January 29, 2007

"Let's hit up Magnolia and mack on some cupcakes!"

I am not a person who normally likes desserts. Hand me something salty or cheesy and I am in heaven. I do have one exception though - Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Icing.

My mother-in-law made this dreamy dessert for my husband's birthday last year and I now "love those cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling". I think I crammed 2 in my mouth before the evening was over. The rest of them did not last the week in our house. The creamy vanilla taste is amazing!

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy Allysa Torey, More From Magnolia: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen, Simon and Schuster, 2004

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing: Vanilla Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream:

The vanilla buttercream we use at the bakery is technically not a buttercream but actually an old-fashioned confectioners' sugar and butter frosting. Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.

On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.

If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: enough for 2 dozen cupcakes

January 20, 2007

Food Music?

To create the perfect mood for a dinner party, music is essential. Lately I have been thinking of "food" as a theme for music.

I browsed my music library and was able to come up with a few tunes that can be categorised into two sections:

1. Bands/Singers that are named after food-

Vanilla Ice, The Temptations, Cake, Pearl Jam, Salt & Pepa, Buffalo Tom, Fiona Apple

2. Songs that are named after food-

Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young, also covered by Stone Roses

Gin & Juice - Snoop

Tangerine - The Flaming Lips

The Seed - Roots

Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice, great cover by Ben Kweller

Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard

Pina Colada Song - Rupert Holmes

Lollipop - Chordettes

Strawberry Fields - The Beatles

Scarborough Fair (Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme) - Simon & Garfunkel

This is obviously not a complete list so please post any ideas that you might have.

January 9, 2007

Romantic Meals

My friend Dana and I have decided to collaborate on a catering service. We will be putting out a pamphlet to advertise a romantic evening for two which would include: a choice of one esthetics service (provided by Dana) and an appetizer, main dish and dessert (provided by moi).

Here are some examples of the menu choices.

1. Grilled Onion, Sweet Potato and Provolone Quesadillas
Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa and Ginger Snow Peas
Cranberry Apricot Bread Pudding

2. Gyoza (Japanese Dumplings)
Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice and Sweet Peas
Grilled Sugared Rum Pineapple

3. Herbed Stuffed Mushrooms
Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) and Greek Salad
Black Forest Waffles

4. Cranberry Chutney Brie with Crackers
Maple Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Mashed Potatoes
Chocolate Fondue with Fresh Fruit and Marshmallows

5. Cheesy Artichoke Dip with Baguette Chips
Cranberry Glazed Chicken with Sage Sweet Potato Mash
Granola Stuffed Apples