Monthly Archives: August 2007

IPB [Hearts] Crosby

In honor of the last non-sports weekend of 2007, and belatedly in honor of Sid’s birthday, and inspired by Sid’s clothing line, we bring you… the I [Heart] Crosby cake! This was Pookie’s brainchild, as she was most eager to see how the kitchen could handle cake baking. We made the Cook’s Illustrated devil’s food cake, both because we think any cake that isn’t chocolate is generally a waste, and also because, duh — Devils. Sid would surely approve. If he ever ate cake. At any rate, Pookie took care of all the heavy lifting, creaming the butter and sugar and then combining everything in stages as I just melted the unsweetened chocolate and cocoa into boiling water and then “supervised”. Pookie was the driving creative force here, and she decided a cake for Sid, at this point, simply has to be pink and say “I [heart] Crosby”. So I made a Swiss buttercream frosting, and Pookie ably turned it into a properly girly pink; for the sake of contrast we opted to go blue with the writing. My piping skills are… not so good. But the point is well enough expressed — we were actually quite delighted with the amateurish outcome. Let’s see a bakery make a cake that looks quite so much like the decorators were, as we were tonight, lightly toasted! As for the taste, this is a home run. The cake has a no-nonsense chocolate flavor, not at all cloying and not showily over-rich. The crumb is silky smooth, and it’s perfectly dense. The frosting is light, buttery and just sweet enough to match the cake well. And aesthetically, it really can’t be beat.


Filed under Baked Goods

A Dinnery Dinner

In taking the advice of the Delphic Oracle, I have come to a comfortable recognition of my limitations as a cook. Perhaps the most severe of those limitations is that I am incredibly lazy. I am a one-pot kind of gal, and it would be fair to say that 99.9% of the meals I make can be eaten out of a bowl. I like pastas, soups, stews, and those kinds of dishes Rachael Ray calls “stoups”. But once every blue moon, I go crazy and make something that could be traditionally identified as a dinner, and this was one of those nights. Being generally uninspired, I’ve been forcing a lot of raw-tomato pastas on Boomer and Pookie lately, thanks to the ridiculous overabundance of heirlooms coming from the farm; with the recent spate of autumnal weather, though, I decided it was time to roast us some meat for a change.
Orange-Sherry Roast Chicken
So I pulled the orange-sherry glazed roast chicken recipe from my Cooks Illustrated poultry book, figuring the citrus would keep us rooted a bit in reality (in that Fall weather in August doesn’t mean it’s not still August). Then I went hog-wild and made up my own brown rice pilaf to go with it. I made it with some homemade chicken stock from the freezer, a bit of orange juice, some toasted pine nuts and fino verde basil from our garden. Then, to finish the notion of “meat + side dishes”, I wilted some rainbow chard from the farm with a bit of garlic from our own garden. Now, this dinner was both hearty and ridiculously delicious, but I think what made me happiest about it was that I felt like I’d accomplished something for having coordinated a bunch of elements to all hit the table at the same time. For me, that’s as difficult as a moon launch, so, while reflecting on the crispy, sticky glaze and the fresh-tasting, nutty pilaf, I’m also going to bask in the reflection of a job well done.


Filed under Hearty Meals, Meats Meats Meats

Adventures in Baking With Pookie

I used to enjoy baking cookies occasionally, maybe three or four times a year. Since the new kitchen, though, I feel like making cookies all the time. My new favorite recipe is Mexican Chocolate Cookies, a recipe Schnookie found online. A few years ago she had a recipe for Chocolate Pepper Snaps that were one of my favorites, but the cookbook was lost in a move. This recipe sounded like it had possibilities, so a week or so ago we gave it a shot. The result? Well, there were good enough I made them again last night!
Mexican Chocolate Cookies
These cookies could not be easier to make (provided you hang on to the parchment paper on the tray when putting them in the oven; if you don’t, hypothetically, the cookies could all go flying into the bottom of the brand new, piping hot oven. At least, that’s what I’ve heard could happen), and taste phenomenal. They have cinnamon, cayenne and black pepper, giving them a very interesting and engaging flavor. The spices don’t overpower the rich and satisfying cocoa flavor, making these a nice, substantial snap. If you don’t like your cookies too sweet, these are the cookies for you.

My favorite thing about this particular baking adventure? Surprisingly, it wasn’t the frantically snatching the cookie dough blobs from the bottom of the oven (again, hypothetically this could happen…), but instead was the joy I got every time I walked into the new kitchen to retrieve cookies from the oven. There’s a giant mullioned window over the sink, and somehow this window manages to convey everything I love about my life here at IPB Manor. I always scoff at people on HGTV who say getting a new kitchen will make them want to cook more, but I’m beginning to think that just might be what’s going on here. If you don’t see any further Adventures in Baking with Pookie, just assume it’s for some other reason than I got blase about the new space!


Filed under Baked Goods, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts With C

Six Million Dollar Lemonade

When buying the prosecco for the Bellinis, the gentleman at the wine store gave us a delightful run-down of the wine itself in his comically attractive French accent. When he finished we all nodded and said, “Great! We’ll take it!” It was only then that the wine guy said, flashing a comically attractive eye-sparkling grin, “Oh, I should probably tell you how much it costs, right?” Schnookie announced it was probably six million dollars per bottle. Turns out it was only $15, so we took two bottles, not quite sure what to do with the second bottle. Always the problem solver, Schnookie decided to use it to make 6 Million Dollar Lemonade. She whipped up a batch of fresh lemonade and then poured the prosecco over it. The result? Pure bliss. If juice boxes should taste like Rhode Island Reds, those super expensive bottles of sparkling European lemonade should taste like this. Crisp, sweet, bubbly and with that promise of my beloved champagne buzz. (We’ve established that I was born at the wrong time, and should have been some wealthy, ditzy heiress in 1860’s Vienna, drinking champagne with breakfast, lunch and dinner.) The glasses were ones we purchased months and months ago, with the stipulation that they would not be used until the kitchen was ready to go. So this drink looks and tastes like a celebration!


Filed under Drinky-Drinky

IPB Caliente!

Chili Powder!

Originally uploaded by interchangeableparts

We are creatures of habit at stately IPB Manor, and one of our regular meals is chili. Once a week I make up a huge-assed pot of the stuff, and after gorging on bowls of it atop brown rice and buried under mountains of cheese, the copious quantities of leftovers get packaged up for lunches for the remainder of the week. After several years of tinkering with the big parts of the recipe (the meat, the vegetables, the liquids), I finally decided there was one building block left that would be a lot of fun to play with — the chili powder. After watching an episode of Good Eats about dried chiles, I took Alton Brown’s recipe and ran with it. I use guajillo, arbol, cascabel and chipotles, and liberally apply all of them (Penzey’s Spices is a fantastic source for all the elements of this). I also make boatloads of chili powder at a time; the finished product you see here is being stored in a four-cup spice jar. The process of seeding and cutting up the chiles is brutal — it’s almost as if there are elements to these peppers that could be used as weapons or something… But suffering the burning eyes and nasal passages, the spine-rattling fits of sneezing, the coughing so hard you think a lung is going to come up, is all worth it, because this chili powder makes the stuff from the grocery store taste like mildly spicy sand. My homemade chili powder is fresh, fruity and flowery, with a kicky, lemony edge of cumin and a complexity from the four chiles that is deep, smoky and robust. If you’ve got a spice grinder you’re not afraid to use for something spicy and you’re not particularly attached to the mucous membranes in your head, this is a project well worth undertaking.


Filed under "You Make Your Own WHAT?", Zesty Seasonings and Crazy Condiments

Peachy’s Crop: In Memoriam


Originally uploaded by interchangeableparts

Today was one of those picture-perfect summer days, sunny, dry, hot but not scorching… It almost made me not hate the season as a whole, but the absence of hockey on television quickly reminded us why summer sucks. However, I will grudgingly give summer that it’s got peaches, and even though squirrels ate the entire first-ever crop from our very own peach tree (seriously, there were at least 15 fruits on that tree, and we didn’t even think to take a picture of it. Oh well. It gives us something to look forward to in next year’s off-season…), we still have the local orchard. So, going by a recipe in one of the bartending recipe books I got for my birthday, I made bellinis after a lovely picnic lunch in Princeton. The recipe called for a heap of peach puree topped with prosecco, and specified that the puree should be made with peaches (flesh and skin), ice cubes and lemon juice. I had no lemons, so I substituted limoncello (they’re interchangeable, right?), and ended up with an extravagantly unsightly mess. After much spilling, fizzing over and vigorous stirring, something resembling a cocktail was produced. And you know what? It’s pretty damn good. The peaches were surprisingly bitter, so next time if they’re equally not-tasty I might splash some simple syrup into the puree, and while the skins certain enhance the flowery flavor of the drink, they leave a bit, visually and texturally, to be desired, so I might peel the peaches next time too. But that’s kind of the key here: there will be a next time. Yum!


Filed under Drinky-Drinky