#NYCBakeSale 2014: Back at Brooklyn Flea

A month head start to let you know that the #NYCBakeSale will be happening again this year on Saturday, May 3rd at the Brooklyn Flea. I hope you'll join and purchase some goods made by fabulous food bloggers for a great cause.

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Pie Party Live at Rodeo Bar NYC (October 15, 2011)

Pie Party Live took place at Rodeo Bar this past weekend on October 15 from 12-3pm. There were over seventy pies and lots of hungry foodies. A perfect mix? Yes.

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2010 Wrap up! My year in baking. (Part 1)

As the end of another year quickly comes upon us it is time for some reflection. Perhaps you're wondering what decisions you made over the course of the year and if these were good or bad. Maybe you're already putting the year behind you and looking forward. Perhaps you're just gorging this month and are certain you'll make up for all this holiday gluttony once the clock strikes midnight bringing us into January 1, 2011. Or maybe this has been the crappiest year ever and you just need to move on already. Either way, I think it's a good time to reflect on baking efforts (good and bad) this year and hope for some more deliciousness as we get further into the twenty-first century. Yeah, food heals if only for a bit.

And with that I bring you my baking for 2010! Don't be surprised to see many pumpkin entries. You know I have a thing for that tasty veg.

JANUARY

Pumpkin Bread a la Food Network.

Well the first baked goody of the new year was a bit of a bust. I had buttermilk and aimed to use it. The result was a pumpkin bread that was not very sweet, but had the taste of pumpkin due to puree and the traditional pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice/cloves, and ginger).

Not my fave so much.

Since I had left over buttermilk and pumpkin and was going to be bringing a dessert for friends I decided to take another crack at a recipe that evening, meaning I put in an all-nighter.

The second dessert was pumpkin muffins and instead of pecans I used left over walnuts. I was very happy with the muffins as they were sweeter and just all-around tastier for me. So this recipe from Food Network was a win!

Pumpkin redeemed!

FEBRUARY

I was forwarded or simply saw a recipe in the New York Times and decided to go all out. Usually I stick with simple recipes, but decided to try something more difficult. A buttermilk poundcake with lemon glaze. I know! Tres fancy.

Hard work, but worth the effort! You're drooling a little, aren't you?

I made a brown sugar poundcake last year that was darn tasty. But nothing compares to the moisture and delicacy of this buttermilk poundcake. It's a lot of work in the beating, but well worth it in the end. While the edges browned a bit more than I would've liked from my bundt pan the taste was not affected whatsoever.

Next up was a marble orange tea bread. I'm not a huge fan of orange outside of juice and maybe some orange-flavored chicken a la my local Chinese restaurant or Trader Joe's frozen orange chicken, but dang it all this marbled chocolate and orange tea bread was tasty!

Orange and chocolate never looked so good, seriously.

The orange was not too heavy, but very pungent with the zest. The chocolate taste was quite light in the swirls and I was shocked I made it look close to how it did in the Cakes and Bakes cookbook I used. So, this was good. I tried the same recipe another time and the center sunk, so I know not to peak at it while baking next time. My bad.

Cakes and Bakes was instrumental in another tasty treat that my husband loves and is addicted to and is our go-to dessert for when we go to people's houses the cinnamon blondie!

Perfection!

Goodness, the picture just doesn't do it justice.

Dependent on mixing you may get a couple of results texture-wise. You can get the dense-ness of a true bar or more cakey. My husband prefers the former and I don't care because it tastes amazing! The cinnamon is the star but not overpowering and within a blondie it's a perfect combination making it taste like a cookie in bar form. Good stuff.

MARCH

Giada DeLaurentiis has never steered me wrong and in a recipe of hers I found my new favorite cookie (and a fave of co-workers as well): lemon ricotta cookie (with lemon glaze, though I tend to go without it.)

Light and fluffy and heavenly.

This cookie can do no wrong. It's light, fluffy, and as some have told me "refreshing." That's the power of lemon zest, baby! The dough is just as good, trust me. I can eat a dozen of these and not feel full (both a good and bad thing). I strongly encourage you to make this cookie, ASAP. You'll thank me. (You're welcome.)

APRIL

And we are officially in spring! Ah, warmer temps and less layers. Good times. This recipe from Cakes and Bakes seemed simple enough and, as already stated, I love simple. I made ginger-topped fingers. A shortbread with ginger inside and on top in a syrup that was made with simple corn starch and ground ginger.

A delicate taste and textured shortbread.

My husband is the ginger fan in our household. I like it in small doses and it wasn't too much in this recipe. The cookie was incredibly buttery and crisp, not crumbly which I enjoyed and the ginger syrup atop it made it a bit more moist. Delightful.

MAY

You and I both know that pumpkin is good year-round, year-round!, so I tackled it again as we approached summer. This recipe is from the grand dame herself of all things domestic, Martha Stewart! Pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing.

Icing or no, that is the question.

I made these for a friend's baby shower of sorts and it was a hit! I made a few dozen with the brown butter icing (not really brown in color, mind you) and a few without. Everyone loved this cakey, moist cookie with the icing. Without icing it was still loved, just not as much. I'd say that evaporated milk added to the moisture for this cake. It's in the method and also ingredients of course. The more dairy the better, I say!

JUNE

We get back to basics with the help of good ole reliable, Cakes and Bakes! This is a basic sugar cookie recipe with the addition of lemon zest. This is more a hard, crunchy cookie rather than a chewy one. I'm still in search of the perfect sugar cookie, much like many may be looking for the perfect chocolate chip recipe. These were tasty and good. The dough is meant to be cut and/or shaped rather than a drop cookie, so it'll pay to have cookie cutters for this one.

A delightful cookie with a hint of lemon.

Another Cakes and Bakes recipe was chocolate caramel bars. The bar part, which includes oats, was too thin so it was pretty crispy. The caramel was made from (yum) sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar over an open flame as the next layer and add on some melted chocolate and you've got yourself a bar! Very tasty. Compliments noted.

Mmmmm...

Well, that's it for the first half of the year. I'll be back with the latter half. This past week was a baking bonanza for me! December is my busiest month it turns out.

Grub Street Food Festival 2010!

Today is the Grub Street Food Festival in the Lower East Side! There are vendors from all over NYC represented dishing out savory and sweet dishes as well as liquids (warm and cold)! So head over there already.

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Wrap up! My year in baking...(Pt. 2)

And here are my remaining baking efforts for the year. The second half of the year brought a lot of use of my oven. Thankfully, it can take it. August:

The Dish: If it isn't already evident that I'm a lemon nut then here's more proof. My baked good for August was: Lemon Poppyseed Cake. Hell, I had left over lemons and, as mentioned, a whole lot of poppyseeds. Why not make bread?

Tarter than your average "cake"

End result: Also from Sweet Melissa's Cookbook, but I was not a fan of this one. Too tart and not sugary enough for me. Plus, I believe I left one loaf in a bit longer than necessary so it was a bit too crisp on the bottom. But, I brought it to work and people enjoyed it. I was told that the fact it was more lemony than sugary made it taste more like a traditional bread rather than cake. Go fig.

September:

The Dish: The previous month I had gone to Vermont for a Writer's Conference. My roomie at the conference went to a Maple shop and I implored her to get me maple sugar if she could find it. She did! (Thanks, Iris!) And so I made it a point to find something to use this decadent sugar for. And so I found a simple recipe, because I like simple, for Mapledoodles.

Not my favorite recipe of the year, so I'll keep on the look out...

End result: For me, I think these cookies tasted better cool rather than warm. I got a metallic like taste from either the maple extract or the maple sugar. And lastly, too much maple! This recipe called for maple extract and maple sugar in the cookie along with maple sugar outside of the cookie and an (optional) maple glaze! I had to hold off from doing maple outside of the cookie because the taste was too darn strong! Decent enough cookies, but I've seen alternate mapledoodle recipes I'll try.

The Dish: In addition to the, somewhat disappointing, mapledoodles I made a classic fave: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! My same friend who is a gifted baker introduced me to pumpkin chocolate chip bars, which are amazing! This is a take on that.

A personal fave!

End result: These have a cakey texture rather than your normal cookie texture. And to eat these warm is amazing! The moist cakey-ness along with melty chocolate chips makes these to die for. It's filled with the same spices you'd use to make pumpkin pie as well as pumpkin filling and is amazing!

You'll fall in love with these and the recipe I use makes five dozen or more which is never enough! People in the office loved them and I found the adult mentors liked them too. Kids and teenagers may be a bit sketched out by pumpkin cookies, but once they try them they'll be reformed. I'm drooling just thinking about them.

October:

The Dish: Of course one would think that I'd save the pumpkin treats for October, but in all honest they're good any time! But this month I actually delved into a treat I've eaten a lot, but never had the cajones to make: pound cake!

Turns out it's super-easy!

Basically butter cake, but an old time fave...

End result: Main difference is that it is made with light brown sugar rather than regular granulated as per the recipe on the back of the Domino's sugar box. So it looks a bit darker as well. Tasted really good and familiar, almost like my grandma's!

Made it for my drinking group (hey ladies!) and they enjoyed it. Moistness keeps if sealed well for a couple of days, but definitely tastes best right out of the oven and with some accoutrements such as cream or berries.

The Dish: I also did a pumpkin recipe for Halloween! Last year I had an awful pumpkin bar recipe. The bars were incredibly dense and not sweet at all. Not happy. So I went with a Paula Deen recipe this year because, quite frankly, you can trust her butter-filled delicacies. And I wasn't disappointed!

Just between you and me, this is pumpkin cake...

End result: I just couldn't be bothered with icing and didn't want to deter from the pumpkin taste, so there you go. I have to say that this was more of a cake then a bar. It was mighty fluffy and could've used icing. It tasted fabulous and I'll make again instead calling it Ms. Deen's pumpkin cake!

November:

The Dish: And as the year comes full circle so does this month's dessert which was, well, lemon of course! This time lemon cupcakes with lemony cream on top. I made it for my department's first ever Dessert Hour before Thanksgiving and these cupcakes were a hit! If you're not a big dessert person lemon is excellent because it's not too strong and complements the sweet just right.

The lemony cream is the best part!

End result: These cupcakes are somewhat of a semi-homemade approach and you just do your own thing after using the cake mix. Lemon curd is the secret ingredient for these minicakes and it's really good. I have to say my main delight was in the lemony cream (heavy whipping cream, lemon curd, and confectioner's sugar that you beat the hell out of). I've made it again since I had left over ingredients and it was well received with some brown sugar bundt cake on Christmas. Also, used the lemony cream on a pumpkin tart with friends for Thanksgiving and everyone loved it! So it just goes to show that again...lemon shows its versatility!

The Dish: And lastly for the year of the pumpkin (and lemon) was pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from the same book I got the lemon cupcake recipe Cupcakes from the Cake (mix) Doctor by Anne Byrn It was hard for my husband to find a chocolate chip muffin mix, but when he did I went buck wild with left over pumpkin filling and enjoyed the results merrily.

Notice a trend?

End result: Pumpkin and chocolate is basically the best combination...ever. Just don't argue with me on this one. These muffins kept, when well sealed, and I brought some in for co-workers who are also pumpkin fanatics. Needless to say they loved them also.

December:

Well, another marathon baking month for moi this month.

The Dishes:

First up, Almond toffee crunch cookies from Cookies to Die for. Another hunt for me, but I found toffee bits! You put almond extract, chopped almonds (which I left out so my husband could eat the cookies), toffee bits, and your basic cookie ingredients to make this decadent type cookie.

The toffee's the best part, I think.

End result: Well, the recipe said you could make five dozen and I stayed up making about eight or nine dozen. Almond extract has quite a particular taste so if you're a fan of that (or say almond croissants and such) then you'll enjoy these cookies immensely. They're soft and slightly crispy. The toffee sticks to your teeth, but that's the best part about toffee! I'll probably try these again and use vanilla extract instead of almond and see how much more you can taste the toffee.

Next up, peanut butter cookies (from scratch!) from the Sweet Melissa book. Another super easy recipe, hoorah! I added chocolate chips because I think most things with chocolate are awesome so I just keep adding. I made these for a friend's holiday cookie party when my original cookie dough went up in smoke or crumbles I should say.

Peanut butter and chocolate? Pure genius!

End result: The recipe calls these chewy peanut butter cookies, but if you cook them a bit longer they become crunchy, which isn't a bad thing really. I've gotten them in the middle for the past two times I've made them. Very enjoyable and I have the ingredients at home so I'll make these again and again.

And then there were maple chocolate chip cookies! This was the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe (courtesy of Hershey's) and instead of brown sugar I added in maple sugar and a smidge of maple extract.

Maple sugar can make all the difference.

End result: Again, better the next day. I dunno if it's the maple extract or sugar but right out of the oven there's a bit of a metallic taste. However, the next day when cool (and super chewy) these cookies tasted awesome with a hint of maple. Co-workers loved this holiday treat!

And for me that's it for the year in baking. I look forward to the new year and new recipes and experiments in the kitchen.

Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!