Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I’ve always loved carrot cake, especially if it’s topped with a thick, tangy cream cheese frosting. Since I’m a fan of cakes that come in cup form, I made my first batch of carrot cake cupcakes. For the cake I used this highly-rated recipe, but substituted the 1 1/2 cups of white sugar with 1 cup of light brown sugar. They came out sweet, but not too sweet, and very moist. Next time I make these I might increase the amounts of pineapple and coconut flakes in the batter. For the frosting I creamed together cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Homemade frosting really is easy and better than any store-bought version. As great as the cream cheese frosting was, these cupcakes also made a great breakfast treat without anything on top.


The Killing vs. Homeland: A comparison of two first seasons

Even though the second season of AMC’s hit show, The Killing, has finished airing, I only recently started watching the first season. Adapted from a popular Danish series (Forbrydelsen), the show follows a homicide officer investigating the murder of a local high school girl. Over three long nights I watched all thirteen episodes, from the discovery of Rosie Larsen’s body, all the way to the unsatisfying end of the season when many questions are yet to be answered. All the while I couldn’t help comparing it to Homeland, a popular Showtime series that I caught up on after the first season had already finished airing on television.

image via AMC
Mireille Enos in AMC’s The Killing

image via Showtime
Claire Danes in Showtime’s Homeland

Similarities between the two shows:
-Leading petite female characters (Mireille Enos’ Sarah Linden and Claire Danes’ Claire Mathison) who are employed in some area of criminal investigations and who enjoy jogging and engrossing themselves in their professional work to the detriment of their personal lives
-Older male bosses who are constantly trying to talk the ladies out of risky, unprofessional tactics
-Histories of mental breakdowns
-Linking crime to the Islamic community
-Sloppy investigative work (as an ordinary citizen, I hope people aren’t this careless in real law enforcement!)

The Killing tries to stay interesting by revealing a new, seemingly important piece of evidence to the audience at the end of each episode. By the third or fourth episode, it’s clear that anything they find out at the end of the episode will get explained away by the end of the following one, and the viewer is usually only privy to details that Linden or her partner Stephen Holder also know. In contrast, Homeland‘s revelations about characters and their activities often keep the viewer a step ahead of Mathison’s investigations, and are less often red herrings. Also, in Homeland Carrie starts with a target suspect and has to work out his past crimes and prevent any future ones, whereas in The Killing, the investigators were faced with a specific crime and their main goal is to find the perpetrator.

Although The Killing angered many fans who stuck through it during the first season by not concluding the investigation, I recently found out that season two, which ended this past Sunday, does reveal the killer of Rosie Larsen. I can’t imagine how many more suspects they can round up, but at this point I have to see it through to the end.


359 Sixth Avenue

The kitchen at Tertulia is partially visible from the rear dining room, and on my first visit there I was sitting directly across from it. Line chefs, dishwashers and waitstaff swarmed around elbow to elbow in a constant frenzy of activity. Most, if not all, of the hot foods were being cooked to order, and this was evident in the delicious dishes that arrived on our table. The only disappointments for me were the Iberico ham, which would have almost been worth the hefty $25 price tag if it had been sliced better (they weren’t the paper-thin slices I was anticipating), and the fishy deviled eggs, which were way too salty, and had a texture like it had been sitting out for a while. On the upside, the hamachi crudo was fresh and excellent, and the crispy potatoes were addictive. I can’t wait to go back and try more of the menu.

Acorn-fed Iberico ham

Clockwise from top left: Smoky deviled eggs, giant grilled prawns, crispy potatoes, hamachi crudo, and tortilla

A slice of lamb leg, cooked medium, and topped with a light gremolata, tomatoes, and fingerling potatoes. $21 and easily enough meat for at least three people.

Apple cake with rum raisin ice cream. The cake was buttery and warm with spice and the rum flavor in the caramel and ice cream was great.

Chocolate and coffee ganache tart, topped with almond slivers, sea salt and a huge dollop of whipped cream. This was terrific.

Browned Butter Cupcakes

There’s a bakery in my neighborhood that makes vanilla cupcakes with a browned butter frosting. I tried them several years ago and loved the rich flavor. Then when I discovered the salty caramel cupcake from Sprinkles, I wanted to make something similar at home. I decided to use this recipe as a guide for the cake, but I browned the butter before making the batter, and skipped the caramel filling. For the frosting, I made up a recipe using browned butter and cream cheese and it came out so good I wanted to eat it straight out of the mixing bowl. The cake was moist and fluffy, with a deep browned butter flavor, and the frosting was luscious, salty, and sweet. What a great combination!

Browned Butter Frosting:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Brown the butter over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is a light brown color with a nutty aroma. Remove from heat immediately so it does not continue cooking or burn, and transfer to a small bowl. Let the butter cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the brown sugar and salt, then the confectioners’ sugar in batches until fully incorporated. Mix until creamy and smooth.

Sunday in Beacon

Beacon is a blossoming city located in the Hudson River Valley region, about seventy miles north of New York City. Their Main Street was once a run-down wasteland but is becoming more artsy and trendy every year. The nearby waterfront area, which includes the Metro-North train station, is a popular sailing, dining, and picnicking area. I enjoyed a gorgeous Sunday here recently, visiting the river-side Beacon Farmer’s Market for the first time, and returning to¬†The Hop, a new tasting room on Main Street.