Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Bake Sale - Make it Fun

For those of you who are parents, I am sure that you are either doing it now or will be enlisted to do so in the future. Yes I am talking about that grand American tradition, the bake sale. In our area these are not done so that our kids can get a vending machine or some other unnecessary object. Throughout New York City all schools are facing the challenge of how to provide a wholesome education for our children as they face budget cut after budget cut. We are very lucky to live in a city where most parents are very actively involved in what happens in our schools. Part of that involvement entails helping to raise funds so that our children can have all those things we had when we were their age, like music education, musical instruments and after school programs.

Bake sales play a tremendous part in that fund raising aspect. What is my point in telling you all of this? Well my point is this, if we are going to be involved in making stuff for these bake sales, why not step it up a notch. Instead of doing the same old cupcake, why not check out a site like Martha Stewart to see how you can decorate them more creatively. If you are baking cookies, why not make something other than the typical chocolate chip cookie. Make it fun, spruce it up, find fun themes, and enjoy it. It is for the children after all, and kids are fun. Raising money so they can have a well rounded education should be too.

Here are some cookies I made for our school's Pre-Halloween Bake sale. The dough is the typical sugar cookie one. To decorate them I made a royal icing see the recipes for both below (it's super easy). Hope they make you smile a little.


Sugar Cookies (Yields about 20)

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Salted Butter (1 stick, softened)
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1-2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (depends on how much vanilla flavor you would like)

Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl making sure to whisk the ingredients so that they are evenly distributed.

Either in the bowl of a stand mixer or a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix in until it is well incorporated into the butter mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until it is completely incorporated. Add in the flour mixture one tablespoon at a time making sure the flour is well incorporated before adding more. Once all the flour is well incorporated into the dough. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap or in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. The dough will need time to solidify so try to make it so that it is in the fridge for at least six hours.

Once your dough is rested enough, remove from fridge.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dust your kitchen counter with flour and roll your dough until it is about 1/4 inch (about .5+ cm) thick. Get your fun cookie cutters and get to work cutting. Transfer the shapes to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until their bottom starts to show a bit of golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly (5-10 minutes) before transferring to a cooling rack.
Once cool decorate with royal icing.

Royal Icing

1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Egg White (preferably from a large egg)
1 tsp Lime Juice

In a medium bowl mix the powdered sugar, egg white and lime juice until you get a smooth mixture. Test your icing before you start decorating to make sure that it is not too runny or too dry. To do this place a small dot of the icing either on a plate or one of your cookies and give it five to ten minutes to dry. If it is right the icing will dry evenly and almost glossy. If you find that your icing is too runny add a little more powdered sugar (about 1/2 a tsp at a time) until you reach a glaze texture. If your icing is too dry add a few drops of lime juice a little at a time until you reach that smooth glaze texture. Add your food coloring at this point if you wish to do so mixing it in until the color is completely incorporated and even. Put your royal icing in a piping bag and start decorating. Have fun :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Brooklyn Curry Experiment

As promised here are some pictures my Husband and I managed to take before and at the event.

 The last batch of curry macaron shells waiting to go into the oven.

 A little close up of the baked shells :)

 Our assembled, prize winning macarons ready to go at our table.

 Our neighbors ready to go.

 A close up of our neighbors' wonderful curry carrot cake. Yumm

 Jeffrey and his assistant Lara getting ready.

 Jeffrey and Lara's delicious cardamom cookies to accompany his delicious frozen yougurt.
He won second place for it in the Judges' competition.

 Another set of our neighbors, proudly standing by their eggplant curry creations :)

 A close up of those wonderful curry eggplant creations.

 The Double C's ladies getting ready for the crowd. 
The folks from One World One Kitchen cutting into their incredible Curried Lasagna with Chili Shrimp.
One World One Kitchen won First Prize in the Judges category, and deservedly so. It was delicious.

 Double C's curry chili. Soo delicious.

 Brooklynauts and their incredible curry meatballs. 
Super nice people who can kick ass in the kitchen.

 Team New Lapskaus Boulevard plating her Curried Herring. 
She won Third place in the Judges competition. A very sweet girl. 
Unfortunately I did not get to try her food :(

 Sara and Andrey working hard on their very delicious stew. 
They won Theo's Prize for Experimentation.
My husband says he wants to have theri stew every day.

 Samosa Spiced Gnocci being plated. Another one I did not get to try.

 These lovely ladies entered the competition the day before, 
and made a tremendous sweet curry pie.

 Here is a close up of that curry pie. 
Can you smell that wonderful smell?

 These ladies made a mean curry taco. 
I would absolutely love to have that again.

 The lovely lady in the Ooh Curry team getting set up.

 Ginger Curry by Ooh Curry. It was very delicious and I need to have some more.

 Nick and Theo getting ready to announce the winners. 
The two of them are real class acts and all around wonderful.

 All the participants on stage, eagerly awaiting the results.

 Theo giving me the Audience vote Second Place award. What an honor.
Thank you to all the people who voted for our team (Team Curry Sweet)

This competition was a lot of fun. It took hard work because we had to make 300 whole macarons for it and I was very scared that the macaron dough would get temperamental. The only unexpected stressful thing to happen to me was that my whisk attachment of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer fell apart about a minute into my fourth batch of meringue, which left me scrambling for a minute until I remembered  I still had my hand mixer. Not ideal but I will never ever curse that hand mixer out ever again, because it saved me on this occasion even if my arm feels like it is going to fall. 

Another thing that rattled us was not being able to get a babysitter for our little girl but she was amazing. She was the person in charge of giving people a sprinkle of curry powdered sugar if they wanted it. My husband rocked at putting the filling into those macarons and being a great salesman telling everyone who came over to us what we had made.

All the people who participated on this event were great and the food was tremendous. Thank you Nick and Theo for putting it together and being all around great guys. Thank you also to Meg from Brooklyn Brewery. Wishing you a long and wonderful career with Brooklyn Brewery. Thank you Brooklyn Brewery for promoting great events like this one and for your incredible beer. The Defender is awesome! Here is a link to the Brooklyn Brewery Food Experiments results page.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Something Cool that My Family and I Did

This week felt like a training montage a la Rocky. It all started with a facebook post from one of my favorite sites, With Love From Brooklyn. The post was about Brooklyn Brewery's Experiment Competitions. One of them, which took place today, was the Brooklyn Curry Experiment. I have been wanting to get into the world of competitive cooking for a few months now because it seems like such a perfect way to challenge myself and my culinary capabilities. This competition seemed like the perfect place to start since it was here in Brooklyn and it was directed at amateur chefs.

As you may have guessed I signed up, along with my husband, who wound up dropping out to become my assistant on this one. This is my first food competition ever and although it was very nerve wrecking it was also very exciting to be a part of it. We had our little girl with us because we could not find a babysitter, but she was so awesome helping out today that I would not have had it any other way. It was truly a team effort. Our team was awarded second place by votes from the audience for our curry macaron with mango chutney filling topped with curry powdered sugar. After almost three nights of very little sleep I am ready to pass out for a good ten hours or so. I will post pictures of the event and the macarons probably tomorrow. Now off to the land of nod. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tried and Tested Recipe - Banh Mi Burger by Tasting Kitchen

I am not sure if I have mentioned that I love East Asian Cuisine. I was so thrilled to find a recipe that perfectly combined my love for this type of food and  my love for a good burger. Tasting Kitchen posted the recipe for the Banh Mi Burger on Pinterest and I just felt compelled to try it. It is very much like the Vietnamese sandwiches I love. What I love most about this is how easy it is to make and how awesome it is to learn how to pickle the vegetables in such a short amount of time. I love this recipe and the flavors it brings together. This one is a keeper. Here are some pictures of my home trial.

My very tasty Banh Mi Burger

 Cutting Daikon Radish into very thin sticks

Daikon Radish and Carrots 
in the quick sugar and vinegar pickling liquid