Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Summer Plum Salad

For the last week, it has been unbearably hot in New York.  I haven't felt like cooking much after taking the subway home from work in 103 degree heat. It's just too hot to turn on the oven and cook.  However, it's just the right temperature for making a summer salad.  I like to make these salads after picking up some delicious summer fruit at the Union Square farmers market, which is near my office. This time I picked up some yellow Japanese plums, called Shiro plums, a wonderful sweet Japanese plum. They are quite tiny, so I picked up a handful for incorporation into a salad with my favorite nuts (hazelnuts), mixed greens and crumbled goat cheese.  The mix of the sweet and the tart flavor of the plums is great in a summer salad like this. If you don't have access to Shiro plums or want to try out another fruit, I have also made this salad with apricots (which are actually my favorite fruit for this salad), nectarines and peaches - basically all of the stone fruits.  I also can do this salad with strawberries and it's  a great salad, too.  However, if you are going to make the salad with strawberries, I recommend blending some of the fresh farmers' market strawberries right into the salad dressing along with a small amount of dijon mustard to make it nice, creamy and pink.

Sasha's Summer Stone Fruit Salad
Handfull of sliced Shino plums, or a couple of sliced apricots, peaches or nectarines
Organic mixed greens
Chopped Hazelnuts
Crumbled goat cheese
Balsamic vinegar & canola oil for the dressing


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Fourth of July Themed Coffee Cupcakes

For the fourth of July, I decided to make some red white and blue decorated cupcakes.  I wanted to try out the cappuccino cupcake recipe from Julie Hasson's Book 125 Best Cupcakes, so rather than creating red white and blue frosting, I made the cappuccino cupcakes with coffee frosting and then decorated the cupcakes with some red white and blue decorations made out of fondant (flags, starts, and my red/white/blue Obama cupcakes - so apparently my cupcakes got a little bit political).  Hope everyone had a great fourth of July weekend.  We also made my traditional fourth of July treat - my blueberry pie.

Cappuccino Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream (adapted from Julie Hasson's recipes) (makes 12)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp finely ground coffee
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp warm water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup nonfat sour cream

2 sticks butter (so yeah, this is where those calories come!)
2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant coffee (i added about 2 tsp)
1 tsp hot coffee
1 tsp Kahlua or other coffee flavored liqueur

In a small bowl mix the flour, ground coffee, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, combine the instant coffee and warm water.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and oil.  Add the instant coffee mixture and vanilla.  Alternatively mix in the sour cream and flour mixture and beat until smooth.  I chose not to add in any chocolate chips as were called for in the recipe I used.

I filled 12 lined cupcake molds in a silicon cupcake tray.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and frosting like.  Add the coffee, vanilla and Kahlua to get the desired flavor.  Yum!

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