1/26/15

Video: Teddy's Birthday / A Vanilla Birthday Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd Filling

We're taking a momentary break from all the book publicity to celebrate the first year of our son's life. No big deal! Psyyyyych. It's a huge deal. I love this kid soooooooo much.
Basically, I took three different recipes and put them together to make a layer cake. Teddy loves citrus, so I put a few dollops of lemon curd in between each cake layer, and then I iced it all with the vanilla frosting (which I obviously dyed with food coloring). Also, I used Meyer lemons for the curd because we have a Meyer lemon tree (God bless, Southern California!), but you could definitely use regular lemons.

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd Filling 
serves a bunch of adults and even a few babies

Vanilla Cake (can be divided into either two or three 9-inch round cakes) slightly adapted from The Art of Simple Food
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the cake pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. Separate your eggs. Measure the milk.

Sift and measure the flour. [I always skip the step of sifting flour, though I'm sure my cake would be somewhat lighter if I didn't.] Stir in the baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the softened butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream until it's also light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the vanilla.

When well mixed, add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with the one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes if using two cake pans and more like 20 to 30 minutes if using three cake pans.


Meyer Lemon Curd slightly adapted from The Art of Simple Food
Note: This recipe makes about two cups of curd, which is more than enough for the cake. Maybe use the rest on top of toast for a special breakfast? Or on top of zucchini bread? I don't know!

about 3 Meyer lemons (You need 1/2 cup of lemon juice)
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) of butter, cut into small pieces

Grate the zest of one lemon and set aside. Juice the lemons; you want about 1/2 cup juice. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, milk, sugar and salt together until just mixed. Stir in the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Add the butter.

Cook in a nonreactive heavy pan, stirring constantly over medium heat until it's thick enough to coat a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil or the eggs will curdle. (Guess what? My eggs did curdle just a tiny bit, but no worries! I just strained the mixture through a sieve and it was totally fine.)

Pour into a bowl or clean glass jars to cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Vanilla Frosting slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living
makes enough to ice and decorate a 9-inch layer cake

2 sticks butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
about 6 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high sped until pale and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low. Add confectioner's sugar, about 1 cup at a time, beating well after reach addition.

Add salt and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

(If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.)
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1/21/15

Video: Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes

Onward with the book publicity stuff! I really hope you enjoy this recipe, which is a current favorite of mine and which is featured in one of the later chapters. Bonus: Teddy loves it too!

Korean-Style Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes via Bon Appétempt
Makes 8 to 10 pancakes

For the pancakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or another neutral oil, plus more for the pan
1 bunch scallions, dark and pale green parts only, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 pound peeled shrimp, chopped into 1-inch pieces (depending on the exact size of the shrimp, each one is chopped into 2 or 3 pieces)
1 small jalapeño, sliced into very thin rounds

For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
A few pinches of Korean red pepper (or Italian crushed red pepper)

To make the pancakes:
In a large bowl, mix the flour, eggs, and oil with 1 cup water until a smooth batter is formed. Stir in the scallions and shrimp. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and thinly coat the bottom with oil. Once the oil is hot and lightly smoking, use a slotted spoon to scoop out as many 4-inch-in-diameter pancakes as you can. (The slotted spoon is important here, as you want just enough batter to hold the pancake together.)

With the bottom side of the pancakes cooking, use a fork (to protect your fingers) to lay one or two of the jalapeño rounds on top of each pancake. (You may not end up using the entire jalapeño.)

Cook until the bottom is browned, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes, occasionally pressing down on each pancake with the spatula, which helps to make sure you don’t get any pancakes with uncooked batter in the middle.

Repeat with the remaining batter, adding additional oil halfway through if needed. (You may want to place the finished pancakes in an ovenproof dish and throw them in a 275°F oven just to keep them warm.)

To make the dipping sauce: 
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, and red pepper. Serve the dipping sauce alongside the pancakes.
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1/18/15

The Bon Appétempt Infomercial


Every book should have its own infomercial, right? I mean, what if we could sell as many books as Snuggies®?!

But if deep discounts aren't your thing, don't worry! We've got more videos coming, including another one later this week. To mix things up, it's an actual cooking video and it's of a recipe from the book! See you then!
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1/11/15

The Book Trailer!

Teddy is turning one this week. And while I’ve learned countless things this year about motherhood, babies, childcare, and myself, there is one accrued piece of knowledge that looms largest: writing is a complete and total luxury.

I don’t remember when exactly, but at some point while I was getting my MFA in creative writing, one of my professors—who incidentally also has a book coming out any day now—gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me. She told me to try and establish my writing career before I had kids. I’m not sure how this came up in conversation, though perhaps it was because Matt and I had recently gotten married. It seemed like good enough advice at the time, but now I feel like I really get it. I mean, if you are a regular reader of the blog, you’ve probably noticed that a majority of posts this past year are essentially about, or rather, asking, the same thing: will I ever be able to have the time and emotional space to write another book?

While I know that the answer to this question is yes, I’m keenly aware that I still don’t know when.

That being said, I’m writing this to you from my old spot on the couch—where I used to write pre-Teddy. I’m able to do this now because he’s at daycare, which he started on Monday.

Last Sunday, before his first day, I felt this disorienting mixture of anxiety and melancholy. And when I called my mom to talk about it, and she told me that I’d given him “a great first year,” tears started streaming down my face.

When I hung up with her, I began a version of sobbing that included loud gasps for breath.

Fast forward to now, three days later: I just got a picture text of Teddy intently observing two other boys building some sort of fort, and I’m sitting here thinking, I love daycare! Three cheers for daycare!

I’m mentioning all of this now I guess as a sort of preamble to what I’m about to say/ask of you: In the six years of Bon Appétempt’s existence, I’ve worked to keep the site as much of a pure, creative project and space as possible. I’ve shied away from advertising, from giveaways, from endorsing products (or from even mentioning a product I don’t wholeheartedly believe in).

But the thing is, after six years, I now have a product to sell. And I know that, simply put, the better my book does sales-wise, the better my chance is of being able to do this all over again, which, is of course all a writer wants.

So, over the years if you’ve ever enjoyed something from Bon Appétempt—if you’ve ever cooked from one of the recipes or appreciated reading about one of my non-recipe-based struggles or wondered how Matt can take such lovely photos and always be the first commenter; if you’ve ever laughed at one of the instances I’ve recreated a music video or felt very confused when I shouted at you from the depths of the Tip Pit, here’s what I’m asking of you:

Please support Bon Appétempt by pre-ordering my book (release date is Feb. 3rd). Here is the link to Amazon, but you can also call and order a signed copy from my local bookstore, Skylight Books, where I’ll be discussing the book on Feb. 3rd at 7:30pm—please come to this!

If you’ve already ordered it, thank you so incredibly much.

But perhaps you’re holding out for the audio version (which becomes available to download on the release date) or perhaps you’ve ordered the book already but would like to do more? In that case, please help us spread the word about the book. For example, if you like the above trailer, please send it to some of your friends. Maybe say something like this in the body of your email: “I didn’t realize book trailers were even a thing, but this one makes me totally want to read the book!”

(Just an idea.)

OK, that’s enough salesmanship for one day. Tune in over the next couple of weeks for a number of videos and posts we’ve been working on to help raise awareness about the book: from a parody infomercial to a video on how to make Korean-style shrimp and scallion pancakes (an original recipe from the book).

Until then and with a million thank-yous,
Amelia
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12/24/14

Making Pizzelle

Every Christmas, my grandma would make a sh*t ton of pizzelle in three different flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and anise. 
Now that she's no longer with us, I decided to take over the tradition. I began by buying myself a pizzelle iron (the exact same model as Grandma's). I then looked up her pizzelle recipe (photographed above), which stands as a living testament to my grandma's personality: as her recipe states, she usually quadrupled the recipe because "anything less is [sic] waste time." And, to be clear, she did this with all three flavors.

Only, I didn't want to use vegetable shortening like Grandma's recipe calls for and I wanted to have a little more fun with the flavor options. I ended up going for Meyer lemon and chocolate-orange. The only thing is that I made the Meyer lemon batch while Matt was at work and therefore wasn't around to take photos. He was home, however, for the chocolate batch, but as that recipe needs more tweaking (they weren't as chocolatey as I wanted), I'm only giving you the recipe for the Meyer lemon here. 
Teddy stopped by the studio while I was recording the audio version of the book!
(This photo is here mainly to brag: I recently vacuumed!)
Teddy LOVES picking and eating our Meyer lemons.
Happy holidays, everyone! Thank you so much for reading and for your support all year long. 

Much much love, 
Amelia, Matt, and Teddy (and Mavis)

Meyer Lemon Pizzelle adapted from Food 52
makes 40-50 cookies*, depending on iron size

*if you want to make a sh*t ton like Grandma, you should double this recipe.

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temp
2 sticks of butter, melted and cooled plus more for brushing on the pizzelle iron
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 2-3 Meyer lemons (If you can't find Meyer lemons substitute with regular lemons or oranges!)
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup

Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. The eggs must be at least room temperature. 

Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mixture, while mixing on medium speed. Add the extract then the zest. 

On low speed, add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time and the baking powder, one teaspoon at a time. 

The batter should have a satin sheen to it, but should be light and stiff. If your batter is too liquid, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the batter is stiff. 

I can't speak for other pizzelle irons, but I have this one, and here is my advice for using it: make sure the iron is super hot before beginning! Also, to avoid getting the batter stuck in the iron, I would quickly brush all four sides of it with melted butter. Using a tablespoon scoop, place dollops of batter onto the iron. Close iron tight and wait about 30 seconds before opening. Repeat 20-25 more times depending on iron size. Fresh, hot cookies can be rolled or shaped into cups, although I haven't experimented with that yet. Next year!
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