Archive | November, 2011

Classic

26 Nov

Please know I am not posting a drink instead of dessert because what I served for Thanksgiving was piedenfroid. It was not. As always, my apple cranberry streusel pie(with a secret ingredient!)dominated. I just feel like a cocktail.

Ah, yes, The Classic Champagne Cocktail.
I kept it classic and served it to my Thanksgiving guests wearing the classic little black dress.
Drinking the CCC in the LBD. Cause I’m old-fashioned.
Yeah you know me.
You are supposed to imagine the previous few sentences rapped to the rhythm of a little Naughty by Nature.
Yeah, 90’s.

If I had my old-fashioned druthers I’d have used a champagne coupe. I know they don’t keep the bubbles in but…I just like them. Problem is I don’t yet actually a champagne coupe yet, nor enough proper vessels for my nine guests so for this event, plastic flutes would have to do. Crud, I really need to work on my run-on sentences.
Crud.
That’s better.
I sometimes have referred to this as an Old Fashioned champagne cocktail. It has a similar base to an Old Fashioned. Minus the orange slice and marachino cherry.
I went to DomaineLA to seek guidance in the proper champagne to defile with other ingredients. I ended up with an awesome and affordable Spanish Cava to which I award the Most Informational Label Ever award. Check it:


They even tell you the soil type. Wicked.

Favorite coctail? Do tell.

Old Fashioned Champagne Cocktail(from Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich
1 sugar cube
2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
champagne
lemon twist
Place sugar at the bottle of a champagne flute. Toss in a dash or so of bitters. Fill up with champagne, twist lemon peel over it and run along rim of glass, then drop in.

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Vodka. Crust. No, really, what more DO you want?

23 Nov


Well, I guess some of you would like a tasty pie filling. There is that.

I know I just recently gave you a word-y nerd post. Piedenfroid. Can I stay educational and give you a little science in this post?
It is about pie.
You are either a crust or a filling person. I am crust. Not only that but I now must tell you gourmands it’s all about the flour, Crisco and salt crust.
I wanted to give the flour/vodka/butter/Crisco/sugar/salt crust from Cook’s Illustrated a go though. Plus I had my brand new factory refurbished Kitchenaid food processor to put to work.
Ok, oops I was going to get science-y.
Sheesh. Science-y? Come on Clifford.
Scientific.
Pie crust texture and taste is a delicate balance. A lot of folks want an all butter crust for the taste. All crisco makes for a divinely flaky crust. The solution is often a mix of the two.
What up with the vodka? It’s a way to add moisture so you have a supple dough to roll, but that will evaporate during baking without developing gluten. Vodka has no taste so it’s as good as using water. Except better. Gluten is another thing that makes crust a wee but too sturdy.
Now don’t get me wrong. This crust was a dream to roll out. Putty in my hands. And it did taste good. But it was just not pie-crusty so much as cookie-y to me. You may prefer that. I do not. It ain’t right or wrong. Just a matter of preference. I hate to tell you to make something without butter or vodka.
By all means put butter on a piece of baked leftover shortening crust and do a shot. Get yer vodka and butter in. Those are important for your health.
I will stick with my butterless, sugarless shortening crust-though next time i may try using vodka.
Cheers!
What kind of crust do you dig?

My Crust(adapted from Betty Crocker)
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
up to 1/4 cup cold water
Use a fork to toss together flour and salt. Add shortening and use fork to cut it in. Just press down and break up the shortening, o’er and o’er again until it starts to look like peas. One tablespoon at a time toss in water until the dough will stick together. Form into a disk, brush both sides with flour, dust more on a piece of parchment and place disk in center. Put another piece of parchment on top and roll out.

Bitt me, Bayby

20 Nov

Mark Bittman recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for Baked Macaroni and Cheese=delicious.
Nothing makes a white sauce based dish better than infusing the milk with a bay leaf. Seriously. One tiny leaf and the sauce will sing. It might even take requests.
I confess I made this months ago. I was in the middle of a passionate affair with everything Bittman. Thought I posted it. I did not. Which is dandy considering that working like a fiend has left me with little time to do much beyond shake a jar once a day.
What reminded me to post this mac and cheese was an evening containing both a delectable dish and an epic fail. It all started quite normally, wandering downtown Culver City in search of a nosh. We eventually settled on Bottlerock. I noted the “mystery wine” option on the menu. If you guess the grape and region you get a free glass. Aha! I could show off my wine smarts-not that it really mattered to partner in crime who claims that every wine tastes “exactly the same” to him. Clearly I was going to be on my own for this one. So I went with the mystery white and ordered a smashlingly good Albarino for him(I waited and tasted after I thought I’d identified my mystery drink). I took a sip of mystery wine. First thought? NOT a chardonnay. It was a light, easy-going wine without a lot of depth or frankly, personality. Quaffable, but not complicated or oaky. So not a chardonnay. My guess was pinot grigio. Wrong! The sancerre? Nope. Third desperate try: a northern climate sauvignon blanc? Not even close.
The answer: A Chilean Chardonnay.
WTF?!! NO!!! Just….NO!
I felt like a huge loser. Fail!
HOWEVER! The truffle mac and cheese was we ordered was the delectable part of the evening and kept my spirits high. So there you go. A good mac and cheese saves the day.
One last note. On the way out the waitress confessed it was indeed an unusual Chardonnay. It was aged in a steel barrel. No oak. AHA! I felt much better hearing this. Validated. If it were a typical Chard and my taste buds couldn’t pick it up I’d feel pretty lame.
Anyway. Screw Chard. Get yourself a Sancerre. Love me some Loire valley goodness. Or an Albarino. Go Rioja region. Make this mac n cheese. Or if you are feeling lazy go to Bottlerock, get their truffle-y goodness, take the mystery wine challenge and let me know what wine shenanigans the staff is up to this week.

What is your favorite wine grape and region? Do tell.

Rotini and Cheese(adapted and healthified from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman love of my cookbook life)
1 1/4 cups skim milk
salt
bay leaf
8 oz. rotini
2 Tbsp. light smart balance
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup grated cheese, your favorite(I used reduced fat)
freshly ground black pepper
1 piece of bread turned to crumbs(rip it up!)
Preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta just to al dente. Drain and rinse. In another small pot cook the milk and bay leaf on medium-low heat til little bubbles appear along the edge. Wait 5 minutes then turn off heat.
In yet another small pot melt the smart balance add flour and mash the stuff in like crazy, let mixture brown just a tiny bit then slowly, slowly add the milk(sans bay leaf, it’s done its job) and stir it up til smooth. Then stir in cheese.
Spray a 9×5 pan, put noodles in it, then mix in the sauce and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake til it looks like bubbly goodness. Consume. Sip Sancerre. Enjoy the good life. That would be my choice, anyway.

Piedenfroid

19 Nov

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And it’s tomorrow! I will be hosting a whopping 9 people. I’ve never hosted before. Yikes!
I do promise a vegetarian T-day recap, but in the meantime, if you are reading this you either have your menu in check, or are digesting a tasty meal. What I am getting to is, who really has time for ANOTHER Thanksgiving recipe? So thank you to Eleanor for suggesting that I feed not your bellies, but your brains.
This week I give you a word. You can use it to spice up your holiday table talk if you are dining with foody wordy nerds like me.
The English language lacks enough words to cover emotions felt in specific instances. We have no equivalent to “schadenfreude”, used to describe delight felt in another’s misfortune. Well, I have taken it upon myself to create a word to descibe a common and unfortunate feeling-one I hope does not describe your Thanksgiving experience. Allow me to introduce you to this soon-to-be linguistic sensation:
PIEDENFROID
You know how sometimes a dessert looks amazing, sounds amazing, perhaps even smells good, and totally tastes lame? Not bad, just…lackluster? So you eat it, but it is not special. You feel tricked, and are filled with remorse, disillusion, dispair, perhaps even denial as you make excuses for the failed dessert(well, the whipped cream seemed real, at least!). You regret that dessert. You are left saddened and still wanting, yet you’ve filled your belly with this useless dessert.
This is piedenfroid. It has it’s word origings in “pie”, the dessert most easily guilty of piedenfroid. So easy for a pie to fail if not in a tasteless cardboard crust, then in a overly dried or too gooey filling.
This word also denotes just a tinge of anger, both at yourself and at the dessert, and the dessert’s source(hopefully not yourself-then you’ve wasted time cooking and ingredients). It does not, however, denote rage. The dessert has to be truly awful for rage. I am working on the word for that.
May your Thanksgiving be plentiful and piedenfroid-free.

Getting Martha on your arse

16 Nov

Decided to make my own vanilla extract. That’s what Martha Stewart would do, no? Yes. The answer is yes.
I did not do this because I want to be Martha. Although I want to be a guest on her show and make pie with her while she interviews me about my acting escapades.
I made this partially to use a vanilla bean before it got old, and partially because the generic artificial vanilla I’d been using sort of sucked.
This is simple. One bean is halved, scraped, and added to a jar. All of it, pod and scrapings. Heat up some vodka and pour over bean. Vodka and beans. Yum yum. Put a lid on it. Shake every day for a week. Here is the extract day one:

And day seven:

And the finished product, jarred(in the bottle the bean came in-I don’t like to waste):

Thoroughly worth working up a sweat for. Plus it looks like a weird science experiment on your kitchen counter. I felt the need to explain it to anyone who came over that week lest they think I was keeping dirty twigs in jars. THAT would be special.

What is the most interesting kitchen experiment you have ever made? Inquiring mind of Ellen wants to know.

pumpkin chia pudding

12 Nov


Purty. Purty purty pudding. Autumnal goodness abounding. Healthy too. Really. I am this pudding’s bitch.
I just wish I’d had the suggested cookie crumbs to layer with it that Angela of Oh She Glows recommends.
This recipe for pumpkin chia pudding
from Oh She Glows is healthy, and charming, and cute. Much like Angela, creator of the blog. What if all bloggers only made food that resembled them? What would I make? Would it be one endless stream of black rice, dark chocolate, black coffee and black jelly beans to reflect my attire? Or perhaps the stark opposite: cottage cheese, endive, cauliflower and other anemic foods to be my pale skin? Or nerd-y food? Whatever they ate in my favorite books like The Great Gatsby! Oh wait, did that. I dunno.
What food resembles you?

I want to know. So please leave a comment and tell me. In the meantime, if you dig easy, tasty, pumpkin-y goodness and don’t mind the crunchy little chias(I personally love it, some folks do not)then give this pudding a whirl. An thank goodness for easy, seeing as this is my last weekend of playing the dancer who gets her leg ripped off(literally and physically), I did not have a lot of time for fancy cuisine.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding(adapted from Oh She Glows blog by Angela Liddon)
1 c. almond milk
1 c. pumpkin
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. vanilla protein powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon(I increased this from 1/2 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. ginger
pinch nutmeg
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 packet Equal(my addition, bad me!)
Mix it up. I used my immersion blender. Cause I could. Chill a couple hours then eat up. Feel healthy. Look in the mirror and see if you are getting Angela’s “glow”. Repeat.

Pumpkin Time Again

9 Nov


I’ll explain the picture in a minute.
I finally succumbed to the autumn urge to pumpkin it up. And now I will pump(clap, point) you up! Sorry, SNL moment. Hans and Franz.
Since I held out on pumpkin recipes for the last post, this time I am showing you two. One vegan, created by the ever-lovely Katie, which you see at the top of the post. These pumpkin bars are so friggin’ fantastic. I barely managed not to eat the whole pan the first night I made them.
Then the next night I had a night shoot playing a goth, AGAIN:

Night fell, the shoot went on forever and at last at 4 am I arrived home with fake blood crusting on my neck, having been killed by vampires. Delicious image, no? I was starving and gulped down half the pan of these. Glad I had saved some. In honor of the goth-y state I was in when I consumed these, I took a picture of them with a comic about goths I clipped way back in the 90’s from a zine. Remember zines? Yeah, nineties grrl power. And goth power. And stuff.
Anyway, black attire or no, bloody or not, hop on over to Katie and check out the recipe for these bars.
And now, the non-vegan pumpkin bar:

This is the one that opened the floodgates of pumpkin. The gateway bar. Once you start, you can’t stop. It is addictive. I had been wanting to make this recipe for Pumpkin Bars from the Poppin’ Fresh Homemade Cookies cookbook, published by Pillsbury since…oh since I bought the book at a sixth grade book fair. A lot of other pumpkin recipes from other sources as well as a six year bout with anorexia distracted me from getting around to it.
Well done on this recipe, Pillsbury authors!
Incidentally, the Pillsbury Dough Boy(along with the Michelin man) was the inspiration behind the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. And I know him. The man who built and wore the costume. he’s not puffy. He says he filled in as Slimer occasionally during the film shoot. These are the folks I met at the parties when I was seeing a professional propsmaker. Ah, Hollywood. I digress.
I wish I had had cream cheese, I’d have frosted these suckers. But I did not.
Observe this picture of these bars:

Yep. That is some light Smart Balance I am putting on them. Incidentally, this variety of it is vegan. Not all Smart Balance is even vegetarian. One variety(the light heart right kind, I think?) has fish oil in it. Gross!
Now we’ve covered Katie, zines, goth-iness, vampires, fake blood, Ghost Busters characters, Hans and Franz, and fish oil.
So eat. Write a zine. Pump yourself up. Do a little dance. Make a little love, if you like.
Which of these activities are you doing tonight?
Let’s get to the recipe.
Pumpkin Bars(adapted from Poppin’ Fresh Homemade Cookies by Pillsbury)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup splenda or stevia(or just use a full cup of sugar)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 eggs
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Add wet and mix it up. Mix it good. But not too good, no need to beat this stuff. Pour into a sprayed 9×9 pan and bake til…done. I don’t remember how long I cooked these. I’m guessing a half hour more or less. But I took them out when slightly underdone because that is how I like them. Bottom line, take them out when they reach the state of done-ousity you prefer.