So, big life news here: I’m about to move down to Chicago in… a little bit over two weeks. so I’m mostly going to be focused on cooking down my fridge, and sticking to mainstay recipes rather than doing new stuff. So, this blog might go dark for a little bit while I move.

That doesn’t mean I can’t dig out an old recipe that I somehow forgot to post (derp). This was a recipe I submitted a few montsh ago to a grilled cheese contest, never heard back, so I’m gonna write this up and hope for the best for the future. Because, I’m gonna be real – this is one of the most amazing grilled cheeses I’ve had, ever.

Red Black and Blue Grilled Cheese
Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients

  • sourdough bread, two slices (I used a sliced loaf of Stella’s sourdough bread, fantastic)
  • deli rare roast beef (I used about 2 slices, do to your taste)
  • small handful of strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • sprinkle of sugar
  • blue cheese (I used several slices off of a chunk of Hook’s Blue Paradise, crumbles or slices work fine here, do to your taste)
  • butter

First, preheat your oven to 375, take your sliced strawberries, put them in a small ramekin, sprinkle with sugar, and then roast the strawberries for about 8 minutes, until they’re soft. Remove from the oven, and let them cool a bit. 

Meanwhile, take your sourdough slices, and layer between them, in order: your deli rare roast beef on bottom, your blue cheese in the middle, and the roasted strawberries and their juices on top (so that it looks similar to the photo up there). 

Take a small pan, and melt a small pat of butter over medium heat, while buttering the outsides of the sourdough slices. Once the butter is melted, add the sandwich, and grill for about five minutes on each side, until the bread is a nice golden brown and the blue cheese melts. 

And then, enjoy the gloriousness of this grilled cheese. You could also probably add a drizzle of balsamic to make it even more amazing. 

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Creme brulee.  One of the classic desserts to make, and always fun to see if you can make at home. This was my first try ever doing so, and honestly, I’d say these turned out really damn good. Creme brulee is awesome by itself, but add in a good swig of Kahlua, and it only gets even better. 

Don’t have a kitchen torch? Don’t trust your broiler to properly caramelize the crust? No problem!  Use the spoon method (which I will detail below!)

White Russian Creme Brulee
Makes 4 ramekins (mine were larger so it was 3)

Ingredients

  • 1.25 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 c whole milk
  • 1 t vanilla extract (or vanilla pod if you have it on hand)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • .25 c sugar
  • 1 T Kahlua (I used a bit more than this)

Preheat your oven to 325. Take your whipping cream, milk, and vanilla, and heat in a pan over medium low heat, whisking constantly. When the milk starts to steam and bubble, remove it from heat and cover it, letting it cool. 

Using an electric mixer, beat together your egg yolks and sugar until they’re well blended and light in color.  Slowly add the cooled scalded cream into the mixture, followed by the Kahlua. Once it’s well blended, strain it through a strainer. 

Fill your ramekins with the mixture, and put them in a cake pan. Boil a pot of water, and add it to the pan, so that it comes up to halfway up the dishes. Bake for 25 minutes – you’ll know when the custards are set by shaking them – if they jiggle, they’re done.  Place them in the refrigerator for a minimum of a day. 

Once you’re ready to serve them, bring them out of the fridge and bring to room temperature (usually takes about 20 minutes). Sprinkle 1-2 t of sugar on top.  Don’t have a torch?  This is where your stove comes in. Take a metal spoon, turn a flame on your gas stove to high, and heat the spoon over the flame for about 1 to 2 minutes. (Not pictured is the pot holder I had wrapped around the spoon so I didn’t burn myself.)  Take your heated spoon, and press down on the sugar for about 30 seconds so that you hear a sizzle, and maybe see a bit of smoke. 

And then behold, your awesome boozy creme brulee!

So, this? This right here? This may be one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. The bacon lattice on this means that the bacon grease cooks and drips down into the spiced baking apples, resulting in what is pretty much the perfect storm of savory and sweet. Like, if I was trying to get someone into bed, this is the pie I would make.  

I made this in my awesome friends’ kitchen in return for them putting me up for the better part of last week.  My friend had this to say about the pie: “I want to marry this pie and have its baby. I’d let you eat the baby.”  I’d say it went over pretty well.  😛

Brief note: I ended up wetting down the brown sugar spice mixture when I probably should’ve nuked the brown sugar, which led to a soggier crust than it should’ve. Good to know for the future.

Bacon Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
  • ¾ c packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • .5 t nutmeg
  • .5 t ground cardamom
  • .25 t ground cloves
  • 1.5 to 2 lbs peeled and cored apples, sliced thick
  • 8 to 12 slices thick-cut bacon (definitely go with farmer’s market bacon if you can)

Preheat your oven to 350, and set your unbaked pie shell on a flat, sturdy baking sheet and set aside.

In a bowl, rub together the brown sugar and spices with your fingers until properly blended.  Add the apples to the mix and toss to coat. Dump the bowl’s contents (all apple slices, any juices, and loose spiced sugar) into the pie shell. 

Lay the unsliced bacon on the top of the spiced apples, starting at the center, going vertically, and then weaving the horizontal ones in an over/under pattern to get a lovely lattice work going. Should be between four to six slices both horizontally and vertically.  Once they’ve been woven, trim the edges and pinch crust over the ends to seal the pie. 

Cover the pie with aluminum foil and bake for an hour in the middle of the oven on the baking sheet. After an hour, take the foil off and continue baking for fifteen additional minutes, until the bacon is similar to the final pic. 

And then, enjoy the sexy sexy pie. 

venneh:

justaweekendchef:

So, I went to the farmers market this morning, not in the least because my garden has been abjectly failing because of the heat – only the garlic, basil, ginger, and mint are holding on, and just barely at that.  And lo, one of the stalls a) took cards, and b) had strawberries at a pretty reasonable price – $4.50/qt.

So, entirely reasonably, I got three quarts of strawberries.

So, you must be wondering what the hell I’m going to be doing with that much strawberries, and how the hell they’re going to stay good long enough for me to be able to do anything with them.

Well, you’re gonna be seeing a hell of a lot of strawberry recipes in the near future, that much is for sure.  Including further down in this post.

But how they’ll stay good enough for me to be able to do anything with them for about a week ago is a little trick I learned last year.

What you do is combine one part apple cider, or white, vinegar, to 4 parts or so water.  In my case, what I did was fill up most of a storage container with water, and then top it off with apple cider and white vinegar (see the first pic).  The wash keeps the berries in the fridge for at LEAST a week, if not more.  I ran it on my tomatoes (cherry and full sized) that I picked up today, too, cause I want to see if it’ll work on them, too.  Odds are high it will.

And today began my strawberry odyssey – with strawberry infused vodka.  Which, in my experience, can only end in the best of ways.

Here’s how you make it – take two cups of strawberries, hulled and halved.  Put them in a quart jar (or in two smaller jars, whatever works best, just so long as it seals).  Pour two and a half cups vodka over them.   Put in a dark place to infuse.

And then check on them in a week, and drink.  😉

So, now you have your strawberry vodka.  Surely you’re wondering what to do with it next.  Well, here’s your answer:

Strawberry vodka lemonade with mint.

Doubt me? Here’s a testimonial from a friend about the awesomeness of this drink.  She’s not kidding about how deadly this is, though; me and some friends went through my first jar of vodka with this recipe in a night and we all had killer hangovers the next morning.

How do you make it? Muddle the mint at the bottom of the glass, pour about a third to a half of whatever cup you’re putting this in with the strawberry vodka, then fill it up with your lemonade.

Basically, the moment this recipe went up on Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try these ASAP.  Made these right before tonight’s episode of Hannibal, and snacked a bit on them throughout; fast tracking these was definitely an excellent decision.  

I got to use the herbs at the least fresh from the garden (which’ll get its own post on here eventually), so the amounts used were changed slightly there.  I also didn’t have the patience to zest a lemon, so lemon juice was used instead. Otherwise, this recipe was followed pretty closely to the original.

Lamb Meatballs with Feta, Olives, and Lemon
Lasts 5 to 6 meals, depending on # of meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1.25 c panko
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 T water
  • .5 c crumbled feta cheese
  • .75 t salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • appx 4 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil

Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 glugs red wine (I used part of the large bottle of Yellowtail Sweet Red Roo I had in the fridge)
  • 28 oz crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 T fresh oregano, torn
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 c kalamata olives, pitted, drained, and chopped
  • 1 T fresh peppermint, torn
  • lemon juice
  • feta cheese crumbles (I used what I had leftover in the cup after using the rest)

Take all of your meatball ingredients and combine them using a fork in a large bowl, until you have one big coherent ball of meat.  Once the Allmeat is combined, break off small chunks and roll until you have the size of meatballs you want (I went with about medium sized). While you start to make the balls, heat up your olive oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add the balls once rolled ot the pan, and roll them around with a chopstick in the hot oil to brown completely.  This may take more than one batch of browning.  Once the balls are browned (lol), remove them to a small dish.

Take the remaining fat and add your garlic and onion from the sauce ingredients, cooking until soft (about five minutes). Then, add your red wine, scrape up anything that might’ve stuck to the pan, and cook it down until it’s almost gone.  Then, add your remaining sauce ingredients (except for the feta and lemon juice) to the pan, and bring to a low simmer.  Once simmering, add the meatballs back in, and simmer for another twenty minutes.

Sprinkle the lemon juice and feta over the meatballs, and then nom!

I make these cookies at minimum once a year, for C2E2, or just for me.  The cherry/white chocolate combo is one of the best out there, for real.  And I have mithingthepoint to thank for the original recipe; this is one of my enduring staples in my cookie stable.

A note: these may come out a bit sticky once you’re done blending the maraschino cherries and white chocolate chips into the dough; don’t be afraid to add more flour to get a coherent dough.

Princess Daisies
Makes appx 32 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 c butter (aka 2 sticks)
  • 1 c white sugar
  • .5 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 t vanilla extract (I used closer to 2 t)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • pinch of salt and cinnamon
  • 2.75 c flour
  • 10 oz jar maraschino cherries, drained
  • 1 package white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 (my oven was at 325, you know how it goes). Cream together your butter and sugar with an electric mixer, and then add your eggs, and vanilla extract.  Follow this with your baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, and finally, your flour, slowly adding it to the dough.  Drain your jar of cherries, and fold them in – as you do so, they will be chopped up.  Then, add your package of white chocolate chips.  If the dough is still sticky at this point, add a half cup of flour at a time, seeing where it leaves you after adding it.

Roll the dough into small balls, and place on the baking sheet. Put into the oven for about fifteen minutes, until the balls have expanded similar to the final pic (forgot to take a dough ball picture, whoops). Let cool for five minutes, and then remove to a wire rack for further cooling

These were made on something of a last minute whim, as the students at my new workplace are having a brunch-ish thing for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and I wanted to have something interesting but still breakfastish to provide. And thus, these, which have been sitting in my to-make queue for a while, seemed like the perfect choice.  

They’re pretty time consuming (I’ve been working on these since about 6:30 this evening), but absolutely worth it (I nommed the last picture down pretty quickly after taking it). A few pointers – I mixed some existing vanilla sugar I had with some normal sugar for this, and even if you don’t have vanilla sugar made up, straight up normal sugar will be great. And if you don’t have a pastry bag/tip, no worries – all you need to do is take a ziploc bag, cut off one corner, and just squeeze the bag.

Chocolate Cream Filled Vanilla Sugar Donuts
Makes appx 14 or so donuts

Ingredients

Donuts

  • 2 T water
  • 1 package active dry yeast 
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 c milk
  • .25 c (.5 stick) butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 T sugar
  • .5 t cinnamon
  • 1.5 t salt

Vanilla Sugar

  • 1 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • pinch salt
  • (alternatively, if you have some on hand, mix however much you have with white sugar to make about a cup)

Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • .25 c white sugar
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 3 oz bitterwsweet chocolate, chopped small
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • at least enough vegetable oil to fill your pot two inches deep

To make your donut dough, mix your water and yeast together and let sit five minutes, until foamy.  Then, add all remaining ingredients and mix them together (either using a stand mixer or a wooden spoon and your hands) until you have a ball of sticky, soft, coherent dough. Cover the bowl with a towel, and let that dough sit for about two hours, until it’s doubled in size (see the below inserted picture, and the second picture for an approximate size difference). 

While your dough rises, make your chocolate pastry cream.  Mix your yolks, sugar, corn starch, cocoa powder, and salt together in a pot, until you get a thick mixture.  Then, slowly whisk your milk in, and turn the heat to medium high, stirring constantly so that the eggs and yolk don’t cook.  Right before the mixture starts to boil, it’ll rapidly thicken (see pic 2, row 3); when it gets to that point, remove it from the heat, and stir in your chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract.  Whisk until smooth, and once you have a smooth, thick cream, put it in a bag (pastry, ziploc, whatever works best for you), and chill for two hours.  

While everything is chilling and rising, if you haven’t made your vanilla sugar, do that by combining all ingredients (sugar, salt, vanilla bean scrapings) in a small bowl, or mixing your premade vanilla sugar with the white sugar. Whichever works best for you.

After your donut dough is done rising, sprinkle a work surface with flour, and roll out till about a foot wide and a half-inch thick.  Use whatever sort of cutter you usually use (I honestly just used my glasses) to cut out round shapes from the dough, and line them up on a baking sheet of some sort.  Cover the circles again with a towel, and let them puff up a bit for another half hour (see pic 4). 

Meanwhile, pour about two to two and a half inches of vegetable oil in a pot, and heat to medium high.  Do this about ten minutes before your half hour is up.  That way, you can throw your dough right into the oil, and fry for about two minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Use a spatula or slotted spoon to flip the donuts in the oil, and then remove to where your bowl of vanilla sugar is waiting.  Flip the donuts a few times in the sugar, until coated, and then remove to some waiting paper towels to dry.  Repeat this until you run out of dough.

Once completed, either take the stem end of a spoon and dig a hole into your donut, or, if you’re me, give up and slice the donut open.  Then, take your pastry cream, and squeeze until you think there’s enough cream; if you sliced it open, its gonna look like a sandwich.  

Don’t worry if it’s not that pretty!  It’s fucking delicious, and that’s all that matters!