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>Double Vanilla Cupcakes with Rainbow Sprinkles

27 May

Why are sprinkles so much fun? At work, I make donuts with glaze and rainbow sprinkles. This brings me back to my childhood. As a kid, the donut dipped in glazed and smothered with sprinkles used to be my favorite. I have many memories of swinging by the local donut shop after school.

Another childhood memory involving sprinkles…when my family would go out for ice cream, I would get a chocolate dipped cone with sprinkles (some call it a “clown cone”), but NO ice cream. Is that crazy or what? I wanted the cone, I wanted the chocolate, I wanted the sprinkles, but eh, I didn’t need the ice cream. Oy. Crazy town, tasty town.

A friend once told me that he imagined the walls of my bedroom to be strewn with cupcakes. That there was always just a platter of freshly made cupcakes ready to be eaten.

Well, I made some cupcakes. I made some cupcakes with a whopping amount of frosting and of course, with rainbow sprinkles on top. The sprinkles add a nice crunch the the sweet, soft frosting and the mini cake below.

The best cupcake that I ever had: I used to stage (fancy word for intern) at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA called Spago. I was staging on the savory side–peeling and mincing garlic and shallots, weighting out chanterelle mushrooms, slicing baby carrots on the vias, and shaving cheese onto freshly made and plated pastas…The chefs were always trying to feed me, I had to taste everything (boy oh boy was this fun!). One day, someone handed me a cupcake. It was a buttermilk cupcake with pink frosting. I had to scarf it down quick because I had to get back to work, but wow. I took a bite of the cupcake, a little cake, a little frosting, all in one bite. Wow. I will forever remember this cupcake. I have yet to re-create it. One day, one day…

For now, I whipped up a quick batch of cupcakes for my friend’s graduation.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

1 cup all-purpose flour

a scant 3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld beater and beat on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. Just a few minutes. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the powdered sugar and butter together in an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment on medium low speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer speed to low. Combine the milk and the vanilla extract and slowly stream it into the butter and sugar mixture. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. If you find that your frosting is getting to warm in the summer months, stop beating and set in the fridge for a few minutes. Once chilled, hook the frosting back up the the mixer and beat once more until you reach the desired consistency.

**NOTE: I did everything by hand. That is another option.


>Sprouts Cooking Club Fundraiser at Pizzaiolo

4 Feb

300 apple fritters. 19 frittatas. Toast, jam, butter, homemade pork rillette. Straus yogurt and granola parfaits with bananas and berries. Espressos and Americanos. Volunteers arrived early Sunday morning to help prepare for the Sprouts Cooking Club fundraiser brunch held at the trendy Oakland restaurant hot-spot, Pizzaiolo.

Sprouts Cooking Club is a children’s cooking program located in the Bay Area. The program emphasizes hands-on cooking with local, sustainable ingredients and with chefs from around the area. Donations from Straus Creamery, Whole Foods Market, McLaughlin coffee, Organic Valley Farms, and Alter Eco Fair Trade supply the kids with the ingredients and materials necessary to get their hands busy and their creative juices flowing.

Here are some of the kids from the summer. They are very serious about chopping their ingredients to make homemade salsa fresca and guacamole at Picante restaurant in Berkeley:

These Sprouts go above and beyond in the kitchen—not only are they excited about all of the fresh meals they get to prepare, but they act so maturely and are not afraid to connect with all of the guest chefs, asking questions and experimenting with different textures and flavors! Going into a restaurant and seeing where their food is coming from and how it is prepared is another integral portion of the program.

Cooking and enjoying a meal together is a real treat, and in April 2010, some of these lucky kids will have the chance to travel to FRANCE to cook! This trip will provide the kids and their families an opportunity to experience first hand what another country’s culinary and cultural lifestyle entails.

At the fundraiser this past Sunday, we had Jed working the frittatas and overseeing pretty much everything. Jed is actually going to go to France with the kids in April!

Tony was manning the coffee.

Volunteers from UC Berkeley were all over the dining crowd, directing people to their seats, clearing tables, washing dishes.

And I was standing over a hot pot of oil, frying up some delicious apple fritters. Dunked in glaze, these fritters were sweet and soft, and the apples gave them a nice bite.

This blogger sums up the exciting story of how Karen Rogers, founder and director of Sprouts Cooking Club, came to start the camp and foster an ever-growing next generation of chefs and food lovers.

Hooray for young, budding kid chefs!

Review: The Buttermilk Truck

22 Dec

Ever since I saw TheKitchyKitchen’s post about the Buttermilk Truck, I could not wait to come back to LA to taste the sought-after breakfast wonders served from a truck.

Gosh, it has been weeks and every day I have ogled over the bite size treats on the Buttermilk website.

The owner/founder, Gigi Pascual, graduated LMU with a BA in Business Administration and shortly after went to culinary school in NYC at The French Culinary Institute for Pastry Arts. After working in a few restaurants, she decided to open up this truck.

Food trucks are just everywhere these days. You can feast on your tacos from truck A, scarf down your cupcake from truck B, and indulge in your midnight burger from truck C. My brother raves about this organic ice cream truck in NYC, and my friend Natasha won’t shut her trap about the crème brûlée cart in San Francisco’s Mission district! I just found the Grilled Cheese Truck online, and wowza does that sound cheesy and comforting!

The Buttermilk truck twittered about coming to the San Fernando Valley on Tuesday December 22, so this was the day I planned to go get my buttermilk breakfast fix.

My brother and I drove 20 minutes to get to this truck. The weather was windy, very very windy. The darn wind was not so conducive to us waiting in line for 30 minutes and then having no place to sit but the parking lot curb to eat all the while having the wind blowing my hair, my sweater, my food, and my napkins all over the place.

Due to the extreme windy conditions, I was almost too overwhelmed to take nice pictures of all the food. I managed to snap a few, but if you really want to see some nice photos, check out the KitchyKitchen or the Buttermilk website.

I ordered the breakfast sandwich—a fried egg with chicken apple sausage sandwiched between two buttermilk biscuits. It was supposed to come with a cute little hashbrown pancake, but they ran out just before we ordered. Bummer.

This little b-fast sandwich looked pretty darn delish, but honestly, it needed to be salted and peppered, and even though the yolk was nice and runny, the sandwich altogether was pretty dang DRY.

My bro ordered French toast on Hawaiian bread—it came dusted with powdered sugar and garnished with a slice of strawberry. Pretty good. Nice and crunchy on the outside. Very sweet and very fried.

Then we shared the cake donut bites. These were definitely the winners of the morning. Could have been slightly more aesthetically pleasing, but I’m kind of a food snob, so sue me.

The sandwich, French toast, and cake donuts cost $8.50. Not too bad?

Well, it took 20 minutes to drive there, 30 minutes to wait in line, 10 minutes to eat, and 20 minutes to drive back home. Plus, we were kind of in the middle of nowhere, well, we were in the middle of a bunch of warehouses. That’s a lot of minutes for windy, mediocre breakfast from a truck.

Here is my suggestion: if the Buttermilk truck happens to be in your area, yah, hit that up. Otherwise, eh, just come over to my house and I can make you the breakfast of your dreams (my brother can vouch for that).