Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rembrandt's Wholesome Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

Happy Pancake Day! Not to be confused with National Pancake Day, sponsored by IHOP, where you get a free stack of pancakes. No, it’s Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras’ less risqué and over the top cousin, where you load up on pancakes instead of booze and beads. Shrove Tuesday precedes Ashe Wednesday and like Mardi Gras, symbolizes the last day to indulge before the fasting period of lent begins. 

I honestly didn’t know much about celebrating Shrove Tuesday until a business trip to London a few years ago happened to fall over the holiday, and my British colleagues quickly filled me in. Today people celebrate all over the UK, Canada and Australia by indulging in pancakes all day long - truly my kind of holiday! These are not the super fluffy, sweet and decadent pancakes of American breakfasts, but instead a thinner version with sweet or savory fillings, much like a crepe. I guess that makes it a tad more wholesome, right? I’ll take any excuse to chow down over a tall stack for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

In honor of the holiday, I made Zoe Nathan's amazing recipe for hearty pancakes full of whole grains and protein. Even though they are not as thin as their British counterparts, their healthy contents make them appropriate for any meal of the day. Today or any day! 

Rembrandt, Pancake Woman, etching, 1635

Rembrandt’s popular 1635 etching, Pancake Woman, features an elderly woman serving pancakes to a crowd, many of which look like they are already stuffed from overindulging. At the bottom of the picture, a small dog tries to steal a pancake from a child. Another figure is shown to the right, either passed out from eating too much or about to. Here Rembrandt is warning the viewer not to be too glutinous. 

For a more politically-relevant nod to pancake day, check out the work of Dan Lacey, the self-proclaimed “painter of pancakes.”

Dan Lacey, Smiling Bernie Sanders, 2016 (via here)

Dan Lacey, Triple Hillary, 2015 (via here)

Brown Rice Quinoa Pancakes
Very slightly adapted from Huckleberry
Makes about 15 pancakes
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat or all purpose flour
  • 5 T. cornmeal
  • 2 T. rolled oats
  • 1 T. flaxseed meal
  • 2 T. chia seeds
  • 1 T. millet
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. brown rice, cooked
  • 1/2 c. quinoa, cooked
  • coconut oil, for cooking
Combine the flour, cornmeal, oats, flaxseed, chia seeds, millet, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs and add the buttermilk and melted butter. Whisk until incorporated. Add the wet mix to the dry and stir in the brown rice and quinoa. 

Heat a large skillet over a medium flame and evenly coat it with a thin layer of coconut oil. When the pan is hot enough (dropping a few drops of water on the pan and waiting for it to hiss will let you know!) use an ice cream scoop to drop batter on by the 1/4 cup-fulls. Wait for tiny bubbles to form around the edges of the pancake, about 2-3 minutes, and flip. Cook for another 2 minutes and serve immediately. Top with butter, maple syrup or peanut butter. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Goya's Cinnamon Date Brioche Buns

Hello from my cozy apartment, where I have been holed up all weekend because of this blizzard. This huge snow really made me lazy, and there is nothing better than lazing about and eating gooey homemade cinnamon buns, am I right?

These cinnamon buns are special for a couple of reasons. The dough is brioche, for starters. Then there’s the actual filling: dates, sugar, cinnamon and butter! Get prepared to freak out over these buns! In all honesty, if you haven’t recently been graced with 2 feet of snow, you might just want to take a personal day and get these in the oven. I’ll leave that up to you! 

The dates are the highlight of these buns, which brings me to two highlights from Francisco Goya’s career, which also focus on specific dates: The Second of May, 1808 and The Third of May, 1808 (both painted in 1814). Francisco Goya y Lucientes is probably the most important Spanish Romantic artist of the late 18th century/early 19th century. Goya got his start as a portrait painter for the Spanish royal family under Charles III, and enjoyed success as an in-demand court artist. By the 1790s, Goya’s work had taken a darker tone to match the political climate brewing around him. In early May of 1808 Napoleon’s army invaded Spain, which caused an intense and vicious uprising in Madrid’s city center. 

The Second of May depicts the bloody street fighting between the French guards and Spanish rioters. The central figure is a Muslim French guard on a horse, wielding a knife at attacking rebels. Men are dying and killing all around him, and the ground beneath the horses is scattered with bodies. 

Francisco Goya, The Second of May 1808, painted in 1814, oil on canvas
Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808, painted in 1814, oil on canvas

The Third of May is just as dramatic - showing the bloody capture of Spanish rebels the next day. A group of crying, emotional rebels have been led through the night to a spot outside of the city center, where they will be executed by a French firing squad. Their humility is dramatic, especially the central figure dressed in white and yellow, who extends his arms, referencing the stigmata.

Michael and I saw these two works (along with tons of others by Goya) when we visited the Prado Museum while in Madrid on our honeymoon. It was amazing - we roamed the museum for hours, and left happy and exhausted. 

Cinnamon Date Brioche Buns
Yield: 12 buns

Brioche dough
  • 3/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 2 t. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 t.  salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
Mix the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey and butter in a large glass bowl. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the flours until just combined. Cover and let sit in a warm spot in your kitchen for 2 hours. 

On a lightly floured surface, fold the dough over onto itself 3 or 4 times. Let the dough sit in a ball while you mix together the filling. 

Date filling:
  • 8 Medjool dates
  • 1 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes. Combine the dates, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and mix until the filling is a consistent paste. 

Re-flour the surface you are using, and roll the dough out until you have a large, 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Spoon the filling out evenly over the dough, and then roll the dough until you have a long tube. Using a piece of dental floss (remember this?), swiftly cut 12 equal pieces. 

Spray a 9x13 inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray and gently arrange the 12 buns inside. Let rest for another 2 hours, until the buns have risen and are deliciously squished together in the pan. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and bake for about 22-25 minutes, until they are lightly golden on top. Let them cool for 10 minutes and slather in icing!

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1-2 T. milk

Beat the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and milk and mix until combined. Use generously! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Custer's Last Cake

Happy New Year! Every January brings promises of new workout routines and healthy diets, and here I am trying to convince you to bake a cake! 

It’s not just any cake - this cake is actually pretty different from the treats I tend to be attracted to; more light and fluffy than dense and rich, this cake is also missing frosting! A light dusting of powdered sugar is really all this simple cake needs, and that makes it pretty New Year’s diet-friendly! :)

This cake goes well with a large helping of Andy Warhol (as well as ice cream, but that part is obvious!), specifically his screenprint of General George Custer from his 1986 Cowboys and Indians series. Andy Warhol was one of the most popular and prolific American artists to ever exist. His work is incredibly diverse - he worked in video, painting, illustration and screenprinting. Screenprints, like this one of General Custer, were carefully constructed illusions; a commentary on today’s mass-produced world. 
Andy Warhol, General Custer, 1986, color screenprint, numbered edition from Cowboys and Indians (image via Christie's)

Here Warhol captures the mythical stature of Custer, a major American hero best known for his “last stand.” He is shown in profile, arms crossed, and all decked out in his army uniform. The use of color - especially the red, yellow, navy are stark and deliberate, a further emphasis on his strong, stoic image. The Cowboys and Indians series is a set of 10 screenprints that pay homage to the American West. Warhol pays tribute to a more rugged America, with his images of Geronimo, Annie Oakley, John Wayne and others.

If Custer were still standing I’m sure he would be just as into this cake as I am. Hah! 

Custard Cake
Yield: 16 squares
Adapted from white on rice couple

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 c. milk, lukewarm
  • 4 eggs, separated 
  • 4 drops vinegar
  • 1 1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar + extra for dusting
  • 1 T. water
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • dash vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325ºF and lightly grease a square 8x8 inch baking pan. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the egg whites and vinegar into stiff white peaks - this should take a couple of minutes. Pour the egg whites into a small bowl, and set aside. Again in the stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and confectioner’s sugar for about a minute. Add the melted butter and water, and mix for another couple of minutes. Slowly add in the flour until combined in the dough, followed by the milk and vanilla. Fold in the fluffy egg whites with a rubber spatula, and only stir until mixed through - you want to be gentle with this batter! Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for about 50 minutes-1 hour, depending on your oven. The cake will be cooked through and lightly toasted on top. Let the cake cool completely before you sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Pies and Thighs

Happy Thanksgiving! I am staycation-ing in Brooklyn and thoroughly enjoying the cozy lounging I plan to do this weekend - it’s really gotten cold outside! Being at home is also giving me the chance to bake up a storm, and I recently made these cookies, which are an excellent addition to your dessert table - tonight, or any night. 

These pie cookies are incredibly cute, and go perfectly with the work of one of my favorite artists, Fernando Botero. The combination = pies and thighs! Botero’s very distinct style is characterized by round, inflated forms and bright, precise colors. Botero was greatly inspired by earlier masters, and he made his own versions of their masterpieces. 

Fernando Botero, After the Arnolfini Van Eyck, oil on canvas, 1978

In both After the Arnolfini Van Eyck (1978) and The Arnolfini (After Van Eyck) (1997), Botero clearly references Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, one of the most famous (and my favorite) paintings in the world. One of the main differences between the two portraits is Botero’s treatment of the background. In the earlier version, the figures take up more space - especially the groom’s hat! Starting in the 1980s, many of Botero’s portraits emphasized the background and picture environment more, and in these two works it is a very subtle difference. Both pictures include all the same elements and details - the ornate red bed, shoes on the floor, dog, mirror with the reflection, the window and windowsill, and the same costumes on the bride and groom. However, the earlier version is a little less defined and darker than the 1997 version, which is lighter, brighter, and more established. 

Fernando Botero, The Arnolfini (After Van Eyck), oil on canvas, 1997

These cookies are also light, bright and pretty clearly adorable slices of pie, so start letting your butter get to room temperature and get to baking!

Pumpkin Pie-esque Sugar Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen medium/large cookies
Adapted from You Can't Judge a Cookie by Its Cutter

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c. + 2 T. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients through the salt, and set aside. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar for a couple of minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly. Add the dry mixture in 2 additions - add 1/2 first, mix and scrape the bowl, then add the second 1/2. Mix dough until combined and divide into two equal discs. Wrap both in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and remove one disc of dough at a time. Lightly flour your workspace, and gently roll the dough out thin using a floured rolling pin. Cut your cookie shapes out. I used one shaped like a pie slice (similar here). Space out on a parchment or silicone mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes. You want the cookies to brown slightly around the edges. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before icing.

Royal Icing with Egg Whites
Makes about 2 c. - enough to ice all your cookies
  • 5 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 7 T. liquid egg whites
  • 1/2 t. lemon juice
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • food coloring in desired colors
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine confectioner’s sugar and egg whites and mix until smooth. add in the lemon juice, mix, add the vanilla, and mix. Beat for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy and smooth. Divide into smaller bowls and beat in food coloring. 

To decorate:

Fit a plastic pastry bag with a thin metal tip and spoon in the icing. Feel free to decorate as much or as little as you want. I was super inspired by Patti Paige’s awesome book You Can’t Judge a Cookie by It’s Cutter, and I tried my best outlined, decorated cookie. To do this on the pie slice cookie, I started by outlining the entire cookie in light yellow icing. I then filled the top in, to mimic a buttery top crust. Fill the rectangular “pie-filling” with whatever icing you want. I chose orange to make my cookies pumpkin pie-eque, but you could also do a purple-y blue for blueberry pie or a bright red for cherry pie. The pie’s the limit!

Let the icing set for at least an hour before eating, preferably a few hours.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope you enjoy a day of food and family, with these cookies on your dessert table!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Manet’s Barmaid’s (Slutty) Brownies

When first working on this post, I honestly felt a little guilty about using "slutty" brownies as a reference to a work by the late, great Édouard Manet. Turns out Manet, the genius French Realist and Impressionist painter, died of pretty embarrassing circumstances - syphilis and gangrene when he was 51. Yikes! Now I feel slightly less guilty and inappropriate!

Edouard Manet, Self-Portrait, oil on canvas, c. 1878

These brownies are out of this world - a bit like my admiration for this beautiful painting, which was Manet’s last major work. Exhibited in the 1882 Paris salon, A Bar at the Folies-Bergére depicts a barmaid, who is also a prostitute, in the elaborate dancehall/variety show venue. This work has various illusions throughout - starting with the barmaid. She is the central figure in the work, and stands before a mirror. She is seen straight on, looking right at the viewer, and noticeably sullen and remote. At the same time, on the right side, it also looks like she is speaking to the gentleman in the top hat. This is actually a trick of the mirror - the man is actually farther away to the left, and not even looking at the barmaid. Crazy!

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, oil on canvas, 1882

It's possible that the illusion of the barmaid interacting with the man is him propositioning her. After all, she is a prostitute-bartender at a nightclub known for women of her profession - she can be purchased along with a drink.

Manet exhibited this as the Paris Salon, the official exhibition of the French Academy of Fine Arts, and in doing so, presented an immoral subject to high society fine art. Like Manet’s work, these brownies are inappropriate and provocative. They get their name from the trio of delicious flavors: oreo, brownie and cookie - a sugary threesome! Run, don’t walk to your kitchen, and make these awesome treats immediately! They are rich, chocolatey and dense, and unlike paintings by Manet, they are a super affordable masterpiece!

Slutty Brownies

For the brownie layer:
  • 10 T. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar 
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c. flour

For the oreo layer:
  • 1 box oreos, either original or vanilla (you won’t use the whole box!)

For the cookie layer:
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 c. Reese’s Pieces

Put together the brownie layer first:
In a medium metal bowl, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugars and cocoa powder, and remove from heat. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then add the vanilla and eggs and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt until combined, and set the batter aside. 

Next, tackle the cookie layer:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars for a minute or two. Stir in the egg and vanilla. In another bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the dry mix to the wet in a couple of additions, and only mix until combined.

Line a square brownie pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Spread the cookie layer into the pan first, and use a silicone spatula to create a smooth cookie crust for the brownie. Arrange oreo cookies in an even layer over the cookie. Cover oreos with an even coating the brownie batter and bake on 350°F for 35-40 minutes. Cool for an hour if you can stand it, and dig in! 

Recipe adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sending Love to Paris

My heart is broken thinking about Paris. Here are some pictures from my last visit in February. 

Hope everyone is safe and don’t forget to tell your loved ones that you love them!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Razzle Dazzle Pie

Halloween was this weekend, which means that we are fully into fall. Despite this, I am still trying to hold onto summer for just a little while longer. Not only is our local grocery store still stocking rhubarb and berries, but we also got our wedding photos back this month, and it is so fun to think back to the biggest event of my summer (also, life) … my wedding!

The wedding process as a whole was incredibly fun and also totally emotionally overwhelming at the same time! My family and friends made this such a special time, and I was overwhelmed by all of the wonderful bridal showers, thoughtful and generous gifts and kind words. At one of my amazing showers my mom gifted me with a beautiful quilt - one that I was aware that she was making but also completely caught off guard by. This quilt, made up of “pineapple pattern” with a “flying geese” border was started earlier this year in colors I picked out: blues, neutral tones and coral for our bedroom. During the craziness of wedding planning, my mom didn’t mention it for awhile, so I assumed it was on the back burner. Surprise - turns out my mom finished it and presented it to me surrounded by my nearest and dearest!

My mom has been quilting for as long as I can remember. Quilting and needlework, like the work she does has been an important artistic expression of American women since the Revolutionary War. That’s a ton of history! When was growing up, she and a couple of her girlfriends formed an informal quilting group called the “razzle dazzle girls,” a nod to the tradition of quilting as a group. 

surprise detail on the back!
That brings me to this razzle dazzle pie, which is juicy and summery and just the answer to this fall that is still a bit summer-like. 

Razzle Dazzle Pie 

Butter Crust, previously seen here

Pie Filling
  • 2 c. raspberries
  • 1 small bunch of rhubarb, washed and cut into 1/2 pieces
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3 t. ground arrowroot
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 t. ground cardamom 
  • 1 large egg
  • dash of Angostura bitters
Egg Wash
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 2 T. heavy cream

Roll the dough out into two 12-13 inch discs. Fit one of the discs into your pan - either a pie pan or a square brownie pan, and gently trim, leaving an inch of overhang. Cut the other disc into lattice strips, and chill both rounds as you prepare the rest of the pie. 

In a large bowl, gently stir together the raspberry, rhubarb, sugars, arrowroot and spices. Stir in the egg and the bitters and let sit for about 20 minutes. Remove the crusts from the fridge and spoon in the pie filling. Arrange the lattice top and crimp the overhang dough evenly around the pie. Chill for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F and brush the pie with the egg wash. Set the pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Lower the oven heat to 375°F and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least an hour, preferably more. 

Slice, serve and savor! Summer is over but I’m actually pretty excited about sleeping under my new quilt now that its chilly. Have a great day!
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