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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.

Pie parties, horchata cocktails, and what the hell am I doing?

8 Apr

Goth-chata

Goth-chata

Firstly, I devised the horchata cocktail. Me. Moi. Then literally a few weeks after I came up with it the recipe I’m going to share, a new trendy restaurant called Gracias Madre opened and everyone is talking about their horchata cocktail. But mine is better. And…goth-er. Which is to say I made my own horchata OUT OF BLACK RICE.

I devised the horchata cocktail for a pie party. Details to follow the following brain hemorrhage:

In between planning amazing pie parties like the one I shall regale you with tales of, I am pretty busy as an actor. I’ve been having a boatload of improv shows every
week, but in between all the performing I see the rest of the world, the people with real jobs wondering what the heck I do all day. And when asked on the spot I stammer and can’t quite remember it all because it’s a lot and so I come off as…I dunno. A not-busy person. God forbid. So I’m gonna tell you today’s activities (which now was a week ago). First off, I open up my laptop and email like a madwoman. Then I check the breakdowns to submit myself for roles that if I’m lucky I get called in to audition for. After fielding my email the breakdowns are my first stop. I go back to email and breakdowns a dozen times a day. Then I had an audition. This one was not too far, and it was in the golden hour when traffic is less horrible, so it didn’t take long. But between traffic and depending on how behind the casting office is running, an audition will bite several hours out of your day. Not counting all the prep time for it. After my audition I worked on scripts for another couple of upcoming auditions. What’s my motivation? No, really. What is it? Then I researched agents (I’m trying to find a new one) and wrote the perfect cover letter to send to one particular agent. This took a while. More work on scripts. What are my obstacles? Then I worked on the column I write for Hello Giggles. Then I updated my website with info on upcoming shows I’m doing and who my manager is because it just changed. Then I got in touch with a headshot photographer because I need new shots. Next I need to put the finishing touches on a pilot script I want to enter in a contest. And then I get to have late night coffee or who-am-I-kidding wine with a friend I want to collaborate with on a project. Because in LA your friends and the people you work are often one and the same. Which is both good and bad. Many evenings I’d be headed off to a class or a workshop or a practice or to do a show (after which there may or may not be wine) but tonight I get to skip to the wine.
And that, folks, is how I have “no job”.

And of course, there are the pie parties.

The last one was “Dark Side of the Pie” and took place right after Valentine’s Day as a palate cleanser. I made horchata with black rice, and designed a cocktail using it. I made a dark chocolate tart (recipe to come at a later date). Because I am still trying to perfect a southwest potato pie I made that but used purple potatoes to add some darkness. Guests were instructed to try to where black and red. Not all my friends came through on the attire, but many did bring red wines with delightfully goth labels.

It was pretty swell. Really, I am not sure where I’d be without my friends. Either slightly crazier or saner?

This cocktail had two variations for the party, but my friend Joel brought me a bottle of cinnamon liqueur that I later plan to use to create a third variation. Cinnamon liqueur was probably invented for the purpose of boozifying horchata.

Cocktails from the Dark Side: Amaretto and Chocolate
For horchata (adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe here)
2/3 cups black rice, ground in the blender
3 cups warm water
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups almond milk (chocolate almond milk for the Kahlua version)
Soak the rice and cinnamon in water for a minimum of eight hours in the fridge. Remove cinnamon. Stick an immersion blender in there and blend more. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth twice. Add sugar and milk. Refrigerate.
For cocktail:
1 oz. black rice horchata
1 oz. rum (light or spiced, take your pick)
3/4 oz. amaretto (or 1/2 oz. Kahlua if you made the horchata with chocolate almond milk)
a few dashes of chocolate chili bitters
cinnamon to garnish
Shake all except the cinnamon up. Strain over one giant cube. Garnish with cinnamon. Sigh in delight. Then sigh with great melodramatic tones. Nowwwwwww you’re doing goth right.

Snicker at me. Please.

7 Mar

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I made these cookies for my improv group who wigged out on how much they liked them. These are hefty cookies, and thank god I kept a few at home because the group ate them up. One group member stated that they are like a cookie form of cinnamon toast crunch. I say that is true, but they are even better. Although now I want to crumble them into a bowl with milk.

I am going to ply you with more comedy whiz-nit for a minute, but stay tuned for some thoughts on Snickerdoodles, as a thing, below.

My improv team of which I speak and I strive to make people laugh a lot, at least once a week. I am always doing comedy. I can tell you confidently that whether it is a sitcom or Shakespeare, comedy is harder. Than anything. Why did I hate it when people laughed at me as a kid? It’s all I want now.

I intend to inspire a wee bit of laughter and/or tears this weekend:
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I am rather terrified, as my story may be too serious for this crowd? It is sort of sad and funny. Screw it. It’s gonna be great. Come see the show! Even if I suck, the Hello Giggles shows at UCB always rock. Tickets here. Woot!

Now for what I had to say about Snickerdoodles. I noticed in the last year or two lots of people making any old recipe, adding cinnamon and calling it a Snickerdoodle-flavored. Someone even wrote on their blog that the only difference between Snickerdoodles and sugar cookies was the cinnamon. WRONG! SO WRONG! A Snickerdoodle has a very, very specific taste that comes largely from the introduction of an acid, usually in the form of cream of tartar. So there.

I like a good good biting flavor in a cookie. And a good biting wit.

That was lame. Oh, well. Make cookies, come see me and laugh, and all shall be well my pretties.

Snickerdoodles adapted from Baking Illustrated
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. Sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. shortening
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. Sugar mixed with Tbsp. Cinnamon

Heat yer oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking trays with parchment. Parchment is perfection. Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Cream the butter, sugar and shortening at medium speed until well combined. Add the eggy-weggs and beat until mixed in. Add the dry ingredients and beat in at low speed. Take big tablespoons of dough and make 1 1/2 ing balls. Roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Put them quite far apart on the tray. These be big cookies. Bake 8-10 minutes rotating halfway. Cool for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to totally cool.

Everyone Else is Doin’ It

14 Jan

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I might jump off the bridge, I dunno. Particularly if it was a bikini bridge. I’m pretty much repulsed by that whole thing. The fact that it started as a hoax should say something about how dumb it is. Has anyone noticed that the latest body goals of women don’t have anything to do with the body, but rather with the absence of body? The thigh gap. The bikini bridge is the empty space between the swimsuit and your body as the bikini stretches across your sharp pointy hipbones. Gross. Okay, that is enough venting.

I have far too much to do to be jumping off Thinspiration Bridge, and I have enough practice with falling from high high heights. Maybe I’d do the real bridge jump, but I would have a nice bouncy trampoline arranged to catch me. That could be fun. Kidding, Mom. Just kidding. I wouldn’t put my head at risk, never fear.

In this post, we are going to look at chocolate as a metaphor for the trampoline under the bridge. And the jumping part I am partaking of is a green smoothie, which EVERYONE else is blogging up these post-holidays days.

My lack of spare time is actually part of why I make so many friggin’ smoothies. The other part is my deep love of wielding my immersion blender aka my kitchen paramour (I fit him in between the sexy beast and my boyfriend). A male friend of mine saw the base of it sitting out and briefly thought that it attached to something that would help me deeply love myself. I showed him the bladed attachment and assured him I am not that much of a masochist.

According to every other single blog in the entire universe, the green smoothie is what will save you, not kill you. Oh yes, it is “cleansing season” which is ridiculous, if you ask me. In theory it sounds lovely but in reality it is just a bunch of vegetables and juicers and blenders and overly enlightened people. Sorry if you are one of them. It’s ok. Different strokes for different folks. You’ve got your bridge and I have my trellis. This smoothie will neither cleanse you nor do your laundry, but it is tasty and healthy-ish.

All this being said, the fact that everyone was making these things called “Green Monsters” was intriguing. A well-named recipe can really lure a girl in. I do enjoy a good smoothie, so I gave a few recipes a try. After recovering from the various taste-bud wounds inflicted from jumping off overly banana-y tasting bridges, I decided to devise my own protein-filled, smooth, tasty, almost-ice-cream-sort-of smoothie that yah, yah, had some green in it, but in the form of fresh mint, yah? Yah. If you don’t have the fresh mint you can use some peppermint extract but then you only have a green-in-theory Chocolate Monster.

This Green Monster is rather pretty, to be called a monster, what with the fresh mint. But then, in real life monsters are neither green nor monstrous. Nor chocolate-y. Discuss.

Mint Chocolate Monster
1/2 cup cottage cheese
6 Tbsp. Chocolate protein powder (this recipe hinges on good-tasting protein, I use the MRM Veggie Protein)
big, big ol’ handful of fresh mint
handful of spinach if you feel it
1/2 a frozen banana, also optional
1 1/4 cup chocolate almond milk
sweetener of any ilk to taste
pinch of xanthum gum, if you like a super-thick drink
Blend like your life depends on it. You needs must blend this until you think it cannot get smoother and then a minute longer to get the aerated smooth texture. Unless you own a vita-mix in which case you probably just have to pulse it a second and you’ll have hot smoothie soup. If you have a vita-mix, good on ya. I’m jealous.

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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Pâtés for Vegs:

11 Dec

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I thought maybe the elegant butter knife would give my mushroom pâté a bit of class.

Lemme tell you. Pâté is something we should all eat, in some shape or form. Being a vegetarian I feel shame in saying this, but if you ever get your hands on some pâté de foie gras you should gobble that stuff up. Am I going to be arrested for saying that?

I ate it once. I was in a restaurant on Oahu. In my probably-wrong memory it may have had some stars. Or maybe it just had a lot of dollar bill signs beside it in the guidebook. I was twelve. We had planned the family vacation there based on the fact that my papa had a conference to go to at the Waikiki Hilton Hawaiian Village so hey, that was airfare and board for one person. My parents made the mistake of letting me do a great deal of the research on what there was to do. I voraciously devoured travel guides and made lists of what to see and where to go and most importantly…where we should eat.

I do not actually remember that much about the restaurant or the meal besides that pâté and dessert-they gave us a Diamond Head-shaped chocolate filled with chocolate truffles to take home.

We had the pâté on the table as an appetizer and I did not know what it was. I only knew it was some of the most divine stuff ever. Better than butter? Ye gods. Then I asked my mom what it was and promptly lost my desire for it when I found out it was goose liver. Then later that summer I became a vegetarian-which I had wanted to do for years, but it was a matter of being old enough to cook myself something separately from the family so my lifestyle choice wouldn’t be a pain in the butt for my mom.

I never much cared for meat in the first place, and non-leather shoes are cheaper than leather ones, so being a veg has not been hard. And just so you meat-eaters know, I don’t begrudge you your meat. I think different bodies need different things. Mine needs dairy, hence me not being vegan. It’s sort of sad. It used to be that people would be impressed by my veggie life, but now I just get “Oh, but not vegan?”. To which I emphasize that I buy cage free eggs and organic milk products as much as possible, but still…vegetarians have become the sad middle road, I guess.

Let’s get back to the pâté. I am giving you two meat-free options today, one of them even vegan. I am sure they probably don’t compare with foie gras, but they are not really trying to do that-they are impeccable in their own right. Mushrooms and eggs are two of the most perfect edible things on earth, and I stand by my pâté. Actually it is my dreamboat-cooking-crush Mark Bittman’s pâté. I stand by my man.

The egg one is considerably less chic in appearance than the mushroom I’m afraid:

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I think I just started gobbling it before it could be molded. I don’t mind if you do that too. Actually, please do that too. Go forth and gobble.

Mushroom Pâté slightly altered from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Olive oil
1/2 c. chopped shallots
4-5 baby carrots, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 lb. white shrooms’ cleaned and roughly chopped
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 piece of bread, crumbled

Heat a skillet with a dash of oil over high heat. Add shallots, carrot, and celery and cook and stir until shallot is translucent. Sprinkle in some salt and grind in some pepper. Cool another couple minutes. Add tomato paste, then stir and cook about another ten minutes.
Turn off heat and allow to cool. Then put in your lover-that would be your sexy red Kitchen aid food processor you got for a song because it was factory refurbished.
Add crumbs and lemon. Blend until smooth, adding more bread crumbs if too thin or water if thick. It should be sturdy but spreadable. Give it a Tate and add more salt, pepper or lemon if you want.
Put in whatever mold or dish you want and chill. Find a snazzy serving knife.Yum it up.

Egg Salad Pâté adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (one yolk discarded)
3 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayo
1 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 slice bread and butter pickle, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried dill
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix it all up. Mix it good. Put in container shaped how you want it to be shaped. Or just get a fork.

Gratitude

29 Nov

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This week’s picture and recipe both courtesy of my deep need to pimp my latest column for Hello Giggles. You can get the recipe for Death by Chocolate Until You’re Blue-berry in the Face, and my musings on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here. So to kick off this week’s list of giving thanks in honor of Thanksgiving, I’ll say thank you Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer and Sophia Rossi for founding a stellar website and letting me spew silly stuff about books and food on it. And now because I am sitting here biding my time on a bus back from LAX to home, I shall regale you with all that I am thankful for.
1) first and foremost my family. They are the best. Everyone should have such great parents. I really don’t have enough room to tell you how wonderful they are.
2) acting work. In this last year I’ve gotten to work with an awful lot of talented people. I’ve been in a movie on the Chiller Network. I’ve met some great casting directors and finally gotten into some casting offices I’d dreamed of getting a shot at. I finally felt like a part of pilot season. Now to keep it up!
3) improv/comedy: I am on an improv team I LOVE. We get the opportunity to perform every single week (Every Sunday unless there are 5 in a month-then we don’t do the 5th- 7pm! The Neon Venus). I also have a practice group from UCB classes I adore who hopefully will start doing shows soon. And I’ve done some scaryscaryscary stand- up.
4) auditions-still going out all the dang time and have a buddy who is always there to help me prep, and who I help get ready too. It’s good having an acting teammate.
5) writing. Up to episode ten on the episodic I’ve been writing. Blackboard Eats still sends me to some snazzy places, and I got the gig to write for Hello Giggles-so now I can claim that all my reading and cooking is in the name of my work writing The Book Cook.
6) You guys! Thank you for reading this. I’m sending y’all love, love love. Cause love is all you need.
7) friends. Hot dang I have some good ones, near and far. Now is a good time to thank Skype for keeping me closer with the far ones. As for the near ones, hot dang they’ve got my back. And they are into having pie parties. What more does a girl need?
8) baseball. A girl needs baseball. Finally got to a game. Granted I’d be even more grateful if the Cardinals had won the World Series but I’m proud of my hometown team all the same.
9) Patti Smith and Trent Reznor. My two biggest musical idols and I got to see them both.
10) Los Angeles. City I love you.

It hasn’t been ALL amazing, sure. There have been arm surgeries and jobs I didn’t get and traffic jams and foiled plans but all in all, I’m awfully happy.
I’m going to go hug the world now. Lies. I’m going to go home and do work worky work work just as soon as I get there.
Love,
Ellen

Birds! St. Louis! Go go go! And a Mess

24 Oct

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I wished for something red to make for you guys, as I am cheering on my Redbirds in the World Series. I wished for something to use up meringues from the column I was writing for Hello Giggles. I wanted something easily gobble-able whilst on my couch screaming for Beltran.

I am running between the aforementioned Giggles, auditions, my third short film to shoot this month, improv shows, improv practice, a new scene study class, and a new assignment from Blackboard Eats.

This is good. I have no brainpower left.

And I apologize or rattling off my to do lists here. I’ll get back to the food.

I made food representative of my mind-state which is A MESS!

Voila, mofos. The Eton Mess.

This meringue recipe was intended for shells to make pavlovas, but I imagine you could just dollop it out for cookies too.

ps yes, I used reddi-whip. I am pretty sure real whipped cream would make this superlative.

Messy Bird Food adapted from a pavlova recipe by America’s Test Kitchen’s Baking Illustrated
For meringues:
• two egg whites
• 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ tsp. almond extract
• ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
For the rest of dessert:
*whipped cream to your liking
*strawberries, also to your liking
*sugar, if you find it necessary but the meringues and whipped cream will probably do it.
Heat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you have a whisk attachment for your mixer, now’s the time to use it. If you are beating these egg whites by hand, I’m sorry. Your arm is going to be sore when you are done. Beat the egg whites at medium-low speed until they are foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until thick and billow-y like newly lathered shaving cream. Slowly sprinkle in ¼ cup sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat just until incorporated. Turn off mixer. Use whisk to fold in the rest of the sugar. Scoop it out in ¼ cup amounts onto the parchment (you should get six) and use a big spoon to create hollows that you will be putting filling in. I had to do a bit of cheating, spooning extra around the edges to create a basin in the middle. Do what you gotta do. Bake about 1 ½ hours, or until dry and sturdy exteriors. Turn the oven off but leave the shells in for several hours to get dried. If you store these in an airtight container they will keep for about two weeks.
Mash about half the berries. If you think they need sweetening do it now. Some recipes I found for Eton Mess called for layering the elements, others called for folding them all together. I layered. Then I could fold together bite by fluffy bite.

Go Cardinals!

Oh, the Joy…

25 Sep

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…of browned butter chocolate chip cookies.

They are grand. They are the creation of a blogger far more successful than I, Joy the Baker.

I feel like I have been hovering around a lot of success recently. It’s pretty neat. My fwife’s husband Eric Lundgren’s book, The Facades just came out and is getting a lot of attention. Rightfully so, I started reading it and am thrilled to find out that he is an amazing writer. Joel won the pie contest. A friend got a kick-ass new agent and manager. Another friend got a pilot. I’m also enjoying the recently published second cookbook by Greg Henry of Sippity Sup. I know we just met the once, Greg, but can I call you at least a blogger chum?

All these things happening around me.

It makes me happy. I have felt oddly calm recently. I can’t help but feeling like my time will come. Or should I say I will bring it to me?

The thing is, it occurred to me that I do not want to be the person who knows a lot of people. I would like to be A Person To Know. Not so much for my ego but because I love what I do and would like to do it better and more. I want to make my parents proud. And a little for the ego. I’ll be honest.

I feel like I make progress. I chip away, and year by year my auditions get to be of a higher caliber. I finally booked a national commercial this summer. Once in a blue moon I get paid to write. And so on. But I have soooooo much more to accomplish. Sometimes I feel like I have reasons beyond my control for why it takes so long.

It is all well and good to have legit excuses, but that does not change the fact that I am where I am, and I want to be better.

I don’t know why I am rambling like this and where I am going with it.

I should eat a cookie.

By the way, go on and get Joy’s cookbook. She deserves her success.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Joy the Baker’s eponymous cookbook
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. molasses
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
Put 9 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan and heat over medium. It will sizzle and burble as it melts but fret not. Just swirl the pan periodically. Keep a close watch and as soon as it gets a nice caramel color take off the heat and pour into a bowl so it stops cooking. Those little bubbly browned bits on the bottom of the pan are delicious, be sure to scrape them out too. Let cool a bit.
In another bowl cream the other 8 Tbsp. of butter with the white sugar. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Beat in browned butter and brown sugar, then the egg and yolk. In another bowl whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda and then stir into rest, bit by bit. Then add in chocolate chips. Cover with plastic then out in the fridge about 30 or more minutes.
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a cookie sheet (I like to use the leftover butter on the wrapper of the butter I used). Make balls of dough and put on the sheet. You’ll probably need a couple sheets but I recommend baking them one at a time. Cook about 6 minutes, then rotate sheet front to back. Cook about another five, then check regularly until the are nicely browned but still soft. Cool five minutes on the heet before trying to remove them to rack to cool more. Or if hot chocolate is your thing (I only like it cold. Yeah, I know.) dig in.

Thymes Two

1 Aug

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Thank you Suilma, for the beautiful blackberry photography.
We now pause for this week’s disgustingly self-promotional blurb:
My latest Blackboard Eats review, of Locanda Positano, just came out. You can read about it here.
No thrilling acting news beyond auditions and callbacks galore and the usual bi-monthly improv madness-next date for that is August 9th, so, um, yeah…file that away in your noggin’ somewhere secure, because we are going to be doing a bit of drinkin’ this week on the Gruel.

I massive life lists. Things to do. Places to go. Recipes to make. Things to write. I cross-list too. With friends who also have lists. And half the time we laugh that we will be lucky if we accomplish one thing. My friend Alice and I are notoriously making plans: to host pie parties (we do do this!), go hiking (happens sometimes), to visit the Jet Propulsion Lab (not yet), to read books in coffee houses and art museum courtyards (we’ve yet accomplish these Public Displays of Literacy yet), to choreograph to various songs, to see the dinos at the Natural History Museum (not yet), and finally there are a gajillon different speakeasies we’d love to explore.

But most of all, WE WANT TO SEE OWLS.

With prominent ears.

It is a long story.

So when I heard there was an art show featuring owl works in Culver City, Alice and I started plotting. WE SHOULD DO THIS. WE COULD DO THIS.

And then maybe we could hike after art. Then we could visit a wine bar, because we had leftover cash on cards to do tasting at Ugo. Then get grilled cheese at Blind Barber , because who doesn’t want to consume melted cheese near where men are being shaved?

So we made these plans then laughed that maybe we would accomplish two of these things. Well we did beyond.

We saw the owl show. Then happened to walk into another gallery with MORE OWLS?!!! WTF where have these strigiformes been all my life?!!

We then did an “urban hike” meaning powerwalking around Culver for a bit. Then tasted about two ounces of wine at Ugo. Then on the the barber. Lemme tell you. You walk through a brightly lit shop into a magical speakeasy where bartenders will muddle tomatoes-make that “heirloom” tomatoes said my charming mixologist, with rye and such, to please your buds. And the grilled cheese was buttery madness. We split the drink, sammich, and soup.

BUT THEN! We did not stop there because we are not quitters, and we had still consumed less than one drink each, so felt the night could cautiously go on. Alice had never seen Oldfield’s, one of my favorite old-timey craft cocktail places, so we dropped by to split another drink and say hello to the effervescent “BC from DC!” who never fails to charm. Or mix a good drink.

That was a good day. One in which I actually was doing the fun things I claimed I’d make time for. Exploring. With a friend. Life doesn’t get much better.

So now that you are thinking cocktails, and friends, I give you two. Because you are going to get thyme to make one, then wonder what to do with all the thyme you have leftover so you will make the other one too. Two. Two times. The first I made with brilliant Suilma, the second I made alone for dessert another night. Less decent photo, but skulls make it all better:

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But first things first. Blackberries:

Blackberry-Thyme Margaritas adapted from the July 07 issue of Bon Appetit
16 blackberries
Several thyme sprigs
3 Tbsp. sugar dissolved in 1/4 c. H2O
6 Tbsp. tequila (I used Sauza blanco)
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. Cointreau
2 cups of ice cubes
1/4 c. Sparkling wine
Put 14 berries and 2 thyme sprigs in a bowl and muddle. Mix in sugar-water (aka simple syrup), tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, and 1 cup ice. Stir to blend. Strain into another bowl. Mix in sparkly.
Divide ice in two cups and then our mixture over. Garnish with remaining blackberries and thyme. Toast with a friend and watch “Girls” while talking about boys.

Now the raspberries. Dessert.

Raspberry-Campari Float adapted from Bon Appetit July 2013

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Thyme sprig
1/4 cup Campari
1 1/3 cups raspberries
1 pint vanilla ice cream (mine had maple flavoring)
2 12 oz. bottles of club soda
Bring water, sugar and thyme to boil. Take off heat and cover for 15 minutes. Remove thyme. Let cool stir in Campari. Divide between four glasses. Add raspberries and muddle. Add ice cream then pour in club soda, and more Campari to taste.
Eat alone and relish your grand success.