Hello, Everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!
Personally, I’m glad to be on the other side. Now that Christmas is over, I can actually relax and enjoy being home with my parents and sisters. We always do way too much on Christmas day. We visit both sides of the family, friends, and try to squeeze in a little immediate family time as well. I’m sure many of you do a similar holiday run around. Having many people that love you, and want to see you is certainly not something to complain about. However, it does make for a busy day. I can only see it getting even more complicated in the future, as my sisters and I get married, and eventually have kids… But let’s not to worry about that now.
This recipe is one I’ve been sitting on for a couple of weeks. I made an adorable little apple crisp for my sweetie and I right before I left for the holidays. It was the perfect amount for two people. It was an amazing not-too-heavy dessert. I actually debated about whether or not to post yet another dessert recipe after all the holiday indulgences. Since I already did the drawings, I figured why not? I’ll start posting healthy recipes in the new year.
Sometimes, I feel self-conscience about my posts because they’re pretty revealing as to what my diet has been like. If you’ve noticed my recent posts have been all pies and desserts, it’s because that’s exactly what I’ve been eating. Again, I’ll start eating and posting healthier meals after the holidays, really I promise. Until then, ease into your New Year’s resolution of eating better with this slightly lighter treat. Enjoy!
We are officially in the throes of the holiday season and I simply can’t believe it. Illustrated Bites is almost one year old and 2011 is nearly over. As someone who is trying to get an illustration career off the ground while juggling two part time job and trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance, this blazing passage of time is giving me a bit of a panic attack. I just wish I didn’t need to sleep! Not to worry though, things seem to slowly be coming together, and I’m learning patience and celebrating small steps forward.
This last month of 2011 will be an exciting one. I’m looking forward to some big changes in 2012. One exciting change is that my lovely and talented sister, Christina, just moved here for a new job at Chronicle Books. We’re from North Carolina and for the past two and a half years, I’ve been living in the Bay Area while the rest of my family was still in NC. Now that my sister is here, San Francisco is going to feel a lot more like home.
If you’ve happened to notice that I haven’t posted in a few weeks, it’s because I’ve been busy spending the evenings catching up with my little sister. Oh yeah, Thanksgiving happened too. Just because there hasn’t been a new post in awhile doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. Just the opposite really; I’ve been cooking so much I haven’t had time to illustrate and write about it! Christina is quite the cook herself and we’ve whipped up many tasty dinners and desserts over the past 2 weeks.
One of my favorite things we made so far is apple pie. It’s a simple and seasonal dessert that was quick to make once we spread the work between the two of us. I made the crust and Christina handled the filling. Get a pint of vanilla ice cream and you’re in for a serious treat.
As much as I hate to admit it, autumn is here. I realize that for most of the country, this summer was a particularly hot one and the cool weather is a relief. But here in the Bay Area, we hardly got a taste of summer. It’s not that I dislike fall, but I really miss the warm weather of the south. The weather here was foggy and cool June through September and the promised indian summer never came. Now, the rains have returned, which ends any hope of warm weather.
Since there’s no use fighting it, I decided to embrace the autumn weather by making my favorite seasonal dessert, pumpkin pie. If anything is going to get me exited about the fall, it’s pumpkin dishes. There’s something about the earthy sweetness of pumpkin that is just so comforting.
Before I get to the pie recipe, I wanted to share a few other things I’ve been working on and some ideas for the blog. I’ve been quite busy lately with sign painting, screen printing, and illustrating. I recently finished up my end an exciting project with Justin “Scrappers” Morrison for the Maui Time. I’ll share more when the project is finished and in print but for now, here’s a little peek:
Also, as some of you may know, I work as a sign painter in San Francisco at New Bohemia Signs. I’ve wanted to incorporate more sign painting into Illustrated Bites for a long time. My new and exciting plan for doing that is to create food-related signs and do occasional give-aways here on the blog. In conjunction with that I’ll also be selling some signs online. This new project was inspired by a sign I recently painted for my lovely friend, Emily.
So, yeah…I made a pumpkin pie AND it was awesome. I will admit that this pie was pretty labor intensive because I made it completely from scratch but it’s TOTALLY worth it. The good news is that this recipe made enough filling for a second pie, so it’s sort of a two for one deal. My sweetie’s folks were in town and his mom helped me though the process, which made a world of difference in the workload (Thanks Nancy!) I highly recommend getting someone to lend a hand when you make this.
Step one: Pick up a pumpkin. I used a sweet pie pumpkin I bought at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market. Slice the pumpkin into wedges and scrape out the guts. Use a paring knife to cut the flesh away from the rind. Don’t worry if you leave some flesh on the rind, it’s pretty hard to get it all.
Step two: Steam the pumpkin. Put all the pumpkin flesh in a pot with about a half a cup of water. Turn the heat to medium and cover.
Step three: While the pumpkin is steaming, make the pie crust. It’s easiest if you have a food processor.
Step four: While the dough is in the freezer, puree the the steamed pumpkin. The pumpkin should be steamed until it’s soft, and easily punctured with a fork. Puree throughly, until there are no lumps. It will be easiest to do this in small batches.
Step five: Take the dough out of the freezer and sprinkle the countertop with flour. Unwrap the dough and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough with light pressure from the center out. Add flour as needed.
Step six: When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter transfer it to your pie plate. Press into the plate and tuck the excess edges into itself and pinch for the crust. Return to the freezer while the oven preheats.
Step seven: Preheat to 425 Degrees F. Find something to weigh down the crust while it bakes. I used a cast iron skillet but you could use tinfoil and a pile of dried beans or rice. Anything that will lie flat. Just make sure to butter the side that will be in contact with the pie crust.
Step eight: Puncture the bottom of the crust with the fork and put the weight on the crust. Bake for 12 minutes. Then take it out of the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees F then carefully remove the weight and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Step nine: Beat the eggs with the sugar, then add the spices and salt. Mix in the pumpkin and the milk. Warm this mixture in a sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Get it hot but not boiling.
Step ten: Pour the mixture into the the crust and bake for 30-40 minutes until mixture shakes but is still moist. Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.
Extra credit: Homemade Whipped Cream
I told you this was an intense recipe!
Whip the cream with a whisk until peaks form. Again, this is much easier with a partner to take turns with. When the cream is stiff, fold in the vanilla and powdered sugar. Viola! Whipped cream.
Phew, that’s a monster. Anyways, you’ll feel great once it’s done and it’s so delicious you’ll forget it took like, three hours. If you’re like me, as it cools down and the winter rains start, you’ll look for any excuse to spend an afternoon in a warm kitchen. I hope you enjoy. Please let me know if you tackle this beast, I want to hear all about it!
I have a sweet tooth that is equally unpredictable and unrelenting. I can go days without wanting something sweet, but when my sweet tooth does kick in I need a dessert and I NEED IT NOW! The worst is when it hits me late in the evening, after the stores are closed. This happened the other day but luckily I had a few ingredients in the pantry and was able to whip up a batch of brownies.
What I like most about this recipe (besides from being delicious) is its simplicity and the ease with which it comes together. I bake fairly often, so all the ingredients are normal items I have in the house. So there was no running out for special ingredients or doing weird substitutions. Making the batter is straightforward, too. The whole process only took about 35 minutes, including baking. Ah… instant gratification.
Mark Bittman’s Brownies:
*Update: I just made these brownies again and in a moment of inspiration I added at 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. It was AWESOME. If you like a spicy-sweet combo, give this twist a try.
Step one: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 inch square baking pan.
Step two: In a sauce pan combine the chocolate and butter over low heat. Stir constantly and remove the mixture from the heat as soon as it’s melted.
Step three: Stir in the sugar and then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the flour, salt, and vanilla.
For this step you can transfer the batter to a bigger mixing bowl, but if you’re like me and want less dishes to wash, just combine all the ingredients in the pan you melted the butter and chocolate in.
Step four: Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and bake until set in the middle. Around 20-25 minutes.
Sweet, sweet success. Add a scoop of ice cream and a few slices of strawberry and you’ve got yourself one divine dish. These brownies would be perfect last minute dessert to bring to a pot-luck or if you’re like me and you get those awkwardly timed chocolate cravings. Midnight snacks never tasted so good. Enjoy!
My birthday was this past week and my sweetie took me out for a lovely dinner at Gather Restaurant in Berkeley. Gather specializes in local and organic Californian Cuisine that can satisfy everyone, from vegan to carnivore. With such a commitment to sustainability you might think they would be a little precious about their food (tiny servings, weird combinations) but Gather does sustainable gourmet that delights your taste buds and leaves you with a full belly and a smile.
Andrew and I split an appetizer, entree, salad, and dessert and It was more than enough food for us both. We started off with mushroom bruschetta which was surprisingly rich and extreamly flavorful. For the main course we ordered roasted duck with pesto on a bed of duck sausage and pureed artichoke. The duck was so tender and the flavors so complex that I had to close my eyes to concentrate on the taste. The kale salad with roasted carrots, capers, and almonds was a perfect complement to the duck. For dessert we had hazelnut chocolate cake with cashew-cinnamon “ice cream.” The meal was truly amazing and I enjoyed every mouthwatering bite.
Along with the amazing dinner we had a few fancy cocktails. Delicious dinner, yummy drinks and great company: what more could a girl want on her birthday? Dinner at Gather was real treat. If your looking for a nice evening out in the Bay Area, I recommend you give it a try!
This cake rocks my socks. I found the recipe for Guinness Chocolate Cake over at Design*Sponge when I was searching for a cake to make for my sweetie’s birthday. The oddity of having Guinness as a main ingredient sold me on this particular recipe, but we were in for a surprise. This cake is AMAZING! It is perfectly moist and has a deep chocolatey flavor. Not to mention, the icing is basically a cheese cake. Needless to say, this cake is not for the faint of heart.
I made this cake again when I was home for the holidays and it went over well with the whole family. My mom was a little dubious when I cracked a can of Guinness while mixing the batter, but she was definitely won over in the end. This cake has firmly cemented itself as my all time favorite dessert.
For those of you who find making a cake from scratch intimidating, I assure you this is (fairly) painless. You’re cooking with Guinness! Just crack one open for yourself after you give one to the cake. I made this in my sparsely stocked kitchen and had to improvise on several steps. For one, I don’t have a mixer so I had to put a little extra love/elbow grease into combining the ingredients. If you don’t have a sifter, you can use two spoons to toss the flour (like a salad) in order to loosen and aerate it. To whip the cream, two forks and some love will do the trick. You can tag team this effort, whipping cream by hand is a bit of a workout. (But seriously, this cake is rich. You may as well get a little exercise before you indulge.) My point is, you can do it! It will be well worth your effort. Enjoy!
Jump on over to Design*Sponge for the full recipe.