Saturday, May 23, 2009

Frisée aux Lardons

Classic. Beautiful. Bacon.

Bacon fat rendered from crisp fried bits is whisked into a warm vinaigrette and drizzled over a salad of mixed greens, served with a poached egg. Classic bistro fare.

Frisée aux Lardons
Adapted from Nancy Silverton (via Dishing up Delights)

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon bacon fat
1 head frisée (I used a bag of mixed salad greens)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Over medium-low heat, cook bacon until crispy. Drain fat, reserving one teaspoon, and add olive oil, shallots and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes.

Whisk in Dijon and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about one minute and stir bacon back in. Set aside.

In a separate saucepan, set water to just below boiling. Crack an egg into a dish, give the water a strong stir and slip the egg into the water. Cook 3-5 minutes, lift egg out with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel. Repeat for the second egg.

Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine. Serve with poached egg on top.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwich (4/15)

What happens when you throw some super primo vanilla bean ice cream in between two warm chocolate chip cookies baked from frozen supermarket dough with a little leftover strawberry filling?

This. This happens.

That is all.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

ice cream


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Disneyland. April Fool's! (4/1)

Lauren and I went to Disneyland on April Fool's Day for the last time before our passes expired on April 2nd. It had been a while since we'd gone, so we parked, walked excitedly over to the tram (during which we witnessed the kid-punching incident) and were just about to enter the park when I remembered--

Crap. My camera was in the car.

So good friend that she is, Lauren went with me back to the tram, to the parking lot, up the escalator and over to our car (note: the Disneyland parking structure is one of the biggest in the world with over 10,000 spaces) and retrieved the camera. Now we could enter the park.

Yes! Giant letters! The gold looks much better than that awful cloudy-sky tile that was on there for a while. Here I am.

Here's Lauren.

Tradition dictates that one must stop before walking under the bridge, have one person in the group read this sign aloud in a serious, magical tone, and with linked arms, all must WHOOSH under the bridge in one breath. That's how you enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.

Sorry, vintage Disneyland posters under the bridge! We're too busy WHOOSHing!

Fresh blurry flowers on Main Street.

Please ignore that blob in the foreground. Lauren and I have almost perfected the art of "taking photos of each other" when really we're "capturing the ghastly group in the background." ("Quick! Take a picture of me in front of this pole!" = "Oh my god please get photographic evidence of that person standing right there.") They were worse up close.

(Case in point.) Look! I'd like to know this gentleman a little better. There's more to him than the tie-dyed muscle shirt, green neckerchief and bozo friends than meets the eye.

Ah! The elusive heavy metal hotties again!

Lauren and I went to eat at Cafe Orleans, which has pretty much what the Blue Bayou offers without the ambience. And as much as we enjoy the BB's ambience (we like sitting by the water and waving to the passersby on Pirates) we are still poor college students. (At least until this week. Damn, what's my excuse going to be now??)

We chose a good table for people-watching and proceeded to people-watch the hell out of this child, who couldn't seem to cut into that brick with his pirate sword, as hard as he tried. Have I also mentioned we're creepers?

Lauren and I skipped over to DCA to go on Tower of Terror a couple of times (we can't get enough of that ride. So fun!) and stopped at the letters. We took some shots, but I can't expect to hog the "C" forever. There are more important people around. I'm not disgruntled about it. No, we're all very gruntled here.

Lauren is just too cool for school.

This is what she looks like when punched in the face. Yeah, I did that. She giggles when you punch her, I invite anyone to test that.

This is me putting up with Lauren's crap.

This is Lauren putting up with my crap.

And for putting up with my crap, this is Robert, pianist extraordinaire!

That is all.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Chocolate Cake (3/24)

I've mentioned before that I get hit by baking cravings. That means I'll just be sitting around minding my own business when a chocolate cake might come up from behind and punch me. It's pretty awesome. I decided on a whim to make this cake with no clear idea of how it was going to get et, and in the middle of the ordeal I get a call from my mom telling me it's my uncle's birthday that night and we're all coming over for dinner. I love my life!


This recipe uses Ina Garten's famous chocolate cake. The cake is soft, rich and oh so chocolatey, with two thick layers sandwiching an oozy strawberry filling. I omitted the coffee in the cake recipe because hey, I'm just not that into coffee flavor in baked goods. Instead I used hot water, which serves the purpose just fine. The idea from the filling came from Katie of Chaos in the Kitchen, which was itself adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen. The frosting is a basic chocolate ganache, which was good, but I recommend using a softer, sweeter frosting.

Start by combining dry ingredients (sift the cocoa powder; I use Dutch-processed Valrhona and that stuff gets clumpy).

Give a quick whir.

I never have buttermilk on hand and use this awesome buttermilk powder whenever a recipe calls for it. Just whisk 1/4 cup of powder with 1 cup of water...

Et voilà!

Add remaining wet ingredients (except water) and give them a stir.

Slowly add wet ingredients to dry. When incorporated stir in hot water until just combined, then divide batter evenly into cake pans and bake at 350F for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring strawberries, sugar and cornstarch to a boil until thickened and allow to cool completely.

For the ganache, heat cream in a saucepan to boiling and pour over chopped bittersweet chocolate. Stir continuously until thick.

Following Joy the Baker's frosting tips, place 1 layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting, creating a dam around the edges to try to hold in your runny filling. (She makes it look a lot easier.)

Put way too much filling on the cake and watch a lot of it spill over.

Frost the second layer and carefully place upside-down on first layer, creating a frosting sandwich with the filling.

Use remaining ganache to frost top and sides of the cake, ignoring the mess, and insist that your family eat it.

Moral of the story: If the urge to make a cake hits you, accept it. Embrace it. Eat it. Or, You Never Know When it Might Be Your Uncle's Birthday.


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot water, almost boiling

1 bag frozen strawberries, partially thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch

100 grams heavy cream
125 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the water and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

While the cake is baking, make filling. Give the thawed strawberries a rough chop. In a saucepan, bring strawberries, sugar and cornstarch to a boil, stirring constantly, until thick. Cool completely before spreading over cake layer.

Make ganache by heating cream in a saucepan until boiling. Pour over chocolate and keep stirring until thick and spreadable.

When ready to assemble, prepare first cake layer by spreading about 2/3 cup ganache on top, creating a raised dam around the edge to hold in the filling. Spoon filling onto first layer. Frost second layer thinly, just to protect it from the filling, and place upside-down over first layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Cut a fatty slice and enjoy.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Homemade Oreos (3/12)


Ashley came home in March with her friend Chris from Boston to show him a rip-roarin' southern California time for spring break. This visit happened to coincide with a "homemade versions of your favorite childhood treats" kick I was on, and I asked her whether she preferred Oreos or Nutter Butters. She chose Nutter Butters, but I am withholding and petty. Or she said Oreos and I graciously demurred, I can't remember.


These cookies come out somewhere between crispy and chewy. Like a crisp chewy Oreo. To ensure evenly-sized cookies I rolled the dough into 0.4 ounce balls, but they turned out to be around 3 inches in diameter. I'd make them even smaller if you want them to be more authentic. They taste great--somehow missing that hydrogenated oily crunch from real Oreos, but a whimsical crowd pleaser, and the filling's pretty spot on.

Homemade Oreos
from Retro Desserts by Wayne Brachman via Smitten Kitchen

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375F.
2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly
mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While
pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue
processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment
paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With
moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes,
rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
4. To make the filling, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl,
and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the
mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and
5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round
tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie.
Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream.
Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the
cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been
sandwiched with cream.


-I don't have a food processor. When recipes call for cutting in butter, like pie crust, I just use two knives and cut the butter into the flour mixture just like I would cut a steak: the two tips pointed toward each other, moving back and forth, until the dough is crumbly.
-I hate piping bags. For this recipe I rolled the filling, which is relatively stiff, into little balls and sandwiched them between two cookies, being sure to apply pressure evenly as the cookies may crack.


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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ina Garten's Herbed Baked Eggs (3/3)


Of the many ways I prepare eggs, this is my sister's favorite. They are baked in a little melted butter and sprinkled with cheese, garlic and fresh herbs. I mean, really?? Thanks, Ina!

Herbed-Baked Eggs
adapted from Ina Garten via Dishing Up Delights

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan
4 large eggs
1/4 cup tomatoes, diced
1/2 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside.

Place 2 ramekins on a baking sheet. Pour cream and a small pat of butter in each dish and place in the oven for about 3 minutes. Quickly, but carefully, crack the eggs into the ramekins and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. Be careful, the melted butter can seem liked uncooked white. Don't be fooled! The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot.

(By the way, I've made this recipe so many times now that my method is to throw a pat of butter and splash of heavy cream in the ramekins to melt in the oven, then add 2 eggs to each and sprinkle with pinches of cheese, garlic, herbs and tomatoes. Throw back in and bake 15 minutes. Seriously delicious.)

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Baby Aviators and Matt Kollar & The Angry Mob at Clancy's (5/3)


I dragged Lauren with me to see our friends play at a local pub on Sunday. Oh hey, it turns out I do have a life!

The 250th Anniversary Guinness is delicious: slightly bitter, full-bodied and lip-smackingly creamy. Slainte!

Fil made Lauren Head Merch Associate. The heads are in the box.

Baby Aviators. Left to right: Ty, Fil, Dave, and Collin behind on drums, who all drove out from Phoenix. Sounds like my idea of a good time.

It was also Dave's 25th birthday that night. Dave likes to tongue Yan Yans.

The delightful Ryan Booth, documentarian.

Followed by Matt Kollar and the Angry Mob, a band based in Huntington Beach.

Here is Matt Kollar.

Part of The Angry Mob.

Uh-oh. He's standing up. This is serious business.

Oh snap! Out comes the jumpsuit!!
IMG_1195 (by Lauren)

Thanks to Jeremy the bouncer and our server Janel for contributing to a great time at Clancy's. Diamonds Under Fire came on after the Mob and also killed it.

The night was all kinds of fun.

Case in point: here's Matt Kollar & The Angry Mob, brought to you with a little gyration, some musical slides and one piggyback ride.

Now get out. Oh, I'm sorry, that was rude. Please get out.
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Monday, May 4, 2009

Artisan Bread in 5 (2/3)


I know the authors recommend waiting for the bread to come to room temp before serving or slicing, in order to enjoy the full flavor from the loaf. Unfortunately, I have no idea what this tastes like at anything below 10-minutes-out-of-the-oven, because the irresistible crackle and warm, chewy crumb forces me to risk burning my fingers in order to get that in my mouth, stat. Did that make sense? Who cares! The bread is ridiculously easy and is a nice gateway into working with different yeasted doughs.

Master Recipe
from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for the pizza peel

Mix all ingredients with a spoon in a food-safe bucket. Let it rise, covered (but not airtight) at room temperature for 2 to 5 hours. At this point, use or refrigerate the dough for up to two weeks, baking as needed.

When ready to bake, cut off a one-pound hunk, flour well and form into a ball, leaving to rest on a peel or parchment for about 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450F with baking stone on the bottom and an empty baking sheet on an upper rack.

Slash the top of the dough several times and quickly slide onto stone, pouring 1 cup of water into the preheated sheet and shutting the door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes until the crust is a deep brown, then remove and leave to cool on a rack. Somehow this bread never gets past the "tear into chunks and dip in balsamic vinegar/olive oil or eat with cheese" phase. Beats me.


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