Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Banana Peanut Butter "The Elvis" Cupcakes

So apparently, little known to me, Elvis ate a lot of bananas with peanut butter.  For this reason, banana cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream are fondly known as "the Elvis" and sometimes even the "Fat Elvis."  At any rate, for our dinner party about a week ago, I served two desserts - tiramisu and these cupcakes.  I used the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Rule the World for cupcake itself, even though I opted for a non-vegan (yay, butter) frosting this time.  The cupcakes were a big hit.  I decorated them like little sundaes with sprinkles and a cherry on top.  I was originally going to go full-out banana split with some chocolate ganache but honestly that seemed like too much.

Banana Cupcakes (adapted Vegan Cupcakes Rule the World)
1/2 cup pineapple preserves
1/2 cup very ripe banana, mashed
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup rice milk (I used soy milk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

My Peanut Butter Buttercream
1 stick of butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 and line your muffin tins with paper cupcake liners. Mash the bananas. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar).  In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, rice milk, vanilla and mashed banana. Create a well and mix the two sets of ingredients to just combine (don't overmix). Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Top with a teaspoon of the pineapple preserves and the chopped chocolate, Bake for about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely.  Beat the frosting ingredients in your stand mixer until cream and frost using a frosting bag fitted with a fluted wide tip.  Top with chopped nuts, sprinkles and/or a cherry on top. Happy banana peanut butter split! How cute are these?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Restaurant review - Chuko

Noodles bars are all the craze here in New York (and probably elsewhere) right now.  The most famous is Momofuku Noodle Bar, which draws crowds for its noodles as well as its famous fried chicken here in Manhattan.  Recently the sou chef from Morimoto opened a new noodle bar right here in Brooklyn - on Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights, called Chuko.  Opened by Jamison Blankenship and David Coon, Chuko's ramen wasn't the only delight.  We had a great meal with several delicious appetizers, including some salt and pepper fried chicken.  The ramen is great as the restaurant offers a variety of broths to mix with the noodles (we tried both soy and miso broths with chicken).  Needless to say we were impressed. Last but not least, dessert of a chocolate macaron sandwich was a creative and tasty twist.  Below were the highlight of our meal.

menu at chuko

appetizer of salt and pepper fried chicken

appetizer of eggplant bun

chicken rame with miso broth

chicken ramen with soy broth

chocolate macaron ice cream sandwich


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Squash Fig Crostini

I was looking for a new fall recipe for a dinner party that I was throwing and came across a delicious sounding recipe for ricotta/squash crostinis with sage in Bon Appetit magazine.  I decided to modify up the original recipe with some perfect mission figs that I had just ordered with my FreshDirect delivery, Turns out that figs and butternut squash are just the perfect food combination for fall.  I made the crostinis for my dinner party a small plate, served on a large platter for when everyone had just arrived.  They were a huge success and I'd be happy to serve them again at my next fall dinner party.

Sasha's Fig & Squash Crostini
1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese
1 loaf of french or italian bread, sliced and toasted
sage leaves
2 T of butter
1 container of mission figs (cop up about half a cup)
butternut squash (enough for two cups)
3 1/2 T of olive oil
fresh lemon juice and olive oil for vinaigrette

First, chop up about two cups of the butternut squash.  Chopping butternut squash is such a pain and takes some work.  I wish I had bought it pre-peeled and chopped, but I didn't. Here you need to peel the squash and cut it up into a nice dice so it is east in the end to spoon over the bread.  Mix the squash with 2 T of oil and a pinch of sugar.  Preheat the oven to 425 and broil the squash for 25 to 30 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally.  Allow to cool completely.  You can store the squash in the fridge.  Heat the other 1 1/2 t of oil in a small pan and add about 24 sage leaves.  Cook until the edges begin to curl and turn dark green.

Spread the toasted bread slices with the ricotta and cover with the squash, adding some figs.  You will need about a half cup of figs, chopped and two cups of squash.  Add the sage leaf and season with some pepper.  Toss a vinaigrette with lemon and olive oil and sprinkle on a light vinaigrette just before serving.   The original recipe calls for some lemon zest in with the ricotta but I left that out since my husband, Brad isn't a big fan of lemon.

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