About aribner

Mix 3 parts sweet-loving dinosaur with 1 part scant college student and you get the hungry dino.

Irish Soda Bread Scones

Here’s to some attempt of consistency in my posting. Maybe. I seem to have such a hard time maintaining one blog, so I figured I might as well try two and see if it goes any better. We have a summer blog. And by we, I mean to save The Hive Mind. Check it out… it’s pretty fun and definitely a little more that creepy at times.

To what we’re here for: food. Reid and I wanted to be the first ones to bake in the apartment, so we conveniently picked a time when Olivia was working and Abbey was out fo the state and went crazy. Not too crazy, mind you. Just a little crazy. Actually, not really all that crazy at all.

We’d been discussing making both Irish Soda Bread and Scones, and The Great Goddess Deb has just the answer for us. We were all set to go, and then we ran into a couple roadblocks. Being the professionals (read: lazy college students) we are, we chose to substitute ingredients rather than go to the store to get new ones. Cream of tartar was too expensive—baking powder. Buttermilk went bad—milk and lemon. No raisins—craisins. No cake flour (and no cornstarch to make our own)—pretend it just asks for all purpose.

In short, cooking in a new kitchen is so much harder when you don’t have things stockpiled away and when you can’t steal things from your housemates, but creative license gets you so much further than petty theft. Not really, but you get to have fun pretending you know what you’re doing.

Irish Soda Bread Scones
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

Yields 10 drop scones

4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (depending on stickiness)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon course kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 tablespoons softened, 1 tablespoon melted)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or, make your own)
1 egg
1 cup currants or raisins

Heat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the upper-middle position. Whisk dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt) in a large bowl. Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the wet ingredients (buttermilk and egg) and raisins, and mix with your hands until the dough just begins to come together. Knead until the dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, but not too sticky.

Drop scones onto greased cookie sheet (should be able to make 10 sizable scones). Bake about 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Scones should be golden brown a skewer should come out clean. Remove from the oven and brush with butter before cooling to room temperature. Serve with butter and jam, and eat on day one.

Peanut Butter & Co… & <3

Here’s some news: I love peanut butter. I may have mentioned that once or twice in other posts (it’s interesting to note that of the six categories I have saved, peanut butter is one of them).

When Michelle mentioned to me that there was a place called Peanut Butter & Co. around Washington Square Park in NY, I thought I should visit. Then she sent me the website, and when I saw its url was ilovepeanutbutter.com, I knew for sure that I had to visit. They had nearly every kind of sandwich that might ever involve peanut butter, including quite a few that a normal person would probably never dream up.

Not only that, they make about 8 types of peanut butter fresh in house. Being the PB connoisseur that I am, I passed on a sandwich that would only allow me a single kind of peanut butter and opted for the sampler platter. Eight kinds of peanut butter, crackers, carrots, celery, and apples. Amazing.

Let’s see if I can name the eight: smooth, crunchy, dark chocolate, spicy, white chocolate, maple, honey, and cinnamon raisin. Wow. I impress myself.

Good choice and definitely recommend going there or trying their peanut butters if you can find them in the store. Just found the white chocolate, dark chocolate, and honey ones in a supermarket in Breckenridge, CO. The honey one thoroughly impressed my family. SCORE.

A dditional note: Do not try to eat 14 oz peanut butter in 24 hours. Just don’t.

Welcome Back: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Pie

So I’ve been a long time absent. Sorry! As I recall, a certain Morsel and/or Chip was supposed to be on my case about uploading. She didn’t update much, either, but she doesn’t have a kitchen in which to bake (although that’s changing as she begins to steal other people’s kitchens… or just store baking ingredients in them).

This absence isn’t so much for my lack of baking as it is my laziness how busy I am. I’ll try to catch up with everything soon, because there are definitely a few cakes to post (keep an eye out for a choco raspberry kahlua cake that’s reasonably easy and delicious), some cookies, and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten. Maybe if I’m lucky, I can get a guest post about Full House’s award-winning chocolate almond caramel crunch cake from Reid. Maybe.

This one is something I made right after I got back to school for someone’s birthday. I’ve made it once before for my sister’s birthday, and it’s an easy go-to for anyone who loves yummy, warm, gooey cookies. The base recipe is quite simple and then you can do whatever you want with it (I’ve done both ganache and whipped cream).

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Cake (Adapted from and inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s “Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies”)

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) pieces
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
1ish cup peanut butter (to taste)

Preheat oven to 300F (150C). Generously oil a 9in springform pan.

Beat the sugars and butters together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.

Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Add in the chocolate chips (and peanut butter chips if you want!), then finally 3/4-1 cup peanut butter, depending on how much you love the magical substance.

Spread evenly in springform pan and bake in middle of oven about 25-30 minutes until edges brown and middle springs back slightly to the touch.

Add either chocolate ganache (see below) or whipped cream, and chill.

Semisweet Ganache

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cups heavy cream

1. Place chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof mixing bowl.

2. Bring heavy cream to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour cream onto chocolate chips and allow to sit for five minutes. Mix with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted.

3. Mix with immersion blender until shiny and smooth.

The Village Cup: Jericho, VT

Continue food tourism. Important rule: if goodbye dinners and football conflict, football should generally win, especially if it equals twice the food. Thus: goodbye brunch followed by an afternoon of football with Chinese food. Win-win situation, really.

Olivia suggested The Village Cup, which is reasonably near her house and is very Wesleyan. Set in what could pass for an old barn from the inside with large windows overlooking a wooded area, wood floors, and wood tables (are we sensing a theme?) the menu had markings for vegetarian dishes and dishes with Vermont-made products. Little surprise to anyone, the majority of the menu was vegetarian and all but one dish had Vermont products. There was a whole tea menu (though mine came over-steeped, which made me mildly sad… #teasnob) and a variety of other fun barista drinks, as well as lots of breakfast pastries and a little wine bar.

Four of the seven of us ordered the Chef’s Special Eggs Benedict (as did a huge number of others in the restaurant), which is really Eggs Florentine (spinach instead of meat) plus sun-dried tomatos and artichoke hearts served on either an english muffin or a croissant (both pictured), which was a fun idea… expect a (near) future post about my adventures making a similar dish with homemade croissants and hollandaise.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Ricotta Cake

There are a few challenges I won’t turn down. One of them is “well, we have a ton of ricotta… unless you happen to have a recipe for a ricotta cake you’ve been wanting to make.” Well, lucky for me, Extraordinary Cakes happens to have an amazing ricotta cake. For Olivia’s benefit, I pretended to make it mildly less bad for you. That and I halved the recipe. And made some things up. Don’t calculate the calories, please.

Blueberry Ricotta Cake (Passion Fruit Ricotta Cake adapted generously from Extraordinary Cakes)

Whole Wheat Ricotta Cake

1 tbsp Country Crock Light buttery spread, melted but not hot
3 large eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup skim-milk ricotta
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour*
1/2 tbsp baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 300. Grease 6in x 2in round cake pan with melted butter and line the bottom with parchment round.

2. Whip together eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until it is very thick and falls in heavy ribbons, about seven minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, ricotta, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add to mixer.

4. Mix together flours and baking powder. Add to the batter, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Be careful not to overmix.

5. Pour the batter into prepared pan and place on a rack in the center of the oven. Bake about 60 minutes, until cake is golden brown and a center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely, then remove from pan and wrap in plastic. Chill until ready to use.

*I would use whole wheat pastry flour and cut down to 2/3 cup next time, as the resulting cake was a little denser than it should have been.

Blueberry Puree

1 cup blueberries (frozen is fine – thaw as necessary)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Mix blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in food processor.

2. Strain through fine-mesh sieve,

Blueberry Simple Syrup

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp blueberry puree

1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat. Bring to boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and stir in blueberry puree.

Blueberry Whipped Cream

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup blueberry puree

1. Mix cream and sugar to form stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold blueberry puree into whipped cream until combined.

Assembly

1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. If cake is frozen, allow to thaw. Cut off top 1/4″ cake with long serrated knife to even top as necessary. Slice the remaining cake into two equal layers.

3. Using a pastry brush, moisten the bottom cake layer with 1/2 of the simple syrup. Spread 1/4 of the whipped cream over the syrup.

4. Top with the second layer, and brush with remaining syrup. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill.

5. Break top of the cake (the pieces you didn’t eat) into small chunks. Place on baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes, until dry.

6. Chop resulting toasted cake into small crumbs in food processor.

7. Use remaining whipped cream to cover top and sides of cake. Press toasted cake crumbs into sides of cake.

8. Serve slightly chilled.

Apple Tart

If we’re going to have conversations about cooking legends and my various cooking heros, we could be talking for an awfully long time. If we continue this conversation to baking legends, we’d be talking even longer. I think one Ina Garten would fit into both categories.

Abbey just got Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics and we decided we had to try something from it. Thus, Apple Tarts. Very buttery. Highly delicious.

Apple Tarts (adapted barely from The Barefoot Contessa)

For the pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the apples:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, small diced
  • 1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons spiced rum

Directions

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

San Antonio

Everyone has expensive hobbies, and some of us have more than our fair share. Some people own a horse, others collect antiques, and still others collect fancy cars or play a lot of video games. I seem to have a couple very expensive habits: photography and food tourism. Here’s a compilation of the two.

Photos include Urban Tacos (guacamole, margarita, tacos), Floore’s Dance Hall, Rudy’s BBQ (“Worst BBQ in Texas”), Viking Cake (made in compilation with Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot Miso Soup, and a yellow mole from a Rick Bayless cookbook, neither pictured), local Bleu Cheese and crostini from the original Whole Foods in Austin, Zucchini Fries from La Enoteca in Austin (and other amazing food, not pictured), baked goods from the CIA bakery, Spinach and Brussels Sprouts Pasta (hoping for a guest post from Abbey?), and an Apple Tart (a buttery Ina Garten masterpiece).