georgia on my mind

from the Big Apple of NYC to Georgia peaches ūüôā it’s good to be home.

it’s even better to have a spacious, fully stocked kitchen (no more using a wine bottle as a rolling pin!). what better way to celebrate coming home than to make a good ole fashioned cobbler. one of our family friends visited our home last weekend and dropped off a bushel of peaches (not quite a bushel, but it’s a LOT!). so making peach cobbler not only¬†became¬†a priority but a necessity.

a fraction of the bushel

cobblers are one of the easiest desserts to put together. there’s no rolling, scooping, or icing involved– just laidback, no frills deliciousness. like a nice southern dessert should be.

ready to be baked in the oven!

Peach Cobbler
adapted from Martha Stewart (I halved the following recipe)

  • 15 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (about 2.5 quarts)
  • ¬ľ cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¬ľ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • ‚ÖĒ¬†cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(1)¬† Preheat oven to 350¬į F.
(2)¬† Place peaches, cornstarch, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss until well combined. Pour mixture into an 8 ¬Ĺ x 11 ¬Ĺ inch baking dish or 10-inch cast iron skillet¬†when halved.
(3)¬† In a large bowl, combine flour, ¬ľ cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a fork, two knives, or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
(4)  Whisk together egg, heavy cream and vanilla in a liquid-measuring cup. Slowly add this mixture to dry ingredients; mix with a fork until dough just comes together.
(5) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board, and roughly shape into a 12-inch log. Using a bench scraper, cut log into twelve equal portions. Place rough balls of dough on top of peach mixture.  Now I love Martha, but I think her Yankee roots are showing here. I just dolloped spoonfuls of the dough over the peaches. It creates for a more traditional, cobbler-y top.
(6)  Sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.
(7)  Transfer pan to a rack, and let cool slightly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
 

Makes 10-12 servings

summer in the city

summer in the city… means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage_ regina spektor

i hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of july! while i unfortunately missed partaking in our family barbeque in georgia and watching my brother light up puny fireworks, i was able to work at the Met during the holiday (yay me!). but i must say after work, the macy’s fireworks that lit up the night sky in west manhattan more than made up for it! i absolutely adore fireworks and the show this year was just utterly spectacular.

summer has officially hit nyc and in order to stay cool in the city, i have come up with a few of my own tips. one, avoid the subway system (if you can). imagine a dragon lighting fire onto a landfill and you have a vague idea of what the nyc metro system is like on a hot summer day. ughh unbearable.

another tip would be to constantly drink/eat something cool, such as the delicious watermelon juice i had at the brooklyn flea market on saturday or… ICE CREAM!

to celebrate jennifer’s (one of my fellow interns)¬†21st birthday a few of us went out to the famous serendipity 3. i think i can speak for jennifer in this picture when i say WOWSA! after eating dinner, we proceeded to indulge to a diabetic heart’s content with frozen hot chocolate, forbidden broadway sundae (chocolate cake with ice cream, hot fudge & whipped cream) and mochaccinos. it was pure decadence and deliciousness!

if you’re a fan of the movie (like my sister), you’ll appreciate the eclectic feel of the small restaurant. but be ready to make reservations ahead of time for dinner or wait about 1.5 hours or more for a table.

another summer tip would be to utilize the evening events that the city has to offer! my amazing friend anne larimer had the day off yesterday and surprised me by texting that she had gotten us tickets for Shakespeare in the Park! this can be a bit of a hassle to do on a whim, as tickets for the 8p shows start selling at 6.30 in the morning (and sell quickly!). but if you ever have a chance to do this, i would highly recommend it. seeing ‘all’s well that ends well’ performed on a theatre stage in the middle of central park really made the night seem magical ūüôā

Serendipity 3
255 east 60th street, ny ny
(212) 838.3531
 
Shakespeare in the Park
Central Park, ny ny

and now, from nyc to nashvegas ya’ll! on thursday, i will be flying into nashville to celebrate my friend rebekah’s wedding!!! i. am. SO. EXCITED. postings to come when i get back!

birthday pavlova


i love birthday cakes, especially when i get to make them. every year, i take it upon myself (most willingly) to bake my mom’s birthday cake. and since she’s the best mother ever (and the most low-maintenance¬†person i know) she always lets me choose the cake! over the years, i’ve made dorie greenspan’s perfect party cake, boston creme pie, carrot cake, coconut cake, but this year i wanted to make something a bit different.

enter one birthday berry pavlova. for a summer celebration, this dessert is perfect. it’s light, full of summer fruits, and such an elegant showstopper!

Mixed Berry Pavlova
adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa and smittenkitchen.com

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¬Ĺ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 eggs whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ¬Ĺ pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • ¬Ĺ pint fresh blueberries
  • ¬Ĺ pint fresh raspberries
  • Raspberry Sauce¬†(recipe below)
  • Whipped Cream¬†(recipe below)

(1) ¬†Preheat oven to 225¬į F and place rack in center of oven.¬†Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, draw an 8-inch circle onto it then flip the paper over.
(2)  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, set aside.
(3)  In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low and increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2-3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, then slowly and gradually add in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. 
(4)  A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase the speed a bit and whip until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4-5 minutes. 
(5)  Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center (you want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit).
(6)  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color.  Check on the meringue about 30 minutes into the baking time.  If it appears to be taking on color or cracking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and rotate the pan. After baking, turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy).

Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 10-oz. bag frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam¬†

(1)  Purée the raspberries in a blender.  Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. 
(2)  Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and jam, until it is heated through and the sugar and jam are dissolved. Let cool before serving. (Can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated)

Whipped Cream:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(1)  Whip the cream in a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. 
(2)  When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm.  Be careful not to over-do it, or you might end up with a bowl of whipped butter.

Pavlova Assembly: When the meringue is completely cooled, place it on a serving plate.¬† Spread the top completely with the sweetened whipped cream.¬†Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about ¬Ĺ cup of¬† raspberry sauce.¬† Spoon the mixed berries and sauce mixture carefully into the middle of the pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue.¬† Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce on the side.

Makes one 8-inch pavlova (6-8 servings)

for her gift, my siblings and i all pitched in to get her this le creuset pot that she’s been wanting for years.¬†i can’t wait to taste all the soups and chilis to come out of it.

happy birthday dear mommy, happy birthday to you!

i cannot believe i’m saying this but, i’m¬†off to nyc for the summer TOMORROW! it’s all exciting, nerve-wracking, and surreal but with a belly full of pavlova, i should be ready to go. i think.

kickin’ it old school

everyone has their favorite old-school lunchbox treat. oatmeal creme pie had my 7-year old heart. (and at times, my 23-year old heart)

for a teachers’ luncheon at my brother’s middle school, i decided to make this updated version of the classic hostess cupcake: deeply chocolatey, cream-centered and topped with that signature swirl. perhaps this will be the very treat to strike a nostalgic chord in someone else’s inner child.

this recipe included many firsts for me. my first time making seven minute frosting and my first time filling cupcakes. i quickly realized there’s more than one way to fill a cupcake and decided to test out two methods:

(a) the cone method, which involves angling a paring knife in the top of the cupcake to hollow out a cone

then cutting the tip of the cone

and recapping the top after filling the cupcake

(b) the piping method, in which you insert a star-tipped piping bag into the top

and squeeze until the cake feels slightly heavier

in this side-by-side comparison,

(a)     (b) 

i likened (b) the piping method as it was both easier and neater (less crumbs and easier to dip in the ganache later). if you are partial to creme filling though, go for the cone method.

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

  • 1 ¬ĺ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¬ĺ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¬Ĺ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure¬†vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot¬†coffee¬†

(1) ¬†Preheat the oven to 350¬į F. Line 2 12-cupcake tins with wrappers.
(2)  In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
(3)  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
(4)  With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir to combine thoroughly, making sure to scrape to the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula (batter will be thin).
(5)  Pour the batter into the cupcake pans about 2/3 full (do not overfill) and bake for 16-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Seven Minute Frosting:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¬Ĺ cup sugar
  • ¬ľ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons vanilla extract

(1)  Combine all the ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes.
(2)  Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Reserve 1 cup of the filling to use for piping the swirls on top of the cupcakes at the end.
(3)  Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, fill each cupcake with the frosting (using either method shown above).

Ganache:
  • ¬Ĺ cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

(1)  In a small saucepan, heat cream until steaming. Remove from the heat, add chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.
(2)  Add the butter and stir until smooth. Transfer the ganache to a small bowl.
(3)  Once all the cupcakes are filled, dip the top of each cupcake into the ganache. 
(4)  Spoon the reserved frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip (I used a no. 3 tip) and pipe swirls or any design across the top of each cupcake.

Makes 26-28 cupcakes

fun fact: each hostess cupcake has precisely 7 ‘swiggles’ piped on top. next time you eat one, count them. or make your own and pipe as many swiggles as you want!

and to all the teachers out there…