Monthly Archives: October 2011

Red Velvet Cake

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It's really really RED(rum)

For someone that doesn’t like Halloween, I certainly take advantage of what comes with the season. I taunt diabetes by devouring any stray peanut butter cup that might be lying around. I watch scary movies seconds before bed and then proceed to dream that Michael Meyers is after me, or worse yet I dream that I am Michael Meyers and they won’t serve me at Starbucks.

This past weekend I put myself through two screenings of The Shining; one screening of Hocus Pocus; one third of Silence of the Lambs; Harry Potter 7; Halloween 1 through 3; Child’s Play; and the worst mistake of all, Paranormal Activity 2. If nothing will make you wet your pants with fear, that movie will. I was straight up frightened to death. Had it not been for that bag of Cape Cod chips and Helluva Good french onion dip in the kitchen, I wouldn’t have left the couch.

I need something to take my mind off of everything that I put in my head recently, so I return to you my dear blog-friends to share with you a recent recipe that Mark whipped up for his mother’s birthday.

Yes! This will get my mind off of the fright fest that I have created for myself! This is what I need to forget all the blood and gore that I have seen recently! This is a red velvet cake, which in its early stages can resemble a scene out of ‘Dexter.’

Ok, so maybe it won’t get my mind off of things. Oh well. Happy Halloween.

You’ll need:
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting you’ll need:
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Meanwhile, sift together your flour, baking powder and salt into a cute little bowl.

Then take another bowl, the food coloring and the cocoa powder over to your neighbor’s house and ask them to use their kitchen. This next step is sure to temporarily stain your counters, your hand and your clothes so it is better to do it their kitchen. Unless you like your neighbors, then that would be mean.

Dexter was here

The job here is the blend the powder and coloring until it looks like this. Then you can say goodbye to your neighbor and return to your clean kitchen.

In your Kitchenaid mixer cream together the butter and sugar and then toss in the eggs, vanilla and bloody paste. Add a little of your flour mixture and 1/2 of the buttermilk. Add some more flour mixture and the rest of the buttermilk. Let it combine, scrape down the sides if necessary, and add the remaining flour mixture.

In a small cup, add your baking soda and vinegar. It will react. This is okay. It’s science.

You just made science in your kitchen! You are so cool, you science geek, you!

No special effects. It is really this red.

Add your science to the batter, stir and divide your batter into two greased cake pans. Toss them in the oven until baked nicely (use the old toothpick-in-the-middle trick). For us it took about 30-35 minutes.

A red mound of warm love

While the cakes bake, start making the frosting by creaming together the butter and cream cheese in the mixer. Once combined, add the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Crank the mixer to high until it is whipped to perfection.

Can you hear us getting fatter?

Once the cakes dry, make sure they cool before you frost it. Otherwise it will melt and slip off onto the cake platter leaving you with the ugliest and saddest little cake around. Frost the top of the bottom layer first, add the top layer and then frost the entire outside.

Oh! It's someone's birthday!

It was creamy, rich, sweet and absolutely divine. It was something you could eat with a fork while standing up in your kitchen. It was something you could bring to your neighbor whose kitchen you stained.

It’s something you could bring to me while I huddle under the covers tonight after watching the ‘Saw’ marathon on Showtime.

I’ll never learn.

xoxo

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Ghoulish Meringue Ghosts

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Hey, boo!

For many of our gay brothers and sisters, Halloween is better than Christmas. Slap on some wire glasses, draw a thunderbolt on your forehead and suddenly the otherwise boring barista becomes Harry Potter for the night. Strap on some hooker boots, a blond wig and a blue mini skirt and the quiet guy at the Whole Foods olive bar becomes Julia Roberts circa Pretty Woman.

You’re trying to picture that now aren’t you? If you aren’t, you are trying to figure out why the olive bar at Whole Foods needs a full time attendant.

The truth is (queue the gay gasps) we don’t like Halloween at all. While people are out tossing eggs at cars and launching perfectly good two-ply toilet paper into trees, we prefer to sit at home in the dark double fisting peanut butter cups.

Why go through all of that hard work of begging for your candy when you can buy your own damn bag and eat it in your sweatpants while watching chuckle-worthy horror flicks? Save yourself the face paint and fake blood and take the easy way out.

If you’d prefer to work for your candy, go ahead and make these.

You’ll need:
4 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp of vanilla
1 cup of sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and set out a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Not very ghoulish, yet.

In your mixer, whip the four egg whites on medium speed until they turn frothy and then add the cream of tartar. Turn speed up to high. When the eggs begin to build in volume, begin to add the sugar at a slow pace.

When firm peaks form, toss in the vanilla and continue to beat until the meringue is voluminous and clings to the paddle, about 5 minutes.

Ghastly!

In an ideal world you would be a four-star pastry chef that mastered the use of a pastry bag in a three-credit course you took while spending the summer in Paris. We say this because it appears to be easier to remove your own appendix or to teach table manners to a llama than to successfully use a pastry bag to form the meringue into perfectly formed ghosts.

Don’t even bother. We tried. We failed.

Instead, take a small spoon and scoop a generous mound onto the parchment paper and swirl until it takes on a ghost-like shape. Our’s weren’t perfect, but people aren’t perfect so their ghosts shouldn’t be either, right?

So right.

Bake on a center rack for 1 ½ hours until firm and set aside to cool on the pan for another hour.  We used food coloring to make the eyes.

Then turn on AMC. They are most likely showing either Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween, I Know What You Did Last Summer or the quintessential teen horror film from the 90’s, Scream.

What could be better than that?

xoxo

Guiltless Pumpkin Bread

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She lasted about 30 minutes

We’ve got moves like Jagger. Can you see why?

Come in closer. Clooooooser.  Can you see it yet? No?

Fine, we will tell you. We made low-fat pumpkin bread with homemade pumpkin spice!

Take it from us: there seems to be no supermarket in metro west Boston that carries actual pumpkin spice. These two suckers would have bought a little jar of it even if it were 10 bucks, because the recipe said so. We debated sucking up to the sometimes-not-so-nice Starbucks barista that works at the Lexington location just so she might give us some of hers.

But here is where those Jagger moves come in. It turns out that only a few ingredients mixed together makes pumpkin spice!

How nice.

Homemade spice is so nice we'd make it twice

For the pumpkin spice, you’ll need:
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinammon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (allspice)

Mix all of those together in a little bowl and set it aside. It’s that simple.

For the bread, you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
All of your fancy pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Baking spray
9×5 loaf pan

Pre-heat your oven to 350 and then grab a bowl out of your cabinet. In that cute bowl of yours, combine the flour, sugar, nutmeg, your fancy pumpkin spice, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and whisk them lightly together.

One of the bowls we had to clean

Then grab another bowl (ugh! We know! Two bowls to clean!) and mix your egg whites, oil, puree and vanilla and beat together until combined. We didn’t get a picture of this because honestly, it’s not a pretty picture. You’ll see.

Add your flour bowl SLOWLY to your egg mixture and continue to beat until combined. Workin’ it slowly allows it to mix evenly, avoid lumping and keeps it off of your counter.

You can tell that it is done when the paddle on your mixer retains some of the batter without it slipping off.

See how it isn't dripping off the paddle?

Spray your loaf pan with some baking spray and pour that liquid pumpkin mixture into it. Plop it in the oven for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

Moves. Like. Jagger.

This bread was truly magical. Sweet, spicy, soft and fluffy. Our dear friend and neighbor Siobhan (her hand made an appearance on our chocolate marshmallow cookies entry) stopped by for a slice and liked it as well! At least she told us she liked it. We liked it.

Now we’re paranoid. Siobhan, you did like it, yes? If you didn’t you’d tell us, right?

Lovely landscape

We decided that the usual yogurt butter that we are used to wasn’t good enough for this little loaf, so we decided to whip up some ALMOND BUTTER to spread on top of her smooth surface. More to come on that recipe later!

And just like that, dear blog-friends, we mixed homemade pumpkin spice and made a little bit of autumn in our kitchen. Do the same, darlings!

xoxo

Quinoa Mariniere with Scallops & Roasted Asparagus

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Have you ever seen a scallop when it was alive? Eek. Google it.

We’ve come to learn that the same friendly, French-speaking man that works at Ina Garten’s preferred seafood shop in Sagaponack, NY does not work at our local Shaw’s Supermarket. When Ina goes to the supermarket, she pulls up in her BMW coupe convertible, wearing a custom made button down and a little scarf from Hermes. She walks up to the counter and smiles at Jacques over a sea of fresh haddock, swordfish and mahi mahi.

“Bonjour, Jacques,” Ina exclaims in her breathy alto, “I’m having a great dinner tonight for my multitude of gay friends and I need one pound of those fresh scallops.”

Jacques smiles back, straightens up his pinstripe apron and loads the perfect amount of fresh scallops into some parchment paper and hands it back to Ina.

“Sounds great, Ina. I’ve got some great ones in here. Brought in this morning!”

They air kiss each other, wish one another a great weekend, and off she goes into culinary fabulousness. Thanks in part to Jacques of course, the sommelier of seafood.

That is Ina’s life. This is ours:

It’s was Columbus Day so we are in mesh shorts, hats, tshirts and flip-flops. It’s October, but a balmy 80 degrees, so everyone is in a generally unpleasant mood since we are being robbed of the best season in New England. As we strut up to the counter, clearly amateurs in the fresh seafood world, Jason turns to the seafood man (who most likely worked the deli the day before and the pharmacy the day before that) and asked, “Can you show me what ½ pound of scallops looks like?” When the man loads four scallops onto the scale, it is evident that two relatively hungry men wouldn’t fill up on that. “I’d better go with one pound,” Jason added.

It was as if we insulted his wife. He turned from the scale, and proclaimed, “Are you awarrrre of how much these are per pound?”

This was not Jacques from Sagaponack. This was Dick from Waltham.

Forget the fact that they are $19 a pound. Forget the fact that that is a horrifying number and that Dick was probably right to assume that we would never pay that. It was the principle! So he handed us our ½ pound of scallops in a plastic container and we strutted away from his counter carrying our bruised egos and a bag of quinoa.

 

At quick glance, it looks like Dip-n-Dots.

KEEN-wah is how you pronounce it and it has been everywhere lately. People are eating it dried with granola, or cold in salads with roasted tomatoes on the vine. They are all the rage in the health food community and are shipped in from mostly South American countries. It is a rice-couscous love child.

We were inspired to make this dish after seeing a recipe for risotto using quinoa, but we weren’t interested in adding stock and flour for thickening to actually make a risotto, so we took the lazy way out.

It was still good. So good we’d like to share it with you if you wouldn’t mind.

You’ll Need

½ pound of fresh scallops (or 1 pound if you have Beyonce’s money)
1 cup of whole-wheat quinoa
2 cups of marinara sauce
1 bouquet of asparagus
¼ cup of Italian style breadcrumbs
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (grate it yourself, please!)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 450. This is for the asparagus. Don’t forget to do this first or you will find yourself with cold scallops in your hand waiting for the asparagus to roast.

Measured to perfection

Second step is to measure out one cup of quinoa. It might not look like much, but one cup of dried quinoa can yield about 4 cups cooked, so unless you haven’t eaten since Monday, start with only one cup.  Make the quinoa according to the package directions and set aside.

Snapping their stumps off is a great way to get out agression.

Wash and clip the asparagus and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Using your hands (duh) roll around the asparagus until the oil and dry ingredients are evenly coated throughout.

Roasty-toasty and ready to rock-n-roll

Toss in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, heat your marinara sauce on low.

Once your asparagus is about halfway done, start heating up a sauté pan for the scallops. Use medium heat so you don’t burn the hell out of the little fish. They are fragile and pissy and will turn against you in a minute.

Lay your scallops in a bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. Toss together carefully until evenly coated.

These will totally be worth the $270 they will cost you.

Transfer the scallops to the pan and DON’T TURN YOUR BACK FOR A SECOND. Treat these scallops as if they were the Chucky Doll. Remember the Chucky Doll in the movie Child’s Play? Would you turn your back on him?

HELL NO!

Scallops cook really quickly and go from raw, fleshy discs to shriveled, dry balls in minutes. Start by cooking for 1 minute per side until they are opaque and browned to perfection. They might expel some liquid, but don’t freak out. All is well. They are not sick or rancid.

Then, combine asparagus, scallops, quinoa and marinara and enjoy!

And whatever you do, don’t offer any to Dick from the seafood counter. He won’t appreciate them the way you will.

xoxo

Culinary Capitol

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Honey! We're home!

We know what you are thinking.

“Where in the hell have you been?! Are you not eating anymore? Are you done blogging? Do you not care about your 8 subscribers or the 5 random people that found your site by accident?”

Now don’t be so dramatic, dear blog-friends. Of course we still care about you. We jaunted off to the bureaucratic center of our nation for a wedding and a few days of R and R.

Don’t think for one minute we weren’t worried that you would forget about us because we haven’t posted in a few days. As matter of fact, we couldn’t wait to go to D.C to try some new places out and tell you all about them! We thought of you the whole time. We were faithful. Were you?! It’s okay if during our absence you cheated a little and found a much more established gay food blogger, or if you decided that all of our cooking was too fattening and you needed a low cal break and stumbled upon a healthy options blog that we love.

It’s okay, we forgive you, as long as your little affair is over. Just for you, we’d like to share some of our culinary escapades with you while we were away.

Only 690 calories!

Lunch on day one was sort of an emergency. We flew in on Jet Blue early in the morning, checked into our nice little hotel right near the mall, and trudged through the uncharacteristically hot fall day to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum.  By the time we were done there, it was the high heat of the day and we were tired and emotional. Lunch was a necessity and there was no time to troll Yelp or Urbanspoon for recommendations so we set sail past protesters and lost families in search of anyplace with a table and food.

And we found the Corner Bakery. It was on a corner. How original.

The food there was less than enjoyable. Jason blew 46% of his daily calorie allowance on chicken salad with raisins and almonds on some dry slice of wheat bread. Mark “enjoyed”  a ham and cheese sandwich and some wilted Caesar salad. They were served with a side of crushed potato chips and a pickle which was still more of a cucumber. Oh! And the personnel there seem to be adverse to cleaning off tables so it’s hard to find a clean place to sit at.

"Above all, have a good time!"

After the less than edible lunch, it was time to pay homage to the one and only Julia Child! Her kitchen was a mere half mile from the Corner Bakery and we couldn’t resist!

You can almost picture Julia and Paul sitting at this table.

It was really a great experience to be that close to her kitchen. Granted we had to stand in a small plexiglass vestibule to get close enough for a picture that was 25% reflection of what was behind you, but it was still an experience!

It was the subtle things that we loved the most about her kitchen. Her shelf of cookbooks had many of the staples that you would expect. The Joy of Cooking, Larousse Gastronomique and other essentials were coated in splattered food and peppered with oversized fingerprints. They were loved. They were used. But one shelf above the must-have cookbooks were HER cookbooks.

Her proud library

And the best part? These too were used. Coated in drops of gravy and splatters of red wine. If it weren’t for the plexiglass barrier, we most likely could have smelled that wonderful aroma that comes with books that have aged and been put to good use.

Open concept!

She was kind of a kitchen tool hoarder, but in a good way.

You can almost smell the stew, can't you?

Being gay and being in the Museum of American History, we had to also track down the ruby slippers. So we did. But they were more maroon than ruby. Which was kind of sad.

With a little crisco, they might actually fit Mark if we tried.

After a very gay-centered tour of the Smithsonian (Julia’s kitchen, ruby slippers and the First Lady’s exhibit) we needed a nap. After a few hours of relaxing, we were ready to have a little dinner at a nearby McCormick and Schmicks.

Moules mariniere

Perhaps it is because we have been spoiled by Legal Seafoods. Perhaps it was because the martinis and dessert was so much better than the dinner, but we weren’t thrilled here either.

Mahi Mahi and Cosmo!

Poor Mark. He ordered pecan crusted mahi mahi but what came out was a filet with a pecan jam on top. It was swimming in what appeared to be chicken noodle soup with gnocchi.

Um, yes please

But the dessert! Holy hell! Chocolate espresso creme brulee with fresh berries. Across the table from that? A flourless chocolate cake sundae. Bailey’s on the rocks and an Irish Cream coffee, too! It was heaven.

Um, yummers. Like totally. But the strange part? When the waiter brought our bill he asked if we wanted to buy discounted movie tickets. What? For real? Why is a seafood place (that isn’t good at making seafood) selling Regal Theater tickets?

We came to DC for a wedding and it was truly wonderful.

A CD of songs they love

The food was delish and the atmosphere was simply gorgeous. We didn’t take any photos of the food at the wedding because we were too busy talking and drinking. But it was divine from start to finish! We did get a cool shot of the venue:

National Building Museum

But, before the wedding started, we had a dirty goose martini with blue cheese and bacon stuffed olives. It only seemed right.

Dirty girl

So now here we are. Back home in suburban Boston, planning out our next week of culinary adventures. We bought some quinoa to cook with for the first time so that should be interesting!

Thanks for letting us get away for a few days!

But seriously, damn it. Enough cheating on us with that amazingly sweet blog that we love to bake from. We were only gone a few days.

xoxo

Mark’s Mother’s Chili

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Not your average chili

We love our slow cooker (or crock pot to some of you).

We love our slow cooker so much we would take her out for a nice dinner at Sonsie. Afterward, we would buy tickets for a Duck Tour so she could be exposed to the wild world outside of our pantry. Sure it would look like a scene out of the movie Girl, Interrupted, but it’s a risk we would take to show our gratitude for her hard work. If people can clip their nails on the MBTA Green Line, we can take our slow cooker out for a night on the town.

After all, how many people do you know have the ability to work non-stop for 10 hours without so much as a break just to cook you a nice roast? No one can stay focused on one task longer than our slow cooker. She has chutzpah; her mind set on the final goal of delivering us a meal cooked perfectly and free from salmonella or E-coli.

We love her so much we use her even when we really don’t need to. Like in the case of this chili.

You’ll Need
Vegetable cooking spray
1 pound ground beef (we used angus)
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper
7 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
Sliced green onions (optional)
Ditalini pasta

Coat a large saucepan with the cooking spray and set on stovetop over a medium-high heat. Add your onion, meat and garlic and sauté until the meat is cooked. Drain your meat in a sieve and return to the pan.

Beautiful Beans

There is something very pretty about kidney beans, you know? We don’t revere them like we do our slow cooker, but they are pretty to look at when photographed under the right light.

Well, who isn’t?

Dress them up, and take them out!

Anyway, add in your drained beans and the next 8 ingredients (through pepper) in a separate bowl and stir until mixed. Add the mixture to the cooked meat. Cover and reduce the heat and allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. We also got a little greedy and added some cooked bacon to the mixture and this point. It was heavenly.

Ditalini or shrunken ziti?

Meanwhile, cook the ditalini according to the instructions on the box and combine with the mixture in a large serving bowl.  Here is where our love for our slow cooker came in and we added the mixture to the cooker to stew it a little longer. To avoid the chili drying out, we didn’t let it stew very long.

Serve with a dallop of sour cream and a fistful pinch of Mexican shredded cheese. You could also garnish with some chopped scallions if so desired, to add a little heat and some color. Serve with some cornbread on the side and a good seasonal beer.

It is beyond good chili. Don’t picture a chili that is swimming in beans and stew. That is Wendy’s. This is home-cooked. This right here will warm your heart. This is love.

With or without your slow cooker.

xoxo

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream w/ Mint Chips

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Unhealthy in every aspect.

We feel so Amish right now. You can go ahead and rank us right up there with any gay Amish couple because we can churn cream like the best of them.

Well, that is a lie because we had a machine do most of the creaming and mixing for us while we watched and took some photos with our iPhone, so I guess we couldn’t be farther from a same-sex Amish couple.

Do they have same-sex Amish couples? Life without Lady Gaga, Glee and Cuisinart appliances sounds like hell to us, but we’d love to have a gay Amish couple over for dinner to talk about this and learn how it works.  We’ll add that to our “60 Before 60 List”  between learning how to make licorice (#48) and petting a real toucan (#46).

We’d ask about their fantastic hats and the steeds that pull their bedazzled buggy. We could share with them the magic of Home Goods, Sur le Table and Crate and Barrel. They could bring us some butter. They would share their craziest memory from Rumspringa. We would whip out our prom pictures. There would be giggling until 2am.

We’d be best of friends.

We’d make them ice cream for dessert.

You’ll need:
3 cups of heavy cream (half and half would work too)
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds of one vanilla bean)
1/4 cup of mint chocolate chips

Or you could just drink it as is

Add all of the above ingredients (minus the chips) into a saucepan and heat lightly until the sugar dissolves. We used a whisk and it worked perfectly. To test, dip a spoon into the mixture and taste. Can you taste any grainy sugar? No? Perf. Transfer your mixture into a bowl and chill.

Oh! We had never seen vanilla bean paste before, so here is what it looks like. Take it from us, it’s a lot easier to use this rather than risk slitting your finger off trying to squeeze beans directly from the vanilla bean pod. Market Basket has it!

Life (and finger) saver!

Meanwhile, in the freezer, you should be freezing the cylinder from inside your ice cream maker. Once the cream mixture is chilled and the cylinder frozen, you are ready to churn some ice cream.

You might need a Lactaid handy

Slowly pour your cream mixture into the ice cream maker and then let it churn for about 20 minutes.

Then, add the mint chocolate chips. Your ice cream maker may grunt and be visibly upset that you added some chunks to her otherwise smooth creation, but she will get over it.

You won't regret it

While it churns, you will notice it bulk up a bit and eventually look like freshly scooped ice cream. After about 30 minutes, transfer to a bowl or plastic container and freeze for a few more hours until firm.

The result is a fancy schmancy batch of homemade ice cream, ready to serve to your favorite Amish gay couple! If only we knew how to get a hold of one…

xoxo