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OK! It’s time to get down to brass(knuckle) tacks here…. what the frickity-frock is the difference between the modern muffin and a cupcake?! what’s that you say? a MUFFIN is a healthy breakfast quick bread? Yeah, no dice on that one readers. The modern muffin is nothing more than a naked cupcake. There is enough sugar and fat in a muffin now to last you ’till dinner….the lack of frosting just helps you pretend that it’s remotely good for you.

By definition a cupcake is “a small cake, the size of an individual portion, baked in a cup or cup-shaped mold”, while a muffin is defined as “a small quick bread, baked in a cup or cup-shaped mold, often sweetened”. Do you see the difference in those? yeah, cake=a sweetened quick bread , so really there’s no difference between cupcakes and muffins(except for the RARE savory muffin ie corn).

Now i’m sure in the days of yore, or 15 years ago before starbucks and other gourmet coffee establishments came on the scene there were legit muffins, Bran and oat and corn OH MY! that were dense and not so cloyingly sweet, but honey-bun those days are gone. In the wise words of my favorite (imaginary) chef Sookie St James “muffins are just and excuse to eat cake in the morning!”

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Mancub here! Ms. Brass Knuckle Baker has asked me to make a guest entry in the cookbook. As revealed in her last log, the Misses and I didn’t leave it to chance for a romantic Valentine’s dinner, we made our own! Now as you all should know romance and pork go hand-in-hand, and following that rule of thumb I wanted to do a classy dish with pork chops. We also had a tasty Spiced Apple Wine we picked up from the Shallon Winery in Astoria, Oregon. So we’ve got apples and pork chops, which is already enough to make anyone’s mouth water. Without further ado, I give you Mancub’s Apple & Fennel Pork Chops.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, thin-cut pork chops (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb—halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 Fuji apple—halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
  • 8 small sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup hard cider

First, season the pork chops with salt & pepper (don’t be shy with the seasoning, I’m still surprised how great pork tastes with just salt). Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet until almost smoking. Throw the pork chops in, and over a high heat cook until browned around the edges and cooked through, should take about 3-5 minutes. Take off the skillet and keep warm while you construct the rest of this masterpiece.

Melt the butter in the same skillet. Cook the shallots over a medium heat until tender. Then add the fennel and apple, stir occasionally until softened. Add the sage and cook until fragrant, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a platter and keep warm.

Pour the apple & hard cider mix into the skillet with all the leftover pork juices. Boil over a high heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Pork chops go on top of the fennel and apples, pour the sauce over everything, put on some Al Green and serve to that special someone.

Now be prepared for longing looks from across the table, if you’ve cooked everything properly you’re significant other shouldn’t be able to keep their eyes off of you. Enjoy!

The Naughty Oven

Is fixed!! Or rather, I figured out a way to make it work in short increments of time. How you ask?! Oh, simply turn off the furnace for the duration of baking.

Just in time for Valentines Day! The Mancub and I aren’t huge fans of the red and pink, chocolate and glitter covered holiday and all the overpriced restaurant dinners it entails. So we opted to stay in, cook a nice meal and drink some delicious Apple Wine that we picked up on our travels to the West Coast.

To put a cherry on the evening we ended the night with a sweet treat that I whipped up. With all the food-blog frenzy over “Dump-cakes” the past few weeks (thanks Bakerella) I decided to make a from-scratch version of my own. What better way to make use of all the sour cherries I had picked this summer that have just been hanging out in my freezer for months?

Ingredients:

1 Quart Sour Cherries, pitted and drained

1/2c Softened Butter

3/4c Granulated Sugar

2 Eggs

1 1/2c Self-Rising Flour

1/2c  Milk

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 Tbs. Brown Sugar

3/4c Sliced Almonds

Pre-Heat Oven to 350 Degrees

Grease a 9×13 baking dish and cover bottom with drained cherries

Cream together butter and sugar, when light and fluffy add vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Spread batter evenly over cherries and top with brown sugar and almonds.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until “toothpick” ready

Exactly the treat I wanted!

You want to know why I’ve been MIA? Well, my oven is broken and my stove top is on the way out too…. so sad. Every time I’m stressed out i want to bake, and back in the throws of school and a full course load is NOT the time for me not to have a working oven. Baking has been my own brand of yoga for many many years….

Hopefully one day soon my landlord will actually be able to FIX the thing…..for this month I fully intend to complete the Daring Bakers Challenge and Iron Cupcake Challenge.

I’ve gone and let life get in the way of what’s really important, FOOD. Silly me thinking my education was important, when really all i can think about all day during my classes is eating food, cooking, baking and writing recipes.

On the list of tasty treats to try and master:

  • Puff pastry made from scratch
  • Kouign Aman, A salty-sweet puff pastry
  • Creating something worthy of Iron Cupcake Earth
  • Pretzel Rolls
  • Pot De Creme

and on the savory side?

  • Braised short-ribs and goat cheese polenta
  • Korean Banchans

Hopefully 2010 will bring many things my way, including time to cook for you, the lovely Internet.

Hello blogosphere, I’ve been missing these past couple weeks. I’ve entered a new, scary adventure here in the real world. Oh yeah, that’s right. This tough cookie headed back to school for some good ‘ole fashioned higher edumacation learnin’. I’m learning plenty, for instance: 1) Apparently it appropriate to wear uggs, daisy dukes and a fur lined hoodie all at once! 2)  commuting to school is a bitch. 3) Espresso is quickly becoming my new best friend. But you know what else happened in the past few weeks? yeah that’s right the celebration of the day of my birth YAY ME! In the wise words of Jessica Simpson *sniker*, ” Well, 24 is old! It’s almost 25 which is almost mid-twenties. which is almost 30!”

See? look how PRETTY and HAPPY I am! Yeah, totally not because it’s my birthday or that a gaggle of my friends came out to wish me happy birthday and show this cutie some love. No, its because I know that very soon there will be epic amounts of Korean food covering every available space at the table.

You want korean food in baltimore cooked on a table grill? for realzies head to Joung Kak (18 W 20th St) Delicious food, reasonable prices and not sketchy like “korean restaurant” next door ( the place next door is really called KOREAN RESTAURANT) There were nine people out with us that night and we ordered WAY TO MUCH FOOD, believe me when I say that nine people would probably be more the satisfied with the 1/2 Joung Kak Special and all the little dishes of sides!

You see, the Joung Kak BBQ special consists of a massive plate of protein. Beef Bulgogi, Beef Galbi, Spicy pork belly and Chicken Dahk Glabi, all of this you cook at the table, in the little sunken in BBQ pit, it’s hot like the devils hands( pretend I said thatt with scary televangilist voice)

oh, four different kinds of meat not enough for you? Never fear, theres still plenty, it also came with two hot pots of soup, chock full of veggies, tofu and beef in a spicy broth, AND two boiling omelette things AND rice AND all the little bowls of Kimchi and pickled radishes you can stomach.

I don’t know if I eat korean BBQ correctly, but then again I don’t really give two figs if I’m doing it properly or not, my method? Grad hunk-o-meat with chopsticks, place on lettuce leave, add soy bean paste and whichever Kimchi or pickle strikes my fancy. Shove in mouth. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Such a good birthday dinner! I wish I could do this all the time, unfortunately being a new student makes a wallet a little thinner. And Big Sis C is across the country having hipster adventures… Good thing I’ve gotten a fix for the time being. Later we headed to Aloha Bar in mount vernon for karaoke fun, there will be no pictures of that. I think i drank all the booze in Baltimore and i don’t want to expose the delicate, reserved eyes of the blogosphere to my drunken misadventures.

-BKB

What says American comfort food more then macaroni and cheese? yeah thats right, nothing. And not that neon orange stuff in a cobalt blue box…not that theres anything wrong with kraft stove top mac, its just that sometimes, you need the real deal.

Apparently Thomas Jefferson takes the credit for Inventing Macaroni and Cheese and served it at a white house dinner in 1802. I don’t really care about any of that, I just know that its uber delicious and sometimes i need exorbitant amounts of pasta covered with even MORE cheese.

Oh Yeah

Oh Yeah

Mac + Cheese:

  • 1 Lb. Dried Macaroni
  • 4 C. Whole Milk
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
  • 5 T. Butter
  • 1/4C. Flour
  • 6 C. Cheese, Shredded
  • 7 Slices Bacon, Cut in Thin Strips
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • 1/4t Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2t Sriracha Sauce
  • 1/2C Panko
  • Salt and pepper

Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 8 minutes, Pasta should be cooked but still have a little bite to it.

heat oven to 400 Degrees

On stove top saute Bacon until crisp, then add chopped onion and garlic. Saute on medium heat until onions are translucent. Set mixture aside. 2

In the same pan you cooked the bacon onion mixture in ( why dirty another pan?) melt butter and add flour, keeping on the heat until it’s golden brown. Nows the time to add in the cayenne pepper and sriracha sauce, keep in mind that both these ingredients add quite a punch even in small amounts.10

If you’re too much of a wuss to face the heat, go ahead and omit it, no one will know there’s supposed to be spicy-ness if you don’t tell them. Slowly whisk in all the milk and stir over medium heat until thickened.

Nows the time to add all the deliciousness… stir in the bacon/onion mixture adn 5 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. 4

GENTLY fold cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and pour into a 3 quart baking dish. Top with the remaining shredded cheese and panko crumbs.5

bake for 30 minutes or until you can’t take it anymore and try to eat it while its still in the oven.