Saturday, February 19, 2011

Noodles so good

In an effort not to sound like a jerk, I restrain myself from talking about my relatively recent vegetarianism. But it's relevant here so, brace yourself; you're going to hear about it.

We had a holiday potluck at work, as usual, and I had a brilliant plan: pick over whatever raw veggies and breads I could scope out. Oh wait, did I say brilliant plan? I meant ~moronic plan. But the truth is, you never know what people put in their foods so it's hard to judge some dishes and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Well, as I strolled along the potluck line, I saw some noodles that, to the naked eye, looked simple and meatless. I took a bit and was surprised to find they were quite lovely; spicy, sesame-y and flavorful. I asked around then cold-called (cold-emailed?) the woman in the office that brought them in, asking for the recipe. She was happy to send it over and I giddily went to making them at home. Here's the thing with these noodles, though: they get better a day or two after they're made. The recipe even calls for letting the oils absorb into the noodles for 4 or more hours but overnight, it's even better!

Also, I didn't have roasted peanuts on hand when I made them and it was still delish (the green onions and cilantro are not as non-negotiable, though).

If you have plain sesame seeds, toasting them is just a matter of warming them up in fry pan until they become fragrant.

I love love love these noodles...


8 oz. capellini (or thin spaghetti)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp dry crushed red pepper
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt (may omit)
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

1. Cook noodles, but don’t overcook, as they’ll soften with dressing. Set noodles aside.

2. Heat oil, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper over medium heat about 2 minutes. Stir in honey, soy sauce and salt and bring just to a simmer.

3. Toss warm dressing with pasta and refrigerate, covered for 4 hours or more for flavors to blend.

4. Just before serving, toss in cilantro, green onions, sesame seeds and peanuts.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Whoopies on Valentines

I think I'm finally coming to the realization that I don't think things through. When I read a recipe that says, Pistachio Whoopie Pies with Rosewater buttercream, I think, Ooo pretty pink! I go through all the steps to make my first whoopie pies ever then take a bite and cringe. 'ugh it tastes like FLOWER.' Never in my many years have I smelled a rose and thought, Man, I wanna chow down on THAT. But I have no one to blame but myself. It's ROSEWATER. It's going to taste like roses.

That being said, I had some leftover vanilla buttercream from a baby shower cake I made a week or so ago and tried that in one of these instead of the rose flavored. It was very nice, I must say. So my rec, and this is just personal taste, is to go with vanilla for these. And if you're wondering if you might dig rosewater buttercream, just imagine stuffing a rose into your mouth. Good? Okay, then go for it.

As previously mentioned, these are my first whoopie pies. They didn't look as poofy in the picture... Those are normal sized cupcake liners so you can see how big just a small ice cream scoop size produced. They're pretty filling when you smack two together with some flower-flavored buttercream. (Just color the vanilla pink! It'll look the same!!) I'd like to try some other flavors, though; they're a cute idea but have a short lifespan. The recipe recommends serving that day and after storing in a baggie over night, they had gone a little sticky from the moisture and such. So keep their shelf-life in mind!

Source: Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup ground pistachios

Position a rack in the center of the over and preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt into a medium bowl.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and both sugars on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the egg, beating well. Add the vanilla.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and 1/2 cup buttermilk and beat until completely combined. Add the pistachios and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop or 2-tablespoon scoop, drop about 2 tablespoons of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes begin to brown. Let the cakes cool on the sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Makes about 30 four-inch cakes.


2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon rosewater or rose essence
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 drops red food coloring

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the confectioners' sugar and the butter, starting on low and increasing to medium speed, until mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, rosewater, vanilla, salt and red food coloring and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.


Source: Wilton

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Makes: About 1 1/2 cups of icing

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.