Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sweet Treats #7

The Gluten Free Diet is everywhere, including some of your favorite art

Frieze Art Fair is starts this week! There will be great art and great food—check out the health ratings for the food vendors planning to work the fair

According to this state food map, my favorite foods should probably be lattice-top peach pies (born in GA), pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches (raised in NC) with a little bit of buckeyes (OH), fish tacos (CA) and buffalo wings (NY) thrown in…how accurate are yours?

Can you tell the difference between a real or fake Old Master painting?

The most depressing cookbooks ever ("I Can't Chew Cookbook")

Monday, May 4, 2015

Soul-Saving, Heavenly Maple, Chocolate Chip & Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

I’m finding myself in a precarious position. With my wedding only 15 short weeks away (eek!!) I should be doing everything in my power to look my best for my big day. While this is totally true, I still can’t help myself from wanting to bake delicious things all the time. When I’m happy, I bake, and obviously this is a happy time, but it’s also the time I really shouldn’t be baking (and tasting) quite as often. So since I am having a hard time slowing down on the baking, I’m upping my exercise a bit to make up for it. In addition to my normal gym routine, I’ve also set a goal to run 200 miles before the wedding… which is a pretty insane goal, even if I started it at the end of March. Currently I’m at 82 miles—let’s see how I do!

These cookies are partially to blame for my need to log some miles. They are completely decadent but also a little surprising. The mix of chocolate chips and cocoa nibs and the walnuts are the base for a stellar cookie, but the addition of maple takes these to the next level. They remind me of the Romanesque sculptures that decorated European cathedrals during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. These intricate and expressive stone sculptures decorated much of the façade of these churches, as a means of extravagantly depicting various biblical scenes and principles of Christianity for the churchgoers to see. The scene of the Last Judgment was especially popular in the decorated archway (or tympanum) above the church doorways, showing Christ’s power to separate those destined for heaven and hell. 

detail, Cathedral of Saint Lazare, Autun, image via here

detail, Cathedral of Saint Lazare, Autun, image via here

A version of this that is still in remarkably good shape (given that it’s 900 years old) was completed between 1120-1135 at the Cathedral of Saint Lazare at Autun, France. From afar, this version looks like these cookies—sandy colored, textured and totally intriguing. Upon closer inspection, we see an enormous Christ judging the souls that surround him. To our left (his right) we see angels and saved souls. To our right (his left) are the damned souls, which are chaotic and terrifying. One bite of these maple-y cookies, and you might as well cue the trumpets and doves—they are heavenly! 

My favorite part about this artist’s work at Autun is that he signed his work: Gislebertus hoc fecit” meaning “Gislebertus made this”, which was totally awesome and against the norm for that time in history. Here Gislebertus demands recognition for his work and forcefully separates himself from the anonymous craftspeople. With his pushing of boundaries and exploration of his identity as an artist, Gislebertus is a forefather for any artist today who signs their work. On a tastier scale, these cookies demand attention and put it all out there. Basically I just can’t get enough. I think you’ll feel the same! 

Maple, Chocolate Chip and Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from joy the baker

·      1 c. all-purpose flour
·      ½ c. whole wheat flour
·      pinch of salt
·      1 t. baking soda
·      1 ½ t. ground cinnamon
·      1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
·      1 c. brown sugar
·      1/3 c. sugar
·      2 eggs
·      2 t. vanilla extract
·      ½ c. pure maple syrup
·      2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
·      ½ c. walnuts
·      ¾ c. chocolate chips
·      ¼ c. cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugars for a couple of minutes. Once the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, beating completely between additions. Add the vanilla and the maple syrup, and then add the flour mixture over a few additions. Stir in the oats, walnuts, chocolate chips and cocoa nibs.

Using a large spoon or a heaping-tablespoon sized cookie scoop, divide the dough into portions on the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes, and let cool completely before devouring the whole batch!  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Totally Spring-like Carrot Cake with Cardamom

Spring has finally sprung, and I am psyched! Every year I am amazed at just how much the weather affects my mood.  Winter is fine for a while, but I got so tired of wearing my duck boots every. single. day and dealing with tons of snow, slush and ice. This past weekend I went running outside in shorts, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I did that!

This cake screams spring. It also screams spice! And excitement! And a moist crumb! I love that it has all of the best parts of carrot cake: the freshness of the shredded carrots, lightness of the cream cheese frosting and just that wholesome feeling you get when you are eating a dessert made out of veggies, ya know?

Adding cardamom to this cake is life changing—it adds a whole new dimension to this tasty cake, and I can’t picture going back to any other plain ol’ carrot cake. 

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Spring, oil on canvas, 1573

With spring outside and in my kitchen, I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite artists, Arcimboldo, and more specifically, his work Spring. Giuseppe Arcimboldo was a 16th century Mannerist painter, who is best remembered for his anthropomorphic portraits, using flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables and other inanimate objects to create the faces. Arcimboldo grew up in Milan when naturalism was really in style, which no doubt influenced his later work, though there is no question that he took it a step further than his contemporaries! When he was in his 30s, he left Milan and went to Vienna to work as a court painter, decorator and costume designer for the Habsburg court. It was here that Arcimboldo really flourished. Under the patronage of Emperor Maximilian II and Rudolf II, Arcimboldo was encouraged to study botany, and his works truly began to fuse art and science.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Vertumnus, oil on panel, 1950-1
In the 1570s, Arcimboldo started his “The Seasons” series to celebrate the reign of his patrons, by personifying Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. The series was so popular that he created many reproductions and alternate versions (one version of Spring is hanging in the Louvre, and I saw it last month while I was in Paris!). In 1590, Arcimboldo created one of his most famous portraits, Vertumnus, which portrays Maximilian II’s son, Rudolf II as the god of seasons. In choosing this subject matter, Arcimboldo reinforced Rudolf II’s extreme power—he was Holy Roman Emperor, and ruled as king over Bohemia, Germany, Hungary and Croatia.

Now I realize that most of us don’t currently deal with the rule of monarchs (but some of us do, thank you faithful readers in London and Thailand!!), but with the changing seasons, this cardamom carrot cake is sure to make everyone feel a little bit like royalty! Now get to baking—hurry, before it gets too hot outside to comfortably turn on our ovens!!

Carrot Cake with Cardamom
Adapted from Food52

·      ¾ c. sugar
·      ¾ c. brown sugar
·      2 t. vanilla extract
·      4 eggs, room temperature
·      4 cups shredded heirloom carrots
·      2 c. flour (1/2 of this can be whole wheat)
·      1 c. self-rising flour
·      2 t. baking powder
·      1 t. cardamom
·      ½ t. cinnamon
·      pinch of salt
·      dash of citrus extract (I used this)
·      ¾ c. grapeseed oil
·      ¾ c. plain yogurt

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart

·      8 oz. cream cheese
·      1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
·      2 t. vanilla extract
·      1-2 c. powdered sugar

First bake the cake: preheat the oven to 325°F and grease two 9 inch cake pans. Lightly flour both pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until yellow and then add in the vanilla and citrus extract. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the carrots and stir until all combined. Pour half of the carrot and flour mixture into the stand mixer along with half of the oil and yogurt. Mix and then repeat.

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans and bake for about 55 minutes, alternating halfway through. Let cool completely, no ifs ands or buts, I’m talking at least an hour before you frost! Or you can wait to frost the next day, but I doubt you will be able to wait that long!

For the frosting: cream together the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes. Add in the vanilla, followed by a cup of powdered sugar. Taste, and add more sugar until the frosting reaches your desired level of sweetness. Yum!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rineke’s Stripy Sandwich Cookies

Happy Tuesday! Today’s post combines two things that are new to me: chocolate sandwich cookies that are not vegan (what?!) and the super-talented Dutch photographer, Rineke Dijkstra.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Matisse’s Cut-Out (Linzer) Cookie Bars

Matisse’s very popular show Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs recently closed at MoMA following a successful run at the Tate Modern last summer. Matisse is very well known for his colorful paintings, drawings, sculpture and mixed-paper collages, the latter of which he turned to exclusively in the early 1940s.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fragonard’s Blushing Apple Pie

Happy Pi Day Weekend everyone! For those not in the know, yesterday’s date 3/14/15 was the first 5 numbers of the mathematical constant π. Celebrated annually by math nerds around the world, it is also a time for all pie-loving freaks to let their pie-flag fly. What other occasion gives you an excuse to eat pie all day? How about all weekend?


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