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You may and can and will have it ALL

5 Oct


All caps means it is soooo important.

What else is important?

Bread.

Cheese.

Butter.

Eggs.

Fucking waffles. Yeah waffles too.

I took a cheese sandwich, dipped it in savory French toast batter and put it in the waffle iron. I cracked open my old trustworthy Ravenswood and waited. I ate.

Things were good.

Here is what to do.

Waffles-French-Toasted-Grilled Cheese Sandwich Yeah

  • 2 pieces of bread
  • 1-2 oz cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cups half n half
  • Dash salt
  • More butter!!
  • Big bottle of red

Heat the waffle iron. Whisk the egg, half and half and salt. Slice tiny slivers of cheese. Sadly you cannot put the cheese on too thickly or it’ll ooze into the waffle maker, so slice thinly. Put it on one piece of the bread. Put another slice of bread on top. Butter both sides. Then put into the waffle iron and cook away. Meanwhile open red wine. Ooh and ahh at your life. It is worth it. 

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip on bread. Dip in bowl. Dip da dip dip dippity do

6 Apr

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Ohhhh my goodness. I am finally done with the season of Girls on GIRLS. Although we will be rolling out cocktail-making segments soon.
And in between doing a bunch of live shows that ran the gamut from improv to sketch to contortion for comedy, I decided to pull out some of the posts I had had in my drafts for a while. This is one of them. A recipe I’ve enjoyed enough to make more than once. That’s a big compliment from me because having to vet new cookbooks leaves little time for old favorites. The genius work of Joy the Baker keeps me coming back.

Here’s the deal:
I LOVE a sandwich. I cannot dislike anything involving ample carbohydrates.

Here’s the other deal with a sandwich though:
I only love it if I can eat it on a plate with a knife and fork so I can deconstruct and reconstruct as I like. Here, a bite of the whole sandwich, there, a forkful of filling. Then a leftover bit of bread from where I swiped the filling. That I may butter.

The third and final deal with a sandwich is that I rarely actually eat things that are supposed to be served on carbs ON the said carbs. I devour bowls of spicy salsa with a spoon pretty much daily. It is not so different from gazpacho right? Then I butter the chips.
And I rarely eat the cheese on cheese plates atop the slices of baguette that come with it. I nibble each bit of fromage individually. The better to really taste the cheese, my dear. Then I butter the baguette.

So I made this dip and enjoyed deconstructing a sandwich made with it, and still had leftover dip to gobble from a bowl. And at some point I ran out of bread but I always keep back-up butter.

Take home lesson from this blog post is this: ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP BUTTER.

Spicy Spinach and Artichoke Dip/Spread adapted from this recipe by Joy the Baker
Olive oil spray
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
A few handfuls if baby spinach
2 pieces of whole wheat bread
1 Tbsp. cream cheese
2 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
3/4 c. Chopped artichoke hearts
Pinch of fleur de sel
1 heaping Tbsp. Cottage cheese, mashed with a fork until relatively smooth
1 1/2 tsp. Sriracha
Butter
Spray a pan with the oil and sauté the garlic a bit then add the spinach, an cook just until wilted. Take off heat. Spread the bread slices with the cream cheese. Stir together the spinach mixture, Swiss cheese, artichoke hearts, fleur de sel, cottage cheese, and Sriracha. Heap as much as you want on top of cream cheese on one piece of bread, (save the rest for another sandwich, or if you are like me, eating out of a bowl) and top with other slice of bread, cream cheese side down. Spread outside of sandwich with butter and cook Ina skillet on each side until browned to your liking. Because it is all about you.

shake it, get down, and misinterpretation. and a shake.

5 Sep

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For once I did not try to change it. This easily alterable recipe. I went with the flow. It worked REALLY well. What do you know?

Which is not to say I don’t have ideas. Ideas which may happen with the leftover recipe components. But I gave this base, depraved, vile-in-spirit recipe a whirl, and it held up. Really blimey well. So well I wanted it the next night. Then again I find that things involving sugar and alcohol usually hold up solidly in the face of adversity.
Who does not love a shake that can be consumed with a spoon therefore rendering the cup unserviceable when a bowl is nearby?

I’m trying to flow more, generally. Not sweat “the small stuff”. Just do it. Whatever it is. Which changes a lot although pretty soon a brainchild of mine that has been festering in my noggin’ for over a year may just spring forth as vibrantly as Athena from Zeus’ head, and nearly as wise. Less angry.

That was cryptic. More details when it actually has happened.

This recipe makes a boatload of cubes of the recipe base, which are then blended in batches with Kahlua. I know, I know, it sounds so gauche. Gauche comes in large quantities though. So I have leftover cubes of the base to try some variations that I have in mind. Perhaps amaretto would be nice. Or adding in some cinnamon. I’m gonna play with the leftover cubes. However! That is not because I wasn’t fully sated with the recipe just exactly as Bon Appetit told me to make it. Well-what BA told me for the base of the drink anyway. I did not have the stuff for the whipped cream recipe, so I didn’t do that. I suppose that means I was still controlling things, but I just don’t think anything can replace the joy of jetting oodles of Reddi-wip (which I just now realized was “wip”, not “whip”) on top of the shake and into my mouth.

I know, you may be tempted to “make it better” and use something instead of my chosen Reddi-whip. But how about trusting me, the one you trust and tolerate, to guide you? This gauche-ness is good. for once I did not try to change it. I went with the flow. It worked. What do you know?

Kahlua Shake adapted (read, cut in half)from Bon Appetit
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 plus 3/4 cup H2O
1 cup half and half
6 Tbsp. Kahlua (2 per drink)
Whisk sugar, espresso powder, cocoa and salt in a small saucepan. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the water. Place over medium-high heat, then whisk and heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts to boil. Take off the heat and add remaining water and the half and half. Pour into something with a spout. Like a pitcher or a measuring cup. Pour into ice cube trays. I got 28 cubes. Freeze.
However many cubes you end up with, take 1/3 of them (math!), put in a blender (despite my love of immersion blenders, this still makes me long for a Vita-mix), and add 2 Tbsp. Kahlua and blend, blendy blend. Top with whipped cream. Delight. Spoon. Straw? Nah. Spoon.

Blue Marg- serve w chips and salsa

5 May

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Fact: Margaritas should be served with chips and salsa. Soft salted pretzels are also okay if you serve the margarita unsalted. That works, my sweet babies.

More facts:

I am doing a staged reading of a spec script at a snazzy place with some good people to meet this coming weekend and I am excited because I am the “wise-cracking best friend”. So I get to make fun of people, including myself.

Fact: Margaritas should be served neat.

Fact: Margaritas require fresh lime juice. I know, there is a shortage. Shell out a spare penny, you spend more on crappy coffee and you deserve a good adult drink.

AND FINALLY

Fact: Margaritas are best when blue.

Don’t you sass me. Blue curaçao is the shiz-nit. And it is pretty and refreshing to look at. Like a stale browser, you need refreshing. Because–last fact: it got hot.

Blue Margarita from the Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich (wording mine)
Lime wedge
Kosher salt
2 oz. blanco tequila (I used Sauza)
1 oz. blue curaçao
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
Run lime wedge around chilled glass edge. Dip in salt. Put in freezer whilst assembling your drink. Shake up everything else with ample ice then strain into the glass. Serve with an extra slice of lime, big spender. You’re worth it.

Triple Your Everything

29 Jan

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Except nipples. Stick with two. If you have three, that’s all well and okay, but I’d only pierce the principle two.

Just to clear up any confusion I only have two nipples. And piercings.

So I’ve been pretty busy. My improv team has been booking more gigs outside of our weekly performance.

Auditions are back up and running.

I’m harloting around to casting director workshops like crazy in the name of ye olde pilot season.

Still reading and writing like a maniac for Hello Giggles.

AND most importantly Alice and I are planning our next pie party and boy is the theme of it this time a doozy. Let’s just say that my inner goth cook is hard at work.

So I’m busy. Ergo I am presenting you with a simple sandwich. I have a lot of random thoughts about/inspired by this recipe:

I’m not sure if it is an amazing recipe so much as fun. Maybe not amazing but WORTH IT.

I think everything is better with butter.

There are people who like grape jelly and people who like strawberry.
Of course I prefer blackberry or raspberry because I am persnickety. But will always take grape over strawberry. I think what you are raised with will always be the preference.

I was skeptical as to whether a slice of toast would do much for a sandwich, but then remembered how Bill Cosby used to put potato chips in his sandwiches, so I thought maybe crunch would be good.

It was. But I wanted to double the creamy to play against the crunch. So I did. Double the amount of PB and J initially called for. I adore the looks of this sandwich. It is so…architectural.

PBJ Triple from the allrecipes app
1 piece of bread toasted and cooled
2 slices untoasted bread
4 Tbsp. Peanut butter
4 Tbsp jam
Spread jam on one side of untoasted bread. Spread pb on either side of toasted. Make a sandwich. I hope you are capable of figuring it out.

I confirm the subscription of this blog to the Paperblog service under the username ellenclifford

Best hits and what may come for the Gruel: Opinions wanted

31 Dec

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Happy happy! It is a new year. Yayza. In this delightful little post I am going to recap part of vacay, make a proposal, and then recap a few favorites on this lil’ blog of mine.

I went to St. Louis for Christmas. Whilst there, with my lovely fwife Eleanor I went to the MOST awesome of places, Blood and Sand. The MOST friendly of people work there. They can deduce exactly what you MOST want to drink, even if you do not know.

I drank the two MOST fantastical drinks, along with eating some MOST delightful truffled tater tots. One of the drinks had the MOST awesome of names: “Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives”. It was so much the MOST of the most-ousitous of times. The drink consisted of Rittenhouse rye, brown sugar simple, Punt e Mes, lemon juice, allspice dram and rosé sparkling. If rye and apple pie had an alcoholic child, this would be it. I am contemplating if the different elements of the name stand for different ingredients of the drink, and if so, which. I intend to recreate this come heck or high water. Clearly high standards I have for 2014.

I want to get y’all’s opinion on something. What if I did little restaurant/bar/food reviews from time to time? I do like to get out of the house to dine, shockingly enough. Between trying new recipes for the Gruel and also for my Hello Giggles column The Book Cook, I am getting a bit stressed. And much as I love writing and food-oriented opportunities I want to keep my mind on the acting game and not get too distracted. I still would still do mostly recipes, and I have some exciting theme weeks like a “Carrot Caked” week planned, but I’d like to have the options. I’d like to try new things, maybe even recommend a wine or two from time to time. Could be fun. Why am I nervous about this? I feel like I am asking you to go on a date or something.

It’s my blog and I can do what I want, obviously, but I want to know if there are any major objections out there to the review thing. Ooh, I may not be asking you on a date but maybe I could even go on some blogger dates and tell you about them. There are some LA bloggers I’d like to meet. That would be fun for all. I think.

Okay, now a little bit of year end wrap-up. Because I can. I am going to link you up with some of your most favorite-est recipes. I’m basing popularity, or at least reader interest, on the stats of what was clicked on the most. I’d also like to round up some of MY favorite things, especially from the early days of the blog when my photography sucked even more and not many folks were reading. I could revisit the less viewed recipes and get some better shots of them. Maybe next week. The blog may be a bit more sporadic in January and February, so don’t freak out or anything. I’m still here.

Oddly enough, the recipe that got THE MOST hits this year was this one for a clear chocolate martini. Quite frankly I am a wee bit distressed by y’all’s standards. Is a clear chocolate martini really what you want? With a photo like this?:
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I am disturbed. But my hope was renewed when I saw the second most clicked upon recipe was for Mark Bittman’s Creamed Bulgur and entitled Bulgur Not Vulgar which of course means it was NOT a chaste entry. But delicious:
20131009-210958.jpgNext up was a Pumpkin Polenta Pizza I would deem to be worthy, taste-wise if not aesthetically, of a few more clicks:
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Next-most clicked upon this year, and the most clicked upon of all time is this pumpkin soup:
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It helps that the photo was pretty, I imagine. But I was proud of my recipe too.
The least popular recipe, at least as I write this, was from the long-ago waffle week. I waffled a bran cracker. Enough said.
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The Things We Ate

7 Aug

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I’m giving you two recipes AGAIN this week. Like I did last week.
I am going spoil you silly, my loves.

One recipe is gooooood (see above pic) and one is not. These recipes are both from a vintage cookbook. Chosen because of last week’s occurence.
All this is pre-amble to today’s tale:

Go crazy cooking nerds! I spoke to America’s Test Kitchen. Yep. Me, on the phone with Chris Kimball and Bridget Lancaster. Or B-lanks, as I like to call her. I called their podcast because I was a nerd, with a nerdy question about my nerdy vintage cookbook. Then I geeked out with them about those funny, funny quotes in the book about men and chervil.

Men and herbs. Hilarious.

I was SO NERVOUS. More nervous than when I perform. Well, maybe not quite as nervous as doing stand-up makes me, but I was at least as nervous as I am before an improv show. That’s the comedian’s scale of of nerves, I guess.
Listen to my nerdiness here. I come in around 8 minutes, 26 seconds.

Speaking of nerves, I am only mildly nervous for an improv how this Friday.

Right now my mind is more pre-occupied with nerves for this bloody wrist surgery I am getting Monday. Seems like things in my bionic arm are not in place, and one of the many plates in it needs to be taken out. If you wanna know the full bionic story i chronicled it here.

Yeaaaaaahhhh. It’ll be ok. Maybe I can get someone to take a picture if the innards of my arm. I’d do it, but I’ll be under anesthesia.

It’s FINE. Really. I’m being dramatic here.

Anyway. Food! Lets!

I included the disgusting Mulled Jelly recipe I told my ATK friends about in the interview. Scroll past for the deliciousness that is the other recipe. It is for egg toast. It’s a keeper.

The jelly.
Why bother trying to make it purty?

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Grody!
It takes second in the weird department only next to the Dimetapp Pie made by the brilliant MadMan.

God I love italics. I even love the word italics.

Mulled Jelly

1 egg white
1 Tbsp. grape jelly
1 tsp. sugar
1 teacup boiling water
1 large cracker (or very dry toast)
Firstly, ya beat up the first few ingredients. Add agua and keep beating. Crack in the cracker. Choke down in the name of art.

Now the good. Not sure why it is called Nun’s Toast. Much like 1600 Penn today, there are many mysteries in the 1915 White House. Cookbook.
Nun’s Toast adapted from The White House Cookbook
Olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
1 tsp. flour
1/2 c. Almond milk
2 sliced hard-boiled eggs
Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Toast, buttered
Spray a small pan with olive oil and add butter. When it is melted, add onion. When onion is softened, add flour. Add milk stir all until smooth. Add eggs, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir until hot then pour over toast. Which is buttered. Duh.