Nothing beats the pleasure of baking a cake for a child’s birthday. The recipient is invariably excited and, of course, easily impressed. Having become inured to teenage contempt and adult-onset apathy, watching someone eat your creations with the gusto and abandon of a 4-year-old is a rare and refreshing delight. When the opportunity to bake a birthday cake for an adorable little cousin fell into our laps, we couldn’t wait to get started. (more…)
I think the true key to achieving impressive feats – whether it’s hosting a five-course dinner party, formulating an experiment that produces publishable results, or completing a full marathon – is a healthy dose of naive enthusiasm. We were on Food52 looking for something else entirely when a picture caught our eye: golden-brown caramels, topped with toasted pepitas and fleur de sel. Hey, those look good, we said, let’s make them tonight. And so, with no prior planning we embarked into the unknown. There was a brief moment of clarity on the way home – I have a historic success rate of 50% when it comes to caramels – but then the enthusiasm flared and I forgot all about the disasters potentially awaiting us in the kitchen. (more…)
Nothing says “party” like confetti. Whether you’re remembering confetti cannons during the Giants parade, a booby-trapped card sent by your grandma, or a wild New Year’s celebration, confetti says, “let’s not worry about cleaning this up; let’s just enjoy this moment.” Funfetti, similarly, is all about the party. During childhood, that party was your best friend’s birthday (pre-sugar crackdown) when her mom made multi-colored cupcakes for the whole class. In high school, you partied at your house with your drug of choice (sugar), baking a pan of Pillsbury cake and singing along with your favorite musicals. Now, entering adulthood, you demand a good bar with strong drinks and a relaxed policy about homemade birthday cakes. (more…)
Lemon poppy seed has found its way into our collective bosom here at First We Eat. Sugary enough for my insatiable sweet tooth, restrained enough for my FWE partner’s own taste, lemon poppy seed cake is a perfect compromise. It’s delicate and fruity, fluffy but with a richness that we both find irresistible. As we all know the richness is the product of a lot of butter, but you only get set much time on this earth and you should make the most of it (this sentence is the adult equivalent of shouting “YOLO”). (more…)
Whipped up for a potluck (does your life ever feel like an endless game of potluck roulette?) these little cookies were a perfect dessert, served with a small scoop of ice cream. They are crisp and buttery, but the addition of polenta yields an unexpected bite to each sweet mouthful. A dash of rosemary gives these cookies an irresistible scent and complements their, well, rustic appearance. Better yet, the dough comes together in minutes – unless, like me, you don’t have a food processor, in which case it takes what feels like hours – and bakes nearly as quickly. (more…)
Themed parties are an opportunity to gather all your favorite like-minded friends to your bosom; themed potlucks allow you to sample from the culinary skills and creativity of these charming people. As an added bonus, the latter requires even less effort on the part of the host, who then has time to turn her considerable decorating abilities to crafting, say, a magical feast. These events also provide an excuse to throw a morning’s effort into an extravagant recipe, something with a little bang but scalable for a large crowd. When we began planning a contribution for April’s Harry Potter Book Club meeting (Prisoner of Azkaban, my personal favorite, for all of you Potter aficionados out there) we decided it was time to pull out all the stops and go sugary. (more…)
Every trip to Berkeley Bowl starts with a grocery list and ends with a shopping cart full of unexpected treats. Wandering the aisles aimlessly gets you thinking of the next meal you’re going to make, and the one after that, and the one after that, and suddenly you’re buying rhubarb and strawberries and running home to make this heavenly dessert.