Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Black Magic Cocktails & A Butternut Chai Latte

Something about the fall makes me want to indulge in a conflicting mix of both comforting and creepy beverages. I always look forward to coming up with eerie punches and cocktails to serve around Halloween time, but the cold autumn chill also leaves me craving something warm and full-bodied. I decided to include two recipes I'd come up with to satisfy these combative desires, one for a ghoulishly dark cocktail and one for a spiced and soothing latte.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Maple Pumpkin Bourbon Bread Pudding

I can't recall what conversation I was having or with whom, but somehow the topic of bread pudding came up and a little thought bubble of realization popped into in my head: It had been over a year since I'd had bread pudding, and that is a very sad thing. To remedy this travesty, I decided to make a batch with some of my favorite autumn flavors: pumpkin (for so many reasons), maple (nothing beats that warm sweetness!), and bourbon whiskey (liquor in desserts = win). I'm more of a Cognac person when it comes to sipping liquors, but I love a good bourbon tang in my cakes and Jeremy is a huge fan of it any which way, so it worked out well for all involved parties. The rich, creamy, and sweet bread pudding bundt that emerged from the oven seemed to float out on its own towards me as I leaned in closer and closer to take in the delicious smells as I was pulling it out. Then I burnt my forehead a little on the oven and decided to allow it to cool a bit more outside of the oven before attempting to eat it. Once I did, though, it was pure pumpkin heaven. I've eaten it every day since Saturday, and although I made a 12-cup bundt pan's worth, there are now zero slices left (this speaks both to the quality of the bread pudding and to my lack of self-control when it comes to pumpkin-flavored seasonal treats) so it's definitely a keeper.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dark Caramel Pears & An Announcement

While I was home last weekend I decided to take advantage of one of the northwest's seasonal fruits, the sweet and juicy pear. Rather than make traditional caramel apples for my family and friends, I decided to use bosc pears because their coloring blends perfectly with caramel and makes quite the dark gold display. I also used dark corn syrup in the caramel sauce to give it a nice rich toffee flavor and added some salt to help contrast the sweetness of the pears. And since it is near Halloween, I switched out the popsicles sticks with creepy dead branches to give them what I referred to as a "Tim Burton-y effect". The result was a slightly eerie, very juicy, and incredibly delicious fall treat.

I also wanted to announce that, after much heeing and hawing, I have finally opened an Etsy shop with prints of some of the photographs from Adventures in Cooking. The photos displayed are the ones I currently have in stock, but I can have prints of any photograph made from any of my posts, just email me at evamariekosmas at gmail dot com and let me know your request! I am very excited to share these prints with all of you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dark Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Glaze & a McCormick Giveaway!

I was home in Oregon this past weekend (got me & Jeremy's engagement photos taken, so excited to see how they came out!) and had an Oktoberfest get-together with some friends and family. I made some more "intense" dishes for the party (homemade ravioli!), which I'll post about later, but I wanted to make something simple, fun & seasonal that I could make with my younger brother, and what recipe is more family-oriented than chocolate chip cookies? All three of us kids used to make them with my mom when we were very small, each one getting to add in a specific ingredient my mom had measured out for us beforehand. And while I've had my fair share of traumatizing cookie-making experiences, (like getting my hand stuck in the electric mixer when I was 5 and my older sister turning it to a higher speed instead of off "on accident" so she says..., or burning the cookies to a smoking crisp the first time I ever cooked on my own because I thought the cookies were supposed to be crispy when they were done and they were still soft when I poked them), I still love baking cookies. Which, when you think about it, really says a lot about how awesome cookies are.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DIY: Vanilla Extract & Label Template

Yes, there is a bonus post this weekend. But this is a post-in-progress, or pip! as I lovingly refer to it. (Just kidding! I did not trademark it. How do people even trademark things? Is it different from copyrighting?? So many questions!!)

Last weekend I began the process of making vanilla extract for my Christmas gifts this year, and since it takes about two months for it to become usable, me posting about it now gives you enough time to gather your ingredients and make some just in time for the holiday as well! The downside to me posting about it now, though, is that the extract just looks like beans floating in water (yum!!!) but I promise that in two months' time I'll update the post with pictures of the warm and gloriously brown finished product. But for now, we will just be happy with the notion that things are going on inside that bottle. Vanilla is being extracted! Molecules are absorbing other molecules!! Flavors are dispersing throughout a liquid!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Toffee Apple Tart Tartin with Vanilla Filo Crust

Early fall is prime apple-picking season here in southern California, so yesterday Jeremy & I headed back over to Oak Glen to enjoy the scenic apple orchards and tasty foods that come along with them. I didn't eat breakfast because I was planning on having a hearty lunch at my favorite colonial-themed restaurant, and Jeremy had a light one to tide him over.  This was a poor choice. When we got there after an hour and a half of driving, the restaurant was closed. Taking it in stride, we continued down the road planning to eat at one of the many other orchards. What we didn't realize was that it is pumpkin-picking season, and all the apple orchards grow pumpkins as well, and that since it was the first weekend of October, everyone and their mother headed into what I thought was my quaint little country hideaway and turned it into a crowded, traffic-jammed, pumpkin-filled nightmare. Cars were back up into the narrow street, the lines for food were insanely long and slow-moving, and parking was near-impossible. There we were, stuck in traffic while starving with the smell of fresh food and apples everywhere, and near ready to kill each other (tip: if you want to see the evil twin version of me, just make me skip breakfast and taunt me with food smells 4 hours later. Pure unadulterated rage. You'd think I'd have learned from the last time I skipped breakfast, but no.) So, after driving back and forth along the 3 mile strip several times, we stopped at the least-crowded Sno-Line Apple Orchard. There we got a tri tip sandwich, unfiltered apple cider, and wandered the apple orchards to unwind from our hunger-induced ordeal before heading back to the city. I was very relieved to have my camera with me; taking photographs has always been a very soothing experience, and the beautiful scenery certainly helped, as did Jeremy's calming thought process (also, chugging 8 ounces of apple cider).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Roast Chicken with Yams, Oranges, & Blue Moon: Plus a Giveaway!

The crispy, well-seasoned skin of a roast chicken is one of life's finer things. And that smell...Lord, don't even get me started on that smell. Savory and piquant, a smell that reminds me of my mother's giddy laugh and the sensation of hot air gushing out over the cold ceramic tiles of my parents' kitchen every time I'd open the oven door for an extra-intense sniff. I usually talk to my mother every day on the phone for at least 15 minutes, but she and my Dad have gone on a much-awaited, very well-deserved trip to Greece for the first time in over 24 years (since I was baptized there as a wee little lass!) and the sudden drop off in constant communication with her has left me wanting Mom-foods, specifically roast chicken. Luckily, at around the time my parents left, the folks at BigKitchen.com offered to send me a beautiful Revol Grands Classiques Porcelain Poultry Roaster. Made in France, Revol porcelain is one of the highest quality culinary-grade porcelains in the world and they've been making their porcelain wares since 1789! That is at the height of the French Revolution, people! (<-history geek outpouring). The spout-head and handle-tail make the adorable design of this pan also incredibly functional. There was no slip on my grip when I was carrying the precariously hot pan from the oven over to the food staging area (aka my desk) with plain fabric oven mitts on. And the best news of all? The very kind people over at BigKitchen.com have offered to giveaway a Revol Grands Classiques Porcelain Poultry Roaster to one of you as well!! YAYYY!!!