Toaster cake and the end of an era

The end of the era is not the end of this blog. This blog is eternal, like … two very small eternal things. However: I did today finally finish this Russian TV show I’ve been watching for like 700 years. (And before that, I was watching a different Russian TV show that this one is a spinoff of.) This is very momentous and all that.

(Also, there is going to be a spinoff of the spinoff. The first comment on the trailer on YouTube says, “Who is going to watch that… WELL nonsense completely.” [Directly translated from Russian.] The second comment says, “Hurray!”)

I just tried to find a clip of the show to embed here for you, but I could not find a good one; it is a very bad show. Here instead is a clip from Kukhnya (Kitchen), the original series:


As you can see, it is a work of great comic genius. (They are trying to cure someone of the hiccups by scaring him with a cat; instead, the wrong person gets scared, and is cured of their stuttering.) This clip also features Fedya and Senya, great best friends after whom I am going to name my cats someday.

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THE MTA SUCKS pineapple

Wow, I am super not in the mood for this. I was trying to get over writer’s block by writing some nonsense here but I already don’t feel like listening to myself. Oh well I already took all the #relativelyshitty photos (that was self-deprecating in a charming way, but actually they are not good photos) so I have to write. Please send me a story idea and I will write it.

I went to the supermarket, as usual, and I was very cranky when I got there because I was hungry, and the supermarket was entirely full of couples fighting and children having mental breakdowns, so I joined them and also had a mental breakdown. This was brought on mostly by walking back and forth several times trying to find barley, and then it was where I thought it was all along. Then I spent 400 hours trying to decide what ice cream to get, and trying to find feta cheese. Long story short, I bought a pineapple.


If you brought me diamonds, if you brought me pearls, if you brought me roses like some other gents might bring to other girls, it couldn’t please me more than the gift I see—a pineapple for me.

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Cookie oatmeal granola bar things

I have created a delightful-smelling but confusing kitchen object. It is like an oatmeal cookie, but for breakfast, and in bar form. They’re sort of like baked oatmeal + cookie + better. (That’s a lie. Cookies are better. These are more breakfasty, though.)

I needed a portable breakfast thing for the foreseeable future, so I did extensive research on granola bars and such and settled on the one that looked the most like a cookie and included chocolate chips. (But she says that it is not very sweet and is suitable for breakfast, and I like her blog title—Big Girls, Small Kitchen—so all in all it seemed like the correct choice.)

The hardest thing about making this was preheating the oven. I REALLY did not want to preheat the oven. I waited until I had basically finished assembling them, and then decided I couldn’t put it off any longer. (And I even turned the air conditioner on to offset the oven, so now global warming is my fault and I feel bad. Sorry, world.) But anyway, what I actually meant was that these are extremely easy—you just put things in a bowl and stir them. I guess the other hard part was opening my jar of peanut butter, and then getting the peanut butter out; it had been all the way in the back of the fridge and had sort of frozen, or at least really intensively solidified.

This is all out of order now. First I assembled the dry ingredients: oats (regular, not instant; maybe this is an unnecessary caveat for everyone but me, who prefers breakfast in 2.5 minutes rather than 6 minutes); whole-wheat flour (store in the fridge or freezer to avoid rancidness); salt; baking powder.

Then I whisked together the wet ingredients—the peanut butter (which did not want to be whisked, but I made it be whisked), sugar (I had to make my brown sugar first, which was annoying), oil (I used peanut because it seemed like it would be less weird than olive). Then I added the egg and then the milk.

OMG it just took me eighty billion years to put this photo into this post and now I don’t feel like captioning it. Damn you WordPress.

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I’m having mixed feelings about this ice cream

Jacqui and i made ice cream in her very exciting ice-cream maker. I’d never done it before and now I understand a lot about life that I did not previously understand.

However, the ice cream itself is a little weird. When we tasted it, Jacqui decided she didn’t like it and gave all of it to me; I was like, what, this is awesome! but now I’m eating it and have to agree that it is kind of weird. It’s blueberry ice cream, from a book by Melissa Clark (I am madly in love with her and not even in a platonic, admiring-her-cooking-skills sort of way), and it has a very blueberry-ful flavor but is maybe too milky and not sweet enough? Or maybe blueberry ice cream is just inherently weird? I’m trying to pretend I’m eating strawberry ice cream to see how it compares, and I think I’m probably just not used to blueberry ice cream.

Anyway, long and uninteresting introduction aside, Jacqui and I had an Important, Friendship-Defining Question during the making of this ice cream.

Blueberries and sugar cooking briefly.

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Strawberry-rhubarb tartlets

AKA the most beautiful and delightful thing to ever come out of my kitchen, I think. Usually I don’t like cute things, but these are awesome.

So I decided the other day, since it was rhubarb season, that I had to make something rhubarb (this is a yearly tradition that only happens once a summer). I wanted something single-serving because if it’s a whole pie or crisp, I will just sit there digging my fork into it endlessly. I am not worried about portion size or calories, more that this is disgusting and uncivilized and then if I have to feed it to anyone else, I have to be like, “Um, stay away from that corner.” And then people are like, “Ew, what is wrong with you?” and I’m like, “I live by myself.” So I decided I should try to make mini pies in my muffin tin, using the pie dough Jacqui and I made in our pie class. I wasn’t sure if this was a real thing, so I googled around and discovered that because of Pushing Daisies (a show I did not watch much and thus, according to the Consummate Dilettante, caused to be canceled) (note to the Consummate Dilettante: the reason I did not watch it much was that it was not very good), cup pies had a renaissance a few years ago. I.e., like three people made them and then they disappeared again.

I decided I would just improvise. I found various recipes for various strawberry-rhubarb-related things, mostly free-form mini tartlets; I finally chose to adapt the Brown Eyed Baker’s tartlets. (I have brown eyes too! CRAZY.)

I started out by chopping my beautiful rhubarb while, extremely belatedly, watching the finale of Saturday Night Live. (I was coerced; it sucked.)

Most photos courtesy of Marissa! Can’t remember which specifically.

My four stalks came out to approximately a pound and a half. (Look at my Twitter! Fairway Tweeted at me! Because I Tweeted at them first! It was cool.) I then sliced about half a pound of strawberries—half of one of the long giant containers—and left them on the cutting board …

No idea how Marissa managed this one but I kind of like it.

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C is for Cookie Disaster

This is a guest post from my dear friend Freda, whom I have known since earliest childhood. She is awesome.


In the Disney movie Ratatouille,  the adorable rat Remy is guided by the spirit of Chef Gusteau who boldly tells him “Anyone can cook!” Well readers, I am here to tell you he was wrong.

I cannot cook. I can, however, turn the perfectly wholesome idea of yummy chocolate chip cookies into a pipe-bomb-like disaster.

It all started out very well intentioned.  I placed six Hershey’s frozen break and bake cookies in a Pyrex dish and put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Once done, I placed the Pyrex dish on the stovetop to cool.  At this point I thought to myself, what goes  better with cookies on an unseasonably chilly night than a cup of hot tea?

Now, here’s when things went a bit awry…

In my exhausted stupor, I put the kettle on the back burner, but turned on the front burner instead—the very same front burner that I had rested the Pyrex on.

Three… Two… One…. BANG

Shortly after, I heard what sounded like ten different dishes dropping on the floor. In reality, it was little bits and shards of cookie and glass shattering to bits, coating my kitchen in a dangerous kind of pixie dust.  Oops.

Did I mention the small kitchen fire?

The entire mess took three days to clean. And I can’t even say how this has affected my relationship with chocolate chip cookies.

Moral of the story?  Not everyone can cook. Some people really do need adult supervision. And next time you want warm, gooey, fresh from the oven homemade cookies—go to the supermarket.


On an unrelated note (it’s me again), you should make some mug cookies.

I made this a really long time ago and don’t even remember if it’s good. But it probably was.

A Call for Comfort [Food]

It’s not hard to deduce from my few posts that much of my initial cooking experience is owed to the blog smittenkitchen. Deb Perelman’s anyone-can-do-this adaptations of recipes from well-known sources eased me into the idea of producing real, edible meals in my very own home. Successes from those recipes gave me enough of an ego boost to host my own seder (gasp!). The only real victim here is my boyfriend (you may know him as my handy kitchen assistant) who was perfectly happy ordering in 6 nights a week, reserving the 7th night for Trader Joe’s amazing 99-cent macaroni and cheese. You know, the one from the box with the little packet of orange powder. Okay also maybe my wallet.

The finished product is spectacularly beautiful, with an orange hue you don’t often get with sticky buns.

To get to the point – I serendipitously happened upon the BAKED shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn around the same time this pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe popped up on smittenkitchen. It felt a little bit (a lot a bit) like fate, and it was probably less than 24 hours later that I ordered the BAKED: Elements cookbook from that site I sometimes refer to. Of course, having the recipe (and two versions at that) is only the beginning. Months went by without any legitimate reason to actually make these buns. I hardly ever kept my pantry full of specialty goods like pumpkin, bread flour, or whole milk (I suppose nobody keeps milk in the pantry, unless it’s that new-fangled ultra pasteurized stuff, which I am skeptical of). I can’t even believe I used to consider those “specialty.” I mean, really, I get anxious now when there isn’t pumpkin in my pantry, right alongside shelf-stable cartons of cream. Regardless, it wasn’t until life got a bit more interesting (if you want to put it that way) that I decided to finally spend a good few hours learning some new techniques and making something I’d be able to indulge in as days upon days continue to unfold. A true comfort food emerges. As a side note, I also made ice cream (technically malted frozen custard with chopped hazelnuts. Yes, you want some.). Next week calls for chocolate cake (so stay tuned).

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aux Anything

There comes a time when a young lady needs to graduate from cakes and cookies and move on to more exciting endeavors, like pastries and breads (or a convenient combination of the two, as this post demonstrates). I’ve always wanted to make Martha Stewart’s Babka recipe, but jumping right into one of the most complicated (and expensive!) yeast cakes just didn’t fit my rational personality. The solution- a brioche recipe from Joanne Chang’s FLOUR cookbook. This recipe is in no way quick. I started it on a Friday and didn’t totally finish the dealings until the following Sunday– as in, over a week later. The entire experience brought immense joy and satisfaction into my kitchen, and according to this blog’s owner, the brioche aux chocolate that came out of the big mess was “the best thing [she] ever tasted.” This blog post is meant to offer some beginner warnings for those of you thinking of trying this out. I have absolutely no natural baking skills- so every success of mine is a true wonder and thanks to a detailed recipe. Hopefully, other amateurs can learn from my mistakes.

Everything should start with your basic butter foundation.

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Flourless chocolate cakes

I made two flourless chocolate cakes in rapid succession last weekend, for my various Seders. It was fun, easy(ish), and highly successful. I wasn’t even planning on blogging them, and the first one was so easy I don’t actually have anything to say about it—it’s really good, though.

The second one was a bit more interesting, though, because I made a ton of mistakes during the process. So I have something to say. It’s from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman—this particular cake is her Chocolate Hazelnut Torte. Continue reading

Atlanta: all good things

I visited my sister and bro-in-law a few weeks ago for MLK Day, and they wanted to see the Relatively Shitty Cook in action. We made this really cool and interesting radicchio pasta from Sarah’s pasta cookbook (I can’t remember the name or author! so I can’t cite it! Sorry, mysterious cookbook writer), and honey beer cake from Booze Cakes. (Sweet, they have a website.)

The pasta recipe was sort of a weird decision—I don’t know why we picked it. It had raddichio—how in God’s name do you spell that? I’m just going to use a variety of options—and that ham that’s not prosciutto… ugh, I’m really hungry and can’t write this now. Anyway, at the supermarket it took about ten minutes and three or four supermarket employees to find it. This is not an exaggeration; the entire staff was running every which way trying to find it. It was exciting. Then we couldn’t find any heavy cream, and were peering through the slats in the dairy case where a man was unloading things, trying to get his attention so he could give us cream. The bro was convinced we would not be able to find honey beer, but in fact it was the first thing in the beer aisle. However, we didn’t buy it, in case it was nasty; we got raspberry Shocktop instead. It is a strange supermarket indeed that stocks honey beer but not cream.

Anyway. I chopped radicchio and leeks for the pasta.

They literally do not have light in their kitchen.

My bro sauteed/rendered porchetta (porchetta? is that what I mean?); it soon began popping, popcorn-style, and flying all over the kitchen. I picked one up off the floor. It was like a meat fireball.

We sauteed the leeks …

… added cream, and added the radicchio, which then cooked down for a while until it could fit in the pot. We combined everything with pasta and ate it with wine and cheese like fancy people.

We had started making the cake before dinner, and it baked while we ate. After dinner, and after several glasses of wine, we had to make the frosting, which was confectioner’s sugar, butter, and beer, as far as I recall. After we finished assembling it, it was very clearly not frosting. It was mostly liquid. I was like, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO US? Then I was like, oh shit, I added a completely wrong quantity of sugar. Anyway, it never frosting-ized; it just sort of gooped. Then it soaked into the cake, leaving nothing but a dull sugary sheen and infusing the cake with a sense of oversugaration.

It was pretty good, though. But very sweet. The next morning, it looked like we had never frosted it at all, which was a little disturbing. I do not know what happened to it since.

Immediately after frosting.