Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Boston Cake Experiment

This past weekend I participated in the Boston Cake Experiment. I had so much fun at the Pie Experiment last year that I just had to participate again this year when The Food Experiments came back to Boston! I teamed up with my friend, and bake enthusiast (and creator of itty bitty clay treasures), Natalie Elpek to form our team, Flour Power. Instead of experimenting with recipes at the last minute like I did last year,  I decided to recreate my strawberry burst cake with mascarpone whipped topping and lemon rind candy which I have made many times before. The recipe can be found in a previous Nomsense blog post. I added a little almond extract to the whipped topping which really added something extra to the dessert. Theo, who is one of he founders and organizers of the Food Experiments said that our cake made him nostalgic for the good humor strawberry shortcake ice cream bar. I was a little more prepared and knew what to expect since this was my second year participating in the Food Experiments. All of the hard work paid off. We placed third with the judges vote!

Brooklyn Brewery supplied all of the caketestants with delicious, free beer during the event and we made sure to sample all of the delicious cakes. All were winners, but I had a couple of personal favorites... Orange Blossom which was a spice cake smothered in honey and topped with candied orange. I could taste cardamom, which I love! The S'Mores also stood out. I think I ate five pieces of this one alone! Chocolate, caramel, nuts, and the presentation was exceptional, complete with a marshmallow coating which was blow torched at the table! There were quite a few boozy cakes which were all innovative. There was even a Hawaiian cake topped with bits of fried spam! The top audience winner had won the same title last year for their savory quiche. This year the brother and sister team created a savory cake called Toteau de Chevre. The crowd was great. We thank all of our friends who came out to support us! I look forward to participating in the Boston Food Experiment again next year.

Winning results and photos can be found on the Food Experiments website.

Team Flour Power
We called our cake 'Strawberry Dream'

lemon rind candy
our main ingredient

We baked five cakes

Beck loves cake!
S'mores cake! 
Itty Bitty Treasures

Friend and artist, Pampi Das
I thanked the academy of cakes
Theo's award for experimentation went to the Orange Blossom cake 
Winners for a second year in a row, Hope and Josh Gee!

Until next year...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chocolate and Almond Cake

Recipe number six for the JC100 celebration is Julia's Chocolate and Almond cake! I made a bundt cake, and topped it off with crushed hazelnuts and bits of toffee all around! The cake is fluffy and full of flavor from the almonds and rum added to the cake batter, in combination with Julia's chocolate buttercream frosting. I am in awe of Julia's techniques, explicit writing style and true passion for cooking! It is as if you are actually in the kitchen with her when following her instructions. With attention to detail, she provides the reader with the confidence needed to complete complex dishes that they may not otherwise have dared to attempt! Make this cake and enjoy it! My niece, mother, and I did on a hot summer afternoon.

Cake Ingredients

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted with 2 tablespoons rum or coffee (I used rum extract)
1 stick softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup pulverized almonds (I used hazlenuts)
crushed toffee bits
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup cake flour (I used all-purpose)


2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons rum or coffee (I used rum extract)
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour baking pan.
Place chocolate and rum/coffee in small pan set over larger pan of almost simmering water. 
Remove pans from heat and allow chocolate to melt while stirring. Cream butter and sugar using electric 
mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks. Beat egg whites and salt in separate bowl until soft peaks 
form. Sprinkle on the 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Blend melted chocolate, almonds, 
and almond extract into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in 1/3rd of the egg whites followed by 1/3rd of the flour. 
Alternate flour and whites until all ingredients are combined. Bake for about 25 minutes until knife comes 
out clean. Remove from pan 10 minutes after baking. 
Allow to cool completely before frosting (approximately 1hr).

To make the frosting:

Melt chocolate and rum/coffee in small pan placed in a large pan of simmering water. Remove from heat, and 
stir until chocolate is melted. Beat in butter one tablespoon at a time. Next, place in a bowl filled with ice water 
and continue to mix until consistency is perfect for spreading. Apply to cake. Add hazelnuts to the top of the 
cake and 
toffee bits all around.

*Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. 

mixing the melted chocolate with butter and sugar

about to add egg whites to chocolate butter mixture

adding almonds to the cake batter

 beautiful bundt!

cutting into the cake

happy face!

I will be participating in the The Food Experiments again this year. Last year the Boston theme was Pie, where I made a savory quiche. This year is the cake experiment, happening tomorrow at the Middle East in Cambridge from 6PM-9PM! I will be teaming up with friend, Natalie Elpek. We will be creating a to-die-for cake! Keep a lookout for my recap post of the event. I am looking forward to this fun event, and sampling all of the other cakes!

Bon Appétit !

Friday, June 22, 2012

Julia's Vichyssoise Recipe #5 JC100

Vichyssoise or cold leek and potato soup can be served as a meal with bread, fruit, salad and a good cheese as Julia writes! Soups really are easy to make, and Julia's leek and potato soup can be made in no time! The important step is to allow the ingredients to combine in flavor and let simmer for many hours on the stove or for a short period of time in a pressure cooker. Either way, this is a fantastic soup for any occasion! Since I have made a similar soup not too long ago, I am going to refer to my sweet potato version. Serve chilled in this hot summer heat!

Julia's recipe:

3 cups peeled, sliced potatoes
3 cups sliced white of leek
1/2 quarts white stock, chicken
salt to taste

1/2 to 1 cup whipping cream
2 or 3 tablespoons minced chives

chilled soup bowls

Simmer vegetables in stock, puree with blender, fine sieve, or food mill.
Stir in cream, season to taste. Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with chives.

Bon Appetit!

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Georgetown Cupcakes in Boston!

Boston Cream

I attended the opening reception for a new Georgetown Cupcake at 83 Newbury Street in Boston.
This is the fourth location for sisters and co-owners, Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis Berman. You may recognize them from TLC's DC Cupcakes. They are also best-selling authors of The Cupcake Diaries: Recipes and Memories from the Sisters of Georgetown Cupcake. A beautifully written book paying tribute to those who have influenced the sisters in addition to sharing their true passion for cupcakes. I enjoyed reading about the giant pink bra they made with 2,000 cupcakes for a Susan G. Komen event. View pictures here to see the cupcake bra.

The opening event created quite a buzz and was filled with people within about fifteen minutes of the 6:00PM start time! Luckily my friend and I were able to find a spot up in the open kitchen area where delectable, meticulously decorated mini cupcakes were making there way out to the crowd. A couple of the GC cupcake crew entertained us while we scarfed down each cupcake. I asked what sets Georgetown Cupcake apart from the other cupcakeries? The response was that Georgetown Cupcake has exceptional customer service. Sounds good to me! It helps that the cupcakes are also exceptional.  

A happy crowd!

Blinged out kitchenAid mixer for the event

open kitchen area decorated with pink cupcake boxes

mini cupcakes

I had to be sure to sample each flavor.  Salted caramel, oreo cookie, red velvet with a to-die-for cream cheese frosting, boston cream, chocolate fudge, chocolate peanut butter, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla. I have to say that they were all delicious. Not too sweet and adorned with sugar flower charms. I am calling them charms because they were pretty enough to be worn as jewelry. Not only were they pretty, but they had flavor! The vanilla cupcake charms were vanilla flavored. This cupcake surpassed my expectations of what would be typically be an ordinary vanilla cupcake. 

chocolate and oreo

The Georgetown Cupcake truck!

I was only at the opening party for 30 minutes and was able to sample each cupcake and while enjoying a couple of glasses of champagne in the midst of a massive crowd. The event was organized very well.  I think we can expect nothing but continued success at this Newbury Street location! Thank you, Sophie and Katherine for bringing Georgetown Cupcake to Boston! I look forward to sampling more. The menu offers over 100 cupcake flavors, including 18 flavors each day with a rotating weekly and monthly menu and a full espresso bar. They also ship nationwide. To celebrate the opening, Georgetown Cupcake Newbury will be giving out one FREE cupcake all day on Saturday, June 16th from 12PM-9PM. Be sure to stop by and get your cupcake(s)!
Map to location at 83 Newbury St. Between Clarendon and Berkley Streets.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Soba Noodle Kugel

Cakes by Natalie Caludio-Elpek 

I recently attended a fun potluck bat mitzvah/ farewell party. Adi, who has moved to Maryland to attend med decided to have the bat mitzvah she had missed out on at the traditional age of 12. I was so happy to be part of this special event. We all wished Adi well with singing, dancing and lots of eating! A fun time was had by all. There was brisket, homemade challah, BBQ shrimp, delicious cakes... TWO chocolate cakes! Oy vey!

This was opportunity to break out a couple of kugel recipes I had in the filed. Kugel means "sphere or ball" in German and the dish can be savory or sweet. Most kugels are in a rectangle baking dish these days. Here is a great reference to ten kugel recipes.  I have made a noodle kugel before with butter noodles. Since I am trying to eat a little healthier and I stress 'little'.. I created an alternative to a traditional noodle kugel which usually consists of sour cream, butter noodles, cottage cheese, lots of butter.. it is absolutely delicious! Check out Smitten Kitchen's Noodle Kugel. My soba kugel came out good.  I may tweak it a little and try adding more liquid next time to make the kugel more fluffy.

All of the photos in this post were taken by the talented and creative, Aparna Das (Pampi) of Third Eye Fell. Check out the latest dance/art performances. There is a dance performance this Saturday!


1 package of soba noodles
2 eggs
1 8 oz. container mascarpone cheese
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded zuchinni
1 teaspoon minced ginger
approx. 2 tabespoons chopped chives
Canola oil
panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven 350 degrees farenheit. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside in large bowl. Beat eggs and add in mascarpone. Whip until well blended about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in chopped chives to egg mixture and a little soy milk or regular milk. Add in ginger and mix with noodles. Place noodle mixture in a baking dish and bake until sides are golden brown.


Salade Nicoise

Another Julia classic and recipe number 4 in the JC100 event. Julia writes "A bountiful arrangement in bowl or platter is so handsome to behold that I think it a cruel shame to toss everything together into a big mess. A careful presentation means more work, but it's easily manageable when you ready each of the numerous ingredients separately, which you can do well ahead. Season each just before assembling and serving, and you will have the perfect Salade Nicoise."

Salase Nicoise traditionally contains fish, potato, beans and eggs. Julia has a great detailed description of how to prepare frenched green beans, preparation of the salad greens, and recipes for French and American potato salad.  All can be found in her book The Way to Cook.

I decided to alter the salad a bit and use some kale I had on hand. I then sliced up and seasoned some sweet orange pepper, teriyaki tofu, boiled up some eggs and created a simple sauce consisting of equal parts olive oil mayo and dijon mustard to apply to each egg topped with a dot of sriracha! Simple and not really close to Julia's salad, but the idea of creative arrangement carried through to my ingredients!

Sauteing the kale:


1bunch of kale, cut or 1 bag of kale pre-cut
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons canola oil

Add oil to saute pan set to medium heat. Add kale, season with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes until the greens are wilted. Add stock and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and plate.

Arrange ingredients in any way you like. Drizzle with you favorite dressing. I used balsamic vinaigrette.

This is the season for salad. Have fun and be creative!

Bon Appétit

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Coq Au Vin - JC100

Recipe number three of the JC100 celebration honoring Julia Child is Coq Au Vin! A delicious chicken dish traditionally cooked in lardon with red wine, mushrooms, onions, garlic and brandy. The preparation is involved and is similar to beef bourguignon. Julia uses brandy and describes how you can wow your guests with a flame at the dinner table! I think I'll pass on potentially burning the house down and use the white wine I already have! The dish came out beautifully. Though time consuming, (like many of Julia's recipes) the chicken is tender from simmering for a long time and the wine adds a great deal of flavor. I used butter to sear the chicken instead of lardon. I am starting to train for a marathon so my dishes will be a little more on the healthier side as I proceed with future recipes!


21/2 - 3 ponds frying chicken parts - legs and thighs
3 Tablespoons butter
1 pint button mushrooms, sliced
1 onion sliced
Salt and pepper
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 large ripe unpeeled tomato
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups white wine
1 or more cups chicken stock
Buerre manie for the sauce (11/2 tablespoons each flour and softened butter blended to a paste)
Fresh parsley or chive for decoration

Saute mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter for a few minutes once the butter froth has subsided. Season with salt and pepper. Saute and set aside. Saute onions in olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until clear. set aside. Next, season chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the remaining butter. Add mushrooms, onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and tomato. Pour in the wine and enough stock barley to cover the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer slowly for 20 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to make the sauce. Boil down the sauce, add more seasoning to taste and add in buerre manie to make the sauce thickened. Bring the sauce to a simmer, remove from heat and add the chicken. This was another fun dish to make.

buerre manie

I made some roasted sweet potato and served with wine!

Bon Appetit!

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Nomsense is on Facebook!