Archives for category: food

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to bake. It was only a matter of time before my love of baked sweets met my love of still life painting! I’ve wanted to paint pretty cakes for a long time, and I finally got around to baking up a batch of beautiful red velvet cupcakes with the intention of making adorable still life paintings with them.

IMG_1966

IMG_1967

Here are my first two cupcake paintings! They are currently available here and here. Check out my other paintings for sale at my Etsy shop, ArtworkbyBob!

IMG_8339

IMG_8332

I’m contemplating what I should bake next… maybe a pumpkin pie? Or a layer cake? Decisions, decisions…

Happy Mother’s Day, all! I hope you did something nice for yo mama. I know I did.

photo

My Mom happens to LOVE cheese blintzes. Now, I happen to be a vegan, so I am not so much into cheese blintzes. Since I didn’t eat these myself I can’t really vouch for how good the recipe is, but my family (mom especially) seemed to enjoy them plenty. They certainly had no problem eating two or three each!

So here’s what I did. Cheese blintzes start off with crepes. I have one good crepe recipe that I trust. It actually comes from some goofy magazine designed for american students learning French. I am not kidding. It’s called Allons-y! (Let’s Go! in French). This is seriously the only crepe recipe I use. Here it is, translated into English by no other than moi:

Ingredients:

250 grams of flour (about 2 cups)

3 eggs

1/2 litre of milk (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

pinch of salt

butter or cooking spray for frying

Procedure:

Pour flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the eggs. Mix well. Add the salt, oil, sugar and a little of the milk. Continue to mix, gradually adding the rest of the milk. Cover and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Melt some butter in a frying pan (or crepe pan, if you’re fancy) add about a quarter of a cup of the batter to the pan and swirl it around to evenly cover in a thin layer. allow to cook for 60 – 75 seconds before flipping.

If you just want to eat delicious crepes, you can stop here. Serve with Nutella or maple syrup or berries or whatever. The very French way is to eat them with sugar and lemon juice. But, if cheese blintzes are your goal, cook up all the batter and stack the crepes up in between sheets of wax paper. Then you can make this tasty filling for them!

Filling ingredients:

1 cup of ricotta cheese (or farmers cheese, if you can find it)

1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese

1/4 – 1/3 cup of sugar

1 egg yoke

juice from half a lemon

dash of vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Just mix all of the ingredients together with a fork. Easy!

Fill the crepes the way you would fill a burrito:

photo copy 2

 Place a dollop of filling on one half of the crepe

photo copy 3

fold crepe over filling

photo copy 4

fold the sides over to make an envelope of deliciousness

photo copy 6

 Roll crepe over one more time. See? Just like a burrito, but keep it somewhat flat so you can fry it.

photo copy 5

After filling the crepes, quickly pan fry on both sides until golden and crispy. I recommend using an oil with a high smoke point, such as canola or peanut oil. Blintzes are usually served with sour cream, but my Dad decided to just put another dollop of the filling on top. Enjoy!

From looking at my previous cooking posts, you might get the impression that I subsist off of bonbons and sugar-coated peanut butter balls. I really don’t. In fact, my diet consists mostly of vegetables, fruit, nuts and yogurt. I don’t eat meat, or eggs, or cheese. You probably think this sounds horrible. It’s not. To prove it, I dare you to try this recipe for Moroccan cauliflower. It might just make you want to go veggie! (and if not, you can always just eat it as a side dish for your bloody, T-bone steak.)

Moroccan cauliflower

Moroccan cauliflower

This recipe began, as it often does, with someone else’s recipe. Originally, this dish came from Paula Wolfert’s amazing book, The Food of Morocco.

Not only is this book filled with delicious veggie recipes, it has tons of beautiful photographs (and a description of how to make Moroccan pot brownies. You can try that for dessert!)

Here is the recipe with my modifications:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cauliflower, divided into florets

2 tsp. sugar

1 can diced tomatoes

1 tsp sweet paprika + 1 tsp smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. kosher salt

4 garlic cloves

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tsp. lemon zest

procedure:

1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the cauliflower and sugar, cover with a tight-fitting lid and head for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking, uncovered, until the moisture in the pan has evaporated and the cauliflower is slightly browned.

pan frying the cauliflower

pan frying the cauliflower

2. Add tomatoes and paprika. continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

3. Crush cumin seeds, garlic and salt in a mortar (yes, I do it this way. I’m sure the food police will not arrest you if you use a mini food processor or something.) Add to the skillet and cook, uncovered until the moisure is evaporated (20 minutes)

grind the cumin before adding the garlic and salt

grind the cumin before adding the garlic and salt

4. Stir in lemon zest and parsley. Devour with your face.

My version is different from the original (it’s called “Marak of Cauliflower with Tomatoes and Olives” in the book) in a few ways. First off, The original recipe called for “2 ripe or canned tomatoes, peeled, halved, seeded, chopped, and drained.” That seems like a lot of steps. Using canned tomatoes would cut down on some of the work (have you ever tried to peel a ripe, fresh tomato? Bitch, please.) Canned tomatoes still pose a problem, however, because you only need two. So you’re going to open an entire can of whole tomatoes and only use two? Now, really. Who does that? My rule for tomatoes is to use the whole can, always. None of this save-half-for-later bullshit. Throw it all in there!

Paprika!

Paprika!

Second is the paprika. The original just called for two teaspoons of sweet paprika. I replaced one of those with smoked paprika because I love that smoky flavor. It goes really well with cumin. If you don’t have smoked paprika, a drop or two of liquid smoke would probably do the trick. If you don’t have liquid smoke either, then I just don’t know how to help you. Sorry.

A few other things: I skipped the lemon juice Wolfert calls for and just use zest instead because that’s what I like. (I use a microplane grater to zest lemons.) She also calls for preserved lemon. Do you keep preserved lemons around? No. Neither do I. Notice the original title of this dish mentioned olives. I’m not that into olives. There is also a mysterious last step that involves letting the cauliflower sit for 30 minutes after cooking (yeah. right.)

Now, about those pot brownies…

moroccan brownies

Moroccan brownies! Like the hat?

Okay, so they’re not actually brownies. I’ve never tried this (no, really) but here’s what it says:

Place 1 pound of Smen (Cooked and Salted Butter) in a casserole with plenty of water and about 3 cups stalks, seeds, and leaves of kif (Cannabis). Bring to a boil let it simmer for 2 hours, then carefully strain it into a large, deep roasting pan. Then, throw away the stalks, seeds, and leaves and let the butter cool and rise to the top in the refrigerator overnight. Then place the butter in the casserole with 1 pound chopped dates, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon aniseed, 1/2 cup dark, heavy honey, and 1/2 cup each ground almonds and walnuts (these proportions are from The Hashish Cookbook). Then cook all this together until it gets very thick, bubbly and brown. Add some orange flower water and ras el hanout to taste. Pack the majoun in clean jars.

*eat with care! enjoy and play fun music for hours of fun!

There you go: a healthy, vegan veggie dish and a mind-altering dessert — a complete meal! My job here is done.

I’ll admit it: I kinda forgot about Father’s Day. Only kinda. Saturday morning I slapped my forehead and said “dammit I forgot to get Dad something!” Luckily my dad is particularly easy to get gifts for, and usually, his gifts involve some kind of food. My dad happens to be a big fan of See’s peanut brittle, so I decided to try making a homemade version for him.

Brittle, of course, is candy. Candy involves making sugar syrup (one or more kinds of sugar melted with water.) Sugar syrup is the base of all different kinds of candies: fudge, taffy, caramel, nougat, as well as hard candies such as brittle. The difference is the temperature to which the sugar syrup is heated. Different temperatures yield different hardnesses, as you can see here.

cooking peanut brittle!

cooking peanut brittle!

I used this recipe, and for once I didn’t modify it much. I’m not new to candy making; in fact, I make chocolate fudge for the neighbors every year (that recipe, by the way, is a family secret.) Candy is a science, however, so I’d rather not tinker with a new recipe the first time I make it. The only thing I changed was the peanuts. I could not find raw peanuts, so I went ahead and used dry roasted and lightly salted peanuts. I also poured all of the brittle onto a single baking sheet rather than two. It was hard to spread out and set up pretty fast.

peanut brittle cooling

peanut brittle cooling on a baking sheet – smells so good!

Sweets of any kind go fast in this house; I just barely managed a few snaps of the final product before much of it was devoured:

This brittle is not too hard and it’s absolutely loaded with peanuts so it kind of crumbles in your mouth. Surprisingly enough, it’s actually not too sweet; cooking the sugar for so long allows it to develop some deeper, more complex flavors. So, rather than just tasting like sugar, the brittle tastes nutty and buttery. It’s also easy to make, and if you pack it in a decorative tin, it makes a great gift! Happy Fathers Day, everybody!

I love to draw and paint and make photographs. That’s mostly what this blog is about. But I also love to cook. Since the general theme seems to be that I just like to make things, I think it is appropriate to include my love for cooking on my art blog. that’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

I made these cute little truffles the other day. This actually my second attempt; I had to try again after not being happy with my first batch. These truffles are flavored with peanut butter and rolled in crushed peanuts and cocoa powder.

homemade peanut butter chocolate truffles

homemade peanut butter chocolate truffles

I found a recipe online and modified it to make these. The original called for a mere three tablespoons of peanut butter, which I thought was not nearly enough. I’m not sure exactly what I used but it was probably almost double that paltry sum.  I also decided not to beat the ganache, but to simply pour it into a glass baking dish and refrigerate it for several hours. I also find that a melon baller is a better tool than an ice cream scoop for portioning and shaping the ganache (I don’t know who keeps around ice cream scoops that tiny – not me!) Before rolling the truffles in either peanuts or cocoa powder, I decided to give them a very thin coating of semi-sweet chocolate. I think the chocolate coating is nice because the peanuts stick to it better. Also, you can use the leftovers to make nice things like this:

salted chocolate dipped strawberries

salted chocolate dipped strawberries

I prefer the truffles coated in chopped peanuts, but truffles rolled in cocoa powder are the most traditional. I always make a few with a cocoa dusting, but I learned the hard way that it is very important to use the right kind of cocoa powder. Natural cocoa powder can be bitter and acidic when raw. Dutch process cocoa is much less bitter. To achieve a thin coating of cocoa I roll the truffles in the powder, let them harden a bit, and then dust off any excess cocoa with my fingers. They still tasted a bit too bitter for my taste, so the next time I make these I think I’ll augment the cocoa powder with some powdered sugar. Even the less bitter dutch process cocoa powder still needs something to round off the flavor a little bit.

The chocolate is important too, of course. Truffles are, after all, mostly just little balls of chocolate. I try to use a good quality semi-sweet baking chocolate. The nice thing about this recipe is that I always have a few ounces of chocolate leftover to nibble on.

All in all, I think my truffles were pretty successful, although not perfect. The texture was improved, I think, by the inclusion of the peanut butter in the ganache. The peanut butter flavor was not too overwhelming, either, which is perfect because truffles are supposed to be all about the chocolate. These truffles might be revisited again soon since I still don’t think I have all of the kinks out, but that’s fine with me. Practice makes perfect, and practicing truffles just means that I get to eat more truffles. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.