Archive | December, 2011

St. Louis goodness/resolutions!

31 Dec

Yea, StL won(one of 2011’s highlights for me)!:

Warning:there is a distinct lack of food and recipes in this entry. Instead you must read my self-indulgent banter about me, me, where I’m from, and what makes me happy about where I’m from.
Although you don’t have to.
You could stop reading right now.
But you shouldn’t.
Two things to discuss today:
1)I got to visit St. Louis and MUST tell you a couple of awesome things I cannot miss in my fair hometown, home of world champions the Cardinals, also home of the most awesome 20th century architectural achievement aka the Arch(check out the Monument to the Dream documentary sometime) and home of the best coffeehouse in the history of history. I’ll get to that shortly.
2) I have New Years resolutions. To gain a couple pounds and take the risk of asking for what I need more.
Career-wise and life-wise.
Stop thinking you’re not worth it, Clifford!
To take risks in general. Nothing to fear but fear itself.
Well, that and brain injury.
But I can handle that.
As for the weight gain, I lost a few this year half due to a springtime depression and then to an ultra-busy fall. As someone who has struggled with anorexia I know when I’m too low, and am determined not to stay there. Cause anorexic Ellen is no fun for anyone including her. Ok, time to stop creepily talking in third person and get back to the Lou.
The place I’ve gone since I was 13. My favorite coffee on earth. Do yourself a favor and go there.
It’s rich. It’s strong. It’s delicious. No drip coffee. They handmake each cup like an americano. Expect to get wired. And addicted.
The Tivoli:

Across the street from Meshuggah in the famous University City Loop. I was raised in the U. City loop. Me and Nelly. From the Lou and we’re proud.
St. Louis winter tap water:
I jest not. St. Louis tap is the best. Ice cold and eau so delectable.

Other places I adore include Sasha’s Wine Bar, Forest Park(which includes the zoo, the art museum, the Science Center, the Boathouse), The Chocolate Bar, Pi, The St. Louis Bread Company, The City Museum(craziest place on earth, possibly), the Botanical Gardens, performances by the group I used to drum with

Yes, I am showing off. I kicked taiko arse, back in the day…
There is too much St. Louis awesome-ness to write up in one post on a cooking blog.
But if you do one thing in St. Louis, check out the Loop. Drink some coffee. Chase with some tap water. Hard core St. Louis, baby.

Sleep tight, and have chocolate dreams

27 Dec


So. My family and their garsh-durned wacky cookie traditions. Actually, this one is not.
It’s quite seasonal with flavors appropriate to Christmas.
And it is good for the new year because it has the property of being less unhealthy than a lot of sweets.
It is also the simplest, easiest thing to make.
These cookies only have egg whites, so it’s got a lot of protein without the fat of the yolks. If you eat the whole batch. Which you might since they are quite light and ultra mega-addictive. To the nth degree tasty.
However, eat that whole batch and you are going to get a wicked dose of chocolate. This chocolate might bring you dreams. Good ones of happiness, health and prosperity in 2012, I hope.
I’m sorry.
I’m trying to think of a more imaginative angle to take on these cookies beyond health and hallucinatory properties but I’m coming up short.
I guess health and hallucinogens will have to do.

Anyone else get crazy dreams when they eat a lot of chocolate before bed?

Peppermint Nighty-Nights
1/2 c. Finely ground candy canes
2 egg whites(save yolks for a key like pie, perhaps)
2/3 c. Sugar
Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate chips(the amount depends on your desire to have crazy chocolate dreams)
Grind up candy canes to equal one half cup. You can use a blender, or as I’ve done in leaner years, just put them in a double layer of sandwich bags and beat them with a hammer. Works out the tension.
Whip egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add sugar as you beat to stiff peaks. Stir in candy cane dust, fold in chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with that nonstick foil if you have it but regular foil works too. Just don’t grease it.
Dollop the meringue onto the sheets.
When the oven reaches 350, put the cookies in, turn the oven off and leave overnight, or at least 8 hours. Eat before bed the next day and see what visions the chocolate brings. Minty fresh ones, hopefully.


20 Dec

Ah, family tradition. There is neither rhyme nor reason to many of my family traditions. Such as my father and I needing to make chocolate chip cookies together when I visit home, no matter how many other sweets there are. Come to think of it, most of our family traditions revolve around cookies. Much like these Greek Kourabiedies I wrote about last year, these Italian Sprinkle Cookies have no business being in my British/Irish/Scottish/German family’s repertoire. I think my Mom clipped the recipe from a magazine. I made them one year and they were so unbelievably awesome they made repeat performances. Then I moved from home and was making a gajillion batches of cookies AND transporting them to our family Christmas out of town and stopped making them because I was busy and they are a bit more involved and messy than a lot of the other stuff I made.
I made enough other cookies that people were distracted from the missing Sprinkle Cookies.
Then a couple years ago I sucked it up and made them and of course everyone declared that of the 10 different types of cookies we had, these were THE BEST and I HAD to make them again.
It’s true. They are, if not the best, in my top 3 favorite Christmas cookies. Though really they could be made any time of year with sprinkle colors to correspond with the holiday of your choice.
Got any interesting family Christmas traditions? Food or otherwise? Inquiring minds want to know.
Italian Sprinkle Cookies
6 eggs
5 c. Flour
2 c. Powdered sugar
2Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. Shortening, melted
1 Tbsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 C. Warm milk
1 Tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. Powdered sugar
Sprinkles or colored sugar
Beat eggs on high until light and foamy, a few minutes. In another bowl,stir flour, sugar and baking powder. Gradually add melted shortening and extracts and beat until a bead-like texture is formed. Gradually add eggs. This dough is quite stiff. Roll into one-inch balls and bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 12 minutes. The cookies should not get brown, though the bottoms should brown a little.
While cookies are baking mix the milk and extracts for the glaze then whisk in sugar until no lumps remain. Set some cooling racks over wax paperor old newspaper(unless you feel like scraping icing off your countertops). As soon as cookies come out of the oven immerse them a few at a time in glaze until coated, then place on rack and add sprinkles while the glaze is wet. Let these suckers sit out for at least 12 hours for glaze to set. But feel free to test your product out in the meantime.

Try it, you might like it

18 Dec

Ever had a Black Russian? If you are a new vegan who misses White Russians, this one is for you seeing as Barnivore says Kahlua and certain brands of vodka are totally vegan.

On to important things, like me and my mood moody mood moods these days.

I should not complain. Really. In general I’m a spoiled rotten girl living the dream in sunny LA.

But for various reasons I’ve been particularly down this week.

What to do when one’s soul is dark?

Besides blasting Nine Inch Nails?
That’s a given.

And besides glaring while pouting like I’m doing for this pic:

I call this Glouting. It’s the goth cousin of smize-ing.

You make an equally dark adult beverage, that’s what.
And if the Joy the Baker Podcast is to be believed we should drink said cocktail in the shower.

Hopefully not at the same time as using baking soda to wash one’s hair. That could get dicey.

Extra credit from the dark underlords of gothness for using skull and crossbone ice cubes.

What do you eat or drink when bummed out?
Black Russian(from The Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich)
1 1/2 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. Kahlua
Lemon twist
Shake ingredients vigorously with ice. Strain into ice filled glass. Twist lemon peel over the top and drop in.
Pump up the NIN and relish the gloom.

Purple ftw

18 Dec

First off, eat at Jar. Even if you are a vegetarian, perhaps even vegan. The vegetable sides are brilliant.
Second(on? off?), be adventurous. I do not like sweet potatoes. I saw purple Okinawan sweet potatoes on the Jar menu and decided to throw caution to the wind in the name of purple. I like purple though I do not know that I will wear it when I am old. I’ll probably still be in black. These do not taste like potatoes or sweet potatoes. They taste fantastic.
Thirdly, frequent a Korean market in Koreatown in the fall/winter and find yourself some of these. The California Market is the only place I’ve found these gems. Do not be afraid. Koreatown will not bite. And I need some visitors over here on the more easterly side of LA, I’ve been trekking west far too much these days.
I’ll stop whining.
Lastly but hardly leastly, nor yeasty, bake these up and serve with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Don’t attempt the mustard aoli dip you see in the background-it was a bit of a fail.
I imagine some Bearnaise would be smashing, though.

Do you like foods better when they come in a cool color?

Eat it. Eat it all.

14 Dec

Exercising restraint is so last month.
Papas=potatoes in Spanish. Chorreadas is…well according to my translator app it means chorreadas. Great. Anyone want to help me out here?
Well, either way. This dish had addictive qualities. And it’s easy to make. So you should.

It is from one of my first cookbooks, Laurel’s Kitchen. Laurel is old-school.

I ate half of this, went to bed, then got up in the middle of the night and ate the rest. Growing girl here. Been dancing like a mad-woman.

please be ginger

10 Dec

I’m tender, this time of year. No really.
Christmas carols make me cry. And there is NOTHING worse than hearing the goddawful versions of “I’ll be Home for Christmas”. I shudder.
So I reverted to a favorite old 1950’s housewife-y cookbook to bake a present for a friend.
Instant cheer. I remembered I have about a billion things in my life to be happy about. Seriously no need to be mope-ey, unless I’m rehearsing another goth-y role.
Christmas food gifting is where it is at. Brings me joy and cheer and merriment. Hopefully brings the recipient all those things too. I made a friend of mine this gingerbread-which technically is a molasses bar cookie, but it seems gingerbread-y to me. All was well. Cheer abounded and my home smelled happy. Success. Sweet success.
No, literally, sweet success.
I’m gonna go make some pomanders or something.
Question for you, readers-please comment! Gingerbread, gingerbread people, or gingersnaps? And holiday tunes, yes or no?
Molasses Creams(adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook-well it was new in 1953)
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. smart balance
1/4 cup splenda
1/4 cup molasses(I used regular, the recipe calls for “light”-just don’t use blackstrap)
1/4 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. beaten egg
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4(heaping) tsp. instant espresso
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
Powdered sugar(plus milk if you want to make a spreadable frosting-I had none so I just sifted a thick layer over the bars and called it snow)
Cream butter, splenda and smart balance. Beat in molasses and egg. Add hot water and beat in. sift in remaining ingredients and beat until well blended. I baked this in an 8×8 pan I made slightly smaller by lining with aluminum I folded in to make more like an 8×7 pan. I’d maybe just use something like a 9×5 in the future. Either way put it in a 350 degree oven and bake approximately 20 minutes-just keep an eye on it and when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, it’s done. Whilst still warm, sift powdered sugar over.

Potatoes for Hamlet

7 Dec

Forgive me, gourmands. For I have sinned. I used dried parsley and chives. I’m sorry. I’ve been acting my bum off but I am on a budget and I’m not gonna buy a bunch of stuff to only use 2 teaspoons of it. Sorry.
Danish potato salad. What makes it Danish? I don’t know. In fact I know very little about Danish, except that in St. Louis, The St. Louis Bread Company(known in other parts of the country as Panera) made a gooey butter danish that rocked.
Hmmm. Danish. Denmark. I think of blonde people. Am I stereotyping? I think of Hamlet. I don’t think he ate potato salad, but if I had dinner with him, this is what I’d make.
I need to play Ophelia someday soon.
Leave me a comment and educate me on anything you know about Denmark, the Danes, or Danish:) Or just tell me the first thing you think of when you hear the word Danish.
UPDATE: According to the comment I got from a real Dane, this salad is not so traditional, but since health is an increasing concern for Denmark, it is not necessarily wrong. So I am renaming this salad Danish Modern:)Check out the comments below for a link to a picture of a more traditional Danish potato salad!
Danish Modern Potato Salad(adapted from Bon Appetit July 2004, yes I do save all my issues)
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
2 tsp. dried chives
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. drained capers
1 T. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. caper liquid
1 tsp. course grained Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper
Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and let cool for 30 minutes. Slice about 1/3 of an inch thick. Add chives, parsley and capers. Whisk the remaining ingredients plus 1 tsp. of water and toss with potatoes. Wish you had a gooey butter danish for dessert.
Eat Reese’s peanut butter cups instead.

More questions: How do you like your potatoes? Bonus points for telling me what your favorite Danish is.

Love it. Do.

1 Dec

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I love eggs. In all forms. Then I saw this recipe that involved eggs, peppers, crumbs, and my favorite herb(thyme) and it went to the top of my to-make list. Then Thanksgiving came along and it got side-lined.
Hosting 9 people, even if you are not making a turkey, is time intensive.
Those champagne cocktails took blood, sweat and tears, man. Not to mention the fact that I feared my dessert would be piedenfroid.
So that is why it took me until December to cook from the November issue of Bon Appetit. That I received in October.
I’m a working woman, peeps. Lay off.
And my apologies for saying peeps.

I must make this again. I LOVED it. I am craving this as we speak. The real magic in this dish happened when my fork broke the yolk. The gooey-in-a-good-way yolk seeped into the peppers and crumbs so each bite had this creamy, crunchy….je ne sais quoi. Wow, autocorrect does not like it when I try to type French.

How do you like your eggs?

I left out the meat one this, and did not fry in quite the depth of oil of the original recipe. I also reduced the portions to serve just myself-I halved the amount of peppers since I like lots of veggies, and made one egg instead of four. Silly me. I ate the one and realized I wanted at least three.
Here’s my take:
Crumbed Egg on Peppers(adapted from the November 2011 Bon Appetit)
1 egg
1 tbsp. vinegar
Bring a couple of inches of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add vinegar. Crack egg into a small dish, half-immerge in water then slide your eggy-wegg in and allow to cook til the white looks pretty solid. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to scoop egg out and put it into a bath of iced water. Allow to cool. You can make this part in advance. I’d never poached an egg before this way, having always been a lazy microwave poacher, but I think it was worth the extra effort. And now to the veggies:
1 tsp. chopped garlic(I use jarred)
olive oil spray
1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 tsp. dried marjaram
freshly ground pepper
baby spinach
Spray skillet and heat over medium. Saute garlic a little bit then add peppers, sherry and marjaroam. Simmer til almost all liquid evaporates. Add some salt and pepper then place on a bed of baby spinach. Back to eggs!
1/4 cup panko
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg white
Mix the panko, thyme and salt.
Whisk egg white in another bowl.
Take your egg out of it’s bath and pat dry on a kitchen towel. Coat in egg white then bread crumbs.
Spray skillet with olive oil and heat to medium high. Saute your egg until the crumbs are getting goldenish then place on peppers. now the magic: take your folk and cut into the yolk. Dish the hell in. You deserve it. Love it. Do.