Friday, January 28, 2011

Sugared Cinema: Pretty in Pink (1986)

You know you're talking like that just because I'm going out with Blane. 

Blane?  His name is Blane?!  That's a major appliance, that's not a name! 

(I know, I thought it was spelled "Blaine", too.)

Out of all of John Hughes' films, I connected most with Pretty in Pink.  That movie had deep, heart-to-heart conversations with my adolescence and it took my emotions on a 96 minute joyride in Andie's pink VW Karmann Ghia. 

While I typically side with the funny/quirky guy (especially one who can move to Otis Redding), I really wanted things to work out with Blane.  Andrew McCarthy was one of my earliest crushes, brought on by Pretty in Pink and fueled by Less Than Zero.  It came to a screeching halt after Weekend at Bernie's but I will always have a soft spot for Blane and his full, feathered hair.

Andie and Blane's story closely parallels today's unconventional recipe.  Two people (or ingredients) from different ends of the social (or culinary) spectrum, come together to form a relationship (or cookie.)  Their common bond?  Love (or oatmeal.)

Oatmeal Stout Oatmeal Cookies
Original recipe by Wayne Harley Brachman
Makes 2 dozen

 Here's what you'll need:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats (not the instant kind)
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup oatmeal stout (I used Southern Tier Oat)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or use parchment paper to line a few baking sheets.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, baking soda and oatmeal.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars until combined.

Add the egg and beat well.

On medium-high, beat in the stout and vanilla.

On low, gradually add the flour mix until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

 Roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place them a few inches apart on the baking sheets.

If your dough is too soft to work with, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are nicely browned.

Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

So, I gotta say:  these cookies are SUPER tasty.  Crisp outside and a dense, chewy center.  The taste of the stout is pretty subtle so if you want a more pronounced stout flavor (you lush), try adding more beer (and upping the flour and oatmeal amounts) or using a roastier stout.

I bet you thought I was going to make some sort of pink-hued confection, didn't you?

Nobody pulls off pink like Andie.

Happy Friday.
(Cue New Order - Thieves Like Us.  Instrumental version.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm a little cupcake.

I'm a little cupcake, tiny and hip
here is Cinnamon...

...and Mint Chocolate Chip.

when you get a box of me
you will flip
more temptation than the Vegas strip.

My uncle (whose praises I will be publicly singing at some point after February 5th) sent a few boxes of these sweet little bebes back with my sister after her recent visit with him in NYC.  He picked them up from Baked By Melissa, a NY bakery that specializes in miniature stuffed cupcakes.

Opening the box was like walking into a room full of sleeping kittens.  They were all just so perfect and adorable.  Which one should we pick up first?  Oh, I couldn't possibly disturb them.  Not when they look so peaceful.  Fine, let's eat one.

A menu came with the box, with descriptions of each cupcake.  The cuteness just kept piling up.

Mike and I sat down with our treasures, read about each cupcake and slowly made our way through the dozen.  In one sitting.  One 15-minute sitting.

Hey now.  Guilt is nonexistent when it comes to Lilliputianized cupcakes.

With the exception of the Red Velvet (which was a smidge dry), the cupcakes were surprisingly moist - not an easy feat to pull off when working with cakes on such a small scale.  The fillings are a great addition and really help up the "oomph" factor (très important when you're paying a buck a bite.)

The most obvious plus, of course, is their size.  Forcing me to settle on one or two cupcake flavors is enough to reduce me to angry tears, particularly during a certain window of time each month.  These quarter-sized cupcakes give you (or your diet or your waistband) room to sample more flavors.  Chocolate Chip Pancake, S'mores, Cookies & Cream...collect them all!

Fact:  Baked By Melissa cupcakes are the new Lay's potato chips.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sugared Cinema: Resident Evil (2002)

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Umbrella Corporation had become the largest commercial entity in the United States.  Nine out of every ten homes contain its products.  Its political and financial influence is felt everywhere.  In public, it is the world's leading supplier of computer technology, medical products, and healthcare.  Unknown, even to its own employees, its massive profits are generated by military technology, genetic experimentation and viral weaponry.

Quick flashback:

It's 1998.  Berry White and his two best friends, Tony and Allen, are high school juniors by day, aspiring drum and bass djs by night.  And as every trio of vinyl-spinning comrades knows, a dj crew isn't a proper dj crew without a name.  One with meaning.  One based on a video game.

And thus...Resident Evol was born.

Much has changed in the last 13 years.  Tony lives in Germany with his wife, Vera, and their sweet little boy, Alex.  Allen is a kickass graphic designer (the guy behind the header you see up top) with an equally kickass wife, Jaimie.  Mike is pursuing a career in beer with the support of his wife (who has the brewbelly to prove it.)  But no matter where life takes them, Resident Evol will live forever in their hearts.

And on their ankles.

Alright, let's get to baking.  Alice (the hot, gun-toting heroine who also happens to be played by Mike's favorite source of celebrity eye candy, Milla Jovovich) needs our help bringing down the Hive.

Resident Evil Cookies

rolled sugar cookie dough
 3 batches of royal icing (black, white, red)

To get the octagonal shape, I printed and cut out the Umbrella logo.

On rolled sugar cookie dough, trace around the template with a sharp knife or Exacto knife.

Trim any excess dough from the cookie.

Bake and cool the cookies.

Once cool, pipe the outline using black royal icing.  I found that making an "X" then piping in the remaining lines from center to point was the easiest method.

Flood the segments, alternating with red and white royal icing.

Allow to dry for a few hours before attempting to escape.

 Will you heed the Red Queen's warnings?

 Just one bite, one crumb from these cookies is sufficient.  And then, you become one of them.

Enjoy your weekend...if you dare.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Choose Your Own Biscotti.

Unless you have some sort of weird aversion to delicious crunchy things, I think it's safe to say that there's a biscotti out there for everyone.  It's such an easy, laid back, "hey, whatever man" treat.  You can add as many or as few ingredients as you want, depending on your degree of creativity (or laziness.)

Let's take a look at the possibilities (feel free to chime in):

dried cranberries
mini chocolate chips
dried mango
espresso powder
crack rocks
flax seed
peanut butter

In the words of Black Sheep:  the choice is yours.

To continue with the tropical kick I've been on as of late, I decided to go with toasted coconut and macadamia nuts for add-ins.  Dried pineapple would have rounded it out perfectly but I didn't have any on hand.  Next time, definitely.

Toasted Coconut and Macadamia Nut Biscotti
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Makes about 2 dozen biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted*
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Optional:  white chocolate for drizzling

*some prefer toasting coconut in the oven but I just do it on the stove.  Spread an even layer in a pan set over medium heat and stir constantly until it starts to brown.  Just keep an eye it - it can burn pretty quickly.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, butter and salt in a large bowl until well mixed.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Mix in vanilla.

Add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Stir in the coconut and macadamia nuts using a sturdy spoon or spatula.

"Sturdy" being the operative word here.

Form the dough into a log about 12-inches long and 4-5 inches wide. 

Slide it into the oven and let it bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

 Let it cool for 30 minutes.

Carefully transfer the log to a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, cut into 3/4 inch-thick slices.  I find that short sawing motions make this step a little easier and keeps the dough from crumbling.

Place the biscotti back onto the baking sheet.

Let them bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden(er) brown.  Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt some white chocolate and drizzle over the biscotti (I left half of them naked.)  As bizarro as it sounds, I occasionally crave them sans chocolate. 

Crispety.  Crunchety.  And better than a Butterfinger, if you ask me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Garden Isle (and a winner!)

So.  Kauai.  Did I mention I'm moving there?

A few minor details still need to be ironed out (a job, a place to live, etc.) but I think once I let Berry White in on the plan to completely uproot our lives, things will start to fall into place.

Unfortunately, Mike wasn't able to make it on the trip but luckily, he was able to experience it in the next best way:  through photos, stories and a suitcase stuffed with island grubbery.  Because as we all know, the food is almost always the best part of a vacation.

The 2nd day in, we went to visit my Auntie Evelyn and my cousin Ryan.  It had been about 17 years since I last visited and I forgot how beautiful the view was from their porch.

Auntie Evelyn took us into my uncle's garden and it was thriving with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, flowers and lush greenery.  My Uncle Sho passed away two years ago and she and Ryan have been taking care of the garden ever since.  I swear, he could put anyone's green thumb to shame.

Auntie Evelyn gave us plastic grocery bags to fill up with whatever we wanted.  It was like being in a candy store.  A healthy, tropical candy store.

We took the bags back "home" with us to enjoy with breakfast throughout the week.

Breakfast being:

If you go to a McDonald's in Hawaii and order a Big Breakfast, it comes with scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage and rice.  Had there been time for me to hit one up, I would have broken my almost one year streak of being McDonald's-free in a heartbeat.

My mom wanted to score a box of breakfast/lunch goodies from the Menehune Food Mart.  It looks like your average convenience store but they're known for their local fare, especially their fresh manju (a soft rice/flour confection filled with sweet azuki bean paste.)  They sell out quick so if you snooze, you lose, bruddah.

Goteborg sausage and rice.

 Manapua (steamed pork bun.)

 Spam musubi.

Loooove.  Spam haters, hate on.

The thing my sisters and I were looking forward to most on the trip (food-wise, that is) was to making a stop at Sueoka's, a small grocery store with a snack shop on the side.  Ever since we were kids, it's been our favorite place to eat on the island.

They pile all of the food into a plain cardboard box top.  Nothing fancy - just cheap, ridiculously yummy beach food.

And it's the same thing every single time:  teriburgers.

Teriyaki-marinated steak, lettuce and thousand-island dressing on a bun.  I could eat one of those jokers every. single. day.  Three times a day, even.

Of course, it wouldn't be a proper trip without beer.  Good, can't-get-this-stuff-at-home beer.

I'd been dying to try Maui Brewing Co. CoCoNut Porter long before the trip.  Similar to a stout, it's bold, roasty and brewed with toasted coconut.  Amazing beer.

Some of the mainland states carry Maui Brewing Co. but Virginia's not one of them.  Bummer.

I made sure to get my fill.

If you're in need of a quick, 10 minute mental break, feel free to check out the rest of the pics on my Flickr page.  If you're trying to figure out where to go on your next vacation or are debating which Hawaiian island you want to visit, the pics taken from the helicopter should help make that decision a little easier.

And now (I feel like the opening band just performed and I'm getting ready to announce the headliner), it's time for one lucky reader to win a Tassimo T20 Brewbot.


Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-01-14 06:08:24 UTC

 erinmakesitwork said...
Breakfast...definitely the best thing about mornings. Breakfast and desserts tie as my favorite food groups of all time. 
Congratulations Erin!  Email your name and address to threebakingsheets [at] yahoo [dot] com and we'll get your Brewbot sent out to you.  Enjoy your new toy!

A huge thanks to all who entered - I loved reading all of your responses.  Whether it's your pets, smooches from the kids, a morning jog, turning on some classical music, that first piping hot mug of coffee or simply a few peaceful minutes to yourself, there's something to make every morning a little more bearable.

Have a kick ass weekend, everyone.

(Next week:  the return of Sugared Cinema.)