Tag Archives: Alex Marie Lombino

40% Recipe, 60% Tangential Ranting, 100% Real: Orange and Almond Shortbread with Vanilla Citrus Glaze

Don’t worry, there are no vegetables in this post. I apologize for that lapse in animal fat but I think I can make up for it in a few paragraphs.Orange and almond shortbread - Alex Marie Lombino
Before we get to the good stuff, I just need to say something to the most depressing episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive that is the internet. I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet this week, acquiring knowledge, watching adorable videos of sloths, and I just want to take this moment to address Google Glass. Seriously Google, from all of us ladies and gay men in long-term committed relationships with middle-to-upper-middle class white men who already spend the agonizing public transportation ride playing Fieldrunners on their iPhones or reading their Kindle Hellfires or watching porn on their watches…what the fuck, Google? Where does it end? Oh, I was just saying that we really needed to give dudes another shiny distraction from the unrelenting charade of asking me how my day was. At least they look so posh. Thanks Google, keep solving problems. Maybe while you’re at it we could get a few more Teen Mom sex tapes. Keep those coming.

In pastry news, I just baked something with three sticks of butter in it, so what am I getting so ornery about, right? I’ve been experiencing acute symptoms of culinary school withdrawal. I miss all of the stainless steel, the endless supply of high grade chocolate, the smell of the weird stockpot in the corner of the room that could fit two of me if you wanted to make Salty Broad Stew. I’m feeling creatively stunted in my tiny city-gal kitchen, and I don’t like it. In the coming weeks I will tackle something entirely too labor intensive for one girl and her blog, but for today we’re just going to make some short bread.

Shortbread isn’t actually bread, so that’s already misleading. It’s more or less a cookie. What’s really great about this shortbread is that you cut it after baking, which is like, whoa, that’s not the natural order of things. That is out of order. Trust me on this one though, because it took me less time make this recipe than it did to write this blog. I’m sure you’d never have guessed that, what with all the little nuggets of expository gold you just sifted out of the other muddy crap.

I’ll be honest, I’m having a little trouble focusing right now because Kristen Wiig is hosting SNL and Maya Rudolph is pregnant for, like, the 9th time. That’s right, it’s actually Saturday. It isn’t Sunday at all. I’ll stop blowing your mind with all this time travel and get on with the recipe.
Orange and almond shortbread - Alex Marie Lombino
Orange and Almond Shortbread with Vanilla Citrus Glaze
3 cups Flour
¾ cups Sugar
2 tbsp Orange zest (1-3 oranges, depending on size)
½ tsp Salt
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) Butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 ½ tsp Almond extract
1 Egg yolk

1 cup Confectioner’s sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 ounce Fresh lemon juice
½ tsp Vanilla extract

Combine flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on low speed for a minute to disperse zest. Add butter all at once, mixing until flour is coated and appears crumbly. Add almond extract and egg yolk, and mix until dough comes together.

Press dough into an ungreased 8-10” cake pan, making sure it is evenly dispersed. Pierce with fork throughout the dough. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the edges just appear golden.

Allow to cool to room temperature, then carefully remove from pan (Here’s a hint: I used a spring form pan). Combine confectioner’s sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Spread carefully on top of shortbread and allow to set. Find a nice, sharp straight edge knife to cut into triangles. Serve with Earl Grey or other strong black tea, that’ll be classy.
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The Sun Will Come Out Absolutely Never, But We Can Still Make Cinnamon Ice Cream with Balsamic Blueberries (is the title).

Cinnamon, blueberry, balsamic ice cream.

Remember the days when you could feel the gentle kiss of a warm breeze caressing your bare shoulders as you floated down the dry pavement in a pair of gorgeous, open-toed sandals, your smile mimicking the relentless beaming sun of a long summer’s day? Me neither. Those memories are dead. They are as dead as dinosaurs, which are really fucking dead, and now they are fossil fuel, and we burn their dead, dead bodies in the engines of our automobiles, callously speeding through puddles of slush and dirt and Northeastern anguish. It’s hard to stay positive when you live in Boston, for many reasons. One reason is people keep telling us we’re cruel and negative, which I don’t think is true. We’re just really racist. Another reason is when they cast Julianne Moore on 30 Rock and they let her open her mouth. That was ridiculous. The most current reason is that it is cold, and the wind is brutal, and we have potholes like Zeus’s chalice, which sustain very deep pools of ice cold city water that I step into all of the time. It’s a lot to endure, even for one so stout of heart as I. Maybe the one positive thing about this never-ending winter is all of the pasta I continue to eat and not feel guilty about.

I never consciously change my dietary habits according to season. My animal nature really takes the reigns in this regard. In the winter, I just want to eat all of the meat. If I see meat, it’s going to get eaten. It’s going to get thrown on top of something starchy and butter-laden, and then it’s down the old gullet. During the summer, it’s watermelon all day every day. I can’t stop with the watermelon. I want to eat it in any and all capacities, from fancy mint salads with feta, with a spoon straight out of a rind, but mostly pureed in a margarita.

Now what food, you might ask me, transcends seasonal propriety? Ice cream does. I think I touched on this last week when we met my friend at 7-11, but I eat ice cream several times a week, minimum. The great thing about ice cream in the summer is obviously its soothing, cooling properties. The best thing about ice cream in the winter is that it doesn’t melt as quickly, which is a lot more important to me than you may realize. You see, I have but one irrational fear in this world and it is melted ice cream. It is completely visceral, utterly baseless, and yet debilitating. I’m am very into frappes. I have no problem smothering a molten lava cake in a bit of creme anglaise. But when ice cream melts, when it changes form, I absolutely lose my shit and I am not able to explain to you why. Mostly because I am gagging right now just thinking about it. All of this aside, it’d be hard to say that there are many things more satisfying than a frozen indulgence on a hot summer day. One thing that might come close is homemade ice cream at the brink of spring, just as a small reminder that it’s going to get better. The frost will thaw, public works will plow its last snow bank, and the strapping young gentleman on loan from Walpole House of Corrections will plant those odd-smelling shrubs along the periphery of the Rose Kennedy Greenway. That’s the global warming promise.

Maybe you recall a real throwaway of a blog entry on New Years Eve when I listed some of the greatest things that went straight to my thighs last year. One of those things was cinnamon ice cream from Pico in the South End. I decided I would commit a most delicious act of hubris and one-up them a bit with the addition of a blueberry and balsamic vinegar swirl.

Cinnamon Ice Cream with Balsamic Blueberries

Balsamic Blueberry Compote

8 oz Frozen blueberries
3 oz Balsamic Vinegar
1 oz Sugar
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
Zest of ½ a lemon

Put all ingredients in a small pot, and cook on low heat until reduced by a little more than half. The consistency should be like a loose jam. Set aside to cool.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

18 oz Half and Half
4 oz Sugar, divided
2 ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
4 Egg yolks

Food for thought: This is best done in two days. The ice cream base will benefit greatly from “maturation” in the refrigerator, not to mention it needs to be thoroughly chilled before churning.

Cinnamon ice cream with balsamic blueberries.

In a medium pot, bring half and half, half of your sugar, and cinnamon to a boil, then reduce to low heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining sugar. After your milk has boiled, remove from heat and very slowly add half to your yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Return the yolk mixture to the pot and cook on low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon. Allow the mixture to cook to “nappe” stage, which occurs when you run your finger horizontally across the spoon/spatula and the mixture does not run into the empty space you’ve created. I know that sounds weird, but that’s really how you tell. Once you have reached nappe stage, pour through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl (to remove any possibly congealed bits of egg), and stir mixture until it cools to room temperature. Cover mixture and refrigerate for 10-24 hours. Once it has chilled, pour slowly into your ice cream churner after you have turned it on. The mixture will just about double in volume after about 15-20 minutes. Do not over churn! This will make the ice cream a little chalky in texture. When the ice cream is ready to finish, pour in compote and immediately shut off your machine! You only want to give it one or two turns or you will lose the swirl effect. Scoop your ice cream into a sealable container and freeze for a few hours before indulging.

Don’t have an ice cream maker? That sucks. You should make Strawberry Cake.

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Blood, Sweat, and Tiers Brownies: Brought to you by this week’s Storm of the Century

Blood, Sweat, and Tiers.

Outside in New England, a storm is raging, inexplicably named for what, in my opinion, is easily the most overrated animated feature of all time. Controversial, I know. Our fifth-floor apartment lends a pretty good perspective of the meteorological chaos; a wisened tree in front of me, painted white by the rough hand of Mother Nature, swaying precariously in the wind and snow. It’s moments like these when I wonder, “Is Al Roker touching himself?”

Inside my soul, a comparable, metaphoric storm tests my mettle. And you know what isn’t helping? Being trapped in my apartment by weather. I understand that a snow day is probably a welcome variation to most people’s work-week, but I’m in this apartment a lot. Like, always. I really look forward to those occasions when I’m required to be pretty much anywhere else. Also, I think I’d be way more into this snow thing if there was more whiskey in my diet cherry coke.

I don’t want anyone to think I take weather lightly. You might recall, not so long ago, a post documenting a 5-hour panic attack I had, induced by driving through inclement weather. When it comes down to it, I’m just glad everyone is safe at home, invoking the crafty mixologists within themselves, spending some quality time Googling stuff or revisiting Grand Theft Auto. I’m glad that, together, we can all acknowledge the hyperbole utilized by the television meteorologists of America, and then laugh about it on Facebook. I’m glad my cats are finding this nature-show so fascinating, and that my boyfriend is working from home. Really, this storm is about overcoming adversity only to find yourself snuggled on a couch and eating something cheesey. It’s about family and forgiveness. It’s about finding a smooth segue into this brownie recipe.

You really can’t hate brownies on a day such as this one. In fact, you really can’t hate brownies ever, unless you’re missing some very important soul-part, so all demographics should be able to get on board with me. As I previously mentioned, it’s been a rough time for my brain/heart as of late, so I came up with this recipe for Blood, Sweat, and Tiers (catch my wordplay!?) brownies. They’re a reminder that all of life’s greatest achievements are born of suffering. Also, chocolate and wine and salt. They’re basically the 4 major food groups of innovators (wine counts for two groups).

These bars are two layers of very decadent brownie, followed by a cream filling flavored with red wine, topped with a very dark chocolate ganache and fleur de sel. I used Pinot Noir, though I believe port would work even better, as was my initial plan. However, sometimes you make plans to purchase booze, and God laughs. The combination of chocolate and salt, with the intense tang of the wine filling, makes for a really satisfying indulgence. If you want to eat them while sobbing in your bathtub, they’ll taste even better. That’s a fact.

As a timely bonus, isn’t that wine filling just the most beautiful shade of Valentine’s passion? Get your bookmarks ready, ladies! I heard dessert is a really effective cure for single.

Blood, Sweat, and Tiers Brownies
Blood, Sweat, and Tiers Brownies.

Rich Salted Brownies

4 oz Unsweetend chocolate
1 cup (two sticks) Unsalted butter
2 cups Sugar
½ tsp Salt
5 Eggs
½ cup Flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9-11 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium pot on low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring constantly as not to burn the chocolate. Once melted, mix in sugar and salt. Remove from heat, and whisk in eggs. If you are feeling diligent, I recommend whisking the eggs separately before whisking them into the chocolate. Mix in flour, making sure to beat out lumps. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the center of the brownies has set. Cool to room temperature.

Red Wine Cream

16 oz Red wine
1 oz Butter, softened
1 tbsp Lemon juice
2 cups Confectioner’s sugar

In a medium pot, bring wine to a boil and reduce down to about 1 ½ oz of liquid. Beat softened butter, then slowly add wine reduction and lemon juice. Next, beat in confectioner’s sugar on low speed. The end result should beat paste-like, but not crumbly. If you need to adjust the texture, add a very small amount of water until the mixture becomes spreadable, but remains stiff.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

5 oz Half and half
2 oz (or 1/4 cup) Sugar
3 oz Unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp Butter, softened
A generous pinch of salt

Fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt, for garnish

Bring half and half and sugar to a boil, making sure sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and add chocolate, stirring until dissolved. If necessary, you may put the mixture back on very low heat to further dissolve. Add softened butter and stir until melted. Allow ganache to cool and set slightly before using.

To Assemble:

Remove brownies from pan by cutting around the edges and flipping over onto a cutting board. Cut the brownies in half and set one half aside. Using a spatula, spread Red Wine Cream over the first half of the brownies. Place the second half on top of the cream. Carefully return brownies to the sheet pan (this will make for easy cleaning). Once the ganache has cooled and is beginning to set up, but still fluid, slowly pour over the brownies. Chill in the fridge for about twenty minutes, them remove to cut into desired shapes and sizes. These brownies are pretty dense, so I recommend smaller bites Lastly, sprinkle the top with fleur de sel or coarse sea salt, as much or as little as pleases you.

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BANANARAMA (Is a Really Good Band, and Also This Cake with Brown-Butter and Coconut Mousse)

Banana and Brown-Butter Cake

I would like to think of myself as a woman of my word. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. When I say I’m not going to do something, you can bet your buns that, instead, I am on the couch trolling The Superficial archives for candid bikini shots of Mrs. Coco T because, damn, that ass. You might recall that in the previous entry, I mentioned I would not be making banana bread in the foreseeable future, and I am proud to report that the statement still stands. Here are some other things I did not do this week:

I did not finish watching season one of Friday Night Lights.
I did not get any portion of my body hot-waxed.
I did not eat a cheeseburger, despite my unyielding desire to do so.
I did not cry in the shower (on Tuesday).
I definitely did not read 50 Shades of Gray, even though I just learned that this thing is actually a trilogy? Like, there is more than one of these books, prosaically detailing the most degrading ways a lady might bruise her vagina? Color me dumb-founded.

Here’s what I did do:

I watched Girls again, and regretted it.
I made ricotta dumplings for dinner one night.
I cut my toenails with reckless, reckless abandon.
I rediscovered Basement Jaxx, and, consequently, day-glow hot pants.
I made a banana-type cake.

Did you catch that last one? That’s the important one. Listen, I really like banana bread. I especially want to eat it when it is full of chocolate and toasted nuts. But the last thing I want to do is write a blog post about it. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read about it either. I feel bad for you guys sometimes, having to trudge through yet another, “Best Paleo Yogurt-Bacon Muffin EVER!!” recipe, which is not to say that I have any idea what Paleo means. Because I don’t, it’s made up, it isn’t real.

So, the next time you find your freezer is overflowing with a nauseous collection of overripe bananas, do this thing. Make a brown-butter and banana cake with fresh fruit and coconut mousse. I’ve been eating the scraps of this cake all day and, I have to say, it’s a little addictive. Somewhat savory brown-butter gives the bananas purpose in this cake, other than just being overtly banana-y. The cake being somewhat dense in texture, as fruit batters are wont to be, I opted for mousse over buttercream. The coconut keeps the tropical theme wafting languorously to the tune of some shitty Jack Johnson song (redundant, I know), while fresh fruit (of your choosing!) gives the cake the acid and brightness it needs.

Brown-Butter and Banana Cake with Coconut Mousse
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Brown-Butter and Banana Cake

6 oz Butter, Browned
4 Large eggs
6 oz Sugar
2 Squishy bananas
8 oz Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan.

In a small sauce pan, brown your butter on med-high heat. In class, we learned to simply leave the butter on the stove and burn the crap out of it. It will smell burnt and gross. It will look black. However, all you are burning are the solids in the butter, which you would have strained out anyway. In this method, however, if you do not stir the butter as it’s browning, the solids will simply burn and stick to the bottom of the pan, and you can pour off the liquid on top with ease. If you have a gas stove, please be careful and don’t have your flame too high, because butter will catch fire and scare you a little if you aren’t accustomed to starting kitchen fires. I am a seasoned veteran of kitchen-fire-starting and have a reserve of kitty litter at my disposal for such occasions. Set butter aside to cool.

In a mixer with paddle attachment, beat together eggs and sugar on high for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg and whisk together thoroughly.

When the eggs have beaten, add your squishy bananas and beat for another 5 minutes.

Fold egg mixture into the flour mixture. When the eggs are halfway folded in, pour in butter and continue to fold gently, but thoroughly, making sure the butter isn’t just sitting at the bottom of your bowl.

Pour batter into pan and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick may be cleanly pulled out from the center of the cake. Wrap and freeze cake for easiest trimming!

Coconut Mousse

3 tsp Gelatin
4 oz Water
8 oz Milk
2 oz Sugar
3 Egg yolks
10 oz Cream of coconut
Zest of 1 lemon
7 oz Heavy cream, whipped.

In a small dish, sprinkle gelatin over your water and set aside. This is called “blooming,” which is a word that I love.

In a medium sauce pan, bring milk and half of your sugar to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together yolks and remaining sugar. When milk has boiled, remove from heat and slowly pour into your yolks, whisking constantly. Once mixed, pour the whole mixture back into your hot and return it to the stove on low heat. Do NOT boil. Eggs don’t like that. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens a bit. Strain mixture into a bowl.

Melt your gelatin in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. It happens real quick! Add the gelatin to your mousse base and mix. Next, stir in coconut cream and zest. Occasionally stir the mixture as it is gelling, so as not to develop a skin. Give it an hour, at the least, to set up nicely.

Whip your cream so it’s nice and stiff, stiffer than if you were to serve it solo. Give your mousse base a good beating so it is smooth and lump free, then fold in your whipped cream.

To Assemble:
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Please trim your cake! Take off the less delicious, crusty sides, top, and bottom of the cake. Using a very sharp, serrated knife is the way to go. After it is trimmed, very carefully cut your cake in half. Reserve your trimmings, if you so choose, to use in decorating. In a food processor, pulse your softer trimmings until they are like nice, fluffy cake-snow. You can use these later to sprinkle on top of your cake.

Slice fruit of your choice to layer in the center layer of the cake, as well as to decorate the top. I chose to use kiwi, because I thought the color would look nice against all of the white and tan. Strawberries would also be complementary, flavor-wise.

Now you can be creative! I built my cake inside a cake ring, which is a snobby, pastry-school way to go about things, but it’s effective. You can “frost” this cake with your coconut mousse using whatever method you choose, but I do recommend chilling the mousse for about 30 minutes after adding the whipped cream before you do anything. In the center layer, make sure to spread a thin later of mousse, then arrange fruit, and then another layer of mousse. If you only have one layer of mousse, your cake may begin to slide around on top of the slippery fruit.

If you’d like to decorate as I have, after frosting place a cutter of any shape or size in the center of your cake. Arrange fruit within the center of the cutter. Around the cutter, sprinkle the aforementioned cake-snow on top of the cake, then remove the cutter. Chill the cake in the fridge for another half-hour or so before serving to ensure that the mousse has set.

People who claim to not really like cake will like this cake. I know this, because the man in my apartment just gave it a proverbial thumbs-up by eating it twice, despite much initial protest. So go on, force-feed a vegan, and let freedom ring.

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I Do What I Want: Strawberry Cake with Blood Orange Glaze

Strawberry cake.

As I was gathering my mise en place for this post (that’s fancy chef’s talk for “all your shit”), I realized I was running pretty low on eggs. I definitely didn’t want to leave the house, but sometimes, like hopefully not more than thrice a week, you have to leave the house. I threw on my track jacket and marched down to my local mini-mart. They are my favorite convenience shop by a large margin, because they carry unsalted butter, slush, and Four Loko. I’ve never had a Four Loko, but it’s just a comfort that when the time comes to finally go to a Bruins game, I know just where to brown-bag. As I went about my shopping, a very snarky stock-gentleman took inventory of my appearance and said, “Saw that look in GQ this week.” I told him, “Why don’t you shut the hell up, Jacko, and sell me a Fresca?” Hahahaha, just kidding, his name is Steve.

I look great.

I’m sorry, bro, not feeling my snowflake-patterned mukluks and spandex? I’ll have you know that these Wayfarers FOLD UP. They completely fold into themselves for even more convenience than any other Ray Bans have thus provided. What I’m trying to say here is I look dope, so get off my case young Tibetan-male-Joan-Rivers.

I’m just trying to do me over here. I’m trying to stay original while cultivating a learned mind and stout body. I go to the gym five days a week, eat a lot of arugula, and read the New York Times on my iPhone. That’s not the Post, people. I just bought a ukulele on Amazon for thirty bucks. I’ve worked hard to achieve this balance in my life, and you could too if you were unemployed. A gal’s got to do something while she waits patiently in the dead, dark silence of the phone never ringing.

That’s kind of what this cake is all about. This cake is like, “This is me, I am here. You can accept it or you can eat a cookie.” This cake is about being the true you. That’s why I just took some strawberries and threw ‘em in there. Strawberries just want to be themselves, shining brightly like a natural ruby in a big pile of lab-cultivated rubies.

This cake is made in a bundt pan and drizzled with Blood Orange glaze. It is soft and cuddly, with a tangy zip from fresh lemon juice. I would serve it at a fancy brunch, or in bed with a fork when you’re feeling really lonely.

“I Do What I Want” Strawberry Cake with Blood Orange Glaze

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1 lb Fresh strawberries
1 cup Sugar
6 tbsp Unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 cups Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Salt
2 tbsp Fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp Milk

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cut the green tops off of strawberries, halve them, and set aside.

Butter and flour your bundt pan. Place a few of your strawberries on the bottom of the pan, like so:

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In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and beat on high speed to cream. Scrape the bowl down after a few minutes, and continue to beat. The mixture should become light, fluffy, and very soft. Turn down the speed and add eggs and yolk one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Once all are in, scrape down the bowl, then beat the mixture on high for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk together. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and milk. This will curdle, but that’s perfectly fine.

After the eggs have beaten, turn the speed down low and alternate adding flour and liquid, starting and ending with the flour. Once added, scrape down the bowl again, mix for another few seconds, then stop! Do not over mix. We don’t want to make bread.

Pour batter into bundt pan and spread out evenly. Then, just stick your strawberries into the batter throughout the cake! You can definitely add them all. I happened to reserve a few to clean the mixing bowl with, and eat. That’s a gross thing to do. Don’t be like me.

Bake cake between 25-35 minutes. Use a toothpick to test cake, making sure the toothpick comes out cleanly when piercing the cake. Allow to cool slightly, then turn upside-down onto a plate. If the cake is still a little warm, the glaze will stick to the cake much more easily.

Blood Orange Glaze

Zest of 1 Blood Orange
Juice of 1 Blood Orange
3 cups Confectioner’s sugar

In a mixer or by hand, whisk together zest, juice, and sugar. Use a spoon to drizzle over warm cake.

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