<3 for I'm The One That's Cool

by chefkittie on April 2, 2012

To be Geek these days is no longer shameful. The debate rages on, but I land on the side of Geek Chic. To be Geek is to be smart, passionate, quirky — all of these are good, and sexy. So long as your heart beats fiercely for something – anything! – you too can be Geek.

Felicia Day and The Guild premiered their new music video this morning. It was the first thing I watched when I woke up; oh, what a beautiful mornin’.

To all the geeks, and nerds, out there who were awkward, misfit, picked on and/or misunderstood, open your arms wide and embrace the fact that now, we are the ones who are cool. And, if possible, turn those wide-open arms in the direction of someone who might not get all that is Geek, and blast them geeky friendship. The Guild’s new music video celebrates individuality overcoming those who were cruel in youth, but bullying won’t stop without reaching out and mutual understanding. Be kind; be Geek.

Now I’m off to download the song so I can rock out on my way to work.

Love Kittie


Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

by chefkittie on March 29, 2012

Double cream – Never a bad thing!™

(…. Sorry if that sounds dirty.)

Today’s blog is about two things: delicious frosting, and the wacky conversations I have with my good friend Derek (geek, Ruby coder, podcaster, and rather well-known tweeter).

Like many things in my life, the two are related, albeit through degrees of separation that can be described as amusing/random/weird. Today it went something like this:

Kittie: I am writing up my blog post about frosting! Hooray!

Derek: I am on yet another phone call! That’s almost two hours today.

K: I bet you have a hot ear.

D: Haha! Headphones luckily.


D: lol!

K: I’m totally blogging this.

I love The I.T. Crowd with a passion. Though I’ve been hooked on British TV for a while now, I didn’t find Moss and Roy until last year (I know, right?) and now they go with me everywhere, thanks to Netflix. Lately I’ve been watching their antics while making dinner, and I was, in fact, watching them when I made this frosting. Roy’s Irish; it all comes together, people!

This frosting is a basic buttercream, spiked with Irish Cream liqueur. You don’t have to use Bailey’s specifically; any Irish Cream will do. The batch I whipped up was delicious – light and fluffy, very pipe-able – but the liqueur flavor was too subtle for me. It hinted at Irish Cream, and I wanted to taste it. So I added an extra tablespoon. That did the trick. Bump it back down to 3 tbsp if subtle is your goal.

Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 2.5 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 4 tbsp Irish Cream Liqueur

Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high/7 speed until pale in color, 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.

Reduce speed to medium-low/3 and add the powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until it’s all combined. (Adding the sugar slowly yields a smoother texture; it’s worth the extra time.)

Pour in the Irish Cream and increase the speed to medium-high/7. Beat for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy and easily spreadable.

Use as you would using any other frosting. I find a 10 minute sojourn in the fridge before using in a piping bag is very beneficial. Store any leftover frosting (ha!) in an airtight container in the fridge; it should keep for a week or two.


A Few Awesome Things

by chefkittie on March 29, 2012

1. New site design is live! It’s still very rough, and needs color tweaking, as well as a better banner. (What I need most right now is image editing software that can anti-alias text. If you know of a good one, preferably not ~$100, please let me know!) But I’m getting happier with it.

2. Speaking of site design, the absolutely awesome image of superhero Chef Kittie you see in the banner was illustrated by the wonderfully geeky Len Peralta. He’s known for Monster A Week, and Geek Of The Week trading cards; he’s also a genuinely nice guy. My illustration is part of his 50 vs. 50 project, which helps fund his trip to SDCC. If you’re interested in seeing your inner hero (or villain!) fleshed out in technicolor glory, visit the website to get started.

3. I donated to my first Kickstarter today! Bill Corbett (and Len Peralta, coincidence I swear) (still, the best coincidence ever though) is looking for funding to evolve his original stage work, “Super-Powered Revenge Christmas,” into a comic. I grew up watching MST3K, and I am just addicted to RiffTrax; I think I’d support pretty much anything Bill, Kevin and/or Mike put out there. My only sadness: I couldn’t afford the top-level pledge reward of a lunch with Bill and Len in San Francisco. I seriously inventoried what I might sell on Craigslist though. Bill, Len, if you read this, I will make you lunch if it means we get to hang out. Anything you want. Just a thought.

4. Tomorrow is my marvelous husband’s birthday. Happy pre-birfday, Monkey! I can’t wait to see your face when I give you your present. In fact, I should really take a picture. So’s I can blog it.

5. I’m hoping to get this frosting recipe post finished up and scheduled to go up sometime in the next few days. Next week should see croissant bread pudding and a skillet frittata that I am now in like-like with.

Until then!

Love Kittie


Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

by chefkittie on March 27, 2012

Though popular around St. Patrick’s Day, these cupcakes deserve year-round rotation.

They are light, moist, and unabashedly chocolatey. The dark stout flavor of the beer elevates the chocolate flavor, much like coffee does, without making you feel you’re eating a “beer cupcake.”

I made these for the first time last year, following the Irish Car Bomb Cupcake recipe to a T, and while delicious, the cupcakes were very intense. Cake + ganache + frosting + three flavors of booze = delicious overload. I finished one, and Monkey got through about 3/4 of his. They were a success, but after a celebratory dinner, they were a bit too heavy. Remember the scene in The Office where Michael eats an entire family-size chicken pot pie for lunch, and promptly passes out on his desk?

This year, I kept the cake and the frosting, and omitted the ganache. It proved a lovely balance between light, fluffy, and sweet, with a hint of savory coming through, thanks to the Guinness.

You can frost these cupcakes with any chocolate-friendly frosting. Peanut Butter frosting would be rich; Caramel frosting would be decadent; an Irish Whisky Ganache topping would be sinful. Because it was St. Patrick’s Day, I went for Irish Cream Buttercream – recipe to follow in the next few days – but really, the sky’s the limit.

But the best part of these cupcakes: they don’t need frosting at all. Half my batch was eaten right out of the fridge (one at a time, thank goodness) for breakfast. I also served them alongside a scoop of my Brown Butter Ice Cream at a small dinner party, hoping the flavors would be a match. Bowls were licked clean. Seems they were!

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes (yields 12)

  • 1/2 cup Guinness, or other stout beer
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 3/8 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup AP Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 cup Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake cups with liners. If using silicone baking cups, spray with non-stick cooking spray or flavorless oil. Set aside.

Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder in small batches and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Beat the egg and sour cream together in another bowl.

Add the Guinness mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add the flour mixture in small batches and use a rubber spatula to fold batter until completely combined. The batter will look thick and shiny.

Divide the batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (a few moist crumbs are ok; batter is not), rotating them once front to back, 15-17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely before removing.

Remember – Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting recipe coming soon!

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, ever trustworthy.)


Buttery Pumpkin Beer Bread

by chefkittie on March 23, 2012

First thing’s first — you can make this bread with any kind of pale/amber beer, and it will be just as delicious. I just happened to have pumpkin beer.

I first made this recipe last fall, when I was craving from-scratch pumpkin bread. Unfortunately, everyone was out of Sugar Pumpkins; I also had a fridge full of leftover pumpkin beer (don’t remember why). Rather than sulk, I decided to practice making beer bread, and hey, at least it would have pumpkin in it!

There were a few false starts, until I found this recipe, and then things progressed very smoothly.

Unlike most yeast-free breads, this dough develops a good loft in the oven, and remains moist throughout the baking process. It’s a bit too crumbly to be solid sandwich bread, but once you start eating slices warm from the oven and slathered with butter, that won’t matter. Because there won’t be any left.

Thanks to the butter, the bread develops a thick, chewy, slightly sweet and delicately crunchy crust that has fast become my favorite part of the loaf. I have been known to pick away chunks before the bread is even out of the oven. I’m pretty sure you will too.

The best part is, this recipe takes less than 15 minutes to prep, with no kneading required. Fresh-baked bread deserves to be a weeknight occurrence!

Side quest: If the butter seems a bit overwhelming (it’s worth it, I promise, but I also understand), melt 4 tbsp instead and follow directions accordingly. The top will still have that glorious crust, though the sides and bottom may be a bit softer.

 Buttery Pumpkin Beer Bread

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 12 oz. Pumpkin Beer
  • 8 tbsp Salted Butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.
  3. Slowly pour in beer. Using a rubber or silicone spatula, gently mix the dry ingredients into the beer using a folding motion until thoroughly combined. Cover bowl with a towel and let sit for at least 5 minutes. This gives the beer and baking powder time to interact and create all those lovely little air pockets.
  4. Grease a loaf pan with some of the melted butter (approx. 1 tbsp). Gently push dough into the loaf pan (it will be moist and sticky) and even out the top, being sure not to press too hard.
  5. Pour the remaining melted butter over the top of the dough.
  6. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean (a few moist crumbs are fine), and remove from the oven. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove loaf from the pan and rest on a wire rack until it is cool enough to slice. Serve with butter, honey, jam, preserves, or your favorite toppings.

(Adapted from this Tasty Kitchen recipe.)


Brown Butter Ice Cream

by chefkittie on March 20, 2012

This recipe was a triumph. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction with this ice cream.

Brown butter ice cream

"I'm making a note here -- huge success!"

The texture: dense, creamy and very smooth. The flavor: mellow brown sugar sweetness complimented by a hint of nuttiness from the cooked butter.

My taste tester’s reaction: “It’s all the best flavors of butterscotch.”

I, personally, could substitute this brown butter ice cream for vanilla ice cream 99% of the time and be perfectly happy. Like vanilla, it is pleasantly neutral on the palate and complimentary to other flavors; unlike (most) vanilla ice cream, it is not boring. A dish on its own is a lovely experience.

The cooking process was equally rewarding. Browning butter is far easier than restaurant chefs make it out to be — you should really try it — and the custard came together flawlessly. I also forgot to add the vanilla at the very end (mental note: don’t roast a chicken while making ice cream, it’s distracting) and neither of us missed it at all. Next time, however, I will add it for extra depth of flavor.

Brown butter ice cream close up

Look at me, still talking when there's ice cream to eat…

If you’ve never made custard-base ice cream from scratch before, this would be a solid starter recipe. It is very forgiving and the end result is bound to impress.

Soon I’ll be sorting out that dessert recipe with the ice cream, rum and espresso. Until then, I’ll be making another batch of this ice cream soon, because it’s disappearing on a nightly basis.

Brown Butter Ice Cream

  • 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. Brown the butter and strain into a bowl.
  2. While butter cooks, bring the cream and milk to a simmer over medium heat in a saucepan.
  3. In a heat-proof bowl, whisk the yolks, sugars and salt until they are blended and thick. (Keep whisking until most, if not all, of the brown sugar is dissolved – this improves the final texture greatly.) Whisk in the browned butter, about one tablespoon at a time.
  4. Remove the hot cream mixture from heat and drizzle into the yolk mixture, whisking briskly to keep the egg from cooking. When both are incorporated, return the mixture (now a custard) to the saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 178°F.
  5. Strain custard through a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a clean bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Store custard in an airtight container in the fridge overnight. (This is called curing; the flavors will meld together and yield a richer, more complex ice cream.) In the morning, process in your ice cream maker according to its particular directions, then store in the freezer.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit online.


Upcoming Soon: Croissant Bread Pudding

by chefkittie on March 19, 2012

I cannot wait to try this.

Image from RealSimple.com

I spotted this recipe in two places: Real Simple magazine, and The Comfort of Cooking (blogroll). Both involve chocolate – I’m planning to try it with and without.

I like bread pudding, and I love croissants. Perhaps we can elevate bread pudding to a Love status now.

Also in the pipeline: a post on the Brown Butter Ice Cream I mentioned last week. (Hint: Amazing.) Also two other baking recipes I’m excited to share. You’ve seen them both before, I’m sure, but I managed to simplify them and get them to an Every Day manageability.

Unfortunately, I forgot my memory card at home, so they’ll have to wait for tomorrow. Until then!

Love Kittie


Penne with Sausage, Mushrooms and Tomato Pesto

by chefkittie on March 16, 2012

This is definitely one of those happy accident recipes that make leftovers worthwhile.

Half an onion, leftover from pot roast. Cooked sausage and sliced mushrooms, leftover from pizza night. A container of sun-dried tomato pesto, leftover from a dinner party appetizer. On their own in the fridge, they were a sad looking lot. Luckily, some time, heat and love (and parmesan cheese) brought them together in a tasty lunch that hit the spot on a rainy afternoon.

The beauty of this recipe is its flexibility. No mushrooms? Try zucchini. No sausage? Try leftover chicken. No tomato pesto? Try regular pesto, or tomato sauce. One could argue that would turn it into an entirely different recipe, but I’d disagree. Pasta + leftovers + sauce = yum. Fancy titles not required.

Penne with Sausage, Mushrooms and Tomato Pesto

  • 8 oz. Penne Pasta
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 small Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 cup Italian Sausage, cooked, crumbled or sliced thin
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, sliced (I had Crimini, but any kind would work)
  • 1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet or sauté pan. Add the diced onion and a sprinkle of salt. Cook until tender and translucent around the edges.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms soften and give up some of their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the sausage and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the sausage is heated through, then remove from heat.
  5. When the pasta is al dente, remove from heat and drain in a colander. Add the sausage mixture to the pasta pot and top with the pesto. Stir to combine.
  6. Toss the pasta with the sausage mixture in a large bowl. Serve while warm and  top individual servings with grated parmesan cheese (and a sprinkle of parsley if you’re feeling fancy).
Source: a Chef Kittie original!


Upcoming Soon: Brown Butter Ice Cream

by chefkittie on March 15, 2012

While reading through my food blogroll this morning, I came across a description of a dessert enjoyed by a fellow blogger at a NYC restaurant.

“Brown butter ice cream in a stemless wine glass. At the table, the waiter poured a shot of rum over the top, followed by a shot of espresso. It turned into a buttered rum ice cream with a coffee flavor.”

The author: Ree Drummond. The restaurant: Marea.

I am obsessed with recreating this dessert.

Step 1: Making some Brown Butter Ice Cream. This is the most promising recipe I’ve found to date. The working plan is to make the custard Friday night, so it can churn Saturday morning and be ready by Saturday night.

I’ve already got my traditional (and over-sized) Irish dinner all planned for Saturday evening; I’m pretty darn sure I can incorporate Brown Butter Ice Cream in there somewhere.

Look for an update soon!

Love Kittie


Sweet Potato & Quinoa Cakes

by chefkittie on March 13, 2012

This recipe blew me away.

Sweet potato blends with nutty quinoa, savory parmesan and sauteed onion, surrounded by a crispy exterior. The texture reminded me of crab cakes, in all the best ways.

These are a fantastic alternative to potato pancakes; they offer the same chewy, crunchy goodness, and are nutritious to boot.

This recipe could work equally well at lunch or dinner. I served a batch last night for dinner alongside a simple green salad tossed in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper.

I had to reiterate two or three times that these were Healthy — Monkey didn’t quite believe me. They have that sweet-savory flavor often associated with more complex, decadent recipes. We ate the entire batch in one sitting. (The most lopsided cake was consumed piecemeal off the spatula.)

For me, this recipe fell into a special category: Must Share Immediately. One bite, and my first instinct (other than taking bite two) was to blog. Get the word out. Encourage others to try these. Soon.

Side quest: Top these cakes fresh out of the pan with crumbled goat cheese. The tangy, creamy addition will elevate them to another level.

Bonus round: The original recipe calls for gluten-free bread crumbs; swap those in, and it gets even healthier.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 small Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced fine
  • 1 cup Grated Sweet Potato
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Parsley, fresh or dried
  1. Bring the broth to a boil in a small pot over high heat. Add the quinoa and salt. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid and is tender, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan or skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and garlic, and cook for three minutes. Add the sweet potato, a pinch of salt and pepper if desired, and cook three more minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley together in a large bowl. Add the sweet potato mixture and fold with a spatula to combine. Repeat with the quinoa.
  4. Heat a clean pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop the quinoa mixture – this should yield 8 small cakes – and form the cakes with your hands. (I found a light coat of olive oil on my hands to be quite helpful.) Add four cakes to the pan and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Flip and repeat. Remove to a paper towel and pat the tops with another to remove any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining cakes.
  5. Serve the cakes warm, and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from the ever-lovely Cannelle et Vanille. I strongly recommend this blog for anyone interested in gluten-free cooking.)