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Burn special nightly

7 Mar


The recipe that got me on a burn-inducing frittata kick was from the lovely Joy the Baker and this recipe and needing to use up some DAMN tasty chips.

The chips being Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips. Especially being in the lime flavor. A lovely publicist sent them for me to try and I was terrifically pleased.

Holy heck they are made with cassava flour. I’ve no experience to judge cassava. But I liked it in this application. And avocado oil? I hate avocado but these flippin’ WORK. They work especially well in eggs.
Now as to the danger.

Frying pans that are safe to put in your oven are trouble. 

You think “oh this handle is harmless,” and sure, it is when you are using the pan on top of the stove. But not when out of the oven. 

Ugh burns. I went on a kick of making this frittata and although I got hep enough to not straight up grab the handle straight from the oven I kept bumping into the skillet. Burned myself around 8 times in a month I think. I should be more careful cooking.

But I should also keep making this frittata because it is stinkin’ delicious.

Frittata Chilaquiles Don’t Get Burned Extravaganza based on this recipe by Joy the Baker

  • Olive oil
  • Salsa: 1-ish cups pending thickness of salsa and your own taste buds, I never measured
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 chili powder (I used the cheap ol’ grocery brand)
  • 1 dash crushed red pepper
  • 1-2 oz lime tortilla chips 
  • Sea salt
  • Freaky ground black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • Dash almond milk
  • 2 oz sharp cheddar

Heat oil in 8 inch skillet. Add salsa and allow to cook until dry-ish. Heat oven to 375 F. Stir spices into the salsa and cook a little but more.Whisk milk, taters and salt n pepper in a separate bowl. Take the skillet off the heat (turn that burner off) and layer in chips. Add the egg mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15-25 minutes yeaaaa! Be careful.

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. 

soviet cuisine

23 Mar

  
World history has never been my forte. Art history? Sure. Food history? Heck yah. Political movements? Not so much. It is not that I don’t get concepts-it is just that I am terrible with names and dates and I have a sneaking suspicion that what I am taught has been passed through a misogynist and Anglicized filter.

Oddly, I can recite recipes for chocolate chip cookies and umpteen cocktails, complete with amounts. And yet I cannot for the life of me remember years that things happened and then I get historical events out of order. Save remembering that WWI was before WWII. Got that one down.

So I’ve been gravitating towards cookbooks that teach me a bit of history too because where there is food involved I am more likely to remember. The CCCP Cook Book: True Stories of Soviet Cuisine deals with Soviet cuisine which is fascinating. The regime in power tried to promote an official cookbook and way of cooking for the all of the Soviet Union’s restaurant and catering businesses in order to get everyone serving exactly the same food everywhere, I suppose. That “official” cuisine seemed to veer towards Russian dishes, but the Soviet Union (aka USSR or CCCP) was pretty vast. The recipes that represent Soviet cuisine found in people’s homes ranges from Russian to Georgian to Tatar.

It is also interesting how much the the economics of the time drove the dishes. There is a reason for all those breadcrumb coated dishes. Meat at the time was scarce and the quality of what was available was poor. Crumbs disguised mystery meat. The lack of meat is the same reason there were so many canned fish, and varying patties of chopped meat.

Scarcity can also lead to remarkably good dishes. Eggplant “caviar” for instance. I’m not making it to replace real caviar. I’m making it because it is pretty dang delicious. Which I found shocking because rarely do I care for eggplant dishes.

The book is full of stories of dictators being jerks (to put it mildly) and the government being corrupt. The stories are alternately funny and sad. For instance the regime would champion eggs as not being so good for you when eggs were not readily available. When eggs finally were available in some abundance the government “realized” that eggs were in fact delicious and nutritious. Mmm, the tasty tales of executive power. By the time I finished reading and cooking through this book, I will be nourished both in body and mind.

As I mentioned, there are quite a few chopped meat recipes. There are some classics like sauerkraut, chicken Kiev, borscht and stroganoff. The recipe I am sharing is a sweet and spicy beet broth eaten with a toasted cheesy bread. Think of it as a variant of the classic pairing of grilled cheese with tomato soup. The topping on the toast is positively addictive. If you don’t like spice, you may wish to cut down the cayenne but being a nut for heat, I went all in.

The story behind this dish is about a chatty lil’ supper meeting between Stalin and Mao. Stalin steered Mao towards the soup because Mao grew up in southeast China, where the Hunan cuisine was full of the spicy flavors. Apparently at this dinner there was some wine drinking too, and Mao asked why Stalin liked to mix red and white wine. Stalin’s answer was that he liked creating his own bouquet of wine flavors. Now, I don’t recommend being like Stalin in general, and I REALLY don’t recommend mixing your red and white wine. But should you be into historical reenaction feel free to pop a couple of bottles open to wash down this meal. Just don’t reenact anything else the dictators might have been up to.

Borschtok with Spicy Toast adapted from The CCCP Cook Book by Olga and Pavel Syutkin

For borschtok:

2-2 1/2 liters meat stock (being veg, I substituted vegetable stock)
400 g (around a pound) beets
3 Tbsp. vinegar
1 egg white
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
For the toast:

2-3 slices white bread
25 g (almost 1 oz.) butter, plus some extra for frying
200 g (around 1/2 pound) semi-mature cheese (I used cheddar)
2 eggs
50 g (almost 2 oz) tomato puree or ketchup (I used tomato paste)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
For the broth:

Add the beet, finely chopped, and the vinegar and egg white to the stock. Place over low heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Add the cayenne and sugar and simmer another 5-7 minutes. Skim off any fat (if using meat stock) then run through a sieve (I lined mine with cheesecloth).

For the toast:

Heat the oven to 180 celsius or 360 Fahrenheit. Cut the bread into rectangular slices and fry in some butter. Grate the cheese and mix it with the tomato concoction of choice, eggs, butter and cayenne. Spread on the fried bread and bake in oven 10-12 minutes. Serve with the broth. Dip it. Dip it good.

food separation from a heart sick person

20 Apr

  
For years this recipe stared me in the face. I’d open the Bon Appetit issue to it and put it in my little cookbook holder stand thinking if I saw it, some day I’d get inspired early enough to get all components made and chilled in due time.

The picture you see above is just one reconfiguration of this Deconstructed Black Forest Cake. Much as I adore various pairings of sandwich material, I also love the idea that each bite of this cake can be a different combo of the cake, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, red wine cherries, and…all kept properly hydrated by the shot of kirsch:

  
Making this became a fantasy. One of those “some day” things I didn’t think I’d ever actually get around to.
Then I was dating someone and I knew I was into him because I started fantasizing about what I’d cook him. This was a likely suspect for pleasing what I knew of his tastebuds.
And then that prospect didn’t work out. As in, I never even got the chance to ply him with my womanly cake wiles. 
In a spate of “fuck that I don’t need ANYONE to cook FOR” the fantasy of making this became reality one Friday night when I got home earlier than expected.
I am all I need.
Except for sex. I could use a male for that but he isn’t here (as in doesn’t exist) at the moment.
But fuck it. I have cake and wine and a career (my true lover) not to mention my family and friends and stuff so I shall survive. And I have cake.

I cut my cake with a star cookie cutter because I am a superstar. Hehehe. As in “don’t you remember you told me you love me baby”. Except I was not that fond of the fellow. It never came even remotely close to the L word. Cause that is REAL scary. Hell, I have a hard time giving someone a second date.
Problem is, it is rare I start to think anyone is worth a romantic thought so when I do start to be even remotely interested in someone I take things too hard when they don’t turn out as I’d wish.

UGH.
And UGH.
And UGH FUCK!
And someday my cake and wine loving prince will come.

I’m gonna get a cat.

Fuck this cake is worth it. 

Also no more writing recipes when high on no sleep/sugar/wine.

Enjoy.

Deconstructed Black Forest Cake adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe

For cake:
1/4 cup butter
6 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 beaten egg
1 1/2 Tbsp. natural cocoa powder
scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/16 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. sifted cake flour
2 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. yogurt (origial recipe calls for sour cream
3 Tbsp. hot coffee
For chocolate fudge pots:
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli’s)
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 (recipe calls for heavy whipping cream)
pinch salt
1 1/2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. sugar
For sauce:
1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. sugarplus a pinch more
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. dry red wine (I had a pinot noir on hand)
To finish:
whipped cream (I used Reddi-whip_
A shot of kirsch
For cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Create an approximately 35-square inch baking pan. I did this by taking foil and pressing it into half an 8X8 pan. Butter or use nonstick spray to grease. Beat the butter in an electric mixer until smooth. Toss in the sugar and egg and beat until light and fluffy. Hurl in the cocoa, baking soda, salt and vanilla and incorporate. Blend in the half the flour then half the yogurt and repeat. Gradually blend in coffee until smooth. Add to the pan and bake about 25 minutes, until you put a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean. Let cool on rack and then chill until cold. Bon Appetit says 4 hours but I sped this up with my freezer.
For fudge pots:
Preheat oven to 325 F. Put the chocolate in a bowl. Bring half and half and salt just to a oil then pour over chocolate and whisk it until all is nice and smooth. In another bowl whisk the yolks and sugar. Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture. Put back into pot over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly until somewhat thickened, about 5 minutes. Don’t let it boil. Distribute into 5 ramekins (1/4 cup each) and put ramekins into a deep pan. Add water to into deep pan halfway up the sides of ramekins. Cover the whole shebang with foil and bake until set, between 35 and 40 minutes. Take ramekins out of pot. Cool 15 minutes then let chill in fridge, uncovered until cold (3 hours?).
For sauce:
Put cherries (unthawed) and sugar in a small pan and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add wine and stir and simmer until ever so slightly thickened. Strain over a bowl. Pour juices back into pot and put cherries in a bowl. Boil the juices until reduced to about 2 Tbsp. then pour over cherries and chill.
To serve, slice (or get fancy with cookie cutters) the cake. Each person gets some cake, a pudding, a spoonful of cherries n sauce, a bit of whipped cream and a shot of kirsch. Whee! Yah. Since I made this for me I ate a huge portion of cake and sauce, one pudding, a whole container of whipped cream and, well, a shot of kirsch was enough. But then I had also indulged on extra wine.

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.

How To Find The One

5 Dec

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We’re all on a quest for the one. Let’s go all caps on that–THE ONE. The One that will complete us, reflect our best self, that will make us a better person. The One our friends will love being with almost as much as us. The One we can take home to our families. The One we can’t wait for our parents to meet at Thanksgiving dinner. The One. You know…The Pie.

This pie is my One. I would like to think it reflects me-delicate on the outside, but multilayered, sweet yet tart, complex, relatively perfect if untidy…friends asked me to make this pie for them to take to parties I can’t even attend. That isn’t an exaggeration. This is the pie I’ll go out of my way to share. And my family adores it. They’d ask it back to dinner and send it Christmas cards even if we broke up.

There were 5 pies at this last Thanksgiving. I made a pumpkin pie. A guest brought a yogurt-pumpkin pie and some sort of pineapple-coconut confection. My aunt made an amazing pecan pie that actually made me like, nay, flipping’ crave pecan pie for the first time in my life. And then there was also…MY PIE.

A total of 11 guests were present at dinner. Naturally there were leftovers of everything. Except MY PIE. That got devoured. We sent some leftovers of other pie home with guests, yet still had portions of three leftover pies. But as I said, not My Pie. THE PIE. The One. Through that evening’s haze of sugar and alcohol my family insisted that I make another one the next day. And even once clear-headed the next morning, in the frigid air of St. Louis, my family was willing to go to the store to get more cranberries, apples and flour. I promise there are no drugs in My Pie. Love, perhaps. Once you get it you don’t wanna be without.

How do you find The One? Time and an open mind. I’m sorry to say there is no Tinder for pies. Unless you count the epicurious app? This pie really came to be because of a shortage of necessary ingredients. Rather than abandon plans for my stellar apple pie, I rummaged in the fridge. Despite Thanksgiving performance anxiety (this is NOT the time you want to screw up) I made an adaptation or two or four from the recipe I was going to use and created the first iteration of this pie. Then over the years our relationship has blossomed. But I knew from first bite it was gonna be My Pie. Sometimes love is so easy.

I have come to believe in butter crust for most things but I stand by the shortening crust for this one. It is the perfect delivery system for the filling and topping. Let me compare it to an exquisite bit of brie you are going to eat on a cracker, perhaps with a touch of quince paste or something. You need the right combo of sounding board, ooze, salt and sweet. If you put the cheese on a massive flavorful cracker that cracker is all you will taste. This is also why I don’t like a lot of sandwiches-it is hard to get the bread to work in harmony with the filling. But for that Brie a thin, delicately perfect bit of toasted baguette? It’s bland on its own, but transforms when paired with its toppings. That is how I see it with crust. To each pie it’s own crust style. And My Pie goes shortening. As a super-duper bonus, if you use a vegan butter substitute in the streusel this pie will be vegan. Not that that made Moby give it awards, alas.

I’m debating whether I should tell you my secret ingredient. Hmmm. Okay, I’m gonna leave one ingredient vague in the directions. It seems small but this ingredient IS THE DIFFERENCE that makes it My Pie. Whoever guesses what, of the one vague thing, is the secret and can guess what I use gets drinks with me if the timing is right. Or just my utmost respect for their culinary acumen. We’ll see. But I’ll keep an open mind. My Pie and I have an open relationship.

THE PIE
crust:
1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I stir and spoon into the cup), plus extra for rolling
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening (I shamelessly use Crisco)
cold water
Whisk the flour and salt together. I use a fork to whisk. I know. Add the shortening and use your fork to cut in until floury lumps are forming the size of, say, a cocoa puff. Some can be bigger, some smaller. Feel it out. Now, sprinkle a few tablespoons of cold water over and toss it in. It will go further than you think. Add more water bit by bit until the dough is just sticking together. Don’t chill this dough or it will be really hard to roll. I just sprinkle some flour on a piece of parchment paper and roll it out there until it is big enough for the pie plate. Lift it up periodically and sprinkle more flour between the dough and parchment as needed. Now fold in half and gently ease in the pie plate. I use a Pyrex. If you are like me and not good at getting a perfect circle you may have to do a bit of patchwork on your crust but don’t worry. Cut off and/or patch in enough dough to get the same length of dough on the rim of the plate all the way around. You can make a pinched crust or use a fork to make a pretty crust but it will taste good no matter what you do. Put that sucker in the freezer.
For streusel:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (or vegan butter-y stick)
Put it all in a bowl and get in there with your hands. Pinch it together until it looks pebbly. I feel like you will know when it is right. Just picture what the top of streusel pies look like. That is how it should look. Put the bowl in the fridge whilst you cobble up the filling.
For filling:
2 granny smith apples
2 macintosh apples
some citrus fruits for squeezing (do not use jarred juice)
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of allspice and/or cloves
pinch of ginger
Cinnamon, as you are in the mood for. around a heaping tsp., if you need a ballpark figure.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start with the apples but have the citrus halved and on the ready. Peel the apples, cut into quarters, cup each quarter into a few long slices then halve those. Every time you put a handful or or of apple into the bowl give a hefty squeeze of citrus juice and toss it until the apples are coated. Repeat, until they are chopped. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Take the crust out of the freezer and put the filling in. Make sure the apples and cranberries distribute evenly and there aren’t any weird nooks. Take the streusel out of the fridge and strew it on, pretty evenly. Put in the oven. If worried about overflow you can put the pie plate on a baking tray. After about twenty minutes check the pie. The minute the streusel starts to get brown tent aluminum foil over the whole thing. Trust me, if you don’t your streusel will burn. Keep the pie baking about 45 minutes total. Delish.

Jurassic Pie Party complete with Dinosaur-Sized Wine

29 Oct

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Do you ever have a lot of things just sort of serendipitously collide at the right time?
I did not have a lot of these things happen but for name-related reasons I was absurdly pleased to receive wine from Modern House Wines to try. One of them was a GIANT bottle called, quite cheekily, “Go Big”. The name pleased me because I got this wine right before the next installment of Pie Party I was throwing with my friends Alice and Joel: Jurassic Pie.

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Dinosaurs are big. So was this wine. It was meant to be! More about the vino in a bit but…this party. You guyssssss, this party!

This was a Jurassic Pie Party, so-themed because I had dinosaur cookie cutters I really wanted to use. I decided that gingerbread dinosaurs would be exceptional parading across a pumpkin pie. I was so very right. Jungle-ish attire was suggested-I only rummaged up some leopard print but that’s okay.

We were also going to have a velociraptor dance contest. Somehow large amounts of pie(s), gingerbread cookies, Manhattans, and wine got in the way of that. But I’m sure there would have been some priceless velociraptor action if we actually got around to it.

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This was the infamous high-brow/low-brow dual crusted Frito-crusted pie, partially responsible for lack of ability to dance.

I had cookie cutters for a t-rex, a velociraptor, a triceratops, a brontosaurus, a pterodactyl and my personal favorite, the stegosaurus. Since the upscale frito-crusted pie I’ve been perfecting is sort of tex-mex we re-christened the t-rex as a T-Mex. He listens to Ice-T. This pie was demolished rapidly, and the pumpkin pies and apple tart fell almost as fast.

Joel and I were pitting a couple of different pumpkin pies against each other. His was a classic condensed milk recipe and mine involved evaporated milk and sugar. We ended up agreeing one wasn’t necessarily better than the other because they are two different breeds of pie. Mine had a lot more spices and his was a bit lighter, I thought, and tasted more purely of pumpkin. So it all depends what you are after.

The biggest winner(s) of the night though were the gingerbread cookies. I usually have good luck with Baking Illustrated and seeing as their classic gingerbread is my favorite gingerbread, I figured they would not let me down in the gingerbread cookie department. Good lord did they not.

Another important thing learned was that if you want to give your stegosaurus candy corn spikes then you need to freeze the candy corn before baking so it does not melt and spread.

The dealio on the vino. They are made for Target. Oprah likes them. I like that vintner behind them, Alexis Swanson Traina is female. That is rare, being as the booze-world in general seems to be largely a boys club. That may just be my perspective, I dunno, but if you have proof that the ratio of women vintners to male is equal, I would like to see it.

These wines are the wine equivalent of shopping at Target: Too easily done and you will end up consuming more than you planned. All of which is to say I enjoyed the wine. Really, very pleasant wines. Juicy. Not very dinosaur-y. But that is okay. Sometimes it is about size.

The normally-sized bottle I received is called Help is Here: light bodied, some spice, berries, makes me think of eating fluffy gingerbread on a hill. Enjoyable. Mildly vegetal in a good way. Smooth. Sweet.

Both pair well with these wondrous cookies. This recipe makes a decent amount of them but they were devoured practically before the party started. Dinosaurs are not as filling as one would think.

Gingerbread Cookies adapted from Baking Illustrated from the folks behind America’s Test Kitchen
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (measured by stirring the flour then dipping the measuring cup in then leveling the top)
3/4 cup light brown sugar (the book say to use dark but light is all I had)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened but still cool, sliced up
3/4 cup molasses (pro tip:grease your measuring cup first and it will m=be much easier to get all the molasses out)
2 Tbsp. milk (I used almond)
In a food processor, process the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt just to blend. Strew the butter pats over and process until it looks sandy, around 15 seconds. With machine running, pour in the molasses and milk slowly and process until evenly moistened and forming mass.
Scrape it out and divide in two. Roll out each part between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/4 of an inch (I did some thinner to make them crisp enough to stand up) then put them on a sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes until firmed up.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheets with parchment. Take out your first section of dough. Remove top parchment paper then replace. Flip it over and flip and discard that parchment. Cut yer cookies and bake ten-ish minutes give or take. They will be set and if you stick a finger in one the impression will remain. But DO NOT over bake. Molasses is horrible when burnt.Let them cool on the sheet a couple of minutes then carefully transfer to racks. They will firm up more as they cool. Repeat over and over with the rest of the dough. Every time I rerolled scraps I had to stick them in the freezer again for a while so this is a process but it is worth it. I cooked these one sheet a a time. If you want to decorate with candy corn freeze the candy corn first or you will have a sugary melty mess. It will still taste good, if you are into straight up sugar which obviously I am since I like candy corn, but it will not retain the shape. So freeze it up. Bake it up. Do the dinosaur.

Green, not with envy

22 Sep

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Ohmygod life right now. Whereas I spent a good chunk of this year envying everyone who didn’t have disaster crashing down on there heads-did I tell you about my collapsing ceiling? I had an entire ceiling collapse of its own accord earlier this year.
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I counted myself as lucky that I wasn’t in the room when it happened but it still sucked. And I wasn’t getting enough jobs and a potential book deal didn’t end up happening and there was briefly a boy and just as quickly not one (silly boy) and so on.

Things always do improve though at some point. The last couple of months have been fantastic. Although initially distraught when one of my two improv teams broke up, suddenly we had the time to shoot all the films n such we’d been wanting to make. So we did shoot a bunch of shorts and several weeks ago I got to be a goth vampire. It was really delightful fun:

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I realize I don’t look like I’m having fun. I was trying to make fun of that silly model pose. Where they suck in their stomach like they need to or something. As if. Blech.

I also got to play a heroin addict in a web series but I will spare you the pictures of how incredibly disgusting I spent my days on set being. Let’s just say there were track marks, massive bruises, and…greasy, greasy, GREASY stringy hair. Anytime I sit down to get my hair done on set and the stylist starts with “now, the way I rat your hair it’ll be easy to untangle”, it is a bad sign. Because the day will end with me ripping out masses of hair that won’t come un-ratted. But the pain (inner and outer) was worth it. I hadn’t played a dramatic role in a while and it sho nuff filled me up.

On the food front I am starting to get more cookbooks sent to me by publicists to write about in my Hello Giggles column. I’m pleased to report the most popular review yet was about Savory Pies, written by Greg Henry magnificent Sippity Sup….night swimming. I became even more a fan when he invited me to join The Table Set for a little Nightswimming and drinks n nibbles with him and the Set. They are positively as lovely to hang out with in person as they are to insert in my earholes. It’s a podcast people. Get out of your filthy heads.

Earlier this weekend I shot a spec episode this lil’ show I came up with called Girls on Girls. I could explain how it isn’t SO dirty but I’d rather let your filthy minds wander where they need to. Until we get picked up.

So right now, needing a new agent, sans romance, not dipping where I’d like to be on that silly imdb star rating…I’m not so bothered by it.

What am I bothered by? The distress I felt the other day as I combed grocery store after grocery store in search of my beloved rainbow chip frosting. Which apparently is now a rainbow sprinkles frosting. Fucking sprinkles. I do not believe in sprinkles-either the vulgar-tasting frosting maggots or the cupcake store. Cupcakes, along with sprinkles, can go to heck. What I like I a good SLICE of blimey CAKE on a PLATE! With a FORK! Wow. Wanna get me riled up? Just start talking cupcake smack. Blech again. UGh. Sorry. Walking it off.

I now will let you eat cake.

Green Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream adapted from 75th Anniversary The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
For the Cake:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (which means sift a bunch first, then measure it)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk (or whatever your brand says is the equivalent to one cup of buttermilk-if you have real buttermilk you can leave this out)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, whisked together
1 tsp. vanilla, whisked with the eggs
1 cup water (or, if you left out the powdered buttermilk, use real buttermilk here and don’t try to use regular milk-it lacks the acidity you need)
about a Tbsp. food coloring
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Get all your ingredients out of the fridge, you want them around 70 degrees before starting. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, or butter them.
For the cake:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk powder (if using) and cocoa powder.

Beat the butter until it is good and creamy. Keep the speed high and slowly add in the sugar. Make sure it is nice and fluffy before proceeding. Slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla. Now turn your mixer to low. Beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half of the water or buttermilk and all the food coloring-I just dripped in the color until I was satisfied with how it looked. Then beat in another third of the flour mixture and the second half of the water. You may need to scrape down the bowl some. Beat in the last third of the flour. Beat it good. Divide it between the pans and bake 25-35 minutes. You may want to rotate the pans in the oven midway to so they cook evenly. You know your cake is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Well there may be a crumb or two, you just don’t want it coated in batter. Start testing early because you really don’t want to over bake this.
For the frosting:
Beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar carefully. No sugar blizzards please. Beat in the irish cream until you have a nice consistency.
Once the cake is cooled, ya frost. Yeah cake.

Yet MORE Pie

4 Aug

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I can’t stop. I just keep posting pie. I am on a crust quest. Both for the perfect basic crust and the perfect frito crust.

It is very important to have ambitions.

Some of my acting goals are getting met at the moment-I start on a web series this week (playing a heroin addict!) and a short I wrote and am acting in is getting produced. So I feel as the metaphorical dessert for my acting repast, I can give pie a sliver of brain space.

They say it is important to not make grand sweeping goals without the accompanying actions you must take to achieve them. So, “win kcrw pie contest” is not a good goal. “Have intercourse with Trent Reznor” is not a good goal either, but for other reasons.

“Get together with pie fanatics to taste-test new crust recipes” is a good goal. It is achievable and gives a concrete course of action. I did that recently. I now have a new base recipe and a couple ideas of tweaks for the next round of crust. That taste-test get-together was just that: a small get-together. What was NOT small was the last pie event I held with my co-hosts Alice and Joel.

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Indulge me as I regale you with tales of the last pie party. Joel HAS achieved the “win kcrw pie contest” goal. He won for best savory pie. Of course now he wants to win both the savory and crust categories so he can have a shot at the coveted “Best in Show”. He offered to help host, since he has a whole dang house with ample parking. Alice and I gladly took him up on that. So as not to step on my pie glory he contributed an apple tart. Then he decided to make a tortilla español. And to use his grill to make paella too. Alice made a cherry-ginger sangria, and one involving bell peppers that was bloody delicious.

I made another version of my southwest purple potato pie, and the first stab at a dual-crusted upscale frito pie. And then just cause I’m nutty decided I really wanted to make the this recipe I had been ogling for some time.

I was quite scared of how things would pan out for the frito pie. It was really only the second time I have concocted a pie all on my own. This monstrosity has a regular bottom crust, a spicy black bean and mushroom filling, and a top crust with involving Fritos that have been ground up, as well as regular and corn flour and butter. In an ideal world I would have gotten my hands on some huitlacoche but I’ve yet to locate any. If anyone has a source for corn smut, I want to know! So I’m still working on the frito pie. It’s a dang tasty thing though. And a lot of folks cited it as their favorite of the night.

And a lot of folks there were! Our pie parties have grown from tiny, to a group of five learning about crust, to having more teaching plus a matching cocktail, to having two matching cocktails, to having a dark side and a large group, to this July’s MASSIVE pie, paella, and sangria FEAST, with around 30 guests.

It was an epic night. It was a beautiful night. It was a filling night.

When I finally perfect the frito pie I will tell you more about it. Same with the purple potato pie. In the meantime, the cherry streusel one was already perfection, compliments of those wacky people at Bon Appetit.

And in case all this is not enough pie for you, check out what I am proud to say is my most popular Hello Giggles column yet. I am particularly happy because I was writing about Greg‘s amazing Savory Pies cookbook and the potato-crusted macaroni and cheese pie.

But first, dessert!

Cherry Streusel Pie adapted from July 2005 Bon Appetit
Crust: I made a butter rendition, but as I mentioned I am still tweaking it. Here is a very basic, reliable, and (I think) tasty crust recipe I frequently use. You can also read there why I sometimes think a shortening crust is preferred.
Filling:
1 scant cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 14.5 oz. cans sour cherries. Most of the liquid strained.
dash almond extract (my addition)

Streusel:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the rack in the middle. Place a baking sheet lined with foil below this rack, if you fear spills. As you should.

Line your pie pan with your crust and put it in the freezer. Mix the first four filling ingredients. Add cherries and almond extract and stir. Allow to sit ten minutes.

Mix all dry ingredients for the streusel. Add the butter and vanilla and use your fingers to get a nice pebble-like consistence.

Pour the filling into the crust. Top with the streusel. Put it on the middle oven rack and bake about 20 minutes then tent foil over the top to keep the streusel from burning. Bake until the streusel is golden and and the filling bubbly, around 10 more minutes. Cool on a rack.

Chocolate Pecan Tart

24 Jun

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Seeing as the next of my epic pie parties is scheduled for next month and I still haven’t given you the tart recipe from the last one (although I more than repaid you in giving the horchata cocktail, methinks) I thought it was high time to post this.

Acting is getting busy AGAIN! Just look at my star ranking, haha. Super.

Exciting Moment in Improv

Exciting Moment in Improv

Between acting and improv (which as you see from above frequently ends with me splayed out on the floor) and this lil’ column I’ve got my hands full. You should click all those links. Because the other thing keeping me so busy is self-promotion. Haha, again. Sort of. I jest. Or do I? Even I do not know.

So let us discuss the edibles. This pie is like a giant hunk of candy. It looks pretty, it tastes like dark sunshine (the kind with antioxidants) and is much easier than you would surmise. It is one of those things I made on a whim first when I was probably not even a teen yet. If I recall correctly we bought just enough cream to make it. My dad was helping me and the two of us burnt the cream. We had to wait until we could go back to the store the next day and get more cream to finish it.

But it was so blimey good I’ve held on to and repeated the recipe many a time since the Great Cream Incident of Nine-ty Something-or-Another.

Do make this. Don’t be me and get behind on your pie. It’s important.

Chocolate Pecan Tart adapted from Bon Appetit (from their RSVP section so they got it from a restaurant I know not any longer which one though because I wrote it down and tossed the magazine long ago)
2 cups pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, room temp
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
8 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. Semisweet chocolate
Heat oven to 325. In a food processor blend nuts, sugar and cinnamon until finely ground. Add butter and blend until mixed. Press into a 9-inch tart pan with a re moveable bottom or follow my lead and line a 9-inch pan with foil so you can lift out and unmold your tart later. Bake until lightly browned, around 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Chop chocolate. Bring cream and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Stir in chocolate until melted. Pour into tart crust, removing cinnamon stick. Put in fridge to chill. Unmold before serving.