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Archive for the ‘sweets’ Category

We’re already a week into Lent, but I can’t get paczki out of my head. Where I grew up, paczki are king. EVERYONE eats them. But when I moved to DC, I was shocked to find out that paczki aren’t “a thing,” and that many of my friends had never heard of these delicious treats. Maybe you’re one of those people. Let me explain.

Y’all know about Fat Tuesday, right? The day before Lent begins, it’s full of delicious food and debauchery, a kind of last hurrah before 40 days of fasting. Paczki are like super-heavy donuts filled with delicious jelly. Traditionally they’re made with lard, and one paczek (that’s the singular) sits in your tummy like a lead weight of regret… and yet, you want more.

I am so lucky to have beautiful, talented, hilarious friends who also love to cook and eat amazing food. My dear friend Ania is Polish, and also misses the “real paczki” you can get from a Polish bakery (as opposed to the imposters you can find grocery stores across the country). So this year, she proposed we make out own.

We spent an afternoon together whipping these bad boys up with our adorable friend Meghan. Ania’s puppy, Buster, served as sous-chef.

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Here‘s the recipe we used. I will walk you through the steps.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C warm milk

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 C sugar

1 stick room-temperature butter

1 large room-temperature egg

3 large room-temperature egg yolks

1 TBSP brandy or rum (we used brandy)

1 tsp salt

4 1/2 to 5 C all-purpose flour

1 gallon oil for deep frying

Powdered sugar (optional)

Jam for filling (the recipe says optional but it is lying. Traditional filling is prune but you can use any good jam. We used strawberry and raspberry preserves from Bolton Orchards, near Ania’s parents’ house)

Optional needs: mimosas for enjoying while cooking. Meghan demonstrates:

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Here’s what you do:

Add your yeast to the warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside. Using either a stand mixer or your hand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, brandy and salt until it’s all mixed together.

Do that thing where you alternate dry-wet-dry-wet-dry with the flour and the milk-yeast mixture. Beat it all together until it’s super-smooth. The recipe said five minutes, but I say when the dough starts to climb your mixer, that’s a sure sign. Grandma Woho didn’t teach me bread for nothin’. 

Put the dough in a greased bowl. Cover it and let it rise until it’s doubled in size, then punch it down to rise again. Note: The recipe says you can try to cut the rise time down by nuking everything in the microwave. Maybe don’t do that, because when we did, I think we lost some of the air out of the dough.

Ania demonstrates more patience than I have:

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When your dough has risen twice (that’s what she said), roll it out or pat it down to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut little rounds with a biscuit cutter, or, like grandmas do, a drinking glass. Let them rise for about half an hour. Ania’s gran covers hers with a towel, so that’s what we did. While that’s happening, pour your oil into a deep pan and heat it to 350 degrees. When it’s time! Your oil is the right temperature, and your paczki have plumped up a bit, slide them into the oil. Flip them so you can see they’re uniformly browned, then pluck them out and let them drip-dry on paper towel.

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When they’re cool enough to handle, poke some holes into the sides of your paczki so you can pipe in the filling. We didn’t have pastry bags, so we used the very unscientific method of poking holes with a meat thermometer, then spooning in the filling. We dusted the whole thing with powdered sugar to make it delicious and cover any imperfections.

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So next year’s Paczki Day seems far off, but if you’re craving sweets, these little buggers are worth it. And if you can cook with your friends? So much the better.

-Lindsey

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So I was checking out the stats on our li’l blog here this morning. Jessica’s posts, overwhelmingly, are the ones people search for, particularly her take on Mark Bittman’s quinoa and her transformation from vegetarian to paleo. By and large, I can only assume that people come to my posts by way of “remy the rat cooking,” “cake ruined,” “homemade poop shit cake,” and a bizarre number of people researching blood in their cats’ stool (though, to be fair, Jessica has a cat, not me, so that might be her too). Whoever came to us via searching “pretty women,” thank you, you made my day.

So I’m not really a hit on the blogosphere! Doesn’t bother me, because a) I always forget to tag my posts, and b) I gotta do me, and “me” is baking. I’ve tried to shy away from it for the last few months, mostly because I don’t want to tempt myself with a whole cake in my house, and also because I’ve started seeing a personal trainer at my gym and I want to prove it’s worth the TOO MUCH MONEY. So I’m only baking when I have somewhere to bring my treats and leave them.

Vegan dinner club this month was Presidentially themed, so because I love Catholics and sluts equally, I thought I’d honor the Kennedy clan with a Boston cream pie. I adapted the recipe I found here, which was very, very thorough. I made my tweaks mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to deal with a few ingredients or steps. It seemed to be a hit last night, so you should absolutely try to make this at home. Fun fact: It does not “taste vegan,” i.e. of twigs and dirt. But nothing at vegan dinner club ever does. They’re champions.

For the cake, you’re going to need:

1 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 C cornstarch 

2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk (at room temperature)
1 C sugar
4 TBSP Earth Balance
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (you can go crazy here and add a little more; who am I to stop you?)
1 tsp almond extract (ditto!)
4 1/2 tsp of Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 6 TBSP room temp. water (equiv. of 3 eggs)
3 TBSP oil
Here’s what you do:
Preheat your oven to 350. The original recipe calls for a 9″ cake pan, and then cutting the cake in half, but why do that if you have two 8″ or 9″ cake pans? You’re a smart cookie. You tell me what’s easier. Whatever you decide, spray ’em both with Pam and set them to the side.
In one bowl, you’re going to sift your flour, baking powder and cornstarch together. In a different bowl, add your fake butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extract. (The original also calls for butter extract, and you know me, I frickin’ love my butter, but I was not spending five dollars on 1/8 of a teaspoon for this recipe. Deal.) Beat those guys together until they’re fluffy. Now add your fake eggs and oil and mix it up again. Now you’re going to do that thing your granny taught you: Put in a third of the flour, and half the milk, then mix, do it again, mix, add the last of the flour and mix until smooth. So simple. Pour into your pans, make sure everything’s smooth on top because you’ll be layering later, and pop in the oven. I checked at 30 minutes and they were nearly done. Things may differ in your oven.

This is not a "clean-as-you-go" kitchen.

While that’s happening, make your “custard” and your chocolate sauce (say it like Epic Meal Time!).
For your creme filling, you’ll need:
5 TBSP Earth Balance
5 TBSP shortening (I used butter-flavored Crisco. So vegan!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tbsp tapioca powder (it asked for soy powder, but naaaaah)
3 TBSP tofu sour cream
Just mix this. Yay!
For the chocolate sauce, you’ll need:
1/2 C light coconut milk (it asked for vegan unsweetened coconut creamer, but whatever)
1 TBSP light corn syrup
1 C vegan chocolate chips
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
So here’s what you do:
Put the coconut milk and corn syrup into a small pot, like your Paula Deen butter warmer, for instance. Let it cook until you start getting a few bubbles around the edges. Quick! Take it off the heat and add the rest of that shizz, and whisk until smooooooth as silver.
To put this delightful beast together, you may have to cut your one cake in half, but if you were the smartest cookie in the land, you’ll just pop your two cakes out of their pans. Pick the ugly one, and cover it with your faux custard. Then, pop the pretty one on top, and cover it in your delicious chocolate sauce. Let that business run all over the sides. We aren’t prim here. You can chill it or not, but you will not be able to stop yourself from eating it.

All that was left at the end. Yours will be prettier, I promise.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe I have some paczki to make. Details to come.
-Lindsey

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You guys know I’ve been a part of a Vegan Dinner Club basically since I moved to DC, right? We’ve been over this. It’s a pretty good crowd, and it’s a nice reminder that I don’t need SWEET, GLORIOUS MEATS in every meal. It’s also good to step away from my weekends, which, if I’m not passed out on my couch in front of a Chopped marathon, are usually pretty busy affairs. I think we’ve made a pretty solid argument for “food as communal event” on this blog, so I don’t need to bore you with those details.

That’s why I’m so bummed I missed tonight’s VDC. The theme was “Spreads, Schmears, and Dips,” and I had a hankerin’ for veggies and bread with STUFF on them like you wouldn’t believe. I even had a dish already made! Knock-off vegan Nutella. Sorry dudes and ladydudes, I could not share this Tupperware of what looks…. pretty gross actually.

Tragically, I had a boatload of stories that weren’t going to write themselves for work, so I had to stay home and eat this alone. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it’ll do. I modified the recipe from here.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C hazelnuts (I would toast these if I were you, to get some oils going. I didn’t, and I regret that decision.)

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 C powdered sugar (I used way more than this, because it wasn’t sweet enough for my taste. Maybe I just haven’t had Nutella in a long time?)

1/4 C powdered cocoa (Ditto)

3-4 TBSP veggie oil (a sweet almond oil would work nicely here, I think)

2 TBSP soy milk (again, use more here for your texture of choice)

What you’ll do:

Pour the hazelnuts (which you’ve toasted like a champion) into your food processor, and process the hell out of them. If you have a powerful food processor, ALLEGEDLY they’ll become liquid. Clearly, my food processor is not that good. Add the rest of your ingredients and kind of mess around with it until you’ve got a consistency you’re cool with. Mine was kind of like peanut butter, which is good for sticking your finger into the Tupperware and eating sans other food. It’s legit, OK?

In all seriousness, I wish I could have shared this with the vegans, if only for them to tell me where I went wrong. Until then, I guess my morning smoothies are  getting hazelier.

-Lindsey

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cat food for cat people

This post is dedicated to friend of the blog, Frank.

Hey Frankles.

Frank and I have been friends, basic besties, since the first day of Honors Colloquium in college. He complimented my Brand New shirt (it said “Mics are for singing, not swinging,” ooh, take that, Taking Back Sunday and other pop-hardcore bands of the early 2000s!), I asked him about his quotation book that he carried everywhere, and from then on we were pals. We took classes together and did projects in which we could incorporate Electic Six’s dancehall hit “Gay Bar.” We both moved out to DC and caused a commotion in our neighborhood. It’s been good times.

Frank is many things, but above all else, he is a cat man. So for his birthday this year (the big 2-7!), I did the only suitable thing. I made him a kitty litter cake. And I veganized almost all of it. Very nearly literally, eat shit, dear vegans.

You’ll need:

A box of chocolate cake mix and a box of yellow/vanilla cake mix. Make sure these are vegan if you hang with those dudes.

Two cans/bottles of your favorite soda. I chose diet root beer, but you do you.

One box vanilla instant pudding. Pick a vegan version or make your own with almond milk (it sets better than soy milk).

One package vanilla sandwich cookies. Fun fact! Oreos are vegan. Find the white ones.

Green food coloring.

Tootsie Rolls, the cat-turd-sized ones. Note: these aren’t vegan. If you’re serving some veg friends, I recommend “not burying the poop.” My sister says this is legit; her cat Popsicles doesn’t bury hers because “she’s too proud,” much like Prince’s father, I’d guess.

Here’s what you do:

Mix one cake mix with a can of pop, or as you may call it, “soda.” Pour into a cakepan and bake according to the directions. Repeat with the other cake mix and the other beverage. This is a neat trick I learned in Weight Watchers and if you live in a place where there’s Faygo, you have limitless cake-pop flavor combination possibilities.

While cakes are baking/cooling, make yourself that instant vanilla pudding and chill the hell out of it. Also, pour all of your sandwich cookies (except the few you will eat while preparing this monstrosity) into a food processor and make ’em crumbs! You can also do this with a zipper plastic bag and some aggression. Save between a quarter- and half-cup of the cookie crumbs and put those in a bowl. Sprinkle some food coloring there and stir with a fork. Set aside.

You should have a brand new, never-used kitty litter tray for this beast. Use your hands to rip apart your cakes and blend them with the pudding and about half of your regular-colored cookie crumbs. It will feel gross. Spread this out in the kitty litter tray. Sprinkle with the rest of the normal-colored cookie crumbs. Now take the ones you dyed green and sprinkle in little patches, like the litter has been “activated.” Gross!

Unwrap a few Tootsie Rolls and nuke ’em for, like, ten seconds. You want them solid but a little pliable so you can round the ends so it looks like cat poop. I’m so sorry I have to type that but it’s a real thing. Put them in the middle of the “activated” spots or, if you have nonvegans eating this thing, bury them for a little surprise. Serve the whole dang thing with one of those litter scoopers. Watch at least one guest dry heave. You’ll never feel prouder.

This is what my cake looked like before I gave it to Frank:

My sister, cat poop expert, said “Your poops look so good!”

This is what Frank looked like when I gave it to him:

Happy birthday, Frankles.

-Lindsey

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heatwave!

Sorry I haven’t been writing. Turns out I don’t like to bake when the heat index hits about 116 or so.

The only thing I’ve been doing with my time is making these:

Yeeeeah homemade pudding pop.

You’ll need:

Pudding mix

Milk (NOTE: Soy milk will not set! Almond milk doesn’t really either!)

popsicle molds

 

Make the pudding. Pour it into the molds. Freeze. Take out and enjoy while watching House of Cosbys.

You’re welcome.

 

And, in the words of college buddy and smartest dude in the room, Chris: “Vandellas speak louder than words.”

-Lindsey

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I like all things Southern. I like peaches and iced tea. My love of Paula Deen is well documented. I never met a fried chicken I didn’t want to devour. The drawl has been known to melt my cold Northern heart. But here’s a confession: I don’t think I like red velvet cake.

Now, my favorite bakery in DC is Red Velvet, but I always get the Summertime cupcake. I made a red velvet cake for my ladyfriend Kate Kreps, and she assured me it tasted right, but to me, something was off.

Lemme tell you, though, I don’t doubt Ms. Deen’s abilities, or Kate’s red velvet know-how. So here’s the cake I made.

You’ll need:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cocoa

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (NOTE: use the liquid kind. I started with a food color gel and that did not go over well)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

So, obviously, cream your eggs and sugar together. In a separate bowl, sift your flour, baking soda and cocoa. In yet another bowl, mix the other ingredients except for the buttermilk. Put your liquid mixture (bowl number three) in with the eggs and sugar and mix it up. Then mix in flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour. Pour into three greased round cake pans and bake for 25 minutes at 350.

At least two will look like this:

Let those puppies cool completely while you make your frosting.

You’ll need:

3/4 cup butter

12 ounces cream cheese

1.5 boxes powdered sugar, sifted

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Just, you know, mix ’em all up. Spread onto bottom cake, throw the second one on, ice again, throw the top one (the nicest looking one) on top. Cover all the cakes, tops and sides. I added 50% of the icing for you because the original recipe was not enough. Hide all topside imperfections with toasted pecans, like so:

 

 

So maybe this wasn’t my best cake ever. It still satisfied, and on a hot summer day, that and an iced tea is really all you can ask for.

-Lindsey

 

 

 

 

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For Fourth of July in the nation’s capital, we like to go all out. Sparklers. Fireworks. I personally sing “Rock Flag and Eagle” no less than a half-dozen times. Whatever. It’s America. I also make an American Jell-o poke cake.

This caused a lot of controversy in our group, mostly because I don’t think people understood the phrase “jell-o cake.” This is understandable if you didn’t grow up in a household where most recipes were modified from a) eastern European stink-bombs or b) the back of Kraft food packages. This one is probably the latter, but was also big in my dorm cafeteria. So easy.

You’ll need:

A box of white cake mix (seriously, it’s the Fourth of July; do you really want to be screwing around with a homemade cake? Do this one, and in forty minutes you’re in the pool. Go!)

One small (3 oz.) box of red Jell-o (I like strawberry)

1 C boiling water

1 container Cool Whip

Strawberries, blueberries (I also used white currants)

OK, so make the white cake as directed. This is the easiest part of a very easy recipe. When that thing is done, let it cool completely. When it’s done, use a fork (I used one of these guys) to poke holes in the top of your cake at random intervals. Mix the boiling water with the Jell-o and pour it over the top of your cake. Refrigerate, perhaps overnight.

Now you’re going to decorate. Take out your cake and ice it using the Cool Whip. Then, use your berries to create a stars and stripes pattern. I liked the white currants because they had a little star quality to them.

When you carry it to your barbecue, make sure you use toothpicks to keep the whipped topping and berries from getting messed up. Also, beware that this cake apparently entices older cab drivers to ask if you have a husband and would you like one. Ignore that guy! Get to the cookout and wow people with both the exterior and interior of your cake.

And don’t let youngsters hit you with snaps. No one wins when that happens, especially America.

-Lindsey

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