towel with the bread inside and roll your dough out of it and into your pot.  Cover your pot. bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or util the crust is golden. Remove and let cool on a cooling rack.

Now when you are ready.. you can add whatever you would like to this recipe... I've added olives to this one!

ENJOY!
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Irish Dance

You know how much I love piping those royal frosting cookies...don't you??? Spending hours on end piping and mixing colors... well I do!! I can't help it...it's that artsy side of me that just needs to get out!!! I was at it again the other day trying out another design...here it is... an irish dance shoe.. this is just a rough draft. I know, I know... I promise to get my act together and show you a finished product. This one is a bit sloppy..but I couldn't wait to share. I have a plan for a few other cookies -- just for fun.
Why an irish dance shoe you may ask?? Well, my daughter takes irish dance lessons and absolutely LOVES it!  She is constantly dancing around our house, practicing all her steps to make sure she's got them just right so that her teacher will approve. And the pink in the background of the cookie...that is her school color!
 I hope you like it and I PROMISE to post the nice clean one I will be working on! (Maybe it will even have some sparkles... you know those irish dancers LOVE their sparkles!!!!)

Here's the lonely cookie...all packaged up nice, pretty & pink.





And here it is... still a little wet...(before I packaged it...as if that isn't obvious! lol)
WHAT DO YOU THINK???









Tuesday, January 26, 2010

working on yellow cake and milk chocolatey frosting



I was reading a fabulous blog called the smitten kitchen...and I stumbled upon a yellow cake recipe! I have one of my own..but the picture of the cake on the blog looked beyond delicious... mouth watering delicious..just by looking at the picture!!!
Check out the link above for the recipe. The cake is amazing... however...the frosting recipe I found for fudgey frosting..just didn't cut it for me! I was so disappointed! It was a bitter tasting chocolate..not the milk chocolate creamy taste I was dreaming about!  After follwing the smitten recipe for fudgey chocolate frosting I went crazy trying to get it to the flavor I wanted! I didn't want to waste my precious ingredients!! Waste butter...NEVER!!!
I ended up adding melted milk chocolate morsels to the frosting as well as extra powdered sugar. Maybe it's just me!
I LOVE MILK CHOCOLATE!




My new cookie tin (well, it's really old...passed down to me..so it's NEW to me!)...perfect for carrying a few cupcakes.




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Sunday, January 24, 2010

BUSY BUSY BUSY!

The past few weeks have been absolutely craziness!! But well worth the race!!!
Here are a few pictures of the projects I've been working on!
A  practice wedding cake topper, a birthday and a fundraiser for a very special young man...


This a test wedding cake...made with a rich dense chocolate cake, chocolate mousse filling and buttercream frosting..covered in white fondant.












These special treat were for my husband and daughter! The cake is a chocolate peanut butter cake... rich chocolate brownie on the bottom, peanut butter magic in the middle and milk chocolate coating on top!! The cupcakes were a brown sugar cupcake marbled w/ a cinnamon chocolate. The topping was a delicious buttercream frosting! My daughter picked the colors! 




This cake was on display at a fundraiser for Alex Convertito. A special young man. My aunt and a group of very special people were raising money to help him pay for his medical expenses. They have hearts of gold. Alex was in a car accident in September...a drunk driver hit his car. 
I will post more on these later & put up a link about Alex.
I just wanted to put some pictures up!




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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Something different...

So I was blog searching...and I saw some cookies (on the fabulous & very creative sweetopia website) that looked like these..then I thought I would try to use the royal frosting without the cookie..for cupcake toppers!!!
CUTE AND FUN!!! VERY time consuming...drawing with frosting!!! What do you think??
I have more pictures of these little guys to post...but if you want to see them right away...check out my facebook fan page!!!






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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Elmo 3

Here's the deal...I am kind of a perfectionist..and won't stop until I get it just how I like it!
Here is yet another attempt at Elmo.. :)
This time..frosting eyes, candy eyeballs, jellybean nose and cookie mouth.
What do you think???
I think the white's of his eyes may need to be a little bigger???

la la la la
la la la la...

He's my favorite!


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Saturday, January 9, 2010

more elmo's!

Tried again today...
going to try one more time tomorrow! :)







So... I am still trying to figure out what I don't like about this little guy...
I think part of it has to do with the consistency of my buttercream! I definitely have to thicken it up..
AND
his eyes...hmmm...
WILL try again tomorrow!
Any suggestions?

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Elmo's! Rough draft -- First try!



Tried Elmo out really quickly after work today!



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First try!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Carrot Cake Cupcakes



Carrot Cake Cupcakes with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
I used pureed pineapple & carrot -- and applesauce in these super moist cucpakes.
I am frosting some with a little swirl of cream cheese frosting! Just a dab!
Hope you like them! 

Here is a picture of one of the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (YUM) and a little carrot rose on top!


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Monday, January 4, 2010

Hummus

This is the recipe I used for Hummus
It is a basic hummus that you can change to your liking- you can add whatever you want to it!

Here's what ya need:
1 16 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans will do)
1/2 cup liquid from the can
about 5 tablespoons of lemon juice ( you might want less...it's up to you)
1 tablespoon of tahini (it's a puree of sesame seeds)
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
about a tablespoon or a little more of olive oil

EASY!
Drain the chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 cup of liquid from can. Blend for about 2-4 minutes on low or until thoroughly mixed and SMOOTH.
Serve immediately on a pita or cover and refrigerate.

Isn't that easy??? I use this on my salad instead of salad dressing...or sometimes on a pita with tons of veggies! It is great!
You can also add whatever you would like.. I used roasted red pepper for one and sundried tomato with fresh basil for another!

ENJOY!
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Hummus

Today I made hummus for the very first time. I wish I had tried to do this earlier! I would have saved a ton of money!! The price of store bought hummus is ridiculous. If you think the taste of homemade hummus won't match up to the store bought processed brands...you are wrong!!! I can't BELIEVE how good the hummus I made tastes. It is extremely easy, delicious, CHEAP, and clean food!!!!! 
Before I go on & on about how great homemade hummus is... I am going to walk you through how to make roasted red peppers -- the way my grandmother taught me. 
(I used these peppers in my hummus!)

First I took 2 red peppers washed them, sliced them down the middle and took out the seeds. Next, I placed them on a broiler pan, lining the bottom pan with foil- just in case.


Turn your oven onto low broil and place the pan into the oven. I always leave the oven cracked a bit, so I can keep an eye on the peppers.

Once your peppers start to blacken on the tops, they are ready to come out! My peppers took about 8 minutes. But keep checking on yours!!

A
 Immediately after you take the peppers out of the oven, with a fork carefully place the peppers into a paper bag.

 Fold down the paper bag and let sit until the peppers are cool.

Once the peppers are cool take them out of the bag and place on a plate and begin to peel the skin off.
 

Now that your peppers are ready.... you can slice them up to use them in your hummus-- OR
my grandmother puts the peppers in olive, garlic and a little salt & pepper. She then lets them marinate over night.
Simple & delicious.
Roasted red peppers with the salty olive oil seeping through the soft middle and the crunchy crust of a piece of Italian bread...reminds of Sundays at my grandmothers house.















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Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year Cupcakes

We had a little celebration last night... check out our new year's cupcakes... they are chocolate-chocolate chip cupcakes, filled with a delicious crunchy peanut butter filling, topped with a creamy peanut butter frosting..and for that extra something special...peanut butter cup madness & a little bit of chocolate syrup!!! 











I already have a few orders for these!! Will be working on these again this week! :)

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