Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Muffin Mania.

I guess you could say I've been on a "muffin" roll this month. Last week Molly Wizenberg of Orangette featured a post on ginger muffins from Marion Cunningham's book entitled The Breakfast Book (which I am squeamishly trying to be patient for as I placed it on "hold" at the library). In the meantime, though I was pleasantly pooped after attending a book club meeting, Sunday evening I made a batch of these spicy and energetic little muffins.

At first I was a bit concerned with the amount of fresh ginger used in the recipe. I kept reminding myself, that if Molly used that amount, I should use the same amount too. Trust Molly, trust Molly, trust Molly. After this mini-meditation, I plowed through the simple recipe and this is how they turned out:

Allowing them to cool, I sliced one muffin in half and slathered some softened butter on top each half. I have to say it wasn't what I was expecting. Though the batter included a substantial amount of ginger, it wasn't over the top (or over the muffin top, if you're up for a pun). They definitely had a kick to them, but they were bursting with citrus and spice notes (an not overly sweet, which I like). Easy to see why popping another two into your mouth takes no effort. The batter could easily be turned into a quick bread too. Accompanied with a cold glass of milk, these muffins are a great way to start your day or start someone else's day. Consider serving them at a brunch or party as a dessert too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cookie Cult Winner - Revealed!

Drum roll please.................................................and the winner is KASSIE!!!!!!!!! (Please note that the winner was determined using

Thank you everyone for participating on Madame Munchies' very first giveaway! I am so glad there are a few new faces around here and I hope you all continue to come back and join me on my various adventures!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cookie Cult Giveaway!!!

Madame Munchies is having her very first giveaway, and what’s better than a “cookie” giveaway! It doesn’t matter if you’re local or out-of-state everyone can participate and be in the drawing for a batch of my addictive and delicious chocolate chip cookies (pictured above)! All you have to do is post a comment on my blog!

If you’re already a follower, thanks, but if you’re not, become a follower and you’ll be entered again into the drawing. Twice the fun and twice the opportunity to win some cookies!!! Contest ends Saturday, January 22, 2011 at midnight. Winners will be posted Sunday, January 23rd!!! Good luck readers!

Tomato Soup.

I've been making a lot of soups lately. Not only are they good lunch choices, but it's a one pot meal that can't be beat. I can't remember the last time I made tomato soup, but I think it was when I was still living in the midwest. It's also been a while since I've made a grilled cheese sandwich and what goes better with grilled cheese, then the perfect bowl of homemade tomato soup?!?!?

Without time to peruse all of my cookbooks, I opted for a "google" search and ended up selecting Michael Chiarello's tomato soup featured on the Food Network site. A few red flags upfront, this recipe calls for 3/4 c. evoo and 2 tbs. butter. That's alot of evoo and alot of butter, even for my taste buds, let alone arteries. Given that the recipe calls for only 1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes, I highly recommend cutting the amount of olive oil by at least 50% (if not a little more) and if you're going to use cream, I'd leave out the butter. It's decadent enough with one or the other. But it's your call and your arteries.

Now tomatoes are not in season this time of year, it's a great recipe for using canned tomatoes (just make sure you get a brand that is organic or at least super high quality like San Marzanos, it really does make all the difference). What's different about this recipe is that M.C. instructs you to roast the canned tomatoes (after draining and reserving the liquid), which intensifies the sweet, subtle nature of these apple-red jewels. In under 40 minutes, four servings of homemade creamy tomato soup are ready and all you need is that grilled cheese sandwich, of course. I made mine on sourdough with asiago, fontina and mozzarella.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Susan Feniger's STREET.

Susan Feniger's STREET has been on my ever-growing restaurant list and with a coupon in hand (thanks to
Open Table), several weeks ago, a friend and I hit the streets of Hollywood and spent an evening at STREET. Feniger is known for her artful approach and her homage-paying to all foods Latin in nature. If you've eaten at Ciudad (no longer) or Border Grill, you know what I'm talking about. Feniger definitely delivers her same approach, but in my opinion, has stepped up her game at STREET. Take street food from around the world and make it playful, inquisitive and you've got a fantastic menu.

Off the bat, each dish stands on its own and each as very complex layers, but it's not overpowering. In fact, there were several dishes, that we were pondering and brainstorming which certain flavor or note we were picking up. As if we were drinking a really expensive wine. I felt like a little kid in a candy store.

Dish#1 - Sashimi with spicy sesame mayonnaise, yuzu ponzu, smoked salt, pink peppercorns and wasabi radish sprouts - I could've easily ordered another round of this dish, highly recommended by our server, I was succumbed to temptation. Sweet, smoky, salty, each element complimented the fish. The perfect expression of balance and respect for beautiful ingredients.

Dish #2 - Broiled scallops on the half shell with Peruvian aji amarillo cream, chorizo breadcrumbs, lime and fresh picked cilantro - I'd have to say this was probably my least favorite dish, and it has nothing to do with taste, it just wasn't a show-stopper quite like the others and I would've preferred the scallops were bigger. They were bay scallops.

Dish #3 - Sauteed brussel sprouts with apples, hazelnuts, and goat cheese - Prior to going to STREET, I had just seen a recipe for brussel sprouts sauteed with apples and immediately I wanted to make it. I love brussel sprouts and when I saw this dish listed on the menu, I just knew it was fate. This would get any child or adult to eat brussel sprouts.

Dish #4 - Black kale with refried white beans served with toasted olive bread and white anchovy butter - Have you noticed my slight obsession with KALE??? It's Jess' fault, she's the one to blame. This was so satisfying, a dish that makes you feel like you're being truly good to yourself.

Dish #5 - Braised short ribs Korean style with a scallion ginger cream and arugula - Nothing says comfort food (when it comes to meat) quite like braised short ribs. Tender, sweet and slightly dangerous.

Dish #6 - Thai tea creme caramel - this dessert takes the cake and there's no cake. It's been a while since I've had dessert somewhere that BLEW my mind and this night was the exception to the rule. I love custard and thai iced tea. The infusion was so delicate and flavors were
sumptuous, I felt like I had my very first kiss.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Entertaining.

Like most folks I fail at keeping resolutions when it comes to the "new year" and the past couple of years, instead I have resolved to making a list of intentions. A list of intentions does not quite have the same "effect" in that there isn't a looming dark cloud of pressure surrounding you. And at the end of year, when you reflect on that list of intentions, it's pretty neat to see how much you have accomplished.

One of my intentions for 2011 is to entertain more - last February I moved into my place, but I haven't christened it with many gatherings of friends and family. So I kicked off the new year this past weekend by hosting a small brunch and crafty party with two girlfriends. There was laughter, storytelling, crafting, bubbly, sharing, and of course, dining. The menu included a frittata, hash brown casserole, and banana nut muffins (as depicted above).

Frittatas are fun, inventive, and have a mind of their own. I understand the irrational fear of omelette making, but I'm still puzzled by those who are afraid of a little thing called a frittata. Not only are they easy to make, there are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to ingredients to add to this baked egg wonder. I added ribbons of kale, purple asparagus, sundried tomatoes and shredded pecorino romano cheese.

The hash brown casserole was a recipe I found online (the link above will take you there) and turned out to be a carb/cheese lover's dream. This isn't exactly "healthy" but it sure did fit the bill and makes a great side dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

The super moist banana nut muffins were from one of my most reliable baking books, The Weekend Baker. What's great about this book is its layout. Abigail (the author) separated recipes based on timeframe. So if you're looking for quick last minute baking recipes, there's a section devoted to that. if you're looking for more labor-intensive baking, there's a section for that. And her recipe writing skills are hands down some of the best.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Heart n Soul Soup.

Like all foodies, I look forward to my monthly subscriptions to various food publications, but Bon Appetit has to be my most favorite (especially since the untimely death of Gourmet). This month's issue includes a section devoted to LEAFY GREENS!!!! I'm trying to include more leafy greens in my cooking and every recipe in this section will make your mouth water.

I'm a soup groupie. Especially living on my own, I find making soups and stews on the weekends is a great way to save money on lunch during the week and most of them freeze well. And I look for recipes that are substantial enough as an entree. It's the kind of soup is warms your heart and soul. Your body will thank you.

Recently, I gave the Mixed-Greens and Sausage Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings a good ol' college try. I made it with chicken andouille sausage I found at Trader Joe's and think it turned out fabulous. The cornmeal dumplings are sweet and savory, without feeling heavy in your belly. The chicken sausage added a lil' kick and paired nicely with the mixed leafy greens called for in the recipe. Take advantage of the all the leafy greens available to you this season and give this recipe a whirl!