Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
I'll consider this a Cocktail Monday post, simply because it could double as a Hangover Monday. What better way to heal the wounds of a late night than with a decadent breakfast in bed?
Now that we have set the scene, let's discuss the props. The whole energy behind breakfast in bed is one of spectacle. It's usually reserved for holidays where a luxurious hour of carefully avoiding crumbs under the covers is called for, so here are a few ideas to remember if you're planning on surprising someone with the smell of coffee and muffins.
4. Give the obligatory wake up nudge. If you wake up under a breakfast tray, chances are you'll accidentally knock it over and spill hot tea on your pajamas, so please have the courtesy to wake up the recipient of your breakfast before. Just give them a gentle shake and tell them to brush their teeth because you have a surprise for them. They'll appreciate the gesture and will get to savor the experience bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Sorrel pesto, Jamon Serrano, fresh arugula, and a sunny side up egg all served on a brown butter english muffin sounds like something Sam I Am would be down for. In a box with a fox, or in a house with a mouse, or whatever other situation he's in.
Once again, a favorite breakfast from Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica. I swear, if eggs are involved, it's spectacular there. From here on out they are unofficially the patron saints of eggs (Sorry St. Brigid of Ireland!). I tweaked the recipe a little, using sorrel in the pesto for a bright, citrus flavor, adding brown butter to english muffins, and creating my own vinaigrette. The combination is simple and classic, the makings of a perfect breakfast. My family inhaled these on Sunday morning, and I turned a few into breakfast sandwiches for lunch. Whatever way you decide to enjoy this plate of breakfasty joy, do yourself and family a favor and whip up a batch this weekend. Enjoy!
1-2 large eggs (whatever's your apetite)
4 oz Arugula
4 thin slices jamon serrano
1 english muffin, halved and toasted
For the Pesto
8 oz sorrel leaves, destemmed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup olive oil
For the Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 oz active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons brown butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved. In another saucepan melt the butter over medium heat until it foams up and turns a nutty brown and add it to the milk. Let the mixture cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water and let it foam for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the milk mixture, yeast mixture and flour and salt. Mix until it all forms a rough dough and knead by hand for 3 minutes, until fully combined and smooth. Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until it doubles, for about 1 hour. When its ready, roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rounds about three inches wide. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal also. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1/2 hour.
Heat a griddle or large pan over medium-low heat. Drizzle with oil and cook the muffins for about 10 minutes on each side. To use, split, toast, and enjoy!
Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Fig Honey Butter
These should be called fall vegetable muffins, but the flavor is like a cross between carrot cake and pumpkin pie, so I feel that Spiced Pumpkin grabs the sense of these delicious little muffins better. The fig honey butter is the perfect earthy compliment to these moist, delicately textured treats. A word to the wise, just pulse the carrots and butternut squash in a food processor rather than grating them. It might not look grated, but it has the same effect in the cake and is a hell of a lot easier then sitting there and grating all of it yourself. Enjoy!
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups olive oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shelled pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup of finely grated carrots
1 cup grated butternut squash
1 cup of canned, pureed pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside. With a mixer, beat the eggs until frothy and pale. Gradually add the sugar and beat for a few minutes, until the batter is thick. Add the oil in a steady stream and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and pumpkin alternatively and beat on low just until incorporated. Add the veg, pecans, and coconut and mix just to combine. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.
5 ripe figs, halved
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch sage
8 oz butter, softened
3 tablespoons honey
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a casserole dish scatter the herbs on the bottom. Place the figs on top of the herbs, face side up. Drizzle the whole thing with a little olive oil and pop in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the figs a plump and juicy. Let the figs cool and add them, the butter, and honey to a food processor and pulse until combined. To store, roll in wax paper, secure the ends, and refrigerate. Smear it on everything and anything.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
As I sit on my stoop, shaking my cane at young whippersnappers and pigeons, embittered by how easy they have it today (pigeons especially), my mind drifts to a pithy thought:
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint”
Hesiod, 8th century BC
You see, my brother is a sophomore in high school, and thus taking one of my all time favorite classes: AP European History. That's where it all started for me, my nerdiness. And like Samson's locks, my nerdiness gives me my strength, perceived or real. So when I find out my brother is A) not as taken with the Hapsburg Empire as I was (Oh Franz Joseph, will you never learn?!) and B) he gets to rewrite papers at the end of each quarter for a new grade, you could imagine my distress. Not over the Hapsburgs as much as this paper situation. Grace??? Mercy??? Who ARE these teachers? Second chances didn't exist for Napoleon, so why should they exist for sophomores? Wait...bad choice of comparison.
For the past week I've been helping my brother edit his papers for this quarterly grace period, and it has been difficult. Henry is a wonderful writer, so editing hasn't been the problem. It's the idea that he gets a second shot at something I had to have perfect and ready the first time. It's how the generation before "copy and paste" must've felt. It's how my dad probably feels when he sees me hit the delete key. "Ugh, I had to use charcoal from the hearth and write by candlelight! Imagine trying to delete that!" I think he used to grumble. But while Henry was working on his papers, I was working on my baking, and this idea of resubmitting for a new grade seemed surprisingly appropriate.
The thing is, I've never been in love with my chocolate chip cookie recipe. They're efficient and delicious, but not the earth shaking cookie monster craze inducing discs of joy I want. So, I've tinkered a bit, and have a new, improved recipe. These cookies are exactly what I want in a cookie. Indulgent, rich, buttery, perfect ratio of chewy to crunchy, and most important, chocolatey.
I've made a decision to cut my brother and myself a little slack and slouch off this curmudgeony attitude. Sorry Hesiod, but there's nothing wrong with a little innovation and progression, especially if it leads to reflection and growth. So, for a second grade, I've revisited the classic Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here's hoping I've raised my B+ to and A+!
For 2 - 3 dozen cookies
8 oz butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup dry oats (not the quick cooking kind)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, or semi sweet chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor pulse the oats until very fine. In a mixer, cream the butter with the sugars on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla extract until pale. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, adding the oats, and beat into the butter mixture at low speed until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and continue beating until mixed. Drop medium sized balls (1-2 oz) of cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Allow to cool for a minute or two (if you can!) and enjoy.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Have I become that girl? Not Marlo Thomas, the other "that girl." The pretentious obnoxious homemade everything, first at the farmer's market, gossiping about what restaurant just closed down, learning every manager and produce merchant's first name chick? Minus the pretentious/obnoxious threat, I would be kind of ok with that. My sister isn't, but if I keep feeding her I think I'll turn her around. The mistake she makes about me is in her assumption that I'm anything other than a lazy cook. I'm curious too, but hunger and laziness eclipse zealotry rather quickly. If there's a faster, easier, more efficient way of doing something, I'm there. And if it tastes better too, great! This ricotta is the perfect example of this: five minutes of active work, and in thirty you'll have fresh, creamy cheese twice as delicious as what you can get at the supermarket. So go ahead and indulge in laziness where you can. If applied properly you'll get the credit of being "that girl" without hardly lifting a finger. Enjoy!
For 8 oz of Ricotta
Sunday, October 11, 2009
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 stalks fresh lemon grass, the tip and base trimmed and the rest cut into 1 inch pieces
3 one inch chunks fresh ginger
6 fresh kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 lb shrimp shelled and de-veined
1 tablespoon roasted garlic chili paste (nam prik pao)
1 cup fried chicken mushrooms, or shitake mushrooms, sliced (if using fried chicken mushrooms, make sure to clean them thoroughly, as they're very sandy)
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Bring the broth and water to boil over high heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the lemon grass, ginger, kaffir lime leaf, fish sauce, mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chili paste and shrimp, boiling for another 7 minutes until the shrimp are cooked through. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk. Taste to adjust the seasoning, adding fish sauce or chili paste to taste. If it's a little too spicy, add the coconut milk to soften it. Garnish with cilantro, basil, and fresh chiles for extra spice. Enjoy!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
These don't taste like fried chicken. I already asked. So no mushroom and waffle combinations any time soon, unfortunately. "Then why are they called fried chicken mushrooms?" you ask. "I have no idea" was the farmer's response. He then went on the speculate that perhaps these mushrooms, which can be found in "back-woodsy" areas, were given their name by hillbillies who ate a lot of fried chicken. Right.