Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Dinner Party

Last Friday we had an Edgar Allan Poe dinner party with a few close friends and family, and it was a blast! Because my birthday is October 21st, birthday things tend to have a bit of a macabre twist to it. Edgar Allan Poe was a great writer and poet who is one of the pioneers of the detective novel and is loved by science fiction enthusiasts as well. His writing invokes a dark cloudy dream which could turn to a nightmare or wake you up to solve a murder.
With that being the theme we had to make food to fit the part!
We served:
The Devil’s Eggs
Crisp Tip Tarts
Baked Brie aka Gobbly Gook
Carrot Curry Soup
Black Rice aka squid ink paella
Carne Asada
Roasted Fall Vegetables
And more delicious little sides!
My three favorite things that we photographed for you and have the recipe for are a dessert we call Pink Fluff, and two appetizers; Crisp Tip Tarts, The Devil’s Eggs!
Enjoy and make these easy and quick treats for your Halloween Dinner!
Ingredients: makes 12 serves 6 if everyone eats 2

*get a sandwich bag if you want to pipe the filling nicely!

**Spanish paprika and normal paprika are a bit different, Spanish paprika is really smoky and has great deep flavor.

***A few of the ingredients were bought at Surfas in Culver City, for example the premade stuff, and the amazing strawberry fizz chocolate candy we bought! Either go there or go online to www.culinarydistrict.com. This place is amazing and great for any lover of cooking.

6 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Siracha
Pinch of salt
Spanish smoked paprika for taste
Red food coloring

To make the perfect hard boiled egg for this, fill a pot with water to cover the eggs 1-2 inches, and then pour in the 1 tablespoon of vinegar (this keeps the whites from running if the eggs crack). Place all the eggs in and turn the heat on high. When the water starts boiling, let it boil one minute, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 12 minutes.

To get the beautiful marbling effect on the eggs, once the eggs cool a bit, crack them all around by rolling them on a hard surface. Don’t be afraid to get them in deep, because you want that color to seep in. Next fill a large bowl with water and about 10 drops of food coloring, and let the cracked eggs sit for about 1 hour if you really want some good coloring. (Our eggs are a little pink because I added some drops of blue!)

Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise, placing the yolks in a medium size bowl. Combine the rest of all the ingredients, and mash together until smooth. You can add more Siracha if you want more of a kick.

Put filling in a sandwich bag and cut the tip off, using this to pip the filling into the half egg. Sprinkle the paprika for decoration and for taste.

Ingredients: Makes 12

12 prebaked savory tart shells
4 eggs
¼ cup goat cheese
2 teaspoons thyme
12 pieces of asparagus
1 teaspoon salt plus a pinch
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ lemon

Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees and heating a skillet.

Chop the tips off of the asparagus. Heat oil in your skillet, and place asparagus tips in. Squeeze half the lemon on and add a tiny pinch of salt. Let cook until the tips start to brown a bit and crisp up, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and put on a paper towel to absorb oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, goat cheese, thyme, and salt. Mix together until the goat cheese is evenly dispersed in small pieces.

Spoon mix into shells, top with tips, and bake for 10 minutes. Make sure the egg is cooked all the way.

Ingredients: makes 12

12 chocolate cups
Box of candy strawberry fizz
4 cups frozen strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 oz vanilla pudding mix
8 oz cool whip

This recipe is super easy and looks amazing. To make strawberry mousse, puree strawberries and sugar until completely smooth. Add pudding mix and keep mixing. Remove from mixer and fold in cool whip. Cover in bowl and let set for 15 minutes.

Spoon mousse in chocolate cup and top with the candy fizz! The mix of smooth mousse, biting chocolate, and a pop of the candy fizz is spooktacular!

Happy Halloween!





Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Pumpkin Cream Filled Spiced Cake with Caramel Frosting!

Michael and I just celebrated my birthday which was yesterday by going to our favorite noodle house on Sawtelle Blvd. and watching a little Nightmare Before Christmas. This is my favorite time of year, it is when the Holiday season starts, and when I really feel that we are able to get really creative with our food. Since I have a slight Halloween obsession we did 13 days of Halloween last year, this year we are going to take it a bit easy because we are having a fabulous Halloween Dinner Party!

We have made for you a wonderful spiced cupcake, filled with pumpkin whipped cream, topped with caramel frosting! Happy Halloween and happy birthday to me!!

*Assuming that you do not have piping bags, buy some sandwich bags and the inexpensive icing tube tips. Cut a corner of the sandwich bag, place tip in, and tape so nothing will get through. Voila!

Ingredients: makes 24


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½  teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs +1 yolk
1 ¼  cups buttermilk
1 ½  teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger

Whipped Cream:

1 ½ cups cream
¼ cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice

Caramel Frosting:

1 Lb brown sugar
1 cup cream
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter

I would start by making the whipped cream and the frosting so that you can allow them to chill.

The whip cream is super simple, just put all the ingredients in a bowl and whip together until it starts to get stiff and forms peaks. Refrigerate.

To make the frosting bring sugar and cream to a rolling boil stirring frequently. Let boil for 1 minute, add baking soda, then let boil one more minute. Remove the sugar and cream from heat, then add butter. Do not stir, just let the butter melt, and cool completely. Once cooled, using an electric mixer, mix until becomes a thick caramel consistency. Chill.

 To make cupcakes preheat oven to 350, and line two cupcake trays with cupcake sleeves.

In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Beat eggs in one at a time, including the yolk. Add almond extract.

In a different large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Add a 1/3 of the flour mix to butter, and beat. Next add ¾ cups of buttermilk, followed by flour, and continue until you mix everything together and beat it.

Spread mix evenly into cupcake tins and bake for 25 minutes or until you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Once baked and completely cooled take everything out of the refrigerator and it is now time to assemble. First we want to fill the cupcake with the whipped cream, so using a small knife, cut a hole out of the top of the cupcake, removing the middle but keeping the top layer. This way you can pipe in the whipped cream, and put the top part of the cupcake on so you don’t see the cream anymore. Next filling your second piping bag with the frosting, cover the top with frosting, and if you want top with some Halloween sprinkles!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oktoberfest Pretzel Wrapped Beer Dog

Though Oktoberfest had ended, there is no reason to not enjoy the festivities longer. Oktoberfest typically runs from the end of September until the first week of October. Oktoberfest is a festival held in Germany and has been held since 1810, and is a festival modeled after traditional fairgrounds. There are games played, beer is sampled, and there is delicious food. To honor Oktoberfest, and October, we have made for you a pretzel wrapped beer dog! You get three fabulous things at once; sausage, pretzel, and beer!

*Takes about an hour and 30 minutes. Also using a grill pan is optional.  

Ingredients: makes 6

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water  
 5 cups all-purpose flour
 ½ cup white sugar
 1 ½ teaspoons salt
 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup baking soda
 4 cups hot water
 ¼ cup kosher salt, for topping


1 Tablespoon oil
6 Bratwursts
1 yellow onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cups beer (whatever you like)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Leave alone until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, ½  cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add oil and yeast mixture. Using an electric mixer if you have one, mix into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

While the dough is setting you will now make the beer dogs. Heat oil in a large sauce pan; dice the yellow onion and place in the pan, cook onion until softened. Add beer and bring to a boil. Once boiling add brats and allow the beer to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

If you want to have grill marks on the brats for color, heat a grill pan, and grill brats until you see grill marks (about 4 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Boil hot water and baking soda.

When dough has risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Roll pretzel around brats, if you need help keeping it in place you can use toothpicks on each end. Once all the brats are covered in pretzel dough, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Enjoy your delicious pretzel wrapped beer dog!

Happy October!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sherry Raisin Pumpkin Bread

There is no shortage of things which I love about  October. To list a few: pumpkins, my birthday, Halloween, scary movies, decorating ones house with cobwebs (I don’t have to vacuum those webs away!?), anything in the shape of a bat….The list goes on. I believe and hope that I have turned Michael into a lover of the fall, otherwise I have shoving candy corn down his throat for years with no reason! Eek!

That being said, we have made a deliciously simple pumpkin bread with sherry soaked raisins. It has been said that this may be our best baked item yet, which is exciting! What makes this recipe so interesting is that we use almond extract instead of vanilla and it gives it a really marzipan like taste. Yummy.

So happy pumpkin cooking time!


Francesca and Michael

*We will be using a loaf pan and a handheld electric mixer, so make sure you have one!

Ingredients: makes 1 medium loaf

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 ¾  cups all-purpose flour  
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 ¼ cups pure pumpkin puree
¾  cup buttermilk
1 cup purple raisins
2 cups dry sherry
3 Tablespoons brown sugar

First thing to do is in a small sauce pan boil sherry and add brown sugar and raisins. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. When they seem hydrated pull them out, and lay them on a piece of paper towel to cool down.

While the raisins are simmering we are going to mix our pumpkin bread together. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, using your mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Next add eggs, one a time, mixing thoroughly. Beat in almond extract.

Next step is while mixing on low speed; gradually add the flour mix until just combined. Add the pumpkin and buttermilk and beat until just combined. Last step is to add the raisins and fold them in.

With the remaining butter, butter the edges of your loaf pan, and pour in your batter until it is about an inch below the top, this way there will be no spillage.

Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Slice and enjoy!