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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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Out of character

7 Nov

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I got new headshots this week. It’s one of those harrowing experiences the actor deals with on a yearly-ish basis. We are expected to be able to distill who we are in one, brilliant, eye-catching shot that will read when it appears the size of a business card on the casting directors screen. And we are supposed to get one shot that conveys all that commercially and one that says who we are in a non-smiley way. A lot of folks make the mistake of getting awesome hrs that don’t say anything about their personality. Then casting gets a surprise when the actual person walks in.

The problem is, although every actor has go-to roles-I tend to be the off-kilter smart type for example-but if you are a good actor you can play a variety of roles. Because the truth is, no one is as one-dimensional as they may seem. In the last month I played an awkward loser, an accomplished lawyer, and a controlling girlfriend. Not counting all the stuff I auditioned for. So I’ve been thinking about character.

This recipe feels out of character for my darling Mark Bittman. It feels right for a retro cookbook, like Betty Crocker, or even a French cookbook, but not for Bittman of the miso vegan before six ideas.

But perhaps I should not put my man in a box. He deserves to show us all his sides. Even if they are the frumpy 50’s food dishes. Because those can be quite palatable. Even, dare I say, delicious. Which these eggs are. I want to make a joke about my eggs here but I can’t quite figure out how and I need to run off and get into yet another character so I’ll spare you the weird sexual innuendos and get to the good stuff.

I’ll be totally honest that my instructions on white sauce are not the most nuanced. This largely has to do with the fact that I’m a white sauce hack. Feel it out. You can do it.
Eggs au Gratin adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Flour
1/2-1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1/2 cup grated Swiss
Parsley
Paprika
Melt the butter and stir in butter. Cook and stir until it gets a wee but tan. Slowly whisk in the first half of the almond milk. I usually have to whisk like hell and sometimes use a heatproof spatula to break up any buttery flour clumps. Whisk in the mustard and a bit more almond milk to make a medium sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread a bit of your sauce in the bottom of a small pan. Lay eggs in, cut side up. Add in the rest of the sauce, spread cheese over, and broil until the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle parsley and paprika over the top. Fantastic.

Artiste-ic

2 May

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What is Napoli? From Naples? Did Fannie Farmer ever go to Naples? Or is this her 1896 vision of what she would consume there? Then again this edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook was published in the sixties so it may not have even been in the original.

That Frances Farmer, what an enigma.

The week in which I blithely posted pre-written waffle posts, and prepped to play an artiste, I also made this soufflee.

Firstly, you must know rarely is this blog written in real time. I backlog posts when I have more free time for busy times like these.

Second. You’ll must agree that artistes make soufflés. Because we have lofty ideals. Thus lofty foods. Yup. Our lives are one massive metaphor. This blog is a bit of my brain matter laid out for you to consume.

That metaphor sucked.

Artistes also make film. Artistes make pie. Artistes make love.
Often to their reflection in the mirror.
With pie.
I guess I’m an artist of sorts, and I decided to make Napoli.

Random note of interest: My reviewing job’s latest here. Another here.

First, the soufflee cross-section:

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Now the recipe.
Tomato Soufflee Napoli adapted from Fannie Farmer
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
5 T. Tomato paste
1/3 c. Marinara of choice
1/2 c. Plain almond milk
3 slices cheddar, chopped
1/2 c. Pasta
3 eggs
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt two tablespoons of the butter. Stir in the flour(it’ll be like a paste), then the milk, tomato paste, and marinara. Bring to a boil then simmer a couple of minutes. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta. When that is done add 1 tablespoon of butter. Resist urge to eat more than a couple of buttery pasta pieces. Contemplate eating buttery pasta with the tomato mixture as sauce. Decide that the beauty of a soufflee and ability to say, “well, last night I whipped up a soufflee,” make doing this not quite worth it. Realize you write really bad run-on sentences sometimes, seriously, Cliffy.
Stir the pasta into the tomato mix.
Beat egg whites until stiff, then beat yolks in a different bowl. It must happen in this order because the whites must have zero contact with the yolks, but a bit of white getting into the yolk will not affect them. Stir the yolks into the tomato mix, then fold into the whites. Turn into a baking dish sprayed with olive oil if you are me. Because I don’t have a soufflee dish and I don’t trust the mixture not to stick. If you are awesome-er than I, bake this in an ungreases soufflee dish. At 300. Forty-five-ish minutes.

Shape up or ship out or order in

11 Apr

Or practice.

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Sometimes I love it because I put a ring on it.
Wait. No.
Because I put it in a ring.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Food that can be shaped is better than amorphous mounds. I know some would disagree. That’s your opinion and you are entitled to it, but know that in Ellenwood, shaped food really is superior.

If you want to stay you’ll need to go with the Ellenwood flow. If not you can leave now and go get a bowl of rice somewhere. But if you stay in Ellenwood, or as it used to be called, Ellenwoodland, then food is sometimes shaped. And rice will be black and sticky. Like my soul. And it’s always betta with buttah. Also like my soul.

Please stay with me in this land. Just a little bit longer.

Cause I’m going to be baking more ring mold items. I need the practice in unmolding:

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Baked Noodle Ring with Cheese(The Fannie Farmer Cookbook-1965 edition)
4 oz. penne
1 Tbsp. Smart Balance
1/2 c. Almond milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Tiny tinier tiniest pinch nutmeg
2 eggs, separated(yolks lightly beaten, whites beaten into stiff peak submission)
1/2 c. Grated mozzarella, reduced fat
Cook and drain zee noodles. Add all but egg whites and mix, then fold in whites. Grease an 8-inch ring pan and add noodle mix. Put ring pan in a larger pan filled with hot H2O and bake at 325 til done-30 minutes give or take.

Unmold with caution. If it is dumpy like mine, at least you tried, you’re a trouper.

Ring molds, like or no?

Bittman time

16 Feb

In honor of Valentine’s Day I had to visit the cookbook of my true author-love, Mark Bittman:

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It’s another simple dish.

Can I bore you with another acting tale? Cause acting is the reason I’ve been resorting to the quick and simple.

I am busy this week trying to find a shot from my last headshot shoot in which I have “ice in my eyes”. My agent’s words.
Ummmm, yeah.

Here is what my agent picked out of the options I gave him:

Am I icy? I dunno.

In between actual jobs, auditions, mailings and class, finding an appopriate photo out of the hundreds taken that day took the rest of my time. My eyes are rarely icy, apparently.

Woe is me, having to look at myself all day. That’s enough of that.

On to food.

Again with the dishes with nationalities. This one is “Swiss-style”, according to my love, Mark Bittman. At least, the original recipe made with potatoes and other vegetables was. I made the variation on this bake.

Bake means casserole. But sounds fancier.

This is so simple it seems silly to post it, almost. It’s basically a mound of cheese and some peppers on bread.
In the future I want to make a version with cheddar and pimientos.
That would no longer Swiss.
More Southern like pimiento cheese?
Pimiento cheese is the shiz-nit, incidentally.

What are your favorite cheese/veggie combos? I want to know!

Swiss-style Bake(based on Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)
Several slices of whole wheat bread
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground sea salt
2 cups reduced-fat mozzarella, shredded(but really I’d use full-fat in the future as this was a bit dry)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
I cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
Preheat oven to 375.
Layer bread, salt and pepper, then cheese, then peppers in an 8×8 pan. So hard. Cover with foil and bake around 15 minutes, then uncover and bake til cheese is browned n bubbly. Kind of how you want your champagne to be minus the brown part.

Busy actress=great recipe, less description

12 Feb

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I haven’t too too much fascinating to say on these corn cakes. I have been a busy busy actress.

I’m all about the repeated words with no comma separating them today. My my.

Why was I busy?

For one, putting together a new set of acting reels!
One funny:

One dramatic:

For seconds, I had a part in a short! Any weekend acting is a good one, particularly with these goombas:

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And now your regularly scheduled gruel. It was worth wading through all the nonsense about my career to get to the recipe, no?

This is one of the few recipes I have made multiple times.
If you love the sweet corn cakes you get at Mexican restaurant you will love this healthier take on them.

That’s all she wrote, folks.
As I type this I am between shots on set so I better get back to set!

Sweet Corn Cakes from just barely adapted from More Healthy Home Cooking by Evelyn Tribole
5 Tbsp. Smart Balance(I used the light variety that is vegan)
1/3 c. Masa harina(or as auto correct says, mass hate)
1/3 c. applesauce
2 c. corn(I used frozen)
1/3 cup splenda(bad me)
2 Tbsp. buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat yer oven to 350. Spray and 8×8 pan. Beat that balance good. Slowly pour in masa harina and applesauce whilst you beat.
Chop that corn a bit in your lover. I mean in your candy-red Kitchen Aid food processor. My bad. Add that to the other bowl and mix in along with the remaining ingredients. Spread in you pan and bake around 40 minutes. I know, I know, its a thick pasty mix, how could it need 40 minutes? It just does. It should be getting a bit golden on top when you take it out.
This would have been great with the EZ recipe I posted last.

Un-pizza week: day one

23 Jan

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Un-pizza!!
Because pizza week is too obvious. I’m such a rebel. Hear me yell.
Pizza-themed food that is not EXACTLY what we think of as typical pizza. It’s a brave new world of oregano flavored edibles.
Un-pizza comes in two main varieties:
Type A: Food that uses pizza flavors in different formats.
Type B: Food that uses a pizza format(solid, usually carb-y round base, spread with one or two things, with various vegetable or protein-y toppings scattered on top)but uses different flavors. I will be making mostly the former. Because a lot of the type B’s have no business using the word pizza in their name.

Example: A crisp tortilla, spread with beans, sprinkled with cheese and peppers? That is not a “Southwestern pizza”, people. It’s a tostada.

So get ready! There will be un-pizzas for pasta people, un-pizzas for anti-carb people, and ever so much more.
And as you eat them you can let that scream out. And bask in how outside the box you are.

How do you feel about Type A in-pizzas versus type B?

First up in Un-pizza week is a pizza-ish casserole. I adapted this recipe using what I had on hand from the allrecipes app called Pasghetti Pizza, posted by someone named KELMES.

I liked this. Obviously since I’m posting it. You should too. Smiley face.

Pizza Casserole(adapted from Pasghetti Pizza posted on the Allrecipes iPhone app by KELMES)
4 oz. rotini, cooked and drained
1/2 cup almond milk
1 egg
3/4 tsp. powdered garlic
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated reduced fat mozzerella
1 3/4 c. tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 sliced vegetarian Italian sausage.
Preheat oven to 400. Spread both pastas in an 8×8 dish sprayed with nonstick spray.
Mix milk, egg, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley with 1/4 cup of the cheese. Pour over pasta. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese.
Baked 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Pour pasta sauce on top, then top with sliced sausage and remaining cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.
Raaaawwwwwwrrrrr! That’s good stuff.