Category Archives: Yumminess

The Horribly Mangled Remains of A Julia Child Recipe.

I love Julia Child. A lot. I have an autographed photo of her that I bought off e-bay sitting next to my desk. She is the keeper of all things good and wonderful about cooking and food. My child loves watching The French Chef on DVD, there’s nothing like exposing a 5 year old to making your own sausage, complete with explanation of various casings, to ensure she knows EXACTLY where food comes from.  I am not sure if Julia would be proud of what I did to one of her amazing recipes or if she would smack me with a wooden spoon.  I mean on the one hand, she encourages using what you have, on the other hand, I made broth out of Worcestershire sauce. Yeah.

Yesterday was one of those wait until 4:00 and then start to freak out about what I want to make for dinner days. So basically, just like any other day. I know, I know,  I might give off a vibe that I’m one of those extremely organized know what I’m going to make for dinner all the time because I’m such a great cook and huge food snob types, but no. I’m not. I mean, I’m not organized, all the other stuff is true.  I happened to be putzing around on-line and checked out some recipes I’d bookmarked from the site Smitten Kitchen. SK happens to be one of my favorite food blogs, ever. That’s saying a lot because I subscribe to probably two dozen. Anyhow, she had a great post on a baked spinach recipe from Julia Child. . Coincidentally, I own the Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I’m lazy, and it’s so much easier to have someone from the internet tell me what to make as opposed to looking it up myself.  Per usual I did not have most of the ingredients in the recipe, so I really took some liberties with it.  Here’s what I did:

Serves 6
Yeah, good luck with that. This stuff is tasty. I’d say serves 4.

3 pounds fresh spinach
One Bag Frozen Spinach

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 cup beef stock
This is where it gets really funky, I made a “broth” out of Worcestershire sauce and water. I don’t have the exact ratio of Worcestershire to water, because it was immediately after devising this evil concoction I realized I should be documenting and blogging. Anyhow, I like it pretty strong, so I’d say it was at least 2Tbspns sauce and the rest water.

3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
One cup of leftover sliced Provolone, diced.

2 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs
How about a 1/2 cup of Panko instead?

Preheat Oven to 375.

Nuke the spinach about 5 minutes with a little bit of water, per instructions on package. If you don’t have a nuker, cook according to pkg directions. Put it in a colander and strain it, squeeze out as much of the excess water as you can with your hands.

Melt half your butter in a pan over low heat, and then add spinach. Cook until most of the water is gone. Use your judgement here, you don’t want it to be super juicy, but you don’t want to burn it either.

Sprinkle flour over spinach to coat, and stir it. Then add your broth a bit at a time,  I used all of mine, but the recipe says to just add 2/3 of a cup, and then again, use your judgement regarding the remaining 1/3.  Bring to a simmer and stir frequently. Add salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and stir in about 1/2 the cheese.  Put it in a smallish, greased  casserole dish. Top with the rest of the cheese, and the panko. Melt the remaining butter and drizzle on top.

Cook about 30 mins @ 375 until lightly browned and bubbly.

Surprisingly good, considering the amount of bastardization.

I was a bit worried about how this would taste, considering the complete re-working of the recipe, but it was amazing. I really like my Worcestershire broth, and plan to use it again.  Next time I make this, and I will, I’m going to add a couple of drops of Sriracha and maybe some Truffle Salt. We’ll see, I might kill it entirely if I add too much.

This picture does not do my meal justice. I am not a very good photographer or food stylist. I'm working on it!

I served it with some ham, and am planning on reheating some right now for breakfast. I’ll probably also have a poached egg. Stop drooling, you’re disgusting.

Nosh

I should have done this review three weeks ago, but I’m lazy. Also, it’s hard for me to write reviews that aren’t glowing. This is why I need practice writing reviews and will bore you with them throughout the year. It’s very easy to write a review that says, “Hey this was awesome, everything was perfect!” rather than “Meh”. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings. But then I remember, the chances of anyone who gives a shit reading this blog are very slim, and who gives a crap what I have to say anyway? It’s only my opinion.

A few weeks ago we went to Nosh with some friends of ours. Now, you should know – Nosh is wildly popular for a number of reasons but mainly because of their tempura bacon, bacon dusted fries and the Apocalypse Now burger ( pork and beef patty/ American cheese/crispy pork belly/bacon/foie gras/house mayo/Cherry jam/brioche bun. Nosh was featured on Man vs. Food for this burger. I have never seen the show, but apparently some dude travels around the country and eats obscenely large portions of food at restaurants. It actually makes me kind of ill to think about it.

The wait to get in wasn’t too bad, and it gave us time to check out the terrible angst filled collages featured on the walls.  My comment was, “Someday, the artist is going to be Thirty and be really embarrassed by this.” I’m a bitch, what can I say.

We ordered the following: 1 Apocalypse Now Burger, 1 Reuben, 1 Bahn Mi, 1 Cheese Steak, 1 Bacon Dusted Fries, 1 Salt and Vinegar Fries.  With the fries we got cheese dipping sauce and some other kind, I can’t remember. Horseradish? We all also got beers, this is definitely beer food.  The food came out really quickly, and we immediately took pictures of everything before we tried any of it. We. Are. Assholes. (Now might be the time to mention that Mike totally disagrees with this review and says it was one of the best meals he’s ever had and thinks about returning to Nosh often.)

Apocalypse Now!

My friend sliced me off a piece of his burger, which I probably would have juts grabbed and bitten because I was that excited to try it, and I’m rude. I gotta say, it was very “meh”. It was missing something. I think salt. Everything kind of blended together and nothing really stood out. It should be noted that the burger patty itself was really really good.   Maybe I had just built it up in my head too much.  Would I order it for myself at $20? Nope.

MMM. Giant Reuben!

MMM. Giant Reuben!

My other friend ordered the Reuben, which looked really good. I also had some bites of this. Instead of the corned beef being shredded, it’s sliced and placed on the bread. Other than that it’s totes traditional: Sauerkraut, swiss, and thousand Island dressing. From the bites I had, it was exceptional. Dining companion who ordered it said, “Fantastic”. I forgot to ask her if the bread got soggy, because that is the one thing that will kill a good reuben. I know, because I am a reuben snob and expert.

Mike got a cheesesteak, which was by far the tastiest thing we got. If he was more into sharing, I would have eaten a lot of it. But he does not like sharing and when I went back for more than my allotted two bites, he hissed at me like a cat. (I may be exaggerating a tad, but I know he at least WANTED to hiss at me like a cat, and maybe growl a little.)

The coveted cheesesteak.

It was phenomenal. Instead of a slice of cheese, it had cheese sauce, in fact it was the same cheese sauce we ordered with our fries.  The steak also comes with caramelized onions and cherry peppers which added a bit of a kick. The only draw back – it got real soggy real fast. As I mentioned before, I fucking hate sogginess, but this was so good, I would just dump it out of the bun and eat it with a fork. Or my hands. Or just put my face on the plate and eat it like a dog.

Finally, I got Banh Mi. I have never had a Banh Mi before, which is one of the reasons I ordered it, I like trying new things. It sounded really really good: Porchetta ham/pate’/carrots/cucumber/jalapenos/cilantro/soy sauce/mayo/basil/hoagie. It looked really good:

Way too goddamned hot Banh Mi.

The first few bites were excellent, except that they probably could have used about half as much cilantro. I like cilantro, I’m not one of those cilantro haters (people have STRONG feelings about cilantro, it’s just one of those things) however, this sandwich used cilantro like lettuce. Way, way too much.  After the first bite which was very nicely balanced the rest was like this: CILANTRO IN YOUR FACE! BOOM! So, I picked out a lot of the cilantro. At first, it was spicy, but not too spicy. I am not a spice wimp. No, really I’m not. I put sriracha on everything, my thai food usually has four stars. But, around the middle of this sandwich I bit into something so spicy, I could not go on. I guzzled the rest of my beer, and my water, and ate a bunch of fries with cheese  to try to make it go away. My lips were on fire, I couldn’t taste anything, I couldn’t think of anything except not gagging and crying and making a scene. It sucked. That was the end of my sandwich, and pretty much everything else, since I didn’t regain feeling in my lips until left. Look, I understand people like some heat, I do too, but if your sandwich is going to be that fucking hot, please note that on the menu. Like, “This sandwich might burn your face off, let us know if we should lay off on the peppers”.

The fries were also really good. As I mentioned before, we got bacon dusted and salt and vinegar:

Bacon Dust. Oh yeah.

Apparently bacon dust is just bacon fat that somehow turned into dust. I have no idea. It’s really tasty though, especially if you put it on fries that you then dip in cheese sauce. Here’s the thing though, I judge all fries against the fries at Duck Fat, which are my favorite fries in the universe.  Did they measure up? No. Mainly because I like really crunchy fries, and these were more on the soft side. Would I get them again? Totally.  But if I had to chose between Nosh and Duck Fat for fries, Duck Fat, hands down.

So, there you have it. I guess it’s not that bad of a review, I was just surprised about what was good and what wasn’t. Oh also, my entire experience might have been clouded by the fact that we were there at about 2:30 PM and they don’t serve Tempura Bacon until 4. This caused extreme heartbreak and pouting on my part. Will I go back to Nosh?Sure.  Does it have the crave factor of my beloved Duck Fat? No. But it’s still really good. Just watch out for the Banh Mi, unless you want to burn your face off.

The Easy Bake Trials….The Mix is Poo

In order to get Kid to get rid of a small, plastic kitchen that she no longer uses anymore, I bribed her with an Easy Bake Oven. It should be known, that I have wanted an Easy Bake Oven for MONTHS. At Christmas I checked them out, but it said they were for kids 8 and up. Sometimes, believe it or not, I follow the rules. I figured there must be some reason that even though USE WITH ADULT SUPERVISION ONLY was plastered all over the box, there must be some reason why it would be unsafe for my 5 year old. Then I read Fadra’s blog, and she bought her 4 year old son one. I was all, “Holla! If she’s gonna, I’m gonna!”

At first, when I suggested the Easy Bake Oven, Kid was leery. Then I should her the commercial for it .

Kid: “You mean I can bake my own things by myself?”

Me: “With Adult Supervision!”

Kid”?”

Me: “Mommy and Daddy have to help you.”

Kid: “Will you go get me one right now?”

Me: “YEEEESSSSSS!!!!!”

Yup, the Easy Bake is just as you remembered. A plastic box with a 100W lightbulb  that cooks horrible packaged cake mix in tiny little pans. (Apparently a lot of countries are banning incandescent lightbulbs. Haven’t they even thought about what that’s going to do to the Easy Bake Oven industry? In related news, I have started hoarding 100W bulbs.)

OOOOH! What wonders will emerge from the magic box?

Kid immediately whipped up a cake using the packaged cake mix and frosting that came with the box. She was really,really proud. The cake was really,really horrible – by no fault of my darling daughter! Here’s the ingredient list of Easy Bake Oven Cake Mix: Ok, I couldn’t find it anywhere on-line, let me know if you can find the official list. I will tell you that it contains: Hydrogenated Oil, Artificial Color, and Artificial Flavoring, which is a lot to pack into 1/4 of a cup of cake. I mean I know I’m a food snob, but honestly this shit gave me chemical burns when I tasted it. Also? It costs about $6.00 for a 3 pack of this junk. Keep in mind each pkg contains 1/4 of a cup of mix. So….$6.00 for 3/4 of a cup of dog shit. Sign me up!

I fled to the internet, looked up recipes and found a number of good sites with make your own Easy Bake Oven mix recipes. So, long story way too long – You have got to make your own mix, yo. It’s way better for your family AND it’s going to save you about 9 million dollars. Also, you pretty much will never run out, since you have all the ingredients in your own pantry.

Sugar Flour Etc

Easy Bake would probably charge you $300 for these ingredients.

In about 10 minutes I made 10 servings of biscuit mix and 10 of white cake mix. I can’t tell you how much it cost, but I can tell you it was a hell of a lot less  than $6.00 per 3/4 cup.

White Cake Mix. Modified from Budget 101.(Who has a TON of Easy Bake Recipes)

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon-flavored unsweetened Kool-Aid No! The point is no crap!
1/3 cup vegetable shortening – I use Spectrum Organics Vegetable Shortening, because through some process of dark magics (I assume) they have created a Crisco like substance that is not hydrogenated. I suppose I could look it up and tell you how they do it, but let’s just pretend it’s wizardry. Anyhow, I love it.

I skipped the Kool-Aid, if you want a lemony cake, just substitue a Tsp. of lemon juice for a Tsp. of water when you make your cake. Theoretically. I haven’t tried this. But I’m guessing it would work. I’ll try it and get back to you.

Yeah, so you mix everything up in a bowl. Make sure the shortening is incorporated well. You don’t want clumps. It should look like pancake mix, in that it’s just a little bit crummier than flour. I hope you’ve made pancakes and have a clue what I’m talking about.

See how that's a little bigger crumb than flour? Both the cake and biscuit mix should look like this. Also,I don't remember which one this is.

The instructions say to put the mixes into individual packages but, really? I don’t have time to measure out 20 1/4 bags of mix. I just put them in ziplocs and wrote the instructions on the front:

Bag of Biscuit Mix

Savings? About $1M. If you factor in doctor fees from chemical burns to the tongue.

We used the biscuit mix the other day for a danish (more on that later) and it was gooood! I am all about getting kids in the kitchen, teaching them about food and cooking, it hits on all the major points. An Easy Bake Oven is a fantastic way to do this, IF you also teach them that good food doesn’t come from a mix. Kid was delighted that we can “make our own mix, any way we want.” The sense of pride and accomplishment she had after cooking that tiny cake in a box with a light bulb made me cry a single tear and write a haiku about love. Ok, no. But it was pretty goddamned awesome.

Get an Easy Bake, make some stuff. It’s fun. Oh, and this is going to be a regular feature. Next up: Sort of gross pizza!

Grilled Pizza

I know it’s super hot outside, but some of us still want pizza. I have heard tell of grilled pizza for quite some time, and even recommended it to recipients of an e-newsletter that I write. Disclaimer – No I don’t always try the recipes I recommend in the other newsletter. I’m sorry! I have things to do! But, the ones I post here, I really do try. Really! For reals! That’s how I get these wonderful photographs!  Back to grilled pizza. Grilled Pizza is one of those things that at first sounds hard to do, and then you read the recipe and say, “Really, that’s all there is to it?” and are immediately skeptical. Then when you see someone do it, you say “Doy! It is totally easy!” Does that make any sense at all? I bet it does to some of you.

Yesterday I was at my parent’s house and my mom (who taught me everything I know about cooking and is probably one of the best mom chefs anywhere. I will fight you if you contradict me.) says “Let’s grill a pizza!”
     I was all “What? Really? You know how to do it? I always thought it was a mysterious complicated process only to be attempted by the likes of Bobby Flay!”

        “Bobby Flay? PFFFT! I use Alton Brown’s recipe and instructions. It’s super easy!” My mom is a purist. You can tell by her loyalty to Alton.

        “Aight’ Ma! Let’s do this! Also, I’m going to take pictures of you for my blog.”

         “Fine, but not my face.” Ok, my mom might not have actually said that, but she thought it. She hates having her picture taken.

           Ingredients:
       Basically whatever you want, the only thing you really need is some dough (mom used frozen but you can make your own) ,toppings and extra virgin olive oil.
        Ready?

1. Get your shit together. Mom says this is KEY. (I think this pertains to life in general, so does my mom, however right now we’re talking about your pizza supplies.) See how she has everything  there on the pan: sauce, cheese, spices, tongs, oil and pastry brush. Once you get this thing on the grill you do NOT want to have to keep running back into the house.

2. Get your dough spread out nice and thin. Mom did this outside on a cutting board. Her dough even has a couple holes in it. I was all, “MOM! HOLES!” 
        And she was all cool and calm “It doesn’t matter.” Note – mom likes her crust SUPER thin, like cracker thin. I’m thinking you could probably go a little thicker. I’m sure if she disagrees you all can read about it in the comments. 

      
  2a. Did I tell you to fire up your grill yet? Yeah you should have done that already. Get it smoking hot. Like this:

3. Liberally apply extra virgin olive oil to the dough. If you aren’t liberal you can judiciously apply it. 
4. Next is the “part that sucks”, says mom.  You have to get the dough onto the grill. Mom just picks it up and flings it on there. She’s a bad ass and kind of a cooking ninja. Good luck with this.
Success!

  5. Let the dough cook until it’s all nice and browned underneath. It takes a few minutes. It may get all bubbly on top, like this:

Mom is preparing to flip it. This is what it looks like after the “flipping”

6. Now it’s time for toppings! We put on red sauce, provolone cheese, truffle salt (because my mom puts either truffle salt or truffle oil on pretty much everything) artichokes, and oregano. 
                                          
                       
        
         
7. Now let the pizza cook until the bottom is brown and the cheese is melted, a couple more minutes. Carefully use some tongs to lift/slide the pizza onto a pan or cutting board.
8. Slice it up and eat it! 
That’s all folks! Hope grilling a pizza seems way easier now.  I think that this method would be particularly good with my salad pizza.  I plan on trying it soon.