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Posts tagged ‘block party’

Block Party, Judging At Community Garden, A Bowl Of Vegetables And A One Bowl Chocolate Cake

It has been an exhausting few weeks. It was crunch time as our annual block party was coming up quicker than I would have liked it to. Organizing is not my strong suite but as the block association president much of the planning and prep work falls on me and I have to step outside my comfort zone and try to be the party planner. There is always so much to do, not enough time to do it and invariably something goes wrong. I have had torrential rain and had to cancel because of it, this year it was sunny and hot (way too hot for me) almost 90 degree’s. Something I have planned on for a year was cancelled, the rock climbing wall that our brave policeman bring to events, the kids love it and it’s so much fun for all. Last year my reservation for the wall got lost when the Officer retired and we only got it for an hour, I reserved it this year, almost a year ahead and 2 days before the event the police contacted me with bad news, the rock wall had broken and needs to be repaired. The children were all disappointed but the block party went off almost without a hitch and everyone had a good time.

Vegetables from the community garden

I live across the street from a Community Garden and they asked me if I would be a judge for a food event at their annual Harvest Festival, I was more than happy to do so. We tasted fresh vegetables grown in the garden which were judged on beauty and taste. Other things we tried were homemade pickles and desserts made with apples from the tree in the garden. It was a lot of fun, everything was delicious and some of the other judges were a food stylist, food photographer and cookbook publisher.

The block party is something everyone looks forward to all year, our block along with people from the neighborhood come together to eat, drink, talk, we all love watching the children have fun in the bouncy castle and ride their bicycles and skateboards in the street without fear of traffic. I usually have a bake sale but have been so incredibly busy I only made cookies which sold out very quickly. We grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, had pizza, drinks, music from a fantastic DJ and an amazing Ukelele group.

The day after I was completely exhausted and wanted a light simple meal. A bowl of roasted vegetables with cheesy cauliflower mash was exactly what I needed. I used an assortment of vegetables and mashed cauliflower with gruyere. Simple, healthful and delicious.  Had some green beans, zucchini, tomato and shallot drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 400 degree’s. Cauliflower mash is so easy, simply boil the cauliflower, let it dry in the oven on 200 for about 20 minutes then put in the food processor with some butter, sour cream and season with salt and pepper.  I added some grated gruyere and popped into the oven at 200 for a few minutes to heat and melt the cheese.

This super easy one bowl no measure chocolate cake is awesome. It’s a recipe on Food52. The fact that it’s quick and no measure immediately prompted me to give this recipe a try. The cake uses full fat plain Greek yogurt, I used Fage and you use the yogurt container as the means of measuring. Pretty cool right?

The cake will have cracks thats ok

Simple One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Recipe on food52

1  container (7 oz) plain Greek yogurt

1 container neutral flavored oil (I used canola)

2 large eggs

2 containers self rising flour

1 container unsweetened cocoa powder

1 container sugar

1 container warm water or coffee

Heat Oven to 350 degree’s. Prepare a 10 inch spring form pan by greasing or spraying the bottom, add a parchment round and then grease and flour the pan.

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix on low until the flour is incorporated, then increase to medium high and beat for approximately 2 minutes. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cake Tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pan, release the pan and remove the cake. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

Disappointment And Huckleberry’s Comforting Biscuits

Soggy sign

Soggy sign

Azita from Fig and Quince designed our flyer for the block party, cute right? Here is it hanging on a post getting soggy. The rain was relentless, canceling the block party was the only option.

wet

wet

Our block, one lonely dog walker out. What a miserable day.

pretty leaves wet sidewalk

pretty leaves wet sidewalk

I love the Fall, the leaves turning and falling. The dogs love walking in the leaves that fall to the ground. It should have been a happy fun day, but we got rained out. All in all it was very disappointing, so I wanted to make something comforting. I haven’t made anything yet from Huckleberry, thumbing through the book my eyes were immediately drawn to this recipe for Comfort Food Biscuits, how appropriate. If you have followed my blog for any length of time you know I am biscuit/scone challenged. My biscuits have been likened to paper weights, hockey pucks, rocks. I am constantly searching for the elusive biscuit recipe that will be light and fluffy and pillowy. I thought this recipe sounded really good, lots of fat in the way of butter, cream cheese and heavy cream so it should produce a nice moist biscuit. Great step by step instructions. The only thing I was perplexed about was the baking temperature. It’s counter intuitive really, baking biscuits in a 350 degree oven didn’t make sense to me, every biscuit recipe I have ever made uses a hot oven 425 -450 degrees.

Comfort Food Biscuits

Makes 13 2 inch biscuits

3 cups (380 grams) all purpose flour

1 tbs +2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tbs sugar plus more for sprinkling

1 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup (170 grams) cold unsalted butter cubed

3/4 cup (180 grams) cold cream cheese cubed

6 tbs (90 ml) cold heavy cream

egg wash

fleur de sel for sprinkling

 

In a very large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and toss well. Throw in the cold butter and work it with your fingertips until the pieces are pea and lima bean size. Then do the same with the cream cheese. Add the cream. Lightly toss to distribute.

Immediately dump everything onto a clean surface with more than enough space to work the dough. Using only the heel of your palm, quickly flatten out the dough. Gather the dough back together in a mound and repeat. After two or three repetitions, the dough should begin holding together. Be sure to avoid overworking. You should still see some pea size bits of butter through it.

Flatten the dough to a 1 inch (2.5 cm) thickness and cout the biscuits. Transfer them to an ungreased sheet pan. Very gently push the scraps back together and cut once more. Freeze for at least 2 hours before baking, or up to 1 one month, tightly wrapped.

Preheat your oven to 350 degree F or 180 degrees Centigrade. Remove the biscuits from the freezer Space them with plenty of breathing room on two ungreased sheet pans, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with both sugar and salt. Bake from frozen until cooked through, nicely browned, and easily lifted off the pan about 30 minutes.

Instructions

Instructions

Disclosure: My results in no way reflect on the actual recipe since I am biscuit challenged.

I followed the instructions or at least I tried, the dough felt dry to me. I weighed the ingredients except for the flour and the heavy cream, in retrospect I should have weighed the flour also, that might be the key as to why the dough felt dry. Have I said I am biscuit challenged, well I am. Overworking the dough seems to be my mantra. I used the heel of my palm pressed and gathered and eventually it came together but only after a lot of work (overwork?). When I cut a biscuit with the cutter and picked it up it sort of fell apart,it was too dry. I had to put the dough back in the bowl and add another tbs of cream and really carefully incorporate, press it into another disc and cut the biscuits, this time they held together but my fear is that at this point I overworked the dough, in the photo’s above the dough looks soft mine was not it was tightly packed. They made exactly the amount indicated, I placed in the freezer for the requisite time (2 hours). I pre heated the oven to 350 degrees. I had to smack my hand to keep me from taking the temp up over 400 degree’s. To be fair it looks like the biscuit dough in the photo’s above is not the same recipe, it looks like the Herb  biscuits which has more liquid in the form of buttermilk but a bit less fat so it should have evened out I would think. We’ll see what happens when I bake them. Note: I decided to try weighing three cups of flour using the same measuring cup and method and it was 420 grams and the recipe calls for 380 grams, hence the dry biscuits, I removed approximately 1/2 cup of flour to make it 380. You see why it’s important to weigh ingredients when you bake. When I cut 3/4 cup of butter it was less than the 170 grams so I added a smidge more. 

The Results:

Well, I think I overworked them, they were not pillowy, light and fluffy as I hoped. The flavor was good though. I am beginning to think I have unrealistic expectations when it comes to biscuits, I have the same problem with pound cakes. All biscuits are supposed to be like the ones you get in the refrigerator section of the supermarket, you know the ones in the can and pound cake should all be like Sara Lee. On a positive note, they rose nicely, flavor was really good and I am sure they are perfectly acceptable biscuits but one day I will go to LA and taste one from the source Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe. I really look forward to making more recipes from the book.

If I were to make these again I would do a few things differently:

1. weigh the flour and all ingredients

2. add more liquid if it looks to dry, that would help me not over work the dough.

3. Bake at a temperature higher than 350 degree’s, maybe with a commercial oven it works but with my less than wonderful oven it was too low and the biscuits looked anemic ( In all fairness I did not use egg wash, I brushed with cream)

I boosted the color in iphoto so they look more golden brown than they actually came out of the oven so the photo’s have been touched up.

biscuits

biscuits

close up

close up

 

 

My Neighborhood

IMG_3528

There are no recipes in this post, I have been very busy the last few weeks planning our annual block party. I live in Brooklyn, NY and my neighborhood has a very tight knit community,  we have a block association and I am President of mine. We hold our block party every year in early October, this year it was yesterday Oct. 5th. It’s quite a process, I have to apply to the city for a permit for a street fair, we close the street to traffic all day and everyone has a great time, the children ride their bicycles, skateboards and scooters without fear of cars, we have a blow up ride, face painting, balloon sculpture, food, vendors and music. It takes a lot of planning to put this together, no small feat and with my little block party committee we work hard for weeks to get this whole event planned. We grill hamburgers and hot dogs and sell them with all proceeds going to benefit our block association, there are bake sales, stoop sales and all of our neighbors come together to talk and play and just generally have a good time. I didn’t get any photo’s of the food, it was fast and furious, but it was good we had thick juicy hamburgers on brioche rolls with lettuce and tomato and lots of condiments and add on’s, cheese and bacon. I was so busy grilling I didn’t have time to snap any photo’s we also had baked tilapia on a roll.

I just want to share some photo’s of yesterdays event, I’m exhausted but had a great time. I was the designated grill master, making the hamburgers, hot dogs etc… and was busy all day long. The weather was warm and sunny and a fun day was had by all.

Blow up ride

Blow up ride

My block setting up

My block setting up

More set up

More set up

Live jazz

Live jazz

starting to get crowded

starting to get crowded

Adorable budding musician

Adorable budding musician