Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stagger Lee & Lloyd Price & New Orleans

Like sands through the hourglass, these are the last hours before I leave for New Orleans. In celebration, here is a cut paper and crayon show to Stagger Lee by native Lloyd Price. First discovered in the movie "Shag," and beloved ever since. Tick...Tock.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Friends of Sweets Society: Jacques Torres Wicked Hot Chocolate Cake

To counteract my baking lazy I have created the Friends of Sweets Society. Or FOSS. I pleaded to my friends and family to please send me their sweets, their baked goods, their tired, their poor, their delicious. We are creating an America for things that cause cavities- one nation bound together by sweets, baked goods, deliciousness, & a childlike need for instant gratification.

F.O.S.S. #1 : Jacques Torres 3 layer Wicked Hot Chocolate Layer Cake

Made by Julia Zollman Wickes on the occassion of John F. Wickes' 59th Birthday

Recipe Not Disclosed for super secret reasons. However, see below for the Jacques Torres description of their Wicked Hot Chocolate.

Wicked Hot Chocolate features allspice, cinnamon, ground, sweet ancho chili peppers, and smoked, ground chipotle chili peppers!

Three layers of cake. Whipped Cream Filling and Chocolate Frosting. Oh. My.
F.O.S.S. #1 just happened. Whether homemade or just particularly neat please send them our way. Calling all sweets, friends!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oh the Cheesesteaks We'll Eat: The Philly Fieldtrip

So the other night we drove to Philadelphia on a whim to see Ludo. We heard about pirates and trampolines and zombies. Our faces were melted , frankly. My friend even drank something called Gray Brain Gush.

And then I ate this. To be honest, I had mine with provolone but the version with the whiz made for better photography.

And I ate it here: It was not a Misteak.

We almost went here but did not.

We came and ate and put some Whipped Cream on it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Salted Praline Cookies: When French Potlucks Attack

I have been baking lazy these last few summer weeks. Literally, I have been hot and baking and lazy. The sun was high and cantaloupe was super sweet & a dollar- plus my stove kicks off mad heat. Then Labor Day came and went and I wore a sweater the other day. And THEN I got invited to a French potluck.

I no longer go to school but this time of year makes me want to sharpen pencils and challenge myself. So, the oven mitts went on and Salted Praline Langues de Chat commenced. Sort of. Makin' my own candy, MacGuyvering the piping bag...challenge, challenge, challenge! Why thank you Epicurious!

For praline
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds (preferably with skin), toasted

For cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds (preferably with skin)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
5 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract ***didn't so just didn't use. Added 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon.
Sea Salt for sprinkling

Equipment: a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain tip***Def do not have that. I just used a Ziploc w/ a corner cut off.

Make praline:
Put a large sheet of foil on a heatproof work surface.

Heat sugar in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is golden. Add toasted almonds, stirring until coated well, then carefully pour onto foil (mixture will spread) and cool completely, about 15 minutes. Peel praline off foil and chop with a large heavy knife. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Make cookies:
Preheat oven to 325°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour and table salt. Pulse almonds with sugar in a food processor until finely ground.

Beat butter and sugar mixture with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg whites and extracts. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches until just combined well.

Transfer batter to pastry bag, then dab some batter under corners of parchment to secure to baking sheets. Pipe 6-inch-long strips (about 1/3 inch wide) 1 1/2 inches apart in 2 slanted rows (so they will fit) on each baking sheet.

Bake until slightly puffed but still pale, 7 to 9 minutes, then sprinkle generously with praline and lightly with sea salt. Continue baking until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 7 to 11 minutes more. (Turn baking sheets if cookies are browning unevenly.) Slide parchment with cookies onto racks to cool completely (cookies will crisp as they cool).

Form and bake more cookies on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.

For God's sake people, please pipe small. I piped way to big and ended up having to cut these into squares. The praline was the best part and do not forget the sea salt. Lovely!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Once a year, farm animals, odd horse and buggy races, 30 year olds in Rascals, a broke down midway and, most importantly, various fried food stalls descended upon the near Northside of Indianapolis- just blocks from my childhood home. For a solid 10 days my world was covered in humid, Indiana-in-August, FRIED FOOD air. Each year features yet another unthinkable deep fried food. Thanks to Brandon Conovitz for this Midwestern special report.

Oh Yes. Come on in...

An Indiana State Fair Classic and a father favorite... THE PORK TENT.
Two of my favorites : Lemon Shake-Ups and foods with faces on them. Seriously, look at his hands.
State Fair Salt Water Taffy. Several THOUSANDS of miles from any sort of salt water. And hundreds from any major body of water. Indianapolis is the largest city in North America on a non-navigable body of water. Bank it for Trivial Pursuit. I regret not being able to take my picture as Twinkie the Kid.
My mom actually had one of these. A burger in a doughnut. Sorry Mom. I had to tell.
I can't believe I didn't know I wanted a Pig in a Pancake. Oh wait. That is just a corn dog...LAME.
I appreciate your honesty Round Boys Concession.

Thanks Brandon ! I won't tell anyone about that Rascal you rented.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pizano's is What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Tired, thirsty and extremely hungry; the zealous amount of champagne I had at the wedding the night before was beginning to catch up with me. We had been turned away from the Chicago Architecture River Tour and were now eagerly seeking pizza, "something Chicago-y and delicious," and a restroom. Urgently. Finally on the third try we stumbled upon Pizanno's. It was instant gratification.

Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we ordered 1 large Chicago style and 1 medium thin crust, 1 order of garlic bread, 1 order of cheesy garlic bread, 5 Shirley Temples, 3 Sprites, 1 Dog'n'Suds Root Beer and 17 glasses of ice water. For 5.

57 minutes later we rolled out with 70% of the pizza and a sense of contentment. It was delicious, it was Chicago-y. The pizza was perfect and the service was both unique and fantastic. Pizano's is Reason #3 I love Chicago, please see the attached pics for any needed evidence.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lake Forest Special Report: Gerhard's Bakery Cute.

"When will you have the almond macaroons again?," inquired a bespectacled 10 year old boy standing next me in inquired while jangling a handful of coins.

"Oh honey, I just don't know. We make them to order and sell the extras. I've got a list. When your flavor comes in we can call you," replied the energetic woman behind the counter. She was obviously IN charge, and on this Saturday morning was directing this bustling Lake Forest bakery like a zebra print skirt clad symphony conductor.

"Tell you what, honey. We will place a special order just for you. Come back on Friday and we will have them." The boy rushed out with glee. I was impressed by her customer service and her fantast ic skirt. I was also very impressed by this boy's knowledge of designer treats. When I was 10 I was using my allowance to buy Fun Dip and Little Debbie Nutty Bars (still only 25 cents. Score).

That is just how it goes at Gerhard's, the cutest little bakery in the cutest little town. Stop by and try the Almond Macaroons. They came HIGHLY recommended.

Please note this is a picture of white chocolate pretzels, NOT Almond Macaroons as they were not available today.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dessert Music

Enjoy! Don't let them give you a cavity.