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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.

Blue Marg- serve w chips and salsa

5 May

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

More facts:

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

Fact: Margaritas should be served neat.

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

AND FINALLY

Fact: Margaritas are best when blue.

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

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

Croque Ellen

29 Aug

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I really should remake this on another (cooler) day and post a better picture.

Problem was the yolk broke when I cracked the egg so I didn’t get that nice egg shot with the yolk standing up looking all pert and sassy. It still looks pretty sexy though, flowing out into the chasm created when I sliced into the sandwich. And dipped in salsa, who cares what it looks like? Tastes perfect.

It is my birthday, and being as such I giving myself the present of naming a sandwich I invented myself after myself.

I’m so generous.

I actually woke up one morning thinking of this sandwich. THAT was a new one. I wasn’t even hungry.

I was just coming to, rolling about in my bed as I do and thinking about the Croque Madame I made, and how it would use up at least one of my eggs before they went bad. But I was also thinking spicy. And thus was born this southwest-ish version. Call the tex-mex Croque. Call it the Croque Ellen.

And now, my dears, I will not even attempt to amuse you anymore as I must scurry off to Lock and Key and have toast to me. Bourbon time.

This is not so much a recipe as a recommended assemblage.
The Croque Ellen
2 pieces of bread
About an ounce of cheese
Salsa
Cilantro
Baby spinach
Egg
Toast yer bread. Layer salsa, cilantro, spinach and cheese as you see fit. If you don’t care for bread that is te least bit soggy be careful with the salsa, or maybe wait and just add on the side later. Cut a circle out of top slice but leave it in place for now. Put some cheese on top. Put it in the oven broiler for about two seconds to melt. Take the circle out and crack an egg in there. Broil until done. Or be like me and realize everything else is going to burn before the egg is done as I’d like. Put in microwave to finish cooking. Yea. So good.

Get naked

18 Jul

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And be a hot tamale.

A naked one.

These poor tamales lost their britches.

And by britches I mean corn husks.

Don’t we all?

But deep down we all know what matters is on the inside of our britches.

Meow!

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My insides are full of spicy things, y’all.

Actually, I am going to be vulnerable and emotionally naked here for a minute. 2013 has been marvelously exciting and full of progress, but all that advancement did not seem to be leading anywhere. For all my auditions on the lot that got my hopes up came the realization that I didn’t get those jobs. For all baller improv shows with my new group, I still have plenty of times I royally flounder and I wonder what the heckums makes me think I should be on stage.

I hadn’t heard from my editors with a restaurant review assignment.

I found out the bionic arm needs surgery against due to a slipped plate. Taking care of that one in a few weeks before my tendon ruptures.
Life, schmife.

Then in one fell swoop I book work I can’t yet tell you about, get another writing assignment, my improv group earns double the stage time we were getting at the Neon Venus…I feel prettyyyyyyyyy!

Though my bionic wrist still hurts like a mofo. You can’t win em’ all.

But you can make love without your britches, which is Ellen-ese for make tamales without husks.

Just do it. Get naked and do it.

Naked Tamales with Chili Cheese Filling
Olive oil spray
1/4 cup chopped onion
Pinch sugar
1 Jarred roasted red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. canned diced green chiles
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. Masa Harina
2 Tbsp. frozen smart balance or butter (I was out of butter so I used balance. “Out of butter” is an affliction I hope to never have again)
1/2-3/4 c. Vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
1 oz. cheese, shredded
Cilantro and salsa, to serve
Spray a skillet with olive oil spray. Cook onion, stirring, on medium heat until it starts to brown, add sugar and cook, stirring, until a bit more browned, then add peppers, chiles, salt and pepper and cook a couple minutes longer, stirring. Take off heat.
Put yer masa in the food processor, turn it on then drizzle in broth, then add smart balance (or butterrrrrrrr!), baking powder and salt and pulse. Add more liquid if needed to get a thick batter.
Spray a couple ramekins with non-sticky spray. Fill a third full with batter, then cheese, then add filling, then add the rest of the batter. Cover ramekins with foil, put in a pan. Fill pan with water halfway up the sides of ramekins. Put it all in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. Depends on your oven. Keep an eye. When masa is pulling away from the ramekin sides it should be decent.
Eat. Be naked. Not at the same time.

Migas especiales con hongos

21 Mar

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Oh yes. Tex-mex. Of all the types of Mex, the Tex is the best.

Of course, the creators of this recipe, the Perez sisters, owners of Austin’s (now closed, I think) Las Manitas, don’t like for their food to be called “Tex-Mex”. Keepin’ it weird for Austin!

I will say this is Tex-Mex in that it is Mexican-ish and created in Texas.

I will attempt to continue the weirdness by making this post ridiculously short for a long-winded dame like me who may be an over-sharer. Enjoy.

This will make way more ranchero sauce than you need. So you’ll be forced to make huevos rancheros the next morning. So sad.

Migas Especiales Con Hongos adapted from Robb Walsh’s The Tex-Mex Cookbook

1 corn tortilla cut in 1/2 inch strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
2 eggs, beaten
1 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup ranchero sauce
Salt n pepa if you like (I do!)
Ranchero Sauce-feel free to jazz this up with your favorite spices, this is a very basic and simple template:
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. diced garlic
2 Tbsp. sliced jarred jalapeño slices
1/2 c. H2O

Start by making your sauce, you’ll need it.
Bring tomatoes and water to a boil over medium high. Add garlic and jalapeño and take off heat. Let cool then purée. I used my most favoritest kitchen appliance ever, the immersion blender.
Spray a small skillet with Pam. or get crazy and use real oil. Fry yer tortilla strips over medium high. Set them aside.
Spray again and sauté shrooms n garlic several minutes until…they seem done. And most of their liquid is gone.
Spray again. Yes, while the shrooms and garlic are still in there. Turn heat to medium. Add eggy-weggs. Cook, stirring. When almost set add cheese and tortilla strips. Cook to melt cheese. Put on a plate and add some if that tasty ranchero. I imagine salsa would be ok if you want to be lazy. Shocking that I did not. I was lured by the concept of huevos rancheros the next day.

Fritoque

17 Oct

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First, some acting stuff. I need to play Patti Smith when “Just Kids” becomes a movie. She said she was thinking of Kristen Stewart but wanted a lesser known person.
That is me.
Please, world, if anyone has access to her, her agent, anyone who has anything to do with the movie this is my personal plea to at least get an audition.

Thanks for bearing with me. Here be the food:

I made Fritoqe.
Because it is fun to say anything that sounds like Frito. It is also fun to eat Fritos. In fact, next time I make this that is what l’ll use.
Dagnabbit. It is 9:30, and I am too tired to go get Fritos.

In case anyone is surmising, the Frito-lay enterprise is not my sugar-daddy.

Although, come to think of it, it would not be a big surprise to find me in bed with Fritos.

Anyway, I liked both the title and simplicity of this recipe, so I gave it a go. Then I added some spices because it was a wee bit too simple the first time around. And as I said, next time it is Fritos instead of regular, workaday corn chips.

Yessiree bob.

Frito-lay, if you are out there and would like to be my sugar-daddy, I will seriously consider.

Fritoque barely changed and reduced from the Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh
1/2 c. Black beans, some slightly mushed
5-ish corn chips, crumbled
One slice of reduced fat cheddar
Pickled jalapeño slices
2 Tbsp. salsa
Cumin to your liking
Salt n pepa
Mix the beans, chips, and jalapeños, salsa and cumin, and put in a small oven safe bowl. Put cheese on top. Put in a 350 degree oven until sufficiently melty.
Chow. Add salt and pepper. Freshly grind that shiz-nit please. It makes a difference.

First time

18 Jan

Don’t get yer hopes up. I meant the first time I used the big bowl of my Kitchenaid food processor. Although it is a sexy sexy red and I love it with a passion perhaps I should reserve for future lovers.
How did the consummation of our relationship play out?
Salsa success:

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Clean-up fail:

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Make your own dirty parallels.

Moving on.

Thank goodness I unplugged it before trying to take the bowl off. But I did not realize I should not try to remove the blade first. So much salsa spilled out the center hole. It did! Oh things going in holes. I’m going to get off this train while I’m ahead.
I never make salsa normally. You’d think I did. I eat it like crazy. With a spoon. Daily.
Sorry if that’s gross to you.
But I hate peeling tomatoes and Vons makes a terrific hot salsa.
Then I came across this recipe which called for using canned tomatoes(which I think are usually tastier than the fresh tomatoes you find at the store anyway) and decided I should give it a go.

I loooved it. With three o’s loved. The main change I made was using shallots instead of onions. I hate having onion breath. I have designs on making lots of variations now. I’m thinking a slug of Bufalo Chipotle sauce , maybe.

The more you do it, the better it gets. Both salsa making and the other.

Ever eat salsa
With a spoon? Please tell me I’m not alone on this.

From Pioneer Woman to Brown-Eyed Baker to me. Do I now stand With those bloggoddesses???
EasyEasyEasy Salsa(adapted from this here recipe on Brown-Eyed Baker who adapted from Pioneer Woman)
28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
2 10 oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/4 cup chopped shallot, briefly soaked in water then drained
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 jalapeño, quartered then sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Cilantro-tons and tons and then some more for good measure
1/4 tsp. Splenda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 heaping tsp. ground cumin
Put all that goodness in our food processor and pulse til it is as chunky or watery as pleases you.