Paper Chef September: Apple Ginger Cupcakes

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I decided to try something new and take a stab at this Paper Chef shindig. The basics is a judge picks four ingredients on you’ve got a few days to whip them all up in to a recipe. This month Deeba at Passionate About Baking had the task of picking the ingredients and she went with Riccotta, Ginger, Dark Chocolate and the fourth ingredient had to symbolize Autumn. I went with apples since picking them in the fall is one of my newest favorite autumn activities.

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Prior to the ingredients being selected I thought that once I read them I would instantly know what I wanted to make. But that was not the case. After giving it some thought I decided on an apple-ginger cupcakes with a ricotta cheese chocolate icing. I made the icing up as I went and it turned out really good — light, fluffy and smooth. The icing complemented the cinnamony cupcakes. The flour could also be substituted for a whole-wheat flour and the sugar reduced to make more of a muffin.

Also, as a tip, to keep apples from browning while you dice them, as soon as they are cored and diced drop into a bowl of ice water. Store in the fridge between dicing and cooking and drain right before using. Mine stayed nice and crisp.

Keep reading, directions and photos after jump

Campfire Pizza

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Just because you can’t take a hot shower doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. I went camping this week at Worthington State Park on the Delaware River. It was absolutely gorgeous. While my cooking goal for the weekend was to catch a fish, fillet it and cook it on an open fire didn’t materialize because I didn’t catch a fish, I got to try another of my outdoor cooking options.

BBQ Pizza has been really trendy lately and I’ve seen a lot of recipes for it. And while I didn’t want to worry about bringing any of the fancy ingredients I’ve seen used on said pizzas, I figured a quick easy pizza would be a tasty alternative to burgers and hot dogs.

I made the dough before I left, refrigerated it and then took it out of the ice chest at the camp site. It worked perfect that way.

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Continue reading

In celebration of Top Chef: A crab-avocado salad

crab-avocadoI am super excited about Top Chef season premier tonight. While the Masters series was great, the original features more chefs which means more recipes, particularly recipes I can reasonably attempt.

In honor of the start of the season, I prepared a Top Chef throw-back to start my dinner. The crab-avocado salad is inspired from season 3’s Trey. You can see the original here.

I made several changes, some for reasons like champagne vinegar is difficult to find, and others because lump crab meat can be difficult to find.

Here’s my take:

  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • package of artificial crab meat
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (a whole teaspoon if you like it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cilantro paste
  • the juice of half a lime

Dice crab and avocado, taking care to keep avocado in cubes and keeping the gooey green portion from the outside. Place in bowl.

In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Carefully fold mayo dressing into avocado and crab.

Chill and serve cold.

The Crab Cruise

crabsThursday night I took the Riverboat Queen in Wilmington for their Thursdy night crab cruise. It was a lot of fun and the crabs were delicious. On top of good food, they also have a great view as you cruise down the Christiana River at sunset.

They serve all you can eat boiled crabs plus corn and chicken wings. My fellow diners raved about the chicken wings but I was too occupied with the crab to try any. The corn was super buttery and tasty.

Eating crabs in the Northeast is much different than eating them in the South, where they clean them before they cook them and make life a little easier for the diner. But it takes me back to crawfish boils, so I wasn’t complaining.

They’re booked for the next several weeks, but I’m told there are opennings at the end of the month and they’ll keep running until November. This is their web site for more information.

Me digging into the crabs. This photo caught me mid-bite.

Me digging into the crabs. This photo caught me mid-bite.

Wilmington at sunset.

Wilmington at sunset.

My first tomato

I planted a couple of tomato plants and last week they started really producing. Here’s a picture of my first ripe tomato. There will be salsa recipes to come.

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It didn’t last very long. Esteban ate it the way a fresh tomato should be eaten, with a little salt.

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“Big Easy Bananas Foster Bars”

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So I took a stab at it and entered the State Fair cookie bar competition. It had to be an “original” recipe so I concocted these. I didn’t bring home a ribbon but I wanted to share the recipe. They’re pretty taste and well worth it, I think. And you’re reading that right: 2 whole cups of corn starch.
ingredients
Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups corn starch
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 lb. plus ½ cup butter, softened
1 orange zested
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
6-8 bananas
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup dark rum
1/2 cup whole shelled pecans
1/2 cup miniature marshmallow

Keep reading, directions after jump

Oven Thermometer: I got a new toy

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I had an unusual weekday off today. Which meant I spent the bulk of the day in my kitchen whipping up new concoctions. Those will be added later.

But I wanted to take a moment to praise my newest kitchen gadget: an oven thermometer.

I was reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg and she recommended the use of an oven thermometer. I had always trusted the what I assumed to be complicated process that made my oven heat to exactly the temperature I selected on the dial.

Today while working on my State Fair cookie bar entry (like I said recipes will come later, this one likely next week when I actually enter the State Fair baking competition), as I was saying, I realized that my oven actually runs about 5 degrees cooler tha what I selected on the dial.

So I cranked up the temp a little. And got my cookies were the perfect brownness.