Archive for October, 2009

Minor Disasters: Gingerbread

October 28, 2009

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How could something that seems so simple–so easy–so, so, so…elementary turn out so disastrously?

I bring you my newest kind of post: “Whoopsies.” Here, a baking whoopsie: I bring you gingerbread.

My excuse: okay, I grew up in a household that didn’t do cakey gingerbread. Instead, twice a year, we baked (and we still bake) gingerbread cookies: turkey-shaped cookies for Thanksgiving, and bears for Christmas.  Everyone has a role: my mom expertly pipes the icing, and my sister and I get sprinkles/sugar/red hots duty. You should see the way Mom crafts it. You have never seen more realistic-looking suspenders-wearing bears.

Even though I’ve never made gingerbread in its true loafy sense, I didn’t think that it was going to be hard. And maybe it isn’t hard. Maybe Sunday just wasn’t my day.

How did this ever begin? Well, I should take a second to mention that I live within walking distance of one of New York’s best-kept secrets: Two Little Red Hens bakery.  When I was writing my Master’s thesis, I used to go on long, procrastinatory walk down along the East River, and on my way back I’d stop in for some kind of treat. “You can eat this (cupcake/cookie/key lime tart) when you finish writing a page,” I’d tell myself, but I’d always end up polishing off half of my purchase before I made it to my building. It became such a habit that the counterstaff remembered not only my name but my previous orders. “How was the apple cake yesterday?” the girl behind the counter would say as she handed me a slice of peach pie. For some reason, though, I tended to shy away from the gingerbread because it was one of the only items that was consistently available. Maybe I felt the same way about this gingerbread that pretty girls tend to feel about nice boys: it was too available, too easy to get. It would always be there when I needed it. Until one day, disenchanted by the promises of cheesecake and eclairs, I realized maybe what was in front of me was what I really wanted all along.  So I got the gingerbread. I raved. I swooned. I wanted to make it myself.

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Worth Repeating: Fig and Prosciutto Pizza

October 13, 2009

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Oh yum, look at that.

So what’s new in the many days and weeks since my last post? Well, autumn is here, and New York is wearing it beautifully. This is by far my favorite time of year and I’m really excited for the next couple of months.  What else have I been up to? Well, I’ve had time not only to discover new favorite recipes but also to actually repeat the especially good ones.

Exhibit A: fig and prosciutto pizza, which I found, as I find many things I write about, in Bon Appetit magazine (though, for anyone reading, let’s have a little moment of silence for the institution that was Gourmet, which didn’t survive the nasty cuts at Conde Nast last week. This is going to come back to bite them in the butt, I hope).

The first time I made this recipe, I was making dinner for my friend Michael after a spree at Whole Foods. They had some really gorgeous figs there, and luckily when I was making my way into line I passed by a selection of pizza doughs and remembered having seen this recipe. Now, I come from a family where homemade pizza is taken very seriously. My mom’s dough recipe (by way of Wolfgang Puck’s cookbook) is to die for–the kind of dough that is the main event in itself, and where toppings play second banana. Well, I did feel some guilt going for the premade stuff, but  I used the excuse that I lacked both time and a food processor and went for it. I do have to say that Whole Foods’ pizza dough is a steal (less than $2 for a one-pound package) and it was also very good–so not too much guilt here. But still not as good as mom’s (like most things).

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