Pixelated Crumb has Moved!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie from Cook's IllustratedI’m very happy to announce that Pixelated Crumb has moved! You can now find me at http://pixelatedcrumb.com. It’s still the blog you know and love, but with an easier web address and a few improvements that I’ll be adding, such as a ‘print recipe’ feature and a recipe index.

I wanted to let all of you know that since I have now migrated to my own self-hosted site, I have had to switch my email subscription provider from wordpress to feedburner. If you already subscribe to Pixelated Crumb by e-mail, you have already been automatically migrated to the feedburner email subscription platform. All you have to do is accept the email verification that should be in your inbox, and you will continue to receive email updates from Pixelated Crumb. If you don’t see the e-mail, check your spam box or subscribe manually by clicking here: http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=pixelatedcrumb.

If you follow Pixelated Crumb using RSS, don’t forget to update your RSS feed link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/pixelatedcrumb

I’m sorry about the inconvenience, but I hope you enjoy the new site! Stay tuned for Lemon Crinkle Cookies and Adobo Baby Back Ribs on the new site!

Feel free to use the contact form to leave any feedback or let me know if there’s anything you’re dying to see. Thank you for reading Pixelated Crumb!

chocolate cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with white chocolate cream cheese

Birthdays sometimes go unnoticed in my office, and while I can’t bake a cake for everyone, I try to do something. We hired a new project assistant a couple months back and we kind of forgot her birthday. My excuse was that I was working from home because of my never-ending knee problems. But I decided I would bake a cake for her 25th birthday + one week.  You know, keep everyone on their toes about whether or not there was going to be a cake.

I didn’t really know what kind of cake she liked, but I figured that most people like chocolate (how can you not?) and I had seen this stunning cake on tastepotting. I was a little thrown off by the ingredients because I was unfamiliar with golden syrup. I knew it was popular in England (coincidentally, I had read about it just the day before I cake across the recipe), but I didn’t want to go from store to store trying to find it. I have since learned that it’s actually available in every single grocery store I shop in. Oh well.

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cornmeal lime cookies

I promised you some yummy lime treats a while back and it’s taken me forever to deliver! I first had these cookies from Joanne Chang’s new cookbook, Flour, when a friend made them and brought them to work last fall. It was before I had gotten Chang’s book, named after her bakery in Boston, and one bite of this cookie further solidified my need to run out and get this cookbook.

I am first and foremost a chocolate lover, but I also really love both lemon and lime desserts. I used to eat lemons straight up as a kid until my mom got worried about what it was doing to my teeth and made me stop. To this day, one of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks is seltzer with a lot of fresh lemon or lime juice. So I love the sour citruses straight up, but I love the tartness that they lend to desserts. Joseph, unfortunately, tends to be a bit more of a chocolate purist, so I sometimes have to convince him that a lemon or lime dessert can be the perfect refreshing bite , especially on a sunny spring or summer day.

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perfect chocolate chip cookies from cook’s illustrated

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie from Cook's Illustrated

A few weeks ago my sister, Jessica, and I were talking on the phone when she asked me if I had any good chocolate chip cookie recipes. She was asking because she said she had tried several recipes and while they were good, they just didn’t really compare to the classic Nestle Toll House recipe. I can’t tell you how many times we made those cookies together as kids, but I’ve probably made them close to 100 times by now. The Toll House cookies and the apple pie I made every Thanksgiving were the most significant recipes of my childhood. But while I only made the apple pie once a year, the cookies we made whenever we wanted to bake, which was often.

brown and white sugar

As the younger sibling, I got stuck with the easy stuff: the dry ingredients. The wet ingredients always seemed so much more glamorous. Looking back, I’m not really sure what Jessica and I were doing, because those cookies seemed to take forever to make. I think we must have spent at least an hour making the dough, whereas I can now throw it together in about 10 minutes or less. So I really don’t understand what I was doing that took me so long, especially since my main task involved mixing flour, baking soda, and salt together. Perhaps it was because we were climbing on the counters trying to reach the ingredients and we had to stop to snack on the brown sugar and chocolate chips?

butter into browned butter

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key lime pineapple citrus martini

Do you ever have that perfect storm when you have random ingredients that you don’t normally have and it suddenly hits you that you can make something fabulous by combining them? Last Sunday afternoon we sitting around taking it easy and enjoying the nice spring weather.  Joseph suggested a drink on the porch, thinking of the bottle of Gremona Gessami Bianco we had picked up the day before.  But I was thinking of the pineapple juice we had.

When I was a kid, I loved pineapple orange banana juice, but almost never got to have it. I had forgotten all about that, but was reminded when I was looking for pineapple juice at the store to use for our Easter ham in pineapple mustard sauce. There was pineapple peach mango juice and pineapple orange banana, and oh man, I wanted to try them. But our fridge was already bursting, so we just got what we had come for.  All this came back to me when Joseph suggested the drink on the porch.

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glazed vermont ham with pineapple mustard sauce

True to form, I’ve told you about dessert before dinner.  What can I say, I was really excited about that key lime coconut cake! But the dinner definitely held up to the dessert that followed. We didn’t really have any plans for Easter dinner, but wanted something that was easy and celebrated spring. We had planned to make an asparagus and bacon quiche with a goat cheese and strawberry topped salad, but things took a turn when we got to the Whole Foods and saw that Vermont Smoke and Cure had a table set up with a bunch of different samples. We love their pepperoni but had never tried any of their other products. We both tried the ham, took one look at each other, nodded, and I picked out the smallest ham they had while Joseph returned the quiche ingredients that we no longer needed.

I hadn’t even known that ham was a classical Easter dish until about a week ago. I have no real memory of Easter dinner growing up. My Easter memories revolve entirely around the chocolate cake with green coconut grass and peeps that my mom made, and the absolute best Easter egg hunt you could imagine. Our good family friends had a cabin in the Shenandoah’s and we would all head out there for the weekend. After a hearty scrambled egg breakfast, we would venture out into the woods where the “Easter Bunny” (aka our fathers) had hidden eggs. As the youngest, Stanley and I would get a head start before our older sisters raced past us and got all the eggs in the higher branches.

The eggs were a mixture of hard boiled eggs that we had dyed the day before and plastic and metal (yeah, really old school) eggs filled with candy.  After we scoured the woods for eggs, we would sit on the floor, decide who had won the biggest loot prize, and commence trading of candy for our favorites.  Every year there was a “winner” of the special egg: a plastic egg with a carrot or piece of broccoli in it to the great delight of our mothers.  We were considerably less amused. Continue reading

key lime coconut cake

When we were planning our little Easter dinner (just for the two us), I was most excited about picking out a dessert (surprised, anyone?). I scoured recent posts on tastespotting and foodgawker, I checked out Epicurious and the Food Network, and while there many lovely, tasty looking desserts, nothing was jumping out as quite what I was looking for. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I wanted it to be a little bit different, light and spring appropriate, and not too big since it was just the two of us. Then I went to Smitten Kitchen, clicked on the the cake recipes, and there it was: lime coconut cake.  I don’t know what it was about the lime coconut cake, but it just felt right.  It conjured pictures of tropical beaches with crystal clear blue seas and I wanted to go to there.

The cake may not actually transport you to Fiji, but it is exactly what I was looking for. It’s light and moist and the coconut adds a really nice, delicate crunch. Also, I’m just obsessed with lime.  I just love it and I’ve been on a total lime kick lately (I’ll be sharing another lime treat with you soon…).  It’s just so refreshing!

I like coconut, so I don’t know why I never cook with it. In fact, making this cake brought back memories from my bakery days when I worked at Cake Love because that was the last time I worked with coconut (5 years ago!).  I was a prep assistant and one of my jobs was to toast the flaked coconut. My boss was always giving me a hard time about leaving the oven door open too long and letting heat out while cakes were in there baking, while I was just trying to stir a huge, hot sheet overflowing with coconut without spilling it all over the place. It always stressed me out, but man it smelled good. Continue reading

chocolate angel food cake

I love baking for other people.  There’s just so much satisfaction in giving someone one of your favorite treats, like chocolate glazed gingerbread cakes, chocolate raspberry cake, apple cider cake, or a cranberry upside-down cake (can you tell I like cake?). But what about when that person is on a diet?  You’d hardly be a good friend if you showed up with these sinfully delicious, rich, gooey, brownies.

This chocolate angel food cake has become my answer to that.  It’s light and and airy and chocolatey and oh so very good, and the best part? There’s no butter, no egg yolks, no oil, and hey, it’s half air! How bad can it possibly be? It’s a much healthier alternative but it’s still so good, especially served with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.

So when I said I’d bring dessert to a dinner party to celebrate the birthday of a friend that has lost over 30 pounds through several months of hard work and dedication, this is the dessert I immediately thought of.  But I was still pretty wobbly after knee surgery and was a little nervous to committing to that much time standing in the kitchen. What if I got halfway through and just couldn’t stand long enough to finish it? Continue reading

unagi-don (unagi sushi rice bowl)

If you had told me 15 years ago that one of my absolute favorite foods was eel, I would have laughed and told you you were out of your mind. I mean, who eats eel? That’s just craziness. today, freshwater eel, or unagi, is absolutely one of my favorite things. When we go out for sushi, I always save a piece of unagi nagiri for last so that I can end my meal with that perfect bite.

I’m a sucker for sauces and condiments and I just can’t get enough kabayaki sauce, the salty/sweet barbecue-like sauce it’s basted in. After your tongue gets a hit of the kabayaki sauce, you bite through the crunchy exterior to find that it’s melt-in-your-mouth succulent and smokey on the inside. It’s a wonderland of flavor and texture and once I finally tried it, I knew that unagi and I were going to have a very strong lifelong relationship.

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springtime sampler

We finally had some decent weather this past weekend and I was absolutely desperate to get out of the house. We’d never been to New Bedford, a town hailed for being one of the most important whaling ports in the 19th Century, so we made the one hour drive down from Boston and checked out some sites that Joseph had picked out.

The highlight was definitely Margaret’s (actually across the river in Fairhaven), a small, unpretentious seafood restaurant that we picked based on strong Yelp reviews. It was packed but turnover was fast enough that it seemed that no one ever had to wait. They had yummy focaccia at the table waiting for us before we even sat down which is both delightful and dangerous for someone who loves bread as much as I do. We both got seafood plates that had slightly different content, but pretty much the same sauce. The food – especially the huge, sweet, and plump mussels – was delicious and the prices were friendly on the wallet. Simple food done well, amazing prices, awesome service. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by.

We also stopped by Lydia’s, a Portuguese Bakery, for some somewhat unmemorable pastries.  We knew nothing about Portuguese pastries and had no idea what to get, so that may have been the problem.  Next we headed to Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food wholesaler with a retail store open to the public where you can get a $300 jar of winter truffles and enough free food samples to constitute a small lunch. Make sure to bring a jacket if you want to peruse their well-stocked cheese room.

Next was Travessia Winery, an urban winery that sources most of their grapes from a vineyard in Massachusetts. The Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay are well worth skipping, while the Vidal Blanc and especially the red blend Jester, whose grapes are sourced from California, are tastier. Mostly I was just glad that you saved $2 off the tasting by opting out of getting the “free” glass.  Anyone want any winery wine glasses?  We have enough to stock a small restaurant.

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