Today’s Class

The new choreography started today, and I love it already. Afterwards there was advanced class as usual, and it was really good! there was no mercy, Karen had us begging ten minutes in and she just giggled at us. She does that a bunch. She’s a little evil and out to get us, and to be honest I suspect she’s not human and is instead an alien sent here to first destroy the dancers due to some weakness in their physiology against shaking it but not breaking it. If she wasn’t as cute as she is, there could be some consequences!

… she ain’t reading this is she? Because if so, this blog is being written under duress and I don’t mean anything by it and please don’t make me do more shimmies!

In other news, I can now do the butterfly with my little practice poi and not hit myself in the head. Often.

Cookie Vampires!

When you think of belly dancers, there are many words that come to mind. Gracefull and exotic and sensual and…

Errrr…

… incredibly scary. This is what happens when you bring fresh baked oatmeal cookies into a studio after a really butt busting choreography rehearsal. Sweet sexy thangs turn into sugar mauling beasts within moments, it was terrifying!

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There is a small amount of blame that can be put on me, unable to decide between the oatmeal cookies on the Quaker lid and Dorie Greenspan’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies I made both. One delicious cookie batch is enough to make a party, but two is too much. It causes this kind of behaviour.

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Don’t they look alluringly innocent on the plate? All that oatmeal covers up the effects they have on the half starved and sweaty.

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They’ll tell you about how full of fiber and fruit they are, how good dark chocolate is for you. They’ll snuggle up to you and pretend to be comforting little buttery friends.

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What they won’t tell you is how you’ll become a cookie vampire, sultry slaves to their peanut butter promises. Those far away gazes, those hands full of cookie crumbs…

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You have been warned.

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Why Does My DSL Hate Cookies?

This was an important news story on Cookie Vampires found in coastal Florida. The research was complete, the photographic proof was gathered! There was no stopping this public menace from being revealed… In the middle of the night the DNS service stopped working because of equipment failure. Doesn’t that sound kinda suspicious to y’all?

Daring Bakers Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

This was one of the most satisfying recipes I’ve ever made! This was my first attempt at being a Daring Baker, and the only part that I’m stumbling on is this post. Mind you, I love running my mouth. This strudel deserves every praise anybody can give it, but it’s almost 2:00 a.m. and the hafla was amazing and I danced so much that I’m friggin tired!

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Please enjoy the pics, it’s all I can give y’all for right now.

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Pi is laying on me.

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She’s warm and furry and purring, and she’s sapping my will.

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Yum, there’s strudel for breakfast.

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Is it ok if we talk about it then? Y’all are very understanding.

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Anadama… DAM’A!

A comedy of errors. Until this week, I’d never had a good excuse to use that phrase. Then along comes a spanking new baking club called the BBA Challenge and a bunch of happy bakers all ready to take on whatever Mark Reinhart can throw at them. Being both an avid baker and a culinary masochist, I jumped in with both taped up feet to get down and dirty with the dough. Ok, not so much on the dirty part because that would be kinda icky unless we mean the good kind of dirty which… which should be saved for another sort of blog that my mother doesn’t read. Not that I have one of those (dirty blogs that is, I do have a mother), but if I did that’s where dirty baking adventures would go. Oh look, now I can use the phrase “but I digress” too!

It would be he right thing to do to open this story by saying Anadama Bread is rather on the easy side, so as not to scare off any potential attempts on anybody’s part. It’s delicious and streamlined and very low on the blood sweat and tears scale, everything that went wrong was completely my fault. And really, my Grandmother’s for being so entertaining.

The first day I mixed up the corn meal and water for it’s overnight soak and tackled this hearty New England dough the next day, as per instructions. The corn meal seemed kinda on the gritty side, bt I’m no expert and into the bowl it went. The true love of my life (my Kitchen Aid stand mixer) went to work mixing and kneading, and I helped out by watching Family Guy on tv. That’s right, it’s my high caliber work ethic that really adds that special touch to my food. It didn’t pass the window pane test after ten minutes, but again we revist the whole I’m no expert and my experience is all cheerful batches of country white bread and I oiled the bowl and went back to house cleaning. Yeah. During which it overproofed like some swamp beast rising from the muck in half the time the recipe said to let it rise. Yikes! Punched it back down and put it in loaf pans, and it’s with no small amount of shame I confess it overproofed again when I decided running to the store would be ok. If y’all have ever seen me run into a store for a minute, you won’t be surprised when I didn’t get back for two hours.

Are you feeling sorry for this bread yet? Brace yourself for further abuse, because into the oven I put the towering “loaves” and set it for twenty minutes. The book said to turn the loaves after twenty minutes, and when the timer went off I turned off the beeper and put it back in for another twenty! Errrr… which would’ve been fine if I hadn’t… accidentally turned off the heat instead. Nobody was surprised when the bread gave up at this point, sobbing softly on the counter as I swore to try again the next day to clear it’s name.

If you count three days later as the next day, that’s what I did!

Everything went much smoother this time, I was responsible and careful and kept an eye on things. Instead of soaking the cornmeal over night, I cooked it and cooled it to soften it up. Ok, most everything went smooth if you don’t tell anybody that I dumped a half cup extra water in the dough because I was having too much fun talking to my Grandma on the phone and had to add bunches of flour to make up for it.

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Oh yeah, and this. When he loaves were slid in the oven they were barely cresting the top of the loaf pan. There’s no explanation for this! Why? Why would they come out looking like this? They look like bread monsters! One has another loaf on top of it in a lopsided monstrous way, and the other I swear has teeth.

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If you get a chance, try this bread. Try the whole book, but please give this one a chance even if molasses and corn meal and such don’t sound like what you’d like. The bread is fluffy and tasty and tender, with a substance to it that really stands up to large amounts of peanut butter or piled high turkey. Yours might even come out pretty, everybody else’s did!

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Super Cupcakes, Thanks To Smitten Kitchen

This Tuesday is our monthly hafla, and my first official performance with Hip Expressions! The dance we’re performing was choreographed by Kimberly, a sassy little tribal fusion dance to a song called My Superman. Now, the “stage” we use at St. Pete Nights is really their dance floor, and it’s a little on the tiny side when you’re trying to fit 11 dancers all together, so we all decided Wednesday would be a good day to head down there and run through the performance a few times to make sure we didn’t end up smacking each other in the head. To our credit, the only arm work related injury I know of was when Christie flicked me in the eye while demonstrating how not to flick your partner in the eye. *cough* Don’t worry, the costumes are black so the eye patch should go nicely.

If y’all were about to wiggle in front of a crowd in a belly baring top and tight pants, what would you do to prepare? Cupcakes, of course! After a bunch of researching recipes, I decided to trust in one of the best bloggers on the net, Smitten Kitchen. How can you fail following her lead?

Ain’t the new counters nice? Ignore the screwed up painting job, we ain’t had time to repaint the kitchen after the work. The dancers are all together in this pic, waiting to shimmy into a big bowl.

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Every show has a diva, and it’s no surprise who it is here! Since this was being made for the crew, I went with semi sweet chocolate instead of dark. It’s always a safer bet before you know everybody’s tastes. If this was being made for D and me, I’d use the darkest chocolate I could find but the cupcakes turned out perfect this way too.

 

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The decoration needs no explanation, even if an apology for my poor choice of icing consistency is required. Unfortunately frostings and icing are almost always my downfall (the chocolate frosting is Duncan Hines from the can *sob*), and forgetting to whip up the red icing in advance gave me 30 minutes to create frost and get dressed! They came out recognizable, which is more than I can say sometimes.

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Love these cupcakes! The cake is moist and tender, and a new fav in the house. The crew must have liked them too, after a long rehersal they dissapeared faster than my cat on bath day. Give this recipe a try, y’all will be addicted too!

 

Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Smitten Kitchen
Gourmet, March 1999

The recipe below is for 2 10-inch layers filled and coated in chocolate ganache. My adaptations were to split the layers to create a four-layer cake and use raspberry filling instead of chocolate. To do the same, use half the frosting and all of the raspberry filling, recipe at the end. (This recipe made a bunch of cupcakes, and one round layer of cake when I realized I’d made too many!)

For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 °F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. (The cupcakes baked for 40 minutes)

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Abbie’s Green Ball

Poor dog. She’d found the best toy ever, round and green and it fell in the kitchen! A toy plus food, how could she go wrong? What a face she made, biting into that little key lime eagerly. It would’ve been the right thing to do to pick up the citrus and throw it away, but it’s funny to watch her keep heading back to try to bite it again as if it might have turned sweet. She gave a big sigh, and sprawled out nose to lime to stare it down sadly.

Abbie, does this mean you won’t want any key lime pie?