August 26, 2007

Pear Upside Down Cake

raking in august

i was complaining to my neighbor about all the leaves I have to rake on my front lawn. “It’s August!! Why are there so many leaves??!!” I even convinced myself that there’s something wrong with the tree.  “It’s not healthy.  It’s diseased.  This shouldn’t be happening!”

I woke up yesterday morning to that haze you only get in the Bay Area when it’s Fall. I knew that it was stupid for me to complain.  Fall is coming, and I can’t deny it.  There’s that subtle chill in the air…. It’s not scorching hot anymore…..and Martha Stewart’s Halloween decorations are at Michael’s.

This summer at our house was wonderful. I’ll have to refer back to those days of sitting on the patio drinking coffee & grilling in the evenings in my summer dresses when I’m bundled up on the couch sipping tea in a turtleneck. Goodbye open-toed shoes & skirts…hello turtlenecks & boots!

this past week i:

got a new purse! (i’m really into it so far)

new bag new shoes

reorganized my desk (i got my cards in the mail from lisa congon’s etsy shop!)

my desk in between cleaning

thought a lot about the cupcake tasting I had with Melisser & Whitney on Thursday:

our loot for tonight's sugar rush

made pear upside-down cake from this month’s issue of Sunset Magazine:

pear upside-down cake

the side view...pecans spilling over

Pear Upside-Down Cake- Sunset Magazine September 2007

-3/4cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
-2 Bosc pears, cored, peeled, and cut into 1/4-in.-thick slices
-1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
-1cup chopped pecans, divided
-1/3cup bourbon
-1 teaspoon salt, divided
-1/2cup firmly packed light brown sugar
-3 eggs
-2teaspoons vanilla
-1 1/2teaspoons baking powder
-1/2teaspoon baking soda
-2cups flour
-3/4 cup plain whole or low-fat yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Generously butter a 9-in. cake pan and arrange pear slices in a pattern on the bottom of pan. Set aside.
2. Bring 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a 10-in. frying pan (not nonstick) over medium-high heat. Lower heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, undisturbed, until mixture starts to brown (swirl pan to help mixture brown evenly). When mixture turns a medium amber color, add 1/2 cup pecans and cook until fragrant but not burning, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and slowly stir in bourbon and 1/2 tsp. salt. Pour over pears in buttered pan.

3. Put 3/4 cup butter, the brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl. Beat until smooth and a bit fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Add half of the flour and beat until combined. Then beat in half of the yogurt. Repeat with remaining flour and yogurt. Stir remaining 1/2 cup pecans into batter (it will be thick).

4. Drop spoonfuls of batter over pears and sauce and spread evenly. Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool on a rack 15 minutes. Run a knife between cake and pan sides and invert cake onto a plate or serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 *** It was delish!  It took forever to make the caramel sauce, though!****

August 22, 2007

commuting blows

I spend about 90 minutes in the car every weekday commuting into the city. I love being in the city…but the commute wipes me out! I do like to drive my own car….. and it’s nice to be able to leave when I need to…. So, in order to cure the boredom & the potential road-rage, I’ve been listening to books on CD I check out from the library.

Even though I’ve read the book: Dress Your Family in Courduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris, it’s nice to listen to him in my mornings & afternoons. His voice makes his words much more entertaining.

Here are some of my favorite parts of my commute:

i love looking at that both the orange and buildings against the American Industrial Center

when I’m wizzing through the 280 underpass the shadows are amazing. It also means I’m about to see the SF skyline soon.

I spend some of the commuting time thinking about the type of person who decides to paint their houses these colors. I appreciate their boldness and then I pick out which color I’d live in.

every now and then i get lucky and see a pedestrian walking across. They have no idea that I’m looking at them. I like watching their dark silhouettes move across the bridges.

It’s these small things that make the commute a little sweeter.

****i was NOT driving while i took these shots.  i’m not that dumb ****

August 21, 2007

One Year Older

hello! On Saturday August 18th, I turned a year older. Whooppeeee. Another year closer to 30!

Casey took me to Jack Falstaff in San Francisco for my birthday dinner! It was SOOOO GOOOD! We decided to get the Farmer’s Market Menu- Tomato was the theme. Get ’em while you can!

Followed by Happy Birthday Donuts at Krispy Kreme in Daly City:

oh YUM. Do they not give free donuts out when you go to Krispy Kreme anymore? The past 3 times they didn’t hand me one while in line. I’m just wondering….It’s not like I NEED that extra donut…. My camera ran out of juice when we sat down. Hence-No pictures of the donuts we ate. This is probably a good thing.

August 17, 2007

my favorite easy/comforting breakfast

i think about eating this all the time (especially while laying in bed). Finally this morning I had a chance to make it!

My favorite quick breakfast consists of:

  • Brown Rice Cakes
  • Chunky Peanut Butter
  • Honey
  • Sliced Bananas

Now pair this with a cup of coffee, a good magazine and sit outside. I guarantee you will enjoy!

August 16, 2007

Olive Oil Gelato


Olive Oil Gelato

From The Babbo Cookbook

Yields 2 pints

6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
-¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream

Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the whip attachment to beat them for 5 min on medium speed, or until the mixture is thick and very pale and forms a ribbon when the whip is lifted. Continue beating and drizzle in the olive oil; beat for 2 more minutes.

Add the milk and cream and continue to beat until all ingredients are combined.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

***make sure you use the BEST extra virgin olive oil possible***

I had this at Mario Batali’s Otto Pizzeria!!! I had no idea it would change my life!

August 13, 2007

happy birthday e.g.

I made these cupcakes for my brother-in-law’s birthday (yes, he deserved the effort)

they are:

-vanilla cupcakes

-blueberry filling (i made with lemon juice, sugar & vanilla extract)

-lemon cream cheese frosting (added lemon oil & grated lemon peel to the frosting)

-topped with coconut flakes (not the original intention)

They tasted good, but I was having a *moment* in the kitchen. Too many air bubbles in the frosting made it spit out it weird motions. Little holes & pockets were on top of the less-than-perfect swirls. I picked the frosting off and re-did EVERY SINGLE ONE. It still happened in round two. Mix that with a time constraint & a list of errands to do before going over to their house!! YIKES!!!!! The perfectionist in me (only when it comes to cupcakes) FREAKED OUT. What am I gonna do???!!!! So I just piled the tops in coconut flakes. Disaster diverted. All is right in my household & we can now carry on all of our errands.

Although….. I think they prolly would have tasted better without the coconut. This was my first attempt at filling a cupcake. Things could have been a lot worse. Thank god I moved to the suburbs and started cooking & baking more. The Tracy from last year would have had no idea how to fix the situation (other than breaking down and buying *yikes* PRE-MADE desserts).

August 9, 2007

Southern Green Beans

Southern Green Beans:

– 1lb. small fresh green beans
-3/4 teaspoon of salt, divided
-1/2 stick of butter
-3 large handfuls of chopped pecans
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-2 tablespoons of sugar

Cook green beans with 1/4 teaspoon of salt in boiling water for about 8 minutes. Drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet; add pecans, and saute until butter is lightly browned. Add sugar, turn up heat and make those pecans all carmelized & crunchy. Try not to burn! Remove nuts, add green beans to the pan so you can coat them in that buttery juice-add rest of salt & pepper. Put the beans on a plate, top with pecans. Dig in!

-This recipe came to me in my Farm Fresh to You shipment last week. I didn’t follow it exactly (when do i ever follow a recipe exactly?) But this version is what produced the lovely beans you see up above. Their recipe didn’t have you carmelize the nuts… I figured I might as well! And i liked the result! I think next time I’ll make extra pecans & put them on top of ice cream. delish. The dish will definitely be in the rotation.