Friday, April 30, 2010

Cinco de Mayo!

We here at Butter + Cream just love to celebrate holidays. From the popular, to the more obscure, any holiday is the perfect excuse to cook, bake, celebrate and part-ay. And Cinco de Mayo has definitely been one of our favorites. During college we had some pretty kick-ass Cinco de Mayo parties if I do say so myself. Complete with Mexican flag cake:
Followed by Mexican flag cookies the year after:
That's my friend Erin and I. We are excellent Cinco de Mayo party planners, as you can obviously see by our Mexican flag themed desserts. Cinco de Mayo parties are also great because you get to have piñatas. Although I sincerely believe that piñatas should be a requirement of all parties. They just make things more fun. Because who doesn't love smashing into something with a baseball bat and having candy fly everywhere?
So hopefully you all share a little bit of love for this particularly holiday, because in the days leading up to it we will be sharing with you some of our favorite recipes and dishes that would be perfect for any Cinco de Mayo bash. Just make sure not to invite these two crazy fools.What are some of your favorite Cinco de Mayo dishes?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

 In the great cake vs. pie debate, I've always sat squarely on Team Cake.  Don't get me wrong, I won't turn down a warm piece of apple pie with a scoop of ice cream on top if someone else is making it.  But when it comes to how I want to celebrate my birthday or special occasion, there better be a big tall cake with a hefty dose of chocolate.  Not so for BFF Jill.  For her birthday, she wanted pie.  Fruit pie.  If cake is my comfort zone, fruit pie is the middle seat on an airplane wearing spanx that are one size too small.

When I brought up my baking plans to some friends, I learned that a lot of people are serious about their love for pie.  And then I made this strawberry rhubarb pie with a lattice-topped crust, and now I'm confused.  Why have I spent the last 26 years avoiding homemade pie dough?  And why did it take this long for me to eat my first rhubarb?  And what's so great about cake anyway?  Ok, maybe I'm getting carried away, but I assure you that this pie is a summer classic, and a huge crowd pleaser.  And I'm thinking a lot about pie.  More on that later...  But for now, let's talk about pie dough.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


My friend Miguel is an interesting guy. He has an enormous amount of knowledge about sharks and dinosaurs, is an amazing artist, and collects bugs, reptiles, and other creepy crawlies for fun. And sometimes Miguel likes to buy things on impulse, such as a giant industrial sized churro gun. Also known as a churrera, the gun is basically a giant extruder, meant to handle large batches of churros at one time. Just the sort of thing that every home kitchen needs, right?
I agreed to help him with his first batch of churros, even though neither one of us had ever made them before. Luckily the batter was a cinch to whip up, and in no time we were pumping out the delicious fried treats. Here we are making churros like pros:
And man were those first churros tasty. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and sprinkled with the perfect amount of cinnamon sugar. I think we could hardly believe we had created something so good. We made that first batch of churros about a year ago, and unfortunately I don’t think the churro gun has been in use ever since. In all honesty it was a bit cumbersome, and not exactly practical for the smaller batches of churros that we were churning out. Luckily churros are just as easily prepared with a piping bag and piping tip.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We Love Sushi!

Today's "stuff we love" post is on a cuisine near and dear to many an Angeleno.  If New Yorkers can brag about their pizza and Chicagoans have their hot dogs, then we here in LA can lay claim to some of the best sushi in the land.   I have to shamefully admit that I lived here for at least two years before a piece of raw fish passed my lips for the first time.  But once it did, I wondered where it had been all my life.  Buttery smooth in texture, and the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and salty, a good sushi experience will stop you in your tracks.  And it's healthy to boot!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We're Having a Party!

Allison and I have an announcement.  We love cupcakes!  We have a stinking suspicion that you love them too.  What would happen if cupcake lovers united for an afternoon of sugary bliss?  What if, admist the cupcaking and frosting and sugar coma-ing, we did a little bit of good?  We're about to find out! 

Please join us for our first annual (hopefully) Butter + Cream cupcake extravaganza!  It'll be an awesome afternoon where we can all bake, decorate, and of course eat our favorite cupcakes.  If you're the baking kind, we'll be hosting a cupcake recipe contest where a group of skilled judges will pick a winner who will be heralded and admired across all the land.  We'll score a sweet prize for you too.  If baking's not your thing, come on over and see how many cupcakes you can consume without yarfing. 

Bring your friends, your kiddos and your dogs, we welcome any and all cupcake enthusiasts.  And yes, there will be champagne.  There's always champagne at our parties.

Proceeds from this frosted blowout will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a cause that's very near and dear to my heart.  So it's kinda like buying carbon credits.  Whatever damage you do to your blood glucose levels will be offset by the good you'll feel in your heart, knowing that you donated to a good cause.

Allison is hopping on a Southwest flight to join us in LA for this madness, so it will surely be an event to remember.  Here are the details:

Butter + Cream Cupcake Extravaganza
Saturday, May 15, 2010
1:00 pm-5:00 pm PST
Location- Westside Los Angeles (exact location to be sent upon RSVP)
Suggested donation- $15, or $10 if you bring a dozen of your best cupcakes or a bottle of bubbly.  Cash is preferred, but plastic works too.
RSVP- Send an email to, or a DM tweet to @butterpluscream.  Let us know how many peeps roll in your entourage, and if you plan on participating in the cupcake contest.

I know it'll probably just be our moms who respond to this, but we'd really love to meet the people who read B + C.  I promise we're not as weird as we seem...  

If you can't make it but you still want to donate, please click on over to John's Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraising site!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jammy Thumbprint Cookies

My boyfriend John comes from a huge family, with eight children to be exact.  Along with sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, he has six brothers.  Yes, you heard correctly.  Six.  Brothers.  I spent this past weekend at the home of his brother Dan and Dan's wife Nicole.  Dan and Nicole are one of my favorite couples on earth, and we always have a blast with them, in large part because Dan's such a ball-buster.  Case in point:  a few weeks before Christmas, Nicole, sister Jill and I had a cookie-baking day.  We made chocolate cookies, peppermint bark, chocolate-dipped pretzels, biscochitos, and peanut butter thumbprints while John and Dan spent the day drinking beer at a San Diego Chargers' game.  When the boys were dropped off after the game they were a tad... dehydrated.  We thought we'd impress them with our prolific cookie bounty, but Dan took one look around the kitchen and asked, "where are the fruit-filled cookies?".  Sigh.  I guess you can't win 'em all. 

So Dan's birthday is around the corner, and since he's always a great host to us (I'll share his margarita recipe this summer), I thought I'd finally get around to those fruit-filled thumbprint cookies he requested so many months ago.  This is a Martha Stewart recipe, and the ingredient list is blissfully short.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Iced Tea

I fear that I may have a bit of an iced tea addiction. My iced tea habit started off innocently enough; every other day or so I would grab one to go at lunchtime to take back with me to the office. Soon it became every day, and now, well now it’s a problem. Because now it’s a mug of hot tea in the morning at work, my after lunch iced tea, and possibly another glass or two from the pitcher that I brew at home.
But I can’t help it. There is just something so satisfying and refreshing about a tall glass of iced tea on a sunny afternoon. Especially when that sunny afternoon is spent in the office in front of a computer and the iced tea is all I have to keep me going. To answer your question, yes, I do feel a little silly talking about iced tea. But on Fridays were talking about stuff we love, and I just really happen to love iced tea. I like it in all variations; black or green, unsweetened or southern style sweet tea so sweet it will make your teeth hurt, home-brewed or from a powder, you name it and I’ll drink it. Currently I prefer it black, unsweetened, with lemon.
There’s a few different spots I frequent in St. Helena to get my fix. On days I can find a parking spot I’ll go to Model Bakery where they have a tropical tea that I really enjoy; if there’s no where to park I’ll continue on to Dean & Deluca where they have the best ice (shaved). But I don’t particularly enjoy spending just under 3 bucks a pop for some tea, and ever since I realized how easy it is to make at home, it seems there is always a pitcher of it hanging out in the fridge. Right now my favorite tea to use is this one:
I gotta admit I first picked out this particular tea because I thought the tin was so pretty. But I happen to love teas with a bit of fruit flavor to them, and this one has an awesome frutiness to it. With other teas I usually add a bit of lemon and some honey, but this one doesn’t need it. It’s good all on its lonesome.

If we’re talking bout tea, then I got to mention another favorite iced tea incarnation: Sweet Tea Vodka. I first heard about the stuff last summer while visiting family friends in Washington. We went out to dinner and I tried a cocktail which consisted of lemonade and sweet tea vodka, basically a spiked version of an Arnold Palmer.

Lemon Speculoos Ice Cream

Last week I reached the conclusion of lemon week, my ambitious attempt to do good with a drawer full of meyer lemons before they hit the compost bin.  I love ice cream, and I'd trust David Lebovitz with my life, so when I flipped to his recipe for lemon speculoos ice cream, I knew exactly what I'd be doing with my final four.  I've had my fair share of lemon sorbet, but lemon ice cream is a whole different animal.  It's first and foremost an ice cream, with the richness you'd expect from your favorite pint of Haagen-Dazs.  The lemon brightens the recipe up a bit because it is Spring after all!  Everything comes together with a crumbly ginger cookie mixed in, resulting in a fresh spring twist on the classic cookies n' cream.  And yes, it tastes as good as it looks.

If you've never heard of speculoos (I know I hadn't), it's a biscuit-like cookie that's all the rage in Belgium.  It's very similar in flavor to a ginger snap, with powdered ginger, allspice, and cinnamon all in the mix.  The recipe in the book yields one large cookie, and it was the perfect texture to mix in.  The final product is a perfect exercise in complementary flavors (although gingersnaps from the grocery store would be a fine substitute). 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Deviled Eggs with Bacon

Both my brother and my boyfriend are certified Mayophobes. A Mayophobe is classified as someone who is disgusted by and morally opposed to the consumption of Mayonnaise. Neither one of them can be in close proximity to the stuff without pretending to gag, or protesting how gross they think it is. I'm not sure why they both developed this particular phobia, but neither one of them seems in danger of losing it any time soon.

So when it comes to food that involves this particular ingredient, such as these deviled eggs, we play a little game. We pretend as if mayonnaise doesn't exist. They'll ask me what's in the deviled eggs, usually followed by the phrase "There's no mayonnaise right?" And I will nod my head solemnly and say that no, there was no mayonnaise involved whatsoever. Then the pair of them live happily in denial, so that they can enjoy the eggs without worry that mayo is lurking nearby.
And I don't blame them for living in denial for these eggs, because they really are darn good, and we have bacon to thank for that. It's amazing how bacon can really elevate some dishes. It's not that these deviled eggs don't taste good without it, but when it's there, hoo boy, it's a whole nother level. It's the perfect combo of rich and creamy with a much needed salty crunch from the bacon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monkey Bread

This is monkey bread.  Frankly folks, I don't even know where to begin here.  If you've never had monkey bread before, close your eyes and imagine with me.  Imagine a warm soft ball of dough dipped in cinnamon and rolled in caramel and just barely dunked in some cream cheese glaze.  Are you drooling yet?  Now add a playful presentation, a big cup of coffee, and a crossword puzzle.  Oh, and there's not a can of biscuit dough in sight.  You see where I'm going here?  Monkey bread is no joke.

There's a reason why I'm sharing monkey bread with you today.  My grandpa turns 84 today!  Happy birthday Lou babe!  You don't look a day over 70!

 We'll get to the caramel butter ridiculousness in a moment, but first, you should know this.  You should know that my grandpa and I share a disdain for saying goodbye.  When we were little, he'd pretend he had to use the restroom, and then hide in the airport when we got on the airplane to go back to California.  You should know that my grandpa served our country in World War 2, a world away in the Pacific Ocean at the tender age of 17.  You should know that my grandpa thinks that Rachel Ray talks too much.  I think so too.  You should know that my grandpa loves monkey bread, even though he has diabetes and a touchy heart and probably shouldn't go anywhere near all this butter and sugar.  You will love monkey bread too.  Want to know how to make it?  Ok, I'll show you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wonton Cups with Shrimp Salad & Guacamole

Per a couple of reader requests from a post I wrote last week, I’m going to share a couple of my favorite appetizer recipes with y’all. When it comes to entertaining and hors d'oeurves , I want to make ones that will pack a lot of flavor without a lot of fuss or preparation. Ideally it's best if they are something I can prep ahead of time, so that I need not worry about assembling appetizers as guests arrive. Both these Wonton Cups, and the Deviled Eggs with Bacon that I will post later, are two super simple, super tasty appetizers that have become a couple of my favorite go-to recipes.

All of the components for these Wonton Cups take only a few minutes each to make, and can all be prepared in advance. The appetizers themselves can be assembled about 45 minutes before you plan on serving them, as they may get slightly soggy if left to sit for too long. But once you serve these, trust me when I tell you that they won't sit for long.

These little buddies are totally addictive. They're light, fresh, and crispy all in one perfect little bite. The combination of flavors is amazing; spicy shrimp salad mixes with cool and creamy guacamole inside a perfectly crisp wonton cup.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's New Cupcake?

Hello!  It's Friday!  I hope you have a super weekend planned, and that your boss lets you go home early this afternoon.

Allison and I have been walking around with stupid grins on our faces this week because of each and every one of you.  Whether you've found us through Joy or Food Gawker or good old fashioned web surfing, you're reading and writing comments and just saying the nicest things, and it makes us feel all warm and happy inside.  Please keep visiting, and we'll keep baking and sharing.  It's good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff...  We've decided to try something out.  It's called "stuff we love".  Each Friday Al and I will bring you something that inspires us, makes life easier, or just plain strikes our fancy.  Sometimes it'll be related to baking, and sometimes not.  No one's giving us freebies, so don't worry, it's all above board.

Which brings me to this moose.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Homemade Oreos

There's something about that first bite of an Oreo cookie that takes me reeling straight back to my childhood. I can remember the way I liked to stack them in tall piles, piles that were way too large for such a small child to be consuming, and then eating them one by one, each a little differently. Some I would eat whole, others I would twist apart, scraping out the center to eat first, and savoring the cookies which were my favorite part. But my absolute favorite way to eat Oreos was dunking them whole, in a nice big glass of cold milk.
To this day that's still the way I enjoy to eat them. Although I don't allow myself to eat them very often nowadays, because left to my own devices, I do believe I could polish off an entire package. Honestly, it's a problem. And that's why after I baked these bad boys I promptly gave them away, because I knew it wouldn't be long before I started stacking them in piles and eating away the whole batch one by one.

Ok, ok, so maybe I enjoyed one or two before giving them away.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lemon Bar Cheesecake

This weekend life handed me a big fat bag of lemons, and I couldn't be happier about it.  My little house has its faults (like a tiny awful shower and an aspiring rock band in the duplex next door), but it also has a gem of a Meyer lemon tree that produces a ton of gorgeous yellow beauties.

All things considered, a glut of Meyer lemons is a pretty good problem to have.  A while ago we picked this tree to death, and then didn't end up using the lemons for their intended purpose.  Luckily they've held on in the refrigerator, and I'm determined to use them all before they become compost.  On Easter Sunday I made Joy the Baker's lemon whoopie pies, and tonight's dinner was chicken picatta, but the crowning jewel in my lemon experiment has to be this cheesecake.

Do you like lemon bars?  Do you like cheesecake?  Do you like eating things that are delicious?  Do you like yourself?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you need to get out your springform pan and make this ASAP.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Asparagus and Morel Quiche

This past Sunday my family gathered at my parents' house for an Easter supper that included a small ham disaster, frustrating desserts, and wet and rainy weather that was definitely not the sunny spring day that we were hoping for. Even though the day had a few hiccups, none of it really mattered because there were still massive amounts of good food, family, and we didn't let the weather get the best of us.

I brought several dishes for the meal, including these deviled eggs:
Always a family favorite; probably because they've got little bits of bacon in them. I take that back, it's definitely because they've got bacon in them. I also brought won ton cups filled with shrimp salad and guacamole, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to appetizers:
They're light, fresh and crispy; three of my favorite things. I like to dot them with sriracha sauce which adds a little kick to the party.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Butter + Cream + Joy the Baker

Before consuming Easter chocolate by the fistful and rocking and rolling through another LA earthquake, we spent a gorgeous day in the kitchen with our moms, BFF Jill, and the one and only Joy the Baker. Odds are that you already know Joy and her beautiful blog. If you don’t, mosey on over to her site and take a look.
Joy is gracious. And calm. And talented. And pretty. She was nice about it when I overdid it on the corn syrup in her vanilla glaze, and when our chocolate glaze set too early. In our downtime, Joy shared tips on food photography and this crazy awesome little world of blogging that we’ve just recently joined. She was a great teacher in every sense of the word, and to put it bluntly, her recipes kick ass. You should make them too.

If you want to see her in action, check out the On the Lamb cooking demo this Saturday at noon at Surfas in Culver City.

Lotsa pictures after the jump!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sugar Doughnuts

There is something about a doughnut that is so hard to resist. Sure they may seem innocent enough, just some fried dough and a sprinkling of sugar, but there’s much more to them than that. It’s there in each sinful bite, that voice in the back of your head that says you should be eating something healthy, but you can’t help it because this doughnut is just so darn good.
I should really rename these “All Day Doughnuts” as that’s how long it seemed to take me to make them. I started making them at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, hoping to enjoy them with a late breakfast, and was only starting to drop them in hot oil around 1:00 p.m. that afternoon. Apparently the temperature in my kitchen was not jiving with the doughnut dough, as it was stubbornly refusing to rise.

This can happen when working with yeasted doughnuts because depending on how warm your ingredients are and the temperature in your kitchen, the dough may take varying times to rise. It's helpful to be patient as you could potentially be stuck with lots of down time as you wait for the doughnuts to rise. That's not such a bad thing however, as all that time spent waiting can be used to do things that are productive. Or that time could be used to catch up on reality TV and old episodes of Chelsea Lately, which is precisely what I used it for. I may not have cleaned the house, or paid the bills, but at least I had doughnuts to show for my time.
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