Friday, May 30, 2014

Strawberries & Cream Roll Cake

I'm always excited to share recipes but I'm particularly excited about today's just because it's so pretty. It's seriously so pretty and if you disagree, I think you need to have your eyes checked!

I've been wanting to share a roll cake for a while. The reason I haven't? The last time I made one and tried to blog it, I failed horribly. It was a mini disaster. The cake split in half while I was trying to roll it so I just turned it into a rectangular stacked sheet cake and called it a day. I mean, it still tasted fine, but it didn't look anything like a roll cake. But, after working out the kinks, I think I've got a relatively foolproof roll cake recipe and technique. Let's get rollin'! Hooray!
Ingredients [makes two 13" roll cakes]:
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cake flour
+ butter for greasing
+ quarter sheet pan

1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cannellini Beans

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart! Beans, beans, the magical fruit! I am so mature, right? Yeah, I am. There are several studies out there regarding beans and their gas-causing ways. There are a few factors that matter: the type of bean, the preparation, and the amount of fiber your body is used to consuming. Beans contain lots of fiber and resistant starches that take a bit more effort for your body to break down and digest, which ends up causing gas. If you're used to a fiber-rich diet (which honestly, you should be, it's good for you) then you won't have much of an issue. Anyway, I'm sure all this fart talk isn't increasing your appetite at all, so let's move on shall we?

Today's recipe was born out of desperation. I was making a Sunday roast (I wrote a bit more about Sunday roasts in my mustard roast chicken post - rhyming poetry!) and I had planned on roasting some potatoes, but guess what? We didn't have any potatoes! Oh no! It seems like I'm being dramatic, but this was our Easter Sunday roast so I wanted it to be special and I really wanted something on the table with that sort of creamy, potato-y feel. So I dug around in the pantry and found a can of white beans and just whipped something together. It turned out quite delicious, if I say so myself, so I'm sharing them with you guys.
15 oz. can of cannellini beans
2 oz. salt pork or 4 slices of bacon
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 baby bell peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
½ cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
splash of heavy cream

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strawberry Lemon Cocktail

Hey y'all! I'm back from France in time to wish you all a Happy Memorial Day! Thanks to all of the former soldiers, current soldiers, and future soldiers and God bless America.

What's more American and appropriate for Memorial Day than sporting a baseball cap, kicking back with an ice cold cocktail, and firing up the B-B-Q? I don't know about you, but that's exactly what I've got going on today.

I've mentioned it before, but I'm not a big drinker anymore. There was a time where I'd pound back an entire bottle of wine by myself on a weekday but I can no longer afford the calories and that much wine in one sitting will give me an awful hangover. But, I do like a libation or two once in a while. I want to try and post more yummy cocktails here so I'm making an effort to hit up the liquor store once in a while. Today's cocktail recipe is crazy simple but it's delicious so I think it's worth a share.
Ingredients [serves 4]
1 bottle of chilled sparkling wine - I used this cheap-o Verdi Spumante which has a low alcohol content and is really mild and sweet
zest of one lemon
3 or 4 lemon slices
handful of strawberries
raw sugar to rim the glasses

Friday, May 23, 2014

What I Ate: Burgers

I think traditionally, Memorial Day weekend is when everyone pulls the covers off of their grills (and pools) and with Memorial Day right around the corner, I thought I'd share an amazing burger I made a little while ago (re: little while = two months). Considering I was grilling well into October last year (thanks to our kitchen renovation madness) I don't think there's a right or wrong time to grill, especially if you're whipping up delicious burgers, so if you happen to read this post in February and you want to fire up the grill, I think you should. Um, so I didn't technically grill these burgers in the great outdoors but I did drag out my heavy cast iron grill pan, which managed to give the patties those telltale delicious charred grill marks. And that's definitely something you can do all year round.

To make this an even more delicious burger meal, I whipped up a batch of homemade burger buns. I tend to think that the beef patty is what really makes a burger crazy delicious but homemade buns can make a big difference. We also had some corn on the cob generously slathered in the poaching butter that was leftover from butter poached lobster, a delicious salad, kettle cooked chips, and samoas for dessert. Summer, I am so ready for you.
I used my basic burger mix for these babies.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Croque Madame

Oh, 'ello, weeders, I em steel en Frahnce, oui! Ooh la la! Are you, 'ow you say, jealous? Well, do not be. Eef you weesh you could also go to Frahnce, I say go. Eet ees very possible. Okay, enough of that dumb accent. Anyway, I shared some tips on how to travel affordably over on my travel blog, if you need some help.

To get you all in the French-y spirit with me, I'm sharing a croque madame today. If you're unfamiliar, a croque monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Chuck an egg on top and it's a croque madame! Trust me, it's egg-cellent, egg-straordinary, egg-stravagant!

By the way, I really need to apologize in advance about the little shmutz that was on my lens when I took the photos below. It wasn't apparent to me at all while I was taking the photos and I only realized it after I uploaded them to my computer to start editing. I'm not positive when it happened but I cooked multiple things on this particular day (and planted my garden), and I think all of the photos are somewhat tainted. My bad!
2 slices of bread (I used a crusty sourdough loaf)
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon flour
½ cup milk
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch nutmeg
pinch black pepper
¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
¼ cup + ¼ cup grated gruyere cheese
2 slices ham
1 large egg
+ butter

Monday, May 19, 2014

Grilled Corn on the Cob

It's officially grilling season at our house... and it has been for about a month now. Ever since the weather warmed up enough to wear flip flops (re: when it got to 50F), the grill has been getting its exercise. Personally, I think that one of the best things to grill is corn. It's easy and super delicious and it screams, "SUMMER!" which makes me happy. Plus, it's so pretty.

Once corn season arrives, my supermarket offers it two ways: either in bulk, right in the husk like it was freshly plucked off the stalk, or trimmed and peeled in a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic wrap. Too often, I see people grabbing the trimmed package and I just shake my head in disappointment. Sure, the trimmed package is easy because you don't have to deal with the annoying hairy silk but the corn husk is such a great "tool" for cooking the corn. When the corn is fresh, the husk still has moisture in it and it helps to steam the corn. It makes the corn super yummy and juicy. Plus, the corn in bulk is cheaper because less labor went into processing it. Another point to husky corn!
I'd say the only downside to eating corn on the cob is that it gets caught in your teeth. My sister and I always quote a bit from 30 Rock where Liz Lemon has corn in her teeth.
"What's in your teeth?"
But hey, that's a price I'm willing to pay for a bit of good food.

corn in the husk
+ butter
+ salt & pepper

Flavoring ideas:
+ lime juice & chili powder
+ cayenne pepper
+ old bay seasoning
+ crumbled cheese - queso fresco, blue cheese, feta
+ barbecue sauce
+ sour cream & chives
+ honey
+ fresh cilantro & jalapeño
+ garlic & parmesan
+ rendered bacon fat and crispy bacon bits
+ smoked salt
+ pancetta and basil

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cheesy Garlic Bread

I'm headed to France tonight, y'all! Whoo! And what better way to celebrate my departure from America than a cheese laden bread, am I right? Jokes! Melted cheese-covered carbs is a v. American thing and it's a nice way to remember my country of birth while I'm abroad.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite ways to make garlic bread. I use a garlic infused butter which imparts a lovely garlicky fragrance without being overpowering. This isn't the type of garlic bread that will leave your breath stonky stinky stanky. I swear, even vampires could enjoy this without bursting into flames (or whatever happens when vamps eat garlic).
1 loaf of bread (Italian, ciabatta, baguette, sourdough loaf, boule)
¼ cup butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup grated melting cheese (mozzarella, havarti, gruyere, cheddar, gouda, jack, colby, muenster, fontina)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Strawberry Basil Ice Cream

When I first started food blogging, my main motivation was to share recipes that I often made at home so that my sister, who was away at college, could make them for herself without having to constantly call me. It's a lot more difficult to explain things on the phone. Blogging seemed like the perfect solution and it was; she made my rice & beans recipe all the time while she was at school. But because I was mostly sharing things I already knew how to make, I assumed that blogging would only last me a year or two at most and then I'd run out of things to share.

Fortunately, food blogging has taught me a lot more about food than I expected to learn and I've become a person who enjoys experimenting and I have a lot of fun making up my own recipes. I'm sure you've seen it a lot here; usually I'll start a post with something along the lines of, "I didn't know what to make so I just threw some stuff together and this is what happened!" Ooh, but let me just say that not all of these experiments are success stories; it's just that I only share the good ones here.

Today's recipe is a successful experiment. I was feeling a little bored and got that itch where I felt like I should be doing something with my hands instead of sitting like a blob on the couch. I went into the kitchen and snooped around. My sis and I had just gone grocery shopping in the morning and there was a pound of strawberries sitting in the refrigerator and they were calling out to me. I considered eating them but I knew that wouldn't sate my boredom. I realized we had a carton of heavy cream in the fridge too so I knew ice cream was the logical choice. I got all of the ingredients I thought I'd need and while I was digging through the crisper drawer to see if we had any lemons, I found a bunch of basil that was on its last legs. Since basil and strawberry are a lovely match - ever have a strawberry basil mojito? - I knew I had to use that basil up. Speaking of strawberry mojitos, I should probably share one of those here, right?
Ingredients [yields 2 to 3 pints]:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
¾ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint strawberries
bunch of basil (3 or 4 "stalks" or ½ cup leaves)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*You could substitute the heavy cream and whole milk with 3 cups of half & half or use all milk or all cream if you want to change the fat content in either direction.

If you're looking for a good ol' classic strawberry ice cream you can omit the basil. I'm sure basil's feelings won't be hurt and neither will mine.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Garden Update 1

I'm v. happy today for two reasons. One: I'm flying home (I'm hopping on a plane in just a few minutes) and two: once I get home, I get to pack up to head to France on holiday. Whoo! Actually, I'm happy for three reasons. My sister took some photos of our garden for me last weekend so I could blog.

I haven't been home in a few weeks but from what I've seen on my weather app, there's been a chill and plenty of rain passing through my town. Our tomato plant's looking a little wilted but the peas have sprouted, which is awesome, and the other plants seem to be doing all right. The poblano peppers we planted haven't popped up yet - I'm wondering if I did a bad job planting them - but I've got hope.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Homemade Samoas

Want to know one of the biggest regrets of my life? I was a girl scout from third through sixth grade and my parents would let me buy one box for myself each year and I would buy... ahem... Trefoils. If you're unfamiliar with Girl Scout Cookies, Trefoils are the most boring cookie that they sell. It's just a simple shortbread cookie and there's hardly anything special about it. I still can't believe I'd waste my single cookie box allowance on those dumb shortbread cookies. It's embarrassing.

I blame that huge mistake on the fact that I didn't have much a sweet tooth as a kid. My mom wasn't big on giving us sugar or salt so the chocolate-covered cookies weren't super enticing to me. Fast forward several years: my sweet tooth is still on the smaller side (despite how it might seem, considering I'm constantly posting desserts on this blog) but I have a greater appreciation for chocolate and caramel and coconut and butterscotch and artificial fruit flavoring and rainbow sprinkles.

Once I started making money a few years ago, I started buying cookies for myself (independent woman, yeah!) but even now, I'll only buy one box a year; it's just habit, I suppose. And, every time I buy my one box, I'll gobble them up and then I'll think, why didn't I buy more than one box? And by that time, the girls have finished selling cookies so I'm just left wanting. This year I thought, well, why can't I just make the cookies myself?
Ingredients [yields 2 dozen cookies]:
butter cookies
1 stick room temperature butter
¼ cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cream or milk

2 dozen butter cookies (recipe above)
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
4 oz. chocolate
⅔ cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

Friday, May 9, 2014

What I Ate: Jjajang Bahp

Jjajang sauce over sticky rice, another result of a "don't feel much like cooking" kind of evening. I took a look in the fridge to find a pack of porkchops. There were onions and potatoes in the pantry and we hadn't had Korean food in a few days so jjajang bahp came to mind. Super quick and easy one pot meal? Cooking regained some of its appeal and I set to chopping, sauteeing, and simmering.

By the way, those of you unfamiliar with jjajang, it's a fermented black bean sauce which Koreans "borrowed" from the Chinese and altered slightly to make it fit Korean cuisine style and palates a little better. For those of you who have tried Korean barbecue and soon tofu and are looking for another classic Korean dish to try, look for a jjajangmyun (black bean sauce over noodles) restaurant. If it turns out that you're not a fan, most jjajangmyun places also serve standard Chinese takeout-style dishes too so at least you won't leave hungry.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hummus & Pita Chips

Do you say "huh-muss" or do you say "hoo-moos?" I feel like the latter is the pretentious way to say it, unless you're Middle Eastern but what do I know? I know that I love homemade hummus. Store bought hummus is good but some brands have this strange vinegar-y taste that I'm not too fond of. When I make it, I can avoid that weird sharp acidity and I can control the amount of salt, which is important to me, as I have low salt tolerance and my body will bloat up a bunch if I'm not careful with my salt intake. Hummus is meant to be a healthy snack and making it at home will up that health factor. Chickpeas have lots of fiber, protein, zinc, magnesium, and they're good for those with high cholesterol.

I'm also sharing some homemade pita chips (that were made with homemade flatbread pita). They're super crunchy, toasty, and delicious. Pita chips can't boast the same health benefits as chickpeas but they're yummy so we forgive them.

Both the hummus and the pita can be flavored however you want, which is great too. You can make the chips and spread match; for example, the hummus can be flavored with some roasted garlic and the chips can be sprinkled with garlic powder. Is that too matchy? I don't know.
15 oz. can of chickpeas
¼ cup tahini (homemade is great)
juice of 1 lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cumin
+ water
+ roasted peppers
+ sun dried tomatoes
+ roasted garlic
+ olives
+ basil or pesto
+ Sriracha
+ caramelized onion

pita chips
pita (preferably flatbread and homemade, if you got it)
olive oil
salt & pepper
+ cayenne pepper
+ paprika
+ cumin
+ dried herbs
+ garlic powder

Let's start with the hummus!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Homemade Tahini

Can you tell that I've been making an effort to make and share healthier things on the blog lately? Not really? Yeah, me neither. Well, I've sort of been trying. I have a hummus recipe to share with you tomorrow, which I consider to be pretty healthy. One of the main ingredients of hummus, other than the chickpeas, is tahini. Today, I'm sharing an easy homemade tahini. It's readily available in the grocery store but they always sell it in such huge containers and I really have no use for it other than for hummus and I can only make and eat so much hummus, you know?

I mean, tahini only takes two ingredients, so why not make it yourself?
Ingredients [yields ¼ cup]:
⅓ cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil

Monday, May 5, 2014

Flatbread Pita

Happy Cinco de Mayo, people! Today's post is not at all related to this awesomely raucous, libatious holiday. If I were at home, I'd probably rustle up a bottle of tequila and try my hand at some sort of citrusy cocktail but I'm out in North Dakota and these posts were planned out over a month ago and I can't really change anything right now. My bad; I should have planned a bit better. You live and you learn.

Well, anyway, I never shared a recipe card in my previous pita post so I thought I'd do that today, along with a slew of newer, prettier photos. It's easy enough to buy pita pockets but I have a hard time finding a really yummy flatbread pita in my grocery store so I prefer to make it myself. It's yummier and fluffier and store bought flatbread pita tends to be rather dry and kind of crumbly.

These pitas aren't just delicious for Greek-themed fillings; they're also an awesome alternative to a tortilla wrap. You can also use them as a substitute for pizza crust. Or you can turn them into chips (which is something I'll be sharing in an upcoming post).
Ingredients [yields 4 big pitas]:
2 cups bread flour (more gluten = chewier)
¾ cup warm water (up to 110F)
1¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
1½ teaspoon sugar
1½ teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
+ butter

Friday, May 2, 2014

Garden 2014

So the weekend after I got back from DC, which was also the weekend before I headed to ND, we went shopping for this year's garden.

This year, we planted kale, brussels sprouts, jalapeño peppers, cayenne peppers, poblano peppers, black cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, bush pickling cucumbers, lemon thyme, english daisies, grapes, and a bunch of herbs for our indoor greenhouse, which includes sweet basil, thai basil, cilantro, and rosemary. You might have already seen my DIY markers for this year over on my travels blog.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lobster Roll

Aww yeah, baby, da-na, da-na, da-na, rock lobstah! I am so freakin' excited about today's post, man. I am over the moon because lobster rolls are one of my favorite sandwiches. I made this recipe about a month ago but I had so many posts queued up that it's only being shared now. That's okay though. It's the first of May and I feel like it's an appropriate time to share this post. Lobster rolls represent the start of summery weather and warmth so that's kind of perfect, right?

I've had plenty of delicious lobster rolls in the past. I've been to Luke's Lobster and I tried a lobster roll at the Williamsburg Flea from the Red Hook Lobster Pound last year. The lobster rolls of my past have been delicious but the Red Hook Lobster Pound uses mayo and Luke's Lobster doesn't have any veggies in their lobster salad. If you know me and you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I'm not a fan of mayo but I am a huge fan of veggies. My lobster roll recipe contains no mayo but it's still creamy and it's got some good crunch from some veggies and it's crazy delicious and awesome; at least I think so.
butter poached lobster
1¼ to 1½ lb. lobster
1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks

lobster roll [yields 2 sandwiches]
1 butter poached lobster
+ 2 tablespoons poaching butter
2 buns (I used my homemade buns - I shared them yesterday)
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ cup diced celery
2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced tarragon or torn tarragon leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Let me start by explaining how to butter poach a lobster. I've shared the directions for butter poached lobster before but these are prettier photos. If you're a vegan or a vegetarian or squeamish about shellfish or the process of cooking lobster, you have two choices. Click out of this blog post or scroll down quickly to skip the "gruesome" bit.
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