Friday, July 31, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Hello, and welcome to the solution of what to do when you buy a 2.75 lb tub of blueberries at Costco! Not only do you make blueberry muffins, but you also follow that up by making this awesome blueberry crumb cake. It's really easy and other than the blueberries, all of the ingredients are really standard.

So here's what you need. As you can see, you need flour and sugar two separate times. A total of 1 2/3 cups flour (1/3 cup initially and 1 1/3 cups later) and 1 1/4 cups sugar (1/2 cup initially and 3/4 cup later), 2 cups fresh blueberries , three eggs, 1/4 cup cold butter, 3/4 cup softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. That about covers it!

Start by cutting up your 1/4 cup cold butter into little squares. The size isn't too important.

Now toss that butter in a medium-ish bowl.

Go ahead and add 1/2 cup sugar. Yum, butter and sugar. A good start.

Now add in 1/3 cup flour. You get to use your 1/3 measuring cup. Rejoice!

Now for 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. This really makes the flavor unbelievably good.

Now time to start mashing this together with a fork.

I'm not going to lie, this process takes awhile. Try to refrain from eating the globs of butter on the fork.

Now start feeling smug because it's starting to look edible.

There we go! Mix it until it's nice and crumbly and everything is combined well. Now put this heavenly mixture in the fridge so you don't eat it all while you make the rest.

Add your 3/4 cup butter ( a microwave in my case) to 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Trust me on that part.

This would be a good time to own a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. But alas, pick up your hand mixer and that do the trick (but it won't stop you from complaining about your lack of stand mixer). Cream together the butter and sugar.

This is what it looks like when done.

Now add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. The pure stuff if you can. Ours cost something like $12 when we bought it in Manhattan. Ugh.

In another bowl (this one can be pretty small) whisk together 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. You don't really need to whisk this, but I just like an excuse to use a whisk.

Now crack your three eggs in a bowl and next time try not to get a blurry picture.

Now add some of the flour mixture and start up the hand mixer again. Then add one of the eggs by pouring it from the bowl and keep alternating in this way while mixing.

Look at that mixer go!

Near the end I turned off the mixer and finished the job with my handy bright green silicon spatula that I think my mom bought me from the dollar store.

Now pour in some of the blueberries into the dough.

Now fold the dough over the blueberries so they are essentially covered.

Now add some more blueberries and repeat the procress until all the blueberries have been added.

Now pour your delicious batter into a greased pan. I used an 8x8 pan because that's really all I had available. A larger pan would have worked better, such as a 9x9 or a 10x10 cake pan.

Smooth it out on top with your dollar store spatula.

Now grab that crumb mixture from your fridge and add it onto the batter.

Now put this sucker in the oven at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes (it will likely depend on the size of your pan - the smaller your pan the longer it will take to cook) until a toothpick (or knife in my case) can be inserted and taken out without any globs of batter on there for you to lick off.

Now look - in those 45 minutes you will have plenty of dish washing to do. Hooray!

But, it was all worth it! This cake smells amazing too. Even your husband who doesn't like blueberries will come home and ask for a bite because it smells so great.

Scoop out a big plateful even though you are making dinner at the same time.

And eat the whole thing. Because everyone deserves dessert first every once in awhile. Right? Right?! Good, because it's too late.

Here is the recipe in full without all my annoying comments and pictures!

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Crumb topping:
¼ cup cold butter, cut into pieces
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup softened butter
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crumb topping:
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together 1/4 cup cold butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with a fork until mixture is combined and crumbly. Refrigerate the topping.

To make the batter:
In a large bowl, cream together 3/4 cup softened butter and 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix together. In a small bowl, mix together 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. To the creamed butter mixture alternately add in some of the flour mixture and and one egg at a time until all ingredients are added and combined well. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula.

Pour batter into a well greased pan (8x8, 9x9, or 10x10). Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter and bake 45-55 minutes (at 350 degrees) until a knife comes out clean. Topping will be crisp and golden brown.


Ruh Roh

John and I are having a poker night for his work group/friends next Wednesday. I am in the process of trying to figure out exactly what I'll be making. So far the menu appears to be as follows:

Homemade Guacamole
Fresh Salsa
Firecracker shrimp
Corn Casserole
Mac & Cheese
Mexican Lasagna
Zucchini Appetizer
Key Lime Pie
Peanut Butter Pie

So far, the only thing I have bought for the party is this.

Hence...the title of this post. I better get to work!

Update: Just made my grocery list. It has 42 items on it. Ugh.

My New Thing

I hadn't stepped foot in a non-school-associated (waaay too many hyphens) library in years. I've been utilizing bookstores instead. I loved bookstores - especially the independently owned variety. I would walk out of The Strand with a huge bag full of books. But that was nothing in comparison to the truck loads of books I'm walking out with nowadays. I have rediscovered The Library. More specifically, I have discovered the fact that you can take out cookbooks from the library. An unlimited number. For four weeks at a time with lots of renewals. This may not excite the average person, but it's been an awakening for me. So far, I have checked out at least 30 cookbooks in two and a half weeks. Here is a view of just a few of the shelves and their delicious offerings.

Yes, it is embarrassing to take pictures in the library.

The Alice Waters section - clearly popular around these parts.

I own two of her cookbooks and her biography. More on her later.

And this is my pile from yesterday's visit. It's pretty standard, other than the fact there is a book on blogging and I usually have 5 more cookbooks. But I was just there 2 days ago, so I didn't feel the need to go completely out of control.
I also have additional Barefoot, Martha, and Bittman books sitting around the house.

And in the spirit of honesty, I will also admit that I am occasionally checking out books like the one below. I may or may not have the rest on hold.

Don't hate me. I read adult books too! I swear!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heaven is a place on earth

Yikes. Scary grin. Clearly this brings me too much pleasure.

I read something once about how going to the farmers market is a religious experience to some people. I, am one of those people. It also helps the analogy because we go on Sunday mornings.

These are actually mini. How cute is that?

It's a ritual or a tradition in our house, and something I look forward to every week. It probably helps that it's the middle of summer so the market is stocked with everything beautiful and delicious, but I think in the winter I'll appreciate it too.

There's something about the colors.

Edible flowers with bags of lettuce. Swoon.

And flavors.

This place is always packed - if you get there too late in the day they are completely sold out of bread.

And the camaraderie of it all.

(Just so you know, my dad took all these pictures because my parents were in town - I didn't ask any unsuspecting market-goers)

I have to admit, the one here has better food and more variety than the Union Square Green Market in Manhattan, but I am constantly griping how it's only open once a week and only for four hours. This place gets packed - clearly all us hippies in California head to these types of things.

Is it just me?

The scene of the crime (well this was it in NYC, but you get the picture).
Also, please ignore all the random stuff all over the place. And the wrinkles.

Is it just me, or do you sometimes eat too much that you can't fall asleep at night? It's as if your stomach is so full that no matter how you lay, which way you turn, your tummy is saying "WHY? WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME???" Lying on your front is completely out of the question b/c the belly is further squished into you, lying on your back is awful b/c it sinks into you further, and lying on your side is only acceptable when curled in a tiny, tiny ball. Well needless to say, this happens to me more than I probably care to admit. Like last night for instance. Perhaps one would learn from these mistakes and eat less on occasion. But no me, I'm a glutton for punishment! Or perhaps just a glutton? (I just spent the past 5 minutes trying to remember if Brad Pitt was in that movie Seven about ye olde deadly sins...I'm going to say he was, but clearly that does not mean my gluttony is any more acceptable.)


So during my hour-long drive to an interview today the idea dawned on me to start this blog. I've thought of starting blogs before of course (what self-involved person hasn't?), but this exact concept came to me randomly today and so on a whim I'm going to start this thing. Usually I let these feelings pass and move on to smaller and worse things, but this time I'm doing it. It's odd composing this because I know I won't be sending anyone the link to the blog for awhile. I feel like maybe if I tell them I have a blog once it has a few posts them maybe people might care a little more. Perhaps I'm wrong, but we'll see.

The point of this blog is that I've been relatively obsessed with cooking lately. And it isn't just because I have a lot of free time. I'm having a blast doing it and will look for any excuse to cook a bigger and better meal. See, I used to live in Manhattan (or Manhattie as I sometimes refer to it in my head) and that is one hell of a town for foodies.

I am refraining from calling this "Central Parkie," but it's tough.

I've always liked food and restaurants, but it wasn't until I had a Zagat Guide in my hand, money in my Kate Spade, and a whole array of possibilities that I truly went gaga for the food thing. There is no end to the restaurants in NYC and no end to the cuisines and flavors. It was paradise. My time in New York ended too quickly and now I live in Suburbia, California.

I think she's waving goodbye to me.

I don't live that far from a huge city, but it's far enough so that I rarely go, and almost never go for dinner. As luck would have it there are about -2 jobs to be found around here, so I'm unemployed and frankly, loving it because I get to cook nonstop.

So hopefully you and your closest e-friends will join me on this journey as I blog about what it's like for a city girl foodie to move to suburbia and have to create her own culinary masterpieces (har har). I have to warn you though, I will very likely be blogging about a bunch of other random junk too, so don't hate me for it.
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