Tag Archives: baking

In the Kitchen with Friends

The first friendship I formed in college was a result of bonding over pink bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. That didn’t last too long though. One of our other roommates, Emma was pretty annoyed that I decorated my corner of the room with all things pink. It bothered me that she would sing while we studied. I don’t think either of us were convinced that we’d end up being friends.

But Emma and I found common ground in the kitchen. Our very very small (two people in there was a crunch) dorm room kitchen. In that kitchen where we realized we enjoyed each others company and our bold personalities could actually work together. Our friendship really began by making messes in the kitchen. We invented wafflefluff. We attempted to flambé bananas with Malibu Rum. We became friends over the stove. This was the first time I really realized that friends and food go together.

I’ve said often that the one thing they don’t teach you when you graduate college is that after, you have to learn how to make friends all over again. Sure you’re always going to have girlfriends from high school and college, but they don’t always live close. And when you’re out of school, you’re out of situations where you naturally make friends…so you have to work at it. I went on a lot of girl dates my first year or two out of college. I still do now. And it seems weird, but if you meet a girl that you think you might get along with you have to put yourself out there and just be like, “hi I’m Nikki, want to be friends?” It’s so strange. It’s like playing in the sandbox all over again. But that little bit of courage to pick up friends pays off – that’s how I met so many of my good friends today.

making Julia Child's chocolate souflee with friends

Some of my favorite moments of last year involved not only eating with good friends, but cooking with them too. We made pasta, funnel cake, cookies, chili, lovely cheese plates, sangria, pizza, fig chutney, guacamole, a patriotic fruit tart, and Julia Child’s chocolate soufflé.

The soufflé night was one of my favorites. Over two years ago I met Emily and Rachel at a bar. I don’t remember much about that evening except that it was sweltering hot, and as we tried to chat in front of a fan I thought they were sweet and fun. I held out my hand and introduced myself. Many brunches, books, boy stories, cheese, real marathons, figurative marathons, and glasses of wine later and we have a real girl-grown friendship. How cool is that?

Emily left yesterday and is off on what will absolutely be a life-changing adventure. But before she left we all made chocolate soufflé together. One girl stirs the melting chocolate, another beats the egg whites, another butters the ramekins. It’s not an easy recipe, but it’s much easier when you’re not alone. While we wait and the room fills with sweet chocolate smells, we go back to the wine, the boy stories, the new adventures. Oh, and then we eat. It’s simple, it’s chocolate, it’s friendship.

baking chocolate soufflé with friends

Not sure I can say completely why the kitchen is better with friends in it. Mostly it’s a big bowl of sappy feelings. But also, it’s creating something and sharing it together. It’s not materialistic or judgmental. It’s turning a brick of chocolate into a rich fluffy cloud. It’s celebrating how far we’ve come from that first bar or dorm room and how far we’ll go next.

I can only hope 2013 holds more moments in the kitchen with friends like this. We may even talk about pink monogrammed bedding (because seriously, it’s not like I’ve moved on from that!), but it will be over piled-high dishes, flour spills, “more wine?”s, and food that tastes like memories.

“Remember, no one’s more important than people. In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”

-Julia Child, My Life in France

Cozy Christmas Weekend

Happy Friday and happy Christmas weekend! Even if you’re not celebrating Christmas, this weekend is a great excuse to bake up a storm, put on your coziest sweater, and curl up with your family by the fire. I know I can’t wait for all of these things.

It’s going to be a busy weekend in the Pinciotti-Rappaport house so I might not be back until after Christmas. (But you can follow along with all the baking, cooking and decorating on instagram!)  So happy holidays to you and your family! xo

cozy christmas weekend

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Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Thumbprint cookies peanut butter holidayAs I’ve mentioned, It’s been quite a while since I spent much time in the kitchen, let alone since I’ve baked something. On Sunday I was determined to break this spell and just get in there and do it. I had high hopes for what this little act of baking could do for me and my spirits.

I have a long list of cookies I hope to bake this holiday season, but I’ve been especially interested in something chocolate and salty. Lucky for me, the ladies of Whisked just had a fantastic feature in the Washington Post, which was accompanied by a great cookie recipe. Score for them and me!

Chocolate Thumbprint cookies peanut butter holiday

So as usual, I copied down the recipe from my laptop to a piece of paper that I clipped to my kitchen cabinet above my workspace. I made the cookie dough and I was feeling pretty good about the splendid combination of sugar, cocoa and my hot pink stand mixer. Also as usual, before I scooped the dough on the cookie sheets, I tasted a tiny bit. And wow, it was disgusting. It wasn’t the Whisked recipe, don’t worry. I accidentally wrote down two tablespoons of salt instead of two teaspoons of salt. What was I thinking?? I guess it really had been a while since I baked anything and I just totally forgot my way around these familiar ingredients.

Chocolate Thumbprint cookies peanut butter holiday

I couldn’t salvage the dough so I just threw it out and started over. Obviously I was frustrated with myself, but like I said, I was determined to bake these cookies and feel good about it too. So I began again. This time around I didn’t have enough cocoa left, but I substituted the rest with a packet of hot chocolate. You would never know the difference. I added the correct amount of salt too. Lastly, I didn’t have enough nutella to fill these thumbprints so instead I filled them with dollops of the Peanut Butter and Co’s Dark Chocolate Dreams. Good move, Nikki. Now these were double chocolate salted (but not too much salt) peanut butter thumbprint cookies and they were amazing.

Chocolate Thumbprint cookies peanut butter holiday

In the end, this took twice as long as I had hoped and I made some silly mistakes. But I was also able to add my own spin to the recipe and create something that tasted wonderful and that I was happy to share with my friends.

I have plans to bake more holiday cookies soon, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the process goes more smoothly, but they come out just as enjoyable.

Tell me, are you baking your favorite classic holiday desserts this year? (In case you’re wondering, these are probably my most favorite holiday cookies – and have gotten quite a bit of traffic recently!) Or are you trying something new? Please share. And happy baking!

Quarter Life, Quick Bread

It’s been quite a week! I’ve been busy with work, not sleeping, and overwhelmed with life in every quarter-life-crisis sense possible.

The week started out great, actually. Sunday I went to the farmer’s market and yoga. I made pesto and zucchini bread. All seemed pretty serene. Then this week happened and I’m feeling a little disheveled.

zucchini bread

These moments of uncertainty in life are very frequent. Sometimes they’re welcomed…. after all, this is an exciting time, right? But they’re also scary, lonely and make me downright clueless.

So what do I do to deal with it? Well besides break down and have a good cry after a long day? I have drinks with a girlfriend whom I haven’t seen in years. I go to yoga. I shop (maybe a tad too much). I rearrange the furniture in my apartment. I paint my nails metallic gold. I bake zucchini bread, which reminds me of extended family get-togethers full of laughter and love.

Comfort. Support. Ease. Taste good. Feel good. 

zucchini bread

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart.

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater (to yield 1 3/4 cups); set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
  2. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice mix, and salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and stir to combine well. Stir in grated zucchini.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack, then reinvert, top side up. Cool completely before slicing.

    zucchini bread

    It’s almost the weekend. Ready to recharge. And bake another zucchini bread.