Just wanted to let everyone know that I have been MIA because I recently lost my sweet Mother. Things will never be the same without her. She was the most precious person I have ever known. She also dug my weird sense of humor and encouraged me to be who I am. Rest in Peace sweetest lady, your memory will live on through my cooking and writing. I will always love you. Hugs, your baby girl.
P.S. I’m sorry about the time I killed the goldfish with peroxide. Also the time I told you there was a raccoon on the back porch only so I could jump out and scare the crap out of you. And the time…
Ugggggg………… What a week. I don’t even know where to begin. I can say that if I am not an alcoholic by now, I never will be. Thank goodness for that. If you’ve read any of my other posts you’ve probably figured out that I am not the most graceful person in the world. Honestly, I wonder how I have made it this far in life sometimes.
I have a knack for starting 1,348,734 projects at once. I like to think of myself as having this amazing Super Womanesque ability to multi-task. Sadly, I do not and sometimes the wake up call comes in the most unusual and painful way. Let me start with my trip to the DMV. I needed to change some information on my driver’s license. Nothing major, had all the necessary documents, wore a cute outfit, showed some cleavage, got my hair did. The woman I dealt with was the spawn of Satan. It took forever and for whatever reason she wasn’t convinced I was, in fact, who I said I was. WTF? Ummm, match up the signatures or something dip shit.
Anyway, she had to get her supervisor involved and by the time I got to the point of getting my new photo taken it looked something like this:
Let’s move on. Quickly…
I love to make homemade marshmallows. They are surprisingly easy to make and quite delicious. Not to mention it’s shockingly ridiculous how impressed people are. “Whuut? OMG! You made these? Shut up!!!” my friend exclaimed as she kept punching me in the arm. I really wanted to stab her, but being she’s pregnant and all I decided that not telling her she had broccoli in her teeth would have to suffice.
I made the first batch, gave them a taste. Well, spank my ass and call me Charlie. I forgot to add in the salt. One. Quarter. Teaspoon. I went in to a full-bore temper tantrum. Yep. Going straight to hell for that censor worthy spewing. After calming down a wee bit I walked to the back door, yelled “Gardyloo!!” and tossed the pan right out. I started another batch only to realize I did not have enough light corn syrup to make them. As you can probably figure, by this point in my day, I was color blinding livid. I grabbed my keys and wallet and headed to the store. I was wearing a pair of sweats that were a little loose fitting and as I exited my car I gave them a not so gentle tug up and power walked right in to the store. I grabbed the bottle of syrup off the shelf and stormed to the check out line.
There were a few people ahead of me so I stood there, squirming around only to realize I had given myself the ultimate wedgie. I looked around, preparing to yank the pants from my nether portal, but the chatty lady behind me struck up a conversation. All I could do is shake my head. I was in agony. I noticed she was wearing scrubs and I considered asking her if she knew a doctor that could perform a sphincterotomy but I refrained. It was taking way too long and the elderly man in front of me was trying to use a credit card for his purchase. He entered his pin number, but the clerk said his card was declined. He entered it again, then again, then again. By this point the junk in my trunk had migrated to my esophagus. The taste of nylon/spandex blend lingered on my tongue. I asked the clerk how much the gentleman’s order was. $7.45 she replied and I handed her a $20. I think he assumed his card finally went through as he took his receipt and shuffled out the door. I paid for my syrup and slowly walked to my car, moaning and humming Swing Low Sweet Chariot the whole way. Once inside, well, I’ll just leave that up to your imagination. I headed home and started another batch of marshmallows.
I use a recipe from Alton Brown and I have made this at least a hundred times. I’ve made coconut, blueberry, chocolate, lemon, lime, vanilla bean, Meyer lemon, peach, cherry, but my all time favorite is orange. They remind me of those creamsicle push-up things, you know, like my bra but way better. Wait.
I pretty much follow the recipe with the exception of the pan size. I use a 8″x8″ square pan that gets sprayed with non-stick spray followed by a dusting of equal parts powdered sugar and corn starch. I make up a batch of that in a quart jar so it’s ready whenever I want to make marshmallows. Or when I want to scare the neighbor’s kid, I put it all over my face and jump out in front of her while she’s PEAKING IN MY BACK DOOR. Punk.
I just keep dipping my knife in the mixture to keep it from sticking. Then I cut them in to smaller squares. If I am making these for a special occasion I will sometimes cut them in to certain shapes, maybe dip them partially in chocolate and put them on a popsicle stick. I did some for a bridal shower a while back, but I best be keeping that little tidbit to myself.
I also made homemade butter. I use pasteurized, but not homogenized heavy cream I get from a local dairy. I also like to culture my butter as it gives it the most wonderful, creamy taste. I use a mesophilic culture I get from http://www.cheesemaking.com/. I sprinkle the culture over the cream, cover with a paper towel and let it sit out overnight, then in to the fridge for 24 hours. Then I put the mixture in to the Kitchen Aid and whip it past whipped cream and the butter forms. Save that buttermilk!
It keeps longer if you culture it. It also keeps longer if you wash it. By that I mean massage it tenderly in cool water, kinda like what I want to do to Harry Conick, Jr. Have I mentioned how much I adore him? I get that I’m probably old enough to be his mother, but hey, get with the times people.
Can I tell you how insane delish homemade butter is in and on my homemade croissants? I also made clarified butter. I never really made this before culinary school, but it was one of the first things I learned to do and it is so easy I could kick myself for not doing it sooner. Slowly warm the butter, do not stir or agitate while it’s melting. Then skim off the solids on the top, then gently, ever so gently ladle the clarified butter in to a container. There will be more solids and water on the bottom.
And finally, I made Liege waffles. They look pretty, but they were like eating old gym socks. Please, do not ask. Here’s a couple of pictures. The first is the sugar I way overpaid for. If anyone has a grand recipe for Liege waffles I would surely like to hear about it. I need a nap. A shot and a beer and a nap. Breakfast of champions.
Unless of course you are channeling Keith Floyd (RIP good sir). I like to cook with a little wine buzz. It’s fun to do on occasion, but sometimes I just do stupid things. In my own defense it must be a hereditary thing. My father would get hammered and start cooking. Oh how we hated it because we HAD to eat whatever he made. He made this stuff he called goulash and if you could imagine what a combination of burnt death and ass might taste like, well there ya go.
I remember it having canned tomatoes, fish guts, potatoes that were peeled, but the peelings were also added. Tons of spices, corn, okra, gawd, I have to stop and go curl up in a fetal position. We sat at the table and we knew if we waited there long enough he’d pass out in the recliner and we could run for the hills. He meant well, sure, but that doesn’t account for the scars left on my memory or taste buds.
I was feeling a little perky the other night (by which I mean I had two glasses of wine already) and decided I would whip up a concoction using up what I had lying around. I buy whole beef tenderloins and I had a small chunk of one left. I also had potatoes, tomatoes, onions, apples, garlic and clarified butter among other things. I started by cooking the steak to medium rare in clarified butter. To that I added in some chunks of apples. I love burnt apples, weird, but good. I took out the meat to rest, chugged another glass of Robert Mondavi Cab and began to feel my girl parts getting all tingly….
I had already decided I wanted potatoes so I cut them up and parboiled them before adding to the concoction. I looked in the fridge and there was about a half cup of Cannellini beans so in they went along with the potatoes and onions. Yea, I was craving massive amounts of starch. Maybe alcohol does that. By the way, am I the only person who gets that “flush” look on my face when drinking? Dang. It has NOTHING to do with the “lady parts problem”. Not. At. All. Gotta love Kitty from That 70′s Show.
I added in the tomatoes and since the pan was getting a little dry I added in this wonderful balsamic vinegar I bought recently and it is Blood Orange Balsamic Vinegar. Yummy stuff. I wonder what the alcohol content is. Hmmmm…. No, wait, I’m really okay. I then sliced up the steak and placed the bloody pieces on top of my new masterpiece. But wait, there’s more. I added some chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, a dash of Hungarian paprika and then…. guess what…. oh gawd, I think I’m gonna have a seizure… I added 7,564,898 pounds of provolone cheese. Yessirreeeee….. then under the broiler to brown up the top of the cheese.
I wish I would have had a couple of mushrooms. That would’ve been really good with this pile ‘O mess. I toasted a piece of really stale bread, now that I think about it I may (I said MAY) have pulled off some mold, but then again I was kinda buzzed so it could have easily been something else like alien poo. It was good. Not throw myself nekkid at Harry Connick, Jr.’s feet good, but more like I would consider letting him cop a feel kinda good.
Big fat thanks to Andie for nominating me for the “Oh So Fabulous Award”. You can find her blog here. She is one funny lady and I look forward to reading her posts. As part of the “Award” I have to post the rules, answer 5 questions that Andie came up with and choose 4 subscribers with less than 1,000 followers, so here goes:
Rules for participating:
- Post the ‘Oh So Fabulous’ graphic on your blog and link back to the person who nominated you.
- Answer the 5 questions given to you by your nominator.
- Pick bloggers with under 1,000 subscribers to nominate for the award.
- Come up with 5 questions for YOUR nominees to answer.
- Go to their blog and notify them of the award nomination.
Here are the 5 questions from Andie:
1. What’s your VISA number? (Hmm, that probably won’t fly…) Ok, what age would you like to repeat and why?
I don’t have a VISA. I only pay cash for everything because I’m afraid Giorgio Tsoukalos will steal my identity and my soul. As far as the age thing, I want to go back to the womb. Hangin’ out in a hot tub 24/7 and always being fed without actually having to go to the trouble of eating which means you don’t have to floss. Can life be any better than that?
2. If you had twin turtles, what would you name them?
Baba Ganoush and Ohhhh Henry.
3. What did you have for lunch yesterday?
4. ‘Eh?’ or ‘Huh’?
5. What would you like to say to your grade 12 English teacher now?
‘Sup milkbone? Hangin’ on the down low. Still ain’t kilt no mockingbirds. Peace out bitches.
As per the rules, I have to nominate bloggers with less than 1,000 subscribers. I’ve scouted around and so far managed to find three but will add the final one later:
Here are the questions for the winners I chose:
1. What was the last crazy dream you had?
2. If you had only $20 in your pocket what would you buy?
3. What is the one food you find most disgusting?
4. What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
5. If you could go back to school to learn one more thing what would it be?
There are two things that are certain for anyone who grew up in the deep South in the 70′s: Comfort food and hell. I ate comfort food every day of my life and never once thought about it being “comforting” it was just good food. While I don’t eat everything deep fried, I do like to indulge in those things that will surely go straight to my thighs. Unfortunately my ham hocks would eventually start rubbing together and a full blown forest fire would soon engulf everything this side of the Mason Dixon. Another thing about being a bona fide redneck country girl was if you did anything bad, I mean ANYTHING you were told you were going straight to hell. If I had a dime for every time I had amazing “comfort food” and a penny for every time I was ensured my plummet in to the underworld was inevitable, I’d be richer than a pig’s got squeals. I want to share with you some of my own “comfort food” creations as well as a bizarre tale of my youthful shenanigans in the deep South.
Smoked chicken salad on a bed of mixed greens with spicy mango salsa on top of a bacon weave, fresh fruit filled with sweetened cream cheese and a homemade croissant.
My slow decent in to Hades started when I was in the first grade. My teacher was old and scary. Her name was Ms. English and she had a wrinkled face with bright red lips that were always pursed in a way that made one think the woman hadn’t taken a good crap in 25 years.
I’m left handed so when I was given that brand new, freshly sharpened no. 2 pencil I was determined to learn how to properly write my name, and maybe even some day write in cursive like my older sisters. That was brought to an abrupt halt as a wooden ruler slapped my tiny little hand. That old hag smacked me! The sound of that ruler popping my sweet young flesh scared me more than it hurt. I was shocked and gazed up at her squinty eyes, my own full of fear. She told me only the devil’s children wrote with their left hand.
Southern fried chicken.
I couldn’t help myself, it just felt natural to hold that pencil in my left hand. Unfortunately, that one pop of the ruler was obviously not enough to convince me that I was the offspring of the Prince of Darkness. It took at least 10 good licks with that ruler to break me. It’s a sad shame too because I do everything left handed except write. My handwriting is hideous and barely legible. Stupid old bag. So if any teacher out there forces a lefty to write with their right hand I shall fart in your general direction.
Ravioli stuffed with Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese and spinach served in a red sauce.
I was beginning to wonder if I had inherited some demonic spirit by proxy. In fact I had an aunt that everyone thought was possessed by demons and I must say she was my favorite aunt. She used to hide in the shrubbery at her own house just so she could see who was pulling in the drive. I tried that once and got eaten up by fire ants. She was a little crazy, but a fun person to hang out with. She told me a witch had put a spell on her when she was younger and that was good enough for me. She let me drink a beer when I was 7 and I weighed all of 30 lbs. so I was hammered. My mom nearly killed her and I was no longer allowed at her house without adult supervision. The woman could make a mean chocolate and banana cake though, possessed or otherwise.
Six layer banana cake with fudge frosting.
There was another time I was certain I would be bunking with Beelzebub and it all started with an innocent fishing trip. When I was a kid we went fishing a lot. My parents would go out in the aluminum boat while me and my sisters fished off the dock. We used worms as bait and by the end of the day all the worm guts and fish blood and probably a booger or two were nothing short of malodorous. We would wash our hands in the pond water but that had fish dookie in it and somehow that grossed me out more than the worm guts and boogers.
Sunday morning breakfast bowl with fried eggs, potatoes fried in duck fat, spicy breakfast sausage, grits, cheese, green onions, buttermilk biscuit and gravy.
We went in the pickup truck because that was the only vehicle with a trailer hitch. That meant all the kids had to ride in the back of the truck. We loved that part actually. We always stopped at Abraham’s Gas Station. This place was reminiscent of the old 1950′s gas station with the rubber hose that when you drive over it does a double ding so old man Abraham would wake up from his perpetual nap. As a kid it seemed to me old Abraham was at least 800 years old. Dad would go inside and get us each a Pepsi and a bag of Lance salted peanuts. How heavenly it was to pour your peanuts in to the Pepsi bottle. Salty, sweet goodness. While he was gone I would always go to the women’s bathroom and wash my hands and then use a quarter from my allowance to get the most awesome smelling pack of towelettes from one of those wall vending machines. Sadly, there was a big “out of order” sign on the women’s restroom so I decided to go in to the men’s. Oh joyous day! They did indeed have one of the wall vending machines! I got my package and ran back to the truck. After we pulled out I was eager to rid myself of the pond poo stench. Odd, I thought, this doesn’t look like a moist towelette. It looks like a balloon with a weird looking smaller balloon on the tip of it. It was black and kinda slimy. Odd looking balloon that’s for sure.
Deviled duck egg with faux caviar.
My sister’s jaw dropped and once she regained her composure she told me I was in big trouble and I was definitely going straight to hell. Great, just what I wanted to hear. I’m going to hell with dookie pond hands. She informed me that what I had was for adults only and that she was going to tell Daddy on me and he would spank me good. I begged her not to tell and if she didn’t I would do the dishes every time it was her turn for a whole month. She agreed and I threw the black slimy balloon out the back of the truck. I’m still not sure if my soul was granted an annulment from a nose dive in to the eternal flames for that fiasco.
Thick crust pizza cooked over apple wood topped with triple cheese, sausage and asparagus tips.
I was told I was going straight to hell by my best friend in the sixth grade because I accepted two “I love you, do you love me yes or no?” notes from two different boys and checked “yes” on both of them. Evidently it is frowned upon to be a playa in middle school. That same year we were playing spin the bottle and I got to kiss David Sanders. With eyes wide open we locked lips and OH DEAR HOLY MOTHER he stuck his tongue in my mouth. That’s a one way ticket to purgatory my friends. EVERYBODY knew that. Not looking good people.
Chocolate pecan pie with homemade butter pecan ice cream.
As an adult I’ve been told to “go to hell” but as far as I’m concerned that statement comes with the option of actually going there or not. So, it’s still up in the air where my very soul will spend eternity. I guess it’s a good thing I enjoy cooking over an open fire. Just in case.
Well we all have heard of the Cronut by now and I actually want to try and make them soon, but I thought I’d jump on the portmanteau pastry bus and come up with my own creation. I didn’t start out as wanting to do this, but sometimes I get a little crazy in the kitchen. Sometimes it works and sometimes I end up throwing everything out and hosing down the kitchen. What started out as a basic egg bread turned in to much more. Soooo much more. I’m still pinching myself that this actually worked. The first time. I did write all the ingredients and techniques down (this time), but before I share the recipe I want to try it at least once more to make sure it is correct. There’s a lot of ingredients and these are not cheap, nor easy to make, but WORTH IT!!!
As I was working on my egg bread dough I thought, “Hey, let’s make brioche.” And then I thought, “Hey, let’s make cinnamon buns.” So my innocent recipe for egg bread dough for buns turned in to a cross between a croissant, brioche and a cinnamon roll. Wow.
I started with eggs and egg yolks, flour, yeast, water and sugar. Then I decided to add a cup of sourdough. But wait, it gets even more ridiculous. What about adding in some malt flour along with the bread flour. Hmmm…. I love cardamom and orange blossom water, okay then, in ya go, but just a touch. Then if you’re gonna make brioche you need to add in butter. A lot of butter. 8 oz. to be exact. Once everything was added in the dough had the consistency of a true brioche. Sticky and a little gooey. I put it in a bowl and in to the fridge over night to ferment and let that yummy sourdough do it’s thing.
I took it out this a.m. still not exactly sure what else I wanted to do, I could have left it alone and had a pretty amazing cinnamon bun dough, but NOOOOOOO sometimes I just can’t leave well enough alone so what then? More butter. Another cup of butter. Then I got the crazy notion that why not incorporate that butter like I had seen on a copycat Cronut video. They were saying you couldn’t add the butter in a block like you do normal croissant dough because it was being fried and the butter would ooze out. So they cut the cold butter in to small pieces and worked it in to the dough. I didn’t get a picture of that, but here it is just after taking it out of the fridge.
So I got the butter all worked in, now what? I guess if I want it to be like croissants then I had to roll it out and do a turn. Then another. Then in the fridge. Then another turn. Finally, I got it rolled out and added brown sugar and cinnamon. I decided not to cover it in butter as there was already a lb. of butter in the dough and I really didn’t know what to expect.
I rolled it pretty thin, because I wanted lots of layers. I have this pan that I use to make full sized hamburger buns and it worked perfectly for these puppies. I baked them in a 350F oven for about 23 minutes.
Can you see all those layers?
I knew I didn’t want a cream cheese frosting or something overly sweet, but I wanted something different. I had a bag of walnuts so I decided to toast them until fragrant then I made a simple brown sugar glaze and added the nuts in to coat. I finished them off with a nice pinch of fleur de sel.
I thought the buns would need a little more than just the nuts so I decided to get a little crazy(ier). I love the flavor of browned butter so I took some butter and got it really brown and nutty then added in dark brown sugar I also had to had in some water. Once I got that to 236F I took it off the heat and added in some vanilla AND a splash of dark rum. OMG!!!!! Here they are. In all their splendor. I am in love with these puppies!
I have been on a pork kick lately. Pork belly, pork skins, pulled pork on the smoker, pork ribs, porchetta, bacon. Oh glorious bacon. I want to hug you and squeeze you and call you George. A while back I was searching around for something different, something that would take my pork adventures to a whole new level, something that would make me run through a field of wildflowers in slow motion. Then I found it. I found him. Chef Stephane, a French fellow that has an awesome website with even more awesome recipes.
I’ve made his pork belly buns a couple of times and all I can say is I’m thankful no one, NO ONE can watch me while I eat them. I am single for a reason. I purchased three whole bellies recently and the first thing I did was make more chicharrones.
Then I made Chef Stephane’s pork belly buns. Then I wept uncontrollably and called out his name. Say my name! Say my name! Wow. Not sure where that came from. Anybody got a cigarette? His recipe can be found here.
This is a three day process my friends. So in my own defense, any time I have to wait three whole days to eat something as wonderful as pork belly buns, well, let’s just say I tend to let my imagination run a leeeetle bit wild. I opened the fridge a few dozen times and knelt to eye level with the brining chunks of pork love that would soon be in my belly, whispered sweet nothings, licking my lips like a mama lioness feverishly licks her cubs. Once the belly is cubed up and put in the aromatic brine for 48 hours, the pacing begins.
The dough is made the next day and there’s a special ingredient. One that I just so happen to have on hand. Lard. Mmhmm. That magical stuff that crispy pie crusts, authentic Cuban bread and coronary heart disease are made of.
After the dough comes out of the fridge it rests while I gently, ever so fondly stroke my fingers across the smooth, taunt surface. Closing my eyes and being swept away in to a…..Huh, oh wait. Sorry. Sorry for my inability to control my urges and most likely scaring your children and small pets.
I weigh each piece out because I weigh everything. Except myself of course. That would be politically incorrect as far as I can tell. As I was saying, I weigh each piece out to 40 grams, then taking my itty bitty rolling pin, I roll each piece quite thin, then cut them out with a 3.5 inch cutter, then brush a little oil on and fold it over like so.
I do my belly a little different than the Chef. I cook it following his directions and refrigerate over night, but instead of slices I do a pulled pork using the hoisin sauce. I’m partial to pulled pork of any kind. I’ll be working on some of that this weekend. Just you wait and see.
The buns have rested yet AGAIN, jeezus man, these are some pampered buns. Wish I could say that. Time for the steam bath. I set my bamboo steamer in my wok with a small amount of water. Here’s a couple of tips for you if you decide to make these. Let them steam for the proper amount of time and DO NOT open the steamer 8,459 times. They will not rise properly and will have these weird looking water spots. The other tip is keep your parchment paper small, like the size of the bun and no bigger.
And here you have it. Heaven on a bun. I like to garnish with cucumbers, radishes, green onions and cilantro. I’m thinking next time a little mango might work well with this mix, maybe jalapeno too. Oh yea baby!!! Woot woot!