Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sticky Cookies

You know the March Lamb and Lion thing? Well, This whole month was LION. UGH. Stormiest time for me in quite a while. I got tossed around a bit like a boat in open ocean. Really makes you appreciate calmer waters. 

On the upside, March was the second most popular month for Tarte and Parcel. I thought I would do one last post in a push to make it the MOST popular month. 

So in an ode to lions, I decided to make a cookie that resembled a lion - macaroons with burnt sugar icing

Macaroon with Burnt Sugar Icing
* Ingredients *

For the cookies…
2/3 cup flour
5 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 14ounce can sweetened condensed milk 
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the icing…
1/4 cup butter
1 cup half and half
3/4 sugar
1/2 light corn syrup 
1 teaspoon vanilla

* Instructions *
1.    Mix all ingredients for cookies. Scoop batter onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until coconut is lightly toasted.
2.    In small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add half and half, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to boil for 5 minutes (note this will splatter and is hot… so maybe a good time to whip out your safety glasses, Ty Pennigton style). Remove from heat. Cool completely and stir in vanilla. Drizzle icing over cookies using a fork or dip them for a little sweeter option.   

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Italian... Randomly.

So, this is completely random. Three people in the 4 days have spoken Italian to me. I think this is the first time that I have heard it outside of Italy.

I don’t speak Italian. Nor, do I pretend to speak Italian. Nor, do I look Italian.  I do like Prada and Fendi tho. I speak *their* language.

Now, I will tell you the first to speak Italian to me - normal. He lived in Roma and it just came up in conversation. Second two people – outta nowhere. Nowhere - I tell you. Thus, random and a little spooky. 

Aside from not speaking the language, I do love Italy. I’ve shopped in Rome, caught powder in Courmayuer and stood in the rain in Siena.

Italians are for the most part are known for the most amazing food. I did however have the worst pizza in the world in Florence.  It was so bad, I took a picture. NOTE: I did not cook that pizza. I don’t know what self respective Italian restaurant would consider bread, ragu and cheese as pizza but I succeeded in finding the only place that this was served outside of a college dorm room.

I don’t often cook Italian food. When not baking, I like to cook French bistro food. However, all of this talk of Italy must me a sign, right? Tonight for my dinner, I decided to make a little pasta dish, inspired by carbonara, but also with a Seattle seafood influence.  Buon Appetito!

Carbonara ~ Seattle Style

* Ingredients *
3 ounces pancetta
1/2 pound Penne pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 pound fresh scallops
1/2 cup half and half
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoons salt
2 cups frozen peas, cooked
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley 
4 eggs  

* Instructions *
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pancetta on a rack and place rack on baking sheet.  Cook for 10-12 minutes or until crispy. Cool and crumble into small pieces.
2. Cook pasta in boiling water with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt till al dente. Approximately 11-13 minutes.
3.   Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in to skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add scallops and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside.  
4. In saucepan, combine half and half, white wine, flour and salt. Simmer until reduced, stirring frequently. Stir in scallops and garlic.
5. Toss pasta with sauce, pancetta, peas and cheese. Topped with parsley and poached egg.

If you don’t know how to poach eggs, I recommend checking out this site

PS If you are on a low cholesterol diet, maybe this recipe isn’t for you! J  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pot O' Gold

Happy St. Patty’s.

Today is all about the positive. Irish Jig – check, done it. Pint of Guinness in Ireland on March 17th  - check, done it.  Baking cupcakes to win an Irish food contest – half check. I haven’t won yet.

Along time ago, I heard a story about kitchen sink windows. Why does every house have them? So through the misery of washing the dinner dishes, you can see beautiful sunsets.

I have amazing friends. They are my beautiful sunsets. They take me to the Attic, plan adventures, let me know they are right across the alley, call me doodles, buy steamed apple juice, hold elevators to give me hugs and take IOUs for amazing shows.  Never in my life have I been surrounded by so many phenomenal people. Thank you. I will never be able to pay you back – even if I had all the pots of gold in the world.

So the cupcakes… pretty awesome right?

I started with the recipe for the cake, that got the most accolades – Birthday Cake ala  Beer. I added 2 shots of Jameson just to Irish it up bit.

Pot of gold was made from a donut hole, filled with gold dragees. Frosting is your basic cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and a little Baileys. I said we were Irishing it up, right?

Erin go bragh! Cheers to Ireland and may you find you own beautiful sunsets through challneging times.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tarte and Parcel: The Blue Period

Let's change things up and get to the recipe straight away.

Seared Tuna Sandwich with Blueberry Wasabi Sauce

* Ingredients *
1 pound tuna
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon honey
3 teaspoons wasabi
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries, slightly crushed 
1 cup arugula
Crusty Baguette - toasted if you like it that way. 

* Instructions * 
1. Heat olive oil in pan. Coat fish in cornmeal. Seer each side of the tuna until brown, leaving center rare. Leave tuna rest in pan for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and cool completely.
2. Mix honey, vinegar, wasabi and sugar. Stir in blueberries.
3. Slice tuna into thin steaks. Serve on baguette with blueberrry sauce and arugula.   

If you are looking for an appetizer option, this sandwich could also work nicely as a bruchetta. 

At turn of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso entered what is known now as his "blue period." Grieving the death of a friend lost to suicide, Picasso spent 3 years focusing on palettes of blues and greens. Today, these paintings are some of the most famous and beloved works in his collection.

I hurt... but challenging times can help you build resolve, strength and confidence. Like Picasso, I like to vent my emotion via creative outlets. This weekend I have experimented with my own blue period - blueberries, blue corn flour and blue cheese. The recipe above turned out best, but not sure it helped my mood. Hopefully, there won't be 3 more years of this. Blue cheese is stinky. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dessert Drink: The 6-legged Spider

This story took me a little while to post. I have a broken heart and well, it is hard enough to get up – let alone expose yourself via a blog. I guess maybe this story speaks to being tough, but when do I get to stop having to be tough and start getting to be happy?
A note: If you're not into booze, you won't like this recipe. If you're not into quirky, you won't like this post. 

When I was 7 or so, my mother took me to the doctor for what she believed were the measles. Head-to-toe, I had about 50 red bumps all over my body with 4 to 5 new spots appearing daily. Alas, it was not measles... Although my mother is one of the best housekeepers I know and has always maintained a house of museum-quality cleanliness, three spiders had built a nest under my bed. Each night - they feasted.

To this day, arachnids can send me into a panic ala Ronald Weasley. I have been known to jump out of bed from a deep sleep screaming about spiders in the bed, even at 30. I won't watch "Fear Factor" when they bring out the tarantulas. Plastic spider rings at Halloween... yeah, you can keep those to yourself. Brown recluse? I'd rather take on a Great White. Well, maybe let's agree those are just equally scary.

I only learned to kill spiders by myself a little while ago. Living alone, you can't really point and scream until someone else smushes the creepy crawly. I tried for a little while to just capture them in an overturned bowl, but then I was throwing away a lot of bowls. I am equally scared of anything that might have spider germs.

Fast forward to last Saturday morning. I noticed a tiny green spider on the wall above my bed. I winced and gathered some tissue to be rid of the pest. As I went in for the kill, I  noticed that the spider had lost it's 2 back left legs and was making due with 6 instead of 8. This spider has had a tough life.

I couldn't do it. I’ve been kicked when down too many times. This spider and I had something in common. I’m still waiting for someone to choose me. I’m tired of things that I think are "too good to be true" ending…I couldn’t “end it” for this spider.
Instead I named him Elliot. We shared some laughs as Elliot was very self-effacing about his lack of limbs. We joked about his clumsiness - a characteristic we both share and after a day he moved on to the attic or a nearby heat vent. (Yes, I definitely checked he didn't move under the bed.)

In honor of my first act of mercy on spiders and in hopes karma will someday return the favor, I give you the 6-legged spider, surely everyone's new favorite desert drink.

6-Legged Spider
* Ingredients *
1 oz Vodka
2 oz lemon lime soda
2 small scoops lime sherbet
Six lime garnishes

* Instructions *

1. Pour vodka into martini glass. Add soda.
2. Top with sherbet and garnishes 

PS I am not crazy nor drunk on 6-legged spiders. Life is just better with a little imagination. Cheers to Elliot, where ever you are.