Thursday, May 15, 2008

Le Sigh

I miss baking.

Somehow, SAT prep training, substitute teacher training, and writing 5 curricula are not conducive to kitchen inventiveness.

I'll be back soon. I hope.

Kay

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Boca and Birthdays

It's official--my final grades are in (straight As) and my degree status is certified (Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude). I've moved in with my father, and I'm already working my tail off to get ready for teaching drama next year.

Despite the chaos of moving and working, I've managed to get a little baking in--specifically, a custom birthday cake for my cousin. I spent all morning in the kitchen yesterday, making a four-layer cinnamon buttercream cake with marshmallow fondant, and it was completely worth dyeing my fingers purple. With help from my amazing cake decorating book and advice culled from the brilliant minds of the Daring Bakers who have left me feedback, my cake turned out beautifully. I know I'm no Ace of Cakes, but I'm pretty happy with how the cake turned out--as was my cousin! I'm so happy I could help her celebrate her sweet 16 with a fun and tasty cake. I really hope that I'll be able to bake in this upcoming year, what with running the theatre and teaching classes all day....

Kiky's 16th Birthday Cake





le sigh,

Kay

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pretending to Be a Grown-Up is Hard...

Once again, I apologize for the lack of updates. I feel like this blog has just been one giant excuse: "Sorry I don't have any pictures for you, but..." I swear I've been baking. I just haven't had a chance to a) bake anything new or b) take pictures of the things I've baked.

After the show ended, I spent the next week settling in (mentally) to my new job. Yes, friends, I have been asked to take over the Olympic Heights High School drama department next year. I am so honored to have been given such incredible responsibility--and to know that I've earned the trust and respect of a wonderful faculty and administration. Needless to say, however, with great responsibility comes great panic attacks.

So I'm getting next year ready now. I've been trying to write curricula for the 4 different classes I will be teaching, picking the fall play and the spring musical, and putting together materials for the Thespian competition. Speaking of which, my amazing sister is starring in her high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors on the main stage at this year's State Thespian competition. I'm pretty proud of that kid--she's off to college this summer, and I'm praying that she'll consider the B.F.A. program, because she is damn talented. (I hope you're reading this, Ari!)

Anyway. So I've been working my tail off to get my stuff together and ready for next year--and even next week, because I'm moving back home tomorrow after graduation, and I'll be skulking around the school, trying to get my feet wet before the semester ends.*

Speaking of which: graduation.

I am not ready for that one. I have only been in college for three years--and only here at the University of Florida for one. I went to pick up my honor cords today, and it's official: I'm summa cum laude. 4.0. I still don't think I've actually learned anything, but hey. I'm out of here. I don't know if I can deal with that.

In any case, I'm going to spend my last night here with my friends, eating Better Than Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffeecake Muffins and pretending that I don't have to say goodbye.

I'll be back in the kitchen--my dad's kitchen--on Monday.

Kay

*By the way, I'm not Kay anymore...My students have to call me Ms. P. That's gonna be weird. Gee Whiz. I'm not sure how I feel about this "being a grown up" thing.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cheesecake and Standing O's--A Week of Insanity

It's finally over...and I'm not sure it's hit me yet. Where the Bee Sucks, or Christopher Marlowe is Dead was one of the best experiences of my life. It's so strange to see the words that I wrote on paper--words that I labored over, fretted about, changed, rhymed, and manipulated--were really brought to life in front of an audience. And not only were they brought to life, but they were brought to life convincingly--my actors did such an absolutely incredible job, and I couldn't have asked for a better director or stage manager. I can't stop gushing. I'll post a link to photographs as soon as I have them uploaded to my computer.

Now on to the reason for this post being here so early in the morning: The April Daring Bakers challenge. I have no idea how I managed to muster up the time or the energy to complete it, but here goes:

Cheesecake Pops.

I was a little apprehensive about making these, mainly because the recipe called for five 8 oz packages of cream cheese--and in today's economic climate, well...and then there was also the water bath and the incredibly long cook time (especially since I usually had about 1 hour or less between each of my comings and goings in the past month). But somehow, I managed.

These cheesecake pops are made by preparing an actual cheesecake and then scooping out 2 oz balls, putting them on lollipop sticks, and then dipping them in tempered chocolate and various toppings (which were left to our respective discretions). I went with a plain cheesecake (no fancy flavorings) and graham cracker and sprinkle toppings.

The cheesecake was a little bit difficult to make, and, like many of the other DBers, I had a very long bake time. For some reason, the middle of the cake took forever to bake, while the sides browned nicely. I had a little extra batter left over because I only have a 9" cake pan, so I poured the remaining batter into my mini muffin pan and baked it in an impromptu water bath made from one of my cookie sheets. Those minis cooked perfectly. Duly noted for next time.

While I'm sure the cheesecake pops are great for gifts or party favors, I didn't even get a chance to stand them up and make them look all pretty--they were eaten straight out of the refrigerator by my roommates and friends. Apparently, they taste incredible.

The only real problem I had with them was getting them not to melt and fall off of the lollipop sticks. Here in Florida, it's too darn humid to keep them out of the fridge for more than a couple of minutes. Fortunately, they didn't last long enough to melt.

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Pops





Oh...and I baked my cast and crew a cake, using the amazing cake decorating book from Tartlette as inspiration:

Where Have All the Honeybees Gone Cake
(Yellow Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream filling, Butter Cream Frosting, and Marshmallow Fondant)





I miss the theatre already.

Oh! and one last thing: I was published in the Mangrove Literary Review here at UF. It's just a poem, but I'm still excited that someone thought it was good enough to publish.

What a week!

Kay

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where the Bee Sucks

Once again, I am *SO* sorry for the lack of updates in the past few days. While I have been baking, it's usually done in the two or three seconds I have available to me between trips to the theatre building.

Tonight is the opening of my first full-length play, "Where the Bee Sucks, or Christopher Marlowe is Dead." I have been privileged enough to work with an amazing director, cast, and crew, and now, the baby that we've raised from it's first workshop reading is about to stand on its own two feet. Needless to say, I've been having a panic attack since last week.

I just wanted to share, since I cannot share any cookies today, a trailer that I made to advertise for my play. Enjoy!
video

All right, I'm off to get the day started...and to try not to think about the fact that my play starts in less than 12 hours...

Kay

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tasty, Healthy AND Kosher for Passover!?

Somehow, April is almost over, and Passover is just about here. I figured that, since I have some friends who like to keep kosher for Passover, I should try to find a way to make Kay's Cookies kosher so they can continue to enjoy them this weekend. In that same vein, my mother has been nudging me to make a healthy cookie, especially if it's one that my brother, who has an oat allergy, can eat.

So.

The other day, I saw that Heidi of 101 Cookbooks had posted a recipe for Black Bean Brownies. I did a double take. Black beans in a brownie? Believe it or not, yes. I used her recipe (but, as usual, with a few artful tweaks by yours truly) and they were amazing. The most fabulous part about these brownies is that they're made without flour OR sugar. Sure, there's a sugar substitute, but it's actually quite quirky: Agave nectar. I found some at Mother Earth, and I'm kind of excited to see what else I can do with it in the future.

As for the un-oatmeal oatmeal cookie, I think I hit the jackpot on my first try. While searching for the agave nectar at Mother Earth, I stumbled upon a box of Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) flakes. Quinoa is not only gluten-free, but it's also kosher for passover. I made a basic oatmeal cookie, but substituted quinoa meal for all-purpose flour and quinoa flakes for the oatmeal. ...And then I added melted semi-sweet chocolate...AND cocoa powder.

I'm so happy the way they turned out:

Black Bean Brownies and Double Chocolate Quinoa Cookies


I'm still hoping that there will be time to try making some coconut macaroons before Passover, but starting tomorrow at 3 pm, I will be setting up camp in the Black Box theatre. Speaking of which, if you're in Gainesville (or its surrounding environs) and want to come and see my play, "Where the Bee Sucks, or Christopher Marlowe is Dead," then you should probably head on over to the Florida Players website and reserve your *FREE* tickets. My show is on Wednesday, April 23rd at 8 pm and Saturday, April 26th at 12 pm.

I'm so excited!

Kay

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cookies in the Sun!

Hello hello! I do apologize for the lack of updates. I've been baking like a fiend, but I have barely had a second to post about said baking due to the crazy that is life before tech week. My play opens one week from today, and tech begins on Friday, so I'm basically selling my soul to the theatre until then.

HOWEVER.

I did want to share a piece of wonderful news: Kay's Cookies is in today's edition of the Gainesville Sun! You can click HERE to read the article.

This has been a very good week.

Kay

PS I have some crazy cookies in the works, so hopefully I'll be able to try them out in the very very near future!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pick Me Up and Drop Me...

I apologize for the lack of updates over the past week; this has been a ridiculously busy and emotionally overwhelming couple of days for me. Suffice it to say that, after a trip back to South Florida to see my incredibly talented younger sister's musical and to sort out my life, I am back in Gainesville and officially finished with my undergraduate career. That's right: I turned in my thesis today. It's over.

Now that things are falling into place in terms of my future employment and my monetary and living situations, I'm starting to realize that I graduate in three weeks. That's it. Only three weeks left until I officially have no more excuses. This is the real world, baby.

The worst part about the whole "graduation" thing is that I have to leave my friends. So I've been a little down in the dumps about that. I've been needing a pick me up.

And what better pick me up is there than tiramisu? Tiramisu is a lovely little dessert, the origin of whose name is derived from the Italian for "pick me up." I went out and bought myself some mascarpone cheese and decided to use kahlua and espresso instead of brandy or Marsala wine. And then I made a cookie.

The actual dessert is a combination of ladyfingers soaked in an espresso syrup and covered in layers of mascarpone cheese filling, shaved chocolate, and cocoa powder. So I had to do a bit of maneuvering to make the tiramisu cookie taste just right. I substituted a kahlua-caramel sauce (which I made up) for some of the sugar in my basic sugar cookie recipe, to imitate the taste of a ladyfinger soaked in espresso syrup. Then I put the cookie dough into muffin tins and filled the dough with a mascarpone and kahlua filling as well as two semi-sweet chocolate chips.





Then I covered the cookie with another layer of cookie dough and dusted the tops with cocoa powder. The result was pure yumminess. I am so happy that these came out well...they were a complete experiment, and I pulled the recipe completely out of the air. But when I took them to my friend's house last night, they disappeared in a blink of an eye. So I'm happy with that. Talk about a pick me up!

Tiramisu Cookies


Now, this is a little belated, but I'm slowly catching up with my posting, so:
The other night, my friend asked me to make him some savory drop biscuits. I'm not averse to making savory foods, but I'm much more into baking diabetes-inducing sweets. So this request was a bit of a challenge. But I am not one to turn down a friend's request, so I went on a quest for the perfect Bacon Cheddar Drop Biscuit.

After reading through several different recipes, I couldn't find one that seemed to do the drop biscuit justice. So I tinkered for a bit, combining recipes, changing measurements, and dicing bacon into little, drop-able pieces, until I got a moist, tasty, savory drop biscuit. The house smelled incredible when they came out of the oven...My friend gave 'em two thumbs up--although I, being a semi-vegetarian am not going to be trying them out any time soon! Maybe a regular drop biscuit will be in order in the next few days...mmmm.

Bacon Cheddar Drop Biscuits






Alrighty then. I'm off to use up some tiramisu filling before rehearsal...
Kay

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Another Heads Up:

The Bread Baking Day Celebration Breads round-up is posted. Check out all of the delicious spring-y celebration breads there!

[EDIT]: Also, the Strawberry Seduction Round-up is up now too! Check it out!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

Have you ever watched another human being actually melt? I did, this past Tuesday.

I don't know how the gods managed to align the stars the way they did, but on Monday, I decided that I wanted to make molten chocolate lava cakes and on Tuesday, the Tuesdays with Dorie group decided to make Dorie Greenspan's version. So I had a recipe sitting in front of me, taunting me not to try it.

Of course I did try the recipe, although, me being me, I had to tweak it. And, oh boy, what a tweak. I ended up with these absolutely incredibly gooey mounds of death by chocolate.

So I brought them over to my friend's house, along with a batch of freshly baked Brownie Batter Cookies. The night before, he and I had discussed the possibility of death by chocolate, and how that would be the best way to go. So we decided to test the hypothesis. He ate about 8 cookies and chased them with a glass of chocolate milk. And then the cake. His reaction after the first bite was incredible. I was tempted to call the paramedics.

So, basically what I'm saying is: I'm definitely making these cakes again.
And I'm keeping Shands on standby when I do.


Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes





Kay

(PS a direct quote after the first bite of the cake: "Oh my god. It's almost better than sex!" And that, my friends, is that.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cookies and Amazing-ness

First and foremost, before I do or say anything else, I need to send a HUGE thank you to Tartlette for being so absolutely wonderful. I opened up my mail this afternoon and sitting there was a cake decorating book, which I am SO excited to use. Have I mentioned lately how amazing this foodie blogger community is? Because I am meeting so many lovely, wonderful, supportive people. Thank you thank you thank you!

Secondly, my chocolate graham cracker strawberry cream pie cupcakes were featured in this week's cupcake collection at All Things Cupcake, which was a really pleasant surprise.

Now, onto the cookies:

Two days ago, I realized that I had a bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips in my refrigerator. I didn't just want to do any old thing with them, so I went to Publix in search of something special. I ended up with a bunch of blueberries and a box of Lipton's Blueberry and Pomegranate White Tea. Thus were born the Blue and White Tea Cookies. For some reason, the blueberry ended up making them incredibly moist, and I also ended up using a little too much baking soda (a fact to be remedied in the next batch), so they're a little chewy. But the reception for them has still been quite good. One of my friends got his hands on them after rehearsal and couldn't stop eating them. "They're like muffin cookies!" he exclaimed.

Blue and White Tea Cookies




I have to admit something: I think I'm obsessed with baking with chocolate. I love it. I don't know why. But yesterday's experiment was an experiment in chocolate madness. I'm actually dedicating these to Shannon, who is playing the lead role in my play (which opens in 22 days!!!). We were having a conversation the other day about our favorite desserts (because, when I'm not baking, I'm talking about baking), and she mentioned that she had a terrible weakness for brownie batter. I agreed, but confessed a fear that eating any sort of eggy batter might be grounds for salmonella.

So I decided to fix the problem.

I decided on Brownie Batter Cookies. This cookie is a variation of my basic sugar cookie, saturated in cocoa powder. Where's the brownie batter, you ask? I decided to make an eggless brownie batter, minus the baking soda and salt. I filled my cupcake decorator with the batter and fitted it with a Bismarck tip so I could fill the warn cookies with the gooey brownie mix. Heaven in a cookie? You bet your rear end it's heaven.

Brownie Batter Cookies


So that's that. I'm gonna go bury my nose in my new cake decorating book! I can't wait to give it a try!

Kay

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Bakers March Challenge: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

Ahhh, Daring Bakers, how I love thee. This month's challenge was a recipe from Dorie Greenspan, the "Perfect Party Cake." This cake is light, fluffy, and perfect for embellishment with berries and buttercream. It is made with lemon zest and a little bit of buttermilk, so there's a nice tangy undertone, which only enhances the sugary goodness of the whole cake.

I am still working on being a cake decorator. As it stands, I'm decidedly not going to be, say, featured on Ace of Cakes any time in the near future. I can decorate a mean cookie, but when it comes to cakes, I freeze up. I'm working on it though. So my cake, which was filled with raspberry preserves and swiss buttercream, and topped with buttercream, gum paste flowers, and fondant bunnies, is a little sloppy looking. I love love love the Daring Bakers, though, because I posted about my difficulties, and I got all kinds of advice and support. So the next cake is gonna be awesome:







I actually spent Spring Break planning this cake. I made the gum paste flowers on Tuesday, the bunnies on Friday, and the cake that Sunday. I brought it in to rehearsal for my actors that Monday--and it was a hit. I highly recommend checking out all of Dorie's recipes--there's group of bakers who do "Tuesdays With Dorie," where they bake a different recipe and post about their experiences with it every Tuesday. It's kind of awesome.

Anywho, I'm off to finish editing my thesis...more soon!

Kay

Friday, March 28, 2008

Coffee Cake...in a Cookie.

I thought I couldn't top the last cookie. But I think this one (almost) literally takes the cake.

I didn't have much on hand yesterday, but I had the itch to bake a batch of somethings. So bake a batch of somethings I did. I remembered that a friend of mine happened to be a huge fan of crumb cake, and that he'd been having kind of a bad week. It seemed the only thing to do was bake some crumb cake-like cookies. My only problem was how to get the crumb cake part on the cookie. With my red velvets and boston cream pies, I fill the insides with the frosting. With the strawberry shortcakes, I fill the insides but sort of work the strawberry cream throughout. But a crumb cake is topped with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and all purpose flour. If I filled a cookie with that, it would just bake into the cookie, all uneven and fairly awkwardly. If I just put a crumble on the top after the cookies baked, it would all fall off. Not my idea of a good cookie.

So I decided on coffee cake. More specifically, coffee buttercream frosting, which would allow me to press a crumb cake-like topping onto the cookie, which would keep the insides awkward-free and the tops attached. So I took my basic cookie recipe and quadrupled the brown sugar, took down some of the white, and added a little bit of espresso for taste. I didn't have my usual buttercream recipe with me in the kitchen, so I improvised. Oh Oh OH my god. It's SO good. (Related anecdote: I came home after rehearsal last night, and my roommate asked me, "Kay, what is that stuff you have in the fridge." I replied, "Leftover Coffee Buttercream Frosting, why?" Quoth she, "I hope you don't mind, but I tasted it. And then took a big spoonful. It's amazing.")

I went through two batches of these last night. Two! And both times they just...disappeared. I'm SO happy with these. I love when mad experiments work out right. I love baking cookies. And most of all, I love sharing them with my friends. When they're smiling, so am I.

Baking could easily be a religion. I think it might actually be mine. After all, pure vanilla extract is the ultimate Good.

Here's a (visual) taste of the Coffee Cake Cookie:




Kay

Monday, March 24, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Adventures in Marshmallow Fondant...

I have so much whipped strawberry pastry cream in my refrigerator. I don't know what to do with it! I made it for the strawberry shortcake cookies and used maybe three tablespoons tops. I could make about 20 more batches if I wanted to.

Now that I'm finished with my thesis, I'm feeling a little purposeless. Yes, I've been making phone calls and finalizing plans for my post-graduate life, but there are still large chunks of time, where all I can think to do is to kick my roommates out of the kitchen and just bake.

I had some homemade marshmallow fondant in the fridge from an experiment last weekend, as well as the aforementioned whipped cream, and so it seemed that the obvious thing to do was to make (Chocolate) Strawberry Cream Pie Cupcakes. And since strawberry pies usually have graham cracker pie crusts, I had to make graham cracker cupcakes. With lots and lots of cocoa powder.

The fun thing about these cupcakes (one of the many) is that I substituted finely crushed graham cracker crumbs for the majority of the flour. There was a fairly protracted baking time, at least in terms of cupcakes, but so worth it. Besides, I wasn't in a rush.

Once the little lovely cupcakes had cooled, I cut out the centers and filled them with that whipped pastry cream, which, might I add, is thick with pieces of fresh strawberry and fresh strawberry juice:





Yummy. So I still had some fondant that needed to be molded into something happy, and, since it's finally spring here and Easter is on its way, I decided to be corny and make happy little Easter bunnies. My roommates came home from class and found me on my knees, pressed against the counter, adding details to the bunny faces with a toothpick. I think they think I'm nuts. Fortunately, they're right. And the bunnies came out well.

Then I realized that the bunnies needed some grass in which to hide their fondant eggs, so I had to make a stiff butter cream frosting and dye it green. For grass.

The result was great. I'm not a decorator by ANY means...but I'm really proud of these really happy spring cupcakes.

(Chocolate) Strawberry Cream Pie Cupcakes






And the best part about all of this? My long-lost friend Nina came to visit Gainesville last night, and the bunnies were there to mark the occasion!

I'm submitting these guys for the Spring Funny Cuppy contest...so we'll see how that goes!

Kay

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Best Recipes....EVER.

I cannot even begin to describe how good the two recipes you are about to read taste. Just...wow. Really.

So, let's start with yesterday's cupcakes, which I made for this month's Cupcake Hero contest. As soon as I heard that this month's special ingredient was marshmallow, my mind began to whir. I had no desire to do a rocky road or some sort of spring themed marshmallow-y cupcake. I wanted to do something different. And then I thought,"What flavors go well with marshmallow?" The answer? sweet potato. The result of an afternoon of experimenting in my kitchen was an extremely sticky, absolutely sinful, spiced Sweet Potato Cupcake with Marshmallow Creme Filling. Oh god. The responses from my friends ranged from "Oh my god, this is by far your best recipe ever" to contented silence because their mouths were full of cupcake. I'm SO happy with this one. The marshmallow creme was a pain in the rear end to work with, but the end result was worth the sticky hands and the insane clean up.


Say hello to my sticky little friends...




Today's kitchen adventure was even more rewarding than yesterday's, and that's saying something. I finished the first draft of my thesis at 3:30 this afternoon--and I was in the need of a little catharsis. I ran to my kitchen and flung open the refrigerator door. I was confronted by a carton of strawberries, which were so gorgeous and ripe and waiting to be baked into a cookie. Thus was the Strawberry Shortcake Cookie born. A regular strawberry shortcake is made by putting whipped cream and fresh strawberries between a pastry or a scone. My cookie is a very soft sugar cookie filled with a whipped pastry cream and fresh strawberries.

I had a hell of a time making the whipped cream, mainly because I don't have a mixer and have to whip the cream by hand. But it was so worth the effort. When I brought the cookies to rehearsal this evening, I watched my friends' eyes grow big and bright as they took their first bites. These are the best cookies I've made to date, I think. And I still have a ton of whipped cream left. I'm thinking that I'll have to make at least another batch. At least.

Strawberry cookies forever!




I'm contributing these amazing little morsels of strawberry goodness to the Strawberry Seduction roundup. Check it out after April 4th!

I'm so happy with these two recipes. Now the question is: will I be able to top them?

Kay

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Luck 'O' The Irish...

[EDIT]: BY THE WAY: Check out my head shot photography page. It has been updated! Now, on to your regularly scheduled posting. [/EDIT]

I honestly thought about going for the cliché and baking green cookies. I managed to quell the urge, however. Instead, I went for the next best thing: more beer bread!

Now, here's the thing about beer bread: while the basic recipe is always the same, with every new beer you add to the main ingredients, you change the taste and texture, sometimes entirely. As you might remember, I did make beer bread for Super Bowl Sunday--two different loaves, actually: Black Lager and Honey Porter. I remember the Lager being distinctly better than the Porter, at least as per my roommates and their friends' between-play comments.

But for St. Patrick's Day, I decided to add a little cliché to my non-green bread: Guinness. Oh my gosh, the smell that pervaded my house as it baked....mmmmmmmm. I brought the loaf to my rehearsal, and it was gone within minutes. The bread was so rich and flavorful, I can hardly imagine using any other beer ever again. I don't know how well it keeps that amazing, moist goodness, as even the second batch (baked at the request of my friends) barely lasted more than 20 minutes, but I can only assume.

This bread is definitely worth every second of its long bake time. And, it is quite possibly, the best way to add a little Irish to your St. Patrick's Day.

Guinness Bread







Now, how to do easter without falling into the usual bunny-and-eggs clichés....?

Kay

P.S. I'm taking part in this month's BreadBakingDay, which you can read about here. Yay for March celebration breads!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Perfect Day for Bananafish (Cookies)

I believe very strongly that fiction has the ability to change lives--in fact, I've had my life changed by several authors, whose works I continue to read and reread whenever possible. Among them are included: Norton Juster, who wrote The Phantom Tollbooth, which made me first fall in love with the power of the English language (and decide that I wanted to be a writer); Kurt Vonnegut, whose Cat's Cradle I encountered at a very difficult spiritual time in my life and learned that I was not alone in my feelings of cynicism and (then) almost hostile agnosticism (which came from a mixture of feelings of abandonment by god and shock at being duped into believing all my life); Mikhail Bulgakov, whose The Master and Margarita is still, to this day, my absolute favorite work of fiction; and Tom Stoppard, who wrote The Real Inspector Hound, which inspired me to become a playwright and The Real Thing , which is one of the most simply complex and powerful pieces of theatre I have ever encountered.

So when I saw the Novel Food round-up being hosted by Champaign Taste and Briciole, I had no idea how I could a) pick a piece of literature that has had a profound enough impact upon me to inspire a recipe and b)write a recipe that could represent a work that means something to me. But I've been thinking long and hard about it, and it came to me this past weekend: J.D. Salinger's "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."

"Bananafish" is not a novel, but a short story, which is the first of his published Nine Stories. The first time I read it, I cried. It's one of the most powerful short stories that has ever been written...and yet it is so simple, so utterly honest that it has enchanted, and continues to enchant, me completely. After "Bananafish," Salinger wrote the novellas Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters and Seymour, as well as the novel Franny and Zooey, which all revolve around Seymour, the young man who spends his last day on earth on a beach helping a little girl look for a bananafish. Among other things.

I don't want to give anything away, because I highly suggest that you find a copy of this story and read it. Then read it again and keep it somewhere that you can grab it whenever you feel the need to have your reason for being alive reaffirmed.

Until then, enjoy my Perfect Day for Bananafish Cookies:






The cookies are a sort of variation of the checkerboard cookies, although they're SO much softer and, I think, much tastier. The banana flavor is not overpowering by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, my roommate, who says she's not a fan of banana flavored anything, loves them.

It took a long time to make the cookies, because a) they're refrigerator cookies and had to be frozen before the dough could be manipulated and then refrozen once they were shaped, and b) I had to find a way to make the fish shape stay when I wrapped the chocolate banana dough around the regular banana dough. It was a struggle--I went through two different variations of the banana cookie recipe before I was satisfied--but SO worth it.

"On the sub-main floor of the hotel, which the management directed the bathers to use, a woman with zinc salve on her nose got into the elevator with the young man.
'I see you're looking at my feet,' he said to her when the car was in motion.
'I beg your pardon?' said the woman.
'I said I see you're looking at my feet.'
'I beg your pardon. I happened to be looking at the floor,' said the woman, and faced the doors of the car.
'If you want to look at my feet, say so,' said the young man. 'But don't be a God-damned sneak about it.'
-"A Perfect Day For Bananafish by J.D. Salinger

Kay

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cocktail Cookies!

After the success of my Cuba Libre cookies, I decided to continue experimenting with the leftover alcohol that's been sitting on the top of my fridge. (Since I'm not going to drink it, I might as well put it to good use, right?)

Yesterday I created my own bar mix (which is basically a simple sugar syrup with lime juice--you can buy it prepackaged at the store, but where's the fun in that?) and used that in the place of some of the regular sugar in my recipe. And, of course, I added a couple tablespoons of rum and/or a tequila triple sec mix. The cookies are topped with a glaze that is basically just a cocktail with a little extra sugar.

I made two different batches; the first is a Mojito cookie, which is a mix of rum, lime, and mint. They turned out absolutely wonderful--the rum bakes beautifully, and the cookies are soft and puffy. I also made a Margarita cookies, which is tequila, triple sec, and lime, although I don't like the way tequila bakes. That's not to say that the cookies didn't turn out well; they just don't taste as soft and cakey as the ones with rum. I think I also need to add more lime to really enhance that margarita flavor. They're a little sticky and shiny because of the bar mix in the glaze, but that makes them all the more fun.

Mojito and Margarita Cookies



Also, I made a new website. It's from a free web host, so it's not fantastic, but hey! It's got a much more interactive menu, where you can check out the four different types of cookies I offer as well as the recipes you've all seen on this site in a handy-dandy list form.

Enjoy: Kay's Cookies

Kay

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mmmm Peanut Butter

The other night, a friend of mine mentioned that he loves cookies with peanut butter cups inside of them. All it took was that one offhand mention, and suddenly my mind was whirring with the possibilities. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies. Mmmmmm.

But, of course, since I'm insane (and bored out of my mind...and avoiding my thesis), I made my own peanut butter cups. I have a candy mold from Wilton, that amazing, wonderful company that has pretty much corned the market on baking supplies, and I had a jar of peanut butter, chocolate chips, and graham cracker crumbs.

Once I'd frozen my peanut butter cups, the only logical next step was to decide what kind of cookie to stuff them inside. The only logical answer, of course, was peanut butter cookies. I made the dough, formed them into balls and then made a small depression in the center with my thumb. I sprinkled a little bit of that graham cracker into the depression, and then pushed a peanut butter cup into the cookie--and then sprinkled with a tiny bit more graham cracker. I tested them out on my friend last night and I think we have an A+ plus cookie here.

Enjoy:

Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Cup Cookies







I have SO many new cookies I want to try. I wish spring break were over so I had more people to feed!

Kay

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Check, Mate!

I officially hate Spring Break.
It's been exactly one day, and I'm already bored to tears. All three of my roommates have gone home, and most of my friends are off on exciting trips to New York, Europe, or various beach-y locales. I'm stuck here--although, fortunately, I will be visited by two of my best friends from high school at various points this week.

I began working on my thesis yesterday, but I was so thoroughly uninterested in it that I took a break to bake. I ended up making a very neat little confection, known as the checkerboard cookie. The cookie is made up of chocolate and vanilla dough, enhanced by a splash of lemon juice and some ground walnuts. I mean, that's not what the original recipe calls for, but I thought I'd take some (very important) liberties with it. I also played with some spices to make the basic sugar-cookie-type recipe a little more exciting.

The best part about this cookie is that the dough is meant to be frozen and kept for future use, so I baked a small batch, but I'll still have enough dough left in reserve for when my friends come home. And they just look so damn cool:









Yum.

Kay

Friday, March 7, 2008

You'd Like a Menu, You Say?

So, I realized that, while Blogger does a lovely job with providing labels for each of my posts (so that if you want to filter out my random posts and get straight to the cookies, you can), I really needed just a plain old straightforward menu.

So here it is: The official menu

And I'll be updating it constantly, so that you'll know what new flavors I've been tinkering with.

I'm also kicking myself because I didn't take pictures of them before I brought them to my friends' house last night, but I came up with a recipe for a Cuba Libre cookie in honor of Fidel Castro's momentous decision to get the hell out of office. Unfortunately, Cuba is not exactly libre yet. But the cookies are damn good.

It's an interesting flavor mix; I took my Better Than Chocolate Chip recipe and deleted the chocolate chips while taking out half of the sugar (replacing it with a honey/coca cola/rum syrup). There's a splash of lime juice in the syrup, as well as in the rum and coke glaze. It's not too sweet and it has a very smooth flavor with a nice little citrus kick at the end.

I wish I had a picture for you, but until then, just close your eyes and imagine...

And if you have any suggestions for flavor combinations, I'm all ears!

Kay

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Warm-And-Fuzzies

Guess what I woke up to yesterday?

My very own FACEBOOK FAN GROUP!

I'm so touched. And happy. I have some wonderful friends.

Yesterday, I made my Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Better Than Muffins and brought them to rehearsal. We ended up using the bowl as a prop during a fight scene, and one of my actors couldn't concentrate on his lines because he was so worried about dropping a single muffin. Like the title of this post says, I've got the warm-and-fuzzies.

More food to come...

Kay

Sunday, March 2, 2008

An Apple A Day...

I'm going to blame it on my little sister Katie. It started when I baked an apple pie for Christmas dinner...a pie that soon became an integral part of Katie's every meal for the next week. As soon as the pie was gone, however, I could sense the air of dejection that followed her into the kitchen. It seemed silly to bake another apple pie, especially since I had wanted to bake some fancier New Year's desserts, but I knew I needed to give Katie her daily apple pie fix.

The answer?

Apple Pie Cookies, of course!

The recipe is comprised of a pastry/cookie shell filled with a traditional apple pie filling (loaded with little pieces of crisp granny smith apples) that has been thickened with extra brown sugar. The cookie is filled with lovely fall-type spices: allspice, nutmeg, and, since I'm obsessed with it, tons of cinnamon.

Katie (and the rest of my family) LOVED them. So it's a recipe that I've kept near and dear to my heart these last 2 months.

And then I stumbled upon the "Apple a Day" blog event:

so I thought that now would be the perfect time to whip out the apples and cinnamon and get to work. I can't give away the recipe, so I'm not participating in the event per se, but lots of luck to the ladies and gents who bake up some brain food!

Thusly:

Apple Pie Cookies





Gotta love 'em.

ALSO you should seriously consider checking out my headshot blog, which I'll be updating even more in the next couple of days due to some amazing photo sessions with some truly lovely, amazing people. Click HERE.

Love and Cookies,

Kay

Friday, February 29, 2008

Julia Child's French Bread: Rise for Me?

"Feeeed me, Seymour," screamed the yeast in my poor, thin little batard. I looked down at its pale, dessicated visage and cringed. But then I took a bite, and all was well again.

The Daring Bakers, a group of men and women (and by group I mean there are hundreds of 'em) get together every month to bake the same recipe, chat about the process and post the results on their blogs. I started my blog specifically so that I could become one of these amazing women.

Of course I had to start on the month they decided to follow a fifteen page recipe: Julia Child's French Bread. You can imagine, what with a fifteen page recipe, that it might be time-consuming. You imagine correctly, dear Reader. It took me about eight hours--from first rise to first bite--and though I struggled to get my little yeast to rise for me--which, sadly, the didn't end up doing in as impressive a way as I'd hoped--it turned out pretty damn good.

So, having completed that gargantuan task, and after struggling through the question of how to properly knead the bread and exactly how I was to keep the fire alarm to stop ringing every time I opened the oven to spritz the loaves with water, I'm officially a Daring Baker!

I cannot wait until next month!

Julia Child's French Bread
(for the recipe, click here...if you dare!)





Yay!




Love and Cookies,
Kay

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dreaming in Black and White (Cookies)

I love New York City. I haven't been back (home) since early November, and I won't be going back most probably until July. But today the temperature dropped and I could almost remember the feeling of early spring in the city, so I decided to celebrate it with an icon of the good ol' Big Apple: Black and White Cookies.

Black and White cookies are amazing. When my sister and I were young(er), our parents used to take us to South Florida's version of a New York deli, Toojay's, where Ari and I would split a black and white cookie. There's something truly wonderful about the taste of a black and white, a cakey, spongy base with the sugary goodness of the icing, all with a just-barely-hidden bit of a lemony zest.

I've tried making these before, using an internet copycat recipe that claims to be the recipe used by Zabar's, but I've never had any luck with them. They always come out too dense and hard to be real black and white cookies, which, as the story goes, were originally made from leftover cake batter.

So I tried something new, and the batter came out amazingly cakey and spongy, just as I'd remembered. The icing's consistency required a little tweaking, but I think I got it right. And then I gave one to my roommate, who has never been to New York--she gave it a two thumbs up. Now I just need to find a true New Yorker to give it an authenticity test...

New York Black and White Cookies







I also made another loaf of rosemary focaccia bread last night to compliment the super veggie noodle soup I made for my sick roommates:



And now, I am off to ready myself for rehearsal number three, as well as for my second night of work at Domino's Pizza.

Kay