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Archive for December, 2010

Christmas cookies and Hanukkah doughnuts are no more.  Your future involves a dense and flavorful cake filled with goodies like nuts, fruit and plastic babies… 

Also known as the Twelfth Night Cake or Epiphany Cake, the King Cake is a January tradition that is today associated with the festival of Epiphany and offers eaters a glimpse of their fortune for the New Year.  It traditionally makes its debut on January 6, (when the three wise men visited baby Jesus, 12 days after his birth) but can really be served anytime from January to March.

The King Cake can take many forms, from brioche twists and fluffy puff pastry to a more dense fruit cake, and is most popular in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyrus and Bulgaria.  Here in the U.S., the King Cake is widely celebrated as part of Mardi gras traditions in New Orleans.  Learn more about international variations here.

Colored sugar or frosting in purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power) sits atop the cake and a small plastic baby, who represents baby Jesus, is baked inside.  The person who receives the lucky piece of cake with the baby is rumored to have the best fortune in the coming year, and is obligated to buy or make next year’s cake.

Below are a few great King Cake recipes and photos that I hope inspire you to try out this fun tradition.  Happy New Year!

Traditional American King Cake

Lenten King Cake

King cupcakes

La Galette des Rois (French King Cake)

A few recipes worth trying…

John Besh’s King Cake

Emeril’s King Cake

Dorie Greenspan’s Galette des Rois

Mardi gras King Cake with cream cheese filling

Andrea’s King Cake with fruit and cream cheese filling

Gluten-Free King Cake

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Sprinkles heads east!

Preview of Sprinkles DC location

What’s that?  An opportunity to FINALLY taste the esteemed Sprinkles cupcake?! 

New Sprinkles bakeries opening in NYC and DC will keep my spirits up during the dreary, cold winter months that is New England in the winter.

Check out this Georgetown Blog for more details.

Dear Sprinkles: Welcome to the Big Apple.  P.S. – Please hurry up and open!

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Mini nutmeg doughnuts

Happy Hanukkah!  To celebrate this festival of lights, I brought these mini nutmeg doughnuts to my sister’s Hanukkah party this weekend for dessert.  Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods  – making latkes and fried dough popular choices.

The below recipe was adapted Saveur and it makes a fluffy, cake-light doughnut with well-balanced flavor.  They are great paired with your favorite ice cream (pumpkin anyone?).  You can also skip the sugar coating and opt for an orange glaze by mixing confectioner’s sugar with a little fresh orange juice (or use this recipe).

Not to worry, there isn’t enough nutmeg in the recipe to make you hallucinate…for those of you don’t know about nutmeg’s magical powers, click here.

Nutmeg Doughnuts

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 1/2 tbsp. freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg is fine too)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil, for frying

Instructions
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, 1.5 tbsp nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg and egg white until frothy. Whisk in buttermilk and butter. Stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients to form dough.

Dough will be sticky.  Mix in extra flour, as needed to get a nice consistency.  Transfer dough to a floured surface and gently roll to 1/2″ thickness.


Using a floured doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts and holes and place them on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.  Chill doughnut cutouts in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Combine cinnamon with remaining sugar and nutmeg in a pie plate (or shallow bowl) and set aside.


Pour oil into a 6-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 2 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325°. Working in small batches, fry doughnuts and holes, turning halfway throuh, until golden brown, 2 minutes for doughnuts and 1 minute for holes.  Using tongs, transfer doughnuts to a wire rack to drain. Place warm doughnuts and holes in the sugar mixture to coat.

Some other Hanukkah treats…

Latkes!

Kugel with raisins

Cardamom carrots

Chag Chanuka Sameach!

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Red Hook Lobster Pound

Living in Jersey City, I sometimes feel far away from the growing food scene in Brooklyn.  It’s hard enough trying to eat my way through Manhattan.  The idea of tackling a whole new borough seems impossible from my side of the river…

Thanks to a recent Blackboard Eats coupon (amazing restaurant deals site for eateries in NY and LA – sign up now!), I was inspired to explore a far away land otherwise known as “Red Hook.”  Previously known only as an IKEA hot spot for every NYC resident, Red Hook has undergone a lot of changes in the last few years, making it a great weekend destination for anyone in search of good food, fabulous waterfront views and adorable boutiques.

A journey through two tunnels and quick ride along the BQE led me to this quaint neighborhood.  My first stop – the Red Hook Lobster Pound.

Red Hook Lobster Pound

This small shop opened in 2009 and serves fresh lobster from Kittery, Maine, in both traditional and unique ways.  I had the joy of tasting the Traditional Lobster Roll (cold lobster salad, homemade mayo, paprika and scallions), Connecticut-style Lobster Roll (hot lobster meat, covered in melted butter and dusted with paprika), and the Lobster Bisque.

Traditional Lobster Roll

Both lobster rolls had wonderfully buttery buns, large chunks of claw meat and were seasoned perfectly.

Connecticut-style Lobster Roll

The lobster bisque was equally enjoyable with a light spicy broth and ample lobster meat.

Lobster Bisque

Our next stop was Baked.  You know I can’t pass up an opportunity to check out a bakery that Serious Eats said has “the best cupcake in the city.”

Baked

This masculine bakery offers an untraditional atmosphere with dark wood interiors, porcelain animal heads on the walls (think urban outfitters meets anthropology décor), big cozy booths and chunky decorations.  Forget about lacey napkins and pink polka dots in this bakery.  There are, however, plenty of sweet options.

While the fluffy cookies and housemade whoopie pies looked tempting, I had my sights set on other sugar-filled treats.

Crispy Peanut Butter Bar

The Crispy Peanut Butter Bar was the favorite amongst our group.  The rice crispy layer combined with flavorful layers of fresh peanut butter and fudge was the perfect dessert after our tasty lobster rolls.

Classic Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting

I thought the basic Chocolate Cupcake had a great fluffy frosting with a light chocolate flavor, however, I was disappointed that the cake wasn’t sturdier.  Unfortunately, the cake was too soft and fell apart as soon as I bit into it.

Housemade Marshmallow

The bakery’s housemade marshmallows should not be overlooked.  These value-packed bites are only 50 cents and will leave you begging for more.

Oh, and a few other cool things about Red Hook…

They have preserved the area’s old rail tracks quite nicely and even have a couple of train cars on display.

Lady Liberty in front of Jersey City

Even though I was in Brooklyn, I still had a great view of my apartment in Jersey City.  Well, maybe not, but there Lady Liberty looked fabulous from this part of the river.

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