New Episode Tomorrow!

I’m super excited to announce that I’m releasing a second episode of the Starving Artist tomorrow on Youtube! If you still haven’t seen my first show, check it out here! The new recipe is a clever and indulgent treat that you can throw together in no time and your friends will adore. I’ll be linking the video here with the recipe. Tune in!

S’mores Brûlée Revisit

The saga of the leftover graham crackers (and chocolate and marshmallows) continues. My life is just so hard…

So my roommate and I both love my S’mores Brûlée recipe, (which, by the way, was one of the first posts I made on my blog) so when all the ingredients are sitting on my counter staring me in the face I really can’t get away with not making a batch. Now my original recipe calls for making a ganache, which involves pouring hot cream over chocolate chips to form a thick and rich chocolate sauce/paste. However, this time around I had no cream in my fridge. In fact I had no dairy of any kind. I thought about it for a minute and realized that when I make regular s’mores, the chocolate gets plenty melted when zapped in the microwave, so why couldn’t it work for this recipe? Well, I gave it a shot, and I’m happy to say it works beautifully. The recipe is just as good, but now the most involved step has been eliminated, which makes for happier starving artists. Also time around I had a Cadbury chocolate bar…mmmm. I know Hershey is the all-American favorite, especially when it comes to s’mores, but I’m not gonna lie, I have been and always will be a Cadbury boy. No apologies.

As you can see I placed four squares right on top of the graham cracker mixture. I could have actually gotten away with 5 or 6, but it was still amazing. I love mixing up classics like this. Keeps it fun and you can totally wow a dinner party for little money and no time. Sign me up. I’ve posted the revised version of the whole recipe below. Yum!

Smores Brulee – Revised (Recipe PDF)

Peanut Butter Cake!

Usually as the weather gets warmer I manage to find ways to NOT turn the oven on and heat up my apartment even further. But for some reason I’ve had the need for baked goods, so you know what, I’m just going to go with it.

Last night I pulled out one of my long time favorites, Peanut Butter Cake. Mmmmmm. It also happens to be a favorite of my roommate as well. This is actually a Paula Deen recipe that I’ve had in my book for years, ever since I started baking when I was living in New York City. What I love about the cake is that it calls for 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, which gives it the most incredible texture and flavor. Combine that with real peanut butter and shortening and you get a ridiculously moist cake that no one can resist.

Now, is this a true starving artist recipe, you ask? Well it depends on what you keep on hand in your kitchen. One of the reasons I thought of this cake was that I had milk and eggs already in the fridge. I know many of us keep peanut butter in the cabinet at all times, so that’s set. I always have butter, I always have dry ingredients, and I have to confess that I keep a bucket of shortening on the top shelf that I only ever use to make this cake. Not ashamed. So all I had to buy was graham crackers and peanuts and I was good to go. Totally worth it for me.

I’ve given the link to Paula’s recipe below, and while I love you, Paula, I have to make one correction to your recipe. You absolutely should bake this cake at 350 degrees, not at 375 like her recipe says. I have baked this cake many, many times, and believe me when I tell you that 375 just kills it. 350 for about 35-40 minutes is perfect for a moist but browned cake. And it works the same in a glass baking dish. Enjoy!!

Paula’s Peanut Butter Cake

Birthday Cake

Yes, friends, it’s true – today is my birthday! I’m 19 years old… ok really I’m 29. One year away from the big 3-0 and I couldn’t be happier. My life is full of wonderful friends and family. Work is coming in steadily. I am thrilled to finally be blogging and sharing my culinary ideas with all of you. I’m really feeling good about 2012 – so far it has been great and I look forward to discovering what the rest of the year will bring.

You might be wondering what the Starving Artist does for his birthday. My philosophy on birthdays is: if you don’t make a big deal about it, no one will. All of those who say “oh I don’t do anything, it’s whatever, etc, etc…” are fooling no one. I used to be that guy and it sucked. Who doesn’t want to feel special on the one day out of the year that is meant to be their special day? I say play the birthday card for all it’s worth. I’m no princess, but goddammit it’s my birthday! And let’s be honest, I’ll take any excuse to indulge. For me, that means doing exactly what I want to do, eating exactly what I want to eat, being surrounded by all the people I love, and, of course, birthday cake. For reasons that were out of my control, my birthday last year was a complete dumpster fire. I was sick, it was Easter Sunday, I was wandering around New York City by myself – I don’t even want to get into it. This year I am home in Los Angeles and I am making it totally awesome, Starving Artist style.

First, birthday cake. Ok, let’s just call it out: I love culinary projects, but there is no way in hell I am baking my own birthday cake. Clearly I can’t afford some custom ordered monstrosity, but I also refuse to have some pre-packaged cake someone picked off the shelf at Ralph’s. The starving artist is frugal, not cheap. My cake has to be chocolate on chocolate and there is only one bakery on earth that gets me excited about chocolate cake: Costco. Yes. You heard me right. The best chocolate cake you will ever encounter in your life is the All American Chocolate Cake from the Costco bakery. It’s five layers of the most divine chocolate cake covered in thick, rich chocolate frosting, the sides littered with dark chocolate shavings. It’s a chocolate-gasm. A giant, Costco-size stack of heaven that costs about $17 and will easily feed 15. I might buy two.

Second, I need a place to gather all my friends and share this cake. Usually when I want to gather people and be merry I throw a party, cook a bunch of food, and cram a ridiculous amount of people into my small apartment…. but, my birthday is the one day a year I don’t actually want to host. Yes, it’s nice not to have to cook, but more importantly I don’t want to have to limit the people I invite because of the size of my living space. Yes, I dream of the day where I host my legendary catered birthday parties at my palatial estate in Bel Air. I’ve flown in my family from across the country, 200 people in attendance, magnificent food…. but right now, I have to work with what I’ve got. I want my birthday to be an open event where everyone can come and go. I found a great deal at the The Village Idiot on Melrose. You can reserve their private room in back for no cost, no minimum purchase, and they will even provide plates and silverware for your cake. And it’s also just a great venue – lots of space, big beer and drink selection for those who want it, great food. The best part is they provide you a dedicated server who will check people out as you go, which means no horrible group check situation. Perfect.

So with those details taken care of, the rest of the day is up to me. Always I want beach and seafood on my bday, so I’ll be lunching at The Reel Inn on the PCH in Malibu. I actually had my bday party here one year. It’s the perfect venue – open outdoor seating, big long wooden tables, right on the beach, and it’s a counter set up, so everyone pays for themselves and gets a number. And come on, it’s a seafood shack. I’m a New England boy, it makes me feel right at home.  Then I want to shop. Starving artist shop, of course: Nordstrom Rack, Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Exchange. Very excited. And I’ll see what else the day will bring. Because, goddammit, it’s my birthday.

What’s your starving artist way of celebrating your birthday?

Dessert Chips and Dip

Last night I went out to a Greek place on Larchmont with a few new friends I made at a screening. It was late and we really just wanted something light to share. So we ordered a combination of three Greek dips that came with warm, fresh, grilled pita bread. I could have eaten just the pita, but the dips were good, particularly the whipped caviar. I confess I generally try and stay away from refined starches, but if you can resist a plate of warm pita, clearly you’re some form of inhuman. By the time we were done there was a little bit of two of the dips left over and I ended up being the one to take it to go. By this time all the pita was gone, but I figured I’d find something to do with the dips eventually – vegetables or something. When I got home and unloaded the bag to put the dips in the fridge, I discovered that the restaurant was nice enough to include an extra stack of their pita triangles… bastards. I confess I was in the mood for something sweet, but didn’t want to go out and tempt myself to spend yet more money and buy something horrible. Thanks to the Greeks, I had all I needed.

I turned my oven to 375 degrees and prepped my pita. I brushed each one with olive oil, then dipped them in cinnamon and sugar I mixed together in a bowl. I placed them on a sheet pan and baked them until they were good and crispy, about 10 minutes. Now the chips are good by themselves, but I felt, considering the theme of the evening, a dip was in order. So, I took two scoops of the raw almond butter in my fridge, placed it in a bowl, added a big handful of chocolate chips, and stashed it in the microwave for 45 seconds until it was warm and melty. Then, I stirred it together with a dash of vanilla and a pinch of cardamom (because I’m pretentious that way… really I just wanted an excuse to use it, it’s been on my shelf for months), and voila. Dip. Easy, resourceful, delicious, and supremely starving artist.