Monday, May 9, 2011

Le Petit Lapin May Farmers' Markets

Le Petit Lapin Patisserie is a fill-in vendor this May at the Stowe, VT and Waitsfield, VT Farmers' Markets.  So if you're in the area the next two weekends, be sure to visit Le Petit Lapin at these markets!

May 15th and 22nd : Stowe Farmers' Market 
    Rt. 108, Mountain Rd. across from the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, VT, 10:30 am to 3:00 pm

May 21st : Waitsfield Farmers' Market
    Mad River Green in Waitsfield VT, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

The little rabbit will be baking up brioche, scones, french macarons, fruit tarts and more!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers and Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Sometimes, just sometimes, the little rabbit cooks rather than bakes.  I always opt for a giant slice of chocolate cake over anything salty or fried, but sometimes it's important to rouse the salty taste buds from dormancy to ensure they haven't been overrun by their sweeter counterparts.

I was drawn to the bright green, yellow, orange and red peppers in the market last week, which inspired me to cook bell peppers stuffed with rice, beef, thyme and basil, as well as a roasted red pepper dressing with fresh thyme.

These peppers are steamed before stuffing and baking, which creates a soft, sweet pepper that simply melts in your mouth.  The smooth, creamy meat and rice filling is contrasted nicely with a crunchy topping of bread crumbs and cheese.  Paired with a salad draped in roasted red pepper dressing, you have a healthy and flavorful meal, a well-matched competitor for that slice of chocolate cake.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Momofuku Milk Bar's Compost Cookie in honor of Vermont's Mud Season

Ah, spring showers.  I know they're necessary to propel daffodils and tulips into lofty bloom and drive earthworms from their subterranean homes into clear sight for peckish robins, but after a sunny weekend spent outdoors, the return of rain is constricting and dreary.  Luckily, I have a solution.

Views of clouds and mud out the kitchen window can instantly be gratified by filling your house with warm scents of vanilla, butter and chocolate.  And as you burn your tongue on the first bite of cookie fresh from the baking tray, who cares if it's a monsoon out there.  Everything you need to brighten the day is arriving straight from your oven.

Having just read the article in this weeks New York Times celebrating the career and James Beard award nomination of Christina Tosi of Milk Bar, I was inspired to finally try one of Milk Bar's cookie recipes.  While the blueberries and cream was at the top of my list, I opted for the compost cookie as it utilized my leftover Easter chocolate.  I also wanted to honor Vermont's ever so glamorous mud season with an equally glamorous sounding cookie, the compost cookie.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Orange Fairy Cakes

I think we've all gone a little royal wedding crazy, both sides of the pond.

Slightly more dignified than the pez dispensors is the official Royal Wedding website, which showcases the wedding ceremony guest list and seating chart, musicians and choirs performing, the wedding procession route, the charitable gift fund set up by William and Kate and about anything else that might spark your interest.

Luckily, the site includes information on the royal wedding cake.  This enormous task has been placed on the shoulders of Fiona Cairns, British cake designer and cookbook author.  Even though I'm tiring of the constant coverage on trivial matters pertaining to the wedding, I'm still rising early tomorrow morning to view the ceremony live as well as bake some treats to celebrate the day.  And I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for a sneak-peak of Cairns' cake.

I decided to bake fairy cakes, the British version of cupcakes.  The cake is similar to that of American cupcakes, but fairy cakes are iced with royal icing instead of buttercream.  I found inspiration from Fiona Cairns cookbook, Bake and Decorate, although I have a feeling these little cakes aren't anything near as grand as the cakes she's preparing for tomorrow.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mini Orange Chiffon Cakes and Iced Butter Cookies

Le Petit Lapin has a favorite holiday.  Can you guess what it is?

It's not just because Easter is centered around an infamous bunny and his/her (I'm not sure about the Easter bunny's gender) chocolate eggs.  It has a lot more to do with the  coinciding transformations from brown to bright green and bare to speckled with delicate buds in the world around. Easter heralds the arrival of robins hunting for worms, bright yellow daffodils and cute open toed sandals. 

There's no heavy meal laden with gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing, nor is there the stress of purchasing gifts for family and friends.  Just stock up on cadbury cream eggs and peeps, and you're all set.

To celebrate Easter, the little rabbit is keeping it simple this year with iced butter cookies and mini orange chiffon cakes.  Nothing rich and heavy,  just some light desserts to welcome the arrival of the robins, daffodils and all things Spring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Currant Scones

Ever since I moved to Vermont, I've been driving a lot more than I used to.  It's not day-to-day driving that's increased, but the longer car journeys to visit family and friends at home.  I've been bouncing back and forth for the various holidays and birthdays that seem to be stockpiled between November and April.

I enjoy going home, but I'm not fond of long car rides.  I decided that I needed a little treat during these treks, which led to the birth of scone and cappuccino car rides.  At the beginning of each trip, I treat myself to a warm, tall jolt of caffeine to keep me awake and a scone because I love them and need something to go with the cappuccino.

I usually start sipping the coffee before I've even made it from the coffee shop to the car, but I always stash the scone for later.  After a few hours when all my music starts to sound the same and the scenery becomes dull and drab, I reach for the scone and break off a corner.  The first bite is always a crescendo of excitement for a much needed diversion.

Unfortunately, not all scones are created equal.  In fact, some scones are downright dry and flavorless or heavy and overly iced.  So you can imagine the wave of disappointment I experience when the scone I've been saving stinks.

A scone should be delicate and moist on the inside, speckled with sweet currants or other fruits and nuts, lightly sprinkled with sugar and baked to a light golden brown. It's even better served with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. 

After too many dud scones, I've tweaked my scone and cappuccino tradition.  I bake a large batch of scones, then thaw one for each car ride, guaranteeing a delicious scone each time.  I'm tempted to bring a tub of clotted cream and jam, although I'm sure my steering wheel will end up slicked with grease and my pants spotted with jam.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Birthday French Macarons

It started with a request for French Macarons.  I baked my trademark flavor, a cinnamon shell filled with honey buttercream.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been enough.  But these weren't normal circumstances.  These were macarons to take the place of a birthday cake for someone very special.  So I whipped up some matcha and rose macarons.

Still not enough. Along came lavender, lemon and orange flower blossom macarons.

When you're celebrating the birthday of someone who puts the needs and desires of everyone else before her own, one flavor isn't enough.  Even six flavors isn't enough to say thank you for all you do each day, but at least it's a start.

And in case you're wondering who the birthday girl is, it's the artist who drew the beautiful logo for Le Petit Lapin.

It's my mom's birthday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Homemade Larabars

Am I the only one who finds the granola bar section of the grocery store just a little out of control?

Cliff Bars.  Power Bars. Luna Bars.  Nature Valley Bars. Nutrigrain Bars. Special K Bars. Quaker Chewy Granola Bars. Kashi Go Lean Bars. Cascadian Farm Granola Bars.  Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars.  Atkins Advantage Bars. 18 Rabbit Granola Bars. Kudos Granola Bars. Health Valley Granola Bars. Purefit Nutrition Bars.

Chocolate Chip.  Honey Nut Apple.  S'mores.  White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. Chocolate Fudge Brownie.  Ginger Cookie.  Vanilla Crunch.  Oatmeal Raisin.  Apple Pie.  Strawberry Yogurt.  Crunchy Peanut Butter.  Carrot Cake. Mint Chocolate. Key Lime Pie. Oats n' Honey. Cranberry Maple Nut. Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter. Cranberry Orange. Honey Almond. Chocolate Hazelnut. Sweat and Salty Nuts. Apple Crisp. Chocolate Coffee.

For an indecisive person like myself, I find the process of selecting a granola bar impossible.  If I manage to pick a brand, I can't decide on a flavor.  After going back and forth between Strawberry Yogurt and Super Fudgy Chocolate Brownie with Peanut Butter, I usually lose interest and buy a candy bar instead.

Despite this, I've managed to discover Larabars.  In a world of overly processed foods containing a plethora of chemical ingredients, I love the simplicity of Larabars.  The base of Larabars is chopped dates, and they're jazzed up with healthy items such as nuts and spices to create the different flavors.  Larabar's cashew cookie bar, for example, contains just dates and cashews!

Not only are Larabars void of unpronounceable chemical ingredients, but they taste delicious.  While eating a cashew cookie bar a few days ago, I realized these bars should be simple to make myself.  After some reading, I came up with a few different recipes, all of which taste great!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

California Food Adventures.

The 'little rabbit' has returned from California.

After meeting up with another 'little rabbit' and picking up a rental car, two little rabbits set off on a California adventure.  Yes, the forecast all week was rain, but that wasn't stopping us.

So we set off.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When California grows you lemons...

...bake Baby Lemon Angel Food Cakes!  

The Little Rabbit is preparing for a visit to the golden state.  

The timing couldn’t be better.

As I lay out my lightweight jacket, short sleeved shirts, flips flops and even a pair of shorts, I look out my window and can’t help but laugh at the three feet of snow Vermont was recently slammed with. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the snow.  But when mother earth teases you with sunny days in the high 40s, you start to believe Spring is right around the corner.  As you consider packing away the hats, mittens and scarfs galore you've been cocooning yourself in everyday,  it starts to snow again. 

And it keeps snowing.

And snowing.

Three feet of snow later, Spring is but a distant memory. It's reminiscent of C. S. Lewis' never-ending winter in Narnia.  Would someone defeat the evil White Witch already?

Understandably, nothing delights me more than planning and packing for a trip to sunny California.  Perhaps while I'm gone the snow will melt as Spring nudges the winter away with warm temps and afternoon showers.

In preparation for my upcoming trip, I thought I’d bake with one of California’s leading food products, the lemon.  California is the leading citrus producer for the US, producing 87% of US lemons.  This equates to 745 million tones of lemons annually.

That’s a lot of lemons.  I’d better get baking.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Boozy Cranberry-Prune Custard Tart

I know what you’re thinking. 

You're wondering why anyone would want to eat a dessert with prunes. 

Well, let me assure you, these aren’t your Grandmother’s prunes.

These prunes are soaked in orange liqueur and black tea, then baked into a creamy custard and enclosed by a spiced tart shell.


The inspiration for this tart came from a recipe in The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis.  This was my first time baking a custard filled tart, as I usually bake tarts with fresh fruit and frangipane.  My only words of advice are add the hot milk and cream to the egg mixture very, very slowly to temper the eggs.  Otherwise you'll end up with half scrambled eggs and half custard.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Matcha-Red Bean Swirl Loaf

After baking a delicious loaf of cinnamon-swirl bread, I was inspired to investigate other types of swirl bread.  I've compiled a long list of flavors to experiment with, but I was most eager to bake a matcha-red bean swirl loaf. 

The inspiration for this loaf came from the blog Cosy Bake, where Honey Boy baked a beautiful matcha-red bean swirl loaf.  

This was my first time working with Matcha.  Matcha can be found at your local Japanese market or online.  Luckily I recently visited my family in Massachusetts where there is a nearby Japanese market.  Otherwise I would have ordered matcha and red beans online, as there certainly aren't any Japanese markets nearby in Vermont!

I also picked up some other treats for myself. Yum!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Who doesn’t love cinnamon swirl bread?  

I remember eating it as a child, toasted with butter.  I loved pulling it apart by the swirls and eating the uncoiled bread slowly, feeding it into my mouth inch by inch.  

I hadn't had the bread for several years, and I was happy to discover it's still just as fun pulling the swirls apart.  Actually, it's even more fun now, since I get to bake the bread first.

A lot was left to be desired the first time I baked cinnamon swirl bread back in December.  The bread itself was delicious, but I wasn’t happy with the copious amounts of cinnamon-sugar filling and the huge gaps between the swirls.

The baking was also problematic.  The excess filling not only leaked from the dough into the pan, making the bread stick, but also bubbled over onto the bottom of the oven. 

I was left with a smoke filled house, despite all the open doors and windows, as well as two burns on my arms from wiping the filling off the bottom of the oven.  At least I still had the bread.

I was comforted after reading the introduction in Baking Illustrated for cinnamon swirl bread.  Apparently these are common problems.  I’ve since learned how to make delicious cinnamon swirl bread properly.  No smoke and no burns.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Italian Hazelnut Cake

Last week I ran in the hills behind my house.  It was a 14 mile run, which isn't too long when it's a distance you've worked up to.  But when it's a 14 mile run with constant elevation changes, it gets a whole lot harder.  Add 20 degree weather with snow blowing in your face, and it's downright miserable.

It's moments like that when I really want to give up, grab my cell and call the local taxi service to take me home. But just as I looked up from my plodding feet, I saw something standing alone in the woods, watching me from between the trees.

I saw my first moose in Vermont.

For all the moose crossing signs on the highway, you'd think they're everywhere, but they're not.  I've seen plenty of deer, wild turkeys, great blue herons, beavers, woodchucks, and even a bear.  But never any moose.  And here in the magical silence of the falling snow in the dirt roads of Vermont, was a moose.

I stopped and watched the moose for quite a while, and she just stood in the woods looking back.  Snow was collecting on her head, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.  Alone in the woods on a snowy afternoon with no one else around.  I could have stood there for hours staring back, but I soon felt my sweaty back catch a chill, so I had to move on.

Luckily, the short break motivated me to run a little faster and push a little harder, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the woods for more winter friends.

After I made it home, I tried my hand at this Italian Hazelnut cake.  Along with a hot cup of espresso, it quickly boosted my energy levels back to normal. However, I couldn't help but wonder whether the moose was still standing alone among the trees, snow collecting all around her.


Continue reading for more pics and the recipe!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hollah for Challah!

After a short trip to Massachusetts, I’m back up in Vermont.  I was welcomed home with sunny, mild weather this past weekend, and on Monday the thermometer reached unfamiliar heights in the 40 degree range.  Is Spring arriving early this year?

Nope.  It’s back to normal.  It’s 4 degrees.

We all know what that means.  No going outside.  Lots of baking inside.

Fine with me! 

In my constant quest of baking bread to steer away from the overly processed supermarket bread, I recently tried my hand at challah.  I've never gone out of my way to buy challah, but I've always admired the bread from afar for its beautiful braided exterior and glossy sheen.

For those of you not familiar, challah is a bread traditionally baked for the Jewish Sabbath and other holidays.  It is enriched with butter and eggs to form a light, airy loaf.  It is similar in texture to brioche, yet slightly sweeter in taste.  It commonly assumes a braided shape with a dark, glossy surface sometimes studded with sesame or poppy seeds.

I spiced up my challah by sprinkling it with a combination of coarse salt, sesame seeds, dried rosemary and dried thyme.  The result was delicious!  The crunchy, savory crust contrasted beautifully with the soft, sweet bread.

Click below for the recipe and more pics!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Healthy Fruit Shakes

After eating Neapolitan cake at 7 am this morning and stowing handfuls of raspberry meringues in the pouch of my sweatshirt for later, I decided an intervention was in order.

Cutting all sugar out of my diet is out of the question.  I need my sugar.  But after experiencing the diabetic coma that followed my morning escapade with the cake, I realized I need some treats with a little less sugar and a lot more nutrition.

I bring you fruit shakes.  Containing just fruit, yogurt, orange juice, maple syrup and cinnamon, they’re a healthy snack or dessert.  They pack just the right amount of sugar to satisfy your cravings, but also provide the nutritional benefits of fruit and yogurt.  Plus, they take less than five minutes to prepare.

Top with whipped cream and heart shaped sprinkles, and you’ve got an easy and delicious Valentine’s day dessert!

Strawberry Shake
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt
3 tablespoons orange juice
4-5 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Banana Shake
1 very ripe banana
1 cup vanilla yogurt
½ cup orange juice
4-5 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Simply puree all the ingredients together in a blender and serve chilled.  Top with whipped cream if desired.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Day

LOVE is in the air. I can feel it.

Okay, maybe not.

But there's no denying that Valentine's Day is quickly approaching.  Store fronts are filled with all things pink and frilly, and florists and chocolate shops are armed and ready.  If you've tried everything from bouquets of red roses to three foot chocolate bears filled with cream to heart shaped jewelry, you might be wondering what to do this year.

Perhaps I can help.

There's nothing sweeter on Valentine's Day than home-made treats. It says, even though I'm a 200 pound male who loves football and beer, I love you enough to spend hours in the kitchen cutting dough into tiny hearts and smearing them in sugary pink frosting.  Or, just because we eat out every night doesn't mean I don't love you enough to tie on an apron and jeopardize my manicured nails to the dangers of the kitchen to bake a giant pink cake.

Now that's love.

And if you don't have someone special to bake for on Valentine's Day, bake for yourself!  Everyone deserves a little sugar on the 14th, so don't be ashamed. 

How about Heart Shaped Butter Cookies?

Or goblets of French Macaroons...

... and  Tiny Raspberry Meringues?

Or a Neapolitan Ruffle Cake?

Click below for recipes and more pics!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you know me, chances are you've had one of my mom's chocolate chip cookies.

They're a pretty big deal.

She's baked them for as long as I can remember. For seven years, she baked a double batch for every field hockey game and fencing meet I ever had, and she did the same for my brothers cross country running races, ski races and crew meets. They were always in tins lined with doilies, wrapped in layer upon layer of saran wrap then tied up with a ribbon in our school color.

Everyone who comes to work at our home, be it carpenter, painter, or electrician, is baked a batch of these cookies. If she's going out and knows the lawn man is coming to cut the lawn, she leaves a plate of cookies (doily and all) on the front steps for him and his crew to enjoy.

Visitors are sent off with a package to sustain them on their journey home. They appear in care packages, potluck dinners and any other occasion calling for cookie consumption. If they don't appear for some worthy reason, people want to know where the cookies went. Everyone wants them.

They're famous.

What's the secret?

Follow the recipe straight from the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. Use egg beaters instead of a real egg, and don't try to round out the dough when you place it on the cookie sheet. Leave it lumpy. It's as simple as that.

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from the Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate morsel bag.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg - or 1/2 egg beater
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In the bowl an an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high until well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.

3. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together, then add to the butter mixture gradually. Mix on low speed just until the flour is combined with the butter. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased baking sheet, but don't smooth out the dough. Bake for roughly 11 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Place the cookies onto a wire rack to cool.

I had the pleasure of enjoying a few this afternoon (left over from baking for our electrician). It's been a good year since I've had any, and they were just as delicious as ever. I'm glad some things never change.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Daffodil Cake.

Winter eating is heavy. There’s no way around it.

It’s hearty soups and crusty peasant bread. Thick stews and heavy biscuits. Casseroles laden with meats and sauces. Filling pies with buttery crusts. Holiday cookie after holiday cookie. Rich hot chocolate with whipped cream.


Last week I had the misfortune of catching a nasty stomach bug. I was limited to days of drinking coke and eating popsicles and oyster crackers. At first I was devastated that I couldn’t indulge in my afternoon pillage of the cracker jar or nightly rummage through my candy tin. However, as my appetite returned, I didn’t turn to my usual snacking culprits. I even grabbed a piece of fruit one night over a chocolate bar and tin of cashew nuts. A few days away from the over-salted snacks and sugary sweets curbed my cravings and made me feel so much better.

This inspired me to lighten things up a bit.

But not too much, as what’s life without cake?

I bring you Daffodil Cake. This cake is made with no butter and contains mostly whipped egg whites. I like to think of it as a protein shake masquerading as cake (or at least that’s how I justify eating more than one slice). It’s lemony and light, a definite sigh of relief after the pumpkin pies of thanksgiving and fruitcakes of Christmas.

It’s also a much needed reminder that spring is lurking somewhere around the corner. There’s just February and March to get through. So while we’re all waiting for the heaps of snow to melt, let’s just stay inside and eat cake!

Daffodil Cake.
Recipe Adapted from McCalls Cooking School by Mary Eckley (Food Editor) and Mary J. Norton (Associate Food Editor)

White Batter:
1 ¾ cups egg whites (12-14 eggs) at room temp
1 ¼ cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 ½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Yellow Batter:
5 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
grated zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make the white batter:
1. Sift the cake flour with ½ cup sugar three times.

2. Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on high until soft peaks form. Add one cup of sugar, ¼ cup at a time. Be sure to slow the mixer to a low speed when pouring in the sugar or else the sugar will fly out. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

3. Fold the vanilla into the egg white mixture with a spatula.

4. Add the flour mixture the egg whites in three parts to. Do this by sifting the flour over the egg whites, then folding with a spatula carefully to avoid deflating the whites. Repeat until all the flour has been added.

5. Place one third of the egg white mixture in a separate bowl, and preheat the oven to 375 F.

To make the yellow batter:
1. Place the egg yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale yellow. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix until incorporated.

2. Carefully fold the yellow batter into the reserved 1/3 of the egg white mixture.

To assemble and bake the cake:
1. Place the batters alternatively in a 10-inch tube pan, ending with all white batter on the top. Spread the top smooth with an offset spatula.

2. Bake at 375 F for roughly 40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed down. Remove from the oven and let cool upside down, balanced on top of a bottle.

3. After two hours, run a knife around the inside of the tube pan to loosen the cake, and carefully remove.

4. To garnish, sprinkle with confectioners sugar, spread with a lemon juice and confectioners sugar glaze, or frost with icing. Since this cake is so light I opted for the more decadent choice and frosted the top.



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